Taylor Mali -- Miracle Worker

Before Sunday, I'd never heard of Taylor Mali. Before today, YOU'VE probably never heard of Taylor Mali.

But let's change that -- right here, right now!

Taylor Mali is a poet. Yes, I said poet. But he's not one of THOSE kind of poets -- the ones who write for Hallmark:

"Roses are Red, I'm in Town, If you dress like Madonna, I'll come as a Clown!"

And he's not one of those self-absorbed poets who string along a bunch of meaningless meanings in the hope that you'll see how meaningful his poetry might be if you were smart enough:

"I am, and nobody saw, but by the moonlight, when you gasped, and realized who I really was meant to be, I was adorned with nothing, except the feeling of finally being masculine, but in a feminine kind of way."

Huh?

Taylor Mali is a poet for us regular guys. I like him. And I hope you like him, too.

I swear, it seemed so real!

I have a confession to make. Last night I went to a very posh restaurant, ordered the most expensive thing on the menu, and walked out without paying for it. I mean, the world's coming to an end today, so why bother about money?

Full Moon
Oops. I forgot to tell you. The world's coming to an end today. Sorry to break it to you like that, but I hope you at least appreciate the heads up.

You see, I had a dream last night that space aliens were gathering on the moon, getting ready to launch a massive attack on Earth, ending all life on this planet as we know it. Only I and a handful of scientists knew about it. So you tell me, can you blame me for skipping out on a lousy bill? I mean, it's not like anybody's going to be looking me up post Invasion Day to make me pay.

Anyways, I hardly ever remember my dreams for long, but this morning my alarm clock jolted me out of bed in mid-dream and it was still fresh in my mind. I remember looking through a telescope at the moon, seeing all those nasty aliens preparing themselves for battle, and wondering why they all looked like Darth Vader.

So while I was brushing my teeth and combing my hair, I thought to myself, "Is there really any good reason for me to go to work today? I mean, what's the use of going if by suppertime we're all dead?"

Yes, you go to work, because it was only a dream you idiot!

So, I finished getting dressed, headed down the road to work, and that's when I noticed the moon in the sky. It was a full moon. I quickly looked away because I didn't want to see what might be up there.

I hope you have a good day. For that matter, I hope we ALL have a good day!

Throw out the TV!

My Digital Signal
There was a time when I would come home from work, turn on the television, stumble off to bed when it was bedtime, and wake up the next morning to start the whole cycle over again.

Wake up, go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed.

Very few shows do I actually remember from those days -- shows like "Good Times" and "Little House on the Prairie," "Wheel of Fortune," "60 Minutes," "CSI," "Alias," "The Cosby Show," "Home Improvement," and....

Okay, I remember a LOT of those shows. But I don't actually remember specific episodes; what they were about; how things turned out in the end; the moral of the story.

Wouldn't you think I'd remember those things, especially since watching television played a major role in my life?

But I don't remember. Which tells me that I wasted a lot of good time when I should have been out there in the world making a difference, or at least being "active" in my own life instead of "passive."

Yes, those shows were entertaining; yes, they made me laugh and cry; yes, I thought they were the best things since sliced bread.

But they're gone. Gone and canceled. And only I remain.

So I threw out my TV. Well, I didn't really throw it out. I just don't have cable, satellite, or anything else that would cause me to waste oodles of perfectly good time.

Nowadays, I'm a part of my own life, and not just a member of the studio audience.

And I finally have the best seats in the house!

Who needs a swimming pool when you have a grill?

Summer is just around the bend, but I will NOT be putting in a swimming pool. No, don’t even try to talk me into it. I have made up my mind.

Swimming pools are large money-sucking holes in the ground that require time, attention, maintenance, supervision, regulation, preservation, upkeep, and a whole lot of other words that apply to having a swimming pool, but not to just sitting on the couch sucking on a sweet iced tea.

Swimming pools require work. Work is a four-letter word. I don’t talk like that.

Take for instance the upkeep of a swimming pool. To keep the water clear, fresh and not crawling with algae and other icky things, you’ve got to put chemicals in the pool that if you breathe them, you’ll probably pass out and die, which means you’ve wasted a lot of perfectly good money on something you’ll never get to use. Socks would have been more practical, and not near as deadly.

And then there’s the chore of scooping up the leaves and branches and dead crickets and June bugs that just so happened to take a dip in your pool, uninvited, because it was there and they thought, “Hey, c’mon Alice, nobody will care, and we’ll be out before they even notice.” But they didn’t get out alive, and now they’re floating under the diving board, and you’ve got to clean up the mess because nobody’s going to want to swan dive through a bunch of deceased June bugs.

“Cliff, I thought you said you cleaned out all those dead bugs. Look at this. They’re all in my hair.”

“Sorry June. That’s the price you pay for having a swimming pool.”

When your pool is spiffy clean and in good repair, then you’re practically obligated to invite all your friends and relatives to swimming parties, where they play water volleyball, and you spend most of the time praying nobody pees in the pool. Of course, you’re not going to swim in there because if someone hasn’t peed in the pool already, sooner or later they will, and that’s just plain disgusting.

“Sorry Cliff, but I think my boy just peed in your pool. But, as they say, boys will be boys. So, when are those hamburgers gonna be done?”

Ah, hamburgers. Cooked on the grill. The aroma of beef and charcoal wafting through the air, helping you to forget about the thought of chlorine mixed with little boy pee. Because when it comes to having pool parties, you’re practically obligated to have a cookout, and to not have one would be akin to going to work without putting on your pants.

If I were to ever have a swimming pool, which I’m not, but just for argument’s sake let’s say I did, my station would be at the grill. Grills are easier to understand and take care of than swimming pools. Put charcoal in. Light it. Watch charcoal burn. Put meat on grill. Cook it. Try to stay upwind of the smoke. Take meat off grill. Eat it. Watch everybody roll their eyes in delight because meat cooked over charcoal tastes better than meat cooked on a stove. Stand guard to make sure nobody tries to pee in your grill.

An outdoor barbecue grill (charcoal, not gas heaven forbid) is one of those things that keeps us in touch with our past. We can watch the fire and imagine what our ancestors went through to tame the west, make a home out of the wilderness, build roads, communities, and thriving businesses, and then eventually champion inside plumbing, electricity, cable television, super megastores, and the need to put in swimming pools and throw pool parties for family and friends.

”Cliff, stop daydreaming. Our guests are hungry, and shouldn’t those burgers be done by now? Do you hear me Cliff?”

“Sorry June. I heard you.”

That’s when you start thinking, “Isn’t it time for these people to go home?” And then you start getting a little snippy, a little ill-tempered, a little surly, sulky and gruff. So much so that your friends and neighbors start to notice, start to grumble, start to make motions of leaving, which is okay by you, but then you say things like, “Going so soon? We’ll have to do this again sometime.” And they say, “When?”

Like I said before, I will NOT be putting in a swimming pool this summer. But I am giving some thought to a new grill. I can taste the burgers already!

I am NOT a blogger!

Let me just set one thing straight right here and now -- I am NOT a blogger. I am a writer who chooses to publish little stories using a program used by bloggers. But that does NOT make me a blogger.

