Resist the Unremarkables

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You ever watch the show Community? My guilty pleasure because of the brilliant writing and the fact that I dropped out of more community colleges than anyone you know. The show’s off the right air now but it’s coming back in two weeks as a Yahoo online production.

In the episode “Digital Exploration of Interior Design” (Season 3 Episode 13), John Goodman plays Vice Dean Robert Laybourne, the head of Greendale College’s air conditioning repair school. In a pivotal scene, he drives a wedge between friends Abed and Troy (Dani Pudi and Donald Glover), in his never-ending quest to get Troy, an HVAC savant, to enroll in the air conditioning school.

Using a comparison to Troy and Abed’s favorite show, “Inspector Spacetime”, Vice Dean Laybourne fuels their argument over the building of their pillow fort. He suggests that Troy cannot appreciate Abed’s vision, because he is like Inspector Spacetime’s loyal but unremarkable sidekick Reggie. This dialogue caused me to sit bolt upright on the couch, as if the frigid overflow of a leaky air conditioner had dripped down my neck… Continue reading Resist the Unremarkables

Please Disregard My Previous Post…

There I was all cheery and full of civic pride for filing my tax returns on time and paying my fair share. Then I got a call late tonight from my CPA – both my Federal and State tax returns were rejected because SOMEONE HAD ALREADY FILED A TAX RETURN IN MY NAME!

That’s right, I am now officially a victim of one of the fastest-growing forms of identity theft, dirty bastards ripping off tax refunds by posing as you. How did it happen? My only guess is that the data breach a few months ago by my health care provider loosened my social security number upon the criminal class, and they made short work of my tax refund.

So now instead of pursuing my dream of being a writer, I will be pursuing my new dream of not being a victim of those dirty bastards who stole my ID and my tax refund.

So no celebrating Tax Day for me – gotta go file affadavits with the IRS, my local police department, the FTC, the credit bureaus, my health care provider and anyone else who will listen…

Happy Tax Day Everyone!

You may think this is crazy, but I’m a big fan of April 15th. Go ahead and hate me for this, but I actually think we should turn it into a       national holiday.

Hating HonkeesYes, I realize I am nuts. No, you’re right. I should hate the IRS like most everyone does, and I should hate everything about our annual day of tax collection.

But I don’t. I kinda like it and I think we should celebrate it. Just like the Fourth of July. Maybe not with parades, but certainly with fireworks and alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol…

Here’s the thing. As Americans what’s the one thing we enjoy as much as our freedoms? Our services. Very few people around the world get as many as we do, and at the level of quality as ours. Continue reading Happy Tax Day Everyone!

How To Drink Water

Are you drinking enough every day? We’re told we need at least 8 glasses a day. That’s a half-gallon. Athletes are told they need a half ounce for every pound they weigh. So 8 glasses a day would only be enough if you weighed 128 pounds. Possible for some ladies; not likely for most men.

But I’m not here to talk about how much water you should drink. I’ll leave that for the Mayo Clinic . I’m here to talk about how you can drink much water.

You need three things. Strategy. Technique. Gear. OK, one at a time.

 Strategy – There’s got to be a plan. If you leave it up to chance you’ll get a few sips at the water fountain and a few glasses at meals. Not nearly enough. Here’s my plan: I fill up a 24-ounce bottle and drain it four times a day. Two at home, two at work. The first one is filled the night before and set on my bathroom counter. While the shower water is heating up I drain it. Takes 25 seconds and bam, one bottle down. This is a habit I built after reading “Body for Life” by Bill Phillips. Took me 4 years to try it, but only 6 weeks to make it a habit. Now it gets me off to a good start each morning.

Bottle two I drink at work before lunch. I usually sip this one, but one way or the other it’s empty by noon. Bottle three I start after lunch. If I don’t finish by the end of the workday, I kill it in the car on the way home. Bottle four starts with dinner and usually ends on the couch watching a little TV. Easy. Peasy. I am well hydrated.

