Random Sunday Ramble

March 11, 2017

Sorry to ramble…

I had a lot of things I wanted to get done today, but daylight savings time has ruined my schedule.

How can thirteen-year-old boys be so good at remembering to liberally douse themselves in cheap cologne, yet they can’t remember to turn off lights or flush toilets?

Why does getting good experience at anything take so damn long?

No kid of mine will be operating a vehicle if they “can’t” operate the washer and dryer.

I recently read that the brain begins deteriorating at age 27. Or was it 37? Anyway, it seemed young.

If you believe God is omniscient and everything is predestined by him, what is the point of anything? I at least wouldn’t be getting up early for church.

Why is it that the competitive neighborhood dads all seem to end up mowing at the same time on Saturday mornings?

Did you know…the average American annually consumes as many calories as 32 Kenyans?

Tacos sound good.

I like soccer, but it seems to discriminate against people in wheelchairs, which is why I think basketball is a better overall sport.

Does anyone actually say “tomahto?” If so, they’re not doing themselves any favors.

Spring break is nice for kids, but for most parents it’s simply a week when we are forced to find a sitter.

We are all capable of doing great things, but most of us decide to take a nap.

One out of every three people in the world has no access to a toilet, yet the average new American house has three toilets before finishing the bathroom in the walkout basement.

I truly believe soda is worse for you than beer, I just don’t have the data to back it up.

Life is best experienced with your TV off.

While I don’t watch much TV, I become very concerned when I can’t find the remote.

Considering thousands of people are born each day, I’ve concluded that the possibility of reincarnation seems more realistic than going to heaven.

When we were younger my wife would complain that I didn’t listen to her. Now she just tells everyone I’m deaf.

25% of people in the world live with no electricity. This makes me feel slightly guilty about having a portable phone charger that looks like the poop emoji.

With so many aging baby boomers, I predict canes will start to be en vogue again.

I’d be lying if I said speaking French didn’t make me more handsome.

Did you know…805 million people in the world go hungry every single day. Meanwhile, I’m sitting in my warm car, polluting the air, as I complain about the long line in the drive-thru (tapping my steering wheel along with the radio, of course). Pathetic.

“As a matter of fact yes, (teenage) son, that gold chain does make you look like a douche.”

They say learning to play an instrument has many wonderful benefits for children, yet they never mention how much it sucks for the parents of these children learning to play instruments.

Did you know…it is legal for children to smoke cigarettes in the US? Doctors, however, discourage it.

If I knew then what I know now I know I would have at least known more then.

Call me stupid, but I feel inclined to believe in ideas backed by scientific evidence.

It’s scientifically proven that no man can look cool while drinking from a straw.

Twenty-somethings are into the whole “Netflix and chill” thing. My wife and I spend 45 minutes trying to find something to watch on Netflix, then just decide we are too tired for a movie or sex.

In a world where you can choose to be anything, many people seem to choose poorly.

My six-year-old daughter recently had some ideas about how I could comb my hair differently to look less bald. I thought this was kind of cute at first, but she followed that up by saying that I should consider wearing black because it’s slimming.

Did you know…farting helps reduce high blood pressure?

Dear Red-Blooded American Badass: Before you start cursing that guy because he’s in your country and isn’t speaking English, you might want to know that the good ol’ USA has no official language.

Do you suppose God plays tennis?

I think it’s good when people are politically correct, but I’d rather hang out with someone who is genuinely kind and also enjoys making fun of people. Including themself.

If I could do it all over again, I would be nicer.

Life is short. Let’s do some good.

 

Photo Credit: A Photographer

 
I’m only 43 and am very young at heart, but I am starting to realize that you might be getting old if…

…minivans seem like a logical solution.

…you get out of bed at night because you remember you forgot to take your vitamins.

…you think the kids today have it so easy.

…Saturday mornings are for oil changes.

…you ask yourself, “how would my parents handle this?”

…the “oldies” station is playing songs you loved in college.

…the expiration date on food doesn’t seem as important.

…you still enjoy wearing Crocs.

…the thought of getting hair plugs has crossed your mind.

…you get your tax return filed before April 15th.

…you look forward to yogurt with granola.

…you look in the mirror and it’s your father’s face.

…you pass up an invitation to play golf with your buddies because the blinds need a serious cleaning.

…a good evening is simply being able to take a dump in some peace and quiet.

…on the way to a play date your five-year-old daughter says, “just drop me off here and I can walk the rest of the way.”

…you actually yell at a neighbor kid for cutting across your lawn.

…you use the little ladder to get in and out of the pool.

…your wife tells you to drive faster.

…you wear ear and eye protection while weed-eating.

…your family is more important than anything else.

…it’s so damn hot out there.

…you injure your back by sneezing.

