Monday, September 26, 2011

On the 20th anniversary trip....

Here are some pictures from the 20th anniversary trip.  We had an awesome time.

On aging....

You know that you've gone too far when your plastic content exceeds that of Madam

I like Joan Rivers, really I do.  Had you told me 10 years ago that those words would come out of my mouth I would have called you crazy.  I changed my mind when I saw her on Celebrity Apprentice.  She's quirky, neurotic, and actually funny, all traits that I admire.  But there comes a time when every rational adult must realize that they aren't twenty-one anymore.  I'm only 44, but I came to that realization a couple of years ago when I jumped off of a waterfall and was certain that I wasn't long for this world.

I'm a lot more active than I was when I jumped off the waterfall, so in a way I probably have turned back the clock in a sense because I'm in better shape, but the relentless march of time is not going to be arrested by hiking or kayaking; the grey in my beard is expanding and the wrinkles are starting to appear and deepen.  It makes me sad and it makes me miss my youth, but it's inevitable.

Youth is wasted on the young, who are unable to appreciate it.  Most have little or no responsibility and don't experience the pressures that adults get to suffer through.  Kids should have to attend school year round and adults should be the ones that get 3 months off for the summer.  I'm sure that the young people who stumble across this post are rolling their eyes and throwing out the all too overused "lol", but they would be well served to remember that I was once like them, but they have being like me to look forward too.  Yea, scary.

We've all seen the people who do the comb-over's, or use Just for Men, or Rogaine, or the very bad hair pieces, or the thousands of other products used to delude the Papa's and Mamaw's of the world into thinking they can delay the inevitable.  All most of this stuff does is make people look funny, it doesn't change anything.

The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
Albert Einstein

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On our 20th anniversary....

So today Paula and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  What an accomplishment!  I joke about things like how we communicate and how she had to train me (she says I'm still in training), but it's important to know that Paula laughs with me and it's all in good fun. 

I consider myself very lucky to have married my best friend.  I tell younger people that marriage is like a scale.  When you first get married you have to learn to be a couple and sometimes the bad times outweigh the good, but the longer you're together the more that balance starts to shift.  At this point in our marriage I can honestly say that I have very few bad marriage days and when I do they aren't as nearly bad as they were in the early days.

Remember that it's pretty easy to get a divorce (those who have been divorced tend to disagree), but it's tough to stay married.  The rewards for staying together and toughing it out are more than you could ever imagine.

I love you very much Paula and I look forward to the next 20 and beyond.

On Guy On a Buffalo Episode 2....

Another great episode of Guy On a Buffalo.

Monday, September 19, 2011

On social media....

I’m a big social media guy.  I Facebook, I tweet, I blog, I belong to a couple of message boards, in short I enjoy it as much, and maybe more, than the next Joe.  Social media is a great way to stay connected with family and friends that may live hundreds, or even thousands of miles away and it helps me stay current on topics that interest me.  I particularly enjoy sharing my pictures with family and friends via Facebook.
Too much of anything, though, is not good and there is a disturbing side to social media.  I suppose, to be fair, that it isn’t the social site itself who is at fault and that instead the blame rests almost entirely on the user.  On the other hand it seems that every time I login to Facebook the operators are trying to shove new features down my gullet.  Though some of them are just annoying, some of them scare me.  Here are some examples, with no offense intended to anyone that uses these, this just reflect my preferences:
Status Shuffle – To me this application, or whatever you call it (widget?) is either for people who are totally oblivious to what’s happening around them or aren’t creative enough to express an independent thought.  Either that or I entirely missed getting off of the train a couple of stops back.  Now in the interest of full disclosure, the possibility that I am a couple of stops short of home is entirely within the realm of possibility.  Having said all of that, I don’t need Facebook to tell me how I feel, I have a wife for that.
Farmville – I’m going on perception here because I have never actually seen the game, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  Well okay, I’ve never stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, but my brain operates in such a manner that you would swear that I did.  Anyway, this appears to be an application, widget, or whatever you call it, where you do some farming and get extremely frustrated and angry because you aren’t very good at it.  All I know is that I get messages from others that say “Sally needs barbed wire, can you help her?”, or “Sally’s farm was destroyed by a plague of locusts and Sally needs pesticides” or “Sally is being bullied into selling the farm to a shopping mall developer, can you loan her a shotgun”.  If there’s anything I am good at it’s being bad at a number of things, I don’t need any practice. 
CityVille – Apparently this is an alternative to Farmville for those who suffer from hay fever and other seasonal allergies or don't enjoy quiet and green stuff.  Again, you get to build your imaginary world because the realities of your real life are so depressing that you feel you absolutely must take advantage of any opportunity to escape from it.  With this app you can build your own city and, just like city planners have been doing for centuries, fail miserably at it.  My city planning would probably look something like this:

