Monthly Archives: January 2011

A Snow Day – Seriously?

At 5am on Thursday I was rudely ejected from a very nice dream by a call to let us know that school was canceled due to the inclement weather.

This came as something of a surprise, because:

  1. We had already been told that there would be a delayed start (which actually made sense).
  2. It had already stopped snowing.
  3. It was not due to snow anymore that day.

Perhaps the roads were still very bad?  Nope…my road (which is always one of the last to be ploughed) had already been taken care of and looked in great shape.  That left only an impending tornado, roaming polar bears, or a strong teachers union as possible causes.

And that started me thinking…

I grew up in the U.K. and we NEVER had school canceled due to snow.  Any moans or groans would were met with derision by my Father, and quickly followed by stories that invariably started with “When I were a lad…” (yes, he was from Yorkshire).

Of course, in my day, there was zero chance of kids dying in a fiery car crash because…we walked to school! If the snow was deep, we walked slowly.  And before you ask, yes, it was uphill both ways!

I did have a very steep hill to climb on the way to school, and I remember having to use my school bag as a makeshift sled on the way home.  But that wasn’t something to complain about – that was FUN!

But, on this particular Thursday, I cleared the driveway (I love my snowthrower!) and enjoyed a drive to work that was remarkably free of  obstacles like snow…or other cars. The lack of cars made perfect sense, because I arrived at the office to find the place deserted.

What on earth has happened to people?  When did we become such wimps?

Seriously, if we can’t get over a bit of snow to make it to school or work, then how do we really expect to compete in a global economy where kids happily walk miles to learn sitting on a rock, and people fight for the leftovers on your plate?

And that started me thinking again…Holy Cow!  I’ve turned into my Father!

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Filed under Children, Education, Life - or something like it

What We Have Here … Is a Failure to Communicate (via Aspergers : A Mom’s Eye View)

What We Have Here ... Is a Failure to Communicate “Don’t be smart, Mister!” I scolded my then 8 year old Aspie son, after he back-talked me about something or other.  He looked at me, wide-eyed with confused uneasiness.  He knew from my tone of voice that I was angry with him, but he didn't understand my words… (Don’t be smart?  Isn’t being smart a good thing?  What is wrong???) As I watched his facial expression retreat from disrespect to confusion to worry, I realized that we were experiencing … Read More

via Aspergers : A Mom's Eye View

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The Witching Hour

I don’t know exactly when it happens…but somewhere between 3:30 and 5:00pm my children go through a metamorphosis.

They look the same, other than a slightly wild look in their eyes.  But during this time their tiny molecules turn into miniature black holes, irresistibly drawing in any sibling that strays within 100 feet.  Once inside this gravitational well, it doesn’t matter how many times you separate them, they will snap back to together within a few moments – complete with an irresistible urge to interfere with homework, destroy artwork, and generally just not understand that the joke is sooo over.

At first I couldn’t understand what was happening.  I would call Joanne in the early afternoon and life would be clam and idyllic.  We would have a nice chat, some laughs, talk about what we were having for dinner etc.  A few hours later I would arrive home to discover screaming children, a house in disarray, the air thick with screams of “Stooooopp!” and “Daaan!“, and a dark thundercloud would be hovering menacingly over Joanne’s head. At this point I would try my best to restore some semblance of order – usually by shooing the kids as far away from Mom as possible – and then I would keep my head down until after dinner.

Sometimes dinner would satiate the kids and normality would be restored, at least until the next day.  But other times, the food just provided fuel, resulting in the kids being banished to the basement where the noise was at least bearable.

“What  happened to my happy wife and kids?” I used to wonder.  But, having now seen this phenomena first hand, I know what happened – the ‘Witching Hour.’  A dark time when evil spirits enter the bodies of children.

I have yet to find a cure.  We have tried talking to them, shouting, pleading, the sign of the cross and standing the children in pentagrams – nothing works!  Even the potent twin forces of the TV and the Wii aren’t enough to combat this force of nature.  I have often wondered what kind of laws we would be breaking were we to get a set of those dog collars with the little electrodes in them…Just saying….

