Wednesday, October 31, 2012

You Gotta Love Halloween, Even Though The Grandkiddies And Most Of The Kids Are A Thousand Miles Away

I love Halloween, and some of the girls have had a chance to celebrate earlier in the week. Here are photos, starting with Brianne and Callie (I think, anyway), dressed up for a pre-holiday party. Everyone was thrillered. Ha ha....

Lucy got two costumes, both adorable, a baterina and Hello Kitty, only cuter. Kelly made this one.

Baby Aspen in her Halloween jammies. Let's hope she is more alert tonight.
This just in: our little Sadie, cute as can be. She reminds me of that old saying, "I can't wait until tomorrow, because you get cuter every day." Am I right? 

Of course, here's me with my very own Purple English Teacher, heading off to class. Of course, she gets cuter every day, too. Woo hoo!

Am I lucky or what. Everybody have a fun, safe night.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Except For The Taste And Texture, I Like Bananas


No, I’m lying. I don’t like bananas. They are gross and disgusting and offensive to my tastes and senses. But I eat them. I don’t eat them from April through October because banana eaters attract mosquitoes, but I eat them. In fact, I ate one just now, because I believe bananas are good for me. At least I believed that until about 20 minutes ago.
Here’s why I thought bananas were healthy:
  • Four times the protein of an apple, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron.
  • Energy: Two bananas provide enough for a strenuous 90-minute workout.
  • Depression and SAD: Contain tryptophan, a protein that converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier, and limits Seasonal Affective Disorder.
  • PMS: Vitamin B6 regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.
  • Anemia: High in iron to stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood.
  • Blood Pressure: High in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure.
  • Brain Power: Potassium-packed fruit makes students more alert.
  • Constipation: High in fiber to help restore normal bowel action.
  • Heartburn: Natural antacid effect for soothing relief.
  • Nerves: High in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.
  • Strokes: Bananas can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40 percent.

It turns out this information, this eRumor, available widely online, is unsubstantiated, which means it is mostly wishful thinking, probably written by an enterprising greengrocer somewhere. At least that’s what TruthorFiction says: checked with one of the biggest distributors of bananas, the Chiquita Banana Company. A spokesperson told us that bananas are a wholesome, nutritious food and a good source of important vitamins, minerals, and macro nutrients including vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, and dietary fiber. He said that although he would like to say that everything in the eRumor is true, he is not able to and added that much of the email is based on assumption.
So you know what that means. No more bananas for me. Yipee!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Red And Yellow And Orange, Oh My

We live in a fabulous neighborhood, filled with old homes and old trees and, well, old people. The streets are especially beautiful during these brief days in October when leafs first turn from green to red and yellow and orange.
Kelly and I got a rare hour together one afternoon last week, so we made a photo expedition through our streets. I haven’t been on a lot of photo expeditions, but the ones where you get to hold hands are the best.
You can see some of the photos Kelly took here, and some I took two years ago right about here. We live in a fabulous neighborhood.

If you live in a place where the leafs have not all fallen or turned brown, take an hour, take someone’s hand and take a walk. And take your camera.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Presidential Issue 4: Holiday Decorations In Stores Months Before The Holiday

“Retailers are rolling out aggressive sales earlier this holiday season to lure consumers,” reports The Washington Post. It gets worse every year, and we need a president who will finally do something about it. I didn’t hear it mentioned in the debate last night. Did you?

In mid-August, all we should see in stores is back-to-school supplies, not Halloween candy, and certainly not Christmas decorations. But by early September we could buy candy corn and costumes, and by late September, yet again, there were plastic holly and twinkle lights and shiny plastic ornaments up and down the aisles. Which means that awful music won’t be far behind. In fact, one of my children is already listening to it on the radio.

This is too soon, too soon. No wonder we are all so sick of any holiday by the time the big day arrives.

I’m not saying it’s your fault, but according to the National Retail Federation,  it is, because 20 percent – one in five of you – have already started shopping. Shame, shame, shame. There are even houses with Christmas lights up already.
The least you can do is vote for a presidential candidate who will take action to stop this madness.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Scarfing Up The Hunger Games

I bought and downloaded Mockingjay: The Final Book of The Hunger Games, from Audible last night. If you knew me, you would be shocked. I am a slow shopper. I was the last person in America to buy a VCR. I was the next to last person to get a CD player, because I researched and compared for years. I still wouldn’t have an iPod had Kelly not given me her old one.

