Labels

It seems like every week I get a solicitation in the mail from some charity group, usually accompanied by a sheet or two of address labels. Apparently the thinking is that this is a useful gift that will make me so appreciative that I immediately grab my checkbook and fire off a large check. It makes a lot of sense………except for two things.

First, in the age of the internet, people are increasingly sending emails instead of letters, and paying bills online instead of mailing checks. Second, unless these groups never venture out of their offices, don’t they notice that every other charity on the planet is also sending me address labels? How many letters and bills do they think I mail, and just what exactly am I supposed to do with hundreds of labels? Save them on the off chance the post office will still be there when I emerge from the fallout shelter after Armaggedon?

After some thought, I’ve come up with some ideas on what we can do with all those labels, and what the charities could send out instead.

NEW USES FOR LABELS:

Paste them on the forehead of your wayward spouse to reduce the chances of them cheating. No need to sneak a peek at the left hand to check for rings, or inch closer to look for the telltale white band where a ring sat a few hours earlier. Just a quick glance at the forehead and you’re done.

Paste them on wedding gifts you send, so they can be more easily identified and returned when the couple breaks up. For added entertainment, the stickers could have a time release glue formula, so that after 1 year, 3 years, or 7 years, the sticker would pop open to reveal a “We bet you’d break up in 2021” (or whatever year you picked). If you guessed the correct year of the breakup, you’d get your gift returned and collect the pot of money.

Paste them on the nearest telephone pole, mailbox, or table at Dennys. Just to mark your territory, like Fido does.

Require donors to paste their sticker on the politician they buy, so the rest of us can figure out who’s beholden to who.

Paste them on the bumper of any fancy sports car you see. If the owner ever can’t be found, the first sticker gets dibs on the car.

Paste them on your kids, just before you send the kids off to the address shown on your chain letter. In 7 weeks, you’ll receive a new set of kids. Since we all know kids are better behaved when they’re at someone else’s house, every parent is happy. After a week or two, you repeat the process. More advanced users will be able to swap spouses and in-laws via the chain, as well as Aunt Mabel’s holiday fruitcake.

WHAT SHOULD THE CHARITIES SEND OUT INSTEAD OF STAMPS?

Since advertising is targeted to certain customers, the charities could do some targeting themselves. Send an attractive young man/woman and a bottle of champagne to the single folk, a new saw to the home improvement guy, a new pet to someone else, and some Ben and Jerry’s to the girl who just got dumped. Almost anything’s better than a label.

Early warning systems would be of far greater value. Phone or email alerts to tell us the neighbor is headed over, would be especially appreciated if we’re home in pajamas, unshowered & unshaved, looking like a police mug shot. Or to alert us that the relatives are heading in for visit, our kid’s boyfriend/girlfriend is headed over, or that Jehovah’s Witnesses are in the neighborhood. Another option is an alert ot our car as we drive home, letting us know that the kids/spouse/parents are in a BAD mood, the house is a mess, and the dog/cat just barfed inside the front door.

For those charities working in a foreign country, I’d be much more inclined to donate if my donation resulted in them taking a relative of my choice for a year or so. Preferably to some remote outpost. Preferably one that has no communication and no choice for return. Bonus donations would be given if they take two relatives instead of just one.

Lotto tickets in selected mailers would be a good idea. That would give us an incentive to open them.

If they’re gonna be staying with labels, at least send us somebody else’s labels. They’ll come in handy when we’re sending that obnoxious gift or unwelcome item to our rude boss, irritating co-worker, or despised family member or neighbor. Imagine being able to blame it all on Alice Smith, 114 Locksley Lane, Portland, OR. Just the thing when you want to send your boss the head of a mop, labeling it as “New Hairpiece”. The possibilities are endless………

Malysia Air

I thought the Malaysia Air saga had vanished, but apparently not……

 

8am:

Authorities announce they’ve officially, honestly, really, promise on a stack of bibles, suspended the search for Malaysian Air flight missing since March.

 

9am:

Malaysian officials announce that new evidence points to the flight not heading west of Australia, but in fact heading to mainland China.

 

10 am:

Chinese officials announce that due to NSA hacking into their computers, they did not realize that the missing plane did in fact land in China. They are investigating further.

 

11 am:

Chinese officials announce that the plane was apparently sold to Donald Sterling, the LA Clippers owner, and was taken to the US several weeks ago.

 

12 noon:

Los Angeles officials announce that the missing Malaysian Air plane has been found inside Staples Center, the home arena of the Clippers. They are investigating reports that Donald Sterling was planning on using it to send black fans to the newly opened Clive Bundy Cotton Fields in Nevada.

 

1pm:

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, announces that Russia will help erase the stain of racism in the United States. An agreement is signed between Putin and Sterling, specifying that Russia will trade 50,000 Ukrainians for 50,000 blacks.

