Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Downhill Side

When I was a kid people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would answer that I didn't want to grow up. I loved being a kid and staying a kid was just fine by me, thank you very much. Well, time doesn't listen to a kid and it continues to march on. Teenage years come, then go. Twenties happen and youth is embraced. Too soon your twenties fade and you approach the first major milestone of adulthood: the big 3-0!

Turning thirty wasn't traumatic for me as it is for others. I think I took it in stride and lived like I was still young. However, something significant happens when you turn 31 and leave 30 to enter your "thirties". I was unprepared for the implications of such old age.

This thirty-something Peter Pan received a magazine in the mail shortly after turning thirty-one. It was entitled Living Well - A Health & Lifestlye Magazine for Thriving Adults. My first thought was, "I must have arrived, I am apparently a 'thriving adult'." I opened the magazine and the first thing I saw was an ad for dental implants. A cursory check of my mouth revealed that I, despite my advanced age, have retained all my original teeth. Whew!

When I turned the page and saw an ad for a walk-in tub my eyebrow lifted and my suspicion grew. What kind of magazine was this?! Giving it the benefit of the doubt, I kept reading. A few pages later an ad for the Salt Lake Senior Clinic occupied an entire page. Okay, now something was fishy - this wasn't a magazine for thriving thirty-somethings, this was a magazine for the geriatric! Was thirty-one really the new sixty? It seemed so.

With each new ad and article it became very clear that someone somewhere thought I was old. Very, very old. Ads for in-home personal care, health care, hearing aids, retirement communities, estate planning and others made my wife and I laugh but one put us over the top:
a funeral planner!

This Peter Pan may have grown up (and may, or may not, have lost some hair) but if I have anything to do with it, and I think I do, I won't be needing any of these services for a long time. At least until I hit thirty-two...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lazy days...

Our nation is built on the principle of work. Immigrants would flock to America and ply their trade, hoping for a better life than the one they left behind. Unfortunately, that ethic is bring lost on today's generation. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a lazy person by nature. I try and combat it by working hard, but when it comes right down to it - I'm lazy. For example, I should be doing homework right now instead of writing a nonsensical blog post about laziness yet I find myself tinkering around doing nothing. As of late, though, I haven't had the opportunity to be lazy, what with work, school and now being engaged, I just haven't had the time to be lazy. How sad is that?

I take comfort in knowing that I'm not alone in my laziness. Our country, it seems, is becoming more and more lazy. I'm sure there are some stats out there that support my assumption, but I'm just not feeling like looking it up right now.

Accompanying laziness is a sedentary lifestyle. This can lead to health problems for some people because food intake doesn't usually decrease when activity does. I'm not a doctor, but it would seem to me that the food has to go somewhere and if you're not burning it up, it probably stays with you. Additionally, lazy people don't usually take the time to prepare meals and as such eat very unhealthy.

Indeed, the problems of laziness and unhealthy eating appear, in some cases, to go hand-in-hand and are leading to the decline of our once-great nation. Fortunately, there are people and organizations that are fighting this epidemic. And no, I'm not talking about the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the American Heart Association, or even the National Institute on Health.

Grocery stores, like Albertson's, and Smith's, are increasingly finding themselves on the front lines in the fight against laziness. How is this possible, you ask? People have been walking through markets for centuries selecting food and other commodities, how is today any different?

Have you seen, in most grocery stores, the self-checkout machines popping up? They're inspiring the re-birth of the American values of work and independence by sloughing their checkout responsibilities onto the lazy citizens of this country and allowing you to scan and bag your own Twinkies. Very innovative.

Now if I can just figure out how that's going to help me finish this post, I'll be set. Oh well... I'll get around to it later.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Move

I get asked all the time for relationship advice from my single friends, and it makes complete sense - a nearly 30 year old single LDS guy in Utah must have all the answers, right?

While many things with dating and courtship have remained the same over the years, science has shown, as a result of careful study and investigation, dating is changing. Judging by the number of dating books in your local Barnes & Noble, dating has been analyzed and poked and prodded until almost everything that can be known about it is known, and published. That is not to say, however, that women have been explained; even science has its limitations.

For generations, guys have been trying to woo the fairer sex, with varying levels of success. Because these attempts have been going on for so long, there are some standard practices that have been passed down from generation to generation among the menfolk. One of these practices is known affectionately as "The Move".

I believe most people are, at least cognitively, familiar with this technique, but for those who may not be, please allow me to explain. Scientifically speaking, The Move is a time-tested, battle-proven technique whereby a male, sitting adjacent to a female, pretends to stretch his arm behind the female and somehow, magically almost, it lands on the opposite side of the female, effectively positioned to induce a proximity narrowing position. Stated simply, it's an easy way for a guy to get his arm around a girl.

