11.28.2008

Happiness

So it's the time of year again when we reflect on the things we are thankful for, wake up the next morning to fight people for material posessions, spend a month worrying about money, family and social situations, enjoy time off, set new goals and immediately become disappointed in ourselves for not keeping our resolutions. For those who don't remember my views on Christmas, you can find them here. I can probably add shopping on Black Friday to my things I hate list. So today while shopping I spent a good portion of the day wondering why there are so many miserable individuals on Earth and remembered a fantastic research report on Happiness printed a few years ago. Now when I think of Happiness the last thing I think of is investment bankers, but James Montier, formerly of Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, wrote this brilliant article on the psychology of Happiness. I highly recommend everyone read this. For a summary, here are the 10 ways you can improve your happiness, in no particular order:
  1. Don’t equate happiness with money. People adapt to income shifts relatively quickly, the long lasting benefits are essentially zero.
  2. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise is an effective cure for mild depression and anxiety. It also stimulates more energy, and is good for the mind and body.
  3. Have sex (preferably with someone you love). Need I say more?
  4. Devote time and effort to close relationships. Confiding and discussing problems and issues is good for happiness, so work on these relationships.
  5. Pause for reflection, meditate on the good things in life. Focusing on the good aspects of life helps to prevent hedonic adaptation.
  6. Seek work that engages your skills, look to enjoy your job. Doing well at work creates happiness, and the easiest way of doing well at work, is doing a job you enjoy.
  7. Give your body the sleep it needs. Too many people have a sleep deficit, resulting in fatigue, gloomy moods and lack of concentration.
  8. Don’t pursue happiness for its own sake, enjoy the moment. Because people don’t understand what makes them happy, pursuing happiness can be self-defeating. Additionally, if people start to aim for happiness they are doing activities for happiness’s sake rather than actually enjoying the activity itself.
  9. Take control of your life, set yourself achievable goals. People are happiest when they achieve their aims, so set yourself goals which stretch you, but are achievable.
  10. Remember to follow rules 1-9. Following these guidelines sounds easy, but actually requires willpower and effort.

I try to do each of these things at least once a month, some I try to do a lot more than that but I'm not always successful. If you want more information on the first step, I recomend you read Mr. Montier's follow-up piece which was titled "It doesn't pay: Materialism and the pursuit of happiness"; I couldn't find a link but will happily send the report to anyone who wants it. A suggest the men also read the footnotes in the report as it quotes other studies that confirm what we all know, such as: "In Kahneman, Krueger, Schkade, Schwarz and Stone (2003) Measuring the quality of life, the authors found that among a sample of 1000 employed women that sex was rated retrospectively as the activity that produces the largest amount of happiness. Commuting turns out to be the least pleasurable activity. Also Blanchflower and Oswald (2004) Money, Sex and Happiness, find that sexual activity enters strongly into happiness equations."

Hopefully everyone finds this helpful and enjoys the holidays.

11.26.2008

Paper or Plastic?

Whatever happened to grocery baggers? Where did they all go? Has that job been eliminated due to the recent economic woes? are grocery baggers always the first to be let go?
When we lived in NYC, I will admit I loved Fresh Direct. There is something wonderful about getting groceries while wearing flannel penguin pjs, and having them delivered directly to my door. However, I do enjoy grocery shopping in an actual grocery store (call me weird, it won't be the first time). So when we moved back to suburbia, I was a wee bit excited to go grocery shopping and be able to buy whatever quantity I wanted because I had a trunk and backseat to put the groceries in, not a small granny cart with 2 wobbly wheels. Yesterday though I wasn't too excited about the whole process...maybe it was because T didn't want to be there, or that there seemed to be many more shoppers than usual for a Tuesday afternoon (thanks Thanksgiving!), or most likely because when T did finally start to fall asleep, everyone and their dog had to come up and start talking to her "oh you're a wide awake shopper, aren't you?" Actually yes, she usually shops with her eyes half closed. Then when it is finally time to leave and I have a 15 pound turkey and hordes of other items...the check out lady decides it would be better to continue pushing the button to make the conveyor belt move so that all of my food smashes together at the end of the belt. No bagger in sight, it's all me. Once said items are paid for we begin the task, which I usually don't have a problem with, but T is crying, a strange, random woman is talking to T, and the check out lady is just standing there, pushing that stupid button that makes the belt move...like that helps me...I can push it myself!!
So while Paula Cole asks Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? I ask Where Have All the Baggers Gone?

