America Out My Window

Who Dropped Mayo On My Burger?

How is it that mayonnaise has become the default condiment on hamburgers? Go to a fast food joint, go to a nice sit-down place, you get mayo on your burger. Ask for a burger without mayo, you wait longer, then you have to scrape it off before you eat it anyway.

Hey, this is America. This is the land of freedom, built on opportunity, hard work, and mustard and ketchup on hamburgers. You want mayo on a burger, go to France, or Belgium, or California.

An Offer I Wouldn't Refuse
A little girl and her mother came to my door today, selling overpriced junk from slick catelogues that net little profit for her school. I know it is junk and I know it is overpriced because all 8 of my kids have sold it.

I know they need the money, but frankly, I’m weary of paying $16 for $2-worth of candy or coffee cups or wrapping paper and the school only getting $4.

Why not try this: “Sir, I could show you this flashy booklet of way too expensive stuff you really don’t need, but if you just give me a check for $10 made out to our school, it will cost you less and we’ll have more profit to buy our new playground. Is that a deal?”

Now, I’d do that.

Calling The IRS

There are things I’d rather do than call the IRS, especially during tax season: root canal, help an old woman move, eat a tomato, have a mammogram, watch a Twilight movie….

But call them I did. I arranged a number of chores to do while holding the phone, knowing I would be on hold for a while. I changed shoes, unloaded the dishwasher, swept out the kitchen, got online for a recipe for homemade weed killer, mixed up two batches and poured it on our walkway, took photographs of the blooming trees in our front yard and back yard, and cleaned out the fridge.

All the while, a scratchy recording of some obscure piano tune, obviously written by some bored sadist with tenure at the IRS, cycled over and over, and over.

The woman who finally answered was polite, eager to help, and efficient, thank you very much.

Not too bad, as these things go, and certainly better than a call to, say, Microsoft technical support, or the phone company.

That's Not America

No matter what you hear on CNN, whatever did or did not happen, George Zimmerman is not America.

Come to think of it, CNN isn't America, either.

How Could I Possibly Have A Boyfriend?

One of our younger daughters is in between middle school boyfriends, having lost some phone privileges due to some late-night texting with her last one.

So far she’s been pretty good at talking to her mother about boys and that part of her life, so after hearing one particular boy mentioned too many times and seeing his face a lot on Facebook, Kelly asked, “Do you have a new boyfriend?”

The daughter gave her mother that disdainful look that girls that age have mastered, and said, “How could I possibly have a boyfriend when I don’t even have a phone?”

Put A Tie On When You Come To My Funeral
Attending a religious service this morning, in a beautiful chapel, I noticed that most adults there were wearing casual clothes. Doesn’t that seem wrong to you?

People where I live don't dress up for much, not even funerals. Is this true everywhere?

Jeans and shorts and flip flops don't really seem like proper attire for a funeral. "Sorry you're dead, dad, but not sorry enough to bother cleaning up and changing clothes before coming down for the ceremony."

I'm only 56, but I remember people dressing up to eat out, dressing up to fly, dressing up for dates, dressing up for work.

But now it's "welcome to the bank,” but you can’t tell if that’s the banker or the guy who is mowing their lawn.

You Gotta Love Texas Women

In Stephen King’s 11/22/1963, a Texas woman says, “I’d hate to think our whole planet was being judged by Texas.”

Personally, I love Texas, or at least, I love Texans, or at least, I love Texan women. Here’s why.

I used to work the arts and crafts circuit, selling jelly or tire swings all around the country, from Albany to Albuquerque, Denver to Daytona, Kalamazoo to, well, nothing compares to Kalamazoo.

Of all these, my favorite place to go was Dallas, and I did a lot of shows there and all over Texas.

When people would ask who to make the check out to, I would tell them to just leave it blank, I’d fill it in later. Then I’d say, "in fact, just leave the amount blank. I’ll fill that in, too,” which always got a laugh.

In Dallas, though, and only in Dallas, out of hundreds of other towns, women would look at me, hand me a signed, blank check, and say thank you.

You Kids Get Outta My Yard
They all do it. Kids. Old people. Dog walkers. Joggers. Parents. Even bike riders.

We live on a corner lot on a street leading to two schools, so we get lots of foot traffic. Almost all of these people cut the corner off the sidewalk, right across our yard, and literally right outside my window.

I hate to think that I’ve become one of those “you kids get out of my yard” guys, but this seems pretty thoughtless of the kids and downright rude for the adults. Would it kill them to walk that extra six feet and make the right angle turn? And aren’t the joggers cheating themselves by cutting the corner?

Then there's the dog walkers. Sometimes I’m tempted to follow them home and take a dump on their yard, just to make it even.

Repel Those Pesky Mosquitoes This Summer

There are mosquitoes buzzing outside my window. Here are some healthier options to repel the little suckers, from Dr. Joseph Mercola.