Check In - I don’t know if this is considered an app, a widget or a feature, but what I consider it is a very, very bad idea.  Now in addition to the more traditional tools like duct tape, ski masks and rope, the bad guys have another useful tool at their disposal.  Young women are actually telegraphing their location for the whole world to see.  But oh, the time you have saved your stalker, now they can be much more productive and efficient.
Now on the surface some of my readers may think that this is fairly innocuous.  After all, these are friends and family that they’re providing this information to, right?  Wrong!  Young people have notoriously poor judgment and will friend almost anyone.  One day a co-worker’s eighteen year old sister was visiting the office and we discussed Facebook and my concerns.  For some reason a mutual “Facebook friend” of the two sisters came up in the conversation and they realized that neither even knew who this person was.  Adults friending young women that they're not related to is just creepy, but friending people they don't even know raises the level of creepiness exponentially.  My kids have friends who I have know since kindergarten and I wouldn't even think of friending them.
And never mind the fact that if you post your location and I remark on it my friends can now see where you are.  Trust me, you don’t want my friends to know where you are, my friends are illegal in 42 states and the District of Columbia.  Go to a young person’s page and see how many friends they have.  Is it 300?  500?  They will “friend” gas stations, convenience stores and the person who sat in the bathroom stall next to them if they thought that they would accept.  Honestly I can’t think of 300 people who I have even a passing acquaintance with, much less 300 that I actually like.
Is this Check-In feature not location specific enough for you?  Well now there's something called Foursquare, an application that allows people to tell others where they are BASED ON GPS coordinates.  Again, a very, very bad idea.  With technologies like this we don't have to worry about being tracked without our knowledge, we're already doing it to ourselves.
What's really most annoying about Facebook, though, isn't even a feature.  It's the person who feels like they need to post absolutely everything.  You know who you are, so please stop, I will not re-post what you posted, it doesn't prove anything except that I buckle under pressure.  Plus I'm just not that into causes.

Oh and one more thing, if you don't want me to point out that you had a function that I wasn't invited to don't post it on Facebook :-).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On marriage training for men....

In my "On communicating with women" post I included the following:

Now, my wife threw me a curve today because the training period never ends
when you think you know everything, she will quickly remind you that you don't.

Now you may be asking yourself "what did you mean by that Oh Bard of the Blogosphere?  Well, I'm about to tell you.  First though, my qualifications.  On 9/21/11 my wife and I will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, so I have spent 20 years in the trenches, trying my best to gain as much inside knowledge as possible in order that I may carry forth this knowledge and present it as a beacon of hope to my fellow man.  If I can save one newlywed, I will feel that my hard work and dedication to the cause will have been worth it.  Don't be like the intrepid explorer who, while climbing Mt. Everest, put his full weight down on the wrong spot and fell to his death, those obstacles have already been discovered and marked.

Women and men are inherently different, if you haven't learned that yet then remember it well and carry it with you, this is rule #1.  We communicate (see On Communicating With Women) differently and want different things.  A woman wants someone who will listen to her, cry with her, laugh with her, reveal their innermost feelings and other crap like that.  They love movies like The Notebook, Valentines Day, When Harry Met Sally, etc. because they idealize relationships.  Go HERE for IMDB's list of 100 best romantic comedies and you will also find 100 movies that I never want to see.  Ever.

Men, on the other hand, want something different.  They want someone who never wants to talk about their feelings, but who share common interests.  They want someone who gives them the appropriate amount of affection, when they want it, and provides companionship when they do not.  They don't want to be hassled.

So how do you reconcile the two wants?  Through an intensive training and conditioning program with your wife as drill instructor.  For the purposes of the blog I will call the program simply The Program.  How do they do this and where did they learn it?  Science doesn't really know the answer, but it is something ingrained within the female spirit, they just KNOW how to do it efficiently.  Think about fear for a minute, how did you learn to be afraid of things that may hurt you?  For the most part you were not taught, it's instinct.  Thousands of years ago mankind learned to survive in a world that is proportionally more dangerous than the one we inhabit today.  Certain behaviors have become ingrained in us, we don't really think about it or know where we picked up the behavior, but nonetheless they are a part of us.  If you see a bear do you have to have someone yell at you run?  Of course not, you quickly appraise the situation and come up with the complex mathematical equation of mauling = bad. 