11.25.2008

Can't Hardly Wait

Just one month to go!!

11.22.2008

Sweet Anticipation

With the down turned economy, job losses, show cancellations and other all around crappy news... it makes January that much more sweeter. My countdown has begun. Oh how I can not wait!

11.21.2008

For the Love of...

With all that's going on with the economy, I have one more to add to Jeff's timely list. Thanks to celebrities, head shrinkers will never need to worry about job security... well, thanks to celebrities who have kids.

11.19.2008

Schwetty Balls*

Aren't you glad you live in a world where this is news? I know I sure am.

*Who doesn't love Alec Baldwin on SNL?

11.18.2008

Been Caught Stealing

Let the madness begin!!
Every year I look through ads and wonder...do I really need something THAT badly to awake before the dead? Kill someone for a parking spot? Spend 8.5 hours in a line...all for 10% off an item that I could have bought the day before? Of course not. Will I go out and spend countless hours muttering how I hate people? Probably. Will I come home with purchases? Probably not.
At least when I go, most of the crowds have gone home. True, most things have been picked over, but there is never anything I really need that badly to wake up at 4AM. These days sleep is worth much more than 10% off. Lucky for me that most of the stores I would shop at are all within half a mile from each other, and my house. I could go over the night before, put a chair in line, go home and show up 30 minutes before the store opened, refreshed, showered and with a mug of steaming hot chocolate and a croissant and reclaim my seat...that is unless some unruly line stander had a meltdown because the doors didn't open early enough and smashed my chair to pieces...you don't want to mess with early morning shoppers - they think you might be there to steal the dancing Christmas Santa for 50% off!
So what say you? Will you be participating this year?

11.17.2008

Roundabout

Ever see a commercial or hear a song and you just can't get it out of your head? I know, stupid question, we all have that happen to us....but lately I have found one particular commercial and one particular song stuck on a constant loop playing through my head and it's very annoying. Usually one replaces the other, so it's not like I get a break or anything.
I thought since I seem to be suffering with these annoyances, I would share them with you in the hopes of having some company during my misery.
What songs/commercials do you have running relentlessly through your head at any time of day or night? And how do you get rid of them??

11.14.2008

This post is too bootylicious

In another "What's Up With The Smith's" exclusive, I recently interviewed Beyonce about her new album and life in general.

Mark: Beyonce, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions today.

Beyonce: No problem, after your interview with Stephenie Meyers I just had to sit down with you.

First question, did you decide to do a schizophrenic album after the success of Garth Brook's "Chris Gaines" album?

Who's Garth Brooks.

Did you realize Sasha Fierce is an anagram for Shiesa Farce?

No.

How do you respond to criticism that your new song "If I Were a Boy" is complete fiction because you never discuss scratching your nuts or masturbating into a sock?

If I Were a Boy is a great song.

Will your fans have enough money to buy your new album after their large donations to defeat Prop 8?

My fans are great.

Your mother's family is French, was it difficult to not raise the white flag after losing Star Search?

No.

You have been credited with writing most of your songs, after reading the lyrics for Bootylicious I have to ask, are you functionally retarded?

No comment.

Your new movie "Cadillac Records" is supposedly Oscar worthy, who do you think you'll lose to this time?

I'm a good actress.

You've ruined the careers of Mike Meyers and Steve Martin by starring alongside them in comedies, will you please do a movie with Dane Cook?

My comedies have been very successful.

Rihanna: bad singer, or worst singer?

Rihanna is good.

Is there a bigger tool than Puffy?

No.

Does Jay Z get annoyed with your dad micro-managing you in the bedroom?

My dad is great.

I think I'm ready for your jelly (wink, wink), what do you say?

No.

I'll call you Sasha and you can call me HOVA?

No.

11.12.2008

Thanks

A big thanks to Jeff for taking over the blog this week. I have been entertained, made to think and didn't get much work done while he held down the fort. Go check out his blog to stay entertained.

I will give you a bit of a warning that Jeff's enthusiasm for blogging has motivated me to be a little more active, so be prepared for more hatred, sarcasm and genital references.

