Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Finally Got The Car

Finally pulled the trigger. By the time we got out of the dealership it was dark and we were hungry so we drove over to Q barbecue for dinner. This is the only picture I've got. I'm sure Pam will have more today. It's a 2017 Hyundai Sante Fe Sport demonstrator with 2100 miles on it along with that sweet depreciation discount. It's got every bell and whistle and her coveted third row seat. Met a really good guy along the way...Scott, our sales guy who went above and beyond for us.

And that's about all I want to say about this ever again.

Monday, February 27, 2017

La La Land....indeed.

I cannot tell you when last I had a more difficult weekend. Sure, spending the better part of two days car shopping was the obvious culprit, but coming in a close second was a weirdly amorphous cold/flu which kept changing symptoms almost as often as my wife changed her car preferences. This is a woeful combination...car shopping and the flu. Almost as bad as buttermilk and ginger ale.

I'm anxiously awaiting my wife's decision, so I can go about the grubby business of actually buying the thing. Watching her agonize over this has been painful. She is so careful, so exhaustively comprehensive in her approach to decision making that she gives the phrase, "on the other hand" almost nuclear power. When I think about what must be going on in that head of hers, I imagine some guy spinning plates, while riding a unicycle on a high wire strung over a pit filled with rattle snakes. I've devoted less thought to my core spiritual convictions than she has to the purchase of this car.

Then, the Oscars happened. Did I watch any of it? Of course not. What, are you nuts? I was sick enough without exposing myself to four hours of celebrity self-love. But, the reviews have been hard to miss this morning. Sure, sure everyone competed with each other to see who could best demonstrate their virtue, by bravely trashing the one who shall not be named on this blog (until March first), but at the end, at the pinnacle moment, with all eyes focused on those two fossils from my youth, Faye Dunnaway and Warren Beatty, the best picture award was awarded to LaLa Land...only it was actually supposed to go to Moonlight. Now, if that's not the perfect illustration of latent, institutional racism, I don't know what is!! Even when Hollywood finally gives a best picture award to an African-American film, they can't even bring themselves to avoid throwing shade in the process!! Shameful!! Somewhere, in his heart of hearts, Steve Harvey is highfive-ing himself.

Is this it for the awards shows for a while? It seems like this time of year there's one after another. People's Choice, Golden Globes, Oscars, Emmy's Tony's, Grammy's. Our celebrity class never tires of celebrating themselves, and lecturing the rest of us about all of our moral and political failings. It must be quite the intoxicating drug, this adulation.

Just before Pam headed off to work a minute ago, I asked her if she had made her decision. She answered in several disjointed, run-on sentences, by saying....actually, I'm not quite sure what she said. But I think she's still undecided.

Bless her heart.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Day Two of Car Buying Experience

Long day of car shopping.

All cars starting to look same...

Some too small...

Some too big...

None just right.

Feel like Goldilocks, only with temperament of hungry, pissed off bear...

Three test drives...

One annoying sales associate, one nice old guy...

Annoying one actually trotted out accursed line, but I cut him off mid-sentence with...NOTHING. Bright spot of day...

Third row seat option nixed...

But, then wife has bad dream about having only two seats in car with dozens trying to get in car...

Thought had narrowed down options to Cadillac or Enclave, but now Sante Fe back in picture...

Rumors flying of possible eleventh hour Mazda entry into sweepstakes...

Going to 9:30 service at church this morning to give us more shopping time for afternoon...

So excited....

Need to pick up new bottle of Tums...

Starting to see Joe Isuzu whenever eyes close...

Pam has fitful night, little sleep, looks overwhelmed...

So wish she drank....

All local car dealers on to us. Inbox overrun with hot deals on hot rides emails...

Will try to concentrate on sermon this morning, but most likely will spend sermon time imagining Pacifica blowing up when dealer take for test drive...

So exciting...

Car buying experience thing of beauty...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Buying a Car in America

I should admit up front that I do not like the car buying experience. I don't even like the expression "car buying experience" since it sounds like so much touchy-feely claptrap. Purchasing a car is not an "experience" anymore than cleaning out the gutters is an "experience" Its just something that has to be done once every ten years or so, that's all. Surviving Auschwitz would be an experience, climbing Everest, an experience. Buying an automobile is a chore. A confusing, disorienting chore.

Consequently, I don't do it very often. I normally drive cars until they no longer are able to cooperate. Sometimes they begin emitting grayish, blueish clouds in their wake, other times they start leaving oily pools of industrial discharge on the garage floor every night. Other times, they like, literally blow up,(my poor, dearly missed Sebring convertible...God rest her soul). This time, it's Pam's valiant Chrysler Pacifica which is moaning out dire warnings of its impending doom. She has been a wonderful car, but is not long for this world. So, for about a month now, we have been laying the groundwork for purchasing a replacement vehicle. In this we have been greatly aided and baffled by the internet. Since last we bought a car, my Cadillac CTS seven years ago, the buzzword in the car game has become...no hassle pricing, a concept which exchanges the hassle over haggling back and forth with somebody's manager about the price with the far greater hassle of literally everything else!

To start with, what in the name of Henry Ford has happened to car names?? My first four cars had the following names:  Beetle, Beetle, Scirocco, Cherokee. Now, everywhere you look it's initials and numbers. You want a Cadillac you say? Which one? There's the CTS, DTS, XLR, STS, SRX, ESV and how could anyone forget the classic EXT? Interested in a Lexus, you say? Well, I can certainly understand why with such a variety of models and styles to choose from...the LS, GS, ES, IS, SC, LX, GX, and RX. Even when you find a car which has an actual name like the Sante Fe, or the Enclave, there's the dizzying array of modifiers that go with the name...touring, sport, premier, limited. What ever happened to naming cars after animals or indeginous peoples? I can remember when the most popular cars were named...Mustang, Maverick, Charger, Cherokee. But, I digress.

In our case, this is Pam's car we're talking about so this will be her decision. Anyone who knows my wife knows that making decisions isn't her greatest talent. In fact, except for the notable exception of deciding to marry me, she's horrible at it. She has never made a snap decision in her life. There is no such thing as an impulse purchase in Pam's world. She's a spreadsheet sort of gal. I avoid even writing the word "spreadsheet." After a month or so of extensive, exhaustive Internet study, she has narrowed it down to vehicles that use regular gasoline. (Just kidding!!) Actually, she has it narrowed down to the Chrysler SRX, the Buick Enclave, the Sante Fe Sport, and something made by Mazda. The sticking point has been the third row seat question. Her present car has one and it comes in quite handy on the half a dozen times each year when we use it. Also, having a larger interior helps whenever we travel to Maine with Lucy for a month.

