Archives for posts with tag: humor

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– You will be asked to play make-believe all the time. They will never completely share their vision for the game, never explain the imaginary rules you’re expected to follow, and always tell you you’re doing it wrong when you finally just start inventing things on your own that you think are pretty clever.

– What was loved yesterday is irrelevant. Today it’s disgusting. And stupid. Can’t you just bring them something else?

– They don’t want to hear that something is bad for them or doesn’t make sense. They want it anyway. If it turns out that you’re right, and that thing ends up causing any distress, well…what were you thinking? Why didn’t you warn them better?

– There is no concept of the future. There is only now. You may believe you’ve satisfied them when you say “Two days from now.” You may even get them to nod and walk away. But they will be back in 5 minutes; “NOW can I have it?!?”

– You will sleep when you can. Do not try to predict if it will be a late night or an early start. They’ll let you know. Don’t make any plans.

– You’re going to get crapped on. It’s probably not personal, they don’t know any better.

– Yes, you can eat lunch. But do it quickly. After everyone else has been served. Take your pick of whatever is left over.

– Once in a while you might get to go out to lunch. They’ll pick the restaurant. The whole experience will be uncomfortable. You’ll be picking up the check.

– Technical issues during a time of stress are a given, and will not be tolerated as an excuse. The power went out? The batteries died? The application just shut down for no reason? Fix it. Fix it. Fix it. They need to see that thing they asked to see immediately!!

– You’re going to hear a lot of jokes that really aren’t very funny. You’ll laugh anyway, because it makes them happy.

– There will come a day when you finally decide it’s time for you to say no. They will go around you to someone with more authority.

– Whatever they just saw on TV will be infinitely cooler than anything they currently have. How come you never bring them anything like that??

– They’re going to demand that you do pretty much everything for them, including a lot of things that you’re pretty sure they could do for themselves if they’d just try. But then one day they won’t ask for your help at all. Secretly, this will make you sad. 

– When you finally get everything perfect, and things are running like clockwork, and everyone’s happy, you will be informed that you’re getting a new assignment…………

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The Madsiers agency is pleased to announce we’ll be adding a new client to our roster. Work is tentatively scheduled to begin 2/28/16.

‘For two days?’ She says.

I’ll get to it, I promise.

First it needs to soak.

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Waking up to start my first day as a 40-year old, I feel good. I’d like to say I feel great, but last night I decided to stay up too late to toast the final moments of my 30’s. It seemed like some sort of profound, and necessary, gesture.

Especially after a few beers.

So I sat alone in the basement, and did a bit of critical analysis of the last decade. Some of my thoughts are captured here:

  • I’m not as fit as I’d like to be. But I’m not as unfit as I know I could be. The scale these days shows a number that seems pretty acceptable for a man my age who has no ambitions to post shirtless selfies on Facebook. I admit that getting my socks on takes longer than it used to, and longer than I feel it ought to, with a few heavy sighs along the way, but I don’t have to do that thing where you shimmy your sock on sideways with your foot resting on your knee. That’s at least something.
  • I haven’t written the next great novel, or sold a screenplay, but frankly I never aspired to. I wanted to write advertising when I grew up. And that’s what I do. Over the last few years, I’ve recognized the value of creative pursuits outside of work, too, so I am writing more and more these days for fun (like this). I even have a few hundred followers because of it. That feels pretty satisfying.
  • I thought when I got to be a father that I’d finally feel like a proper grown-up, but I don’t. I suppose I imagined that infinite parental wisdom and general world knowledge—the kind my parents seemed to have—would just be bestowed upon me one day. But I guess at 40 I finally have to accept help is not on the way. And that in truth, my parents probably had the same doubts that I do. They just figured out that it’s easy to fake out kids by just pretending you know what you’re doing. Actually, come to think of it, that strategy seems to work for most adults, too.
  • I still don’t know whether I should call myself a Democrat or a Republican. But the more I see people who rigidly call themselves either, the more content I am to be conflicted.
  • I’m not an expert at anything. Sometimes I envy my more obsessive-type friends, because I haven’t yet developed a hobby that I’m particularly passionate about. But in the last decade, I’m happy to have dabbled in a lot of things that I’ve enjoyed. At 40, I know more about photography, cooking, wine, and WWII than I did at 30. I learned to speak a little German and explored a couple martial arts. I got a guitar and a motorcycle and a tennis racket. They generally go unused, but I like knowing they’re there.
  • I don’t know yet where, or if, I’ll permanently settle down. As an adult, I’ve lived in 3 of the best big cities in the country; Philadelphia, New York City, and San Francisco. I loved things about all of them. Now I live in the NJ suburbs, and even have things that I love about that (most days). But the thought of never again knowing somewhere completely new kind of scares me. A note here. If you’ve lived in one place your whole life and you’re happy, good for you. If you’ve lived in one place your whole life and you’re not happy, move. Trust me, it’s easier than it sounds and worth the effort and expense. You’ll either find that you’ve found a better place, or you’ll realize you left the place that was right for you. Win/win.
  • I’m nearly 18 years into my professional life and I realize I’m not even half done. I worry about whether I have 25 more years of work in me. But a few months back, I started on a new career path and I’m excited to see where it will lead. Maybe 25 years will fly by. Or maybe I’ll win the lottery. I’d be happy with either of those two outcomes.
  • I’m not wealthy, and may never be, but I have everything I need. And some of those things are pretty nice. Got a pretty big TV, and a pretty fast car, and a couple “precision timepieces.” Some folks have nicer versions of these things, some don’t. I’m happy to say I don’t look at them as ‘keeping score’ anymore. It’s just stuff that I enjoy.

