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Archive for November, 2008

Humans develop personal comfort zones from the onset of interaction with each other. It begins at that first group play date. Two- and three-year-olds either find their freedom to socialize, or they stand in the corner with their blankets waiting for the embrace of their mothers’ arms.

By adulthood, our comfort zones define us. We cling to familiarity – the likes and interests and warm blankets of life. We think we know what we’re all about and the doors leading to the edge of the envelopes we live in slowly close.

What a shame because, clearly, an adventure to the edge from time to time gives us opportunity to taste life and all of its uncertainties.  The horizon may be beautiful to view from the balcony, however, the beauty intensifies only if you choose to run towards it.

My windows and doors remain ajar. Save from jumping from an airplane or engaging in an activity that begs for death to arrive sooner than he should, everything is fair game, even if I don’t wear that tattoo boldly on my forearm. So while it seems uncharacteristic for me to meet a dozen strangers for the first time at a bar in Minneapolis, then join them on the dance floor for hours of hip-hop and ’80s disco, when I get that chance, I take it. At the end of the night, the goodbyes are heartfelt and life is bigger, brighter and filled with new friends and new stories the next morning.

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The Thanksgiving holiday brings about many opportunities for epic proportions of everything.

First comes the Thanksgiving feast. Massive turkey combined with plates and plates of carb-laden potatoes, stuffing and other side dishes followed by a row of pies in nearly every flavor, results in even a Jack Sprat-like family feeling obese at the end of the day.

Black Friday provides shoppers with the “biggest shopping day of the year.” Consumers camp out overnight at their local Best Buy store so they can trample employees in a mad rush to buy the specially-marked-down Bette Midler Christmas CD…errrrr…something like that.

On Friday night, more crowds to elbow in order to snap up tickets for an epic movie. This year’s offering, “Australia,” with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. With at least three movies within the movie, the two hour, 45-minute production included far too many slo-mo shots of a shirtless Jackman. But the sell-out audience didn’t mind the cliches and obviousity of the epic film complete with happy ending. What would you expect?!

The gynormous weekend activities continue. Twelve-foot-tall Christmas trees lashed to the tops of Toyota Priuses; massive front-yard light displays; and miles and miles of gift wrap in order to make those purchases from Black Friday look presentable under the tree.

It’s appropriate, then, we get Thursday through Sunday to eat, shop, sleep, eat, queue in check-out and ticket lines, eat, sleep and decorate for the next major holiday. What better way to start celebrating the Holiday Season?

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A Little Deja Vu

Roughly 30 years ago, I stopped at the local record store in my hometown of Spencer, Iowa, and bought a cassette tape of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.” I was 14 and played that tape again and again until the hiss on the cassette overshadowed the songs.

Flash forward to present.  A few days ago, my 14-year-old son was playing some songs from YouTube and invited me to sit down to hear a tune from (drumroll) AC/DC. Talk about deja vu.  Two generations appreciating the same band at precisely the same age. It struck a proverbial chord. The moment made me smile. And while I don’t rock out to songs like “Back in Black” or “You Shook Me All Night Long” anymore, I’m pretty pleased that my son took a liking to the same band that entertained his Dad three decades ago.

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Wordplay – Surfeit

It’s been months since I entered a Wordplay post. This one seems poignant given we’re a week out from the U.S. Thanksgiving.  If you want to see other Wordplays – just enter the word “wordplay” in the search bar at the top of the page.

Surfeit (pronounced sur-fit): to feed or supply to fullness or excess; satiate. 1. Overindulgence in food or drink.  2. An excessive amount

The smells of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and dinner rolls filled the air on Thanksgiving Day. But after the enormous dinner, you could cut the surfeited air with a knife.

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It’s the holiday season. Rather than wander endlessly through crowded shopping malls and electronics retailers trying to identify an oh-so-perfect gift for the guy in your life, shop with a purpose this year.

Here are 10 gift suggestions practically any man would love to open up on Christmas morning – none of which involve a gift card (boring) or spreadable cheeses (that’s just wrong).

