Saturday, August 14, 2010

Make your OWN 'Gump' Fate!

I know it is kind of past its prime but one of my daughter’s favorite movies is Forrest Gump. I am assuming she appreciates Gump’s incredible good fortune despite his limitations, and is hoping that someday Forrest’s 'luckiness' will similarly befall her? Now I don’t know if she noticed, but the 'tree'd one' has his share of bad luck as well, so I hope she’s ready for life’s little unexpected surprises. Maybe it is just me, but also did anyone else notice, that 'Forrest' guy is not really ‘Mensa material’ and cannot seem to see HIMSELF through the trees even if he had bionic vision?

And what’s the deal with Forrest’s Mom, Sally Field, and the chocolates? I don’t think ol’ Gumpy’s mama would not have had a problem with her confection confusion if Forrest had given her a Whitman’s Sampler and maybe a bottle of Boniva. Doesn’t Whitman’s have a guide or something on the box lid of their chocolates? And let’s face it the little flat ‘Stanley’ Whitman messenger guy in the middle, doesn’t everyone really know that can ONLY be milk chocolate? I mean there are no lumps or swirls on it indicating chocolate-covered fruit or nuts - so truly, if you choose the ‘Delivery guy’ - you know EXACTLY what you are going to get.

So what’s the point of all this you might ask? Well the answer is that more often than not, if you work at it a bit, you often can ‘make your own’ fate instead of being subjected to it. With another uneventful Friday the 13th, I usually chuckle that some folks stress over ‘bad omens’ and black cats, yet get excited over horoscope hoopla or positive fortune cookie predictions. Yes, Forrest often literally stumbled into some of his good fortune, but in many examples throughout the film, Gump is also instrumental through his ACTIONS in making ‘good’ luck lean his way.

No I don’t believe you can magically run your way out of leg braces, or make a fortune marketing Gulf shrimp (at least for now). But I do believe that if you concentrate on putting your best ‘Gump’ forward, stay determined, and position yourself to lead rather than follow, you can make the glass MORE than half full. You have to be harder working, willing to take-on more responsibility and yes even work for LESS pay in the short term, but you’ll get noticed and remembered. The next time promotions come up or pink slips go down, your peers will complain over their unbelievable lack of luck. But you’ll know better that not only did you make and deserve the opportunity, but you made your own FORTUNE as well. Gee, I guess I can see why my kid likes this movie so much, because ‘Lucky IS as Lucky’s MADE’!

Friday, August 13, 2010

‘Cartronics’ – Can you hear me now?

I used to listen to in-car music for relaxation and entertainment until I was about 18 when then something happened. I am not sure what changed, but time apparently passed me by and car electronics got muddled and confusing. The last thing I remember was hooking up a simple $20 in-dash car stereo cassette player to some 6” X 9” speakers that I (stupidly) just set loose on my rear window deck. At the time the world had just started concerning itself with strapping in babies to car seats, so nobody thought much about free-flying speakers denting your brainless teenaged head in an accident.

Don’t worry, I never got beaned by the speakers but those bulky noisemakers did jog my memory in how far society has progressed in portable entertainment technology. Today unless I want to pack a huge set of ear-muff headphones which would dwarf the music player, most people stick those ‘ear buds’ in their head. Does anyone else detest this word ‘ear bud’ as much as I do? I always think buds as organic with chlorophyll, roots, and pods. Since I have enough dirt in my ears already, I don’t want any kind of ‘buds’ poking around near the inside of my head. I also hate these tiny microscopic cords that these audio ear-plugs strung up with. I think I have dental floss that is thicker and definitely more durable than these junky wires.

Now music and phones also all come ‘Bluetooth’ enabled. Do you use a toothbrush to clean these devices? I doubt it since I am generally aware that this is a one-eared headphone. Only rarely does my neck ‘bristle’ but why would I ever stick a toothbrush in my ears to clean them when my Waterpick does such a great job already? What is the electronics industry’s obsession with the color ‘blue’ anyway as in Blue Ray, Blue LED and of course the ubiquitous Bluetooth? This is probably the mood all the techno geeks are in once they find out that only ‘Blue Bloods’ can afford all these whiz-bang electro-gizmos.