This move, while highly effective, is not without its failures. Most females are so familiar with The Move that they can see it coming a mile away. This isn't a problem; there are two possible outcomes when executing The Move: success and failure. Built into The Move is a failure prevention technique. If the guy senses that the girl is set to reject The Move, he can easily bring his arm back to its original resting place and shrug off the attempt as a legitimate stretch, thereby saving face and avoiding possible embarrassment.

The Move can be implemented in many situations, but is traditionally found in movie theaters where the dim lighting and the soothing THX surround sound system creates an environment ripe for wooing. Unfortunately, the scientific studies mentioned previously have not, to my knowledge, performed any scientific inquiry into the success rate of The Move in theaters. If they had they would have discovered that the attempt rate of The Move has dropped off drastically in movie theaters across the nation - something science had not considered.

What is the cause of this drop off? The answer is simple: the anti-Move arm rest. Most theaters now attempt to accommodate those brave lads who try to pull The Move by making their arm rests movable. They can go up, or go down. In the "up" position it allows the guy an easy attempt at The Move. Not only is access improved, but there is a little pad between the seats to further accommodate a successful Move by making the two seats become one large, comfortable seat.

However, these very same arm rests have prevented many a Move. Generally, upon entering the theater, the arm rests are found in the "up" position - the perfect setup. When things go awry is when your company for the evening moves the arm rest into the "down" position - effectively communicating "that is your space and this is mine and never the twain shall meet." The Move has met its match.

When you're in a theater and you see that bad boy come down, know that you don't have a play. It's time to just sit back and enjoy the show.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Duck, duck...GOOSE!

In response to an invasion by American forces led by John Candy, our not-so-friendly neighbor to the north, Canada, has launched an air strike on the citizenry of the United States - namely this citizen.

I narrowly escaped becoming a casualty of this tense conflict yesterday, avoiding what would surely have been an international incident. What follows is a harrowing tale of timing, fortune and sheer dumb luck. The following is intended for mature audiences only - viewer discretion is advised.

I was returning to my apartment home in the waning twilight of the day when I heard a sound that chilled my soul and made my blood run cold. It was the ominous honking of the Canadian Goose. No sooner did I hear the honking than I saw a great formation of geese appear over the rise. The cloud of geese blocked out what little light was remaining.

I instantly felt the fear those feel who view their mortality in a split-second video played before their eyes. I quickly snapped out of it, however, and did what any man in my situation would do: I ran for cover.

I reached the protective covering of my porch and turned around to witness carnage never meant for human eyes. In the very spot I was standing previously I witnessed a precision guided smart-bomb explode with unparalleled viciousness and a resounding "SPLAT!". Mercifully, I was spared a fate worse than death.

Remember, when you hear the honk, don't be brave and don't be a hero, just get yourself under something real quick. Those Canucks are crazy, eh!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas or Clausmas?

Bear with me folks, this is a long one. It took me some time to put it together, so if you’re going to read it, I would appreciate it if you read it all the way through.

It’s difficult for me to accurately express my feelings about Christmas. There are some things about Christmas that I absolutely love and there are things about Christmas that I really don’t like much. It’s always an interesting time for me as I try to manage the sometimes conflicting feelings I have about the season. If you’ll indulge me for a while I’ll try to explore my thoughts and feelings about the season and maybe it’ll end up making some sort of sense.

I'd like to end on a positive note, so let’s start with the reasons why I don’t like Christmas.

I don’t like how Christmas has become a very commercial holiday; it seems the only reason Christmas exists is so the the corporate world can make a buck. I was in a Wal-Mart store before Halloween and there were Christmas trees, angels, colored balls, tinsel, lights, Santa Clauses (or is it Santa Clausi?), and decorations of every sort and size. Perhaps I’m just a na├»ve shopper, but I was really taken aback by this - it seems Christmas goes on sale earlier every year. In the not-too-distant future, we may be seeing Santa Claus in the mall on the 4th of July.

Kids make a list of the things they want for Christmas, listing such things as iPods, Nintendos, cell phones, DVD’s, toys, etc. They sit on Santa’s lap and recite the list to him hoping and expecting to receive the things they request. This attitude of "gimme, gimme!" is pervasive and dominates the Christmas season. Do I blame the children for this? Absolutely not. Do I blame the parents? I think they may share some responsibility for this, but honestly I don’t know who to blame, nor do I know that it’s important that someone receive blame for this. It’s just something I don’t like. On a day we commemorate the greatest gift we, as children of God, have received the only thing people think about are bicycles, Barbies, movies, and what “I’m going to get for Christmas”. It’s disheartening to see.