So, this morning comes phase two of the process. Yes, we will venture out into the bizarro car dealership world to test drive some candidates.

If anybody says to me, "What have I got to do to get you into this car today?" I will battle mightily the urge to punch him/her in the mouth. Maybe I will counter with, "Well, for starters you can promise me to never, ever say that to me again, Sparky" My combative, no nonsense car buying style causes Pam no end of angst. She is so sweet and kind and in her heart of heart...desires to be nice to everyone, while I, uh, strive to, er, uh...ok, I can be a bit rude when dealing with car salesmen. I open my mouth and some borderline hostile sentence comes out, and she dies a little bit inside. I know this, but am basically powerless to stop it. I view the salesman in front of me as a hostile power intent on swindling me. I realize that this is entirely unfair and unreasonable. We all gotta make a living and all...

So, I will do my best to be as nice as humanly possible this morning. I will be patient, even kind. I will endeavor to make the car buying experience as comfortable as possible for my wife.

Wait a minute...Endeavor...now that's a car name if ever I've heard one!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Having a cold with Lucy

So, I have a cold. Not the flu. Not some sort of bronchial disturbance. Not a sinus infection. A cold, that garden variety plague that has vexed mankind since the dawn of time and against which modern science and medicine have been powerless. As I write these words, I have industrial strength men's all cotton handkerchiefs at the ready, since the laughably inept tissues produced by Kleenex have proven completely worthless. Already, only one paragraph in, and I have availed myself of this handkerchief four times. It's been that sort of afternoon.

This day began with such promise. I actually slept reasonably well, and sneezed only once from 6 am until 8. I was breathing rather well, and all indications seemed to point to a productive day. All came a cropper around noon when my nasal passages became overrun by a host of microscopic organisms of unknown specie who gleefully began lashing the ends of my nose hairs with the tail feathers of the world's smallest bird. At each such lashing, which I felt from my cowlick all the way down to my in grown toenail, my body began its coiled response to the invader. I could feel the birth of each sneeze somewhere around my hip area, then the three or four seconds it took for it to climb up into my generously sized nose. The resultant recoil and noise from each sneeze was enough to awaken Lucy, who would lift her head with her ears pinned back in terror, until she realized it was just Dad sneezing for the 50th time since he got home.

Speaking of Lucy, our girl isn't what you would call a snuggler. Sure, she sleeps on the bed with us, and rests on the sofa with Pam, but usually at the opposite end. But, today when I got home for lunch, she took one look at me and knew that something was amiss. It may have been my red and irritated nose, or perhaps the fact that my voice had dropped three octaves, from Justin Beiber to James Earl Jones. Whatever, she knew that something was up and immediately began shadowing my every move. While I ate some warmed up lasagna, she laid on the floor at my side. When I then collapsed on the bed with my head tilted upward to stop the torrent of cascading post nasal drip...she jumped up on the bed and wedged herself as close to me as she possibly could, using my body as her pillow. This despite what became a deluge of sneezes, each more intense and violent than the next. She didn't budge until I finally, mercifully, dozed off to sleep. When I awoke, she was on the floor directly under my side of the bed, looking up at me as though she thought I was going to die.

For all of you who don't quite understand why some of us own dogs (and a few select cats), this is why. For all of their slobbering, butt-sniffing, idiosyncrasies they are so intuned to us. They notice when we are sick or sad. They know. Then they set about to do something to lift our spirits. They always succeed.

Nothing Else is Maine

Lucy wants to be here...

I want to be here...

Lucy is dreaming of this...

I am dreaming of this...

But, this is February and Maine is a full 28 weeks away, or 114 weeks in dog years. And I have come down with a cold. But February is a good time to pull out your Maine pictures and look at them while blowing your nose and coughing up yellowish mucus. There will be lots of fun stuff between now and  Maine. But, nothing else is Maine. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This Is Us...a review

Pam and I really like This is Us, a new show on NBC. It is an extremely well written, well acted and well produced drama full of compelling characters and interesting story lines. The plot centers around three siblings, Kate, Kevin and Randall...Kate and Kevin part of a triplet pregnancy where the third child was still born. Fate then enters the picture as a third baby, Randall was delivered to the hospital after being left on the steps of a nearby firehouse. Parents Jack and Rebecca decide to adopt the newborn to complete the natural triplets they had been expecting. The entire show is done in flashback mode as each character lives in real time while struggling with the memories of their past. It is a fascinating plot device that works well where it could very easily become annoying. Like every fully realized human being, each of these characters bring a lot to like and even admire to the table, along with their fair share of failings. At the bottom of it all lies a family that truly loves each other.

This brings us to this past week's episode which I have noticed has produced a torrent of praise from many of my Christian friends on Facebook for its alleged poignant life lesson. To which I say, "What...are you people on drugs???"

Here's what happened. Randall is going though a sort of mental breakdown over the fact that his long lost birth father is dying. Kevin, on the other hand, is preparing for the opening night of a play in which he is starring and producing in which he seems convinced that he is going to fail miserably. Along the way of this ill fated production, he has managed to sleep with the original lead actress as well as the playwrite herself. Literally minutes before the curtain rises on opening night, he gets a disturbing phone call from Randall, who is clearly distraught to the point of tears. As the curtain rises and the lights go up, the lead actress walks out on stage and turns to deliver the opening line to Kevin, only Kevin isn't there. He is seen running through the streets of New York to his brother's office where he finds him crying on the floor. In an admittedly heart warming scene, Kevin comes along side Randall on the floor and holds him while he cries. For this, Kevin has become a hero...for reasons that escape me.

Let's get this straight, a narcissistic Lothario walks out on his coworkers, abandoning them in the literal hour of their greatest need, and is celebrated for it? But Doug, but Doug, don't you see? He had had that talk with his step dad earlier and had been told to do what his Dad would have done! He was just following the example of family first devotion personified be his deceased and noble father, Jack!


I'm pretty sure that Jack wouldn't have walked out on his commitment to his employer with no explanation, leaving them to deal with a public relations disaster, and the ridicule of all of their time and efforts. I'm thinking that perhaps Jack maybe would have called Randall's wife, sister, or mother to notify them of his distress and promise to go to him the minute the show was over.