In no particular order…

  1. Rayban Wafarer or Oakley Flak Jacket Sunglasses – Celebrities aren’t the only ones who appreciate signature eyeware, although it’s more affordable for them. Still, a nice set of shades wrapped up in a bow tell your significant other that his baby blues, browns et al need proper protection from those damaging UV rays.
  2. Blue Ray DVD Player – Now that Sony won the battle of Blue Ray there’s no reason not to upgrade. He may not notice the picture difference, but he’ll say he does. What’s more, he’ll tell all his friends, repeatedly, about how his wife/girlfriend gave hime a Blue Ray player for Christmas.
  3. “Unforgiven” Two Disc Special Edition – Four Academy Awards, Clint Eastwood starring and directing along with Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman.  This is the ultimate Western movie for any guy’s DVD library.
  4. Art – the hanging kind. That poster of Daisy Duke on a nail in the home office was put there as a placeholder. Make the upgrade with an architectural line drawing or black and white photograph, add a nice frame and he’ll be sure there’s something extra special in your stocking…next year.
  5. Multifunction Tool – Even the most unhandiest of men need ready access to a tool that cuts, twists, drives screws, and opens that stubborn beer bottle in a pinch.
  6. Under Armour Gear – It’s not only for athletes. In fact, donning Under Armour’s Contender Armour Stretch Pants, for example, might make guys feel more athletic. They’ll certainly look the part.
  7. http://www.mywebsite.com – Unlike pet rocks and mood rings, I don’t think the Internet is a passing fad. Find a website developer and do it up right. Nothing will scream Merry Christmas like his very own dot-com address.
  8. Fender Guitar – To be specific, the Fender Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster guitar.  If owning something cool is the objective, this autographed custom guitar puts cool on the map. I can’t play a lick, but seriously, who wouldn’t want this as a conversation piece? Amp not included.
  9. Navigation System – The technology running these devices only gets better making it nearly a shame for any vehicle not to have a portable nav system telling us where to go. Tom Tom, Sony and Garmin all have systems starting at around $200. You can’t buy humility back after asking for directions for that price.
  10. Sigg Water Bottle – with all the plastic filling our ditches and dumps, isn’t it time to stop with the unnecessary buying of bottled water? Give the “gold standard” in reusable water bottles this year. The Sigg Classic is durable, leak proof and sophisticated (that’s what the web site says, you can’t make that up!).

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Ray LaMontagne launched a new album, “Gossip In The Grain,” about a month ago. Here’s a track I’ve come to like. The video is taken from a gig he played in Boulder. It’s a bit shaky, but the sound is good.

Let It Be Me

There comes a time,
A time in everyone’s life
When nothing seems to go your way,
When nothing seems to turn out right

There may come a time,
You just can’t seem to find your place
For every door you open,
Seems like you get two slammed in your face

That’s when you need someone,
Someone that you, you can call.
When all your faith is gone,
It feels like you can’t go on

Let it be me
Let it be me
If it’s a friend that you need
Let it be me
Let it be me

Feels like you’re always comin’ up last
Pockets full of nothin’ ain’t got no cash
No matter where you turn
You ain’t got no place to stand
You reach out for somethin’ and they slap your hand

I remember all too well
Just how it feels to be all alone
To feel like you’d give anything
For just a little place you can call your own

That’s when you need someone,
Someone that you, you can call
When all your faith is gone
It feels like you can’t go on

Let it be me
Let it be me
If it’s a friend you need,
Let it be me
Let it be me

Let it be me
Let it be me
If it’s a friend you need,
Let it be me
Let it be me
Let it be me

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Age Defying

I’m showing my age.

At least parts of me are starting to reveal my 40-something-ness. And while my spirit and mental age might be 36.8-years-old (according to results from this test on realage.com), other external signs sing a different tune. I urge you all to take the test, by the way. It’s simple, yet revealing.

Many of you know I’m adopted. I’ve not done a search for either of my birth parents, so my biological history is an unknown. It might be interesting to know what’s in store for me – especially considering the various serious health conditions that I could face, like heart disease and diabetes. But there’s a bit of excitement watching each day unfold not knowing what to expect as well. And as long as I’m taking care of myself, living a healthy lifestyle and getting my share of physical activity on a regular basis, I’m okay letting the chips fall where they may.

Part of the excitement (attention getting change) noted in the paragraph above started to reveal itself a couple years ago. That’s when I first noticed a very, very white eyebrow hair growing from my right brow. Something just didn’t belong. It has reappeared ever since and, more recently, I found a similarly white-ish hair coming from my head. Then, just last month, a white chest hair. Tell tale signs? No one knows, including me. Perhaps in my retirement years I’ll be playing Santa Claus with truly natural all white hair, mustache and beard.

There are other signs as well (I seem a little more jowly and my muscles and joints require more time to recover after strenuous physical activity). I’ll stave off the external and physical changes as long as possible by taking care of the body I’ve been given.

In the meantime, I’ll go with the 36.8 year-old-mantra and act my “real age.” At least until the white hair thing becomes visible to one and all.

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