Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What LIes Beneath

So much about being a parent of a teenager is about looking back: "Remember when," is how a great many conversations in our house now begin. All those photos and memories of the years that led up to our current living arrangement serve as reminders of what was, and all we do is generate more each day. And that's up here on the first floor. Below is is the vast warehouse known as "the basement."
Imagine the last scene of "Raiders of the Lost Ark." There may be several mysteries and as many sequels stored away in corners and on shelves and on any available horizontal surface. Lost Ark of the Covenant? Amelia Earhart? Jimmy Hoffa? Probably not, but there are treasures from a few generations tucked into boxes and giant plastic tubs. Not just my son's childhood. There's plenty of that, but his mother and father's youth have come to rest down there as well. T-shirts from concerts I vaguely remember. Sketchbooks full of drawings that haven't seen the light of day for decades. Letters and snapshots that come from a generation before such things were stored on hard drives. Now they reside in shoe boxes, waiting for that moment when the spin cycle is slow to finish and I find myself drifting away from the public portion of our laundry facility toward the dark recesses that hold all the hopes and dreams of the people who live up above. Train sets and "extra" Legos. A telescope that helped us unlock the mystery of the moon and could never quite focus on Saturn long enough to find those pesky rings. Comic books read by me. Comic books written by my wife. Comic books loved by my early-reader son. Construction paper decorations for holidays that pass by before we remember we have "just the right thing." Classroom assignments that won special merit. Classroom assignments that never got sorted and were kept for another time when there was sorting to be done. Cartons for appliances that have served their purpose and moved on. Cassette tapes full of music long since forgotten, but stowed away carefully in their protective cases. Toys from my childhood and later. Relics that we cannot let go. That is what basements are for.
Some nights it is hard to sleep on top of all those memories. But we do. And when the sun comes up, we go out and make some more.

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's A Rich Man's World

If Rick Santorum was running for president in my state, I wouldn't vote for him. Not that he will get the chance, but that's really part of the problem. Last week, just days before the Florida primary, the former Pennsylvania senator left the campaign trail to head home, ostensibly, to work on his taxes. It's a nice everyman touch, but it also points to one of the massive distinctions between Mister Santorum and the rest of the remaining GOP field: he's broke. More to the point: his campaign is broke. Without millions of dollars to fund a machine that will keep surviving third or fourth place finishes, Rick has to figure out if all of this effort is really worth it. His net worth is estimated somewhere just south of one million dollars, a couple of hundred times less than sometimes-front-runner Mitt "Catcher's" Romney. He lags behind Newt "Amphibian Pond Scum" Gingrich by a factor of six and even nutty old Ron Paul has a couple of million stashed away. Of course these are just their estimated private holdings. The money streaming into their Political Action Committees makes this look like a pretty paltry sum. It proves the old adage about how money makes money: Remember the scene in "It's A Wonderful Life" when after the run on the bank, George Bailey takes the remaining two dollars from the Savings and Loan and suggests that they put them in a box to see if they can make some more? There is no doubt that the dollars in Mister Potter's vaults were busy creating wealth at a geometrically advanced clip.
And so it goes. Millionaires run this country, not just from behind the scenes. You have to be part of the club just to get in the game. While I'm no fan of Rick Santorum's platform, I can't help but feel a little sorry for him as he sits at his kitchen table trying to figure out that last deduction. Maybe he can catch on as the new spokesman for Turbo Tax.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Words Won't Hurt You?

Last year at the end of April, while President Barack Obama amused an assembled crowd of journalists, celebrities and pundits at the annual Correspondents Dinner, a team of dedicated and highly trained commandos were half a world away preparing to carry dispatch Osama bin Laden. When next we heard from the Commander In Chief, he was no longer tossing around jokes and quips. He was letting us know that we had bagged public enemy number one.
Eight months later Mister Obama was at the lectern once again, delivering his State of the Union Address. He opened and closed his speech with references to those brave soldiers who worked so seamlessly to do their job. He used it as a metaphor for what America can do when we all pull together. Maybe the Somali thugs who were holding Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagen Thisted were busy watching the President's address when Navy Seal Team Six dropped into their back yard and commenced to do what they do best. The world woke up to seven less bad guys and two kidnapped aid workers released. If you're scoring at home, that would be a win for us.
It also should start giving terrorists and evil-doers across the globe pause. This is an election year, and Barack Obama will be giving a lot more speeches. Some will be amusing, some will be diverting, but any one of them could be cover for the next daring raid by America's enforcers. If you're a bad guy and want a heads-up, here's a link you might want to check out. Til then, keep your heads down.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Here Comes The Son

The fact that my son's first conscious use of underarm deodorant coincided with the advent of his first math final in high school shouldn't come as any sort of surprise. It is a milestone that will stand alongside his first ride on a two-wheeler and his first, well, just about anything. It is one of the joys of being an only child. When he decides that he wants to learn how to boil pasta, it is a moment with which we have to reckon. In many ways, each new day is a revelation, and his parents must discern which are photo-ready and which, like the above, are worth mentioning on Al Gore's Internet. That would also be the terror, if you happen to be the son in question.
And so it goes for this next generation. We, as parents, probably pay way too much attention to the day-to-day moment-to-moment goings-on of his life. This includes his relative ability to wake himself up in the morning. There was a time when I was greeted by his shining face more mornings than not, but since he has evolved into a full-on teenager I spend a lot more time dealing with the body under the covers who responds to my "Good morning" with a snort or a grunt. I have felt the tug of the sleep vortex for some time now, and he is definitely aware of it. We have tried numerous alternatives, turning on the light, shaking his bed, pleading. I even tried cooking bacon in the kitchen to lure him from his slumber. It currently takes our entire village to rouse him on any given school day. The fact that it's not getting easier has been discouraging for me. I want to believe that I am giving him the skills he needs for life, even if it is simply answering the bell to the clarion call of corporate drudgery. I understand that teenagers need more sleep than other humans, but because this one is mine I feel the need to buck the trend. Especially when he is taking his first math final that morning.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Sound Of Youth

