Deficit Spending

My children should be allowed to enter this world with no debt. They owe nothing. They might not have much, but they owe nothing.

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O Tannenbaum

When I was a kid, nothing was more significant than the rising of the Christmas tree. It symbolized a season of imagination, sometimes realized, sometimes not. We enjoy the tree to this day. Mom has the ornaments packed and Dad puts up the tree and lights (eventually, this sometimes includes words not associated with the Christmas spirit, but nonetheless.)

When it is up, we all feel good, because we helped in some way. We’ll adjust and stare at our involvement, but we enjoy. As the presents mount under the tree, our excitement rises. As kids, presents were prominent. As adults, staying up late and displaying what Santa brought was joyous. Yes joyous. Knowing you have kept the flame glowing for another generation is like no other.

Now, we feel the need to say what other’s want to hear. We risk becoming a generic society. I want to hear your views, despite the fact that they are way off base. I may ignore, delete or otherwise make fun of, but I need to hear them.

Finally, stating Christmas or Holiday is not about religion. It is about political correctness. Saying only what your audience wants to hear. For the most part, that describes politics. I, being a kid at heart, say what I mean. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but you have no trouble understanding what I believe.

God rest ye’ merry gentlemen, is a song I love. I sang/played for each of my children. I made up the 2nd verse to include “5 passengers set sail that day on a 3 hour cruise”. Christmas is a time of year that we can all celebrate. Am I religious, no. Am I trying to offend, no. Am I trying to enjoy a season of good will, yes. “glad tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy…”

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New Jeans

I grabbed a pair of jeans out of my closet this morning. I looked them over, shook my head and threw them in my workout bag. These are a “special” pair of jeans. I was invited to a custom clothing show at a friends house shortly before the holidays. I was looking for a casual shirt. I left with everything but. Four ladies measured, turned, and poked me with reckless abandon. I offered little resistance as I was sorely outnumbered. I ended up buying a dress shirt, a lizard skin belt, the aforementioned jeans, a jacket and the piece de resistance, magnets that go in your collar to keep it down.

My purchases arrived a couple weeks later. The shirt was very nice, nothing I’d ever buy in a store, but very nice. The magnets however kept me occupied for some time. I never knew that many non-button down shirts have little pockets under the collar for just such a device. I have 3 such shirts that I never wore because I looked like a backup singer for Sly and the Family Stone with collar flapping outward. No more wayward collars for me. Finally, I pulled out the jeans. They have a curly q design on the back pockets. They might have bell bottoms, but I’m trying to convince myself otherwise. The color is dark in some areas and faded in others. I shrugged and tried them on. I tugged, stretched and readjusted them several times. They seem to be tight in areas where I prefer a little extra room. I cannot find a way to let them sag properly like all of my other jeans. In other words, I think they may be women’s jeans.

I’m certainly no expert on jeans. I have owned, tried on and worn only 2 brands in 50 years.

I , like many other unfortunate kids, was the target of Sears newest development,  Toughskins. In the 70’s, there was nothing more durable on earth. The old joke of covering the Space Shuttle in Toughskins was probably not far from the truth. Toughskins however, were not the coolest. We tried cutting and scraping and chafing them to no avail. The only way out of a pair of Toughskins was to outgrow them. Eventually I made my way up to Levis where I’ve been ever since. 550’s, red tag, faded, no surprises. Every purchase a winner. No button-fly here. Beer drinking and button fly are incompatible.

Occasionally when I’m at a store looking for a shirt, I start to see a pattern develop. The shirts begin to look foreign and a sick feeling rises from my stomach. “Have I just crossed the boundary into the women’s section?” I make a quick check of the perimeter to make sure I’m not behind enemy lines. If I have wandered into women’s wear, it’s time for an exit strategy. If not, I chalk the shirts up to “designer-wear”, shake my head and move on. My son has a couple of “designer” shirts purchased by his mother. I question him ever so gently. I don’t care if he wants to wear fashion shirts. I just want him to be aware that he is wearing fashion shirts. Kids can be cruel to fashion conscious middle school boys.

I once faced a similar dilemma with a woman’s blouse. I was getting ready for a funeral at Christmas time, but that’s a much longer story. I don’t know if I bought women’s or designer jeans. I’ll bet I could’ve bought around 20 pairs of Toughskins for what I paid. Doesn’t really matter. They’re mine and I’m keeping them. If you see me walking down the street futzing with my jeans, please say something nice about my collar.

Windows Live Tags: Jeans,custom,shirt,ladies,magnets,shirts,bottoms,women

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Technology Moratorium Adventure

Last August I decided to swear off technology as best I could. I had determined that while helping make some things easier, it was also consuming a great deal of my time. Of course I could not eliminate it completely. Online bills to pay, emails requiring attention and a host of other mundane tasks provided a ball and chain.

I hoped to get some things crossed off, make some inroads and have a new found sense accomplishment. I stopped participating in social sites, ignored the news, turned off the TV and rarely checked my cell phone.

Life was good. I read, mostly the classics, like Zen of Zombie, The Underachievers Manifesto, Ben Stein’s How to Ruin Your Life and something about improving self-deprecating sarcasm. I quit drinking, worked out and rarely raised my voice while swearing. Without distractions I discovered there were 24 hours in a day.

