Category Archives: Society

I Can’t Afford to Save any more Money

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I went grocery shopping with my wife the other day.  The store had several sales going on:  buy one get one free, buy two get three free, two for five dollars, etc.

As my wife placed each of these items in our cart, I’d ask “do we need that?”  And she looked at me like I was daft and said, “but it’s buy two get three free.” Needless to say, we had a cart full of groceries by the time we made it to the checkout lane.

Yes, I recognize that I am the cart boy.  My job is to push the cart and keep my opinions to myself (Obviously, I need a bit of retraining).  Still, I can’t help wondering how much money do we have to save before we’re not really saving money?  Buy two get three free is an awesome deal, but what if you only need one?  Hopefully, we’ll never need five boxes of Pepto-Bismol.   It would be okay if it were extra bonus packs of Reese’s Cups—Just saying.

I can’t really complain (Even though I am).  My wife doesn’t go shopping all that often and is a frugal shopper.  She actually trained me on how to not spend money(Hmmm, there’s a lesson in there somewhere).  She likes to come home from one of her discount stores and show me the receipt that states how much money she saved.

Whoever came up with that scheme is a genius.  You Saved 23 dollars!  Of course, you had to spend two hundred to do it, but that’s beside the point.

I guess I’m just becoming one of those crotchety old men who complain about money.

Don’t touch the thermostat! 

Turn off that light switch—it ain’t free you know.

What’s wrong with those shoes that a little duct tape won’t fix? 

It tears my stomach up, I tell you (Maybe I will need all that Pepto after all).

I’m not sure how this happened.  I used to blow money like it was going out of style, and now I wear my slippers until I can feel the floor through the soles (and will go through a couple of rounds of duct tape before admitting defeat).

I guess we all have a little Scrooge in us, and it gets worse with age.  I think I need a vacation from it all.   Wonder if I can get a cheap flight to Vegas?  I hear you can drink for free while playing the penny slots.

 

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Rules of the Road

Traffic Light

I’ve driven all across the country, and I have taken the driver’s test in several states over the years (California was, by far, the hardest test).  I had to renew my driver’s license this past year, which was basically an online renewal form.  It got me wondering how I’d fare with the driver’s test today?  Have the rules changed in recent years?  Driving around Charlotte, it sure seems like it.

So in case you’ve never driven in the Queen City, here are the rules of driving in my neck of the woods:

  1. Proper Lane Etiquette
    1. The left lane is for normal driving and the right lane is for passing unless you are coming up on an exit and then you must drive 10 mph less than the speed limit.
    2. If it is a three-lane road, the left lane is the driving lane, the middle is for passing, and the right lane is for Sonic the Hedgehog style driving (you must be going twice the speed limit and you earn kudos if you do it with your cell phone attached to your chin).
  2. Stop Signs
    1. Stops signs are optional.
    2. At a four-way stop, whoever hits the gas first has the right of way.
  3. Traffic Circles
    1. Unlike stop signs, you must come to a complete stop at every traffic circle (It is okay to stop here and check your cell phone for text messages).
    2. When you decide to go, make sure to do it slowly so that everyone must wait for you to find your exit from the circle.
  4. Traffic Lights
    1. As is common in many areas: Green means go, Yellow means go faster, and Red means floor it.
    2. Stopping at a red light is not required for the first 15 seconds or 3 cars whichever occurs first.
    3. No Turn On Red signs are just for decoration.
  5. Left Turn Lanes (Designated left turn lanes have the most complicated rules of all)
    1. If you are the first driver waiting in the left turn lane, you must play with your cell phone while you wait.
    2. Once the light changes to a Green Arrow, you must meticulously time your approach to the intersection so that yours is the only vehicle that can make the green light.
    3. The normal red light rules don’t apply. Once the first car perfectly times the green light, 5 more cars are allowed to run the red arrow (there is no time limit).
    4. If the light changes to a Yellow Flashing Arrow instead of a Green Arrow, you have the right of way as long as you beat the oncoming traffic to the intersection. Actually, it is like a game of Red Rover.  As long as the chain of turning cars is not broken by oncoming traffic, they maintain the right of way.
  6. Finally, using your cell phone while driving is standard practice. If you are not playing with your cell phone while driving then you are a novice and should be sent back to driving school.