I'm thinking that Kevin was terrified of failure, horrified at the prospect of bombing in his first live theatre performance and the withering reviews he would surely get from the New York Times reviewer in the audience. When presented with his crying brother he jumped at the chance to escape his pending failure. When it came down to fleeing or fighting, Kevin bolted, leaving the rest of the cast and crew to deal with being abandoned.

Don't get me wrong, Kevin is a quite charming figure on this show. He possesses a fine sense of humor and an ability at self-depreciation that the rest of his family could surely use. But, calm down people. If Kevin's actions described above are to be interpreted as some sort of Christian virtue, then the bar has been lowered to deathcom 5.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Greatest. Scientific. Study. Ever.

I have it on very good authority that the scientists at the University of Edinburgh are really smart. Seriously. But sometimes smart isn't the same thing as wise. Apparently, 63 years ago, the thought entered somebody's head at this fine school to do a multi-decade research project on the effects that aging might have on human personality. To the surprise of absolutely no one alive or dead, then or now, the scientists discovered that personality at age 77 is quite different than it is at age 14. Speaking as someone who used to be 14, I could have saved them a lot of time and trouble, by answering the question this way..."duh!!"

1. When I was 14, I thought that the finest movie ever made was Billy Jack.
2. When I was 14, I thought that a realistic career goal was to become a shortstop in the big leagues.
3. When I was 14, my number one obsession in life was the tantalizing prospect of getting laid.
4. When I was 14, I practiced the guitar until my fingers bled, not for the love of music, but because I thought it might help me accomplish number 3.

So, yeah. . .life at age 58 bares little resemblance to life at 14. But, it's nice to know that a group of scientists have wasted the past 60 years proving what any sentient human being could have told them if they had merely asked. The experiences of one's life do, in fact, change a person. In a perfect world, these changes improve us, burning away the haughty arrogance and pride of youth with the wisdom that comes with humility. But, sometimes the opposite occurs, where the innocence of youth gets exchanged for the cold-hearted cynicism of bitterness. For example...

1. When I was 14, I laughed a lot more than I do now.
2. When I was 14, I didn't categorize my fellow man into political factions.
3. When I was 14, I played the guitar a lot more.
4. When I was 14, I didn't even know what bitterness was.

So, it's a mixed bag. With age has come some good things, and some bad. In many ways I am better at 58, but in some ways not so much.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hardest. Job. Ever.

Yesterday, for the fourth time in my life, I toured Monticello. Each time I learn something new, each time I come away astonished by such a life. Although he can be included on a very short list of indispensable men to the establishment and success of this country, and his contributions can never be undervalued, at his grave site, the obelisk that marks his final resting place includes only three of those contributions:

Author of the Declaration of Independence
Author of Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom
Father of the University of Virginia

Seeing it has gotten me thinking about what I would want as my epithet. What thing have I done or accomplished that I would want to be remembered for? It is a singularly clarifying exercise to think of such things. Unlike Mr. Jefferson, I don't have a ten volume book full of things to pick from. Still, it's hard to narrow it down to the most essential.

I would want to be remembered as a good son, a good friend, a good brother, uncle, and cousin because these things would suggest that I loved and cherished family. I would want to be remembered as a good husband because that would suggest that I was faithful to the most important commitment I ever made.

I suppose I would want some mention to be made of my thirty plus years of a moderately successful business career. But having just written that sentence and reading back over it, it sounds so out of place, so inconsequential. Sure, it provided the financial means to do many of the other things, but in and of itself doesn't rise to the level of "good son."

But, after much reflection, I've come to the conclusion that I would want to be remembered the most for being a good...father. The reason is simple; It is the single most difficult thing I've ever done and carries with it the greatest potential for a lasting legacy. If I raise and unleash horrible people into the world, they will continue to pollute it long after I'm gone. But, if I can gift a couple of caring, loving, compassionate and gifted people into the world, my efforts will help make the world better for the rest of eternity. Right?

But, it's so hard. You want to teach them to care about other people, but you don't want them to be taken advantage of too easily. You warn them about the dangers of loving money, but you also want them to be good stewards and know their way around a bank statement. You teach them about God, but you don't want them to wind up so heavenly minded that they're no earthly good. You want them to love and adhere to truth but also live a life full of grace towards those who disagree. You teach them to be compassionate, but not a sucker. You teach them that there is no replacement for hard work, but also compel them to stop and smell the roses. You try to teach them how to think instead of what to think, then spend the rest of your life hoping they don't start thinking stupid things. You want them to become self sufficient, but spoil them rotten every chance you get. You play the parental version of tug-of-war between pampering and pestering, too much of either and all might be lost. Hardest. Job. Ever.

So, here's the epithet for my tombstone:

Good Father.
Good Husband.
Passable Writer.
Baseball Fan.

Notice which one got top billing...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Me and George

When I wrote yesterday's post about the card, I left out some things for the sake of time. But today, I thought I would add them to give you a fuller picture of what it's actually like for a large group of men to shop for V Day cards. The following conversation may or may not have happened, with a young man who may or may not have been named George...

Like I said yesterday, there were maybe a dozen of us on the red/pink aisle, all slump-shouldered, slack-jawed in various stages of exasperation, when I noticed this one particular younger looking guy who seemed more befuddled than the rest of us. I moved over next to him, absentmindedly picked up a Peantuts card with Snoopy and Woodstock sitting on top of the dog house sharing a box of chocolates, and started talking...

Me: So, how long you been here?

George: Little over an hour.

Me: Just getting started, eh?

George: Why are these cards so horrible? How is a guy supposed to buy a card when this is all there is??

Me: Married?

George: Four years. You?

Me: Thirty-four years.

George: Whoa!!  You're like a Zen Master of V Day cards then. Can you give me some pointers?

Me: Sure. ( I showed him the Peanuts card I was holding ) First of all, never, ever buy a card with a cartoon character on the front. She'll think you're not "serious" about the relationship.

George: Yeah, but, some of the cartoon ones are pretty funny man.

Me: The last thing you're going for is funny, bro. V Day is deadly serious business. ( I then picked up another card ) But, on the other hand, this one here is also out of the question...
                      You're my last noble thought at dusk
                            My first wish at break of day...