I am NOT a blogger!
A "blogger" is a person who writes about how they feel, what they think, how they perceive the world, how they think others perceive how they perceive the world, and a fair amount of angst-filled paragraphs that other bloggers read, make comments about, and then link to, Tweet about, Digg up, and so on and so on, using a blogging "platform" because that's a whole lot easier to do than to create a website from scratch using HTML.

I am not a blogger!

Bloggers enjoy sharing their inner-most feelings with total strangers; they describe the minutia of their every-day life as if the rest of us don't have our own minutia; they rant and rave about this subject and that subject; and then they ask how YOU feel about the matter, please leave a comment, and spread the word to all your friends and neighbors about my site because what I have to say is really worth it, and I love you!

I am not a blogger!

Blogs can also be websites put out by individuals or companies who want to inform you about what it is they are expert at, because they know you also want to be an expert about it, and if you follow this formula, or these 10 steps, or buy this product for just $39.95, then you'll be well on your way to producing the same results they do, and your life will be much fuller and complete, and when you die you'll die with the knowledge that you made something out of your life, and you weren't just another bum like your Uncle Isaac who sunk all his money into a new kind of engine oil that was supposed to "transform the industry," but instead transformed his banking account to negative numbers, and that's why he left Aunt Sally (because she was pissed, let me tell ya!), and went to Mexico with a pole dancer named Cinnamon who he met online.

I am not a blogger!

I am a writer. I write stories. Stories that serve no other purpose than to entertain. I have nothing to teach you, I have no 10 rules for gaining entrance to Valhala, and I have absolutely no desire to share the feelings that I'm feeling right now, because they're none of your business, and you'd gain nothing from learning that I had a really crappy day and if I have another one like it anytime soon, I'll lose my freakin' mind and have to do a fair amount of bodily damage to anyone standing in close proximity to my fists.

I am not a blogger!

But please pass this on to your friends and neighbors because I think they'll enjoy it -- especially since it's free!

Oh, and please leave a comment. Thank you!

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you so much for being president. I thought for awhile that I might have to do the job, but since nobody would ever vote for a person who promises "jobs for everyone, better education, and a few goats in the backyard," it's probably best that you took it and not me.

Health Care Rally for a Public Option in front of  Senator Bill Nelson´s Office
I know that you get many, many letters a day from people telling you what to do, telling you how good or bad you are, wanting you to sign up for new satellite TV service at great introductory low prices -- but that's not why I'm writing. I would like to talk to you today about Health Care.

Now, I'll be the first one to tell you that I don't know diddly about Health Care. For that matter, I don't know much about history, don't know much biology, don't know much about a science book, don't know much about the French I took. (Hmmmm...sounds like that could be some cool song lyrics. I'll work on that later.)

Anyways, like I said, I don't know much about Health Care, but it seems to me that since our government is for the people and by the people, then the government should do something to make sure we the people can afford the price of being sick, in order to form a more better Union without a whole lot of sniffles.

So here's what I have in mind, something you probably have never thought of, but I thought I'd put it out there:

No. 1 -- Health Care should be the right of every citizen, and not just a luxury. My Aunt Edna from El Paso always used to say, "I can't afford to get sick." But then she died, and now it's a moot point. But at least she did have a point. A lot of us can't afford to get sick. So, we need a change. I don't know what kind, but we need it.

and No. 2 -- Health Insurers should not be able to drop our coverage just because we get sick. I mean, what's the use of having health insurance if they give you the punt because of something you can't control? Doesn't that sound a little mafia to you? "Hey, want to stay well? You better pay. But if you get sick and need a new kidney, then sorry Charlie, you're on your own!"

I know, Health Care for everyone sounds like a wild and farfetched idea (my own family thinks I'm nuts), but I think a new way of thinking about our health is exactly what this country needs.

Anyways, I hope you got some good ideas from this letter and will at least give it some thought. Health Care for everyone may be a dream, but at least dreaming about it is much better than having a nightmare about going to work without your pants on -- again.

Thanks for your time, and now I've got to start working on that song. I think it could be a hit!

In the defense of grass

John Deere
Spring has sprung, daffodils are blooming, the grass is growing like weeds, and my poor misguided neighbors are once again out in their yards, beating their lawns back into shape with rake, hoe and John Deere.

But not me. I refuse. Cutting grass is a useless endeavor that never did anyone good. Besides, my yard has never done me harm. I can think of no quarrel I have had with it to make me want to abuse it while working up a sweat. Therefore, I choose to sit here in the shade, drink my sweet iced tea, and pray that one day my good neighbors will follow my example and leave their defenseless yards alone.

Did the Pilgrims come over on the Mayflower hauling lawnmowers, weed eaters and leaf blowers? Of course not. Does the constitution guarantee us the right to freedom of speech, religion and healthy Bermuda grass? I don’t think so. Did the Indians put sprinklers around their teepees in order to make their lawns lush and green? I shudder at the thought.

Our founding fathers did not bring forth to us a new nation all trimmed, manicured and brimming with microwavable Mexican food in pre-packaged portions. They brought us to a land that was hostile, overgrown, and filled with the promise of adventure.

So, what’s wrong with letting the grass grow until it covers the lawn chairs, charcoal grills and automobiles? Isn’t the act of keeping the yard spiffy just another way of keeping up with the Joneses? And if that's so, aren’t we doing it for all the wrong reasons?

Tall grass makes a great home for rodents, snakes and other vile creatures. When our yards are brimming with such life, our children learn to explore, be adventurous, call 911 and suck venom out of fresh bite wounds while they wait for an ambulance. Our children learn to trap those poor creatures, put them in jars, and take them to school for show and tell.

What do children with manicured lawns learn? You know exactly what they learn. And is that the kind of attitude we want in our children? Heaven forbid.

If the taming of our nation’s grass has led our children away from the joys of scientific exploration and adventure, and led them into the arms of video games and satellite TV, then I say let the grass grow and the devil with what our neighbors think.

If we must live in a nation of trimmed lawns and sculptured hedges, then we should at least banish the gas-guzzling, noise-making lawnmower in favor of a few quiet sheep or a couple of goats. Let these grass-eating animals munch on the backyard until they get fat and happy -- then let’s eat THEM. A leg of lamb or goat can be a mighty tasty meal.

You can’t eat a John Deere no matter how long you cook it.

Leather and Sandals

All right boys and girls, today we're going to study the effects Spring Break and Going To The Beach have on members of the "older generation," and whether those members make good use of Spring Break and Going To The Beach, or if they're just an embarrassment to the people around them.

In this study, our subject is a middle-aged white male in his late 40s, who traveled with his family to Galveston, Texas, in the hopes to, and we quote: "live like a pirate."

Leather and Sandals
First, as we examine the attached photograph, we can determine that this gentleman has no clue about having a good time on the beach. He is wearing no hat, no sunglasses and no white patch of sun block on his nose. He is sporting a black leather jacket, which would be appropriate in any biker bar, but is a little out of place on a beach.

I think you'll agree with me when I state our first hypothesis: "This gentleman has never been to a beach before in his life."