It took six months for me to decide to buy The Hunger Games, despite my daughter Grace telling me over and over that I would enjoy it. And sure enough, I liked it, and I mean a lot. It is a wonderful and compelling story, well told. I listened to it twice, in fact, and it is better the second time.
That doesn’t mean, however, that I rushed right out and bought Catching Fire, the second book in the trilogy. It took me 182 days to convince myself to do it, because it so often happens that sequels, those sloppy seconds, are inferior to the original. Grace assured me that was not the case, but still I waited. I didn’t see how the story could continue any other way than the obvious one, so I didn’t want to waste a credit on it.

Man, I’m sorry I waited. Catching Fire is fantastic, simply wonderful in every way. The progression from the first book is perfectly logical, once you see it, but totally unexpected. The character development continues, and we know them well enough to know what to expect, but also enough to accept the unexpected as believable. And once the big shock came, I was well and truly shocked, and stayed shocked right to the end. I still can’t believe it on one hand, but on the other hand  I say “of course, of course.” But, you know… wow! Kudos to author Suzanne Collins.

Once started, I had a hard time not listening to book two. I had the headphones on everywhere, all the time, even when I should have been sleeping. Catching Fire is completely satisfying. Except for the cliffhanger ending that demands that you rush out and buy Mockingjay.
Which I did yesterday. But you already knew that, didn’t you.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Not So World Serious Anymore (But You Gotta Love Those St. Louis Cardinals)

Apparently the St. Louis Cardinals are in the baseball postseason. Again. The men where I work have talked about little else for three weeks, each with his favorite teams, his own opinions, and, of course, his predictions.
It is a major league yawn.
I was going to say it is a waste of time, but it’s really not. They are interested, involved, happy. And, at least, it diverts them from video games, their main topic of conversation the other 330 days of the year.

None of these guys were alive when I first found myself in that same place, sweating out a pennant race, swelling with pride when the Cards beat the Yankees in the 1964 World Series.
My team went to the Series three times that decade, beating the Red Sox in 1967 and losing to the Tigers in 1968. Those men were my heroes: Gibson, Brock, Flood, Cha Cha, Maxvill (my glove had his autograph), Carlton, even Roger Maris. Roger Maris!


If we weren’t playing ball, we were talking about it or listening to a game. As I grew, I listened faithfully through the lean years, then rejoiced in new heroes of the 1980s, winning it all again in 1982, then losing to Don Denkinger in 1985, and the noisy Twins in 1987.

Then I stopped. I quit listening one day in 1988, cold turkey. I was watching a game – no sound, Jack Buck on the radio. My kids were playing outside the window, uninterested in professional sports. I turned it off to go play with them, and haven’t bothered since.

The Cardinals have been in several World Series since then, but I would have to look it up to know what years or who they played, or, for the most part, who their players were.

I don’t miss it, which would surprise you if you knew what baseball meant to us.  Nor do I frown on people who are so absorbed these days. Baseball is a great game, and a mighty fine pastime, too. It’s just not mine.
Go Cards!
World Series program image borrowed from here, Sports Illustrated cover from here. Adam Wainwright from here. Thanks.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

And Baby Makes Five, With The Sixth Not Far Behind

My oldest daughter was hoping to have this baby before Halloween, and she got her wish. Say hello to baby Aspen, born early this morning. Mother and daughter are fine, sisters are estatic, daddy is hap-hap-happy, too.
We have been blessed, very fortunate to have five grandchildren now, with another arriving around the end of the year. There is a rumor Number 6 is a male, which is hard to believe. We have one son but seven daughters, and all the grandkiddies are girls, so far.

Aspen was born at home, which is pretty scary to me, but apparently everything went off without a problem. I guess things are very well, because baby has already made a trip to her other grandparents' house.

The only bad thing is that these girls and their mothers are far away, the closest being 1,400 miles down the road. Thank goodness for Skype and Facebook, right?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another Problem With America: We Confuse Popular With Good


I don’t Google. Partly because Google is so pervasive, taking over most aspects of life online, but mostly because Google is not a verb.
I use a search engine called Swagbucks, which rewards users with Swagbucks (duh!) that can be saved up and used to buy stuff, everything from a computer wallpaper of Cage The Elephant (just 5 Swagbucks) to a new scale for the bathroom (6,795 Swagbucks) or full drum kit, with cymbals (37,825). All I ever buy are $5 Amazon gift cards for 450 Swagbucks.