Wipe yourself, your clothes and your babies with fabric softener sheets.

Take a vitamin B-1 supplement each day until October.

Don’t eat bananas until October.

Vick's Vaporub® drives them away. And probably your spouse, too.

Avon Skin-So-Soft® bath oil mixed half and half with rubbing alcohol keeps them away. Mosquitoes, not spouses.

Try clear liquid vanilla mixed with olive oil on your skin. Your spouse might come back.

At home, plant marigolds around your yard.

It's A Scholarship Program. Yeah, yeah....

One of the 14-year-olds, searching for YouTube beauty tips and fabulous faces for her Pinterest
board, says to her mother:

“You know, it isn’t always the prettiest girl who wins these beauty pageants.”

“Oh, I know,” says the mom, a former pageant winner herself, “it’s also about talent and poise and smarts, not just looks.”

“Oh man,” shrugs the daughter, “why do they take away the one thing I have a shot at….”

Skinny Is Better Than Smart

After the first day of her three-day teacher’s conference in a distant city, Kelly sent a text saying that she was so happy to be around smart people again. This left some of us back at home scratching our heads.

She came home all excited, eager to tell us what she had learned about the brain and how it learns. One problem, she explained, is that after years of low-fat diets, we are seeing a decrease of brain function because brains need a certain amount of a certain type of fat.

Libby Lu, lounging on the couch with her phone, considered this idea and concluded, “Well, I would rather be skinny than smart.”

Cultural Literacy

Cultural literacy?

Sitting in the break room, two college-aged young men were watching late-night reruns on TV. "Hey look, man," one says to the other, "Jennifer Aniston was in a TV show...."

26 Million Lady Gaga Fans Can't Be Wrong

I don’t do Twitter, but apparently other people do.

How is it that Ashton Kutcher has 11 million followers? Are there that many people with absolutely nothing to do? I mean, don’t they have cable?

Of course, Kutcher doesn’t have as many followers as Oprah (12 M), and the two of them together don’t have as many as Lady Gaga (26 M).

I just don’t get it. Justin Bieber has 24,000,000 followers and the Dalai Lama has just 66,000. I’ve never heard either of them sing, but I can’t imagine there’s that much difference.

Helicopters And Careers And Canfield

The two hospitals near me use helicopters for emergencies, so helicopters are flying overhead all the time. They are sleek and fast and perfectly designed for what they do, but I watched one land today. As it got close, as it slowed, it suddenly seemed bulky, awkward and ridiculously heavy.

It made me think of a fish on the sidewalk. In water, in its element, a fish is effective and efficient, successful. But take it out of the water, just a little way out of the water, and the fish
struggles, gives up, then dies. Eventually.

Sound familiar? Feel familiar?

Perhaps one reason so many people seem so unhappy with their careers is that they are not doing the work they are designed to do – they are not doing what they are naturally good at.

"What we must learn to do is invest most of our time every day, every week, in what we do best, and let others do what they do best," says Jack Canfield in The Power of Focus.

Otherwise, we feel bulky, awkward and ridiculously heavy.

Celebrity Not What It Used To Be, I Guess

At the ballpark, the JumboTron showed a black and white
yearbook photo of a young man, with Guess Who? written in big letters.

I had no idea who, and cared little, but I happened to look up just as they gave the answer.

Next to the old photo was a current color photo of a similar looking man and his name, Kid Rock.

And I still didn’t know. Who?

Poor Baseball Players

The baseball player on the radio was complaining about the logistics of his trade to a MLB team in a distant city. Last-minute travel was such a hassle, he said, rushing off to the airport with little time to prepare. He complained about having to stay in a hotel for several weeks while he found a suitable house in just the right suburb.

Now, here’s a young man making just under $2,000,000 a year. No matter where he lives, he is on the road for half of his professional season, which lasts only six months of the year, so how is one more first-class flight all that horrible? The poor guy has to somehow manage on more than $100 a day meal allowance. Isn’t that more than many Americans earn for working hard all day?

Next thing you know, he’ll be whining because he has to play baseball on Labor Day.

Food For Thought
The question on the Swagbucks poll was whether the Olympics should be longer or shorter. Here were a couple of comments:

jennfer1 on 08/15/12

If they spent as much on feeding third-world countries as they do on the Olympics every four years, imagine how many fewer people will die of hunger!

Bluejayguy on 08/15/12

You don't stop hunger with money, you stop it with education.

Wbeggs on 08/15/12

And food, dont forget food.

Sex Is Gross

When teaching freshman public speaking, for audience analysis, I finish with a brief group activity. They have three minutes to prepare a keyword outline of a presentation on sex education. This always gets a few giggles, a few groans, but they are engaged.

