Surviving the Olden Days

November is right around the corner and that means it’s my birthday month. I’ll be 51 this year on the 14th. I will be accepting gifts throughout the month, so don’t feel like you have to rush. Think it through and send the most thoughtful Rolex watch you can find.

Also, birthdays make me think about the passing years. I remember high school — before the written language — and how 35 seemed old, let alone 50 or 60 or 70. My grandfather is 93 years old, so I come from a long line of long livers. That’s great. And I don’t feel any older really. I can’t jump as high or run as fast as someone in high school, but I feel like I can contribute.

Some days.

Other days I feel like the grey hair and the wrinkles and the moles are gonna take over. Especially the moles. I’m not sure if old people actually die or if they just become so mole-y that they are camouflaged and we can’t see them any more. I have moles that popped up out of nowhere and come and go like my body is some sort of Motel 6 right next to a Cracker Barrel, where moles check in around 3 p.m. on a Wednesday and check out and 6 a.m. the next morning to get two eggs, two strips of crispy bacon and white toast with grape jelly.

It must have been so much easier for our ancestors to get old because the average age was about 32 or something. They just graduated from high school, popped out a few kids, learned the art of war and died. Ahhh, the good ol’ days.

They seem so lucky sometimes . But then everything turns around and I think that I’m just starting to live. There are times when I feel like I died when I was in my 20s and I just wasn’t buried yet. I was a lackluster underachiever never accomplishing much. The only real skill I could put on my resume was “pretty good at Jeopardy.”

But now that I’m 51, I feel like I’m rising again. I feel like I can be resurrected. Like Jesus, I am on the hill of Golgotha, which is the place of the skull. I feel like if I can get our heads (skulls) right, thinking positive thoughts of success and then taking some baby steps toward that success every day, I can achieve greatness at any age. At least whatever definition I use to define greatness.

I’m not too old. I just need to wake the f*^& up. Rise up and shine. I’m not dead and buried. I am alive and full of ideas and full of competence and ready to share what I have with the world.

But first, I got to get some breakfast at that Cracker Barrel and patiently wait for my gifts to roll in.

Advertisements

Why Ain’t We Happy?

IMG_2983

The World Happy Report for 2017 was released a while back and once again America came out on top.

Haha. That’s a joke. We are actually 14th on this year’s list. Which I guess isn’t bad considering all the weird and wacky stuff that’s been going on here lately. (You can read the report yourself here.)

This year’s top spot was Norway, followed closely by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland. They were ranked based on “all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance,” according to the report. The only thing I thought about was Why is it all these cold countries? You would think that countries that have lots of beaches and girls in bikinis would be happy? What about places with beer and cigarettes and lottery tickets? Surely if we just have nice cars and a few honky tonks we would all be happy?

I guess not.

Turns out it’s mostly the cold places. You have to get to the 8 and 9 spots with New Zealand and Australia before any beachy, warm places show up.

I could not figure out why. So, the other day I ran across a lady that was originally from Sweden but lived in Norway for her teen years and now makes her home in Connecticut. All cold places without top 10 beach destinations. I am sure these are beautiful countries (even Connecticut), but I had to ask.

Why are all the people in places like Norway and Sweden and whatnot so happy?

She said, “I guess it’s because the work-life balance that people have there.”

It’s as good an answer as any I suppose. But all I could think about was But it’s so cold there? Why are Americans not at the top? People come from all over the world to America, to live the freakin’ American dream? What is going on? Plus, it’s so cold.

That was what I was thinking. I never said it out loud.

Then she said, “I guess people really need to get out of America and see some of the rest of the world. Then they might appreciate what they have.”

You shut your mouth, I thought. Then I thought, my god what if she’s right. Then I agreed with her. Then I shut my mouth.

Maybe I do need to get out more. Maybe I need to visit Norway. I’ll have to buy a coat first. A big one. Maybe you should get one and come along with me. We can drink beer, smoke cigarettes and buy lottery tickets.