Santa Claus plays a big role in all of this. The jolly old elf who slides down chimneys, rides in a sleigh pulled by tiny reindeer, checks a list twice that he maintains of every child in the world before he goes on his worldwide whirlwind journey has become a symbol of everything I dislike about Christmas, which is unfortunate really, given the history of Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas. According to Wikipedia, St. Nick was the “primary inspiration for the Christian figure of Santa Claus.” Apparently, he was well known for giving gifts to the poor – definitely a noteworthy and laudable practice.

I don’t dislike Santa Claus for the history behind the legend, for his tradition of distributing gifts or even for the fabricated story of his existence. In fact, I don't actually have a problem with Santa Claus himself. The problem I have is that Santa Claus has become the central figure of Christmas.

Christmas is not the celebration of a fat man in a red suit. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world – the Lord Jesus Christ. Even with the benevolent background of St. Nicholas, there really is no comparison between the two. Santa Claus’ supplanting of Christ as the central figure of Christmas is really what is at the root of my distaste for what the holiday has become.

A poem, by an author unknown to me, encapsulates my thoughts on this:

At Christmas time there was a man
who looked so out of place
as people rushed about him
at a hurried sort of pace.

He stared at all the Christmas lights,
the tinsel everywhere,
the shopping center Santa Claus
with children gathered near.

The mall was packed with shoppers
who were going to and fro,
some with smiles, some with frowns,
and some too tired to go.

They rested on benches
or they hurried on their way
to fight the crowds for purchases
to carry home that day.

The music from the stereo
was playing loud and clear
of Santa Claus and snowmen
and funny nosed reindeer.

He heard the people talk about
the good times on the way,
of parties, fun and food galore,
and gift exchange that day.

"I'd like to know what's going on,"
the man was heard to say.
"There seems to be some sort
of celebration on the way.

And would you tell me who this is
all dressed in red and white
and why are children asking him
about a special night?"

The answer came in disbelief,
"I can't believe my ear.
I can't believe you do not know,
that Christmas time is here.

The time when Santa comes around
with gifts for girls and boys
when they are asleep on Christmas Eve,
he leaves them books and toys.

The man you see in red and white
is Santa Claus so sly.
The children love his joyful laugh,
and twinkle in his eye.

His gift packed sleigh is pulled along
by very small reindeer
as he flies quickly through the air,
while darting here and there.

The children learn of Santa Claus
while they are still quite small.
When Christmas comes he is the most
important one of all."

The stranger hung His head in shame,
He closed a nail pierced hand.
His body shook in disbelief.
He did not understand.

A shadow crossed His stricken face,
His voice was low but clear.
"After all these years they still don't know."
And Jesus shed a tear.

Christmas is the time we celebrate the birth of the Only Begotten of the Father, the One who came to save us from our sins. He condescended to become like us so we could become like Him. As has been said by His duly ordained Prophet and Apostles, “God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.”

The greatest of all was born in a lowly stable and wrapped in swaddling clothes. Angels heralded His arrival, a new star announced His birth, wise men traveled from afar to present Him with gifts, shepherds left their flocks to worship Him. The King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the great Jehovah was come.

Herein lays the true reason for the season. Above all the sparkling lights, the wrapping paper, the reindeer and elves, and all the hubbub that accompanies the holiday, we should celebrate Christ and His birth. Let us teach our children that Christ is the center of Christmas and all the other traditions or celebrations are secondary to Christ.

This time of year, please consider the things that truly matter and it’s not Santa Claus or presents under a tree, it's not stockings hung by the chimney with care or sugar plums dancing in your head. The things that matter are family, friends, goodwill, love and kindness. These are the things that mattered to Christ when He walked the earth and those are the very same things that matter to Him now and are the same things He would have matter to us as well. Please share that love with the people around you.

Remember what the Grinch said in Dr. Seuss' famous story, after the Grinch had stolen the presents, packages, food and all the trappings of Christmas:

"It came without ribbons, it came without tags,
It came without packages, boxes or bags.

And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before...

"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store.
Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more."

Merry Christmas and God bless you my friends – may you be happy and loved this season and throughout the year!

Adapted from my Christmas post last year.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sock it to me!

You may be wondering where I've been because I haven't posted any fresh material for a while...or you may be asking, "Who is this guy and why does he think we care about the drivel he puts out in cyberspace?" I have an answer for you: you're obviously still reading, so, small as it may be, this means something to you. Take that.

I've been involved in a very important project - scientific research. No, I was not abducted by extraterrestrials, nor was I selected for top secret government work at a remote Nevada airbase. Rather, I designed, conducted and analyzed this research myself. In my bedroom. With no government grants, either.

You're probably dying of curiosity right now, just itching to know what could be so important that it would consume a portion of my precious time and attention, and now a portion of yours. I'll tell you: socks. Yes, those socks - the very same as the kind you (hopefully) put on your feet.

