Open Minded?

Don’t I only need to be open minded if I don’t have the right answers already? 😉


You Are 48% Open Minded


You aren’t exactly open minded, but you have been known to occasionally change your mind.You’re tolerant enough to get along with others who are very different…But you may be quietly judgmental of things or people you think are wrong.

You take your own values pretty seriously, and it would take a lot to change them.

Christmas Music

The Christmas season is a time of rich traditions. Music plays a big role in making it a special time of year. Certain songs can take you back in time and can evoke emotions. For instance, hearing Gene Autry or Alvin and the Chipmunks takes me back to childhood because we used to listen to their albums every Christmas; a particularly beautiful rendition of O Holy Night or Silent Night can actually get me a little misty (please don’t revoke my Man Club Membership).

In general, I prefer the more “traditional” renditions of Christmas songs. Having said that, I find Mannheim Steamroller’s unique arrangements (“18th century classical rock”) to be particularly soothing and uplifting to the soul. I also enjoy the parody hack jobs done by Bob Rivers.

However, in thinking about Christmas music, I realized that the rendition of a handful of songs by particular artists really epitomizes Christmas. That is, they have really become woven into the fabric that makes the season special. I’m not a big fan of federal mandates, but I’d almost be willing to support a federal law banning any further releases of these songs by other artists. So below is my list of songs that I think should be retired, because no one can possible do a better job than the artist listed.

  • White Christmas – Bing Crosby
  • The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year – Johnny Mathis
  • Nat King Cole – The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)
  • Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
  • A Holly Jolly Christmas – Burl Ives
  • Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer – Gene Autry
  • Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town – Gene Autry

There are a few more songs that I think probably should be retired, but I’m not quite ready to lock them in. So the songs below are candidates for retirement in the future:

  • Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
  • Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Dean Martin
  • Winter Wonderland – Tony Bennett
  • Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms

Christmas Wish List For The United States

We’ve got a lot of problems in our country today and it doesn’t seem like the politicians are paying any attention to the real issues. So with Christmas coming up, I’d like to give Santa my wish list for our country. Maybe he can do what the politicians won’t.

Build the border fence

This is such a no brainer that I don’t see why it’s not getting done. Illegal immigration is going to destroy this country if we don’t stop it. It’s draining our resources in terms of additional strain on social programs as well as exporting billions of dollars that are sent to Mexico. More importantly, we risk that terrorists are going to cross into the country from either Mexico or Canada and instigate an attack that will make 9/11 look like a day in the park.

Fix Social Security

The Social Security system is on a course for disaster. Everyone knows it, but it seems that we can’t get our politicians to do address it. If we don’t do anything, we’re going to end up with drastically lower benefits for retirees, sharply higher taxes for workers, or crushing debt for our children and grandchildren. In all likelihood, it will be a combination of all 3 of these things. It’s time to move toward privatizing the system while guaranteeing that current retirees and those nearing retirement get the benefits we have promised them. I have been in the workforce for almost 17 years and I would be happy to opt out of Social Security right now and redirect future withholdings to my 401k plan.

Lower the corporate income tax

The United States has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world. This is one of many reasons that jobs are being shipped overseas. A sharply lower tax rate would help slow, or maybe even reverse, this trend.

Eliminate the personal income tax

The current tax system is incredibly costly and onerous to comply with–not to mention that it is profoundly unfair. We need to scrap the current income tax system in favor of a national sales tax. With a sales tax, you would get your entire paycheck. From that point on, you determine how much tax you pay: The more you spend, the more tax you pay. If you choose to save your money, it would grow tax free.

So there you have it Santa. Can you give us a hand? There are plenty of other issues, but take care of these first while I work on compiling the rest of the list.