It was a great cube of wood, that first stereo. To be fair, it wasn't really a stereo, since that would require it having two speakers by definition. This did not. But what it lacked in speakers it made up for in sheer girth. It was furniture and, like so many other things in the late 1960's, had been state of the art before transistors. It played records and that was my main concern. To do so, I had to lift the massive lid and prop it open as I reached deep into the recesses of the machine where the felt-covered turntable sat. I had options: I could play my 78, 45, or 33 1/3 RPM by moving the lever just to the right of the platter. I didn't play 78's, since they were all carefully stored away in my parent's record collection. But with he proper attachment to the spindle, I could play a stack of 45 singles. The one I remember best was "In The Ghetto" by Elvis. I am still haunted by the mournful sound of his voice coming from inside that big wooden box. "In the Gee-yet-toe."
And LP's? I could stack those up too. The long spindle gave me the opportunity to play three or four albums in sequence. If I played one record at a time, I could repeat it endlessly by leaving the arm that held the next record in place to the side. The tone arm would pick up, move back almost to its perch, and then drop magically down on the leading edge of vinyl to start the trip all over again. This is how I memorized the soundtrack to "Young Frankenstein" and "Bless The Beasts And The Children." It was because of this repeated exposure that I became distressed when I heard "Nadia's Theme" getting all kinds of airplay on the radio. That wasn't "Nadia's Theme," it was "Cotton's Dream" from "Bless The Beasts etc." Suddenly I was hearing this instrumental everywhere, but without a mention of its connection to the movie that I had taken as my touchstone five years earlier. Even worse when it became the theme to "The Young And The Restless." How could this be?
I was young and restless, but I wasn't ready to watch a soap opera. I wanted to listen to the music I associated with alienation and loneliness. That was the sound my big wooden box of music made. It wasn't long after that that I got my first real stereo, a JC Penny plastic contraption that could be snapped together for transport. I wouldn't take that old box anywhere. It was part of the firmament, and when I let it go, I felt it. It was the sound of my youth.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Late Night

I have often found myself left of center. This trend has been true on the television schedule, and was never more apparent than the two years I spent watching "Fridays" on ABC. If you are unfamiliar with the two-year run of this "Saturday Night Live" knockoff, you have my permission to take the next several minutes to find episodes streaming on Al Gore's Internet. Having seen them all, I will wait here patiently while you amend your own viewing habits.
If you made it to this line, you have either taken my advice to soak up all that clever comedy that was "Fridays" back in the early 1980's, or you are happy to take my word for the witty chaos that took place on late night television a full twenty-four hours before the Not Ready For Prime Time Players hit the stage. Except the folks at ABC didn't get their show on the air until 1980. They were already a few years behind in their anarchy. They were in second place, so they tried harder. Sometimes too hard.
But it also included talents such as Michael Richards and Larry David of "Seinfeld" fame. Then there were favorites of mine: Rich Hall, Mark Blankfield, and Bruce Mahler. And I confess to having a crush on the anchor of their faux news segment, Melanie Chartoff. Then there was the fact that, since it was taped in Los Angeles, they had access to a wealth of musical talent that might not necessarily find its way across the country to the hallowed halls of 30 Rock. The 1982 appearance of Devo cemented my allegiance to this awkward offshoot of the late-night tree. Then the American Broadcasting Company decided that Ted Koppel's "Nightline" needed to be on five nights a week. "Nightline" has outlived Ted Koppel, who was nowhere near as cute as Melanie Chartoff, and continues to run.
Meanwhile, I continue to search out clips and snippets online, waiting for a "Fridays" renaissance or DVD release. And going to bed early on Friday.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


For many years I worried that it might be necessary to put John Elway down, in the way that crippled or terminal animals are dispatched. I was concerned that he might keep playing football until a force within the game that he loved finally made it impossible to continue. Happily, John finally won two Super Bowls and he was able to shamble away in that prontated way he had. There was a happy ending. Not so much with Brett Favre. Brett needed to be carted away from the NFL on a stretcher, embarrassing his family and friends on the way out with his tawdry personal life that got heaped on top of his legacy. Going out a winner is so much better.
Not everyone gets to win their last game. Such is the sad case of Joe Paterno. There is a reason why the Penn State campus erupted in chaos when it was announced that he had been fired after forty-six years as head football coach there. While at Penn State, Paterno led the Nittany Lions to seven undefeated seasons and two NCAA championships, had only five losing seasons, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007. He was even nominated for a Presidential Medal of Freedom, but that nomination was revoked, however, after the scandal broke.
The scandal. This one made Brett Favre's texting his privates seem like a schoolboy prank. It wasn't a lack of football knowledge that did Joe Pa in, it was naivete in the real world. A real world where children were abused in his teams auspices, on his watch. "I didn't know exactly how to handle it and I was afraid to do something that might jeopardize what the university procedure was," he said. "So I backed away and turned it over to some other people, people I thought would have a little more expertise than I did. It didn't work out that way."
History will tell of a great coach who stressed academics among his student athletes, who was respected and beloved by those who played for him and those who watched his teams play. It will end with his death, at the age of eighty-five, of lung cancer. What we might forget his the vortex he fell into once the scaffold of college football was taken away. What a pity that Joe Pa couldn't have gone out a winner.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Silence Is Golden - Let's All Get Rich Quick!

Because I'm the kind of guy who wants to be an informed voter, I tend to rush right out and gather all the information I can before I cast my ballot. I am referring to the Academy Awards. I am happy to have a vacation from the presidential rhetoric that is being flung around by the chimpanzees in their erstwhile campaign. Instead I choose to focus on the arts, something to give me solace in this time of uncertainty. To that end, I went to see "The Artist," one of the most lovingly reviewed films in recent memory.
Words like "fresh" and "original" abound in all the press that this tale of old Hollywood. Many have praised it for its vision and imagination. It's in black and white. Didn't we get tired of Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese making black and white movies about thirty years ago? I have heard that there have been a number of movie-goers who have gone out tot he box office to ask for their money back when they discover they are watching a silent film. I noticed that the director, Michel Hazanavicius, chose to use a small-screen aspect ratio to heighten the nostalgia factor. I'm sure there were probably some patrons who wanted a refund on the portion of the screen that went unused.
All that technical stuff aside, I went to see what all the fuss was about. Spoiler alert! "A
sweeping melodrama about a young actress, discovered by a major male studio star, who becomes enamored of her and helps her rise to the top. She does but his career begins to hit the skids as hers continues to rise." Actually, not much of a spoiler at all, since it is the synopsis of "A Star Is Born," which has been made in America no fewer than three times already, with another version, directed by Clint Eastwood, on the way in 2013. And that's what I sat and watched, in black and white, on part of the screen, for an hour and forty minutes.
For an hour, I waited for the twist on this tired show-biz fable. I enjoyed the period decor and costumes. I loved the dog. I enjoyed the performances. And I waited for the thing that made it different from the original. Barbara Streisand did hers as a rock star with Kris Kristofferson. I was watching the silent version. Some might wonder why Babs and Kris couldn't have done theirs the same way.
When it was over, I thought of all the movies that "The Artist" recalled. There are plenty of people who have never seen Frederic March or Judy Garland or even Barbara Streisand in a movie. There are plenty of people who have never seen "Singin' in the Rain." There are plenty of people who would ask for their money back if they found out the movie they were about to see was a silent film. That didn't keep Mel Brooks from making a silent movie about trying to make a silent movie back in 1976. Critical reaction to that one was less than stellar.
Maybe we all wish for a simpler time. A black and white time. A smaller aspect ratio time. But would it be too much to ask for a new story?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fear And Loathing