I also want to point people to an awesome blog post from my brother Jared about his elk hunt this weekend. If you are at all interested in hunting than you need to check out the pictures and video of his trophy hunt. I would post them here, but The First Lady would freak out with a video of something being killed on our family friendly blog.

Welcome Back Kotter

We hope everyone enjoyed the change of pace here on the Smith blog. It's always nice to know what random thoughts go through other people's heads...and it seems Jeff has a lot of time to let those thoughts swirl around!! We appreciate the time he took to enlighten folks with such a myriad of topics...although perhaps bevy would be a better word?
I am sure in the days to come the blog will get back to housing my random and nonsensical thoughts and Mark's offensive and inappropriate words to ponder. Perhaps this year he will again share with us all of the many things he hates about Christmas. I am sure he has a few new things to add to his list.
There are many things going on right now in my head that might make good blog fodder, but I am not sure if I want to go there with them as I never seem to get my thoughts out on paper (virtual or real) in quite the right way. I was leafing through some papers I wrote back in the days of University and there seemed to be one common thread no matter what the topic , grade or subject...awkwardness. My thoughts make sense in my head, but apparently they don't make the journey to paper without a few casualties. However, if you ever want to read my thoughts on topics such as Eva Peron, Chernobyl, the Role of the Secretary General, the Death Penalty and a host of other random subjects, let me know! I can't promise mind altering arguments, but I can promise awkward wording and irrelevant subject matter. Thanks University Professors!
So until then, enjoy the musings of Dolphinsbarn and the calmness until Mark returns.

11.11.2008

Thanks Mark and Melanie

Thanks again to Mark and Melanie for letting me mess with their blog today. I really enjoyed writing here... if you were bored then you're in luck. I'm done for the day. However, if you did enjoy any of it, come visit me (and leave a comment or two) over at Dolphinsbarn

It's a constant party. No, seriously, it's crazy.

-Jeff

Part 2: Why baseball is actually the perfect sport or Why Kyle's post on football is dumb.

Part 2 of 2 (Here's part 1, and here's Kyle's original)- Why baseball is actually the perfect sport or Why Kyle's post on football is dumb.

6) Points (runs) actually mean something. Unlike the other major sports, baseball runs are actually worth something. In football you can easily score 34+ points in a game. In basketball 100 isn't unreasonable. With games that you can score so easily and in such large numbers, teams don't have to play the whole game. You can make up loads of ground in the second half or even last quarter. In baseball, every inning, and every out matters. Every player has to be prepared on every play to save the game.

7) The ball park is one place where you can spit and scratch your junk as often as you please. I was watching the ALCS this year when an on field camera frame (that had previously held a tight shot on the right fielder) was suddenly consumed by a players body from the waist down. Unbeknownst to the player, the camera continued to film him as he reached down and rearranged his furniture. He then waltzed off, never realizing what just went down. What other event lets this fly? None. It's part of baseball. Football is still recovering from JT & Janet's wardrobe malfunction. In baseball, dudes can be dudes.

8) There is more strategy involved in baseball than any other sport. Pinch hitters, finesse pitchers, closers, power pitchers, signal calling, place hitters, etc. The entire offense is dictated by the manager and players work together to achieve the goal. You can change so many facets of baseball: batting orders, five infielders, infield shift, outfield shift, intentional walks, defensive specialists, double switches, pinch hitters, double steals... it goes on and on. Professional baseball is a chess game that changes as the game progresses. It's not a finite number of plays in a playbook (like football), but a living game that uses interchangeable strategies to win depending on the current situation.

9) The better team wins. Time is not an issue. In football you have 4 quarters to complete the game. If you have a tie at the end of regulation, you have one of the worst tie break systems in pro sports (sudden death). In baseball, you have 9 innings to finish the game. If you are tied at the end of regulation, you play until one team bests the other. It's simple, elegant, and there is no controversy. It's not who has the ball last. The best team always wins.

10) Benches clear, batters charge the mound, pitchers go "head hunting." Hockey is just plain brutal, a football hit can end a player's careers. When there's emotion and violence in baseball, it's good old fashioned fist fights in a grass field. You can't get more manly then that.

11) It's the Great American Past Time. It just is. Get over it.