Next, whereas you and I would probably wear shorts as we frolic upon the beach, we notice that this gentleman is wearing blue jeans. Since the hems do not look wet, we can assume that he has not been in the water, or if he has, only stuck a toe in.

Our second hypothesis might be: "This gentleman is deathly afraid that sharks will jump out of the ocean and tear off his legs."

Looking at this gentleman's feet, we notice he is wearing a pair of sandals, not flipflops. These sandals are strapped to his feet, which should give him the freedom to enjoy his surroundings, but they look a little tight, like they're cutting off the circulation in his toes. Not only that, but they look a bit out of place when worn with the leather jacket.

Our third hypothesis should state the following: "This man wanted to stay in the car, but family members forced him onto the beach. To get back at them, he wore the most hideous pair of sandals he could find."

Finally, let's look at this gentleman's hands. Could it be he is trying to effect a gang-related sign on a beach in South Texas? I believe he is. But what does it mean? A short bit of research through the official handbook of Gang-Related Hand Signs of South Texas should give us a clue. And here it is:

"My name is Buster, and I'm a freak."

Our final hypothesis, which I will assign you as homework, most definitely should include words like "lunatic" and "idiotic," as well as phrases like "You've got to be kidding," and "That poor family."

In conclusion, it is our belief that this man was on the beach for one, and only one, reason: To make all the wives, daughters and sons in the immediate vicinity thankful that HE was not related to THEM.

And in that vein, he most certainly succeeded.

No Time For Sleep

Clock Top
I'm 48, and if I live to be 100 it will be a miracle. So, let's say I watch my diet, take my blood pressure medicine, don't get hit by a logging truck driving down Hwy 37, and I live to be 72. That means I've only got 24 years left to live.

I don't have time for sleep.

Getting out my trusty little calculator, I can roughly estimate that 24 years of living translates into 210,240 hours of breathing, and I much prefer breathing to the alternative. So, I really don't have time for sleep.

I don't sleep much anyways. I usually get about five hours a night, which includes a 5-minute pee break at 3 a.m. I then either go back to sleep or just stay awake. Right now, at 3:37 a.m., I'm awake. I'm awake using my little calculator to figure out how many hours of sleep I'll accomplish over the next 24 years. And the answer is 48,000. That's almost five and half years of sleeping.

I don't have five and half years to waste on sleep.

I've got things to do, people to see, stories to write, photographs to take. I've got fish to catch, goats to feed, and miles and miles of motorcycle riding to do. I've got sunrises to see and sunsets to enjoy. I want to learn Spanish. I want to be able to recognize more constellations. I want to sail up and down the coastlines of America. I want to get my instrument rating so I can fly anytime, anywhere, no matter the weather.

I don't have time for sleep.

I haven't grilled enough hamburgers yet. I haven't read enough books yet. I haven't drunk my fair share of beers yet. I want to eat lobster in Maine, catch salmon in Alaska, drink whiskey on Bourbon Street. I want to make my kids proud that they had a father who was living, and not just sitting on the couch watching "The Wheel of Fortune."

I don't have time for sleep.

I want to make a difference. I want to make an impact. I want to rise above the mediocre, and be proud of who I am and what I've accomplished.

I've got a hell of a lot more living to do, which means I don't have time for sleep.

But maybe little naps would be okay.

If vacations were outlawed, only outlaws would go on vacation

Okay, Spring Break is over, time to get back to the real world. Did you really think you could spend the rest of your life on the beach? Grow up.

Vacations are overrated anyways. You pack up all your clothes, head out to the beach, spend a few days having a great time, and downright hate the thought of having to go back to work. And when you DO go back, you end up making a mess of things because you can’t stop dreaming about being out in the ocean, picking up seashells, and feeding the seagulls.

Vacations are moments of joy that sooner or later must come to an end so you can go and do “The Job” thing.

Because that’s what life is all about – work. Vacations are just an interruption of that work. Work that pays the rent. Work that buys the groceries. Work that allows you to subscribe to satellite television and get more channels than you’ll ever have time to watch. Work that pays for your vacations which end up making you miserable because you have to go back to work.

So, when I’m in charge, there will be no more vacations. Maybe three-day weekends every now and then, but any time off longer than that will be frowned upon.

And don’t say you’ve “earned” a little bit of downtime. Just because you work 12-hour days, six days a week, doesn’t mean you’re entitled to head south to the coast, soak up some rays, build sandcastles with your kids, and buy nautical souvenirs to remind you of the great time you and your family had together.

You’re also not entitled to head to the Tiki Bars, drink Pina Coladas, and sing along with the cover band who’s performing hits from the 70s (the only decade that ever had any really great music) and not some heebie-jeebie beat-box pseudo music that doesn’t have words, and if it did, you wouldn’t understand them, and if you did, you’d wish you didn’t.

Oh, yes, there may be no better way to spend Spring Break than going to a beach – unless of course, you’re heading up to the mountains to ski – but since vacations will be frowned upon, and going skiing is the most pretentious of all vacations, you should be ashamed just thinking about it.

And why would you want to go skiing anyways? Are you crazy? Work 12 hours a day so you can afford a long trip up mountain passes covered with snow, put on a pair of 2x4s, then hurl yourself down a mountain with a lot of other crazy daredevils, not giving a single thought about the things you should be thinking of, like timetables, responsibilities, paying the water bill, or feeding the goats, and certainly not giving a thought to how you could fall and break a leg and never again be able to do “The Job” like you used to. Does that sound like fun to you?

And don’t forget – there’s snowboarding, too!

Sure, once down the slope, you can ride up the ski lift, enjoy scenery that you’ll never see in Texas, breathe in the cold, fresh air, then head down the mountain again, swerving and swooshing past other people who are having just as good a time as you are, but then what are you going to do next? Meet up with your friends or family, head over to the lodge to warm up next to a roaring fire, savor a cup of hot cocoa, talk about how much you would rather spend the rest of your life skiing down mountains than working at “The Job,” then go up the mountain and do it again? Like I said, are you crazy?

If going on a skiing trip is living the high life, then I’m thinking your priorities might be a bit skewed. The high life should be your work, your job, how you make money, how you pay the bills, and how you’re going to spend your “waning years” living off Social Security and your 401K. It is not about vacations and other such frivolous things.

I must confess, though, that I went to Galveston this week to watch my baby girl dance in a competition. I spent time on the beach. I ate a lot of expensive food. I enjoyed living the life of a buccaneer. But now it’s time to get back to work and be the person “The Job” expects me to be.

But I sure wish I was back in Galveston. I think the Pirate Life agrees with me.

Ignore Everybody, except for Hugh MacLeod

I'm an addicted Internet hopper. I browse around a bit, hop through this link, read that blog post, see what's happening in the world, and before I know it, it's nighty-night time and I haven't accomplished a thing.

A lot of stuff out there in the good old interwebs is just plain rubbish, but then something comes along, grabs your attention, and it doesn't want to let go of you even though you're late for work and your boss is going to blow a steaming volcano when you DO get there, IF you get there at all.

Hugh MacLeod is that something.