There are a lot of reasons to dislike Newt "Slimy Amphibian" Gingrich. I suppose it is to his credit that he doesn't seem to mind that people may choose to come down on this side of the equation, including some of those closest to him. Like his ex-wives, for example. Marianne Gingrich, the former speaker's second wife, also alleged that her ex-husband conducted his affair "in my bedroom in our apartment in Washington." She also said Gingrich moved to divorce her just months after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. "He also was advised by the doctor when I was sitting there that I was not to be under stress," she said. "He knew." According to Ms. Gingrich, her relationship with him began while Newt "The Toad" Gingrich was still married, but in divorce proceedings, with his first wife, Jackie. At the time, Jackie Gingrich was being treated for cancer.
Okay. That's his personal life. What about domestic policy? He recently said he would like to go to the NAACP and talk about "why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps." Never mind that the largest percentage of Americans receiving food stamps are white. That interferes with the reality that the former House Speaker, who was eventually cleared of all eighty-four ethics charges back in 1998, would like us to accept. It might also be a way to occlude the fact that the three million dollars he made in 2010 gives him rights to the executive washroom and the one-percenter's club.
How about foreign policy? What should we do with our enemies? "We kill them." All right then. Points for brevity, anyway. Of course he also once suggested we should “Give the park police more ammo,” responding to a reporter who asked what to do about the homeless a few days after the police shot a homeless man in front of the White House.
But I think the most likely reason may have been that his heart was two sizes to small.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


"So, you've got a lead foot?" This was the question the salesman asked my wife as we stood in the car lot. My son was already grinning that very special grin that he makes when he is around a vehicle with more than four cylinders. My wife was smiling too, only more demurely. "Well..." she started.
We had made a pilgrimage a few exits down the highway to find a Ford dealership in hopes of cashing in on the offer my family had picked up at the annual car show. Come in and test drive a Ford and they would give us a fifty dollar gift card. It certainly wouldn't cost us fifty dollars to make the trip to the dealer, so this seemed like a pretty good investment of our time. When we got out of our car, our plan was to talk up our interest in Ford's electric cars. That and maybe take a peek at the Mustang Boss 302 for my son. Antonio, the salesman who must have seen us coming, met us just a few steps onto the lot. "What can I help you folks with today?"
The easy answer, to me, was "Sign this piece of paper so we can get our gift card," but that wasn't in our plan. Neither was the orange beast that sat just in front of the doors to the showroom: an orange 2008 Dodge Challenger. We ran through our list of possible test drives, none of which were available at this location. "How about that one?" My wife pointed in the direction of my son's fixation.
Antonio didn't blink. He looked directly at my son and said, "I'll just need a driver's license. You did bring yours didn't you?" And for a moment, that fourteen year old went fishing in his pocket for any shred of evidence that would make him street legal. When he came up empty, I felt compelled to opt out. My wife was born in Detroit. If anyone was going to tear up the blacktop in her family's name, it should be her. She found her license quickly enough, and that's when Antonio asked about the relative weight of her foot.
He needn't have asked. I took a seat in the back of our quiet little Prius and sent the gear heads off on their adventure. I had brought along a magazine for just such an opportunity, and settled in as I watched the three of them pile in: in the driver's seat, Antonio squeezed into the back, and my son still grinning from shotgun.
They weren't gone long, but they did cover some ground. To hear my wife describe it, the car had a mind of its own. "It wanted to go fast," she insisted. That meant they all went fast. For twenty-some minutes on that January afternoon, all the cares and woes of carbon offsets and fossil fuels drifted away as she piloted that great big American car through traffic down the highway. She came back with the same grin as our son. And a signature that gave us a fifty dollar gift card. It's what she likes to call a "win-win situation." I wonder if they would take fifty dollars down on a 2008 Dodge Challenger.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Thought Police

You may have noticed that there was no clever blackout or "site closed" sign on this page last Wednesday. This is due, in large part, to a lack of commitment on the part of the site's web designer: me. The idea was appealing enough, making a point about the possibility of Internet censorship via the upcoming SOPA bill that is winding its way through congress. The Stop Online Piracy Act, if it is passed, would prosecute Internet users for sharing what would ultimately become "privately owned" content.
I understand just how slippery a cyber-slope we are on here. If it's okay for me to share photos of my son online, why wouldn't it be okay to share the music from his yet-to-be-formed punk band? As long as they were original compositions, I suppose, but their ska-flavored cover of "Walk This Way" would be verboten. I acknowledge that we are dealing with one of the last frontiers for open exchange and I understand the need to regulate the content passing through the series of tubes that make up Al Gore's genius invention, but when Congress gets involved in regulation, things get a little scary.
If there was going to be a force protecting intellectual property on the Internet, I would prefer that they didn't appear like something out of "Brazil": Information Retrieval. Instead I would prefer a nice sunny office manned by somebody like Andy Taylor and Barney Fife. These good-hearted and well-intentioned crime fighters may look pleasant enough, but they are more than a match for the most hardened criminals. They're also not going to lock up the town drunk unless he asks for it, but they will shut down the still. And my money is on them to round up the idjits who hacked my e-mail account.
I don't know how many regulations this post has broken, but I hope that I live in a world that will maintain perspective and remember the difference between piracy and sharing links to sites with pictures of funny cats and dogs.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Brain Trust