Look, you're talking to a football fan... I get it Kyle, football is exciting, hard hitting, and flashy. Football is the busty blonde that sits in the center of all the boys in class. She's hot, she's flirty, you love to hang her on your arm. Football's the sport you take out on a Friday night, hit it like a champ with in the back of your El Camino, and dump the next morning. Sure, she'll make you feel like a man for a few hours, but you'll always end up all empty & guilty when you drop her off.

But Baseball, Kyle... Baseball doesn't make you feel like a man, she straight up makes you a man. She's smart, reliable, consistent, and full of class. She's not just there to excite you on the weekend, she's there to spend time with every night of the week. She's the game you take home to meet your mom and out to hang with your friends. She's the game you court, marry, and teach your kids to love. She's deep, complex, powerful, and full of tradition and values.

That is why baseball is the perfect sport.

Why I like to blog again.

I started getting sick of my blog a few months ago. It seemed like every time I wrote anything I felt like it had to be an in depth discussion on something relevant. I was spending way too much time on writing and rewriting every post... eventually I got sick of it and was ready to quit. Around the same time, I got turned onto Twitter. Twitter helped me realize two things: 1) Not everyone cares about my overture posts. They were too long. People like succinct posts on interesting things. I needed to start thinking of my blog like a microfeed instead of a soapbox. 2) With fresh, consistent updating, people feel like they need to check back more often, and my click rate goes up. Win for the reader, win for me.

I don't feel overwhelmed to post anymore. While I'm going through drafts of my long posts, I keep my readers engaged (I think) by posting more often on little thoughts on stuff I read and see on a daily basis. It seems more interesting, I get more hits, and I like writing on my blog again. It's nice.

Style. You're a fickle beast.

The girls said I was too boring in my baseball post... How about this? It's about fashion.

Saw a kid with some crazy hair on my way in this morning. His hair was cut very short all over, except for a 7 inch rat tail. The rat tail was styled in two ways: half of it was slicked straight back (like a good rat tail should) but the second part was slicked up the back of his head and over it... all the way to his forehead (like a rat tail/Mohawk). I felt for the kid and wondered what in the world his mom was thinking. It made me think of my childhood, and three style mishaps I had.

1) In grade school, I pegged my pants (like this girl). The hallmarks of a sweet peg were its tightness and its ability to stay put for long periods of time. A good peg could withstand most of the day without being re-rolled. I remember feeling really stupid the first time I pegged my pants, but it went over so well at school, I thought it must be cool... I kept doing it.

I remember where I was and what grade (5th) I was when I stopped pegging. The bell had just rung to come in from recess. I was standing with a red kick ball and walking toward the building when a girl named Charlotte tapped me on the shoulder. She was a pretty and popular little girl, so I stopped and said, "hi." She didn't say hi. Instead she gave me this little number: "Jeff, we don't peg our pants anymore. It isn't cool." With that she walked away.

I bent down right then, unrolled my pants, and walked into the building feeling peggless and sad.

2) I was in 4th grade and I thought sweat pants and climbing on stuff was pretty awesome. I had climbed up on a volleyball standard in sweat pants and I was standing with my foot on the hook where the bottom of the net went, and holding on to the top hook to stabilize myself. I was fairly impressed with myself, and I stood up there swinging my free leg around.

Some of the girls that my friends and I had crushes on came walking by, including the girl I always went "steady" with. I yelled out to them, and kicked my free leg pretty fiercely, trying to show off. In my excitement, my leg standing on the hook slipped off of the hook and I began to fall straight down. The hook caught the leg of my sweats and as the girls looked on, I fell and my sweats tore all the way up the leg. I stood up quickly, not realizing that as I did, my pants flapped wide open, revealing the goods. In my humiliation, I didn't know what to do. I took off running for home.

3) In 8th grade I thought my sister (who was 4 years older than me) was the coolest. Because she was in high school, she always got more expensive, and nicer clothes than me. One day she was out shopping and came home with a white polo shirt with colored polka dots on it (it was the early 90's). I thought the shirt was pretty cool, told her so, and she said that it was a unisex shirt, so maybe I could wear it sometime. Looking back, I think she was just humoring her little brother by being nice, but I didn't know better & thought she was serious. One day when she had already left for school, I went into her closet, took the shirt, and decided to wear it to school. In my mind, I looked awesome. In the mirror, I blew myself away.