Me: First of all, not true.  Usually the last thought in my head right before I drift off to sleep is something like, How come nobody makes bacon jerky?? Right??

George: No kidding! Ha! And the first thing I think when I wake up is like, Man, I've got to pee like a Russian race horse!

Me: So, poetry cards send out the wrong message too. It's like, you're trying too hard. She knows you too well, dude. She knows that your favorite work of art is that awesome Dogs Playing Poker painting that's hanging in the garage. She's not gonna buy a poetic card from you. She'll think somebody else bought it.

George: ....how did you know about my Dogs Playing Poker painting?????

Me: Lucky guess.

George: Well, if poetry doesn't work, and I can't buy a cartoon one, how am I ever going to get out of this store?!

Me: Settle down brother. Answer this question...do you really love this woman?

George: (heavy sigh)...more than anything actually.

Me: Good. That's half the battle right there. That means that there is a card here somewhere that will speak to you. You've just got to find it.

George: Hey man, thanks! So, no cartoons, no poetry.

Me: You got it.

George: Limericks. What about limericks?

Me: ( sideways glance with upraised eyebrow )

George: No limericks. Got it!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Card.

Pam and I will soon celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. Including our dating years, that means that we have also celebrated 37 Valentine's Days. That's an awful lot of chocolate, flowers, and cards.

Last night was a modest affair. She had had a difficult, stressful day, so I decided that I would make dinner instead of going out somewhere and dropping a hundred bucks on some microwaved meal. There wouldn't actually be a lot of real cooking involved, just in case you've begun measuring me for a halo...steaks on the grill, fresh green beans and Bob Evans mashed potatoes. Although, my biggest coup of the night was the Duck Donuts I picked up on my way home from work! The road to my girl's heart is always paved with doughnuts.

The meal turned out perfectly. The steaks were delicious, I did an outstanding job on the fresh green beans(my first attempt), and Bob outdid himself on the potatoes. We ate this Valentines dinner while watching that romantic classic, Blue Bloods, the episode from season six where the obnoxious reporter gets thrown off the six story building and does a nosedive into the Corolla. I don't know about you, but nothing quite sets the romantic mood better than seeing a reporter get what's coming to him!

After dinner, it was time to exchange cards. I have a long a storied history with Valentine's Day cards. Basically, I despise them. If you're a man, you know the drill. You walk into a Hallmark along with a dozen or so of your brethren, head down and focused on the red and pink aisle. The display says, For the Wife. First, there are the super sappy ones that feature elaborate, three dimensional floral displays, some with glitter and soft material for touching, like the Pat the Bunny books you used to read the kids when they were toddlers. The verses in these usually contain the word soulmate. Then you get to the cartoon cards. Usually these are several pages long and feature variations on this theme...sometimes, my wife is funny, sometimes my wife is busy, each "sometimes" has its own drawing featuring the wife acting out the emotion. Sometimes my wife is happy, sometimes my wife is sad...( like she will be if you ever buy her this lame card). Then there are the pretentious ones, with some ironic black and white image on the front, and a one word verse inside...bliss, or...forever. Please.

So every year, the hunt for the perfect card gets more frustrating than the year before. I would just write my own on my business stationary, but then you run the risk of her thinking, "Oh, I get it. You either forgot to buy me a card, or you're so cheep you couldn't cough up a lousy five bucks for a real one. Of course, she would never, ever say this, but it would be inferred by body language or a well chosen, passive-aggressive phrase like, "Oh, this is different."

So, this year I went to Hallmark. I was maybe fifteen minutes in and I found a card that wasn't at all lame, at least it was the least lame one I had seen. I actually liked it. It wasn't Shakespeare, by any means, but it wasn't bad. Pam bought mine while at Kroger. She said it was actually the very first one she picked up. When we opened them, this is what we found....

Pam began to giggle. Then she couldn't stop giggling. What are the odds? How is such a thing even possible? Two different stores, probably a thousand possible cards, and we pick the exact same one.

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. That may be true with regards to politicians and your boss, but in a good marriage, it breeds something else...comfort. I know this woman, and she knows me. Although I will never fully understand her, women being exquisitely, beguilingly unknowable, I understand enough to know that she loves me, in a thousand small ways, I know.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Adult Children

My son and his girlfriend are coming to see us this weekend. They both have Monday off, so they will make the nine hour drive from Nashville to spend just a couple of days with us...for no apparent reason. It's not a holiday. They don't need money. Neither of them are sick. They just said that they wanted to spend a weekend with us for the pure heck of it! How cool is that?

The weather appears to be cooperating, since a road trip planned for the month of February is normally fraught with peril. Three days in the 70's will do quite nicely. Sarah, being sheltered from the great refinements of the Old Dominion as a child has only made one other visit here, a whirlwind Thanksgiving trip this past November, so is thrilled to get the chance to actually spend some time doing touristy things. We plan on taking them for a tour of Monticello, then lunch at Michie Tavern. If they behave themselves, and time permitting, we may make a quick drive to Williamsburg.

Meanwhile, Kaitlin and Jon have asked us when we are planning on coming down to Columbia next. It's been a few months since our last visit. Apparently, Jackson misses Lucy.

It's a wonderful thing to have grown, adult children, but even more wonderful when they actually want to spend time with you. This is how Pam and I organize our schedule now. . .around trips to and from Nashville and Columbia, and we are happy to do it. However, would it kill either one of them to move back to Virginia? In Nashville, a decent two bedroom apartment costs upwards of $1700 a stinking month for goodness sakes! Sure they don't have a State income tax, but when you're paying that much to put a roof over your head, our taxes start sounding like a bargain. And what about Jon? You trying to tell me that there aren't an abundance of National Parks in Virginia?? Instead of toiling away in a swamp which features something called a Mosquito-meter, he could be giving guided tours in the beautiful Shanendoah, or the sacred ground at Chancellorsville. Plus, such a move would bring them closer to happy and willing dog-sitters, not to mention future baby sitters...

But, enough with the whining. I should be grateful that they are all doing so well where they are and that they still want to come home every chance they get.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Book of Mormon...a review

Last night, Pam and I attended a Broadway show written by the same crew that gives us South Park. So, when you read what follows, it is entirely fair for you to make the observation, "So, what did you expect, Rogers and Hammerstein??" 