The online poll asked if I was surprised to find out that Rick Perry was dropping out of the race for Republican party's presidential slot. Was I surprised? Yes. Why I was surprised is a little different tune.
When Governor Rick first showed up on the scene, I was surprised by his strong showing. He was the hot commodity in the Grand Old Party. Where had we heard this tune before? Straight-shootin' straight talkin' Texan who was there to stir things up. The man who had executed two hundred and thirty-four death row inmates without losing a wink of sleep received quite the ovation from the crowd at the Ronald Reagan Library for doing just that. Of course, that was back in September. What has he done for us lately?
There was the meltdown onstage at yet another of the dozens of the Republican debates when he couldn't remember which agencies he planned to eliminate once he became president. He could remember two, but not three. Like that axis of evil over there, you know, with your Iraq and your Iranians and the (embarrassingly long pause here) you know (longer pause). At which point Ron Paul chimes in, "The homosexuals?"
And while we're on the subject of foreign policy, how about Rick's Middle East solution? Like sending American troops back to Iraq. Never mind that it was the Iraqis who asked us to leave in the first place, and that we did so honoring the executive order signed by that other former Texas governor back in 2008. This is a man who refused to think inside the box. Sorry Rick, but it looks like it's time to put those big ideas back inside the box, where he can use them for the job he still has.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Reality Football

The high water mark of the football season has come and gone. The "national championship game" for college has been played, along with the wild card and divisional rounds of the NFL playoffs. We have gone from having four or five games each weekend to just two. Then it will be just one. And we'll go back to talking about what was and what will be. The present exists for just two teams now, and everything else is just that: talk.
As soon as the final gun sounded on the New Orleans Saints, the Denver Broncos, the Houston Texans and the Green Bay Packers, the discussions and speculations began. How could anything short of a Super Bowl title be considered a success? All four of these teams were winners of their respective divisions, and had obviously managed to win at least enough games to make it to the tournament. Success, it seems, is relative. The Packers lost only one game in the regular season. As a result, they got the week off to rest and prepare for their game. It didn't help. Now the world wants to know what happened. Was it lack of preparation? Too many distractions? What about the Broncos? What happened to God's favorite quarterback? Never mind the surprise and joy generated by the previous week's win, along with the rest of a series of improbable highlights. Losing that last game is what everyone talks about.
Here in Oakland, the son of Al Davis, young Mark has taken the reins of the the Raiders and started heading in his own direction. New General Manager. New coach. Maybe even a new city. Professional football is, after all, a business. Winning a Super Bowl is a great way to make more money. For about fifteen minutes during this past season there was some wild talk about the Raiders and the Forty-Niners meeting up at the end of the year to play for all the marbles. What a boon for the cash-strapped Bay Area. Half of that equation can still come to pass, but the east side of the bay will have to sit by and wait another year. All those surprises like Detroit and Buffalo are now part of a scrapbook to be put on a shelf, like the lineup of my Fantasy Team. The daily importance of these players, coaches and organizations will diminish as the winter drags on and the spring turns to summer. The Super Bowl, with all its attendant hoopla will come and go, leaving the football fans among us to search for other topics to discuss with friends and family. It's just a game, after all. A very expensive, high pressure, high expectation spectacle of a game. And somebody's going to lose that one too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Out Of The Past

A few days ago, as I was taking a run through my neighborhood, I rounded a corner and pulled up short. Since the whole exercise is about running for fifteen to thirty minutes without stopping, this worked against my ordinary regimen, but I had a good reason for stopping: parked at the curb was a gold Saturn station wagon. It was just like the one that we used to own. That is, before it was stolen, making that Father's Day one I won't soon forget.
My initial reaction was to look inside, to see if there was anything I recognized. Upon reflection it seems as though the cooler head would have taken a moment to check the license plate. If that had matched, then I would have set about following the correct procedures for such an event. Just what those steps were, I had no idea. I was focused on the back seat. Were there magazines stuffed in the pockets on the back of the driver's seat? Wait, didn't we have t-shirts from my son's middle school draped over the front seats? What about dog hair? What about the Obama bobblehead attached to the dashboard cover?
None of those things were there. The upholstery was of a similar hue, but a different texture. It occurred to me that anybody who would steal a car probably wouldn't turn their attention first to the upholstery. What would they do? Probably change the license plate. The one I still hadn't bothered to check. A wave of disappointment went through me. Usually I'm so good at finding things that get lost around my house. I find my wife's glasses at least a couple of times each week. My son's accoutrements can usually be found with a few methodical passes through the house, from front door to back. Things don't stay lost long in my world.
Except our car. In many ways, we have moved on. The insurance has paid us what they thought a gold Saturn wagon was worth, and a little bit more. They even paid off a little more on all the personal effects that went for that last ride. The one that took it away from us. Forever. This wasn't our car. It was somebody else's gold Saturn wagon. We have a Prius now. We are helping save the planet. We have smart keys. We have a stereo that plays CDs and our iPods. We haven't had to cover the any of the seats with t-shirts. There is a bit of dog hair in the back.
I turned the corner and continued my run.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's All In The Numbers

You know what today is, don't you? It's the seventeenth of January, 2012: 1/17/12. To be honest, the numerological significance of this date is lost on me, but it does seem like each new day comes as a fresh revelation as we approach Armageddon. All the signs point to it, starting with the world broadcast television premiere of "2012," starring John Cusack. It's almost like the very hip cousin of Fox TV, so hip that they can leave the "o" out of the middle of their name, is flaunting the eventual destruction of our earth for some basic cable ratings points. It seems like kind of poor planning, if Bolon Yokte K'uh happens to be a subscriber.
I'm not expecting the planet to disintegrate or collapse in on top of itself, necessitating the construction of giant space arks to take all the smart, photogenic people off to a distant planet. That didn't work too well for the folks on the Axiom, unless you count the cupcakes in a cup. But with all the unrest in this world, it's easy to feel the urge to flee. These are frantic times. It's bizarre to watch all the bloodletting within the Republican party even though they have to understand that even if they do manage to win the election they probably won't survive until Inauguration Day. Then there's always the looming specter of Tim Tebow dating Katy Perry. Who can doubt that the end is nigh?
Still, I think the most obvious sign of the coming apocalypse is this: Cable TV monolith Xfinity is proudly trumpeting its new customer service guarantee: They promise that they will be at your house to fix your connection on time, within a two hour window. Guaranteed. They'll give you twenty dollars off your next bill if they're not there. They're proud of this. They are advertising this as a good thing.
It's the end of the world.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hacked Off