My first period was gym. We did the fun run that day, so I changed, ran, and afterward changed back. As I pulled the shirt from my locker, I remember feeling excited to wear it out into the halls again. I pulled the shirt over my head, shut my locker, turned to leave and heard, "Hey Jeff!" I turned and several of the really cool 9th graders were standing there. I figured they were going to compliment my shirt (since it was so awesome), and I said, "Oh, hey guys." One of the coolest (that I'd played baseball with for years) then said, "Nice shirt. Did your mom dress you?" and they all started laughing. I didn't really have any sort of comeback... knowing that my although my mom hadn't necessarily dressed me, my sister (in essence) had.

This is how it felt:


I guess at the end of the day, the kid with the rat tail is paying his dues on the way to being a normal adult... just like the rest of us. Lucky little devil.

Number one with a bullet... or eight bullets.

Skip the boycott. Ski instead.

Some people aren't comfortable with world leaders making out with the media.

As long as it doesn't conflict with the elk hunt.

Someone punch me in the face soft enough that I'll live, but hard enough that I'll forget about this.

One of the only crowds weirder than Harry Potter fans.

There are bigger issues than the election, media leaks, and Starbuck's 97% implosion... well, bigger than the election and media leaks anyway.

This creepy picture always gets loads of hits. I have no idea why. It's gross.

AIG=Zombie?

Part 1: Why baseball is actually the perfect sport or Why Kyle's post on football is dumb.

On October 30, Kyle had the audacity to call Football the "Perfect Sport." I took offense to this for two reasons.

1) Football is not the perfect sport (any sport that needs that many cameras for instant replay, cannot be called the perfect sport).

2) He sacrilegiously wrote this post in October, which every sport fan knows is owned by baseball. It's like French kissing your girlfriend's mom at the New Year's party. It's wrong Kyle... just wrong.

Anyway, in response to his post, I give you "Why baseball is the perfect sport, or, Why Kyle's post on football is dumb."

1) Baseball is by far the most team oriented sport. Although baseball begins with a one on one dynamic of pitcher vs. batter, its rules are designed to end each play with the ball in the field. Once the ball reaches the field, the game completely revolves around team play. Imagine a baseball game without a short stop, a first baseman, an outfielder, or a catcher. Without any one of the 9 positions that are active on the field, you could not play, or win a game. Professional batters are so good at place hitting that if you were missing any of the 8 fielding positions, they would dissect you over, & over, & over again. Sure, every player isn't active on every single play, but I give you a challenge: choose the best team in the NFL and remove an offensive lineman, or a special teams blocker, or a defensive end. Other teammates could pick ups the slack and you still have a shot at winning. I take the best team in MLB and take out ANY of the fielders... let's say right fielder. You get decimated. There's no way to make up for a missing teammate in baseball.

Some may say that when a pitcher is doing well, no other player is involved in the gameplay. False. Baseball's rules are such that a pitcher can't just get up, get hot, and throw 27 outs in a row. The longest a pitcher can stand up there and throw at one time is 3 outs worth. This rarely involves 3 straight strike outs (K's), forcing the pitcher to rely on his teammates. Now, it's true that no-hitters (a game where no earned hit reaches base) are thrown, but only 256 have been thrown since 1875 (that's about two per year in the entire league). Every single one of those no hitters has involved excellent defense by the entire team. Additionally, a perfect game (amazing that baseball actually owns the term: perfect game... coincidence? I think not) has only been thrown 17 times in MLB history. A perfect game is when no-one reaches base on a walk, a hit, hit batter, or error by fielders. This is literally 27 up and 27 down, and even it is reliant on solid fielding. A pitcher is to baseball what a quarterback is to football: The catalyst for gameplay.

2) Baseball is the fairest sport. Every player gets at least 3 pitches thrown to them. Those pitches have to be in a pre-determined area which is based on the batter's size and stance. The sport's officials have the least impact on the outcome of the game of any major sport. All pitch calls are reviewed for accuracy after each game. EVERY play, be it a pitch, throw to a base, tag for an out, or an outfield catch is one player against another. In other words, all action on any given play is at a single point on the field, easily callable by an umpire. Instant replay was only instituted THIS YEAR solely for home run accuracy, not for judgement calls made on base by umpires. Conversely, in football, so much is going on on every play that an official could call any number of penalties on any play. Instant replay is considered a necessity and challenge flags have been instituted because refs can and often get calls wrong. Additionally, a form of pass interference, holding, or offsides happens on almost EVERY single play. The refs have to subjectively ignore most of the penalties just to let the game progress. Another way ref's can influence football is when they "spot" the football. A team can gain or lose 1-3 yards based on the spot which is at the sole discretion of the ref. Trust me, referee bias is a problem... if it wasn't, why would the Pac-10 force all non-conference opponents to use their refs? In baseball, there is complete transparency for all plays called by an umpire.