Return to the Dark Side. The experiment is now over. I bought a new Windows Phone, Smart 3D TV and started this blog. PBS and TCM are back. Imagine life without 24 hour news, Real Housewives, award shows, Kardashian’s and whatever is on MTV. Life without male enhancement, Nigerian Banks and Free Offer emails. I did for a short while and it was enjoyable, but something was missing. Have to go now, Biggest Loser in 3D and a little blue pill email with my name on it calling. Hopefully I’ll get to ringtones and phone apps this evening.

Windows Live Tags: Technology,Moratorium,Zombie,Underachievers,Manifesto,Stein,sarcasm,Smart,enhancement
WordPress Tags: Technology,Moratorium,Zombie,Underachievers,Manifesto,Stein,sarcasm,Smart,enhancement

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The Kat’s New Phone Adventure

As I mentioned earlier, I upgraded my phone. That left me with a fully functional, idle HTC Tilt 2. Granted, it had Windows 6.5, but it also had a great screen and slide out keyboard. My daughter Katherine asked if she could have it. I figured that was a great idea given the fact that she had this simplistic device that could only dial and answer calls. We used to call it a phone.

This would be like an extra present.

Over the holiday vacation I deleted all my old contacts, calendar items, and all login info that referred to me. I added a few contacts so she could call and text and even installed a couple free games. I tested it and everything seemed fine. Kat was very pleased. If nothing else, it looks impressive.

Kat was going to a sleepover party that evening. Of course, she wanted to take her new phone. I double checked it and off she went. Later that evening, I started receiving emails with comments on my newly posted pics. Since I had not been on any social sites since last August, I was naturally curious. I figured my new phone was being the social butterfly without my knowledge. I viewed the shared photos and realized that Kat was unintentionally sharing her sleepover photos on my Facebook page! I immediately texted her to drop the phone until further notice. The next day, I did a hard reset on her phone and proceeded to rebuild it. A seemingly harmless act of kindness on my part ended in a multi-hour time killer. Windows Phone really should have a configurable primary user buried deep down in Settings rather than hard coding to the user specified in initial setup. Anyway, I now have a happy Kat.

Windows Live Tags: Adventure,vacation,August,Facebook,Windows,setup,sleepover
WordPress Tags: Adventure,vacation,August,Facebook,Windows,setup,sleepover

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Adventures in babysitting or how I learned to stop worrying…

I’ve been sick all week. Finally dragged myself into the Dr to get some real medicine. I needed to feel better as I’m watching the kids this weekend. The key to good babysitting is scheduled activities. Ideally, activities that have rides provided. If I have to drive all over creation, poor planning. If I can plant myself on the sofa and wallow in self-pity, well thought out. Fortunately, 2 out of 3 had places to be and the third was so worn out from sleepover that he didn’t appear until 3pm.

When babysitting, I like to keep organized. It is important to project an air of family and fatherhood when dealing with nosy people. I have the names, ages, grades and other vital info on my children stored in OneNote. I discovered this wonder sometime back. Everything I need to know is sychronized on my laptop, web and Windows phone. I could be at a library where someone asks about the kids. I can reply, “Murray is the oldest at 13, in 7th grade and likes play-doh”. I know, I know, library??? Ok, make it local watering hole. You also need to keep the notes up to date. Technology is pretty cool, but you still need to be a good father and take the initiative. OneNote is not going to populate itself.

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Adventures in phone upgrading

I finally bit the bullet and upgraded my phone. I had the HTC Tilt 2, a very well built phone, but bedeviled by a Windows 6.5 OS. I gave this phone to my daughter and I’ll share a bit of that story later. I bought the new HTC Titan with Windows 7.5 “Mango” OS. It has the largest screen size available at 4.7”. I made sure it fit in my pocket prior to purchasing. The phone and OS are amazing. I had it setup in no time, synching docs, email, notes, etc. htc_titan_2[1]

Then I discovered the importance of selecting the correct Windows Live account. Back in the day, Microsoft created Hotmail. They encouraged everyone to get their free account and later link it to Passport. This was a means of identifying yourself once to multiple sites. Xbox, Zune, and now the Windows Phone make this Live account very important. Unfortunately I sync email, calendar, contacts, photos and docs with one Windows Live account created long ago. Xbox and Zune are linked to an even older Live account. Anyway, the AT&T store offered to transfer my contacts from Windows 6.5 to the new phone. Great, saves me a step. I installed, configured and played with the settings. Finally I realized the phone would not allow me to use both accounts and I had to start from scratch. It would be nice to have profile setup that link to specific Windows Live/Hotmail accts. Reinstalling should never be the right option.

Windows will link to all your favorite social media, photo sharing and various other sites automatically. I have found that the phone has frequented sites that I have not in some time. I’ll keep unchecking boxes until my phone and I visit the same sites at the same time.

Bottom line, I love the phone and the OS and have mostly forgotten the Windows Live account nonsense.

WordPress Tags: bullet,Tilt,Windows,daughter,Titan,Mango,setup,Live,Microsoft,Hotmail,Passport,Xbox,Zune

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