Anyway, one way to earn Swagbucks is by answering the daily poll. One recent poll asked:

Which of these decades had the best music?

The results, I'm sad to say, are in the above chart.

What this means is, either it was opposite day when this survey appeared, or it was Moron Day, and 81 percent of these people have been nominated grand marshal of the parade.

As anyone older than 14 knows, the only truly great decade for music was the 1960s, starting with the Everly Brothers, Cathy’s Clown, through the Beach Boys, Good Vibrations, and Aretha Franklin, Respect, to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bad Moon Rising.

The last half of the 1950s was good, what with Elvis and Chuck Berry and Ricky Nelson and Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis and Buddy Holly, et al, but the first half was pretty lame. Patty Page, The Tennessee Waltz? C’mon.
Dozens of songs like Unchained Melody and Stand By Me and Hey Jude have proven that they will still be listened to and appreciated 50 years later. You just can’t say that about Lady Ga Ga and Justin Bieber. Does anyone even remember the Thompson Twins?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Okay, Okay, Some Cupcakes May Be Worth Four Bucks


You would never know from looking at her, but my wife, Kelly, is domestic. Undeniably. She loves to cook and knit and sew, she has all the right tools, the exactly right table cloth for every occasion, all that kind of stuff. But her favorite is baking. Using her own recipes or published recipes that she modifies, she produces wonderful, tasty delights.

For example, for a social event at her work tonight, she made eight dozen cupcakes. Only about 10 people are coming, but Kelly couldn’t decide what flavor to make, so she made three: her famous snickerdoodle cupcakes, a modified recipe for lime cupcakes (I am eating one now), and a modified recipe for Nutella cupcakes.
As you know, I often rant about high-priced specialty treats, like cupcakes, but her lime cupcakes, sprinkled lightly with salt, are superb. As good as they are, though, they come in far behind these Nutella cupcakes, which are easily worth four dollars. Perfect texture, perfect flavor, perfect taste. Just perfect.
Why not join me in hoping there are leftovers....

Saturday, October 13, 2012

237 Reasons To Make Love


Remember on Cheers when Diane wrote a paper on Sam’s romantic history? Looking through it, Sam says, “she even managed to make my love life boring.”

Well, that’s what Meston and Buss have done in Why Humans Have Sex. Like all scholarly papers written by and for the so-called intelligentsia, this paper is long and dull, despite the topic. You can read sentences like this only so many times: “sex can be viewed as a fungible resource” or “the most comprehensive existing taxonomy, framed from a theoretical perspective of dispositional sexual motives”…. Yawn!


Like most academic research, this paper is flawed because the overwhelming majority of participants were college students, but that is a topic for another time. Of the 706 males and 1,287 females studied, the age range was 16 to 42, but 96 percent of them were between 18 and 22. Only 4 percent were married.

There are 237 reasons listed, and almost all of them are selfish and egocentric.

The most common reason was mere stress relief. “I wanted to release tension.” “I was bored.” “I hadn’t has sex in a while.”

The next most common reasons were for physical pleasure, but with a mine not yours attitude. “It feels good.” “It’s exciting and adventurous.” “I just wanted it.”


Then comes mere physical attraction. “The person had an attractive face.” “The person had beautiful eyes.” “The person flattered me.”


Then there’s simple curiosity. “I was curious about my sexual abilities.” “I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.”


Of course, there are reasons that just seem wrong by any standard. “I wanted to make my boyfriend jealous.” “I felt it was my duty.” “It was the only way my partner would spend time with me.” “My friends were having sex and I wanted to fit in.”


As a father of seven girls, these disturb me. “The person had taken me to an expensive dinner.” “I wanted to defy my parents.” “I needed another notch in my belt.” “I was competing with someone else to get the person.” “I wanted to impress my friends.” “The person had too much to drink and I was able to take advantage of them.” “I wanted to be popular.”

Finally, a heads up for parents: one of the most frequent reasons unmarried males had sex? “[She] wore revealing clothes.”
Something to think about the next time your daughter goes clothes shopping.