Of course cell phones and GPS satellite navigation have revolutionized in-car communications and emergency response these days. We used to have only real LIVE humans to distract us before. Now it is so much more convenient to have a dash-mounted robot navigator berating your every driving decision, along with your spouse in the back seat. At least between phone tasks to order pizza, check Facebook, and yell at your kids, that cell phone MIGHT have enough battery left to call for a tow truck to get you out of that ditch quicker? And with your Bluetooth boom sealed in one ear and your Ipod earbud plugged in another, you can still always turn on the car radio for relaxing entertainment … but the question is - will you be able to hear it?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sneezing etiquette at bodily functions

You know I admit it, I was never much good at all those integral equations and fancy math derivations, but as functions go, I have really come to rather enjoy sneezing and other bodily ‘duties’. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no bird flu enthusiast or ‘home-blown’ terrorist. Nobody appreciates a watery-eyed coughing fit or humidity flinging sneeze, while sitting in the middle of a ‘PEW’ at church. No these are the orifice-arts which are best practiced at home, alone, ‘under the covers’ of darkness.

Regular run-of-the-mill sneezing in particular always yields amazing satisfaction for me. There is just something about that comical, second or two of build-up and then the convulsive release of atomized pleasure. I would have to see it on instant replay, but I assume my mouth draws open like a cave, my head tilts back, and my head recoils akin to a firing a 12 gauge shotgun. I don’t know for sure, but I think maybe all of the earth’s air currents are actually created by people sneezing the world over.

I think an interesting physics experiment would be to go on that ‘zero G’ airplane ride with a can of pepper. Once I experience zero gravity and begin to float, I want to suck up some pepper and sneeze a mighty blow to see if I would bounce off the inside of that airplane like a pinball? Although Newton’s second law would seem to indicate that I would, I am not sure if ol’ Newt-y allowed for the variable of Triscuit cracker FOD (aeronautical term: ‘foreign object debris’) in his calculations. Yes, chip and cracker ‘spew’ can quickly turn all laws of motion into chaos, as an innocently pleasant sneeze quickly turns into a runaway nightmare, right ‘under your nose’.

Despite the horrors of an unbridled explosive sneeze, it is far worse to suppress the things and let them sneak up behind your sinuses and the back of your eyes. Cartoon steam will come out your ears, your eyes will start to water, and you have the unique pleasure of actually smelling whatever you were eating for a SECOND time. I also hate the ‘no-blow’ in which no matter how much sneeze-effort you put forth, ’NOPE springs eternal’. If you stop the conversation with a wind-up toward a sneeze and then never deliver, that is the anatomical equivalent of a ‘balk’ by a baseball pitcher. That’SNOT acceptable sneeze-etiquette, so before you engage in ‘nasal warfare’ at your next bodily function, be mindful of your mucous and don’t blow it – THROW IT!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A REALLY Big Wheel

You know technology has come a long way since the advent of the wheel. I get frustrated like everyone else with traffic and cars, especially when I need to get somewhere and the rest of the world doesn’t. At one point in our lives we got a unicycle to practice on while chewing gum, because you never know when vaudeville acts will be the next BIG thing. We never mastered the thing but every day I tried, it made me thankful that most of the time, multi-wheeled transportation is my preferred cup of tea.

Now don’t start calling me piggish for using so many resources just to buy a slab of bacon and an afternoon Slurpee at 7-11. I still ride bikes once in awhile and the top half of me always enjoys it. In fact, if I don’t have to ride with fanatics who dress in bright neon spandex and ride 50 miles per day at a full clip, even the lower half of my body enjoys bicycling. The problem is that apparently that big rump roast right in the middle, has a mind of its own. Apparently it does not appreciate that skinny little seat wedging itself into my ‘tenderloin’ to ‘STEAK’ its claim.