Perhaps, as they grow older, they will learn to resist the demons.  I’m reliably informed they learn to control these urges just around the time the go to college. In the meantime, thank goodness for wine, custom molded ear plugs, and interior doors that close!

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Filed under Children, Life - or something like it, The Human Condition

Two types of people

There are two types of people in the world:  Those who listen to song lyrics and those who don’t.

OK…everyone listens to song lyrics at some level, but some people REALLY listen to song lyrics.  For those people (and I count myself in that camp) the lyrics are so key that they dramatically alter their perception of the song, and often much, much more.  A great song lyric can change their mood, alter their opinion, or drive them to action.  Lyrics are not something to be treated lightly to a Lyric Listener.

If you want to communicate with a Lyric Listener at a truly personal level, the best way is to use a carefully selected song to deliver your message.  The music will penetrate the reptilian part of their brain to the point where they will not only hear the message, but the emotional content that goes along with it.  It will, quite simply, reach parts of them that ordinary words never could.

Good lyrics not only turn a bad song into something the Lyric Listener is happy to listen to, but a good song into something they will beat people over the head with until they finally agree to listen to it.  This last part can cause problems because if the person they are beating isn’t a Lyric Listener then they will really only be humoring them, and that’s fighting talk.

Some examples would probably help here.

Great Lyrics/Iffy Song:

Almost anything sung by Billy Bragg fits into the category of Great Lyrics / Iffy Song. While I appreciate Billy’s contribution to the music world, I am also grateful that there have been covers of his songs by people who know how to sing.

Lullaby, Shawn Mullins

Songs that Have It All:

One of Us, Joan Osborne

Imagine, John Lennon

Come Back to Me, David Cook

Your results may vary, but if the lyrics in these songs don’t touch you, then you have no soul.

Those who know me know that I have pondered how music changes people in ways that they’re not aware of.  A great example of this is the theory that the music you listen to actually affects the taste of wine – you can read an interview with Clark Smith about that here.

Personally, I buy into the theory – but the real question  is whether it is the music that is changing the taste of the wine, or the change in your emotional state?  If it is the latter, then I can see a lively song with sad lyrics getting a different reaction from a lyric listener than from a non-lyric listener.  Not sure what I mean ?  How about the chorus from I Write Sins Not Tragedies?

As a person who listens to the lyrics, I honestly believe I could help ‘heathens’ connect with their lyric listening partners.  In fact, I have an idea for a new service around this.

Imagine this scenario:  You are dating a lyric listener and want to send her a special message.  No problem! Answer a few simple questions, such as her favorite artists, genres, age and the message you want to send.   A playlist, complete with lyrics and with the important items highlighted, will be sent to you.

Once you approve your lyrical love note, delivery to your loved one is via a variety of means (iTunes gift, flowers with a CD, singing telegram – who knows!)

Hmmm…I think that one might even have some legs.  What do you think?

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Filed under Life - or something like it, The Human Condition

Why Does She Do It?

Mince Pie

Image via Wikipedia

Sheila Ellison‘s book “How Does She Do It?” is about the difficulties one woman faces trying to balance a busy career with the demands of home life.

The book starts at 1:37 a.m. on an average night with our heroine, Kate Reddy, carefully distressing store-bought mince pies with a rolling-pin so that they’ll look homemade for her daughter’s school Christmas party.  She then hides the pie boxes so that her nanny won’t tell the other nannies that Kate ‘cheated’ on the pies.

Seriously? I was so struck by how dumb this appeared that I canvassed the opinion of a few people, including my wife.  Without exception all of the men agreed they would have delivered the pack of mince pies without a second thought, and all of the mothers totally understood why ‘Kate’ felt compelled to go to such lengths.

Clearly the book should not have been called How Does She Do It but, instead, Why Does She Do It?

Why is it that people (usually women?) insist on creating convoluted social rules that make people jump through hoops to get things done?