Before launching into my review of Book of Mormon, I should say that I'm the sort of guy who gives comedians and satirists a wide berth in the pursuit of their craft. After all, I'm a huge fan of Mel Brooks, and as such am accustomed to foul language, heeping portions of crudeness, sexual innuendo and irreverent humor. And further more, as a Christian, I am used to Hollywood types vilifying my faith. So, why did I find Book of Mormon so disturbing? That's another fair question.

First of all, I should say that I did enjoy parts of the show. In places, the writing was clever and witty. The music was good and the singing was nice too. Some of the dance numbers were beautifully done. The plot centers around a couple of fresh from the missionary training center 19 year old elders who have just been given their two year mission assignment...to Uganda. Of course, they are ill-prepared for such an undertaking, since the star elder wanted Orlando instead! We are treated to a funny summary of Mormon theology, and introduced to the obligatory latent gay elder all in the first ten minutes. So far, so good. Then our heros land in their Ugandan village, and it's time for the writers to shock us with a rousing number which features the repeated phrase, "F**K you, God!!", complete with the locals giving the Almighty the finger.

Ok, I believe it safe to say that this is essentially the textbook definition of blasphemy, so as a Christian, it placed me in an uncomfortable position. All in good fun, I'm sure, but several thoughts began swimming around in my head. One of them was, ummm, why am I here? But then I scolded myself, "lighten up dude...it's Hollywood."

From there it only got worse. The sacrament of Baptism was sent up as a sex act, to very nervous laughter from the crowd. By the time the natives put on their summary of Mormon theology, complete with giant Phallic symbols and simulated sex acts, all put to a snappy tune, it had gotten sort of ridiculous.

Along the way, my Lord and Savior made a couple appearances, and although he was dressed in a super cool electric robe, whenever he opened his mouth to speak, he did so with a sissified lisp. Injury? Meet insult. I remember thinking how I will probably never live to see the day when the Prophet Muhammad gets this sort of blasphemous treatment. Hollywood types do this to Christians because they know that the most grief they will catch is a tepid review from some insignificant blogger like me, while some angered Muslims might respond with a wellplaced suicide bomb.

So, back to the excellent question of Why was I there? Well, Pam got a Groupon with a sweet discount, for one thing. Secondly, we love shows! It's Valentines Day week. We thought it would be different...fun. My son had seen it and thought  it was hilarious and well done, although he warned me that it was highly offensive in places. I saw pictures of friends on Facebook who had just seen it and had proclaimed it funny but crude etc...

Here's the thing. If I was forced to use just one word to describe this show it would be...vulgar. Since that word isn't used much anymore, let me offer the Webster definition..."making explicit and offensive references to sex or bodily functions; coarse and rude; characteristic of the masses." While I'm at it, perhaps a quick refresher on the word blasphemy is in order..."the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk."

Christianity is a religion that doesn't require a lot from its practitioners, with all that grace and forgiveness business. But, I'm old fashioned enough to believe that there are some things I shouldn't do. I probably shouldn't be a drug dealer for example, probably shouldn't make my living running guns or selling women into the sex trade, or become a Yankees fan. And maybe, just maybe, I probably shouldn't pay money to see shows like Book of Mormon. As I sat there in my cramped seat, with six other human beings within two feet of my face, I couldn't help think about the many missionaries I know and love. I thought about the sacrifices they all made to attempt to enrich the lives of people in Africa, Asia, and South America. They didn't just go there to notch converts on their belt, but to help bring clean drinking water to communities who had none, to provide medical care to people hundreds of miles from a doctor. They worked for decades in brutal conditions without complaint because of a calling to serve the least of these. To see their life's work denigrated for cheap laughs was a bit painful. But so was the essential message of Book of Mormon which was, religion is merely a collection of metaphors that offers nothing of value to hurting people, and what's wrong with making stuff up as long as it makes people feel good about themselves?

So, my opinion of Book of Mormon is this...if you are not a person of faith, you will probably enjoy it. If you are, I'm not sure how it is possible that you could.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Scumbag of the Day


Our world is populated with lots of terrible people. Examples of human debris are everywhere you look and span across all walks of life, races, genders and ethnicity. There are murderers, thieves, rapists and human traffickers. Although, I could continue adding to this list of horribles for the rest of the day, I could never exceed the list given to us by the great Headly Lamarr from Blazing Saddles:

"I want rustlers, cut-throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperadoes, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers....and Methodists."


But yesterday I was introduced by my son, Patrick, to a new breed of scumbag...Puppy thieves. The unspeakably adorable fur ball in the photograph above was apparently stolen from his/her owner down in Nashville, ostensibly for resale on the internet via E-Bay.

Ok, let that sink in for a minute.

Some degenerate cretin sees this puppy frolicking in the yard with some kid and decides that he could rip the pup away from the helpless kid and sell it on E-Bay for $1000. The perfect crime. Upon hearing about this new low in human depravity, my son flew into a murderous rage and immediately posted the picture on Facebook and mobilizing dog-lovers all over Nashville to track down this real world Cruella DeVille. If he succeeds, he will have accomplished something truly great...administering justice to a dirtbag.

Listen, I'm fully aware that there are far more terrible and even heinous things going on all over the world to human beings. I'm also not trying to make the moral equivalence argument here that dogs are as valuable in the sight of God than are people. However, there is something uniquely disturbing about the mistreatment of dogs, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because they are so dependent on us for their survival. Maybe it's because they love us unconditionally, and ask so little in return. But when I see cruelty and malice at work aimed at them, it sends me into a righteous fury. Apparently, I have passed down this rage to my children. I make no apologies for it. I hope the social media army down in Nashville track this thug down and then I hope he feels the full force of the law when his punishment is meted out. Here's a sentencing suggestion...How about we put a collar around his neck, tie it around a pole on a bare patch of dirt somewhere and let him spend the rest of the winter out there covered in tics and fleas?


Friday, February 10, 2017

My Tongue is Taking a Beating!!

I'm ten days into my self-imposed No Politics February. I would be lying if I said it's been easy. Not only have I not written about politics, I have also refrained from commenting on anyone else's politically charged posts. Let's just say that I've bitten my tongue so many times, it needs stitches. But, something remarkable has started to happen. Gradually, day by day, I'm starting to feel better.

