Most creative people I know have a bit of clutter in their homes. Sometimes the more brilliant and innovative you are, the more you’ll struggle to keep the crap at bay. Some of us accept this as part of our natures. But there are lots of good reasons to clear out your clutter.
This is my garage. The picture will be a Rorschach test for you. If you’re neat and tidy you’ll cringe at the mess. If you’re messy you’ll think it’s pretty organized. If you’re my wife, you’ll run inside the house and yell, “How’d you get the car in there?”
12 years ago we turned the garage into a playroom for our kid. It was sweet and cozy. 3 years later we had to cram all our furniture in there during a remodel. The work took a matter of months, but the garage never recovered. It turned dank and hoardy. Continue reading 3 Damn Good Reasons To Clear Out Your Clutter→
Like a lot of our holidays, St. Patrick’s Day is a real sham(rock). What’s going down today has no connection to St. Patrick, his body of work, or what he stood for. It’s all a bunch of Blarney.
How do I know this? Anyone with a dial-up modem can find this on Wikipedia in under 3 minutes. Today’s festivities started as a religious feast day to honor the patron saint of Ireland. St. Patrick (no last name), was a British missionary who became a bishop after being kidnapped and held by Irish raiders for six years.
But what’s about to go down today is total Blarney with a big side of Malarky. It’s got little to do with the life and work of a saint. Here are three bits of Blarney about St. Patrick we’ve been believing since Kindergarten.
St. Patrick Drove the Snakes Out of Ireland
No he didn’t. What are you, six? There were no snakes in Ireland! Dude was a missionary. He was one of those annoyingly earnest folks who go around evangelizing and “saving” pagans. He converted thousands to Christianity, so at best he drove the pagans out of Northern Ireland and into churches.
Snakes?! I think you’re confusing St. Patrick with The Pied Piper. He led the rats out of town. Then he led all the children out of town when he didn’t get paid for the rat job. More of a pissed-off musician turned kidnapper-for-ransom than a saint.
Every year at this time, the media declares the third Monday of the month to be Blue Monday. The Most Depressing Day of the Year. This past Monday was it for 2017. It kinda makes sense, since the holidays are over, the credit card bills are in, and the weather sucks.
But it’s actually a total pantload.
The Blue Monday Origin Story
The guy who coined this term in 2005, Dr. Cliff Arnall from Cardiff University, came up with a mathematical formula to measure this:
(W)Weather plus the difference between your debts (D) and your (d) salary, multiplied by the time since Christmas (T) times how long ago you already quit on your New Year’s resolution (Q). All this over your low Motivation level (M) multiplied by your need to take action (Na).
An interesting thing happened at lunch today. A group of six of us went out to a crowded lunch spot where you order at the counter and seat yourself. Naturally we were looking for a table where we could all sit together.
In the middle of the room was just the thing – a table for six. Unfortunately it was occupied by a couple. Right away, several in our party began to complain, some rather bitterly. “I hate when people do that!”, “That’s so selfish!” “How rude – there’s a table for two right over there!”
Walking in last I suggested we ask if they’d be willing to move. “You can if you want”, one complainer said, as she went to move three 2-person tables together to seat us.
Maybe I’m a little dense, but it didn’t make sense to me not to ask. I don’t like to settle for complaining about people. I like to give them a chance to make things right so I don’t have to complain.
So while the others continued to grumble, I walked up to the two. In my most respectful, apologetic tone, I asked if they wouldn’t mind moving to the table for two so my party of six could sit together.
“I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy,” Harrison said in a post on Instagram. “I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best.”
Where were you James Harrison, linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, back in 1972? Yes, your principled stand of returning participation trophies your sons didn’t earn is newsworthy today. But I sure could have used your help at our Boy Scout Camporee.
The annual competition of scouting and camp craft skills drew every troop in the area. It was a chance to measure ourselves against other scouts in a healthy, structured way. Individual patrols would compete in first aid, fire building, orienteering, knot tying and fitness events, and be scored by judges for their campsites, cooking and adherence to the Boy Scout Manual. It was a challenging competition and we loved it.