Technique – Your parents probably taught you not to gulp your food. But trust me on this; gulping your water is a good thing. If you sip, Continue reading How To Drink Water

How To Get a Fancy Framed Mirror for Just 1¢

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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…

The Importance of the Night Before…

The Start Line
San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon Start Line

There is an old Buddhist saying that goes, “One teaches best what one needs most to learn.” The idea behind it is that if you get your act together enough to teach others something you struggle with, you will drive home the learning authentically ’cause you truly understand the issue, and you’ll step up your own game in the process.  Really resonates with me, and now I’m going to bust it out on you. I’ve been hesitant to give advice in areas I  struggle with, but here goes…

One of the keys to productivity for a Manic is planning in advance. We’re so in the moment we often underestimate the time it takes us to do things, and quite frankly we can get pretty scattered. That’s why people like me have trouble being on time,  finding our keys, and running out of gas…

So when my racing coach was helping me train for my first marathon, he stressed the importance of prepping the night before a big race. After killing me with stories of races where he showed up missing a shoe or his running shorts and other ridiculous fails, this Manic Impressive coach taught me how to get everything ready the night before. The day of you’re too busy doing to effectively plan and track the packing of your gear or your pre-race food and hydration. His   advice on this has stuck with me for years – Continue reading The Importance of the Night Before…

A Case for Being Direct

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:

  1. The wife knew damn well her husband had opened the window as she was sitting right in front of it the whole time.
  2. At any time she could have closed it herself or even asked me to do it for her.
  3. 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!

Evolution vs. Creation Resolved

The_Darwin_Fish-1    Vs.Christian Fish

 

Oh boy, it’s back in the news again, the age-old showdown between Evolution and Creation.  I can end decades of debate on this in three simple words. Put everyone’s mind at ease, clear it all up, end all the arguing once and for all.

On the one hand are the Fundamentalists. They know for a fact that God created the universe as we know it in seven days.

Then ‘ol Darwin came along with his theory that we evolved over the eons from lower life forms, and they pretty much freaked. They’ve been fighting his work ever since, and pushing to have “Creationism” taught in schools, a word they totally made up for just for this purpose.

Meanwhile the Scientists and the Atheists put forth all sorts of data to confirm Evolution and shout down the Creationists . They’ve got the Big Bang Theory, Carbon Dating, and of course, Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection.

Soon the Creationists roll out Intelligent Design, another made up word to suit the occasion, to counter the Natural Selection of Darwinism. Which pushed the whole pile of complexity into court where a District Court ruled against Creationism and defined it as a Pseudo  Science, weakening the case for Intelligent Design.

Even with that ruling, there have been competing, confusing charges going back and forth.  But I have the answer to bring it all back to one unified theory and end all the bickering

My solution would make both sides right, nobody wrong, and everybody happy.  And all it would take would be these three simple words:

God Created Evolution!

End of Discussion. Now, everyone off to the bar for drinks!

Fish Museum

IMG_1012My wife and I lived in Japan for 2 1/2 years in the mid ’90s. We were  often amazed when our Japanese students would come back from vacation having visited sites in Northern California that we, born and raised in the Bay Area, had never seen. So when we moved home in 1997 we vowed to start playing tourist in our own backyard.

This led to a personal re-discovery of some very cool places. We went to the Marin Headlands and took pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. We went to Fort Point, Fort Baker, Muir Woods, and the lighthouses at Pt. Reyes, Montara, Marin Headlands, Camarillo, and Pigeon Point, where we spent the night at the hostel and sat in the cliff-side hot tub watching the whales migrate north.

We also went through Pacific Heights in SF, down Lombard Street, on a Segway tour through North Beach, on a fishing boat tour around Alcatraz, to the Palace of Fine Arts and the Legion of Honor. We went champagne tasting in Sonoma, wine tasting in Napa, kayaking down the Russian River, to the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, saw the sun set at Carmel beach, drove the 17 mile drive in Pacific Grove, bought T-shirts on Cannery Row in Monterey, hiked through Big Sur, and took three tours at Hearst Castle.

We were feeling pretty proud of ourselves, and frankly, thought we’d seen it all. Until the day  we stumbled on the hidden gem that is the Red Top Market. It happened on Highway 152, about 19 miles east of Los Banos. We’d passed this spot hundreds of times before and never noticed a site worth seeing. Continue reading Fish Museum

Star Mangled Banner

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.