Do I miss the chance to vent my spleen over some idiotic story coming out of the White House? Well, yes, I do. Primarily because it's a lot of fun. Do I miss the chance to excoriate the imbeciles that populate the left when they do what they do? Of course. Primarily because it feels so good. But, every time I just let it go, I realize that the world can get along just fine without my opinion. I'm learning that it is quite freeing to lay down the burden of always feeling the need to signal my virtue 24 hours a day." I must make sure people know that I disagree with this!!" Well, actually no, I don't.

Here's another thing. Knowing that I am prohibited from mouthing off about stuff for awhile has allowed me the chance to dig deeper into stories, read more about the issue. Sometimes this has resulted in additional confirmation of my own views, but other times it has shed light on different perspectives that I hadn't considered...and, dare I say, changed my mind? See, that's something that has become crystal clear to me over the last few weeks. For all of our opinions and rants on Facebook, nobody, and I mean nobody is changing anybody's mind. All we are doing is further entrenching ourselves in the comfort of our own biases. We are walling ourselves off into ideological tribes. In our rush to be right or even witty, we have lost the art of persuasion because we have gotten intellectually lazy. Instead of researching a complicated political topic by reading a variety of opinions before formulating our own, we fall back on our gut instincts and personal history, then  launch broadsides at each other in ignorance. Naturally, I feel this especially true of my ideological opponents, but in all honesty, I also stand guilty as charged. Nobody likes being lectured. Few people  respond well to condescension. There's a fine line between talking to someone and talking at them, or worse still, talking past them.

So, this punditry pause has been mostly a positive experience. But, my poor tongue is taking a beating here, people!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Use People, Love Things, and Worship Yourself?

Occasionally I feel the need to indulge my inner nerd. That's when I go over to the American Enterprise Institute's website and check in to see what Arthur Brooks has to say. He's one of those guys who Richard Nixon would have described as a "pointy-headed intellectual." However, instead of  writing scathing denunciations of the West all day, he actually is a stout defender of free markets and free minds. Yesterday he wrote a rather long and ponderous piece entitled, Confessions of a Catholic Convert to Capitalism. In it, he asked several tough questions about his preferred economic system, and attempted answers. I will not go into the details of the thing here, but I want to tell you about a line which jumped off the page at me. In a discussion of the moral and spiritual failings of capitalism he said this...

" I have lain awake worrying about the coarsening materialism of our society and popular culture. Turn on the television, go to the movies, glance at practically any advertisement, and you will learn that the formula for a happy life is simple: use people, love things, and worship yourself."

Use people, love things, worship yourself...

He then asks the rhetorical question: Is Capitalism to blame? Because, although capitalism and free markets have created more wealth and indeed lifted more people out of grinding poverty than any system ever conceived by the mind of man, facts that are not in dispute, has it reduced us to merely agents of commerce, robotic money making and money chasing machines? His answer put forth in the essay is essentially, "No." capitalism, as an economic system is amoral, and is only as good and righteous as the people participating in it. I agree. But, I would add something else. Capitalism, by itself, is insufficient for the happiness and betterment of mankind. It does tend to reduce us to material beings. To get ahead requires a certain ruthlessness of character at times. Without a moral component, economic well being as a goal does indeed encourage and reward...using people, loving things, and worshiping ourselves.

To advance to a place where our life goals are to love people, use things, and worship God is a far more difficult challenge, and more vital for the happiness and betterment of mankind. For me, this is where faith steps in to the picture, since it reorients my mind from it's default position of self-interest to the interests of others, the life of Christ being a case study in learning to love others,  with his haunting challenge, " What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

So, yes. . .I am a capitalist and thankful for its blessings. But I am also humble enough to understand it's limitations.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Day On The Links

After a long morning which involved my assistant redoing a pile of paperwork which I had screwed up, I grabbed a quick lunch then headed to Sycamore Creek for a round of golf. My goal was three fold, to enjoy a rare 70 degree February day by spending it outside, to walk 18 holes while carrying my clubs, and not to stink up the place by shooting 100.

I was paired up with a 67 year old, newly retired man named Ken. He had spent 40 years teaching middle schoolers in Powhatan county. I felt like I should have been carrying his clubs too! 40 years teaching middle schoolers? Are you Freaking kidding me?? We enjoyed lively conversation over the next four hours and very much enjoyed each other's company, although I must say, the man was certainly no fan of Democrats. Whenever he would offer a treatise on how Democrats were responsible for everything from the Trilateral Commission to slow lines at the grocery store, I would change the subject..."So, how 'bout those Patriots?"

I accomplished goal number one with ease. I hadn't been outside for four hours in probably three months and I was feeling the effects. The worst part about winter for me has always been having to spend so much time indoors. It was a glorious day. I actually wore short sleeves, and even got a bit of a tan.

I accomplished goal number two...barely. I can't remember the last time I have walked 18 holes and carried my clubs. I've used a pull cart many times, but carrying one's own clubs is usually reserved for teenage boys and caddies. But, I was determined. I turned on the gps device on my cell phone to track how far of a walk I was about to take, then silenced it and zipped it up in my bag. The first nine holes were surprisingly easy. I congratulated myself on being in such fine physical shape. Then the back nine arrived and promptly added fifty pounds to the weight of my bag. I began to feel the burn in my thighs and calves. By hole number 14, my feet began to ache. Ken, who was riding alone in his cart sensed that I was slowing down and began constantly asking if I needed a lift. I refused his kind offers each time out of pure stubbornness and hubris. When I walked off the 18th green everything I had was stiff and sore and I was worn out, but I made it, a four hour, 4.28 mile march.

Goal number three was the most surprising. As is my custom, I didn't hit any balls to warm up, just walked out to the first tee and let it rip. I had determined that I would take no mulligans, and hit each ball where it lay, despite the somewhat soggy, winter conditions. I mean, why not, right? I'm not totally sure but I think the last time I had played was in Maine back in July of last year. So, to my considerable delight, I hit the ball great, only lost one ball all day, and shot a very respectable 85. This despite the fact that I continued my 30 year run of being the worst putter in all of Christendom. Trying to explain just how bad a putter I am isn't easy. It's an acquired incompetence. Imagine someone trying to putt while intoxicated and suffering an epileptic seizure. Or maybe, think of trying to putt with a push broom while blindfolded.

