Things We Forget

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There was a time, before we got all jaded and grumpy, that our main purpose was to have fun. As kids, we jumped out of bed every morning, eager to find the best ways to a) get candy, b) meet friends, c) watch cartoons and d) avoid chores at all costs.

We had it all figured out. Why did grown-ups make everything so difficult? Politics, manipulation and sociopathic behaviors were things we didn’t understand. (I still don’t understand.)

After life punches us in the face for several decades, we get out of bed a little slower and rarely find time for cartoons or candy. Friends become precious. Chores increase exponentially.

But maybe those 10-year-old versions of ourselves were right all along. Maybe we need to remember some basic rules about life that were totally obvious to us before we finished elementary school. These things are truths at any age.

  • Going to the bank is boring—unless there are those chain-attached pens you can play with
  • If you’re good at the store, you might get a Butterfinger
  • Going to the zoo sounds like a good idea, but it’s actually exhausting
  • Visiting grandma gets you spoiled
  • Sometimes you need to stay in bed all day reading a good book
  • Making friends is easy
  • Going to bed early is a punishment
  • It’s okay to cry when your feelings are hurt
  • Saturday morning cartoons are awesome
  • Spending an afternoon in the park is the best use of your time
  • A $20 bill makes you rich
  • When your friend is mean, it’s okay to tell them that wasn’t nice
  • It’s fun to be excited for birthdays and Christmas
  • Eating cold cereal for dinner is the best
  • Throwing a water balloon at your sister is thrilling
  • You never have to watch your carbs
  • Shoes aren’t always necessary
  • Cloud watching is not a waste of time

So how did we go from being fun-loving kidlets to cranky adults? When did we decide it was better to be busy than to have fun?

As with most terrible things, I blame the teenage years. Being 13 years old can be devastating. If you watch the movie Eighth Grade, be prepared for some serious junior high PTSD as a beautiful young girl destroys her own self-esteem with anxiety, junior high romance and pool parties. Seriously triggering.

Once we drag ourselves out of the primordial swamp of high school, we’ve become a little less trusting and optimistic. Then we double-down on our cynicism as we enter the workforce.

When you were in elementary school, dreaming about the time you’d be a grown up with your own car and the ability to eat ice cream after midnight, you never considered the possibility that working sucks. Sure, we saw our parents come home from work, down a bottle of gin and collapse on the couch like a bag of old pudding, but that was because they’d had SO MUCH FUN at work!

Something needs to change.

If you find yourself scowling at happiness, it’s time to check back with your inner fourth-grader and do something fun. Skip work and go hiking. Have an ice-cream sundae, without promising to jog later (because 10-year-olds don’t jog). Start a conversation with a stranger. Spend $20 on something entirely useless. Have Lucky Charms for dinner.

We need to remember, it’s fun to a) get candy, b) meet friends, c) watch cartoons and d) avoid chores at all costs. Life’s too short to grow old.

Originally published in Iron County Today–http://ironcountytoday.com/columns/life-laughter/things-we-forget/

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Top 5 Things to Avoid in January

January is #1 on my list of Top 10 Months I Hate. Once Christmas is cleaned up and the work holidays are over, there’s no reason to put up with January’s cold, blizzardy, moody attitude. It’s Mother Nature’s version of PMS.

Because my boss insists I show up EVERY workday this month, I can’t just hibernate in pajama pants and watch Netflix. I have to prioritize my list of January crappiness to make sure I avoid the very worst parts of the month. Here are the Top 5 Things to Avoid in January.

1. Going Outside.  Not cool. Okay, it’s VERY cool, but not in a cool way. I walk my dog before and after work (he works from 9 to 5) and it’s dark, it’s miserable, it’s snowy and it’s soggy. And did I mention it’s cold? I wear so many layers I was once photographed and put on the cover of Yeti magazine.

yeti(Just me. Walking in a Winter Wonderland from Hell.)

2. Driving.  I’ve been driving in the snow since Ford introduced the Edsel. But if you’re not comfortable driving in the snow, don’t get on the freeway! That is not the place to practice snow driving. If you’re from a state that shuts down during a spring rain, don’t get in your car at all until April.

3. The Air. Salt Lake has some of the worst air in the country.  Go, Utah! Each winter, a choking, germy, evil cloak of smog settles into homes and lungs, only lifting when the annual winter virgin sacrifice is offered to our heathen gods. I’ve never been chosen for the virgin sacrifice. #Biased

4. Skiers. These snow-enthusiasts are the most horrible creatures on the planet. If you grew up too poor to ski, you developed an innate prejudice against all the wealthy skiers who hit the slopes each winter to slide down the mountains on a pair of toothpicks. Plus, you have to listen to how much fun they had on their ski trips when you only spent your weekend crying into a hot water bottle.