Then I tell them they have to base their presentations on the age of their audience, and I pass each group a slip of paper with an age written on it: 18, 28, 78, 8. They present in that order.

Here is what one group presented for the oldest audience:

Sex is gross. And you could hurt yourself.

If you must, make sure you are healthy enough for sexual activity. Those little blue pills can help, but keep the emergency number handy.

Don't worry about birth control. Unless you are dating a younger person who wants your money.

Don't worry about STDs - you're going to die soon anyway.

Take breaks as needed. Try not to fall asleep.

And, please, make sure the lights are off.

Little do they know. Am I right?

Tornados In October
The tornado alarms sounded tonight, just after supper. I’ve grown up with tornados, and where I live the proper response to the alarms is to stand by the windows trying to spot the twister.

Kelly, who is what the Beach Boys had in mind with that California girls song, is new to the whole tornado experience, and she takes the warnings seriously. I admit, after seeing and working in Joplin last year days after their big tornado, I head for cover when the alarms go off, too, but Kelly races there, dragging any children who happen to be in the house with her.

Me, I like to make sure everyone is wearing shoes, unplug the computers, find the flashlight, grab my Lou Brock bat, eat a cupcake, find whatever book I'm reading, then go downstairs. As I tell Kelly, the odds of any one house being struck by a tornado are incredibly long. She counters with “that’s what they used to think in Joplin,” and I guess she is right. Like always.

To The Cheerleaders:

If there are less than two minutes to play, and your team doesn’t have the ball, and the other team is three yard’s from your team’s goal line, and the score is 26-6 against your team, that “We’re gonna beat the Wildcats” cheer might not be your wisest choice.

Also, that catchy "XHS we are the best, XHS we are the best” chant probably isn’t your best bet, either. If there are only two teams, as there always are only two teams in football, you can’t really say your team is best, now can you. “XHS we are the better, XHS we are the better” is what you mean to say.

Of course, don’t wait until your team is LOSING BY 20 POINTS to say it.

44 Pounds Of Candy

We live in the Halloween neighborhood. Parents bring children from all over town to see the houses and collect lots of candy. We have a reputation for giving out the good stuff, the homeowners dress up themselves and their houses, so the people come.

No, you don't understand. A LOT of people come.

There will be 20 to 30 kids lined up all evening. We have 44 POUNDS of candy, 2,100 pieces (after subtracting what I've already eaten) to pass out this year, and we aren't sure it will be enough.

We love it.

Funniest Line Of The Night On Halloween
Every boy who walked up wearing one of those bloody Scream masks, Kelly would say, "no candy until you smile."

A Charge Out Of Stores That Do Right
I dragged a dead battery to a nearby O’Reilly Auto Parts store. When asked how long ago I bought it, I explained that I had no idea, because my father-in-law owned it. “It’s one of our batteries,” the guy said, “so if you have his phone number we can look it up.”

Tap tap tappity tap on the computer.

“Hmmm,” he said, “he bought this battery exactly two years ago today. Which means that the warranty expires at midnight tonight.”

I walked out with a brand new battery.

It would have been easy to keep it to himself and send me on my way. I wouldn’t have known. But the guy did the right thing, which I hope is company policy.

The Holiday House (We Wish We Could Keep Up With)

We call it the Holiday House, the one diagonal from us, the one I see fully out my window. They go all out decorating for all the holidays, but especially Halloween and Christmas.

Their fence has hundreds of lights and plastic light-up lamp posts, the trees have thousands of lights, and the porch and pillars are wrapped in lights. There are three large red light-up bells, a tall light-up snow man, and an even taller light-up Santa. They have a huge wreath, filled with lights, above the porch, and another big Santa and four life-sized, light-up reindeer prance across the roof.

Other houses out other windows are glowing, too, with wonderful lights and wreaths and bright red and green.

There are many things I don’t enjoy about this time of year, but I love walking and driving around at night, admiring the yard decorations.

Thanks, everybody.

Kindle For PC, For Now

You gotta love Kindle For PC. I just saw a cool book for 99 cents – Love Me Do by Bill Harry – clicked one button, now it’s on my phone. And by noon, Christmas day, it will be on my new Kindle Fire.

Hint hint, wink wink.
Another Bullet Dodged (Y2K Being The First)
We restrict late-night phone use by our children, but I got this message from one:

"Can I text after 10, because tomorrow is the end of the world?"

The New iPhone

Libby to her mom yesterday, on handing over her new iPhone for the first time:

"Be careful. It's like a little bird...."

It's True What They Say About Missouri Weather
Yesterday morning, January 29th, the kids wore short pants to school. During the day, it rained and rained and rained.

This morning when I went out, it was too cold for my light jacket.

A few minutes ago, Kelly said, "Look out the window, look out the window." Sure enough, it was snowing.

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