 

2pm:

Nigeria announces it actually has the missing plane, and is willing to sell it for $750,000. Due to unfortunate complications, buyers are asked to wire $250,000 to Nigeria as a good faith down payment, and promise that the plane will be delivered within 48 hours.

 

3pm:

North Korea says that it has the plane within missile range, and will blow it up later tonight unless the US and other governments agree to send 10 million dollars in foreign aid by Friday.

 

4pm:

Google announces that the plane in LA is merely a holographic image, derived in part from a 3 story high version of Google Glass. In a slap at Apple, Google announces that they will now offer iPlane, a 3D virtual plane ride with Google Glass.

 

5pm:

In an embarrassing press conference, Los Angeles officials admit that the missing plane has been stolen. “We turned our backs for a few minutes to make some phone calls, and when we returned, it was gone”. Rumors swirl that the plane will get new hydraulic lift shocks, oversize rims, and a stereo system upgrade at East LA chop shop.

 

6pm:

ABC denies stealing the plane for a new season of Lost.

 

7pm:

California activates its statewide Amber Alert system, ask motorists to call 911 immediately if they

happen to see a Boeing 777 motoring down the freeway.

 

8pm:

US Customs and Border Security announces the 777 has been seized in the interest of National Security. They deny reports that Homeland Security officials are circulating among illegal immigrants in detention centers in Texas, offering free airline tickets to Malaysia.

 

9pm:

Brazilian officials announce that the 777 will be used in the World Cup closing ceremony, as skydiving soccer players play a 3D soccer game using a specially outfitted ball, as they parachute toward the main stadium.

 

 

 

Bikes

Walking down the street today, I saw a bicyclist blow through a red light while making a right turn at high speed, completely ignoring a police car that was just getting into the intersection. Crazy and stupid. However, the cops continued on their way and he got away with it. No wonder why there are so many traffic accidents. Anyway, it got me thinking about bikes. Whether motorized or pedal, there’s something cool about being on a bike. Whether it’s the wind in your face, the sense of independance and freedom, or the excitement at exploring new worlds, it makes a bike ride something special.

 

It starts off with your first bike, and of course, a set of training wheels. Once you master the basics, the next immediate goal is to get rid of those training wheels. All the kids, especially us boys, knew that training wheels were for babies & sissies. Being seen in public using them was like walking around in your diaper, sucking on a pacifier. Acute embarrassment for a 3 or 4 year old, as we wanted to tell the world we were BIG boys now. So after more than a few “Dad run behind us and get us started” launches, our crash rate finally reached zero and it was a quick transition to normal bikes.

 

Once you had a bike, then there important science experiments to perform, such as seeing how fast you could go. My brother and I had very basic cheap 1-speed bikes when we started out, probably something similar to a $10 Walmart special. Red and white, as I remember. One day, a group of neighborhood kids were hanging out and decided to do the speed test. The subdivision had a few hills, and we went up one of the shallower ones. As it came to my turn, I pushed off, pedaling as fast as I could. Then it was time to coast, as I reached warp speed.

 

Warp might be a good description after all, as the handlebars and front wheel started to shake violently back and forth, and it was all I could do to hang on and stay upright. Braking was out of the question, as I was frozen in the moment. Apparently I had now reached the appropriately described terminal velocity, one of nature’s tools to help cull the herd. The bike apparently had a mind of its own, and was proceeding down the hill in a straight line at that point. As I looked ahead I saw the bike was headed directly for a corner curb………… DIRECTLY…….. It was as if the corner had a bullseye on it and I was a dart headed straight to the center. I remember thinking that turning might be a good idea at that point, but getting that thought transferred to my shaking arms was easier said than done. Impact was a a few seconds later, followed by Launch, as both the bike and I went head over heels.

 

I think I got walloped pretty good. I remember a friend’s dad coming over to pick me up off the concrete, making sure all my body parts were intact, then walking me a few houses to home. From what I remember, the bleeding was not too bad, and I kept all my teeth. A successful mission! Even though it was pretty scary, I have to admit it was also sorta cool.

 

A few years later, we had ditched our kiddie bikes to ride with the big boys. Yep, 2 speed Schwinn bikes with…………..drum roll please………banana seats. I kept my bike relatively normal, sometimes adding playing cards to the spokes. I loved the sound those made. My brother spray painted his seat purple and put in green sissy bars on his seat, making it more like a chopper. He always was one for making his own way a little different. The bikes changed gears when you braked with the pedals, rather than have any gear shifter on the handlebars. A good idea in theory. However, when you were going fast, braked a little, and went to pedal hard, you’d sometimes find yourself in low gear suddenly. Your legs and the pedals would be going crazy round and round, with your feet flying off the pedals. If you were crouched up a bit, you could land hard on the seat and smash the family jewels. Not a good feeling.