Now I do not think I’m alone in this complaint because even thin people and more experienced riders complain too. If these bicycle seats are so great why don’t they mount them on motorcycles or in the ‘coach’ section on airplanes? I did ride a 90cc motorcycle once around college but given my ‘Yeti’ physique, it was mostly a necessity to keep up with my wife’s 49cc moped. I have piloted much larger motorcycles on exactly two other occasions and within 5 or 10 minutes both times, helpful strangers had to pick up the bikes off of me so I could continue on my journey. This makes for very slow going when trying to get to work with un-shredded clothing, or bring back home that frosty Slurpee collector’s cup undamaged.

So given my extraordinary ability to learn quickly as well as my coordination, I was never accepted into NASA’s ‘Wheel-o’ training program, but as a consolation they did call me a ‘space cadet’. Yes, I was left back on earth to operate only terrestrial vehicles with more than two wheels, and occasionally those ‘carny’ rides with my tattooed prison mates. Someday, I kind of would like to try and drive a ‘hybrid’ vehicle too - you know the ones, with the fuel economy of a motorcycle, the seating capacity of a car, and the passing speed of a bike. In the 70’s they had already invented that perfect hybrid so go HERE if you want to see it. My wife sent me this clip to taunt me since it reminded her of our typical trips to the Mall together – atop our ultra high-tech BIG WHEEL!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Double Time plus Trip

I am a bit of a walking oxyMORON when it comes to my daily pursuits. Yes I put on a good show of living a ‘Lazy, Fair’ play-time existence, where anytime fun exceeds exacting need. However, in negotiating the mine fields of life’s cow pasture, I have tried to age gracefully like cheese and let the chips lay where they fall. I’m no longer a child, so like every other adult (because it’s in the contract) I have to live within limits, keep to a schedule, and sadly pay for stuff I use even if I don’t want to.

So given all that preamble, you will not find it surprising that I am rather ‘anal’ about the passage of time and keeping appointments. Don’t worry, this is not because of some horrible corporal punishment when I was a mere pup, where my parents literally did not spare the ‘rod’. Most of the time when I bad as a kid, my punishments were the equivalent of getting lemon juice squeezed in your eye. Oh yeah I remember that whispy lilac bush which could render a lash, but believe me I was such a fat little angelic cherub that usually devil’s food cake alone was more than enough to keep me in line.

No, my relentless addiction to the EXACTNESS of time came on the scene, of my own volition. I never had enough of the tick-tock stuff so it became necessary to meter it out carefully and protect it like gold. I remember getting hired to work the third shift at a bakery and being told to show up on Monday to start. In the real world that meant 12 midnight after the end of Sunday at 11:59 pm RIGHT? Well in all my genius, I showed up 24 hours later because to me that was MONDAY NIGHT! The boss gave me a pass that time as I blamed my parents for raising me on Greenwich Mean Time, but I never forgot that day and vowed to forever be prompt to appointments no matter what.

As I have gotten older I’ve had a few run-ins with Doctors and other rubber-covered fingered professionals who did not value my time as much as I did. It has almost become a game for me now to see how ‘close’ I can walk in the door to whatever time commitment that I am trying to meet. I figure if I am respectful enough to show up on time, the least that others can do (no matter what their title), is the same! Sadly now I have to work on my own car, do my own dental and medical exams, and even cut my hair by myself, but at least I have my principles.

I did have to temper my attitude a bit when we had a baby since the only thing babies do regularly is eat, regurgitate, eat, diaper dump, eat, … well you’ve probably been there. Oddly they don’t seem to respect my time at all much less their poor mom’s? Eventually, the ‘slobber-box’ grew up to possess some sort of advanced reptilian brain, so I practiced good parenting and taught the kid, the value of HER time too. The problem is, I have clearly created a monster. I can only get an audience with my daughter if I pay for her ‘productive down time’ to talk. That I can accept because I do like to talk, but what bugs me is that I have to pay DOUBLE rate on weekends and a TRIP CHARGE if I ever travel down memory lane. Gee I wonder how much it would cost if she gave me the time of day?

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Changing ‘grill’ of Limousines

It has been many years, when I was young, dumb and owned a limousine. This was not one of these bus-long jobs that the people prefer to rent today, as our car was a ‘normal’ stretched 7 passenger formal. Believe it or not, a couple of decades ago a car with a 145 inch wheelbase was considered fairly large. But check out the link HERE, to see what today’s 10 – 15 passenger limos have morphed into, and you’ll understand that now we’re dealing with a whole new breed of steed.