Photo credits: Cheers, Peggy Sue Got Married, The Flinstones.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bunker/Paulsen: No Worse Than Anyone Else


My slogan for the 2008 presidential election was “Anyone But Hillary.” I got my wish there, but I should have been more specific.
I am no fan of our current president, nor was I too pleased with the one before him, or especially the one before that. Like you, I’m tired of all the mudslinging and acrimony in politics. It’s all just posturing, at best, but mostly it’s just a bunch of lies, spread by an all too willing, lazy, uninspired media. Both parties are out of touch with Americans, so as far as our day-to-day lives go, there is little difference between a Democrat or a Republican in the White House.


Which is exactly how they and Congress want it. Our politicians, especially at the national level, learned a long time ago that if they can keep common people like us bickering between ourselves over relatively minor issues, they can do as they please. “They keep us doped with religion and sex and TV” is how John Lennon described it. That Chick-Fil-A spectacle is a perfect example. While we fight about that, we forget about or have no energy left for the real issues that are dooming us as a country, like rising unemployment and a multi-trillion-dollar debt.
Which is exactly how they want it. Infighting prevents us from remembering that this is our country, not theirs, and this is our government, not theirs. Petty bickering stops us from uniting, stops us from fighting the bigger issues, together, stops us from being good citizens.

Both parties are as guilty as the other, just as corrupt as the other, but we as citizens, we as voters, have to take the blame. Whichever party wins the presidency in November, little will change because both parties do what is best for themselves, not what is best for the country, not what is best for we the people.
In the photo, I’m wearing a 1972 “Archie Bunker For President” t-shirt. I’m old enough to remember Pat Paulsen’s 1968 bid for the presidency on the Smothers Brothers show. As I see it, we wouldn’t be any worse off electing them.
The Bunker image came from here, and the Paulsen from here. You might check Youtube for some Paulsen videos. The guy was funny.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

If This Is Being A Sheep, I Say “Baaaaa, Baby, Baaaaa”

I came across this photo essay on MSN, and some of the pictures made me smile, and some of them made me wonder if I’m as nice to others as I could be, inside and outside of my home and my small circle of friends.

The problem is that articles like this make it seem that acts of kindness are rare, newsworthy, but they are not rare. Most people are thoughtful, and most people do kind things for others  – with no thought of praise or attention – all the time. I mean that literally, all the time.

But kindness rarely makes the news. More likely is a story about someone breaking into that vending machine or someone stealing the bike seat, or one about how America is to blame for that poor, shoeless girl’s plight. Unkindness and bad news are what sell in the media, and sadly, the reason misfortune sells is that we keep buying it.

And the more we buy it, the more we believe it, which makes it less likely we will act with kindness, thinking “why bother.” The ultimate end of such a path is we will be like lonnie5000, who commented:
There is no such thing as kindness, random or otherwise. It’s all just propaganda meant to spread false hope in a failing society. And the quicker you sheeple realize this the better. Thumbs down if you are a mindless sheep being herded by the corrupt government or you are just a dumb***.”

I’m guessing lonnie5000 watches CNN and a subscribes to USA Today. What do you sheeple say?

Monday, October 8, 2012

What's It Take To Frost Your Pumpkin?

The temperature dropped to the mid-30s last night, with frost this morning. That’s a bit unusual for us this early in the year, and you should have heard the whining: “It was so cold.” “I had to turn on the heat.” “I got out my winter clothes.” “I’m freezing.”


Right now, it is 56 degrees (F), and people are still complaining. We have a football game later, where the temperature will likely be in the mid-40s by the time we leave. I am laying out clothes with lots of layers, and trying to decide whether to dig out my long johns.

Which seems pretty normal.

But late last January, we had a day where the temperature was in the mid-30s at night and upper 50s in the sunny afternoon. Everyone was so happy. “Oh, it’s so warm out.” “Mom, why can’t I wear shorts to school?” “It’s like spring.” “I wish the pool was open.”
Same temperatures, 180-degree opposite reactions. So what’s the difference?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Liverpool Legends (Another Living Legend That Will Live Long After Lots Of Other Living Legends Have Died)

Kelly and I have seen the Liverpool Legends three times, and we both agree that their show is excellent. If the Beatles would have had modern concert equipment, this is what they would have sounded like live.

What makes them stand out from other Beatles tribute groups is the presence of Louise Harrison, George’s sister. She put the group together, and often sits on stage during intermission answering questions.

If you get the chance to see them, either in Branson or as they tour, take it.

That's right - Paul, John, George, Ringo, together again.

* I stole the "Living legends..." line in the title from Eric Idle in The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash.
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