It took me the better part of three hours, over the span of a couple of days, to straighten out the mess generated by a machine. The short version of this story is this: My e-mail account was hijacked by a spam machine that spewed vile and ugly messages into in-boxes that had, until then, remained free of such annoyance. They got through because they were disguised as me. The simple fix was to change my password and delete the forty-plus messages that were bounced back to me because someone else has a better spam filter than I do. Or the address was closed. The upside was that it gave me a chance to update my contact list. The downside was the responses I felt compelled to send in response to all those who were affected by this "victimless crime."
I got to explain to my mother how the link to a web site for adults only wasn't my idea, but one generated by some way-too-clever hacker with the need to get this information into as many computers across the globe as possible. Rather than do the straightforward thing and simply make up an address, this cyber-cretin found a way to unlock my account and send smut across Al Gore's Internet. You're not going to open e-mail from grigsnop@cretin.com, but if you got a note from your friend, or your son, imploring you to "look at this," you just might. Especially if that person just happened to be this supposedly tech-savvy guy who runs the computer class at his elementary school.
Embarrassed? Sure. Violated? A little. Mostly I'm sorry that anyone would have to take the time to promote themselves through any sort of borderline criminal activity. For now I will be doing the computer version of obsessive compulsive disorder and going through all of my transactions and communications while changing my password on an hourly basis. Ever vigilant and extremely put off by the whole mess.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Baby Teeth

My son finally gave up his last two baby teeth. They didn't go without a fight, however. Now that he is rounding the bend toward his fifteenth year, and the potential of orthodontia looms, we all thought that it would be a good idea to make room for those great big incisors. Pulling those teeth was what he got in lieu of a Bar Mitzvah. Kind of a big cheat, culturally speaking.
It did make me think about all the babies that I have seen stop being babies. I have the creepy experience of having teenagers who I recently nursed through elementary school returning with little bundles of joy of their own. "He'll be coming here soon!" they enthuse. Too soon, too soon.
To diminish those feelings, I reflect instead on the baby that I knew best before my own son was born: my niece. Twenty-three years ago we welcomed her into the world and she quickly became the person that forced me to reckon with my own dwindling youth. I was somebody's uncle and I had responsibilities. At times the learning curve was steep: I let her tumble from the hearth at my mother's house onto her head. Years later I failed to make it to her high school graduation. Being a grown up has such incredible weight. I listened as my brother recalled a conversation with his daughter about World War Two and how her young mind was just beginning to accept such a terrible mess. I thought about what my life would be like when I had a child to share my world view with. It was my niece who e-mailed me first when Barack Obama won the election. She sent me a very tongue-in-cheek video on the night that Navy Seal Team Six caught up with Osama bin Laden. She is now imparting her world view to me. I remember when she was losing her baby teeth.
It won't be long before my teeth start falling out of my head, and my niece and my son are explaining things to me all over again. Happy Birthday, kiddo.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Turn The Page

I'm still reading Entertainment Weekly. It is, on most days, how I spend my quiet time over a bowl of granola, catching up on all the "news" from Hollyweird. Odd, since I eschew our local newspaper in favor of a weekly, as the title suggests, account of what Time-Warner would like us to know about showbiz. I make a point of getting through each issue over the course of the week to be prepared for the next. I wouldn't want to fall behind.
This is especially true of the "Transitions" section. This is a leftover from back in the day when I used to read Time magazines "Milestones" blurb. Who is getting married? Who is retiring? Who is giving birth? Who has shuffled off this mortal coil? Who is getting sued by whom, and who is getting a really big paycheck? I was reading the sad account of the dissolution of Russell Brand and Katy Perry's fourteen month marriage. And everybody said it would last forever. As I pored over the three paragraphs, I became aware of just how big a deal Katy Perry and Russell Brand really are. Their names appear in bold type. This kind of shorthand helps the casual reader quickly assess the relative concern we should have for the affairs of the people mentioned in this column. If you get married to Steven Tyler, you should probably be a model or rehab specialist, but you should be able to get your name in big black letters. Right Erin Brady? Sometimes "normal people" get mixed up with celebrities, and they end up carrying the child of this or that superstar. If that ends up being their only claim to fame, then they won't get the bold treatment. They are cursed, or perhaps blessed, to live their lives in the relative obscurity of normal type.
In the meantime, I continue to savor my granola mornings over this little slice of Americana, and hope that whatever the future holds for Katy and Russell that they will be allowed to keep their font.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Secret Shame

I've got this nasty little secret: I love to pay taxes. Sales tax. Property tax. Income tax. I don't mind. There are two reasons for this bizarre behavior: First, I have almost always ended up getting money back for the taxes I paid over the course of a year. I generally pay too much, so the government pays me back. Secondly, for the past fifteen years I have worked at a job that is paid for by taxes. When the government starts rattling that big empty can asking for more dollars for things like public education, I feel good about how they are looking out for me.
Until we have that meeting at our school site about the next year's budget. There may have been a time when teachers and principals waded through buckets of cash and tried to figure out what to do with all that money, but that hasn't been the experience I have had. I came in on a wave of change when there was still some tension about contract negotiations. Cost of living raises happened and my union was able to squeeze the district for additional bumps every so often.
Not any more. One of the ugly realities about education is this simple equation: If you do well, you get less money. A school in program improvement will get more funds than one that has brought up their scores and shown that they can achieve more with less. So that's what we get. The initial response is that if we continue to fail, we continue to get the maximum amount of money, but we also run the risk of being closed or consolidated. We do our best and we get less. Since I started at this school, we have lost our librarian, our teachers' aides, our music teacher. Our psychologist is here two days a week as is our school nurse. Our bilingual clerk has been cut to a part time position. We don't have an assistant principal. A lot of schools in our position have fund raisers to pay for the holes in their budgets. At our school we tend to take up collections for families who need help. We can't expect our community to give the school money they don't have. What do we do? We make do with what we have. And we continue to do our job: teaching kids.
I love to pay taxes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sports Authority