…SPF 50 seems inadequate.

…your twelve-year-old son has to show you how to work your new cell phone.

…you start wearing a bike helmet without even considering how ridiculous you look.

…during the big ballgame you find yourself sipping on green tea instead of a beer.

…you have no clue what the cable channels are.

…going to sleep or having sex becomes a mental tug of war.

…you worry about how your family would get by if you were to die. 

…back hair has entered the picture. 

…your kids (and/or wife) routinely say, “I’m sorry but you’re not wearing that.” 

…you routinely tell your daughter, “I’m sorry but you’re not wearing that.”

…prostate exams, while uncomfortable, seem necessary.

…movie theaters are perfect for napping. 

…you realize you’re not going to live forever.

…you think you should probably take a jacket. 

…your children are asking for the car keys. 

…it’s too loud. 

…it’s not loud enough. 

…you can laugh at how pathetic you are.

Getting old ain’t so bad. It beats the alternative, as they say. Let’s raise a glass (or cup, if you’re drinking green tea) to getting much older and much wiser. Cheers.

 

Photo Credit: A Photographer

The best thing about being a substitute teacher is working with kids. Admittedly, there are times when this is also the worst part of my job, but it’s rare.

Many days I find I’m inspired by seeing students — often from different races and nationalities — being genuinely kind to one another. This supports my belief that people are inherently good. Other days I feel excited and happy when a child finally “gets it,” and I see their eyes light up and a gap-toothed smile stretch across their face. It’s proof that kids learn differently, but they all actually want to learn. Each and every day I am lucky enough to hear or see something that makes me laugh out loud — a reminder that we take life a little too seriously.

Yesterday was no different. I was subbing for a teacher who takes students out of their normal classrooms to be part of smaller group instruction. So I would go to various classrooms, retrieve the students, then walk them to the room where the smaller groups meet. I’ve subbed for this teacher several times, so the students know who I am, but I still try to help put them at ease by making a little small talk as we walk. 

It was mid-morning when I went to a first grade class and pulled out a girl I had previously worked with a few times. Walking down the hall, we were having a typical casual conversation when things turned serious.

“So how’s your day going so far?” I inquired.

“Well, not very good,” the girl replied very solemnly. 

“Oh no, what’s the matter?”

“Well, I think I got dog poop on my shoe,” she said as she lifted her foot and hopped along for a second.

Sure enough… I couldn’t help laughing, and then she started laughing, too.

Regardless of our age, we all have days when we step in poop. Life’s just like that. Rather than getting upset, I hope I will think of this story and take it in stride (yes, pun intended) the next time it happens to me. We all could be better at this.

  
It’s a very cold and rainy spring break morning in my neck of the woods. Regardless, I’m still feeling very fortunate to be able to be home with my kids (well, mostly), and the weather provides a perfect day to make some popcorn, cuddle up under blankets, and watch movies. We have cable and Netflix, and movies are just a couple clicks of the remote control away, yet I would love to be able to take my son and daughter to the local video store to pick out some old classics. Something they have never had the pleasure of doing.

While technology certainly has its upside, our kids are missing out on some things that my generation took for granted. Long gone is the excitement of perusing the new releases at the pre-Blockbuster corner video store (don’t forget to check the recently returned cart — and try to sneak a peek into the Adult section), the joy of getting dropped off by our parents at the mall (my mom can take if yours can pick up?) and slowly flipping through records at Musicland (either before or after slurping an Orange Julius), or even just playing board (bored) games like Life, Monopoly, and Clue.

Perhaps I’m suffering from a worsening case of silly nostalgia as I get older, but it seems like it was just a simpler, better time when we were kids — despite being more difficult to do some things. I’m aware of course that every older generation thinks such things about the current “troubled” youth of society, but maybe the old geezers are on to something. I mean think about it…we rode our bikes everywhere (my kids literally dislike bicycles), we played outside from sun up to sun down in the summer (my kids would rather lie in bed doing “stuff” on their electronic devices), we got severe, tissue damaging sunburns (my kids wear sunscreen if they happen to enter sunlight), we played actual sports (my kids excel at virtual bowling). This is messed up, man.

Who am I kidding, my kids would probably freak out if they had to go to an actual video store. Part of how they act is on me for not being a better parent, and I suppose part of it is just the way things are today. That being said, my children do great in school, are generally very kind to others, are not complete spoiled brats (despite how I describe them), and my wife and I love the hell out of them (and that love is definitely reciprocated). They also recycle sometimes. The world may be going to hell in a hand-basket, but things could be much worse. As the old saying goes, the kids are alright (they just aren’t as good as when we were young).

Here’s to a happy spring break for all and some true quality time with your damn children (oh, and better weather than we have). Cheers. 