Consider this example:  You walk into a restaurant and this is what you see:

If given a choice, where would you sit?  I don't know about you, but I am going to want to sit at the farthest table with my back to the wall.  Why do we do this?  Thousands of years of evolution have taught us that the safest place to eat or rest is somewhere that affords us the widest view of our surroundings.  You want to sit where you can see everyone and no one can come up behind you.  You aren't paranoid and probably do this without thinking, it is an example of just KNOWING something without knowing you know, you know?  Your wife, on the other hand, knows to try to guide you toward the table furthest away from that TV hanging from the ceiling.  TV's with sporting events on them are like breasts, you may not want to look, but you also cannot make yourself look away.

Click HERE for another example of this kind of behavior.  Most men will get the majority of these correct.  Men are not handed a book on bathroom etiquette, it is INGRAINED.

Anyway, back on topic.  Women reconcile their wants with the wants of their spouse or boyfriend by initiating their ingrained training regimen, or The Program.  They know that like clay men have to be molded, that men must be shown the way.  When I was in boot camp one of our instructors explained that the basic premise of our eight week stay was to break us down like a shotgun, then arrange the pieces back  in such a way that was conducive to military service.  That's what our women, through The Program, hope to accomplish.

Just like in boot camp you have choices.  You can embrace The Program and become one with it, or you can rebel and make things exponentially more difficult.  In boot camp those who chose the later path are the ones who end up marching with fake guns until 11 PM while being screamed at by a Navy Seal.  These people quickly become very unhappy and very sore.  In marriage, those who chose the later path end up alone and/or find themselves making very large monthly alimony and child support payments.

The length of The Program really depends upon the trainee.  I have a buddy who says things that clearly indicate to me that he is resisting.  Resistance is futile, do you want to be happy, or do you want to be alone and writing checks to someone who has already moved on to their next trainee?  Generally speaking the training program last no more than 6 or 7 years, but I have seen cases where it lasted up to 10 to 12 years, depending upon the resistance level of the trainee.  Men who are in their 10th year or more of conditioning are not pleasant to be around.

So, how do you avoid a lengthy and painful training period?  It's really quite easy.  Women don't really require much, but telling them that you love them isn't enough, you have to SHOW them.  Suggestions:

  1. Take them on a weekly, or even monthly date night where you take them to dinner and a movie.  It doesn't even have to be one of those sickening romantic comedies that all seem to have the same premise and are written, filmed and released in about 2 weeks.  Those things are the Harlequin romance of movies.
  2. Help with the kids, cleaning and cooking.  My wife took laundry off of the table after several of her shirts were so shrunk that they wouldn't fit on a Cabbage Patch Kid.
  3. Take the time to listen to what she has to say.  You can turn off the game for 5 minutes and listen and it will save you 5 hours of grief.  Trust me on this one.
  4. Practice active listening.  This is where you repeat what she has said to make sure that you understand what her beef with you is.  There are MANY times when people go off half cocked because they heard one thing but the speaker meant something entirely different.  Take the time to listen and understand what is being said.
When my wife says she envies someone because her beau listens to her, shares his feelings, buys her stuff and shows her attention I always say something along the lines of "so they're dating right?" and the answer is almost always yes.  You will be well served, however, to remember well that in a woman's mind this should never stop, so avoid intense pain by ensuring that you pay attention to her and you will have a happy and successful marriage.

I remember my wife, very early in our marriage, yelling at me to "get with The Program".  Little did either of us know that she meant that literally.

Monday, September 12, 2011

On communicating with women....

On the 21st of September my lovely wife and I will be going to Pensacola, FL to celebrate our 20th anniversary.  In this day and age 20 years is a huge deal and I'm very proud of us both for having stayed together for that long.  To me it's one of my proudest accomplishments.

Although I am far from a relationship expert and there's much more that I need to learn, here are a few things that I've learned about the differences in how women and men communicate:

Reading between the lines.  Women seldom verbalize their wants in the same way a man does.  A man might say "may I have a sandwich", which means, of course, I would like a sandwich.  A woman will express her desire for a sandwich in an entirely different manner, posing a question instead of directly saying what she wants.  For instance, a woman saying "doesn't a sandwich sound good right now?" really means "I want a sandwich, go fix it."

Using the truth expounded above, let's say in this scenario your wife or girlfriend says "Doesn't a sandwich sound good right now."  What is the best way to handle that situation?  Is it:

a.  Ask her if she would like for you to fix a sandwich.
b.  Say yes and tell her that you want ham and cheese.
c.  Say yes and ask her what kind she would like.

Let's discuss these one by one.

Scenario A - Incorrect.  The answer you will be given if you ask her directly if she wants you to fix a sandwich is something along the lines of "don't worry about it."  Don't worry about it really means "I hate to bother you right now, but do you mind fixing me a sandwich."  Asking her if she would like for you to fix her a sandwich is going to frustrate her because she has already asked you to fix it by saying "doesn't a sandwich sound good right now?"  If you ask her if she wants you to make it she will just feel like you weren't listening to her.  Never mind that she never really asked.

