Monday, November 28, 2011


I was just wondering if a reward is still necessary on "Wanted" posters. I mean, are we more likely to call the police if we spot a baddie on the lam and money is offered? I don't think so. Not any more anyway. Back in the day, I'm sure a reward was a huge – even necessary – incentive to do one's civic duty. But rewards aren't special now, they're commonplace. I don't have an inordinate amount of faith in humanity's capacity to do the right thing simply because it's right, but I bet most people would turn in a kidnapper simply for the attention and kudos it would garner them. And, hey, people do the right thing for the wrong reason all the time.

Still, if I did spot a fugitive rapist, pedophile or murderer, no one would have to pay me or promise me 30 seconds on the evening news to turn him or her in. I'd do it for free.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


(To all those not from the United States, tomorrow – November 24 – is Thanksgiving.)

I was talking to Christy the other day and realized, much to my chagrin, that I always seemed to be venting about something bad. Or, at least, something that I thought was bad enough to spend quality time with her venting about. I realized that I was becoming a chronic whiner. One of those people that always has something dire going on in their life. One of those people that always seems to have a little black cloud hanging over their head. One of those people that you cross the street or take the next elevator to avoid. One of those people that you're loathe to bump into and ask, "How ya doin'?" because you don't really want to hear a litany of the crap that's happened to them since you last avoided talking to them.

Seeing myself on the precipice of this abyss wasn't pretty. Diving headlong into a bottomless pit of self-pity and drowning in a pool of negativity ain't pretty. So I made a vow a couple of days ago to not say anything negative for 24 hours (in a row). I think I made it, more or less, but it was hard. It's amazing how easy it is to start spouting about the woes of your life to anyone who'll listen. But I made it, regardless. Mission accomplished. Christy reminded me that, even when lots of bad stuff happens, there's always – and I mean always – good stuff that happens too. We just forget about it sometimes. Or think it's not really worth mentioning. Or we relegate that good stuff to life's B List because it's not as important as the A List crap.

I wasn't entirely successful in my quest for a vent-free day, but I came damn close. (And Christy? If I wasn't as successful as I think I was, I don't wanna know!) And it felt good. I found myself looking for positivity, and I found it. Pretty much everywhere.

So, to that end, the following is a list of good things that happen to me every day, often, and sometimes.

1) The Boys: There's something about my cats trotting into the bathroom while I'm using it that just warms my heart. Seeing their little furry faces in mine first thing in the morning usually starts my day off right.

2) My mom: We have the silliest conversations about nothing and they always leave me grinning. She does more for me than for herself and I honestly don't know what I'd do without her.

3) My fireplace: I bought my first set of fireplace tools ever, picked up some Duraflames and haven't looked back. Napping in front of a crackling fire is heaven on earth.

4) A car for 3 weeks: I don't have a car of my own (long story), but I recently got to be custodian of my mom's car for 3 weeks while she traveled. I didn't actually use it every day, but knowing it was parked out there was nice. The fact that she trusted me with her car was even nicer. (Note to self: Get a car next year!)

5) No line at Wal-Mart: Wal-Mart can be hell on earth. But the other day, in the rain, I was able to pop in there, find what I needed, and there was one guy in line in front of me with 3 small items, and he paid with cash! 5 minutes, in and out.

6) WIC neighbor: My neighbor Ashley, whose hubby won't be back from Afghanistan until at least July, just had a baby and she's on WIC. Every so often, she has extra wheat bread, milk and apple juice. And what does she do with all that extra stuff? She gives it to yours truly. Finally! A cool neighbor!

7) Skype: It still gives me a stomach ache when I try to figure out how they can offer video Skype for free. But it seriously rocks. Soon there's gonna be a generation that doesn't remember what it was like to have a long-distance relationship without free long-distance, texting, emailing and Skype.