I bought a new pair of running shoes last week. It was a new year and I had survived my annual ten kilometer trial, the one time in the year when I run alongside more than two other people. I had a suspicion that this transaction was overdue because I was suffering more than I was accustomed: my back, my knee, my overall comportment. The voices in my head argued for a day or two about whether or not a piece of equipment would make any real difference, or if I was simply wearing down. Arguments for: Continued workouts without any sort of professional consultation on a body approaching fifty with one knee already reconstructed. Arguments against: My father and I went for a run on his sixty-first birthday in the hills of Northern California. I must have at least eleven years left on these legs, right?
So I went to the Sporting Goods store where I began the ritual anew. I looked at the high end shoes. I looked at the Clearance Table. I looked at the fancy new "toe shoes," the ones that look like someone poured acrylic plastic over your bare feet. I thought about the two guys who I knew that swore by them. I thought about the injuries they had both incurred during their "break-in" period. I tried to imagine a world where all of these various combinations of foam and gel could possibly keep me from feeling tired when I came home from a three mile run around my neighborhood.
That's when Devon showed up. "What're you looking for?"
I didn't let the fact that I was standing in front of a thirty foot wide display of running shoes diminish my enthusiastic answer: "Running shoes." I decided to flavor it a little, just to see if I got a more complete response. "Something I can run in a few days a week, and not wear out in a couple months."
Devon walked down the wall, patting certain models, extolling their random virtues without going too far past the fine print on the display tags that I had already read. I thanked him for his time, and went back to my search. I tried on a few pair. They felt remarkably similar, but I made a show of checking where my toe ended up and how snug they were on my heel. When I had made my selection, I needed Devon's help to secure the left shoe which was being used as a display model. He smiled, "We usually use your size for display," and off he went to disconnect my new left shoe from the plastic plate to which it had been tethered. When he returned, he handed me the shoe and his card, "Can you give this to them when they ring you up?"
Of course I could. It was only then that it occurred to me that I have been running since before Devon was born, and while it was comforting to have his mild assistance in my shopping experience, I can't say that he made a vast impact on my choice. It was another pair of running shoes. Not the best. Not the worst. They fit, and when I tried them out the next morning it was like running on a cloud. A big, asphalt and concrete covered cloud.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hand Me Downs

As is his wont, my son was looking at passing cars and describing their capabilities to me and anyone who would listen. "That one's got ten times the horsepower of our car," he enthused.
"Really?" I said, "Why would you want that?"
"To go fast. Really fast."
That's a priority for my son. It has been for a while now. I considered my response for a moment, then: "Why would you want that?"
My son did me the favor of not rolling his eyes at me, but I knew that we were suffering a disjoint of sorts. I thought about all the things that I had to give him, but a love of speed was not one of them. An encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture? Probably not as useful to him as a working knowledge of cam shafts and fuel injection. The ability to run six miles without stopping doesn't add value to his life at this point. I learned that from my father. I didn't pick up his interest in racquetball.
Maybe it has something to do with survival. The fact that your dad was a crack shot had value outside of the anecdotal. He was providing food, or at the very least, keeping them pesky revenoors away from the still. The ability to format a floppy disc has lapsed into the useless information category. I'm not hunting or gathering. I'm moving bits of information from one machine to another. I can make obscure connections with the best of them, but plumbing generally evades me. I'm not passing along a trade or skills for a future generation.
Until the zombies come and the gas runs out. Then maybe that whole running for long distances thing will be of interest to him.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wild Card

When I read the date on the e-mail my younger brother sent me, it never occurred to me that there would be any sort of conflict. He was unable to come over to our house over the holidays, what with all the various and sundry commitments on both sides of the equation, it wasn't until the past Sunday that we were all able to get together. This past Sunday. Wild Card Sunday.
Those words didn't mean much to me when I was coordinating my weekend. Then the football part of my brain looked at it a couple hours later. Wild Card Weekend. Denver Broncos are playing on Sunday. The reason for this disjoint is obvious to those of you who have followed the recent events here in Entropical Paradise: My younger brother and football do not mix. How to reconcile these disparate events? I love my brother and look forward to each and every visit, but I was fairly certain that I could not simply play off the playoffs. I sent him another e-mail, explaining my foul limitations and told him that I understood if he wanted to find any other time to drop by to finish off our holiday connection.
Besides caring little or nothing about organized sports, my younger brother is a very good sport. He came anyway. We began the day by sampling/inhaling the snack mix that he brought with him as he, as has become his custom, read a short story to us as we munched. Then the game came on, and out of respect, I kept the volume low. While we carried on our pleasantries and began our gift exchange, the underdog Denver Broncos pulled into a lead in the first two quarters. My family, younger brother included, were pleased, but were not nearly as apprehensive as I was. I returned to the spot on my living room floor where I have, historically, paced while the Broncos played. Everyone else in the room, our dog included, continued to talk and play and interact as if there was something else going on in the room, but were polite not to notice outwardly my mounting tension.
At halftime, there was a flurry of Guitar Hero, this time enjoyed by my son and his uncle as I busied myself about the kitchen and living room, straightening as I went. When the second half started, the Pittsburgh Steelers made a rally and by the end of regulation, had tied the game. My family rallied to my aid, as good families will, and became Denver Broncos super-fans right alongside me. Even my younger brother. When Tim Tebow sailed his pass into the Rocky Mountain night and Demarius Thomas hauled it in and took it in for a touchdown to end the overtime period in just eleven seconds, I wasn't in the room. I heard my family cheer from the living room while I stomped about the kitchen, preparing myself mentally for yet another stress-filled period. I rushed back to the television and watched the replay. It was over. The Broncos had won, and we all celebrated. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Wonder Wild Card.
When I drove my brother home that night, we agreed that it was a very good thing that the Broncos had won, since the whole afternoon could have been obscured by a loss. It was a gift. I got to share my world with my brother, and we had a good time. That's the gift of family. Don't bet against them.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Nice Shot