Kohl’s Sucks

Okay, it’s time once again for a rant on a business. In the cross-hairs today: Kohl’s department store

As I acknowledged in a previous post (Fuddruckers Sucks), any business can have a bad day. So I’ll always give them a couple of tries if things are not going well. Kohl’s finally opened in our area about a year ago. Well, we have been there three separate times now and have had problems each time. They have what appear to be some good deals, but the quality is severely lacking. Each time we were shopping for clothes and each time we ended up with a damaged article. The damage ranged anywhere from a stain to a tear to a failed seam.

We haven’t been back since. However, I was just talking with a friend recently and heard about their experience. They were shopping in the toy section. When they got home and tried out the toy, it didn’t work. So they returned to the store and exchanged the item. Same story with the second today…no worky.

I don’t think it can be chalked up to coincidence that every Kohl’s shopping experience I’m familiar with has had a problem with the merchandise. So I don’t really recommend Kohl’s. But if you do go, check out what you are buying very carefully to avoid a return trip.

Unexpected New Uses For Bathroom Items

CNN posted a story today entitled Unexpected uses for bathroom items. This immediately drew my interest despite all the other stories on silly things like the war, the economy, horrific weather, death and destruction….yawn. In the story, CNN has pulled some of the finest suggestions on alternative uses for bathroom items from the Real Simple website. (Wait, so I’m a website, reviewing another website’s review of yet another website? If CNN happens to review my blog, I think the world will explode.)

Below, at no extra charge, is my expert commentary on a sampling of the items from the original article.

Baby Oil

• Remove latex paint from skin. Pour a generous amount of baby oil on a cotton ball and scrub.

I can be rather lazy. Let’s avoid getting paint on the skin by just not painting to begin with.

• Slip off a stuck ring. Massage oil onto your finger and rotate the ring until you can slide it off. (This trick works to get body parts out of a number of sticky situations.)

Hmmm…I’d like to hear more details about that last statement. Do you happen have a link to a website with stories and pictures?

Dental Floss

• Save a necklace. Rescue a busted strand by threading the beads onto dental floss for a quick, sturdy fix.

Classy. You’ll get raves about that necklace at your next dinner party.

• Hang a painting. To hang lightweight artwork that’s not in a heavy frame with glass, use dental floss in place of picture wire.

I don’t tie very good knots to begin with, but isn’t floss so slick that the knot would just slip out anyway? Now it’s going to come crashing down on my head. CNN, I hope you have your lawyers ready for the lawsuits on this one.

• String a popcorn garland during the holidays. Just thread the floss through a needle as you would ordinary sewing thread.

Does anyone actually do this anymore? Plus, why waste perfectly good popcorn on a decoration? However, maybe they are on to something here: You could string the popcorn on the floss, then eat it directly off the floss. That way you can eat the popcorn and floss at the same time! Now that’s efficiency!

• Tie your hair back before you wash your face if you don’t have an elastic.

Again, wouldn’t the knot just come loose?

• Cut a cheesecake. Use unwaxed, unflavored floss to slice any soft cheeses, layer cakes, or homemade cinnamon buns from a roll.

In these parts, we have things called grocery stores. You can buy food already prepared–and in most cases already cut—there.

Antacid Tablets

• Clean a toilet. Toss in two dissolving antacid tablets, such as Alka-Seltzer, wait 20 minutes, then brush.

Better yet, go to your friend’s house and dump a whole box of Alka-Seltzer in. Then seal the lid. The fun just never stops!

• Remove a stain from a vase’s bottom. Drop a tablet in a little water and let it sit for several minutes. Wipe and rinse.

I can honestly say I’ve never thought for a minute that I needed a vase bottom to be immaculate. Maybe it’s that lazy thing again.

• Impress a kid with a fun science experiment. Pour water into a plastic 35-millimeter-film canister until it is one-third full, drop in a tablet, replace the lid, and quickly place the canister upside down on the ground. Stand back. In 5 to 10 seconds, the gas pressure will make the canister pop its lid and shoot several feet into the air.

Okay CNN, if you didn’t need the lawyers for the falling painting, you’ll definitely need them for this gem. You know that some moron will stand right over this and get his face blown off.