 

 

 

Recess

February 17, 2016

Photo Credit: A Photographer

 
If you’re one of the seven people who read my blog regularly, you know that I quit my job — no my career — almost a year ago to pursue happiness. I spent about six incredible months as a stay-at-home dad, and have been working as a substitute teacher since school started. I love being a sub and working with kids. It’s challenging, rewarding, and sometimes I’m lucky enough to work in the same school as my kids, which is pretty cool for all of us.

Back when I worked for “the man,” there was a trendy deli in a quaint neighborhood that I went to often for lunch. Okay, it was actually a Subway, but this particular location truly had some of the freshest ingredients, and it was in a cool part of town. It backed up to a park bordered on the far side by a school. On nice days I would get lunch to go and eat in my car with the windows rolled down. While enjoying some fresh air and a mediocre sandwich, I was always able to hear the school kids playing during recess. I couldn’t see them because a little hill was in the way, but I didn’t need to. What I could hear was pure joy. Jubilant laughing and playful screaming was perfect background noise on a warm, sunny day. The students were obviously elated, without another care in the world at that moment. It was a great — albeit very temporary — escape from the conflict resolution meetings, particularly particular clients, and general negativity and stress of the daily grind.

I’ve been a long-term substitute at the same school for nearly two months, and I now get to experience recess up close on a daily basis. Being able to physically see recess gives me a newfound appreciation — no awe, really — of the early coordination skills of our youth, which I formerly perceived to be somewhere in the range of fairly awkward to dangerously clumsy. Every day I expect to witness broken bones, lacerations requiring urgent medical care, concussions, or worse.

Let me attempt to paint a picture for you: at each recess there are about 125 kids playing on a chunk of rock-hard concrete that’s approximately the size of a football field. Sound scary? Wait. Now imagine these 125 kids playing seven separate games of tag, two games of basketball, a game of four square, and pretending to have a gymnastics meet. All while a soccer match is taking place. Oh, and a handful of the students like to just sit on the ground and talk. When I worked a recess for the first time, I asked one of the seasoned, full-time teachers where the ambulance was kept on standby. I was only sort of kidding. Amazingly, I have never witnessed more than a scraped knee (knock on wood), and even that is rare. It’s similar to what I would expect if several flocks of birds were put in a giant cage. The kids just magically follow their group around at high rates of speed, never running into the ever-present trouble surrounding them. It is truly something to behold.

The school I’ve been at recently happens to be designated as one of the district’s “English Language Learners” elementary schools. This means that students who are new to the country or unfamiliar with English are brought in from outside of the school’s normal boundaries in an effort to help get them up to speed before middle school. This results in a wonderfully diverse student population. I get to not only hear the youthful fun, but I see children from many different races, nationalities, and religions playing together (mostly) in harmony. Sure, there are disagreements and even occasional scuffles, but at this age there are really no cliques or clubs, just kids having fun together. It’s firsthand proof that love — or at least acceptance — is natural, and hatred is learned. This is a great thing to be able to witness.

Remember when we were kids? Most of us didn’t worry, judge others, or overthink our existence. Life was pretty simple, and most of the time was simply great. Despite that, we couldn’t wait to get older. Now many of us make things more difficult than necessary, as our remaining time on this earth races by at an ever-increasing rate of speed. Someone more clever than me said that “these are the good old days.” Trust me, you can do better than briefly escaping over your lunch break, over the weekend, or even over a vacation. Live your life like the kids on the playground — with exuberant energy, with kindness, and by making the most of the moments we have left. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, regardless of age, everyone says they feel like a kid at heart. After all, we are just kids who grew up. Find time for recess.

Illustration Credit: An Illustrator


Although I have no data to back me up, I have to assume that the postcard industry is in complete shambles. In an age where we can take a picture of something on the spot, then immediately send it to any individual or post it on social media for the entire world to see, how many people are actually going to the trouble of picking out, purchasing, and mailing a postcard? It’s a shame, really, as getting a postcard from someone traveling in a far off destination used to seem so cool. I’m as guilty as anyone, however.

These damned, beloved cell phones of ours are really screwing things up while they make life so very convenient. We are always reachable, and are constantly making sure we haven’t missed a text, notification, or email (no one really wants an actual phone call anymore). It wasn’t that long ago that I would happily take my landline (gasp) phone off the hook to avoid being bothered. Now my cell phone is like a lifeline.

We waste, er spend, hours a day on social media looking at pictures of “friends'” (although we may have never actually met) kids doing “cute” things (you know, like sitting, standing or walking), narcissistic selfies, and annoying videos of cats. The same silly memes are seen hundreds of times a week, while the amazingly clever things I post never seem to gain any traction…alas.  