MacLeod is a cartoonist living out in West Texas. Alpine to be exact. But to call him "just a cartoonist" is like calling Harry Houdini "just a magician." And like Houdini, MacLeod creates amazing pieces of magic, but with the stroke of his pen.

These two pieces of artwork by MacLeod are some of my favorites. The top one, "Ignore Everybody," speaks loud and clear to those people who are trying to be unique, trying to be different, and encounter naysayers at every turn. The bottom one, "Texas," speaks for itself. Of course, you sort of have to be a Texan to hear it.

Art is a glorious thing to behold, but even more satisfying is the sharing of that art. Elizabeth Potts Weinstein shared her love for MacLeod's book (he's an author, too) in a blog post that I read. I went to MacLeod's site, GapingVoid, and was blown away by his art. And then Tyler Hurst invited people to join a community of 100 people who were excited about Hugh MacLeod's work -- excited enough to want to talk about it, and share it with others.

This isn't the usual type of story I write, but I am, indeed, excited about MacLeod's work!

And I felt like sharing!

It's Time For Some New Educational Standards

IMG_1282
With the school year practically over, and people expounding on what should have been taught in school, but wasn’t because we have a bunch of idiots in charge, but just wait until next year, boy, will things be different then, you just wait and see...I thought I'd expound on something a bit different!

Today, I'm going to spend my time with you conversing on more important things -- namely, TV Remote Controls and Homemade Ice Cream.

(WARNING: The following essay will quote a lot of historical facts and use mighty big words. We regret any inconvenience.)

In the beginning, when electricity and Milton Berle were without substance or form, a man named Philo Farnsworth got so bored one Saturday night that he invented the television and ushered in the era of Saturday Night Wrestling. It wasn’t until Thomas Edison invented the incandescent light bulb that Farnsworth could actually see what he had invented, and when he did, he said, “It’s good, but a 52-inch plasma HD TV with Surround Sound would be a whole lot better.”

Throughout the years, television brought into our living rooms Ozzie and Harriett, Ricky and Lucie, Fred and Barney, Young and Restless – and not once did these “stars” ever complain about Dear Old Dad sitting in his recliner, wearing nothing but his undershirt and boxers.

Speaking of Dear Old Dad. One day, realizing it would be more comfortable to remain seated than to get up and change the channel, he yelled, “Little Johnny, my feet hurt. Get in here and change the station.”

And with that, the first ever Daddy-Controlled, Voice-Activated TV Remote Control Exercise Program was invented.

(It’s funny how some inventions are made. One day you’re in the garage just mixing stuff up to see if it will explode, and the next thing you know you’re selling tubes of J.B. Weld. Go figure!)

Now, you might say Good Old Dad was lazy, but I say he was a visionary of childhood physical fitness. Yes, he could have gotten up from his recliner to change the channel, but instead he made the sacrifice to stay put – all for the good of his Little Johnny’s health.

But then along came Robert Adler.

Robert Adler invented the Wireless Remote Control – not to mention idleness, sloth, apathy, laziness, lethargy, and a whole lot of other synonyms that mean exactly the same thing. With Adler’s remote, Good Old Dad no longer needed Little Johnny to change the channel. And what became of Little Johnny? He got fat, forcing the government to pass “30 minutes a day of supervised exercise” legislation, and allowing dieticians to implement “healthy” menus consisting of things like carrots, corn and Trans Fat-Free Pizzas.

But, in all fairness, Adler is not the only one to blame for the state of our children’s lack of physical fitness. We can also blame Thomas Edison and his hideous invention, The Electric Ice Cream Maker.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Thomas Edison didn’t invent The Electric Ice Cream Maker. But since Edison was an inventor, and The Electric Ice Cream Maker was an invention, everybody can see that two plus two equal four – and I have no idea what that means.)

In 1843, American Nancy Johnson patented the first-ever Hand-Cranked Ice Cream Maker, and soon our country became the envy of the world. But that was yesteryear. Today, with the advent of The Electric Ice Cream Maker, our country is financially weak,  home foreclosures are at an all-time high, and we can't afford to send man back to the moon, much less send woman with him, which blows our plans to open up little Lunar Love Shacks for those who want to "get away from it all."

And it's all because our children have no idea how to hand crank ice cream.

So, in an effort to return our school children back to health, stabilize our economy, halt rising oil prices, decrease world hunger, alleviate military conflict, prevent global warming, and keep our universe from falling into a massive black hole, I hereby submit the following course selections for inclusion in next year’s academic schedule:

1. Hand-Cranking Ice Cream 101 – A 30-minute-a-day course required of all kindergarten through high school students. A state-mandated test should be given at the end of each year, ensuring that No Child Will Be Left Inside The House When Hand Cranking Ice Cream Needs to be Done.

2. Lose The Remote, Lose the Pounds – An ongoing program in which educators actively engage their students in the benefits of manually changing channels on classroom TVs. Channels should be changed 120 times a minute to achieve maximum heart rate.

In conclusion, do you know what Martin Luther King, Jr., Bill Gates, Donald Trump, Walter Cronkite, Jimmy Carter, Amelia Earhart, Mark Twain, Paul McCartney, and Rahm Emanuel all have in common?

Me neither. Just thought I’d ask.

There are always alternatives

Alternatives
My truck's alternator hasn't worked in about five months. During that time, the only way I could ever use the truck was to charge up the battery, drive to work without using the heater or turn signals, drive back home at the end of the day (hopefully without having to use the wipers or lights), and when I got back home, re-charge the battery so it would be ready by the next morning.

Well, I got sick and tired of that because sometimes it DID rain and I had to use the wipers, and it WAS dark and I had to use the lights, and when I DID get back  home, that truck battery was so dead, I'd think even Jesus couldn't resurrect it.

So, seeing that I bought this truck to learn how to work on it, and seeing that I had enough money to buy a new alternator but not enough money to pay a professional to put it in, I did the only thing I could do -- I put it in myself!

Now, I must say that I have not one mechanically-minded bone in my body. In fact, the only kind of bones I DO have are lazy-bones. So, for me to have the gall to think I could perform this little bit of surgery by myself, with absolutely no help at all, was textbook stupidity. But I did it. It's in there. The bolts are all tight. The electrical things are plugged in. I think it's even facing the way it's supposed to. But I do have one itsy-bitsy problem.

I have four parts left over, and I have no idea where they go.

If this truck ever runs again, it will be a miracle!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I pulled out an old Penny Whistle, tuned up my guitar, and put together a short little video clip of me playing an Irish Jig called "The New Potatoes."

To make this whole thing happen, I recorded the instrument parts on three separate tracks (using Audacity), then "whistle-synced" it when it came time to record on video. So, sometimes it doesn't look quite right, but I assure you, that's me playing all those instruments.

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day, and Fad saol agat, agus bás in Eirinn.

An Open Letter to my Daughter

Beckster in Galveston
Dear Beckster,

Wow, can you dance! And I'm so glad I got to see you dancing this weekend in Galveston. Your hip was hopping, your jazz was jazzy, and your poms were shaking all over the place.

(MESSAGE TO BOYS -- You better leave my little girl's poms alone, or you'll have to deal with DADDY!)