Cotton Swabs

• Touch up paint on cabinets or walls, or use a swab to apply wood stain to elaborate carvings on furniture or scratches on furniture and floors.

I refer back to my statement above: don’t paint. But if you must, wouldn’t the fibers from the swab stick to the wall?

• Tote touch-up makeup in a tiny evening bag by rubbing cotton swabs in concealer and eye shadow, sealing them in a plastic bag, and tucking the bag into your clutch.

This is a great idea. I already do this.

• Take a shine to your silver. Use a swab to apply polish to crevices in flatware or tea services.

Okay, so you’re too cheap to fix a necklace with anything more expensive than floss, but you have silver that needs polishing?

Bathroom Rules For Men

We were having dinner with our best friends last night and after several people came back from the restroom, we started discussing public restrooms and how people use and misuse them. I know, this is already sounding disturbing: discussing bathrooms at the dinner table in a restaurant. However, the discussion got me thinking about some unwritten rules about using a public restroom that I have followed for years. So now, whether you want them or not, I am now publishing the rules. The background on my reasoning for a couple of these rules is explained in a previous post, Men and Public Restrooms. You may want to read that post first if you have not already done so.

Talking

  • Talking is not allowed while using a toilet or urinal. The only exception is a life-threatening medical emergency. Even then, it’s preferable to get out of the restroom before talking.
  • Talking is acceptable while using the sink, but it must be with someone else. No talking to yourself.
  • Talking is tolerated, but highly discouraged, while standing in line
  • Cell phone usage is not allowed anywhere in the restroom (see life-threatening emergency exception above)
  • For purposes of these rules, the definition of talking is expanded to include: whistling, humming, singing, moaning, and groaning–basically any sound generated from the neck up.

Flushing

  • Always flush when you are finished
  • It’s acceptable to pre-flush a toilet if the last person was not considerate enough to do so. However, you don’t need to pre-flush a urinal. I’m pretty certain your urine combined with someone else’s will not create a toxic cloud or cause an explosion. Save the water–but flush after you are done.
  • Don’t flush with your foot. There are way more germs on your shoe than the handle. You’re are just compounding the problem. Plus, you should be washing your hands right after, so if there are any germs they’ll be washed away.

Stalls

  • A casual glance to see if someone is in a stall is fine, but no up-close peering (Senator Craig). The best test is a gentle push on the door to see if it is locked.
  • If all stalls but the handicap one is in use, use the handicap stall so long as someone in a wheelchair is not in line behind you. There are no fines for using a handicap stall.
  • Always lock the door
  • Unless the seat is obviously messy, there’s no need for cleaning. I’ve listened to some several-minute-long rituals of spraying Lysol, scrubbing with toilet paper, flushing, and applying a seat cover. This in a professional office building where the facilities are well maintained. It’s an unnecessary waste of time and money. Think about it, butt cheeks might very well be the cleanest part of the body. You take a shower, then apply a couple layers of clothing. There’s not much opportunity for a lot of germs on the part of the body that touches the toilet seat. Items touched by hands are exponentially dirtier than a toilet seat. (Great, now I’m probably going to have co-workers spraying everything in sight with Lysol.)
  • Never pick up paper off the floor. I think this one is common sense, but I threw it in for Senator Craig’s benefit.
  • If you are out of paper, do not ask for someone to pass paper to you (refer to the talking rules)

Urinals

  • If all urinals are in use and a stall is available, use it.
  • Always look straight ahead
  • Both hands must always remain “down there”. No hands on the hips, behind the head, or behind the back. No arms resting on the wall.

So there you have it. You may want to print this out for future reference. That way, if you ever have any questions, you’ll have the answers right there with you. I may consider creating credit card-sized laminated guides for a reasonable price if there is enough demand. I’d also love to hear if you have any additional rules I should consider adding.