Stretching cars to excess is probably not as much of surprise as is the introduction of the SUV limo conversion. Now it seems more 4 wheel drive trucks and specialized ‘weird-mobiles’ are being lengthened, tinted, washed & waxed. For a minute there I bet you thought you were at the hair salon or spa huh? I wonder what kind of parties these people are going to that need 4X4 all-terrain limos? Maybe these Deliverance-type ‘special events’ are in the boonies, or ‘big shot celebrities’ prefer to answer the call of nature, by hiring giant 4X4 limousines to help them take ‘VIP’s’ in the woods?

I always loved the romance of owning a limo until I started DRIVING the ‘typical’ people who wanted to rent them. Oh sure once in awhile I’d get a nice couple that just wanted to go to dinner and then out to the theater. But mostly I would get loads of classless drunk people who wanted to drink more and scream out the windows at the Crips and Bloods in bad parts of town. That is always fun to be the only sane one in a suit and helmet, trying to negotiate the ‘rules’ of a rumble between gangbangers and prom rejects. I thought I was just hired to drive - not hold the microphone at a WWF cage match and clean ‘puke’ and goo off my car at 3 A.M. in the morning?

So needless to say I am no longer an entrepreneurial chauffeur & limousine magnate. Without all the French words that means, I’m not magnetically ‘attracted’ to limousines like bugs seem to be to those hanging ‘purple-light, screened zapper things’. Chauffeurs are like glorified bus jockeys and cabbies in a combat zone. So when I forget what my limo-life was like, I simply look at those dingy yellow cabs stuck outside the airport for hours on end. That’s the perfect representation of a job which mainly requires you to ‘hurry up and wait’ but with a little more polish (or other favorite type hot dog) … and oh yeah – a really COOL hat!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bottle Cap Intelligence Test

Whether I am drinking Diet Coke or eating Froot Loops for breakfast (only rarely at the same time), it seems that a new marketing trend has invaded my cupboard along with the weevils. The packaging of many common products are adorned with ‘points’ or some kind of reward coupon. If you save up enough of these bottle caps, hunks of cardboard, or torn wrappers, you can bundle them up and send off for, as the game shows say, ‘gifts and valuable prizes’.

Generally I am all for the idea of promoting brand loyalty and giving your ‘best’ customers something back. So while yes I’m appreciative of the chance to get something free, I am less excited about saving up little bags of trash and rebate forms all over the house. It is not that I am too ‘good’ for such activity, it is actually just because that extra stuff confuses me while wading through my normal household garbage in search of my car keys and wallet.

Now days, it seems that every recreational outing with the family ends up being a fishing trip for these stupid bottle cap points. For some odd reason my daughter seems embarrassed to be seen with me as I stick my head in garbage and tear up soda cartons like a mental midget. Amazingly, along with the soda cap points, there are LOTS of uneaten goodies in those trash cans, so I am kind of shocked it took so long for this trend to go main-stream. After all, didn’t every ‘Baby Boomer’ grow up with Dubble Bubble gum with collectable comics? I also used to have a pretty decent assortment of those Cracker Jack ‘spit’ tattoos where you would lick your arm and transfer that stinky-ink prize on to your skin.

At least now, prizes have moved past THAT valueless junk to some really great stuff like a cereal promotion that offers first-run DVD’s for your repeated patronage. The problem is, that ‘blockbuster’ movie literally is about construction people crushing rocks! Also, after saving Coca Cola points for months, you can get great magazine subscriptions to popular favorites like ‘Reader’s un-digested’ or “NewsWEAK”. If I’m lucky, I only need to drink another $80 worth of soda to get a colorful branded beach ball prize for only the cost of ‘shipping and handling’. One side of that ‘peachy’ ball demands in big letters - ‘Drink a Coke’ and on the other side, it says - ‘THINK, u Dope!’ Oh, don’t worry, isn’t it obvious – I’ll continue to do BOTH religiously!