The atrium at the end of the upstairs hallway at our school was one of the architectural features that was added to make us more "modern." This was back around the turn of the century when we had been on the slate for "modernization" as a site for several years already. We didn't get flat screen displays for the teachers to reference or modular desks for the students that could incorporate various learning abilities. We got white boards instead of chalk boards. We got new tile and some nice wooden paneling. We got a fresh coat of paint. And we got that atrium.
It is the thing that keeps our two-story instructional building from appearing strictly institutional. It lets in the light. It looks modern, in a Frank Lloyd Wright kind of way. That's why the most recent flurry of vandalism was so troubling to me. Over the weekend, someone had taken a pellet gun and plinked a divot in each of the dozen-plus windows in our architectural feature. A few of them sprouted into actual cracks and were summarily replaced. The rest of them, however, were left. High impact glass like the ones in those windows is very expensive, and until they are actually letting in the breeze, they sit there as a reminder of someone's careful aim and callous disregard for education.
I felt a tiny bit of admiration for the vandal. The ones who drop by with spray paint have their work covered up almost immediately with the vague earth tones utilized across the district. The idjit who used our atrium for target practice can drop by just about any evening and examine his or her handiwork, since the pock-marked panes will remain until they crack all the way through. That may happen as soon as next weekend, when the school sits vacant long enough to have the job finished. I worry about the eventual replacement of these windows with plywood, or worse, covered by wire mesh to remind us of our predicament. We are public education without private security. If someone wants to come by and smash a few windows over the weekend, they'll probably get away with it. For now there is an odd refraction to the light that comes through the lightly damaged modernization.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Good Sport

... "like Tebow, she keeps fighting and she just keeps winning votes." Those were the words that rang into the January air as Michelle Bachmann made her last ditch effort to save her campaign. Never mind the fact that Tim Tebow, quarterback of the Denver Broncos, has lost his last three games and comes into the playoffs on a wing and a prayer. Literally. It is convenient shorthand for Ms. Bachmann to connect herself to one of the most prominent Christians to show up on a football field in recent memory. She wants to be seen in the same divine light as the NFL's posterboy for abstinence.
I know. I just got finished making an analogy about football and the upcoming election. I should point out that what I was doing was satire. It was tongue in cheek. I don't think that comparing Barack Obama to Aaron Rodgers is a legitimate apples to apples kind of thing. I was making a joke.
Ms. Bachmann was not. Her ad says that the sports "establishment" wants Tebow to fail because he makes everyone feel guilty - he's gifted yet "doesn't drink, smoke, cuss or even kick his opponents when they're on the ground." It contends, "The establishment just loves to hate Michelle Bachmann and her no-compromise, no flip-flop stand on the issues." The establishment, or at least part of it, likes to hate Tim Tebow. That's part of the deal.
And now comes the reality: If Tim Tebow wins his game on his home field, he gets to continue playing, at least for another week. Michelle Bachmann, from Iowa, could not win her game on her home field. She couldn't come in second. Or third. She won't continue to play next week. She's going to clean out her locker and start planning for next year. Or maybe a call from some NFL team that needs a motivational speaker.

Saturday, January 07, 2012


As a bit of pre-reading warning, I will let my brother and those who are put off by sports discussion that what you are about to peruse is metaphor. It is the limitation of the author that keeps things in simplest terms, for him. So here we go:
The NFL playoffs are about to start. Some teams, such as the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots, effectively stomped through their season and made their way into the post season. If you win most of your games, you can kind of expect that your job will be easy until you wake up that one morning and the stakes of the game have been raised to "win or go home." In this regard, the analogy I choose to use is this: The Green Bay Packers are the incumbent. They won last year's Super Bowl, and while they may be seen as being weak on defense, they are the ones to beat this January.
On the other hand, there are a wide array of challengers to that throne, starting with the upstart Denver Broncos who managed not to lose too many games, as opposed to winning enough to push themselves into a higher seed. The same can be said of the Cincinnati Bengals, who kept a number of mediocre teams from making it into the tournament. We could refer to this as the caucuses and primaries. This winter stretches out in front of us like a flurry of contests that mean little or nothing except the winner ends up being crowned the champion of the world. Leader of the Free World. Aaron Rodgers. Barack Obama. Tim Tebow. Ron Paul. Plenty of characters. Lots of intrigue. Only one winner.
When it's all over, we'll sweep up the confetti and dry the tears. No matter how objectionable we might find the results, we'll get ready for the next one. Win or lose.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Lights Out

I believe that the time has come for a moratorium on Holiday Decorations after the first week of the year. All those lights and snowflakes and Santas and menorahs need to go back into the box until next year. You know who you are. I understand that I am impressing my personal standards on the community at large. I put up my Christmas lights the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and they all come down by the second day of the New Year.
Why? Because it's cruel to keep them up. One of the simple joys I have is making the turn onto my street in the week before Christmas and seeing my yard aglow. It reminds me of the coming of the holiday frolic that I climbed all those trees and strung all those cables to celebrate. The lights seem to burn a little brighter as the last week of December brings the year to a close. And then it's time to pull the plug.
I blame Elmo. Back when my son was in the demographic for that screechy red thing, we watched "Elmo Saves Christmas." If you haven't had the chance to take in all the Muppet-y joy that is this slice of PBS goodness, it centers around Elmo's misguided wish that every day could be Christmas. Aside from the obvious consequence of nearly running Santa Claus into a cardiac episode, it takes the special-ness of the season. Christmas in July is a great way to sell refrigerators, but all of that merry happiness gets a little tired after months and months of green and red, not to mention the toll it takes on tundra dwellers like snowmen and reindeer. I suppose you might expect as much from a puppet who only refers to himself in the third person.
As I rode to school this week, looking at the intermittent displays of cheer that continue to remind me of the twelve months I have to churn through until the twinkling lights and the manger scenes are meaningful once again, I came up with a solution. We could fine people for keeping their icicle lights hanging from their eaves year round. Nothing too Scrooge-like, just a pittance or two to remind us all of the time. At the end of the year these funds can be used to help feed the homeless, or toys for tots without them. Or we could just save it all up for one big, tasteful display for next year. Well at least you can unplug them until next November.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