Childhood “Lasts”

It is an absolute joy to watch a child grow up (perhaps less so as they hit the teen years, but that’s a different story). Starting from birth, children are learning, exploring, developing, and growing at a rapid rate. We mark this development as we observe various “firsts”: first solid food, first time crawling, first steps, first words, etc. As the years go by, the pace of milestones dramatically decreases, and in the teen years the “firsts” become oriented toward becoming an adult: first crush, first date, first kiss, first time driving, first job, etc.

What we as parents often miss, however, are the “lasts” that occur at the same pace (rapid in the early years–slowing throughout the years). These milestones are every bit as important. However, as lasts, they are more difficult for us to recognize as they occur. We may not realize until years later–oh yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore. As I thought through some of these, it actually brought tears to my eyes. Had I known it was going to be the last time, I would have taken the time to cherish it that much more. So below is my list some “lasts”. If you’ve never thought about this before, you may want to grab a Kleenex. It breaks your heart a little bit when you remember all the little rituals of childhood that have passed.

As a baby, there was the last time…

  • She woke you up crying in the middle of the night
  • You changed a diaper
  • She nursed
  • She drank from a bottle
  • She needed binkie to fall asleep
  • You dressed her
  • You fed her
  • You rocked her to sleep
  • You woke up to her sweet cooing in the morning
  • You gave her a bath
  • She slept in a crib

Next, during the toddler years, there was the last time… 

  • She fell asleep watching Barney
  • She rode in a stroller
  • You buckled her into a car seat
  • She sucked her thumb
  • She pulled the pots and pans out to bang them together
  • She wrapped her hand around your finger while walking with you
  • You kissed an owwie to make it better
  • She got chocolate smeared all over her face
  • She pulled on the cat’s tail
  • You tucked her in
  • She woke you up way too early on a Saturday morning
  • She slept for the entire trip
  • She rode a bike with training wheels
  • She needed help tying her shoes
  • You picked her up to help her get a drink at the water fountain
  • You took her to restroom with you
  • She cried when her balloon floated away

Then in elementary school, there was the last time…

  • She woke up on Christmas morning excited that Santa had been there
  •  She left a tooth under the pillow for the Tooth Fairy
  • She hunted for Easter eggs
  • She colored a picture for you to hang up at work
  • She played in the Playland at McDonalds
  • She sang the ABC song
  • You held her hand while crossing the street
  • You hoisted her up to put the angel on the Christmas tree
  • You pushed her on the swing
  • She asked you to come have lunch with her at school
  • She sat on Santa’s lap
  • You went to Toys-R-Us so she could explore and dream about what she wanted for Christmas
  • She curled up in your lap to read a book
  • She played on the floor with her toys
  • You carried her your shoulders
  • She rode on the kiddie rides at the carnival
  • She ordered from the kid’s menu

Finally, during the teen years, there was the last time…

  • She went trick-or-treating
  • She needed your help with homework on a daily basis

Still upcoming for me is the last time…

  • I drove her to school
  • She received an allowance
  • She slept in the house as a member of the household

(I couldn’t come up with a lot for the teens years. I think this is probably because The Older Daughter is 14 and the “losses” haven’t hit me yet.)

I have tried to do a good job throughout the years of staying involved and doing lots with the kids. Still, there are regrets sometimes. Occasionally, I’ll think of something that I always wanted to do with them, but now it’s too late because they’re too old. We have lots of pictures and videos, but sometimes I look back and wish we had taken more. I also wish that I had kept a journal. I would give anything to know some of my thoughts during their early years or to have a record of a conversation we had over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch between Barney movies.

But enough of the regrets. It’s never too late to do a better job. Part of the reason I started this blog was to help record some of my thoughts over time. I also hope that this post can in some way inspire newer parents also. To those new parents: Just remember, while time may seem to be going by slowly now, you’ll look back 15 years from now and wonder where it all went. Cherish and make the most of every moment. Take pictures, take videos, and keep a journal. Most importantly, just take time to be a family. The housework can wait, but your kids will only be kids for a very short time. Make the most of it.