Okay, so now that I've said I really enjoyed watching YOU, I have a confession: I felt a little uncomfortable sitting up in the stands, mostly surrounded by "dance moms," looking at little girls shaking their "groove things" like no tomorrow. I felt like every mother there was looking at me and wondering, "What's that old man doing up there in the stands with a camera?"

I think I would have been more comfortable watching you in a bass fishing contest. Or maybe a bowling tournament.

Wait a minute. I know what we can do. Next weekend, how about you and me head out for a father/daughter trip to the Bass Pro Shop? We'll buy some fishing lures and relax in the camo-covered recliners. And then we'll head out to the lake, catch some bass, get our hands all slimy when we clean and gut them, and fry them for supper.

Either that, or we'll head over to the Harley-Davidson shop and try on leather, sit on Hogs, and drink a Rootbeer or two. Then we'll get on my bike, cruise through town pretending we're on a Harley, then end up at some biker bar where some guy named Mongoose will make a pass at you and I'll break his nose with a left jab, and the other bikers will say, "Mongoose had it coming," and we'll earn the life-long respect of every biker in America until one day you end up marrying an accountant.

Or maybe we can go to the airport, hop in a Cessna 150, fly to Ardmore, Oklahoma, and eat barbecue at the Blue Pig. Then we'll hop back in the plane, but I'll have made a crucial error in our added weight (we ate too much), and we'll run out of fuel over Lake Tawakoni, crash in the woods (we survive, of course), but nobody saw us crash, and we're there all alone, having to survive off the land, but it's okay, we just went to the Bass Pro Shop and bought lures, and our biker friends will be out looking for us when we don't show up for Saturday's ride through the Ozarks.

So how about it? Ready for a new adventure?

8 Things You Should Never Do While Spending Spring Break in Galveston

IMG_5870
1. Sing that Glen Campbell hit, "Galveston," over and over again until everybody in the car votes to kick you out. It's okay to sing it right up until the vote, but once the voting is done, you're toast.

2. Drive down Seawall Boulevard keeping an eye out for Beach Babes while your spouse is in the car.

3. Drive down Seawall Boulevard keeping an eye out for Beach Babes and not the other cars. The results are the same as No. 2 above.

4. Walk into a Tiki Bar without checking first what sort of clientele it caters to.

5. Assume your iHop waitress is actually a waitress and not a waiter who is trying to be a waitress. A mustache may be your first clue.

6. Right before dinner is served, tell everybody at your table about the woman you saw in the car next to yours at Sonic, who was puking her guts out from having too much fun the night before, while you were trying to eat a hamburger.

7. Book a hotel room that is "family friendly." Families bring kids; kids jump up and down on the floor until midnight, pretending they're kangaroos; you want to kill someone.

8. As you leave town, don't start singing "Galveston" again. Remember, you brought duct tape and they know how to use it.

It’s possible that I’ve made a mistake of cellular proportions

Any father who lets his 12-year-old daughter have a cell phone with unlimited texting, free nights and weekends, and mobile-to-mobile with friends and family, that father has pasta for brains.

Just so you’ll know, mine is filled with linguini and macaroni noodles.

There are so many things a father can give his daughter other than a cell phone. A puppy, for example. She can play with a puppy, take it for walks, feed it, then clean up its “accidents” because I’m certainly not going to do it. A puppy would keep a little daughter so busy she’d never have time to call her friends she hasn’t seen since she got home from school 28 minutes ago.

Puppies come complete with unlimited belly scratching, they’re still there on nights and weekends, and you can teach them to rollover in minutes. Plus, they never need recharging.

But some girls don’t want puppies. They want horses. And with horses come saddles and bridles and riding gear and cowboy hats and boots and a lot of other expensive horse stuff that after it’s all bought and paid for, you wonder if it might have been better just to get the cell phone, but it’s not, and don’t be deceived into thinking such thoughts.

Taking care of a horse is a time-consuming endeavor. When your little girl is taking care of her horse, she’s not off in her bedroom, texting some strange boy you’ve never met, but she likes him, and she hopes you do, too.

My little girl showed me a picture from her cell phone of a boy she likes. He looked kind of blurry to me. I’m not sure how I feel about my little girl liking a blurry little boy. I’m hoping one day she’ll find one a little more in focus.

And why does my little girl “need” a cell phone anyway? Because her friends have one? Doesn’t work with me. Just in case of emergencies? I’ve heard that one before. Maybe she needs one on the off chance some escaped convict from Wyoming makes his way to our house, and she’s there by herself, hides in the closet while he rummages around for cash and food, and she texts for help with her cell, after which the cops arrive and arrest the convict, making her story go viral over the internet, and we all get a free trip to New York where’s she’s interviewed on Good Morning America and then the Letterman Show? Ok, maybe.

No, little girls and little boys think they need a cell phone because WE have cell phones – we, the parents and adults they’re surrounded by, day in and day out. And it’s up to us, the adults and parents, to remind them that we have jobs, we can pay for a cell phone, and as soon as they move out of the house and can afford their own plan, they can have a cell phone, too.

Except, that’s not what I did. I should have, but didn’t. I caved in and gave my too-young-to-have-a-cell-phone daughter a cell phone because when we decided to upgrade all our phones, she happened to be there at the time, and when it looked like she wasn’t going to get one, she popped out that sad little bottom lip and gave me those sad little puppy-dog eyes – and resistance was futile.

But I can see the future, and I know what this decision will cost me. She already just waves at me as she heads to her room to get her phone and call her friends. Soon, she won’t even wave. She’ll have the phone glued to her ear and will just nod in my direction as she passes by.

And then she’ll want a car, so she can drive herself to school, work or the mall, and she’ll start texting some boy – probably still the blurry type – and she’ll want to get married to him because she “loves him,” and whether or not I approve, she’ll marry him anyway, and they’ll go off to Ohio so he can find work in construction, and they’ll have three little kids, and when each one reaches the age of 12 they’ll beg to have their own cell phones, and THEN she’ll call me asking for advice – oh, yes, she will – and I’ll just laugh in my fatherly “what goes around, comes around” way, and say good luck, but I have another call coming in. Talk to you later.

Living the Pirate Life in Galveston

Galveston
It's been almost two years since Hurricane Ike slammed into Galveston, Texas, and pert near wiped it off the face of the planet. But I'm here to tell you it's a hopping and happening place in 2010, and there's no better place to spend Spring Break.

(My whole goal for this weekend is to live by the philosophy of WWJSD? -- What Would Jack Sparrow Do? I'll let you know how it all comes out!)

The drive to Galveston wasn't so bad (about six hours), cruised up and down Seawall Boulevard (was getting a bit dark so didn't see any "saucy wenches"), ate some fried fish and shrimp at Benno's. But what is going to make this trip even better is what is in my hotel room -- a 32-inch, High Definition Multimedia Interface Flatscreen ViewSonic Television, with Dolby Digital Sound, hanging from the wall.

Oh baby, now THAT is living the high life!

More than 100 channels. Did you hear what I just said? One Hundred! And I flipped through each one.

How many stations do I get at home? Zero! But on Spring Break, in Galveston, I have more than 100 to choose from -- 111 to be exact.