 

It was about the same time that “popping a wheelie” became popular as well. There were some kids who were masters of this skill, and could ride 50 or 100 feet with a wheelie. Then there were the rest of us. My wheelie attempts were pitiful, as I yanked back on the handlebars only to see the front tire rise up an inch or two off of the ground. Catcalls from the peanut gallery only added to my embarrassment. So then, determined to save face, I’d try another time with as much force as I could. No inch or two this time. No, this time the front wheel rose high up in the sky, and I celebrated my glory for a split second. In that moment, I was a giant among pygmies, an eight year old Evil Knievel. Alas, the glory was short lived, as I then fell on my butt behind the bike, with the bike crashing over me a few seconds later. Humiliation had made a quick visit again…..On the positive side, this provided endless amusement to the other kids watching as they laughed their asses off.

 

 

A Lunch For the Heart

Some years ago (maybe 5 to 10), I found myself ordering a dish of pad see ew (noodles, chicken, broccoli, egg) for lunch at the counter of a small Thai eatery. When I opened up my wallet to pay, I saw I only had $2.00. My heart sank. I had forgotten to go by the ATM again. Writing this now, in the age of digital cash, credit cards, debit cards, mobile phone payments, etc, it does sound sort of dated. However, at that time and that place, I don’t think credit cards were an option.

 

Although I wasn’t on my last dime, it felt a little like that. Over the years, occasionally I’ll end up with just a dollar or two in the wallet. Although I don’t do it on purpose, I have to admit that in a perverse way, I kind of like it. You don’t really think about the value of money and economic priorities when you have a wallet full of cash or a well stocked credit card. Handing over money can at times become almost meaningless. That picture changes dramatically when you only have a couple of dollars to spend. It brings me back to my college days and childhood, when every dollar seemed pretty important and you spent some time thinking about what you really really wanted to spend it on (or not spend it on, for that matter). It keeps me humble, and reminds me that a lot of people in this world ARE on their last dollar. Sort of a quick reality check, to remind you that the day’s sometimes petty problems are nothing compared to someone who doesn’t have enough to eat, a place to stay, can’t afford shoes, can’t afford medical care, etc.

 

So as I stood at the counter looking down at the two dollar bills in my wallet, I felt like a complete idiot. I was also pretty embarrassed that I had not checked the wallet before ordering, and had wasted the counter guy’s time. I looked slowly up at him, and told him that I was sorry, that I only had two dollars and would have to cancel the order. I half expected him to get mad at me and tell me what a fool I was. Instead, he merely smiled, and said that $2 was fine and I could pay him back in the future.

 

As I walked over to a table and sat down, I remember feeling grateful that he would do something like that. He didn’t know me from Adam, and he might never see that money again. A big corporation might not miss a dollar or two, but many of these small food shops are not rolling in the dough, and every dollar is important. Sort of like how I felt with my $2. So I took a blue paper menu with me as I left, and I vowed to myself that I would repay him some day.

 

Although I’m a little ashamed to admit it, that menu has been sitting in a pile of papers ever since. First it was a few months, then a few years. Once in awhile I’d come across it and say “Oh yeah, I should go back there.” Yet something else would always seems to come up. As the years passed, there were times I’d think about maybe just tossing it in the trash and forgetting about it, since it was so long ago. Yet I could never bring myself to throw it away. I’d see it and feel a little twinge in my conscience, reminding me of the generosity I’d been shown and the debt that was still unpaid. This past weekend, I just got the feeling it was time to set things right.

 

So last week, it worked out that I had some extra time to make a bit of a detour, and pop in for lunch. I drove up the street, not even sure the place was still there. I remember questioning myself as well, wondering if I was doing the right thing or being a complete idiot. Sort of felt like a scene from the movies where the main character is returning home to see someone again after 20 or 30 years and wondering if they’d be welcomed with open arms or anger or indifference. I have to admit I’d feel even worse if I found out they closed and I could do nothing more.

 

As luck would have it, they were still there, so I stopped and went in. They had re-arranged things a little but I still remembered it. I ordered one of the lunch specials, then gave the lady at the counter a $20 and told her to keep the change. I figured a $13 pay back for a $3 gift was fair. I handed her the worn and slightly tattered blue paper menu, and told her my story. She got a huge smile on her face, and told me that the menu was from about 7 years ago, and that the man behind the register at that time was her husband. Now I was the one with the huge smile on my face, and I was thrilled to be able to repay the good deed. It made me smile even more when I heard her telling the cook about it in Thai. Even though I couldn’t understand a word, I heard the excitement and happiness in her voice and saw the cook beaming in the kitchen area. It was music to my eyes and ears.

 

The one down note was that her husband was not at the restaurant today. I would have loved to meet him face to face, shake his hand and say a heartfelt “thank you”. As I left after lunch, I asked her to please tell her husband thanks from me.