Does it really matter that this woman didn’t bake the cakes herself?  Surely the task was to deliver something edible and festive and, frankly, I know several people for whom the first part of that statement would be huge a challenge.  It wasn’t that long ago when a store-bought cake was seen as a special treat.  That was when time was available and money was harder to come by.   Now that free time is so elusive, whose bright idea was it to make up rules designed to use up the scarcest resource available ?

When I hear women complain that they never have enough time, I have to admit that I often see it as self-inflicted.  I have no problem with a clean house, but does it need to be constantly ready for a photo shoot for Architectural Digest?  I don’t think so.  Throw a few kids into that situation and this is a recipe for constant frustration.

So, here’s a new social rule for you.  If you make up social rules that go beyond what is really necessary, or abide by  ‘unnecessary’ rules created by others in your social group, then you are not allowed to complain that you don’t have enough time. There…the lack of complaining should give you a little more time in your day already.

People who have watched Seinfeld will be aware that he made up crazy social rules, and had a good deal of success getting society to accept them.  The “double dip” is a great example.  So I am going to take a page from his book and create an “Anti-dumb Rule rule. Not only that, but I am going to put a handy Get Out of Jail Free card at the end of this post for use in future situations.

Here’s a few examples where the card can be used:

1. Wearing the same dress.
I know this is hard to understand, but just because your friends have seen you in that dress before, does NOT mean that it should be thrown to the back of the closet never to be seen again.   Here’s a simple flow diagram to help you – ‘no’ answers take the right fork:

2. Hand writing addresses on holiday cards.
Yes, I have just gone through the holiday season and, once again, tediously hand wrote the envelope on each card.  Aside from the fact that this takes time, my handwriting would make the average doctor look like a calligraphy expert, thus ensuring that these envelopes are both unattractive and may never actually reach their destination.  And why is it that when you can’t remember if you have the most up to date address you are not allowed to just call them and ask?

3.  Bringing gifts when you visit someone.
It’s nice to bring a gifts.  But when you avoid visiting your friends just because you don’t have to ‘knock with your elbows’, then I think the world is a colder and less friendly place.  If these are real friends, then simply spending time with them will be a gift in itself – a bottle of wine isn’t going to add much, other than providing something they can pass along to the next person they visit.

There are many more, but I would really love to hear your versions of silly social rules – there have to be hundreds of these things.  Heck…maybe I’ll even turn them into a book!

So here is my gift to you – a Get Out of Jail Free card for those silly social situations.

Simply print, cut out, and keep in your wallet.  If you want to get really serious, then I would suggest laminating it. Whenever you are short on time, or just not feeling it, simply show the card and other people are banned from complaining.  Done!  You are now free to only partake of the baking, cleaning, shopping, gift-giving, that you WANT to do or that are NECESSARY to keep people clean, clothed and fed.  Enjoy the freedom, and you are welcome!

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Filed under Children, Life - or something like it, The Human Condition

The Secret Society of Women

Lisa Ling

Image via Wikipedia

The other day I was listening to an interview with Lisa Ling, a television journalist, reporter for the Oprah Winfrey Show and a contributor to Nightline.  She was discussing how, after a miscarriage, she co-founded the Secret Society of Women in October 2010.

The Secret Society is an anonymous community where women can share secrets, strength and wisdom.

Personally the first thing that went through my head was “Wow!  I bet that’s a great place to pick up some tips on what women really think.” That thought was quickly followed with “If it’s anonymous –  how do they stop men going there.”

The more I thought about that last part, the more I realized that the men would be easy to spot.  They will be the ones :

a.  Trying to solve the women’s issues instead of just listening and supporting them

b.  Making up posts designed to find out what women really think about penis size

Pretty easy really.  Hopefully the site will have posting police ready to reply “Excuse me, Sir, but this is a women’s only forum” to obvious interlopers.

I wish them luck with the new endeavor and hope it offers comfort and help to women everywhere.  As for me, I promise to keep my posting to a minimum  🙂

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Filed under Life - or something like it, Technology, The Human Condition