So, What Would Jack Sparrow Do? Order a bottle of rum and watch every single last blessed one of those channels. Even the ones in Spanish.

Oh, baby! This is going to be a Spring Break to remember!

Spring Break, Baby!

Galveston
Spring Break has begun and I'm heading off to Galveston to play in the Gulf, take in some sun, ogle at all the well-endowed ...

Hey, why is there a bunch of "dance" stuff in my car? There's frilly costumes and leotards hanging everywhere. And who took my beef jerky? I paid good money for that beef jerky and I'm...

Wait a minute -- this isn't my music. I want my Rock 'n Roll. I want my "Born To Be Wild" and "California Girls" and "Surfin' USA." This is Spring Break with a capital S & B, and I've got plans and I've got...

Oh, we're going to a dance competition? We're not just going to the beach for some R&R? Our baby girl is dancing? When did this happen? And who gave her permission, because I didn't sign up for seeing my precious little baby in half-naked costumes dancing to some heebie-jeebie music and...

Ok, I'll shut up and drive.

So, when we get to the beach, could you pretend you don't know me?

Why Am I Here? Beats Me!

Some people will tell you that you cannot live a fulfilled and happy life without contemplating the meaning of your existence and discovering your purpose for being on this planet. And I say Hogwash! We can live quite happily without ever knowing why we're here and what we're supposed to do. In fact, even giving it a thought can really screw up a day.

I am here on this planet to consume copious amounts of chips and hot sauce, to constantly live life on the edge of peril, and to make my fellow human beings thankful that they're not as poor as me.

I’m here to provide my goats with food and shelter, to never say an unkind word to my co-workers unless their backs are turned, and to spend my money as I see fit even if it means I have to eat beans for a week or two.

I’m here to raise my kids so they can support themselves and never come back asking for money, to shoot and eat as many squirrels as I can, and to play banjo until the neighbors complain,

I’m here to put as many miles on my motorcycle as is humanly possible, to eat my fair share of Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream, and to never begin a sentence with, “I was watching Oprah the other day and ...”

Other than that, nothing else matters.

Are you ready to Live Without Oprah?

TSA's X-Rated Full Body Scanner -- The Movie

Pssst. Hey, you. Come here. Yeah, you!

You wanna buy a script? You know, movie script, TV script, off-Broadway musical script. Tell me what you want, tell me what you need. I have it. And if I don't, I can get it for you.

Just look at this one. It's a movie script. Very, very adult, if you know what I mean. It's called "Airport 2010 -- Full Body Scanners." Takes place all inside an airport security room. Keeps the budget super low.

The storyline goes like this: A major airport gets one of those TSA full body scanners. Passengers walk through it and a technician, in a completely different room, looks over the scan to see if they're carrying anything illegal. Bombs, guns, that sort of thing. Right away you can see a terrorist sub-plot taking place, can't you? I knew you would.

Now, the full body scanners show ghost-like images of people without their clothes on, so you can't really see "the good stuff." Unless, of course, you know what "the technician" knows.

This technician is a hunky guy. Broad chest. Big muscles. He's been trained on how to properly use the scanner, but he also knows which switches to push in order to see everything. And I mean, everything!

He watches for bodacious babes going through security, pushes the right switches to check out their "packages," and then tells another technician to bring them in for more thorough investigations. Which means they have to be "patted down" and "wanded," if you know what I mean. Purely illegal, but oh so hot and steamy!

Throughout the movie, some technicians are guys, some are girls, some are...well, you know -- and in the end, you have a blockbuster straight-to-DVD movie that will make you millions, all because of this little script, right here!

I know, it sounds like pure science fiction, but I guarantee this storyline is 100 percent believable.

So, what do you say? You wanna make a movie?

It's Irving Berlin's fault, not mine!

I really meant to have my taxes done by now, but they're not. I don't think I'll have them done by next weekend, and it's very possible I'll end up filing my return at the last possible second.

No real reason for this financial procrastination. It's not like I'm going to have to pay anything, or if I do, not much. It's just that I haven't felt like doing it. For that matter, I haven't felt like mowing the grass, washing the dishes, or changing the oil in my truck, either.

I'm lazy.

la-zy [lay-zee] adjective - zi·er, -zi·est, verb, -zied, -zy·ing. 1.averse or disinclined to work. 2.causing idleness or indolence. 3.slow-moving; sluggish. 4. Me.

(Finding that definition of "lazy" is the most work I've done all day, I guarantee!)

I don't know why I'm so lazy. I wasn't born with lazy genes. I don't think I learned it from my parents or siblings or cousins or regular, everyday people who seem to do very little work but get paid extremely well anyways (okay, that may be a cause), but I'm lazy, and I'm ashamed of it. Okay, maybe just partly ashamed.

I would try to change my ways, but that would take effort -- and I'm too lazy to apply any effort in that direction.

Wait a minute! I remember why I'm so lazy! It's because of that "Lazy" song in "Holiday Inn" staring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. That "Lazy" song by Irving Berlin that goes like this:




Yep, I'd probably be the most productive guy on the planet if it wasn't for that song.

So, if you ever need me to do something, and I appear "slow-moving," "sluggish," or "disinclined to work," don't blame me.

It's Irving Berlin's fault!

My conversation with Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan collectors card front
Yesterday morning I read a blog post by Chris Brogan where he talked about his passion for blogging. Toward the end of his post he wrote, "We need more blogs that can educate and inform and instruct..."

Well, Jiminy Cricket, after reading that, and being of the opinion that not everything has to have an underlining purpose of educating or swaying public opinion -- that there is value in just good old-fashioned entertainment for entertainment's sake -- I decided to engage Mr. Brogan in a little bit of tête-à-tête (which is French for "entrevista a solas.")

So, I bucked up my "I'm about to engage a Big Dog" nerves and sent him the following Tweet:

tracyfarr @chrisbrogan "We need more blogs that educate, inform, instruct..." Is that the only way to "make it" in blogging? By instructing?

And do you know what happened? Within moments, Chris "The Big Dog" Brogan sent me -- that's right, Me, Mr. Cellophane -- the following reply:

chrisbrogan @tracyfarr - not at all. Plenty of other ways. Heck, write me a blog post of the other ways to make it in blogging. : )

Oh hell. An assignment.

So, I went looking for the answers at Technorati, and here's what I found:

Out there in the Wild, Wild World of blogging, there are so many successful blogs that have absolutely NOTHING to do with instructing, that to even ask the question "Is that the only way of making it in blogging? By instructing?" is about as Pre-K as Pre-K can get.

I want my blankee now. It's time for nap nap.

So, I sent the following messages back to The Big Dog!

tracyfarr @chrisbrogan Doesn't matter if your blog is about marketing, politics, pop culture, porn or goats. The key to success is passion!

tracyfarr @chrisbrogan Thanks for the lesson! :-)

Haven't heard from Mr. Brogan since.
  (***Monday Morning Update: Just heard back from Chris. He left a great comment!***)

MORAL No. 1 -- Passion is the Key to Success.

MORAL No. 2 -- You mess with the Big Dogs, you're going to learn a lesson -- one way or the other!