8) Organizing: I moved recently and it was a bitch. Obviously, I've moved before, but for some reason getting unpacked and put together was especially challenging this time. I had a burst of energy recently (thank you, Christy) and got a bunch of stuff done last weekend. So much so that I was able to light a fire since all the melt-ables in front of the fireplace were finally put away. (See No. 3)

9) Rain: This morning I was awakened by pouring rain. I got up, opened the blinds, and went back to bed. The sound of the rain on the window lulled me back to sleep. Rainfall is the most wonderful 'white noise' in the world.

10) Christy: She's my good thing every day, often and sometimes. Even bad days are better because I know she's there to tell me everything's going to be okay. As David Gates from the 70s rock group Bread would say, "Never let her go".

So these are some of my good things, big and small, sometimes and always. I hope you have some thanksgivingness to reflect on too.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Daggers (er...Duggars)

Okay. Lest anyone think, because I have a blog, I'm up on current events. I am not. And, oddly, I'm not ashamed of it. But when I have a strong opinion about something "current", I try to do at least a little homework.

The Duggars.

I was cleaning my kitchen the other day and had the TV on, mainly for background noise. When I'm up early, "The Today Show" usually entertains me enough to forget that I'm washing dishes or cleaning the previous nights' unidentifiable muck from my stove. I was innocently, almost happily, scrubbing a pan when I heard a story begin about "The Duggars". I swear to Rudy that I'd never heard of them before. So I half-listened and continued my toiling. (Keeping a spotless kitchen while creating gourmet meals is something I don't do, nor do I aspire to. But if people think I do, more power to me.)

While eavesdropping on my TV I overheard Ann Curry talking to The Duggars about their 19 children. The number 19 piqued my curiosity, so I turned the water down low so I could half-pay attention. After a bit of small talk about their existing 19 progeny, I glanced up at the television screen as Ann thrust the microphone into the face of Mrs. Duggar and gleefully asked, "So, I understand that Number 20 is on the way. How do you feel about that?" I stopped scrubbing.

Really? I thought two things, simultaneously. 1) "You have her on the show and she must be ecstatic, so why ask?" And 2) "What sane person welcomes a 20th child when they already have 19?" And, actually, Thought No. 2 was a precursor to Thought No. 3, which was, "What sane person wants 19 children in the first place?" Mrs. Duggar went on to explain how child No. 20 was a blessing, yada, yada, yada. (I'm paraphrasing, hence the 'yada') and they're eternally grateful that God's will allowed them to continue pumping out babies. Again, I'm paraphrasing, but the sentiment is legit: neither Mr. or Mrs. Duggar have any problem having so many children.

My consternation has nothing to do with 'pro-life', or 'right-to-life', or religion or, really, anything incendiary (but don't get me started on Mississippi). My question is this: What psychological dysfunction compelled you (The Duggars) to believe that it was your moral or religious obligation to have so many children? 20? TWENTY? What kind of house would you need to raise them in? The Brady Bunch had a 3 bedroom house and 3 brothers shared a room and 3 sisters shared a room, and Dad was an architect! Even he couldn't find a way to give at least the oldest kids a room of their own.

And how do you afford to take care of these kids, nearly two dozen? My girlfriend Christy said, in her infinitely plain-spoken wisdom, "Well, that's why they pimp them out to the networks for a TV show." So, of course, me being the insensitive cad that I am, answered, "So if the parents are pimps, then the 20 children must be...". I didn't finish the thought, but by golly, I wanted to.

We're turning people into celebrities for having too many kids. (Yes, I'll say for the record, that I think 20 kids is too many.) As a mostly-proud American, it makes me wonder what foreigners are saying about us. I mean, hell, foreigners are denigrating us anyway, but this kind of thing just seems like a gimme. "Hey, did you hear the latest? The Americans are giving those baby machines a TV show!" "What people?" "You know -- the ones with all the children."

Really. As a nation, from the government on down, we've already credit-carded ourselves into the poor-house. We're not a super-power anymore even though we keep acting like one. Do we really need to give the rest of the world more ammunition to attack us?

I don't think we should turn into China and start passing laws about how many children we should be allowed to have. But shouldn't common sense kick in and tell us when enough is enough?