 

Walking out the door of the restaurant, I had a smile on my face, a lightness in my step, and feeling of being at peace with the world. It felt wonderful to repay the gift of kindness.

 

 

 

The Poopie Post

At times I have plans of making this blog a home for thoughtful, compassionate, insightful posts with a lasting impact. This is apparently not one of those times. Right now, my brain is thinking poopie. Yes, number 2 is now number 1 in my mind. Needless to say, the Pulitzer Prize is not showing up in my mailbox anytime soon.

 

One of my earliest memories of this subject was when I was 1 or 2. Maybe even 3, as my memory is a bit fuzzy that far back. One of my aunts had my brother and I in the bathtub, giving us a bath. I was in front, and he was behind me. I remember looking down, and watching with some amazement as a brown log floated slowly between my legs and toward the front of the tub. I was thinking, “Hey, that’s pretty cool”, and I’m sure I could have watched it for hours, fascinated. Just like a leaf floating lazily down a peaceful river. I knew it was mine, so I assume I understood what part I had in delivering this fine work of art to an appreciative audience.

 

Or at least some of the audience was appreciative. Don’t remember my brother being very bothered by the whole thing. My aunt, well, that was a different story. Don’t think she got extremely upset, but I have a slight hunch that she doesn’t remember that incident with the same fondness as me. Which is not too surprising. I think it makes a big difference whether the poopie is yours or not. I have to admit, if I visit a port-a-potty and see what others leave behind, it’s gross out city. I want to leave the stall immediately and will only add to the community offering pile if there are absolutely no other options available.

 

On the other hand, if I’m on the john and stand up afterwards, sometimes I’m tempted to admire my handiwork. Like a wine connoisseur commenting on the bouquet and fragrance of the wine, I make mental notes on the color, size, shape and form of my artwork. Sometimes it’s all jumbled up, and sometimes you have a beautiful swirl like a soft serve ice cream cone. I’m almost tempted to pat myself on the back, until I remember I’ve got a tissue in hand.

 

Which brings me to another thought. Have you ever been in a toilet stall, wiped your windshield, then had the paper slip from your hand and float gently to the ground instead of to the bowl? Odds are high that if this does happen, there will be someone in the stall next to you. “Excuse me, can you pass the grey Poupon” is not part of the conversation. As you both see this thing settle on the floor, both of you are thinking the same thing……”Oh Shit!”……. They’re scrambling to move their feet away as quick as they can, and you’re trying to bend down with your pants around your ankles and butt still hovering over the bowl, as you hope to God you can reach the tissue without falling over. Most stall neighbors would consider it slightly unnerving to suddenly find a half naked human diving into their stall while screaming “shit……” Their only answer would be “I believe it is.”

 

A Modest Proposal

Looking around at all the mayhem in this world, it is clear that a drastic solution is needed. The number of wars is far too large, and the amount of violence in the world right now gives pause to any normal person. There is way too much death, misery, and sorrow. After much review, it appears the common denominator is men. The wars, the violence,….. seem to be largely the domain of males.

 

Therefore, I believe the best solution to this problem is that we neuter all males. I propose we do this worldwide, without delay. My reasons are as follows:

 

With the current medical advances in stem cell therapy and in vitro fertilization, reproduction could easily be accomplished in a doctor’s office or clinic. No need for women to ask “Is it in yet?” or to put up with “Five Second Fred” (if you know what I mean, and ladies, I think you do). Cuddling and spooning would once again be added to the male vocabulary.

 

As to women giving up some pleasure, there’s no risk of that. Seeing the size of the potential market, the high tech industry will erect a massive research infrastructure to develop better toys and devices, allowing women to choose whether their big O is “relaxing waves of pleasure”, “a bolt of lightning”, or “I think my uterus just shot off to Mars”. Bob’s Big Boy will no longer just refer to a hamburger chain.

 

Wars, in the rare case where they would occur, would be limited to once a month for a couple of days. Fought mostly by women, bullets and bombs will be replaced by scratching, hair pulling, and judged contests involving catty remarks about clothes and shoes.

 

Conservatives would be happy that men would no longer prey on men and boys, and liberals would be happy that men would no longer prey on women and girls. Family pets would be thrilled, as thoughts run through their head of “How do ya like THAT, big fella? Now you know how I feel.”

 

The restaurant industry would be transformed with a new wave of Rocky Mountain Oysters, Alabama Apples, Georgia Grapefruits, and Pennsylvania Pebbles. Even Boulder, Colorado would get into the act with a new city mascot and flag.

 

It would be brave new world out there, with some actual hope for the future. A few snips here, a few snips there, now you’ll need some new underwear (thus stimulating the economy). Let’s first attack the low hanging fruit as we ride the cutting edge of civic improvement!