So that’s what I reflected on as I finished my 30s, and my beer. In the end, I asked myself: Am I celebrating, or sorrowing? The answer to that becomes critical. Because for all of us, I imagine, it could go either way at any time. We get to choose how we evaluate our lives. There are going to be things we didn’t do, or didn’t get, and plenty of things that we did. So I choose to focus on the latter, and celebrate. I’m happy with where I’m at, and who I’m with (namely my amazing wife and beautiful daughter). And I’m happy to be leaving some things that weren’t working for me behind in the last decade.

Looking forward to the next decade, I can already see things I want to do better. I hope at 50 I feel the same sense of satisfaction I do today. Something tells me I will. Because we get to change things that don’t make us happy, and pursue the things that do. Figuratively the last decade “flew by,” but in truth there were a lot of days, and a lot decisions, along the way. Ultimately I’m responsible for all of them. I’m ok with that.

So I feel good.

It was ritual in my household growing up. Every Sunday started with a trip to Mass—dreaded by the children, strictly enforced by the parents. Literally, we never missed it. Even vacation was no excuse. Immediately following Mass, and completely at odds with anything we should have learned during it, was the post-Mass recap. This was our time for lively, often snippy, discussion of everything we observed during the previous hour; whose kids weren’t behaving, who didn’t show up this week, who didn’t look appropriately dressed for church, etc. 

My dad rarely participated. He just listened and refereed if things got too mean-spirited, reminding us where we’d literally just come from. It was during one of these post-Mass rituals that he shared with me an opinion that I continue to benefit from to this day. Today I’ll share it with you. I will warn you in advance, you will likely struggle to put it in practice at first. But if you really think about it you might find, like I’ve found, it can be ultimately freeing.

First, the set-up. On this particular Sunday, the topic was an event hosted the day prior by one of the congregants. We hadn’t been invited. Even though I didn’t know my family to be particularly close to these people I remember my mom being somewhat hurt by this. It was a point she made, emphatically, the whole ride to the grocery store (that was the other part of the Sunday ritual, if we’d been good in church we could often talk my mom into picking up some donuts). As usual, my dad remained silent.

When my mom and sisters were safely inside the store, my dad said “Son, I don’t get upset about not being invited to parties I don’t want to go to.” And that was it. Not much more to say about it. Not even advice, really. Just a well-considered point of view. When my mom returned to the car she was on to other things; what she’d gotten on sale, who she saw in the checkout line, and why did they put the eggs with the milk? The invitation snub was forgotten. 

But I remembered those words. Over the years, I came to realize that they were about a lot more than any party. They became an earnest reminder of how silly it is to fret over things we really don’t care about, yet how often we do it. It was a powerful lesson. Which is not to say I became instantly immune to perceived insult. Like I said, it can be a struggle. But it did help me in those times I might have felt slighted by someone to take pause and ask myself, “did I actually just get exactly what I wanted?” If yes, I’d smile and move on. Whatever their problem was was their problem.