Haven't you ever wondered why some of your socks come out of the wash inside out, or even balled up? I have. A lot. I've decided to get some definitive answers to this perplexing modern conundrum, so I did what any reasonable person does: I googled "inside-out socks" and hoped for an informative Wikipedia site. Unfortunately, apparently none exist. This is obviously new scientific territory.

With this in mind, I set out to get to the bottom of the sock mystery, even if it meant doing actual work. "Fascinating" does not even begin to describe the results of my exhaustive research efforts; no, there are many other words that more accurately describe my findings, words which we shall not mention in this post.

To begin, I had to design the experiment. I used a highly specialized process and employed techniques you probably wouldn't understand even if I explained them twice and used small words. That won't stop me from trying to relay to you my method, so I will explain it thusly: I sorted my laundry - and what a painstaking process it was. Not only did I have to divide my laundry according to color (in our modern day and age, how can one feel right about segregation in any form?!), but I had to make sure all my socks were right-side-out (so if any switched to inside-out I would know. I didn't want mixed inside-out and right-side-out because then there would be no way of controlling for potential switching - this is a scientific study, after all) and counted before they went into the machine.

I've never had to do this before (count socks, I mean; I sort my laundry - I'm no Neanderthal) and it was an enlightening experience. I learned from the outset that the reason that sometimes I have an odd number of socks coming out of the laundry is because sometimes I have an odd number going in. I have effectively, and unintentionally, debunked the myth of the dryer-sock-eating-monster. It was encouraging to me to see such progress at the very onset of my study.

I had 17 ankle socks and two calf-length socks go into the wash. That's 19 total socks, in case you needed help with the math. I ensured that all socks were right-side-out before going in the wash. After the wash cycle, I discovered that the washer sometimes eats socks as well. I had 17 ankle socks going in, but unfortunately we lost one in the mix somewhere; only 16 made it to the dryer. A moment of silence, please.

Thank you.

Turns out that the sock that went MIA after the wash cycle was never recovered. S/he joined the rest of the socks in sock purgatory where they await something, I'm just not sure what.

I recovered a total of 18 socks - both calf-length socks and the remainder were of the ankle variety. All 18 socks were right-side-out, leading me to believe that one of two things happened: either socks don't go inside-out on their own, or I have intelligent socks. I'm leaning towards the latter.

While this study is far from comprehensive, I believe it lays the foundation of important work and future study.

Where's my Nobel Prize?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I ain't scared!

A phobia is a "persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it." These phobias come in many shapes and sizes. Some are more incapacitating than others.

Topping the list of the ten most phobias is arachnophobia (the fear of spiders), and ophidiophobia (the fear of snakes). Not too much further down the list is cynophobia - the fear of dogs. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a recovering cynophobic. As the saying goes, "time heals all wounds." I know that I'm not a completely recovered cynophobe but I'm working on it. However, there are bigger fish to fry right now.

I also have two lesser known, but equally debilitating, phobias. I don't know that they have names just yet as they are probably off the phobologists' collective radar. Don't laugh...these are things I deal with on a daily basis. I haven't yet developed a complex over them, but I'm convinced that's due solely to my vigilance in protecting myself against these phobias so they don't come to pass.

What are these irrational fears, you ask?

Firstly, I'm afraid that I'll be walking in public with my zipper down. Zipping up becomes such a part of the routine that there are times that you don't think about it at all. It's kind of like when you are driving somewhere familiar and all of a sudden *POOF* you're there and you have no idea how you got there, but yet there you are. When this kind of short-term amnesia is zipper-related, a moment of panic ensues - did I zip up or did I forget..I don't know...I can't remember! Alarm bells ring, my face flushes and I immediately seek a casual way of checking to make sure I'm secure down south. I'm usually able to accomplish this by a subtle belt buckle adjustment. So far I haven't had any issues, that I know of anyway.

My other phobia, coincidentally, involves bathrooms. However, this time it's a place I'm not familiar with that scares me - the women's bathroom. Sometimes when you're in a public place and in a hurry to answer nature's call you just rush into the nearest restroom. Like driving and zipping up, this can be an autopilot occurrence. Sometimes I don't check the signs well enough as I'm walking in. There is a split second of sheer horror as I realize that I may have just walked cavalier-like into the women's restroom. I wait for the inevitable screaming, but it doesn't come. There's a urinal. Ahhh...I picked the right door. I've been lucky so far, but one day, unavoidably, I fear I will pick the wrong door and have to deal with the consequences of it.

They say the best way to overcome a fear is to face it head on, so if you see me with my zipper down heading into the women's restroom, just pat me on the back, wish me well, praise me for my courage and know that I'm confronting my fear.