‘The Great Goat Escape’ – a present-day adventure

Sassy
There was a time when I had no goats. There was a time when I was a boring and pathetic excuse for a man. But now that I have goats, I live a life few dare to even dream of. So come with me now as I open up my journal and share one of my greatest goat adventures of all time: “The Great Goat Escape.”

3:30 – Left work early to make sure the goats were still in their pen. And were they? Of course not! And I could NOT figure out how they got out. Is it possible somebody LET them out, just to see me jump through hoops? Ah, I can think of a couple of people who’d stoop so low, but I don’t want to accuse anyone. Not me.

3:45 – Goats rounded up and back in pen. I think I’ll pretend to go inside, but instead, I’ll watch them from behind the bushes.

4:00 – Shhhh! Be still! I'm behind the bushes spying on my goats. I've got to figure out how they keep getting out! The key is to be sneakier than them. OH NO...I think they saw me!

4:10 – Okay, I’m in the house now looking through the back window. I’m munching away on a bag of chips, spying, and they’re just sitting…doing nothing. They probably “feel my presence” and are just waiting for me to give up. But I won’t. And I REFUSE to go to the kitchen and get a drink, 'cause that's when they'll escape – when my back's turned. I'm no idiot! And if I have to pee…well, I’ll just hold it until my bladder bursts ‘cause I’m NOT going to let these stinkin’ goats get the best of me – again.

4:27 – Okay, those chips were really salty and I could use an ice-cold drink. The goats are just sitting now; it looks like they’re dozing. So, I think if I run real fast, I might be able to pour me something and be back without…wait, it looks like they’re … no, they’re still sitting. Okay, here I go. One, two….

4:32 – Alright, I’m back. I even had time to… Hey, I wonder what that goat is looking at? She’s looking straight up into the sky as if she’s looking for a helicopter to come and break her out. Oh wait, she’s just scratching her back.

4:36 – Something’s happening. They’re moving around, rubbing against the fence. This looks like it might be it. “The Great Goat Escape.” No, wait, they’re down again. False alarm.

THEORY – There are some dead tree limbs in their pen. I leave them there because I’m too lazy to pick them up. I just wonder…is it possible they are using the limbs to pole vault over the top of the fence? It sure would explain a lot. I think this weekend I’ll get rid of those limbs.

4:51 – Okay, they’re both up and stretching.

4:52 – Now they’re back down and sitting.

4:53 – They’re both up again, pawing at the ground.

4:54 – Back down again.

THEORY REVISION – The pole vault idea was pretty dumb. I mean, they’d have to run pretty fast to get up and over, and those short stubby legs just can’t have enough strength to do the job. So, how ARE they doing it?

4:58 – Okay, they’re up again, moving toward the fence and now they’re…I can’t believe what I’m seeing! The mama goat is in a sitting position, with her front hooves together. She’s giving the other one an UPSIE! The little one’s up, now on her mother’s shoulder, and now she’s balancing on the edge of the fence like a tightrope walker. She’s reaching down a hoof, the mother has it…and now they’re BOTH over! If I hadn’t seen it with my own two eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it. What an amazing feat (or hoof)!

Impossible you say? Well, of course. I just made the whole thing up because I was getting bored.

5:03 – Goats still resting on the ground.

6:26 – Holy Smokes! It’s dark outside! I must have fallen asleep. Oh well, the goats are still in their pen, and they never get out after dark. But just in case, I’m going to place three “obstacles” in front of places that look like easy escape routes. I’ll put the lawnmower in front of one; stick a huge dead tree limb in front of the second one; and the barbecue pit in front of the third. Hopefully, they’ll realize that if they escape tomorrow, I might just have to use the barbecue pit to take care of the problem once and for all.

I’ll be sure to keep you informed.

Let's Write a Hit Song

Today, boys and girls, we’re going to write a Hit Song using the front page of today’s newspaper as our sole source of inspiration. Impossible you say? Maybe, but do you really have anything else better to do? No, I didn’t think so.

You’ll be happy to know that being able to read music or play a musical instrument is not required in writing a Hit Song. All you need is a pencil and a sheet of paper. A highlighter might come in handy, but I’ll leave that up to you.

To begin, read the headlines on the front page of today’s newspaper and find a noun that piques your interest. (A noun is a person, place or thing. The word “pique” is a verb – but let's not get technical.) Write your noun on the sheet of paper then say it out loud, over and over again, until it no longer makes sense. Weird, isn’t it?

Next, find a word that rhymes with your chosen noun and write it NEAR your chosen noun, but not right next to it (you’ll need that space later for other useful words). For example, my chosen noun is “Starbucks.” And what rhymes with Starbucks? Woodchucks, of course.

Now, write down a few useful words in the aforesaid empty space (free associate them right off the top of your head), just to see how they fit. Don’t over-analyze what you’ve come up with because that will ruin spontaneity. Spontaneity is good. Analyzing is bad. (The Beatles never analyzed anything, and if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for you!)

For example, the first line of my new Hit Song goes like this: “Starbucks don’t serve woodchucks on Fridays.” See how easy that flows? See how I use perfectly good words to express an idea? See how I totally disregard certain grammatical conventions? Now it’s your turn, and don’t come back until you’re finished.

(WARNING: Never attend a grammatical convention. Listening to people fight about when to use a comma can make you want to drive your car off the nearest cliff.)

Back so soon? Good for you. Now it’s time to write our second sentence – and I promise it will be a breeze. Our second sentence is going to contain a bunch of gobbledy-gook – like “Oh-ly shock-a-diddle waddle musty huck-a-do.” Gobbledy-gook is great for audience sing-a-longs. Next, we repeat the first sentence (the one with our noun), then repeat the gobbledy-gook, but only the “Reader’s Digest” version. My version goes something like this:

Starbucks don’t serve woodchucks on Fridays
Oh-ly shock-a-diddle waddle musty huck-a-do
Starbucks don’t serve woodchucks on Fridays
Oh-ly shock-a-diddle huck-a-do.

With these four simple sentences, we now have “The Hook” of the song. “The Hook” is what music people refer to as “that part of a song that bounces around in the detainee’s head, forcing them to tell the truth when all other forms of torture, including water boarding, fail to achieve results. The detainee then has no recourse but to buy millions of CDs, thus forcing us to become billionaires (like we would really complain).”

Now that you have “The Hook,” find, circle, highlight, cut out, underline, or jot down (whatever floats your boat) a lot of other good words, string them together in a semi-coherent fashion resembling poetry, but refer to them as – what people in the music industry call them – lyrics.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Lyrics that rhyme are fine, but non-rhyming lyrics give the impression you are a deep thinker and that your song must hold some powerful meaning to your life. They’ll discuss your lyrics in songwriter groups, speculating why you chose to say “waddle” instead of “daddle,” and may even dub you as “The New John Lennon.”

And now that you have “The Hook” and a bunch of lyrics, you’re basically finished! Congratulations! You just wrote a hit song! Now it’s time for you to head out to Nashville, sell your song to Dolly Parton, become rich and famous, buy yourself a Learjet, move to Vegas, gamble away your money at the Black Jack table, be chased by the IRS for owing $3.4 billion in back taxes, skip the country to Aruba, and live happily ever after in a cave with three goats and a llama.