I guess it’s a good thing I could do an online renewal.  I’m not sure I would pass the test today.

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I’m not Fat – Just Ask the Internet

I looked in the mirror the other morning and was shocked by what I saw.  Where did that belly come from?  I know it wasn’t there yesterday:

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Of course, this is a bad time of the year for gaining weight.  It’s getting cold outside and I’m getting less active (“less active” is code for I’m eating too much junk food).  Halloween candy, Thanksgiving pies, and Christmas cookies don’t help.  A dedicated person would probably fight the junk food temptations, but I decided to try another approach—Internet research that proves I’m not fat (Because you know sitting in front of the computer is going to help burn that fat away).

I just have Big Bones: 

I’ve half-jokingly used this excuse for a few years.  What does it actually mean to have big bones and does it have any effect on how you carry your weight?  A couple of years ago, I read that a rule of thumb is to wrap your middle finger and thumb around your wrist.  If they touch, then you have a medium frame size; if they overlap, you have a small frame size; and if they don’t touch, you have a large frame size.  Mine don’t touch, so I figured I have big bones.

There is actually an online calculator that is a bit more accurate (or at least makes you think it is a more scientific approach).  I tried it, and it confirmed that I have a large frame size.

So what does this mean?  Basically, I can carry weight better because of my bone density.  Also, I can adjust my BMI number by about ten pounds.  So instead of being 30 pounds higher than my ideal weight, I am now only 20 pounds higher.  I’m pretty sure that still makes me fat.

  I’m preparing to Hibernate:

According to my highly technical research (The internet never lies), we tend to gain a few pounds in the winter because our bodies are preparing for a period of food shortage.  So when it gets cold, we eat more to prepare and our body responds by increasing its insulin resistance so we can store more fat.

Basically, the reason I ate too many Reese’s Cups at Halloween and pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving was because my body told me to prepare for winter.  It’s not my lack of self-control at all.

So another 5 to 7 pounds is because of this process.  So now I’m only 13 pounds overweight.  Still chunky, but not as fat as I thought.

It’s just water weight: 

Most people’s weight can fluctuate from day to day or week to week.  I know that my weight can fluctuate up to about 10 pounds from one month to the next.  According to several health and wellness sites I visited, the average person’s weight can fluctuate from 5 to 7 pounds, and water is the main culprit.  I know I drink about a gallon of water a day—have for years.  Hey, I like water.

A gallon of water weighs roughly 8 pounds (see, that’s my power plant background coming out), so I’m going to make a leap of tangled logic and say that I retain about 8 pounds of water.  That brings me down to 5 pounds overweight.  What the heck, who isn’t 5 pounds overweight?

So there you have it.  I’m not fat, I’m just big-boned, retaining water, and preparing to hibernate for winter.  Whew, that was too much work.  Wonder what we have around here for a snack?

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I am a Loser

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Some lady yelled “Loser!” at me the other day.  I don’t know why.  I was driving well within the speed limit.

Then I got to thinking maybe she was right.  My mom always told me that I’d lose my brain if it wasn’t attached.  Come to think of it, my wife tells me all the time that I’ve lost my mind.  Hmmm.  They can’t both be right, can they?

And I realized:  the older I get, the bigger a loser I become.  I’m constantly losing my keys, or my glasses, or forgetting where I set down my glass of water.  Just the other day, I lost my glasses, and then I found them on my head.  Good thing they were attached.

So calling someone a loser is considered an insult, but is being a loser a bad thing?  You win some, and you lose some, right?  We’re all losers at some point, and hopefully we learn from the experience.

So when someone calls me a loser, what they are really saying is that I am full of hard-earned wisdom.

Yes, that lady the other day saw me as a wise man, like Socrates or the guy that invented the Reese’s cup.  That was one perceptive lady.

 

 

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Guess What I’m Having for Dinner?

I talk about all my favorite things on this blog except food.  Why you ask? (you know I’m going to tell you anyway.)

My brain works in peculiar ways, and I often feel it is just as important to explain why I don’t do things than it is to explain why I do.  This habit has been reinforced over the years by having to explain to my wife why I didn’t wash the dishes, or any number of other tasks that I should have done in her estimation. (sound familiar?)