So today, 25 years later, I’ll pass the message along to you…know when you’ve won. Consider how much energy you waste feeling hurt by people you don’t really like.

And now realize that you don’t have to.

There you have it.

You’re free!

P.S. Since I’m more cynical than my dad, I can’t help but offer an additional, more literal take on his words. Let’s stop throwing so many parties that no one wants to go to.  It seems more and more that everybody feels that they have to include everyone in every single celebration of even the most personal or minute of happenings no matter what the cost or burden to others. Elaborate, and crazed, birthday parties for one-year olds we’ve never met. Multiple engagement parties for the happy couple that include gift registries. Destination weddings. Parties to announce that it’s a boy. Or maybe it’s a girl. We won’t know until we cut the cake!!

With the requisite gift giving and/or weekend sacrificing all these things entail, it all gets to feel pretty selfish after a while. You may recall, that’s a subject I’m all too comfortable ranting about.

I’m not saying that your parties aren’t worth hosting. Or that your events aren’t worth celebrating, especially among close friends and family. I’m sure they are. I’m simply giving you permission to exclude me from most of them. I’ve learned to not get upset about that kind of thing. 

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Do you put your dirty feet up on the seats? A.S.S.

Today I’d like to talk about an important issue that affects us all. A growing epidemic that causes the needless suffering of millions of Americans every year. It’s called Acute Selfishness Syndrome.

Acute Selfishness Syndrome, or A.S.S., is a condition marked by low self-awareness, in which otherwise normal people temporarily seem to lose track of reality, and enter an alternate consciousness in which they believe they are the only people in the world. While in this state they are likely to exhibit any number of public nuisance behaviors that a person of normal sanity and awareness would consider inappropriate or obnoxious.

Acute Selfishness Syndrome Effects Sufferers (A.S.S.E.S.) come in all forms. Perhaps the most common way that people show their A.S.S. is talking loudly on cellphones in confined public spaces. In these instances, the A.S.S. individual appears to believe he or she is in a vast, windswept meadow, with no one around for as far as the eyes can see or the ears can hear. That’s why when they’re asked to lower their voice, or take their conversation elsewhere, they will often look confused; “where did YOU come from…seconds ago it was just me here.” In this state of disorientation, these individuals can become highly agitated and lash out. They may mistakenly believe they don’t have a problem. Like with someone sleepwalking, it’s best to use discretion when trying to put a stop to A.S.S.-like behaviors in others.

If you fear that you may be afflicted by A.S.S., just remember this: You are not alone. A.S.S. can strike at any time and affects as many as 1 out of 5 people in any given social situation. Scientists now believe that no one is innately immune to this condition. We are all capable of becoming A.S.S.E.S. That’s why this critical point bears repeating…YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Literally. There are 6 billion people on this planet, and you are but one. Always keep that in mind, and you are already well on your way to recovery.  

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 11.24.05 AMBecause of its very nature, A.S.S. can be exceedingly difficult to recognize in one’s self. But the following quiz can aid in diagnosis:

  • Do you leave your shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot, rather than find one of the corrals to put it back? A.S.S.
  • Do you listen to your headphones so loud that everyone within 20 feet can clearly make out the songs? A.S.S.
  • Do you pee on the seat? A.S.S.
  • Do you cruise in the left lane while traffic backs up for miles behind you because eventually you might actually pass someone? A.S.S.
  • Do you slouch down low in your seat on the train or plane or movie theatre, and then jam your knees into the seat in front of you? A.S.S.
  • Do you leave your car parked at the pump after you’re done fueling, and then run inside to shop for a few minutes while others wait for gas? A.S.S.
  • Do you leave your trash and tray on the table at self-service restaurants for someone else to clean up because ‘isn’t that their job’? A.S.S.
  • Do you wait until it’s time for you to pay in the checkout line to announce that you forgot the green beans, and will “just take a sec” to go grab them? A.S.S.
  • Do you refuse to check baggage, even when it’s the size of a dishwasher? A.S.S.
  • Do you text or make any noises whatsoever in the theatre once the movie has started? A.S.S. 
  • Do you sit and read the entire paper at the crowded brunch place while others wait up to an hour for their seats? A.S.S.
  • Do you talk in the quiet car on the train? A.S.S.
  • Do you tailgate other drivers? And then flash your high beams if they’re not moving out of your way fast enough? A.S.S.
  • Do you come to dead stops in the middle of busy city sidewalks and then spin in place as you try to get your bearings? A.S.S.
  • Do you leave your weights wherever you used them, rather than return them to the rack? A.S.S.
  • Do you believe that every single phone call that you make or take is of critical importance, no matter where you happen to be at the moment? A.S.S.
  • Do you litter? A.S.S.
  • Double dip? A.S.S.
  • Do you spit your gum on the sidewalk? A.S.S.
  • Do you sometimes ‘forget’ to curb your pet? A.S.S.
  • Do you exhibit any of those bad parent behaviors that we’ve all heard about at your kids’ games? That’s A.S.S. Big time!