And to think – just five minutes ago you were just an ordinary guy, sitting on the couch reading the newspaper, waiting for a NASCAR race to begin.

5 Easy Ways To Stay Out Of Credit Card Debt

commerce bank card 1
After years of wallowing in credit card debt, and with many more wallowing years to come, I hereby give you the wealth of my credit-card-debt wallowing knowledge in the hopes that you'll learn from the error of my ways:

5 Easy Ways To Stay Out Of Credit Card Debt

1. Don't use credit cards.

2. If you have a credit card, pay it off then cut it up.

3. Whenever you hear this: "You have been pre-approved for a new low-interest credit card." Remember that it actually means this: "Come wallow with me. The water's fine!"

4. The main purpose of credit card companies is to make money. They make money by charging interest on your debt. Debt is a four-letter word. Stop being a potty mouth!

5. Don't use credit cards.

Oh, you keep only one credit card around just in case of emergencies? Yep, that's what they all say.

And now, a song:

Come Buy With Me
Sung to "Come Fly With Me" by Frank Sinatra

Come buy with me, let's buy, let's buy today
If you can use some exotic booze
Use your card and buy away
Come on and buy with me, just buy, let's buy today.

Come buy with me, and you'll get your bill next month
Pay it all or not, we don't give a snot,
Interest rates are going up
Come on buy with me, buy those things you haven't got

Once you have a card, just one will never do
What you need is two, or maybe four.
Spend to your limit, then spend even more,
Thank you for your business, we adore....you!

Credit-wise it's such a lovely day,
Just say the words, you can charge those birds
Take them home with you today
Why wait another week until you're paid,
When you can buy with me, just buy, just buy today.

The Kid, The Plane, and Air Traffic Control

Continental A/L 747, LAX, 1987
I had a terrible nightmare last night.

I was a pilot for JetBlue Airways, on final approach to JFK International. It was the final leg in a very long day, when I called the tower and had the following conversation:

JETBLUE: “JFK this is JetBlue 101 on 15 mile final for one-eight, request medical assistance at gate for sick passenger, non-emergency, JFK.”

TOWER: “Hi, JetBlue, this is Bobby. I’m 5. I'm in pre-K. I got sick once in school and it was not pretty. I got to go home for the rest of the day. My Mommy checked my temperature then gave me a 7-up. I like 7-up, but only when I'm sick.”

Silence

JETBLUE: “JFK, JetBlue 101, say again?”

TOWER: “I threw up, okay? Got sick stuff all over the floor and on my shoes, okay? The other kids laughed at me and made me cry, but my teacher, Ms. Blanchard, she told them to behave or she'd make THEM clean it all up. I had pizza and corn for lunch and it was everywhere. It smelled. I don't want to talk about it anymore.”

JETBLUE: “JFK, who am I talking to again?”

TOWER: “I’m Bobby and I’m in my Daddy’s tower. He went to go potty and left me in charge. He said, ‘Ok, little man, hold down the fort and I’ll be right back.’ Yep, that’s what he said, and I’m holding down the fort. Sometimes he brings me up to his tower and I just push the buttons for him. I like pushing buttons. I push, he talks. We're a team.”

Silence

JETBLUE: "JFK ... I mean, Bobby. I'm a pilot, in a big airplane with a lot of people depending on me to get them on the ground safely, and I think if your Dad doesn't come back soon, we're all going to be in a lot of trouble and..."

TOWER: "My Daddy won't get in trouble will he? Not MY Daddy, will he? He's the best Daddy in the world. He fixes me pizza, and when Mommy's asleep he let's me watch movies I shouldn't watch. And when Maynard Harrison was picking on me at school, he went over to beat up his Daddy, because Maynard said HIS Daddy could beat up MY Daddy, and then he punched me in the eyeball. I didn't see my Daddy for a few days after that, but everything turned out ok after Maynard's Dad dropped his charges. Or something like that."

Silence

TOWER: "Hey, you, pilot man, here's my Daddy. He's back from the potty. Have a nice..."

TOWER: "This is JFK. Sorry about that, guys. My kid didn't have school today and I couldn't just leave him at home, could I? Now, can you repeat your position again?"

And then I woke up.

Yes, indeed. What a nightmare. Good thing that could never happen in the REAL world!

Evel Knievel is still The Man!

Evel Knievel
Please raise your hand if you've ever heard of Seth Enslow. Raise them high. Nobody? Okay, how about Evel Knievel. Wow! The whole room.

And that, Mr. Seth Enslow, is your problem.

Enslow is an American stuntman who recently sailed his Harley-Davidson motorcycle 187 feet through the air with the greatest of ease, breaking the previous record set by Bubba Blackwell back in 1999. And it was Bubba who broke Evel Knievel's distance record, which had stood for 25 years.

But there's one thing that will keep Enslow and Blackwell from become household names:

Their names.

With a name like Evel Knievel, you just know you're going to see something spectacular. With Seth Enslow, I'm thinking I might call him to mow my yard. And Bubba? Plumbing, for sure.

Okay, so these two stuntmen jumped further than the man who gave birth to the spectacle, but they will never match his showmanship, his daring, his aura of being a maverick daredevil, willing to defy gravity and broken bones for the chance of doing something nobody had ever done before.

And they will never have their own wax replicas in Madame Tussauds.

Fly 185 feet on a motorcycle, in an almost-empty parking lot just for some media types? That would be Seth.

Fly over 14 buses in front of a world-wide audience that stopped what they were doing just to see the The Last Gladiator enter the arena to compete against destruction and win? That would be Evel!

Besides, Evel had his own Action Figure. And you can't get much greater than that!

Women 5, Men 1

When I'm in charge of the world, I'm going to make sure that every building, every venue, every house of worship, every sporting arena, every place that could possibly be used to host more than a handful of people -- every dad-blasted last one of them has five times more Women's Restrooms than Men's.

I call it the "5 to 1 Ratio of Making The Fairer Sex Happy Enough to Attend a Hockey Match" principle.

And before you start thinking I'm some liberal female women-libber's toy, bent on sucking up to the "gentler sex" because I know which side of my bread is buttered -- which would be mostly right -- let me explain my reasoning:

We guys are constantly waiting on women, and it starts at an early age. First date? Had to wait for whatever-her-name was to brush her teeth and tie her hair in a ponytail. First homecoming? Had to wait for some girly-girl to put on her makeup and let her mother attach the "mum" I bought her because she SURE wasn't going to let ME do it!

Marriage proposal? Well, I will say "that woman" had to wait for ME to do it, but that's the only time. I've been waiting on her ever since.

So, we go to a concert or a sporting event, the thing is over and I'm all ready to go, I've done my guy thing in the Men's Room, and now I'm waiting on her. And there's a line snaking around the lobby for the Women's Room, and she's at the end. All the women are waiting in line, all the men are leaning against the wall, looking down at the floor.

And we wait.

It's just not right. We either need to change the building codes to the "5 to 1" ratio, or teach our ladies how to use a urinal.

I vote for "5 to 1."