3) The action is constant, but not too constant. The name of the game is consistency. There is no play clock because the game doesn't stop. You have enough time between innings to switch sides, but the gameplay is continuous. Umpire's regulate time at the mound, batters getting out of the batters box, etc. I know MANY football fans that would rather watch football at home on their HD Tivo's so they can forward timeouts. Baseball is good on TV, but it is best live because of the living atmosphere of the park (except Yankee Stadium... where you feel like you're going to get stabbed if you go out for a hot dog).

4) Every position is a "skill position." In football there are several "skill positions" (the positions that throw, run, or catch the ball). This implies that the rest of the team are playing unskilled positions. In baseball, all positions are skill positions. I would argue that baseball has the most talent per team than any major sport. Not only are these guys amazing fielders, but they each have to go out and hit against guys throwing 95+ mph balls at them. Every player on every team has had to fight through (or to stay out of) the brutal MLB farm system, which creates an environment where every single player on a MLB roster is an excellent player.

5) The feel of the gameplay is natural to most people. The game just makes sense. The general game is simple enough that a first time watcher can pick it up in no time, but the intricacies of the sport can keep the greatest statistician entertained. True blue baseball fans can delve as far down the rabit hole as theyd like into squeeze and suicide plays, bunts, batting counts, hit & runs, pitch outs, splitters, knucklers, short field, the shift, cut-off men, pickles, hitting signals, southpaws, submarine pitchers, on base percentages, and batting averages. However, the beauty of baseball is that at the end of the day, it's as simple as swinging a bat at a ball and getting around the bases to score. Everyone can enjoy it.

Part 2 to come...

11.10.2008

Dolphinsbarn.

Hello blogging friends,

I wanted to say thanks to Mark and Melanie for asking me to invade their blog today (and for posting such a nice picture of my nasal passages). What's up with the Smiths? is (by far) one of my favorite blogs to surf, so I'm flattered and excited to write along side these guys.

I'm going to treat this like it's my blog, so I'll be posting here throughout the day. Hopefully, you'll find something interesting. If you don't, well, sorry. I only ever make one blogging promise: not good, never boring.

Introducing......

We've decided to try something new here on the blog. Introducing our newest feature, guest bloggers. Jeff from http://www.dolphinsbarn.blogspot.com/ will be providing a post(s) over the next day or two.


We chose Jeff first for this feature, because he is an active blogger and always entertaining. I highly recommend you check out his blog, despite the strange name. Everytime I see the name I think of this:

So keep checking back and enjoy this feature. If this works well than others may have the unique opportunity of blogging on this critically acclaimed site. Stay tuned.