If you said no to all of them, congratulations. That’s the goal! You’re not showing your A.S.S. in public. If you said yes to one or more, your A.S.S. may need some work. Taking the quiz was an important first step. If you said yes to 10 or more, you may have the much more severe Chronic Selfishness Syndrome (CSS). You may not be fit for life among others. Disappear. Go somewhere isolated and don’t come back. The world will be fine without you.

Remember, though, this list is just a sampling of all the ways that we can do crappy things when we forget that there are other people besides us in the world. Managing A.S.S. is simple. It doesn’t require going out and actively trying to make the world better (though, of course, that would be nice). In fact, it requires no action on your part at all. It’s just a request that you not go out into the world and make it worse for everyone else. Raise your self awareness, think about people around you who also had a rough day, or also are trying to get somewhere, or who also have rights and feelings, or who also think their job (or their family) is important but recognize it’s not important to the other 100 people around them.

Together, we can put an end to people treating each other like A.S.S.   

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A.S.S.E.S. They’re everywhere.

If you know of anyone who exhibits A.S.S.-like symptoms, but aren’t sure how to talk to him about it, feel free to forward this on. One thing to remember is that A.S.S. is more than just dumb or irritating behavior. According to one civic-minded blogger, “It ‘s willful ignorance in the commission of public actions that negatively affect others and are entirely unnecessary. A.S.S. is insidious.”

It’s true. Rhymes must have been pretty limited before then. 

 

 

 

At first, I didn’t think much about that dock that showed up on the Oregon Coast all the way from Japan (article) this week. But then I heard it weighed 165 tons!  

Now, I don’t want to scare anyone—and I don’t usually go in for conspiracy theories about government cover-ups—but I think we all know there’s only one way that could have happened…

First, a recap of the facts. This dock was nearly 70-feet of concrete and metal, weighed in at a whopping 165 tons, and traveled thousands of miles across the ocean.

There’s really only one plausible explanation.

Artist’s rendering of the proposed mechanism by which Godzilla could move massive objects. Shown here with the Titanic.

This little guy was tagging along on the dock. You going to tell me that this is of this earth? And not some parasite left behind by one of Godzilla’s intergalactic pals? Wake up, man.

I’m not saying that it’s definitely Godzilla…well, yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Stay on your toes, Oregon.

Until last Friday, I always played the Samuel Jackson character in this terror-in-the-skies production: I want these mother-lovin’ babies off this mother-lovin’ plane.

So I knew when it came time for karma to demand payback, it wasn’t going to be painless. In fact, I’d had anxiety about flying with an infant since we first found out Denise was pregnant with Madison. But a family function demanded that we go to Chicago. So we were on our way. Karma be damned.

When I’d share my concerns with friends, they all had similar advice. It was usually something along the lines of “remember, you’re never going to see these people again.” As well meaning as that is—and it really does sound good on the surface—I found it less than satisfying. Because frankly that’s not how I choose to live my life. It’s too easy to let that particular philosophy get out of hand. Sadly, you see it all the time, and I’ve spent way too much energy railing against this ‘screw unto others’ culture of ours. Feel like answering that call in the movie theatre? Whatever, you’re never going to see these people again.  Don’t want to tip the waitress? Whatever, you’re never going to see her again. Want to do sweaty squat thrusts in the middle of a crowded coffee shop? Yes, I’ve actually seen that. And I think (I really really hope) you get the point I’m trying to make.

