Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Happy Holy-days

‘Tis the season to be jolly … Fa, la, la, la, la, la ‘freakin’ la’

I have been accused of being a “crotchety old man” by certain family members. That’s OK. It really doesn’t bother me all that much because I am a bit more conservative than some of the flaming liberals in our clan.

However, in my crotchetiness, I must say that I am not a big fan of the Christmas season. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with family and friends and I love working at a job where we get two weeks off. I love giving gifts to those people I care for.

What I don’t necessarily care for is getting "nickel-and-dimed" to death by every group, class and organization I am affiliated with that suddenly feels like they should do their part to help out the less fortunate. I also don’t like being accosted by bell ringers at every store front and intersection in town who are supposedly raising money for a “good cause.” Where is that money really going, and why do they not need to raise it in June?

Not only that, but you have to bring a Christmas ornament to this gathering or a gag gift to that. Your child is expected to bring a gift for a gift exchange in her ballet class. You have to cook brownies for this group or a cake for that group … and don’t forget the green bean casserole. You buy presents for kids in families you have never seen. You donate to special interest groups who are trying to pass out some Christmas cheer. You do all this and suddenly you realize you haven’t bought your own child a Christmas present.

Don’t get me wrong, my family has been greatly blessed and we are very fortunate to be in the situation we are in. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank God for all He has given us, be it money, food, family or friends who make our lives easier and more enjoyable. And furthermore, I love helping people out, but I would rather do it when it is least expected, not when everybody is telling me to do it and looking down on me if I don’t. And don't get me started on the over-commercialization of Christmas.

I really don’t know how to end this post. I really don’t have anything else to say. But I suspect there are more people out there who feel the way I do, and I hope they all get to stop at some point, relax and enjoy the people and places around them.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Fun for the whole family ... or not

I am obligated by the laws that govern web logs to post the following comment after participating in other events.

Please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL MEMORY OF YOU AND ME. It can be anything you want--good or bad--BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. When you're finished, post this paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Rice, Burritos and Dessert

I must hand it to my little 5-year-old teenager, her brain is always working.

Last night was like many other nights in our household; we went out to eat. Like most people we have our favorite haunts for a quick mid-week dinner and on this night we chose a little Mexican food restaurant that we like to frequent.

As is the custom, my wife ordered her quesadillas, “cheese only.” I order from the menu and our child asked for her typical side order of rice and flour tortillas. We ate a few chips and guacamole while waiting for our food. The kid loves guacamole. She has eaten it since a friend of ours decided to feed it to her when she was a baby. She hated baby food, but she loved guacamole.

Our food came out and we enjoyed the dinner. As usual, our child didn’t eat much of her rice an managed only half of a tortilla. This is the same 5-year-old who polished off two homemade bean burritos and three fruit rollups for supper the night before. She has gotten in the habit of not eating much when we eat out, then asking for food as soon as we get home.

“I’m full,” she said as she began flattening out the remainder of her rice to make a pancake.

At this point I gave her my stern fatherly look and told her that I did not want to go home and immediately hear her asking for food to eat … she needed to eat her supper.

“But I’m full,” she said again.

We finished eating then had to run over to the store to pick up some items for one of the seemingly endless list of Christmas parties we have to attend each year.

We spend a few minutes trying to complete the self check-out line because the other line we were in was having trouble with the debit-card machine. Needless to say, checking out took longer than it should have, but we weren’t in the store too long.

We returned home and got comfortable. No sooner had I sat down to watch a little TV than my child saunters into the living room.

“Da-da,” she says looking at me.

I know what is coming. The three grains of rice she ate for supper have worn off and she wants jelly sandwich or macaroni and cheese. Remembering what I told her at supper, I am prepared to tell her no and send her off to bed hungry because she didn’t eat her supper.

She looks at me with her big blue eyes … “I’m ready for dessert.”

A slow grin spreads across her face because she knows she has caught me.

“That’s what you eat after supper, right?” She asks smiling.

What can I do? I have just been out-witted by a pint-sized kindergartener. And she knows it.

My next plan of attack was simple. “Ok.” I thought to myself. “She is going to ask for a brownie or a cookie and I can tell her that she didn’t eat enough supper to warrant a tasty treat for dessert.”

“What do you want for dessert?” I ask, trying to set my trap.

She looks at me, grins and says … “Cheese!”

Game, set, match! I lose.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Place in this World

Last weekend proved to be interesting for me. Our university was hosting a combined basketball tournament that featured both college and high school teams. I usually make plans to attend a number of the games, but this tournament was a little different.

One of the high school teams hailed from my former stomping grounds where I spent five years as the sports editor of the local paper. This particular town was known for high school basketball; not only the astounding success the team has had throughout the years, but the style of basketball which it has made famous in high school circles. This high school team is probably the only team in the Southwest that is allowed to run the score up on its opponents without opposing coaches getting upset. In fact, if the team ever stopped running its full-court press, the coach would be on the next bus out of town.

As I was sitting in my office on Wednesday afternoon I received a phone call from a old college buddy. He was instrumental in bringing me to the paper where we worked together for several years. I moved on, but he stayed there and in a few short years took over as managing editor. Anyway, he said his sports staff was a bit shorthanded and he needed someone to string for him. In laymen’s terms “string” means write stories about the games.

It has only been four years since I left that paper, and the coaches that I had become very familiar with were still in place. I said I would be happy to cover the games, provided he caughed up some cash. After 10 seconds of hard negotiations, we agreed on the terms of my contract labor and I went to work.

I spent the next three days covering the team and talking to people I had known in my previous life. It was nice to see them. We talked about old times and they all told me they wished I was still at the paper.

“The guy they have now is real green …”

“The sports section has really gone down hill since you left …”

“I wish you’d come back and save the paper …”

… were a few of the comments I heard.

The accolades were nice and a definite stroke to the old ego. Let’s face it, we all like to hear that we are better at something than the other guy. But I have to admit, hearing comments like that always makes me wonder … “What did these same people tell the guy that I replaced?”

A Testing We Shall Go

I heard from a lady who works at the university that my sister, the probation officer, attended a Rotary luncheon on campus a few weeks ago. My sister of course, is morally and fundamentally opposed to any and all types of social organizations.

So, it made me wonder what she was doing there. Had she been invited? Was she a guest speaker? Did she just crash the party for the food? Or was she there to administer drug tests to all our civic leaders?

“Excuse me high-powered attorney, would you mind peeing in this cup?”

Merry Crotchmas

So, I haven’t written in awhile. I’ve been a little busy. Just today (well, yesterday actually) I was working on a Christmas card for our admissions office to send out to prospective students. No big deal, right? Well, it is when you are contacted at the last possible minute and have only limited time to dig up some festive photos to use on said card.

Anyway, I can’t really blame the people in the office. The boss just quit to accept a position elsewhere and they have kind of been left in limbo for the time being. And furthermore, it gave me something creative to work on which is always enjoyable.

However, you must be careful in choosing pictures to use on promotional material. For instance, in one of the photos I wanted to use, a student was wearing a Harvard sweatshirt. That’s all well and good, but we ain’t Harvard.

A few quick keystrokes in Photoshop and Harvard suddenly disappeared. Unethical? Maybe, but I’m a PR flack. What does ethics have to do with it? But just for the record, we ended up using a different photo anyway.

However, I was contacted today shortly before the card had to be sent to the printer. Let’s just say the VP in charge wanted to switch out a photo. To avoid going into all the gory Santa details, I will summarize by saying that in my return email I signed off … “Wishing you ‘Happy Holidays’ and may all your Christmas cards be crotch free.”