Enjoy the Moment

IMG_3553

It doesn’t take long for the weeks to fill up. Every year seems to fly by quicker and quicker. I want to put on the brakes, but I can’t. So I do the next best thing … enjoy each moment. That sounds awesome doesn’t it. Enjoy each moment. Be present. Stay in the now.

Sounds good.

Very hard to do.

Not hard as in digging post holes for a new fence. Actually enjoying each moment is very simple. And that’s probably why it’s so hard. Simple things, especially if they are beneficial to us somehow, are so hard to do.

But I try. My wife and I recently started taking Wednesdays off. On those days we try to do things that enrich our lives. So far, we’ve been to the art museum, watched a movie (Bladerunner 2049 in 3D), took in a 1970s fashion show and yesterday we went to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. In all my years of leaving in the Dallas area, I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Botanic Garden. Been by it hundreds of times, but never stopped and literally smelled the roses.

But yesterday, on Wednesday (we have taken to calling it Midweek-end), I did. It was fun. Took some great photos. Walked about five miles. Stopped to use the bathroom at an outdoor toilet, which I assume resembles a prison toilet. After we had dinner with my son in Deep Ellum (nowhere near the botanic garden but still worth it). We had a great time. We drank some beer, ate some sliders and said “hey” to some friends.

IMG_3551

Sometimes it helps to just stop for a many as the world is flying by and catch our breaths and be present in the moment. Enjoy each moment. I hope you are enjoying the moment.

 

The stuff of dreams

Dreams are a weird sort. Not the dreams of “one day I dream of being a beautiful ballerina,” which was a dream of mine. I’m talking about dreams like at night. Sleeping dreams.

Dreams have always been sort of a sacred thing. Our ancestors must have been really freaked out by dreams. Many of them though that our souls were loose from our bodies at night and visited these different places they dreamt. I read somewhere that some indigenous people wouldn’t wake someone from a dream because there soil might not be back yet and they could get sick and die. Pretty serious stuff

I also read somewhere recently that the average person has about five dreams each night. Most of us don’t remember them but we all have them. I wasn’t sure but I wanted to try to remember more of mine. So I started keeping a dream journal. Each morning I get up in the quiet of noon and write down my dreams, at least what i can remember. It’s going pretty well but I want to remember more.

Also I want to experience lucid dreaming. That’s where you realize you’re dreaming and you can control your actions. I haven’t had a lucid dream yet but I read the book “The Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming” by three guys Dylan Tuccillo, Jared Zaizel, and Thomas Peisel. “Get the book here”. It’s a fascinating read and I look forward to learning more and having my first lucid dream experience.

Anyway, I hope you all get interested in your dreams and remember them and it makes you and the world a better place. Sweet dreams y’all.

I’m not ordinary

I am not ordinary. There is nobody else in the entire world with my particular set of skills, talents, looks, tastes, desires and experiences. They all make me unique. But it also makes me the same. I am unique like everyone else. Unfortunately too often I try to be like others. Not everybody else just the people I like or admire. I want to have their skills or talents or looks or tastes or desires or experiences. Any of all of that. But all of that striving and wanting and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) anxiety stresses me the f@#* out. It’s better to just be me. But it’s not so easy. Because. I’m ordinary. Like everybody else.

Sound The Claxon

FullSizeRender (1)

 

Peruvians know how to use their claxons. For those of you who may not know, “claxon” is the Spanish word for Twinkie.

Haha. That’s a joke. Actually, claxon is Spanish for horn, as in car horn, as in “you cut me off about two miles back so I’m teaching you a lesson by blowing my claxon. haha. serves you right, you moron. I bet you’ll never do that again to me or anybody else, because blowing my horn at you is such a great way to prove a point and teach a lesson” type of horn.

