Monthly Archives: February 2012
I used to watch all kinds of TV. I remember watching TV in the days before remote controls and before the DVR! With a good antenna, you could get all three networks plus a couple of the UHF stations (PBS and the like). Then we got cable installed in our town and I was in TV heaven! The picture was clear and you had so many choices! I watched TV when I came home from school. I watched TV every Saturday morning until at least noon. There were shows you just didn’t want to miss, so you made damn sure you were home when that show was on! As I got older, I found some shows that have become my lifetime favorites. Shows like Monty Python’s Flying Circus, SCTV, and even the early years of Saturday Night Live were on late at night and were not to be missed! I would even splash water on my face to help me stay awake sometimes! I grew up with the wonders of TV.
When I could afford one, I bought a VHS recorder. With this, I learned the pleasures of skipping past commercials, but it was very frustrating! It was frustrating because I never knew which shows were on which tapes! I’d spend more time finding a show than I saved in skipping the commercials! Then, I got a second recorder and I invented the dual recording feature all those with DVRs have come to know and love. I would record on one machine and watch something I recorded on the other machine. I was a TV watching genius! Then, the VHS machine got hungry and started eating my tapes! That’s when I discovered TiVo.
What a wonderful invention TiVo was! I now had no trouble finding the shows I recorded because they kept a handy list for me! I could record a season pass and record every episode of every show I loved. I was in TV heaven! That was good until TiVo started to get personal. TiVo wanted to suggest other shows I might like based on shows I recorded. At one point, I wondered if TiVo thought I was gay! No, I do not want to watch Tom Cruise movies all the time! No TiVo! That’s a bad TiVo! Then TiVo started to warn me that if I didn’t watch my older shows it was going to erase them. So now I was forced to be a couch potato and watch a marathon of all the shows that were going to expire soon. TiVo was hungry and needed more shows! It was a blessing and a curse but I got to watch a lot of TV.
Then, along came the HD DVR from the cable company. At first, it had as much space as TiVo. Now, I have a machine that has enough space to record full seasons of every show I like and keep it there until I want to watch them. I thought the space was almost limitless, but I have it filled up at 80% of capacity. I scroll to the bottom of the list to see the oldest shows I’ve recorded and I think I should probably watch that show. But last night’s new shows look so enticing! So I watch those instead while my older shows sit neglected. Thank god DVR doesn’t suggest shows because I record Glee, Smash, American Idol, and Once Upon a Time. If DVR suggested shows, I’m sure I’d be forced to watch Dancing with The Stars! After a while, if I haven’t watched a series I’ve recorded, I just end up deleting it and canceling the series. I’m like a one man Nielsen Machine!
These days, I have too many distractions to watch TV. Now, I have the internet calling my name! Facebook needs me! Words with Nerds needs me! There are too many funny sites to explore! There is so much news to read! I now watch TV with a laptop literally on my lap sometimes! I see an actor and I can’t remember what other show they were on so I go to IMDB.com and look it up! I need to know something and I can’t remember so I Google it. I used to watch TV to relax and now I make it an immersive experience. Except now, I find myself not even turning on the TV for hours. The internet has sucked me in so deeply it won’t let go! There are even times I’ll sit on the couch and read! And my TV sits there like a spurned girlfriend waiting for me to notice her again. ”Remember me? We used to be best friends! Now I feel like you don’t even notice me. I used to be fat and heavy but now I’m sleek and thin but you don’t care! You don’t love me! You never loved me!” I feel guilty. I feel like I’m cheating on TV with the internet.
TVs problem is that it’s too needy. ”You don’t like what I have to offer? How about this show, or this one, or how about I add 100 channels of everything you can ever want to watch? Will that bring you back?” You’re just trying too hard, TV. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve changed and I need to move on. But don’t worry, I’ll still look at you and remember the good old days. I will always love you. Just make sure you don’t record Desperate Housewives just because I recorded House. Thank you, TV. I <3 you!
I wonder what was on the menu when some genius came up with the cliche, “you are what you eat.” What does that even mean? You certainly can’t take that literally! If you could, I would be known as “Delicious!”