We didn’t want to be blissfully ignorant travelers, we wanted to be thoughtful ones. So we tried (well mostly Denise tried) to be as prepared as possible in order to avoid hassles and tantrums, and hopefully not ruin anyone else’s day. In case anyone is reading this for tips, here is some of the great advice we got from articles and friends (if not, you can just skip this part):

  • Bring a bottle for takeoff and landing, when the pressure is worst. It gets them to swallow and relieve the pressure in their ears. We had an additional bottle just filled with water, for the other random times in the air when her ears seemed to be hurting.
  • Board late (a friend had an even better suggestion; if both parents are travelling, dad boards first to get everything set up, mom boards last with baby)
  • Bring toys baby has never seen before, and several pacifiers (we lost at least one under the seats)
  • Pre-pack individual Ziploc bags with 1 diaper, wipes, and a throw-away paper changing table mat, so that each time you go to the bathroom in the plane you just bring one bag with you and throw everything out when done (thanks Jon N.)
  • Try to align flight times with your already established sleep times (this one’s maybe the hardest)

With all this information, we boarded. And this is where I slip into the Morgan Freeman character: I wish I could tell you that Denise and I fought the good fight, and that Madison was a perfect angel. I wish I could tell you that. But air travel is no fairy tale.

Our first meltdown happened before we even got wheels-up. I blame it on the fact that once we boarded, it was another 45 minutes before we took off. I guess Madison, like her dad, doesn’t like being jerked around by the airlines. She screamed with all the passion and fury that 17 ½ pounds can muster. I put my head down and went about the task of trying to help Denise calm her. Mostly I just fumbled around, trying to look appropriately concerned/contrite. At some point, I couldn’t resist the temptation to peek around. I braced myself for the dirty looks and the snarky, whispered comments, and looked up…

Nothing. No one was even looking our way. It was like everyone was saying—by not saying—“hey, we get it.” In fact, when I tried to apologize to the guy right in the heart of Madison’s blast radius, he said with a smile “been there, done that.”

By the time we landed in Chicago, we’d had 3 epic meltdowns. And maybe somewhere, at this very moment, there’s a cool 20-something guy blogging about his miserable trip to Chicago with a screaming baby last Friday. But if there is, he never said anything. Which is awesome. Because in the end, I reached a couple of conclusions. Babies, like snakes, really don’t add much to the flying experience. And as painful as they are to sit next to, they are twice as miserable to sit with.

I hope the old me knew that on some level. I hope that I never made anyone feel any worse about an already awful situation. And I hope the next time goes a little smoother. I hope.

You may want to wait to check the stroller at the gate. Makes getting through the airport easier, and lets you put off holding them a while longer.

The calm after the storm. I really wanted to capture some great screaming baby shots, but I thought pulling out my camera would be pushing my luck with the patient folks around me.

Don’t be above bribery; in this case an empty box of M&Ms. We also let her gum a strawberry Twizzler. Shhhh.

A (finally) speechless baby tourist soaks it all in

Relaxing at the hotel: ‘What? I thought that went pretty well.’

Got any tips you’d care to share? We’d love to hear them. We’ve got a sequel planned this summer: Babes on a Plane 2: Babes in NY

Hard-boiled eggs made easy.

Boiling an egg is one of those things that is so stupidly simple that some folks can’t help but make it complicated. I think it’s a problem with the shell. It just sits there blankly, unwilling to give any clue about what’s actually going on inside. I guess it’s kind of like a wife in that regard…”if you don’t know if I’m boiling, I’m not going to tell you.”

That’s why I thought I’d share these instructions.  They’ve always worked for me.  

First, put the eggs in a pot. I don’t know what kind of pot, I just call it a pot. I use this one in the picture. You won’t need a lid.  And from my experiments, you can put as many eggs in as the pot will hold (without stacking), it won’t change the formula. 

Fill the pot up about half full, until there’s enough water to cover the eggs plus another inch or so.

Turn the burner on almost all the way (but not all the way) to High. I put it at about 8. 

Once the water starts boiling start the clock. You’re looking for a medium boil, not crazy high. Let the eggs boil for exactly 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain. And cover with cold water. Done.

Now devil those pretty little angels.