For some reason Americans aren’t very good at horns. Car horns are meant to signal, “Please watch out, you are about to do something you will regret and could cause property damage or harm to your body, or in certain cases … death.” That’s how horns are intended to be used. That’s not what Americans do with them, however. Americans love their cars and the only thing they love better than cars is the car horn. Unfortunately, the following are the only acceptable reasons for an American to use their car horn:

1. Somebody must to be taught a lesson. Honk!

2. Somebody needs to look at me so that I can flip them off. Honk! Check this out! HONK!

3. Somebody is about to take the parking spot I’ve been waiting on for a good 7 seconds. Honk! They better not. Honk!

4. Somebody is going 75 in a 70-mile-an-hour zone and I want to go 98, so they better move over a lane, even though that car going 55 is in the next lane, I don’t care they better do it or I’m also gonna start flashing my lights. HOOOOOOOONNNNNNNKKKKKKK!

5. Or, very rarely, watch out squirrel or I might run over you. Splat! Honk!

In other words, Americans are really bad at horn etiquette. I makes sense, I guess. We are horn ignorant. AT least I am. When I was taking driver’s ed, Mr. Moneypenny never taught us about how to use a horn or why. We learned more important things like “staring through the turn,” “slow down, you’re too close to Mrs. Morphis’ bumper,” “parallel parking,” or “driving 98 in a 70-mile-an-hour zone.”

“What is the horn for Mr. Moneypenny?” we would ask.

“Don’t worry about it. If they good lord wanted you to honk a horn, he would have made you a duck,” he would say.

“Huh?”

“Slow down, you’re gonna hit Mrs. Morphis.”

So we didn’t learn to use the horn properly. But Peruvians know how to use the horn. Peru is home to the ruins of the Incan civilization that lived around 700 to 800 years ago. They were able to build some magnificent structures and raise crops that would be the envy of the world. In other words, they were way ahead of their time. That’s why the Spaniards had to come in and show them what real civilization was by building huge churches and introducing small pox.

Somehow, in spite of the Spaniards, the Peruvian  people survived and thrived. Many of them still celebrate the Inca culture and are proud of the Incan ruins that survived the Spanish invasion. Most important of these ruins is called Machu Picchu. This holy site of the Incas was built about 700 years ago and was never found by the Spaniards because the Incas knew they were coming and hid the great site. The first outsider to discover the ruins was some five hundred years later in the early 20th century.

Because of all the ruins, Peru has a lot of tourism. People come from all over the world to see the ruins in Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and especially Machu Picchu. Because of the tourists, the country needs a lot of cab drivers. Because of the cab drivers, people have to use their horns, or claxons. And they use them a lot. A whole lot.

But in Peru, the car horn signals many different things. Unlike in America, the Peruvians use their horns for things like:

1. I would like to announce that I’m coming up to this corner at a speed roughly the same as the final straightaway at Daytona. Please, if you are a pedestrian, do not venture out into the road. Thank you.

2. I would like to announce that even though I’m six cars back at this traffic light that just turned green, I would like the person in the front of the line to go. You’ve already had 2 milliseconds to make a decision, so I am signaling to you that the light is indeed green.

3. I would like to announce that I was already in this lane that you are about to pull into and if you decide to proceed with entering my lane, I will allow it because I will also do it to somebody else 72 times today. Said person will also use their horn to make the same announcement to me at that time.

4. I would like to announce that I am a cab driver and since you are walking on the sidewalk, you might need a ride. Would you like a ride? You can ride if you want? You don’t have to walk? Do you want a ride? No? Okay, I would now like to announce that I am coming up this corner so, you, dear pedestrian, do not venture out into the road or you will die. Thank you.

5. And lastly, I would like to announce that the Spaniards are coming. Please hide Machu Picchu.

Peru is a great place. It’s noisy as hell with horns blaring all hours of the night. But honestly, I never saw one wreck while I was down there. Mostly because they don’t let Americans drive down there. It is again the law, punishable by up to life in prison or death by claxon. Even though all Peruvians seem to drive like maniacs — lanes are suggestions, traffic lights are ignored, weaving in and out of traffic is encouraged — nobody hits nobody. It’s a well-oiled machine. I have to believe that most of the reason why is because of the horn etiquette. I mean, it is annoying listening to all those horns honking, but it just works. I’m sure they have horrific accidents. They have to. The streets down there are crazy but I didn’t see any in 10 days of zipping in and out of traffic in various forms of taxi. They are safe.