I know what I’m supposed to do to eat well, I just don’t want to. I go through phases of eating right, but I come back to eating the same stuff all the time. Monday through Thursday, I’m diligent about what I eat. Well, not Wednesday nights. That’s when I run with Team in Training and we go out for dinner and beer. I could eat right – the menu includes salads, right? Nope, I go for the mushroom and swiss burger every damn time! And bring me your darkest beer! If I want to drink water, I’ll get a Bud Light! OK, so it’s back on track for Thursday. Friday rolls around and I can eat well until dinner. If we aren’t buying a pizza, I’m making one. The one I make is actually very healthy for you and tastes amazing (that’s what she said – really she did, you can ask her)! But you can’t have pizza without washing it down with a beer, can you? Saturday rolls around, I go for a long run, and then it’s party time! Everyone needs a day off, and this one is mine.
The funny thing is, even when I try to eat well, there is always someone who thinks the way I’m eating is unhealthy. They’re probably right, but I don’t want to hear it! When I go out to dinner with a group of people, the skinny people order from a different menu. They always seem to get the healthiest item on the menu! Have they gone over to the dark side and converted to “whole foods?” Or, do they go home and have pizza and beer when we’re not looking? I’ve looked at the healthy weight guidelines for my height and I could be 20 pounds lighter and still be considered healthy. That’s just not going to happen! I’ve been gaining and losing the same 10 pounds for three years now. It’s the party weight that just won’t go away!
The only time I went on an extensive, life changing, “diet,” was the 18 month period while I lost 70 pounds using Weight Watchers. I counted every “point” and tracked them religiously, which is a good analogy because Weight Watchers is a cult! I’m not dismissing them, in fact I would encourage anyone wanting to lose weight to join them. They know their stuff! But going to a meeting is like going to church. Every Saturday morning at 8:00 AM, even with a hangover, which happened quite often, I was at the meeting worshiping at the altar of WW. The meeting leader was more of a motivational speaker, so it was like going to a motivational seminar every week. He told his story so often that I could get up there and recite it! But he was able to help people see that they really could eat what they want, but only if they did it the right way – with portion control. Telling food addicts that they can have a little food without eating it all is like telling an alcoholic that they can have a shot of liquor without drinking the whole bottle!
I think it boils down to my relationship with food. I’ve been a big fan of food from the beginning. Food will always be there for you. Sometimes it waits too long for me to love it back by eating it that it spoils the relationship by turning green. Then I have to dump it and get a fresh new food. You should never keep a food past its expiration date thinking that it will get better with time. Sometimes I eat something that I know is going to give me trouble in the morning, but I eat it anyway. Who can resist such a hot tamale? I often wonder if food gets jealous of other food. Does the lettuce in the salad bowl look at the steak on my plate and think, “he likes steak more than he likes me!” You both have so much to offer, can’t I love you both? Some foods just don’t belong with other foods. They just don’t get along! And why is it that “cheating” on your diet feels so good? Ice cream always looks at me and says, “come on, big boy, you know you want to eat me!” So I give in even though I know that the steak and salad I just ate are going to find out I cheated on them with ice cream.
I guess if I am what I eat, then I’d have to say I’m pretty happy. I eat happy foods and drink happy drinks. I run a lot so I can stay close to a normal weight. I actually practice portion control too! I have one piece of advice for you to follow – nothing good will ever come from a Taco Bell drive-thru after midnight. You don’t want to wake up to that person you took home from the bar at closing time, and you don’t want to wake up to a Taco Bell hangover! Finally, if we are what we eat, then most men are pussies and most women are dicks!
Ah yes, I remember my junior high days fondly. Those were the days, weren’t they? What? They weren’t??? Let’s recap, shall we?
Growing up in a small town meant there was only one high school and one junior high school. There were two elementary schools feeding into the junior high school which meant you knew half of your classmates when you entered the 7th grade. You knew who the kids from the other school were because you hated them! Well, I guess hate is too strong a word, but they were not cool! It didn’t take long to make new friends (even from the dark side) because we were lumped together in a variety of classes.