11.08.2008

Please Do Not Adjust Your Screen

I'm thinking about saying "Bah Humbug" to Christmas this year. I know it's not even Thanksgiving here in the US, but the Christmas season is well under way. From snowflakes falling to stores playing holiday jingles...it is quickly sneaking up on everyone. My reason for saying "BH" this year are many and varied; from being a single income family now to the crabby people you meet in the stores, and everything in between.
I love Christmas; I love the real reason for the holiday, family, buying gifts for people, decorating, LIVE Christmas trees, stockings, cookies, nanaimo bars, eggnog, Christmas cards, the Rockettes Christmas show, snow, just about everything - except for it being over. I always want to put up the decorations as soon as possible, but have somewhat begrudgingly agreed to wait until Thanksgiving has finished (one more reason I love Canada - Thanksgiving in October!!). Christmas shopping is always fun for me, but I usually make myself wait until the end of November to start or I will buy way too much and spend way too much money.
For some reason this year, or maybe it's just today, I sort of don't care. One might think I would be extra excited this year now that T has joined us, but she is too little to really know what is going on or get excited...and let's face it, there's not a whole lot of awesome toys out there for kids under the age of 6 months. I am sure next Christmas will be more fun with her, not that this year won't, but hey, if you've got to scrimp on a kids Christmas, now is the chance to do it, right? She won't even remember to be mad at us when she doesn't get a lot of gifts or that life sized pony, Buttercup, or Butterscotch, or whatever it's called.
Being out today for an hour and a half really took any holiday excitement I had and popped it like a balloon. I pulled into the parking lot and was amazed at all of the cars already parked and those circling trying to find somewhere to park. I thought it looked more like 2 weeks until Christmas, not 7 weeks until Christmas. As I went into the first store I began to notice what I detest most about Christmas - the people. I know, not a very Christlike, or Christmas like attitude to have, but when it seems that everyone is vying for the title of Mr/Mrs/Ms Rude of the year, it makes it hard to enjoy the shopping process. No one says excuse me, they look at you like you just ran over their dog if you try to pass them, even when they run into you they act as if it is your fault. Now, I am not expecting people to bow and step out of my way as we approach, but maybe if you see me trying to exit out of the doors with my stroller wheel caught on one door and the stroller handle caught on another..maybe, just maybe you could give me a hand (or at least offer), instead of walking by us to another door because we're slowing you up.
Maybe this year I will park Christmas at the door and let others battle it out for the last "item of the moment" on the shelf, and I'll just sit on my couch in my pj's, drinking egg nog, eating nanaimo bars and watching Rudolph and the Grinch.

11.05.2008

Cross Border Musings

I think we're all glad the election is over...even if we hoped for a different outcome...and in that vein, as I drove back home from my "home and native land", a few things struck me about each country and I wanted to share them with you. I always tell Mark that I can tell when I am in Canada and no longer in the US. The main reason is that there are no billboards for hotels, casinos, pro-life causes, lawyers or anything else along our highways, just speed limits, "Welcome to Wherever" signs (in French and English of course), the occasional dead animal and litter.
The US Custom guards always ask the oddest questions. When we were travelling home last Christmas, the only question the agent posed to us was, "Do you have any Mandarin oranges?", to which we replied no (even though I had really, really wanted to bring some home with me - thanks a lot no citrus over the border rule!!)
A small town is a small town no matter what country you are in. From random signs (We love Canadians - which I found an odd sign since it was in a Canadian town...?) that only locals get, to wild turkeys roaming alongside the highway in Morris...small towns retain their "smalltownness" everywhere you go.
For some odd reason it seems Americans don't know what a washroom is... at least the Americans I have come across anyway. Every time I ask where the washroom is I get met with a blank stare and a "what?"...until I say bathroom or restroom...why is that?
North Dakota has an absurd amount of country music radio stations...does any one place really need more than one? In my opinion there doesn't need to be any, but I know some people like that sort of music, so one should do just fine. ND seems to have about 39575 country stations - way too many.
ND also has a great speed limit...75mph. I don't think anyone passed me for the entire 4 or so hours I drove through that state, and I was doing just shy of 80. Once I crossed into MN and the limit drops to 70 (I do just under 75) I think every other car on the road passed me!! I guess Minnesotans must love to speed.
Gas is still ridiculously expensive in Canada. Expensive enough that I fill up just before crossing the border and not again until I come home...thank you Manvel, ND for having a gas station so that I didn't have to park my car on the side of the highway and walk to Grand Forks with a 5 month old in her car seat!!
Sometimes when you visit stores or restaurants in other countries, they change to suit their locations, but it is nice to know that, like the church, Wal-Mart is the same where ever you go...always retaining that little bit of trashiness that brings you the comfort of knowing you are at Wal-Mart.
For some reason Canadian cable channels feel it is necessary to carry US channels in Canada, so I was privy to 3 different states (MN, MI and WA) and their political ads. Canada had an election last month (albeit to the lowest voter turnout in many, many years) that was called on September 7 and was held October 14th. Started and ended in just over a month...now that's the way to hold an election!
And whether or not Canadian cuisine exists (find me one person who has dined on the exquisite poutine and they will tell you it does!!) there is nothing like being able to go to Safeway and pick up all the Habitant pea soup, pierogies, Canadian mint bars, and caffeine free Mountain Dew!! O Canada!! How I love thee!

Pain

"I will move away from here.
You won't be afraid of fear.
No thought was put into this.
Always knew it would come to this.
Things have never been so swell,
I have never failed to fail."

I will have heroin and shotguns available for those who are as depressed as I am.

11.03.2008