So why don’t I blog about food and cooking?

Cooking is actually one of my favorite things.  I love to cook and share food with friends, but there is a difference between sharing food with a friend and the food videos I see all over the internet.  Here’s the difference:

I like to play a game with my mom when we talk on the phone.  If I made something for dinner that I know she loves, I’ll say “guess what we’re having for dinner?”  Then I’ll describe the dish in detail and, of course, invite her over to share the meal.  My mother lives six hours away.  So, in essence, I’m rubbing her face in it.  I’m saying “Nah, nah!  See what I got and you don’t.”  If I really want to get her goat, I’ll take a picture and text it to her.  Of course, she does the same to me.

Those food videos and pictures all over the internet are basically the same thing — “Look what I got!”  Oh yeah, you can have some too.  Just rummage through the pantry and try to find all these ingredients (Who keeps capers in their pantry anyway?).  And good luck getting it right!

Don’t show me food that I can’t eat.    It’s like going to a topless bar (or watching Magic Mike for you ladies I suppose).  What’s the point?

So I’ve decided that I will start a food blog just as soon as someone develops a food replicator like in Star Trek.  I’ll happily share my food with you online.  I’ll just shove a slice of lasagna in the chute, and you can pull it out of your replicator without having to rummage through the pantry.

Until that happens, I guess you’ll just have to come to Charlotte if you want to check out my cooking.  Tonight we’re having BLT’s.  See you at seven.

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Politeness is a Virtue

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I just finished reading The Way of the Samurai by Inazo Nitobe.  Nitobe was of the samurai class in Japan but was western educated.  He wrote The Way of the Samurai in English in 1900 around the time Japan was westernizing.  Nitobe does a good job of explaining the philosophy of the samurai as it relates to western civilization.  Specifically, he compares the ways of the samurai warrior to that of medieval knights in Europe, and compares Japanese culture and philosophy to the christian west.

Not surprising, he describes the Japanese as being more culturally focused, whereas westerners are more individually focused.  He does this without judgement.

The bulk of the book is taken up with explanations of the virtues to which the samurai adhered.  These virtues are: Rectitude, Courage, Benevolence, Politeness, Veracity, Sincerity, Honor, and the Duty of Loyalty.  As I read this book, the virtue that resonated with me the most was Politeness.

If you watch Japanese anime, news from Japan, Japanese shows, or know someone Japanese, politeness is probably one of the first things you notice.  The Japanese are polite, and it is a sharp contrast to American culture.  It could be argued that politeness is disappearing from American culture.

According to Nitobe, “Politeness is a poor virtue, if it is actuated only by a fear of offending good taste, whereas it should be the outward manifestation of a sympathetic regard for the feeling of others. . . In its highest form, politeness almost approaches love.”

So it seems that the samurai virtue of politeness is not much different than the Golden Rule that we were all taught as children.  You know, the ole mind your manners and love your neighbor shtick that seems to be going out of style.

For a true samurai, using his sword was the last resort, not the first instinct.  Virtues, such as politeness, came first.  Hmm, maybe we could try that for a change.

 

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Writing Ideas

Where do your writing ideas come from?  For a long time I didn’t really have an answer for that question.  Where did they come from?  Imagination, yeah of course, but what was the spark that brought the idea to life?

Many of my stories, especially my short stories, have come from writing prompts.  I’ve belonged to a few writers groups over the years, and several of them utilized writing prompts to help get the writing juices flowing.  It has worked for my short story ideas, and at least one of my novels started that way too.

One of my problems is figuring out what to blog about.  Writing prompts don’t cut it as blogging topics.  So where do bloggers find their material?

Recently, I was looking for a way to get unbiased news.  I went online and checked media bias websites AllSides and Media Bias/Fact Check and put together a list of media outlets that were considered least biased.  I put together my list on feedly and that’s where I get my daily news now.  It has actually cut down my stress from reading the news, because for some reason I’m not getting pissed off anymore.  Who knew there was so much biased opinion floating around on the internet.

A huge side benefit to this plan is that my news feed is giving me all kinds of great ideas for blog (and Facebook) posts.  Who knew that the news could actually be informative, enjoyable, and useful?

 

 

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