Our school was experimenting with “tracks” which meant the smart kids were in Track 1, the almost smart kids were in Track 2, the almost dumb kids were in Track 3, and the dumb kids were in Track 4. It didn’t take long for us to realize that was going on because you always saw the same kids in every class and you wondered what happened to some of those kids you used to know. Of course they based this classification on those standardized tests we were forced to take. I always did well with those tests, so I was put in Track 1. That was not necessarily a good thing! This meant I had to work hard to keep up! I actually had to pay attention and do the homework! Why couldn’t they put me in Track 2 so I could coast for the next two years? It didn’t help that I was following one year behind my sister who suffered from such an intense desire to please the teachers that she became an overachiever. I entered 7th grade with the teacher’s expectation that I too would overachieve. I was happy with just achieving! So I was deemed to be a student who was “not living up to his abilities.” It’s not true! My abilities include not really caring about pleasing authority figures, so I was right on target!
Socially, I was way ahead of my time! I really knew how to talk to the ladies! If I liked a girl, I would make sure she knew it by how I never talked to her. There is one girl I remember from the 7th grade who ended up becoming my “girlfriend.” I never held her hand, and I never kissed her! Somehow she found out I liked her and she liked me, so we became an item for a week. I’m not exaggerating! It lasted one week! At the end of the week, she decided she couldn’t handle my awesomeness and she moved on. I think I said, “okay, that’s cool,” and then I breathed a huge sigh of relief because I really had no clue what I was doing! I’m sure to this day that I ruined the other guys’ chances with her because she will always compare them to me. Trust me – my skills did not improve when I reached the 8th grade! Or the 9th grade. Or yesterday!
How about gym class? I’m sure my athletic skills would help me excel in gym class! This was the only class that started with changing into our gym clothes, moved on into sports like dodgeball, volleyball, track & field, and every other sport except for one I may have excelled in, and then ended with nudity in the locker room! At least in the locker room, I could show off my advanced puberty skills, right? Oh wait, why does that guy have so much hair down there? Are you supposed to be that hairy??? He even has hair in his armpits! What the fuck is going on here?!?! If this happened to me today, I’d blame it on manscaping gone wild! ”Oh, you didn’t know this is how the girls like it? My girlfriend loves it like this!” I spent most of the 7th grade gym class wrapped in a towel.
Okay, so shop class should be good, right? That’s the class where you learn to use tools to make things. One of the larger employers in our town was a company that made tools. If you wanted to work in that factory the rest of your life, you better excel at shop class! So, while one guy was making an elaborate table leg with the lathe, and another guy was making a cabinet with a door and everything, this guy was using a band saw to cut wood into what I thought would be a Volkswagen Bug. It was going to be a pen holder with the pen in the middle of my Bug. So I cut the wood carefully into the shape of a Volkswagen. I sanded it down, lacquered it up, and presented it to the teacher (who, if memory serves, was missing a finger or two – or maybe that’s wishful thinking). He took one look at my Volkswagon, turned it upside down and declared it to be the funniest looking Mickey Mouse he had ever seen! Now I’ll never get that job in the factory!
Okay, so maybe junior high wasn’t all that good. Then again, I think my sense of humor is stuck there! Many of the things that made me laugh then make me laugh now. They all involve bodily functions like farting, farting with your hand in your armpit, farting by blowing on the palm of your hand, belching, swallowing air so you could belch again, saying the alphabet while belching. The list is endless! One persistent rumor was that a football player set the record by farting for 14 seconds. I wonder who thought to time that! That guy is probably working for ESPN now.
As for me? The awkward, nerdy kid became an accountant. I figured out a long time ago that you can try to fit in where you don’t excel and look like a tool, or you can fit in doing what you do best and become King of the Nerds!
I have three sons, the youngest of whom just turned 18. They are all now legal adults! Their mother and I divorced 16 years ago. They didn’t live with me but when we had time together, I did my best to help guide them to this point in their lives. I knew I had limited time with them, so I’ve often wondered how much influence I could have had over them. So I’m writing them this letter to give them my rules for living so they can improve upon my successes, avoid my mistakes, and live a life that will make their kids proud. I don’t know if my kids are proud of me, but I’m very proud of them!
When your mother and I divorced, I had a few well-meaning people warn me that children of divorce will have an extremely challenging life. They told me you would have trouble in school, trouble with relationships, have psychological and anger issues. Instead, you turned into very resilient children. You never became a “child of divorce.” Your school work was exemplary, you were active in sports, and when you found jobs, you exhibited the work ethic I hoped I would see from you. I want to believe I had something to do with that, but I want you to know I give your mother credit for the majority of it.