Scenario B - Also incorrect.  Remember, although she didn't really ask you, in her mind she asked you to make her a sandwich.  Plus if you allow scenario B to play out, the end result is you sleeping on the couch.  She wanted you to fix her a sandwich and ended up making her own and you one as well, in her mind that is the height of selfishness.

Scenario C - This, of course, is the correct answer.  What if you don't want a sandwich?  Pretend that you do, go make hers and then tell her that you changed your mind and didn't really want a sandwich after all.  That small fib will save you a ton of grief and will keep her happy.

Help her communicate.  Sometimes the "no it's okay" isn't directed at you and there will be times away from home that you have to interpret for others.  For instance, earlier today we went to Cracker Barrel and my wife asked for the cornbread muffins with her meal.  When the waitress came out, she said that they were cooking a fresh batch.  Time marched on and we were done eating, this is where the man has to spring to action.  What should the man do:

a.  Tell the waitress that the cornbread muffins are still in play, despite the fact that your wife seems to have forgotten about them.
b.  Ask your wife if she still wants the cornbread muffins, then query the waitress.

Scenario A - Correct.  There is no statute of limitations on cornbread muffins, of course she still wants them.  Again, asking if she wants them in the alternate universe that women inhabit just means that you weren't paying attention to her wants.

Scenario B - Incorrect, see scenario A.

Now, my wife threw me a curve today because the training period never ends, when you think you know everything, she will quickly remind you that you don't.  So what happened was I asked about the cornbread muffins and the waitress asked my wife if she would like them to go.  What did my wife say?  "That's okay, don't worry about it."  Which means what?  "Hell yea I still want the cornbread muffins."  Women don't understand each other any better than they understand men or men understand them, so what the waitress heard was that my wife was passing on the cornbread muffins.  This is where you, as the man, have to intervene and should say yes, she would like the cornbread muffins to go.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

On situational disabilities....

The topic for today is something that I call Situational Disabilties.  These are transitory disorders that, according to recent studies conducted by me, significantly impact 9 in 10 people at some period of their life.  There are many different types of situational disabilities, and below are just a few:

Spouse Deafness - Most commonly recognized by the non-scientific term "Selective Hearing", spouse deafness is an affliction that I myself have been battling for years.  Or, perhaps more accurately, my wife has been battling it for years.  Often spouse deafness is brought on when the speaker mentions several pleasant subjects in conjunction with an unpleasant subject.  For instance "You can watch the football game on Saturday and I will make you some hot wings, but I would like for you to clean out my car and fix my tail light."  In this situation the football watcher hears that he is going to be watching a game and eating hot wings.  This never ends well.

It should be noted that there are other, similar conditions that are as debilitating as Spouse Deafness, including Boss Deafness, Parent Deafness, etc.

Cheese Blindness - Cheese blindness can be a very serious condition, particularly when the bread, ham and mayonnaise have already been fully deployed.  Cheese blindness occurs, of course, when despite frantic searching you are unable to locate the cheese.  Often a quick cure for cheese blindness is to ask your spouse where the cheese is located.  I experienced cheese blindness once and asked my wife where it was as I continued to look.  I was looking at the butter, and thinking about how my truck needed to be washed, with my hand resting beside it and when my wife responded that the cheese was next to the butter I was shocked to see it materialize before my very eyes.  Cheese blindness is real people, don't doubt it for a minute.

Parkingson Disease - Not to be mistaken with Parkinson's Disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system, Parkingson Disease is a condition that immediately goes into remission when a state agency issues the afflicted a handicapped parking decal.  We've all seen people who are in remission, we witness them getting out of their parked cars with no visible sign of disability whatsoever.  We see them leaving their footprints upon the prone bodies of those they have trampled on Black Friday to get at that $5 waffle press.  We see them two miles away, at the opposite side of the mall, checking out $1000 gas grills.  Miracles, they happen every day.

Mom's Here Paralysis - This condition is one that impacts every parent.  Put simply, when the mother is in the home her progeny is not able to perform even the simplest of tasks.  They can't use a butter knife, the microwave, the stove, they can't walk two feet to get the remote control.  In short, they experience total paralysis and are in an almost vegetative state in which, although they can voice their desires, they are simply unable to fulfill their most basic needs and must depend upon their mother for everything.

For some reason a child is rendered absolutely helpless when he or she is within 50 feet of his or her mother.  I mean, they can't even cook a pop tart on their own.  Yet as soon as the mother leaves and the child gets hungry, they can prepare a meal that would make Gordon Ramsey blush.  Science needs to study this one because I am intrigued.