Low scoring patrols were awarded a yellow participation ribbon, patrols in the 80th percentile won a red ribbon, blue ribbons were given for 90th percentile, and all our ribbons were proudly displayed on our troop’s flagpole. We had lots of yellows and reds, and quite a few blues on our pole. They were a source of pride for us because we earned them. The yellow ribbons were proof that it wasn’t easy to win a red or blue ribbon, and it made them worth celebrating.
First, please know that it was not my intention to even buy a mirror let alone get one for 1¢. It just turned out that way…
Step One: Go to Aaron Brothers or other fancy frame shop during their “Buy One, Get One For 1¢” sale. Pick out something you’ve been wanting (like a shadow box for your race medals), then select a nice fancy frame for just 1¢. I mean, what the hell, it’s just 1¢.
Step: Two: Take the frame to a glass shop and order a fancy piece of beveled mirror to go in the frame.
Step Three: Let the glass shop screw up and finish the mirror 2 weeks later than they promised. Do not say anything at this point.
Step Four: When finally picking up the finished mirror, have it completely fall apart on you while loading it in your car. Barely save it from crashing into a thousand bits in the parking lot. Take the frame and now detached mirror back into the shop with a disgusted look on your face.
Step Five: Do not say anything. Turn and leave with same look of disgust on face.
Step Six: When shop calls, do not go back to pick up mirror out of sheer disgust. Send wife instead. Still do not say anything.
Step Seven: Smile into mirror when wife brings it home and tells you they issued a full credit because they were so embarrassed about their fail. Continue to not say anything…
Not long ago I witnessed the following conversation between a wife and her husband:
“Michael, did you open the window?”
“Yeah, before dinner like you asked me to.”
“Don’t you think it’s cold in here?”
“Well, no, it’s kind of hot to me ‘cause I just came in from outside.”
“Well how long do you want to keep it open?”
“I don’t know, I really hadn’t thought about it.”
At this point, knowing all along that the wife was cold and wanted the window closed, I couldn’t help but blurt out, “I think she’s asking you to close the window,” to which the husband replied, “Oh, no problem sweetie, I’d be happy to.” Then he closed the window.
I was confounded by the exchange for a number of reasons:
The wife knew damn well her husband had opened the window as she was sitting right in front of it the whole time.
At any time she could have closed it herself or even asked me to do it for her.
She was the one who was cold but for some reason could not simply say to the love of her life, “Michael, can you please close the window?”
Why this really bothers me I don’t know. But it does. Whenever I witness someone unable to be direct about their needs/wants/desires I get mad. Wasted opportunity? Wasted time? Wasted Life? Don’t know. Just pisses me off…
So please, all of you tentative types out there – learn to be direct!
They haven’t even kicked off yet and I’m disgusted. No, not that my team isn’t playing today – I got over that weeks ago. But that yet again, the person given the honor of singing our National Anthem at the Super Bowl, chose to honor herself and punish the rest of us.
It started out great, with John Legend playing piano and singing “America The Beautiful”. John’s performance was clean, tasty and respectful of both the song and the audience. Bravo! You made a new fan. The best version for my money since Brother Ray Charles nailed this for all time back in 1972.
But then the big star chosen for the “The Star Spangled Banner” steps up and throws out a testament to herself: an overblown, drawn out, American Idol “make it your own” version that tortured pitch and tempo like a warped 45.
Listen lady, “The Star Spangled Banner” is a story of American survival during the War of 1812. The British Royal Navy bombed Fort McHenry all night, but when the dust settled and the sun rose, the Americans had raised the flag to show their countrymen they had withstood the barrage and were still in the fight. The song is a testament to every American who’s fought for this country, and a symbol that American democracy could take what the world dished out and survive.
So when you step up to the mic, you’re there to remind us of the commitment and sacrifice it took to hold this country together. It is not the time for a vainglorious display of your ability to hold a note beyond reason.
Display your musicianship, not your ego. Pick one tempo and sing the song in time, straight through. Sure, you can interpret the song in your way. But no starting and stopping, slowing down and speeding up, and don’t fuck with the lyrics; pronounce them so we can hear the story.
I hate you right now, and so does every musician in the country.