Now that you’re adults, I want to give you my rules for living a happy, productive life:
Laughter is the best medicine. When you learn to laugh at yourself, you can get through anything life throws your way. You’ve heard the saying, “you’ll look back on this and laugh one day.” Laugh today instead! Laugh so much that people wonder about your sanity. I gave the eulogy for my mother and I had my brothers and sisters and friends of the family laughing during the service. Sure we cried before, during and after the service, but if you can laugh through your tears you’ll be okay.
Be kind to everyone. whether they deserve it or not. I learned this rule a long time ago and I’m still trying to perfect it. One day, I was driving to work. The guy in front of me at the light would not turn right on red even though there was clearly no traffic. I honked at him and got him to go. I turned right and followed him into the parking lot at work. He was the CEO of the company! I now gently tap the horn only when necessary. Be kind to everyone you know or don’t know, because that person you don’t know now could be someone very important in your life later. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.
Don’t let pride get in your way. There will be many times where swallowing your pride is the best way to resolve a situation. Swallow hard and do the right thing. Be proud, but not prideful.
Don’t lie, cheat, or steal. Honesty really is the best policy. When you lie to people, you create a divide between you and them. That lie will always keep you from closing that divide and prevent you from being close to them ever again. “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” is not true. What they don’t know hurts you. Cheating is a form of lying to yourself. If you think you can win by cheating, you have already lost. Stealing is wrong. I have no pearls of wisdom about that – it’s just wrong.
Love women just the way they are. I love women! I have more female friends than male friends! Don’t expect your logical mind to ever figure out women because they aren’t ruled by logic. You will drive yourself crazy if you question a woman’s motivation for doing something. It makes sense to them, so it doesn’t need to make sense to you! Don’t fight with a woman, because you will lose! Even if you win, you lose. Go with the flow, enjoy their company, treat them with respect, and always open the door for them (even if they could bench press the building).
Learn how to work a room. At any social gathering, it’s important to learn how to enter and exit conversations. If you’re at a cocktail party and you see someone nursing their drink and standing off to the side, talk to that person. Ask questions to find some common ground and talk the shit out of that topic. Don’t look around the room while you are talking to them just to see if there is someone else you’d rather talk to. When you are ready to move on, do it gracefully. Give them a firm handshake, look them in the eye and say, “It was great talking to you.”
Handle your finances wisely. Don’t use credit for consumer goods. If it’s something that will last longer than the payments use credit. This means you buy houses and cars with credit. You might have to use credit to furnish the house. You should never use credit for impulse purchase or for groceries. If you need to use credit to buy groceries, it’s because you are paying so much on your credit card bills that now you have to charge everything. It’s a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Don’t do it!
Love yourself. There will be many times in your life where you will not be proud of yourself. You will do something you’re ashamed of. You are not alone – this is human nature. As hard as we try, we can’t live a perfect life. When you mess up, learn from it and never do it again. Then, you have to forgive yourself and let it go. You can do this only if you love yourself and respect and value who your are. Loving yourself opens up your ability to love someone else and accepting them as they are. Then, when they fail to be their very best, you can be there to help them rather than scold them. Loving yourself lets you love others freely.
Friend quality is better than friend quantity. Having a few close friends who know you as well as you know them, and they love you anyway, is better than having a bunch of “friends.” Your best friends should be your spouse, your brothers, and a few other close friends you would trust with your life.
You aren’t the only one. There will come a time when you are surrounded by people who appear happy and successful and who seem to have it all figured out. When they are alone, they have doubts, fears and frustrations and they question why all those other people seem to have it all figured out. No one has it all figured out all the time. Everyone has doubts, fears and frustrations. You’re not alone.
If all else fails, follow your instincts. You have been given the gift of intelligence and good looks, thanks to yours truly, and you’ve proven that you’re moral, ethical, and caring individuals. But there will be times where you don’t know what to do. Your conscience will never lead you astray. If what you’re considering feels wrong, don’t do it.
Finally, if you could just do one thing, it should be “enjoy life.” If you use the above tools, you should be well on your way to enjoying life to the fullest. We are on this earth for a mere blink of an eye. I hope to live long enough to read what you want to pass on to your children.