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(He’s having the time of his life! And you’ll hear about it for three months.)

5. Darkness.  If I wanted to live in a bleak, dark world of sadness and despair, I’d move to Washington, D.C.. In Utah, the sun rises around 11:30 a.m. then hangs around the sky like a petulant teenager before slamming the bedroom door and going to bed at 4 p.m. Even with the sun “shining”, the Stephen King fog (see #3) hovers like a vulture just waiting for us to drop dead from asphyxiation. So there’s that.

Unless you like driving in the snowy, cold, dark, poisonous wasteland of winter, avoid Salt Lake until June. If you’re a skier, take up chess.

Nonviolent Protest: A Primer

On Sunday, two dozen NFL teams demonstrated an act of nonviolent protest– and the country lost its shit.

During the national anthem (you know, that five-minute block of time when you stock up on nachos and beer), NFL players either took a knee on the field or locked arms with teammates to show solidarity with Colin Kaepernick who has been taking a knee during the anthem to protest how America treats its minorities.

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“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color,” Kaepernick said. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

This totally legal, constitutionally recognized form of protest incensed our Commander in Chief so much that he Tweeted out a suggestion that NFL owners fire players who disrespect the anthem. Keep in mind, Mr. Trump has never actually read the Constitution, but ignorance is never an excuse for assholery.

Asking for equal rights is not a crime. The (mostly white) people who objected to this display seemed to forget that sometimes social change only happens when symbolic protests bring an issue to our attention.

NASCAR (pretty much the whitest sport in the U.S.) took a stand against the #TakeAKnee movement. NASCAR owners threatened to fire anyone who participated in the protest.

Richard Petty, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, declared that “Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States.”

But that’s just it. The United States embraces nonviolent protests. Or at least we should.

Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., suffragettes, Henry David Thoreau and the Dalai Lama have all used the technique to gain attention. Even John Lennon peacefully protested the Vietnam War when he and Yoko Ono spent their honeymoon having a “Bed-In” at a hotel in Amsterdam. A Bed-In is definitely a peaceful movement I can get behind.

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(I’m going to nonviolently protest winter by staying in bed until May.)

These actions have nothing to do with disrespecting the flag,  dishonoring our military or cheapening our extremely long, difficult to sing national anthem. You don’t have to agree with the kneelers. You don’t even have to believe in their cause. But you DO have to respect their right to protest.

Top 5 Reasons I Don’t Live in Florida

I took a summer break from writing this blog so I could have a mental breakdown. Now I can check that off my list of things to do and get back to some smart-ass blogging.

As you’re aware, it’s hurricane season, and meteorologists around the country are having orgasms on live TV as they discuss the trajectory of the latest deadly hurricane.

As I watched Floridians escape the last storm, I realized I never even want to visit this horrible state. Here are five reasons why:

Hurricanes (obviously). Floridians are exposed–and not just the nude sunbathers on Miami Beach. Florida is the dangling participle of America, taunting hurricanes and tropical storms with easy access to both its east and west coasts. There’s nowhere to hide from a hurricane in Florida. It’s surrounded by the OCEAN, for God’s sake.

Florida_hurricane_(pre-1900)_tracks

(The tracks of Florida hurricanes, or the route for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.)

20-foot pythons. Really, any size of python–and not just pythons. Snakes of every variety and poison level slither into houses in Florida looking for the opportunity to eat the residents. Not cool, snakes. At least in Utah, our rattlesnakes give us fair warning before attacking. I don’t want to wake up with a python trying to eat my head.

Sinkholes. Even Florida doesn’t want to be in Florida. Houses, sidewalks, roadways, golf courses–they’re all trying to disappear into the center of the earth to escape the deadly pests in the Sunshine State.

Crocodiles. These reptilian villains have been around for 200 million years (or 4,000 years if you attend a Christian megachurch in Orlando). These carnivores (the crocs, not the Christians) lurk beneath the water, eyeing their victims before going in for the kill. Creepy bastards.

Feral pigs. Not middle-aged men scouring Florida’s clubs for underage girls, but actual wild pigs. I thought wild pigs were something only found in fairy tales and Old Yeller.

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(Me, almost 50 years old, sobbing: He was such a good dog. You stupid pigs!)

Better the devil you know, right? At least in Utah I only have to worry about earthquakes, liquor laws, senior drivers, Sasquatch, BYU fans, tarantulas, the state legislature, elitism and the self-righteous. And the self-righteous don’t try to eat my head.

Why One Love Manchester Was a Big Deal

Remember in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” when the Grinch has raided the Who’s village, taken all their food and gifts, and stands on the top of Mount Crumpit waiting for the Whos to wake up so he can hear their crying and sobbing?