So, this morning my shoulders feel like I've spent a week carrying Lena Dunham around in a backpack. But the good news is...I lost three pounds!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Beware the Mild Winter Head Fake

So far, this has been the type of winter that makes me nervous. Except for that one snowstorm a month ago, we have had an easy time of it. Today it's supposed to reach the 70's. By and large, we've enjoyed 50's over 30's all winter. So, I'm nervous that we're all being tricked into thinking that winter is done. Mother Nature is giving us a huge head fake, and we're all going for it. Just about the time we all are rummaging through our closets looking for the short sleeve shirts, we're going to get hammered by some 18 inch snowstorm and a week of single digit temperatures! I can feel it.

Nevertheless, this afternoon will be 70 degrees and sunny, and I have no appointments on the calendar, the first such day of the year. I'm feeling the call of the little white ball. It's been probably six or seven months since last I played. Getting outside in 70 degree weather and walking around for four hours sounds fabulous to me at the moment.

Speaking of nice weather. . .I will be attending a business meeting the third week of March down in Florida. It's two days of boring business meetings, the kind of trip I have made a habit of missing whenever possible. But this year, there are actually important things that will be discussed, things I need to hear, so I'm going. I thought that I would take Pam with me and maybe stay a couple extra days in the sun at a very nice resort hotel called Coconut Point, near Fort Myers.


Then yesterday I made the happy discovery that the Boston Redsox spring training facility is only 20 miles from the hotel, and as fate would have it, they have a game scheduled against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday the 24th!! This is what is known as a divine appointment. A mere ten days before my 59th birthday, I'm finally going to attend my first spring training baseball game! I'm going to eat an overpriced hotdog, drink a couple of overpriced beers and bore Pam to death with baseball talk for an afternoon in the warm Florida sun. This fortuitous turn of events has made me positively giddy with anticipation...which brings me back to this head fake business. If we get some freak late winter Nor'easter the third week of March which foils my travel plans, I'm going to be one angry, bitter man. It might even force me into the streets to join "the resistance."

Eh...probably not.

Monday, February 6, 2017


My days of caring deeply about the NFL are long gone, but there I was last night, sitting down to a feast of nachos, and buffalo chicken sliders, to watch the game. I'm an American. It's what we do.

The Super Bowl is more than just a game. It's more like an event. There's the game itself, which more often than not is a blowout, but there's also the commercials and the halftime show. Oh yeah, there's also the tense, hold your breath moment right before the game when the latest greatest pop icon massacres the national anthem. This time however, country heartthrob, Luke Bryan did a passable job except for the fact that it was way too slow.

I haven't read any reviews of the night's commercials yet, but from where I sat, I believe it safe to say that America has officially lost its sense of humor. Worst. Commercials. Ever. Even the beer commercials weren't funny. Budweiser offered a morality tale about immigration, with young Aldophus Busch sloughing his way across this hateful, venom-spewing country, to St. Louis, where he could get busy building his brewery into a money-printing monolith. Bud Lite literally resurrected Spuds Mackenzie (who knew he was dead?) in a particularly unfunny minute long offering. There seemed to be an awful lot of commercials for movies. I made a mental note to not go to see any of them.

As far as the actual game goes, it was the New England Patriots vs. the Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots are so easy to hate. They seem to always play in the Super Bowl for one thing, and although everyone loves a winner, everybody hates a winner who wins too much. Ask Tiger Woods, Jimmy Johnson, and the New York Yankees. With great success comes great animosity. With New England, there's their grumbling, fashion challenged head coach, Bill Belichick, who possesses all of the charisma of a loaf of stale bread. There's the club's owner, Robert Craft, wealthy beyond all reason, who made his bones by buying the worst electric razor company in the history of civilization, and parlaying that into a global conglomerate. Of course, with all the cheating allegations, especially Deflategate, the Patriots have turned into the team everyone loves to hate.

Then there's Tom Brady, he of the matinee idol good looks, gorgeously hot model-wife, and collection of Super Bowl rings. He's the guy every other guy wants to be and every woman wants to be with. What's not to hate? After last night, the answer is...nothing.

With his team down by 25 points halfway through the third quarter, Brady-haters were having a field day. Meanwhile, on the field, number 12 looked unfazed. So, what does he do? Of course, he does what nobody else had ever done. . . rally his team back from an insurmountable deficit to win his fifth Super Bowl and fourth Super Bowl MVP. Deflate THIS.

I may not be a Patriot fan or a Tom Brady fan for that matter, but I am a fan of greatness, and I know it when I see it. Tom Brady is simply the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. I kinda knew it before last night. But after last night, the only people alive who don't know it are the unrepentant haters.

Well, yeah. . .there's that thing with Bridget Moynihan when he left her for Gisele while she was pregnant with his child, but this is America, the land of flawed heros. We can forgive an awful lot for a tight spiral. And nobody throws them better than Tom freaking Brady.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

My Nephew. So Much Work To Do!

Ryan is the only son of my sister Paula and her husband Ron. As such he is my nephew, and a fine young man he is, educated, gainfully employed, handsome, and possessing the fine quality of manners so missing in many of his contemporaries.

He was raised by three parents. . .his mother and father, and ESPN's Sports Center. As such, he fancies himself an expert on all things sports related. In many ways this is true. He can rattle off every insignificant factoid about the inconsequential NBA and NFL you could ever possibly want to know. But, his greatest area of expertise is in the world wide scourge known as soccer. Ryan is a walking, and unfortunately talking, soccer encyclopedia. It's too late for me to undo that damage, soccer being a rapidly progressive disease with no known cure. However, there is a glimmer of hope in the kid. Recently, he has shown a nascent interest in baseball!!

Of course, I have jumped all over this ray of hope in the kid's development. He has picked a team to root for, the Washington Nationals, which happens to be my national league team. Hopefully, I can guide his baseball enthusiasm away from the Yankees, who he only likes because, well...because Yankees evil has spread throughout the fruited plain like a Bibilical curse, and young skulls full of mush are basically powerless against its influence. But, I'm hoping that with persistent education and guidance I will eventually break the grip that the dark side currently has on his mind.

Just to let you all know what I'm up against in this battle of overcoming baseball ignorance, earlier today he sent me a clip on Facebook of Vin Scully reciting the famous "..if you build it, they will come" speech from Field of Dreams. So far, so good. The fact that he too was moved by that sacred text is cause for celebration. But then he added, in typically Ryanian fashion, the flat statement..."best sports movie ever."

Poor kid. I have so much work to do with this one. My reply was rather direct..."Umm, it's only the second best baseball movie ever made!" I then explained that the best baseball movie ever made, as everyone knows, was Bull Durham, to which he responded, "never seen it."