And nobody seems to get upset. If somebody pulls over in front of a Peruvian driver, they politely or not so politely honk, pull in behind the car and get on with their day. That would never work here. Other drivers need to be taught a lesson with horns and fingers. And so, we wreck. A lot.

So, I guess what I’m saying is, let’s all be safe out there and take a lesson from the Peruvians, when you see the Spanish coming, sound your claxons and stay away from the smallpox.

Fine Dining In the Big D

Every now and again, I enjoy eating out at a fine dining establishment. This is something I learned as a kid eating at such establishments as Pizza Inn, Pancho’s Mexican Buffett and the five-star rated Pete’s Grill in Gladewater, Texas. As we say in Oklahoma, “it’s just don’t get no better than that.”

So the other day, I was out and about working and I started getting a little bit hungry. I pulled over at one of my favorite places of the finest of dining, Chick-fil-a.

Chick-fil-a is a great place to grab some haute cuisine consisting of chicken, buttery buns and two pickle slices. It’s heaven on earth really. If for whatever reason I one day found myself facing my last meal, I’m pretty sure that if I had a sack of Chick-fil-a, I could die a happy man.

So, I went in to one of the best Chick-fil-a’s in the nation and ordered the best item on the menu: The Number One combo. “Make it a large,” I said. The number one combo is the classic Chick-fil-a sandwich, waffle fries and — for me — a large Coke Zero.

I grabbed my condiments — two mustards and two ketchups — and a couple of napkins and found my seat at a table for one. A couple of minutes later, my plate of deliciousness arrived and I began the preparations for my meal. My preparations are a little different than some maybe. I like to put the mustard on my sandwich first. I make sure to get a little on the top bun and a little on the chicken too. It is a precise art that I have perfected over the years.

I remember eating my first Chick-fil-a back in the 1970s at the Town East Mall in Mesquite, Texas. Back then the only Chick-fil-a restaurants around were in malls. They didn’t have the stand-alone stores. All of the stores were still closed on Sundays, which makes me sad to this day. But I get it. The founder of Chick-fil-a, which I believe was Benjamin Franklin, made sure to honor his God by closing down on the sabbath. I’ll just have to find a way to satisfy my lustful craving for Chick-fil-a on the other six sinful days a week.

Back to the presentation and preparation. For my waffle fries, I like to spill the fries out on my tray, on a single layer, and spread a commodious amount of ketchup on each and every waffle fry. I love the waffle fries. I love the ketchup on the waffle fries. What I don’t love is trickery.

Let me explain (and I will include photos).

Waffle fries at Chick-fil-a are delicious. Probably the best in the world. Certainly the best in the United States and Nebraska. But there are some rules that Chick-fil-a needs to abide by. These rules are what constitutes a waffle fry and what does not constitute a waffle fry.

First off, a waffle fry must have waffles — holes in the fry. The proper waffle fry should look like tennis racket. I like to put ketchup all across the “strings” if you will. Ketchup should fill at least 60 percent of the holes in the racket.

The fry on the left is the perfect waffle fry. IMG_3291

Unfortunately the fry on the right is some type of communist propaganda trying to pass itself off as a waffle fry. There are no holes. There is no tennis racket. There are no waffles.

In every batch of waffle fries from Chick-fil-a, a couple of the fries will be intruders. I know the good folks at Chick-fil-a — including old Ben Franklin himself — do what they can to prevent this type of calamity from happening. And I appreciate the effort. But when I accidentally bite into one of the interlopers, I almost throw up a little bit in my mouth. They are all wet and gooey and gross. Wet and gooey and gross might be perfect for fries at a Wendy’s or something, but not a waffle fry.

How did I get off down this rabbit hole. Anyway, I enjoyed my sandwich, my Coke Zero and all of the actual waffle fries with the perfect amount of ketchup. The fraudulent fries went in the trash can, where they belonged.

IMG_3292

All in all it was a good day for fine dining and I can’t wait to get back to my favorite Chick-fil-a restaurant again. What is today? Oh crap, it’s Sunday.