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At first, he believes he hears wailing in the streets. But he soon realizes what he hears is every Who down in Whoville singing in joy. And he’s absolutely perplexed.

When a terrorist attacked the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, he stole they lives of many people; men, women and children. The monsters he worked with sat back to hear the wailing in the streets, and watch the fear. Probably with smug smiles on their fat f*** faces.

Instead, they heard joyous singing and a big F*** You from Ariana Grande who proved she has balls as big as her heart.

Devastated by the attack on her fans, Grande scheduled the One Love Manchester benefit concert and invited some of the biggest music stars on the planet to 1) raise money for the victims’ families, 2) show the terrorists she refused to be ruled by fear and 3) to prove that love conquers hate.

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Well said, cross-stitched unicorn.

Were people wary about attending another concert? Were parents scared to send their kids to a venue that could be dangerous? Of course, but the show sold out in minutes.

When we tremble with fear, when we refuse to travel, when we avoid festivals and public gatherings, these terrorist assholes sit back and laugh. But when we’re brave and are unafraid to show love, kindness and compassion, we win. Every time.

Keep singing.

Top 5 Ways to Fix Healthcare

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Congress is too worried about pissing off big medical, pharmaceutical and insurance companies to fix healthcare. Instead of curing a dying healthcare system, Congress sits on its chest slowly suffocating the life out of any reform.

Maybe our representatives don’t see the populace walking towards them with torches and pitchforks, but we’re coming. If those cut-off-from-reality SOBs don’t pull it together soon, the middle class will implode and heads will roll.

As much as I’d love to see our congressional “leaders” dragged through the streets like a United Airlines passenger, here’s another option: Fix the damn healthcare situation. A few places to start:

  1. Bring down drug costs. Prez Trump is good at issuing ultimatums. Here’s a quote he can use. “Listen up, Pfizer and Bayer and Novartis! You either drop the price of your products or continue to live in greed and luxury!” Wait. I think he’s already used that quote.
  2. Cover holistic practices. Massage, acupuncture and energy healing isn’t just a bunch of malarkey. But after being sick for three years, try to explain to an insurance carrier that holistic practices actually made you well. They look at you like you suggested bringing back polio and dodgeball.
  3. Make medical lobbying illegal. Medical weasels should be banned from Washington, D.C.  Yes, they drive nice cars and smear money around, but they also spread dis-ease and pestilence through their regular use of bribery and ass-kissing.
  4. Cap medical costs. Costs are so out of control, you’d think hospitals were being run by a team of ego-driven chimpanzees. Three of my daughters have been hospitalized in the last year and owe a total of nearly $50,000–AFTER INSURANCE! That isn’t healthcare. That’s pad-our-wallet care.costs
  5. Employers should embrace wellness programs. Including my commute, I spend at least 10 hours a day at my job. If you don’t think sitting on your ass all day makes you unhealthy then you are in denial, my friend. Great employers offer wellness activities DURING business hours. It will make employees happy and lower company insurance costs.

Congress needs to stop protecting the healthcare industry. Everyone knows that enabling someone only makes the situation worse. I don’t think our representatives will like how the voters conduct an intervention.

 

Top 5 PowerPoint Mistakes

Working for a government agency, and just living on planet Earth, I have suffered through  PowerPoint presentations that could be listed as war crimes. Here are some tips on how to use PowerPoint in ways that don’t violate the Geneva Convention.

  1. Don’t go over time. There’s nothing worse than to hear a long-winded speaker say, “I know my time is up, but I have a few more points to address.” Stop it. For God’s sake, stop talking.
  2. Small wording. Unless you’re presenting at the Perfect Vision seminar, don’t use weird or super-small fonts. This only teaches people how to squint, get headaches and hate you.bad-powerpoint

    (The text is too small and it’s about math. That’s what you call a double negative.)

  3. Don’t over-complicate the info. Indecipherable charts, unrelated clip art and graph after graph after graph after graph. These techniques absolutely destroy someone’s will to live. Add in extra-twirly transactions and explosive slide changes, and you might as well be inserting bamboo under the listeners’ fingernails.
  4. Don’t speak low and slow. As your voice ticks like a slow metronome, heavy and hypnotic, you realize your audience is gently snoring, dreaming of a PowerPoint free world.
  5. Don’t read the slides. For the love of all that’s good! Don’t read the damn slides! Even if it’s just bullet points–don’t read verbatim. Everyone in the room can read. Even that coworker you’re convinced is half Hobbit can read.

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(If annihilating your workplace was your goal: Mission accomplished.)

Go forth and make this world a better place.