So, much work to do. But I am psyched for the job.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Lucy's Bone Adventure

I am a Christian, and as such, I have never believed in reincarnation. But, after living for two years with Lucy, I'm starting to have my doubts. Maybe the reason why she doesn't act like your standard issue, garden variety Golden Retriever is because she's actually the reincarnation of a teenaged girl from Iowa who died tragically during a shock therapy session gone bad at the State mental hospital in Des Moines. How else to explain the endless variety of quirks? The latest might just be the most bizarre ever...

A couple of weeks ago, Pam came home from the grocery store with a special treat for Lucy. It was her first real bone, and it was a beauty. I mean, this thing was amazing, with dried chunks of real meat hanging off the thing. Both of us hyped this bone to Lucy like it was the greatest thing a dog could ever be given. When we finally gave it to her she went full One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest crazy.

First of all, if I had given any of my previous Golden's such a fine bone they would have immediately sequestered themselves in a corner of the house and spent the next several hours chewing and gnawing away in Canine bliss. Heck, if I had given this bone to Kaitlin's dog, Jackson, he would have turned that thing into a fine powdery mist within an hour. Not our Lucy. No, no, there would be no feast. She picked it up as gingerly as a jeweler would pick up the Hope diamond. Then she walked around the house growling and whining, with the bone hanging from her mouth. After several minutes of this strangeness, she walked over to the back door and sat the bone down on the middle of a towel we had placed on the floor to dry her feet off when she comes in from a trip into the backyard. Then she began pushing the towel around with her nose until the bone was completely covered and hidden. I laughed at her and immediately rescued the bone and began explaining to Lucy the fact that for centuries, these types of bones have been considered haute cuisine by her ancestors. This was nothing to be afraid of...it was for eating. The poor girl looked at me as if I had two heads.

For the next couple of days we would find the bone covered in towels. One night she brought it into bed with us and began trying to bury it under the covers at 3:00 am! We have since found it in a variety of random places, and until recently she had never, as far as we could tell, taken one single bite out of the thing. Finally, a few days ago we noticed that one end of it had been gnawed down an inch or so. Immediately, she began scratching herself for the first time ever. Pam has made the snap diagnosis that she is allergic to the bone, so the bone has been dispatched from our home. Lucy doesn't seem to miss it.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Hidden Figures. A Review.

Went to see Hidden Figures last night, a rare Wednesday date night. Cinebistro was in fine form. The shrimp mac and cheese was exquisite. The movie was terrific. On the way out I was able to grab not one, not two, but three of those delicious chocolate-mint gumdrop things. A killer night!

Hidden Figures, as you know, is about three African-American women who worked at NASA in Langley during the early 60's when this nation was trying to catch up with the Soviet Union's space program. This was before the Civil Rights battles, where Jim Crow segregation was the law of the land. These three ladies possessed brilliant mathematical minds, but toiled away in relative obscurity in a colored section of the complex, until fate intervened and brought all three to prominence. Neccesity being the mother of invention, the brightest and best minds had to be employed, regardless of skin color, so in the merit based environment of NASA, the cream eventually rose to the top. These three women had to overcome not only their race but their gender as well, making them all the more remarkable.

Watching what life was like in 1961 Virginia was difficult. The most excruciating part of the movie was the part where Katherine Johnson's character, played beautifully by Taraji Henson, was forced to run across the Langley campus half a mile twice a day, arms full of her work, through all kinds of weather....to go to the bathroom, since that's where the closest colored bathroom was. She did so every day, suffering this absurdity in stoic silence until finally, when confronted with her slacking forty minute breaks by her boss, launches into an impassioned defense of herself which brought tears to my eyes. When the boss, played surprisingly well by Kevin Costner, silently walks over to the coffee table and rips the colored sticker someone had placed on a small coffee pot provided especially for Ms. Johnson, you could have heard a pin drop in the universe.

The part of the movie which moved me the most though was the sense of national purpose woven throughout the country by the space program. Everyone, was invested in its success, it seemed. Although segregated, groups of whites and blacks gathered outside of store fronts watching the blast off of Friendship Seven on televisions displayed in the windows. Living rooms in black and white homes were packed with people praying and holding their breath as rockets either lifted off successfully, or crashed to the ground in a terrifying fireball. It's hard to imagine anything today having the power to unite us as a people like that. It was both inspiring and sad to ponder just how divided we have become.

It was also inspiring to see that Hollywood still has it within itself to produce uplifting and heroic films. Bravo!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I'm Back!!

Taking a break from this blog has been a strange experience. For over six years now, I have been writing something here almost every day. To suddenly stop writing felt weird, like I had left the house without brushing my teeth or something.

While I was away, I decided that I would engage in a little old school Facebook positivity by posting adorable pictures of dogs along with the occasional uplifting story. It was fun. But then yesterday, I reverted to biting sarcasm form by posted a picture of a dog with a noose in his mouth that I saw on The Onion. I thought it was funny and wickedly ironic as a follow up to all the other dog pictures. But then I saw my wife's comment..."I don't find this funny at all." That was my queue to take it down. Pam has always been my unofficial censor, offering advice, (along with lots of eye-rolling and heavy sighs) when my particular brand of humor goes off the rails. About the time I was getting ready to delete the picture, my assistant, Kristin, walked in to the office and was in complete agreement with Pam's opinion of the picture. What is it with women always being on the same page about stuff like this??

Ok, so now that I'm back, the rules for February will be as follows:

1. No Trump references.
2. No Obama references.
3. No political commentary.
4. No pictures of government funded suicide assistance dogs.

To be clear, it's not that I no longer care about such things. I am fully aware of how precarious a position we find ourselves in at this particular moment in the history of our Republic. But, one cannot remain perpetually enraged. At some point, you would die from exhaustion. One cannot live in the streets carrying signs, just as one can also not spend all day, every day defending the guy whose last name starts with a T and rhymes with rump. (This isn't gonna be easy)

So February will be about everything except politics. Maybe there will be some moaning and groaning about the weather, the commercial exploitation of Valentine's Day, how ghastly and worthless a month February is, so much so that God felt bad about it so he made it the shortest one.

By foregoing politics, I hope to, in some small way, dial down the rhetorical temperature in my little corner of the interwebs. I just hope I don't bore you all to death in the process!