It's All About The Benjamins

Now that our soldiers are home, what will we have them do? There are a number of wars that continue to rage on, including those against drugs and the conflict that rages on our southern border, depending on to whom you speak. Our armed services readiness has been tested steadily for the past decade, and now it's drawn down, just like that. What's a soldier to do with all that extra time? Find a job when unemployment continues to hover at nearly ten percent?
If you can find a job in private security, that could use your most recent skill set. Blackwater can sell you the gear you might need, and if you can track down the corporation formerly known as Blackwater, formerly Xe, and currently called Academi, you might find some work tracking down people who are not corporations. "Security" is still a growth industry, as evidenced by the Obama administration awarding Academi a two hundred and fifty million dollar contract to work for the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan.
Don't want to travel overseas? Well maybe you can do what Benjamin Colton Barnes did: Take your experience and apply it here in the good old U.S. of A. Benjamin went for a little hike in Mount Rainier National Park, heavily armed and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He allegedly shot and killed Margaret Anderson, a park ranger. He's angry and heavily armed. If you're betting that this will end well, think again. Another body was found in the park a day later. The Washington State Patrol, U.S. Forest Service and FBI, were on the mountain Sunday and Monday, but none of them could put Benjamin back together again.
Welcome home Benjamin.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Soft Boot

I was up in a tree when the thought came to me: Reset Button. That's the magic of a new year. Another day passes, and the page on the calendar turns. Everything is new again. It's all possible again. A universe of do-overs are there for the taking. Never mind that most of the planet is already immersed in a fiscal calendar that resets sometime in May or July, it's a new set of months to tick off until we arrive at our eventual destination: Back where we started.
Part of the magic of all this experience is the more or less circular path our planet takes in the cosmos. We can look back to last year as the time when our globe last spun through this galactic neighborhood. The angle of the axis of the Earth was more or less pointing in that direction when I was last clambering around in the branches of our tacky plum tree, pulling down another year's worth of festive lighting. That's how I know it's time to renew, kind of like when you're supposed to put new batteries in your smoke detectors when you turn your clocks back because daylight savings time ends. When I clean up the front yard from all the twinkling fun, pulling yards and yards of extension cords back into their more traditional place inside the garage, I know I need to think about what lies ahead. Part of this rhythm is encouraged by having two weeks to anticipate it. The kids at our school have just been sent home with the expressed hope that all the learning they did before break comes back with them, and that report card they got just before they left is still a very concrete memory of the way things are.
But it's time for fresh starts. What seemed impossible last year will now take just a little more encouragement and patience. The disappointments and heartbreaks are now carefully put away in scrapbooks and memories that will only serve to aid the next attempt. We can do better. I can do better. It's a leap year, after all. We've got a bonus day to get it right.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Word's Worth

I know it's early, but not too early to consider what not to say this year. According to Michigan's Lake Superior State University, the following phrases shall be stricken from the English language for 2012: "occupy," ''ginormous," ''man cave" and "the new normal." Not that these aren't descriptive and useful words, to be sure. The scholars at Superior State have asked us all to give them a rest. They're tired and in need of some airing out before being beat to death again. It would be easy to blame the messengers, especially when they have that "Superior" attitude, but I know what they're talking about. I don't want to hear about anybody's "baby bump" anymore. They would also like us to give up saying "thank you in advance," and talking about "blowback."
But there's one that I found most interesting and perhaps most poignant: Amazing. It is the opinion of the powers that be at LSSU that this word has become meaningless, since everything has become "amazing": races, wedding cakes, and Spider Man. Winning a race while decorating a seven layer marzipan creation while dodging bullets using your Spider-sense would be pretty impressive, but amazing? Maybe we can spend the next year working on something a little more descriptive to describe such a feat. For now, I will encourage you to stay away from our family's banished word, "epic." As in "That French Toast was epic, mom." Or maybe my son will spend 2012 writing a poem that will describe just exactly how amazing his mother's French Toast really is.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Some Awe

My wife tried to engage me in her version of the end of year wrap-up. Her categories were "Awesomes" and "Bummers." First of all, you'll have to excuse my wife, who may have been born in Detroit, but has spent more than a quarter of a century absorbing the patois of her adopted California. Still, one might think that regardless of the headings, as a family and as a married couple we would have similar lists. But I found myself flummoxed from the start.
Awesome? Did I ever feel full of awe in 2011? That seemed like a pretty tall order. I could certainly remember feeling gleeful at times: Tim Tebow beats the Raiders. Navy Seal Team Six beats Osama bin Laden. My son matriculates from middle school. My wife shows up in time to rescue me and my bike from a broken derailleur cable and then sticks around for lunch. Were these moments awesome?
Well, as is my Eeyore nature, I found myself doing the accounting, wishing that Tebow had won both Raiders games and that I hadn't had the cable crisis in the first place. If I had a full glass, I would probably go find one twice as big so that I could say that it was half empty. Navy Seal Team Six? Why did it take them ten years to find a six foot six terrorist mastermind? On the other hand, it was embarrassing how quickly I could fill my Bummer list: Stolen car, public education funding, yet another pre-schooler shot on Oakland streets, and that was before I had even given it much thought.Maybe it would have been more efficient to put my picture at the top of the list, and leave it at that.
But that would be missing the point of the exercise. I need to start appreciating the joys that surround me, even if it puts a dent in my sarcastic veneer. The PE class that I ran where I counted all the calisthenics and stretches using funny voices was awesome. I finished the first draft of a romantic comedy, which may not be awesome yet, but the accomplishment was. And I survived another year in a public school in Oakland. Awesome.
See? I can do this thing if I just put my mind to it.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Resolution Number Nine

I suppose the first resolution I feel compelled to make this year is to take Mayans more seriously. It could be that a Rick Perry/Michelle Bachmann ticket might just make the end of the world a little more likely: The "What Does This Button Do?" Scenario. To that point I resolve to vote this year, and not just for President. I resolve to vote for ballot initiatives, representatives local and national. I resolve to vote for dog catcher, if they let me.
I resolve to be more kind to Justin Bieber in 2012. I believe the grief he gets from my son will be adequate for one household. I resolve to take that mild abuse and heap it on someone who really deserves it. I further resolve to keep my eye open for anyone who may be in need of mild abuse.
This will be the year that I finish all those home improvement projects that I started. I resolve that this resolution will not cause me to burn my home to the ground.
I will use my time more wisely, in discrete twenty minute chunks, after which I resolve to sigh, mop my brow, and get back to the next twenty minutes. If I run out of time, I will borrow it from the future.
I resolve to get up every morning. I resolve to go to bed at night. In between I resolve to keep those events separate and distinct. I resolve to stay away from Fantasy Football for the next eight months. I make these resolutions in hopes of keeping at least a few of them. I never resolved to make it a challenge.