Between the photos of birthday parties, selfies at concerts, vids of cats jumping three feet high for a fake mouse, and memes with the Dos Equis dude, our nation is divided by political posts. These are commonly lies or extreme exaggerations, which are presented as facts (both sides are terribly guilty of this). I should mention there is plenty of good news posted, too, though controversial and judgmental posts are apparently more interesting. Despite it all, I can’t seem to turn away or stop posting things, myself.

My twelve year old son is already addicted to his phone — as are most of his friends. He is on Facebook, Twitter, and (mostly) Instagram. My wife and I resisted letting him get accounts on these for a couple of years before giving in to his pleas. Snapchat is still off the table, although he asks us almost daily about letting him join. My kid spends a good part of each night FaceTiming with his girlfriend. They don’t say much, but just watch each other as they go about their lives. It’s somewhere between funny and disturbing. The most effective punishment we have for my son is to take his phone away. If we do this for any length of time, he not only shapes up because he wants it back, but he seems genuinely happier and is certainly more involved with our family. I don’t think this is any coincidence.

It’s probably too late for the current generations, but I give our species enough credit to expect that there will be a paradigm shift at some point where people will realize that while they are constantly looking down at their devices (at some point the term “phone” will surely fall out of favor), they are missing far too much of their short lives. Maybe this will be some future generation that wants to be better parents than they had growing up. Perhaps it will be sooner than later?

In the meantime, I hope everyone has purchased the latest and greatest phone, and that you will continue texting or emailing instead of calling me, letting us all know about your kids’ milestones and achievements, and posting selfies with famous landmarks when traveling. Let me ask just one favor: drop me a postcard sometime (you can use your phone to find my address). I’ll try to send some too. 

  
September is one of my favorite months. It’s a time when a lot of good change is taking place, like the kids going back to school, cooler temperatures, leaves changing colors, and the start of football season. My wedding anniversary is in September. I can get away with wearing shorts and a sweatshirt in much of September. And, this year, the Kansas City Royals are poised to clinch a division pennant for the first time in 30 years…in September.

We also have a national holiday this month. Everyone is aware of Labor Day, you know, when we celebrate having jobs by taking a day off, but how many Americans are aware of the many “unofficial” national holidays that fall in September (or any month, for that matter)? Let’s take look at a few of the highlights:

September 2

National V-J Day — This of course means “Victory in Japan,” and celebrates the surrender of Japan in WWII. This is not to be confused with B-J Day, which in my house usually falls on my birthday. Sometimes. September 2 is also National Blueberry Popsicle Day…what a coincidence.

September 4

National Lazy Mom’s Day — No comment.

National Hug Your Boss Day — As a former “boss,” let me just say that I never (ever) wanted a hug. I didn’t want anyone coming in my office, let alone anyone providing a loving embrace to my torso. Not a good day.

September 8

National Pediatric Hematology Day — I know this is one day we never fail to celebrate in our house. So much fun!

September 10

National Swap Ideas Day and National TV Dinner Day — “Hey pal, I got an idea, you might wanna consider eating healthier.”

September 12

National Day of Encouragement — I like the idea behind this one, and feel like our nation has what it takes to make it happen. “C’mon, we got this.”

September 13

National Defy Superstition Day and National Fortune Cookie Day — “Hey Larry, that was some damn good Chinese food, huh? Don’t forget a fortune cookie. It’s bad luck not to eat them.”

“Forget about it, Bob. Today is National Defy Superstition Day, so I’m staying away from those!”

“Whoa hang on there, Larry. It’s seriously bad luck not to at least read your fortune, plus it’s National Fortune Cookie Day.”

“Oh crap, yeah okay, lemme have one.”

September 14

National Eat a Hoagie Day — Does anyone outside of Philadelphia actually use the term “hoagie” anymore? It just sounds creepy.

September 18

National Double Cheeseburger Day — Much better than hoagies.

September 19

National Big Whopper Liar Day — Say wha?

September 20

National Wife Appreciation Day — “Honey, I love you so much and am so sorry for lying to you yesterday.”

September 21

National Alzheimer’s Day — Sadly, this one is often forgotten.

September 23

National Bi-Sexuality Day — “Hey Larry, what are you doin’ this afternoon…”

September 25

National Math Story Telling Day — Because only the best stories include some mathematics.

September 26

National Pancake Day and National Family Fitness Day — Visit an IHOP and a park, and it’ll be pretty obvious what families are observing which days.

September 27

National Crush a Can Day — “Who else is a freakin’ bad-ass like me (crushes can)?”

September 29

National Attend Your Grandchild’s Birthday — “Um, today’s not my birthday, Grandma.”

“I know, Timmy, but I’m here and happy birthday anyway.”

Living in such a heavy world, it’s good to have a little fun. Have a great September, everyone.