Sunday, April 27, 2008

Carrying Assault Rifles IS NOT Against Federal Law???

You may have heard that Chicago has had a rash of deadly shootings the past few weekends. Shootings are up. Deaths are up. Last night, there was a hostage standoff at an autobody shop that resulted in the police having the kill the hostage taker because he started shooting at them.

It's disgusting. The reasons for this massive increase in gunfire vary. Some claim it's due to the warm weather (see if you can follow this) because the winter was so very long and people were cooped up in their homes. Now it's warm (although my heat is on as I write this because it's 40 degrees outside) and people are outside, so naturally, shootings increase. I don't understand that reason at all. I think it's an excuse, not a reason. Others say (and I believe) this increase in gun violence has more to do with the economy. People can't afford the basics. They are having problems putting food on their tables. They're feeling desperate and frustrated (and to quote Barack Obama) and bitter.

This weekend, in response to this increase in gun violence, Mayor Daley and Police Chief Jody Weis have proposed that Chicago cops be equipped with semiautomatic assault rifles because they're "outgunned" by the gangs and criminals. That's right. If the Mayor and Police Chief get their way (and I'm not arguing for or against this, although I think it's quite the statement), all 13,000 of Chicago's Finest will be running around with M4 carbines, which can shoot up to 1000 rounds per minute.

In explaining his support for this plan, Mayor Daley says, "We're finding out that the weapons of criminals are getting bigger and bigger, AK-47s, all types of different weapons, because they can carry assault weapons, it's not a violation of federal law, and that is a concern for all of us." (emphasis mine)

It's NOT a violation of federal law to carry assault weapons. WTF????? Why not? Why does anyone need to carry assault weapons like AK-47s or M4s? These are not guns to hunt deer or squirrel or pheasant or whatever else hunters hunt. These are the weapons used in Iraq to kill people. The sole purpose of assault weapons is to hunt people. Why does anyone need these kinds of guns?

I'm not trying to start a pro- or anti-gun debate here. I understand that there are legitimate reasons why people keep guns. I understand that people hunt for food. Some of my relatives in Mississippi hunt deer and duck and I'm sure other things too. I get that. I understand it's something passed down from generation to generation. I'm not judging it or saying it's bad.

But there's a difference between owning guns for hunting deer and owning assault rifles for hunting people.

Can someone explain to me one legitimate reason why anyone needs to own AK47s or M4 assault weapons? And why the hell it's not illegal to own them?

What level have we sunk to that we must live in a gun state where cops patrolling the streets carry assault rifles at all times?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mechanically Shaken . . . Not Stirred

Don't tell James Bond about this new "nostalgic" martini shaker.

According to the description, there's a new debilitating "syndrome" criss-crossing America . . . Martini Shaker Arm Fatigue Syndrome. And there's only one way to prevent it (well, two if you stop drinking Martinis, but why would anyone ever want to do that?????) . . . The Cocktail-Shake-O-Matic.

The best part is the video. You can thank me later.

President Bartlet Endorses Obama!

President Josiah Bartlet (aka Martin Sheen) endorsed Barack Obama yesterday according to Wonkette!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Night Ranger to Perform at Frontier Days!

Last summer it was Rick Springfield and this summer 80s Hairband Night Ranger will perform on July 2nd (opening night!) at Frontier Days! The day after they release their new album "Hole In The Sun"!

One of my strongest memories of junior high school is being a my girlfriend Janice's Bat Mitzvah and meeting a boy named Craig. He lived in the city and it turned out we shared a birthday. It was the first time I'd ever met anyone with my birthday. We danced and danced at Janice's party and then during Sister Christian, Craig kissed me! It wasn't my first kiss, but it was one of the most memorable and I think of it every time I hear Sister Christian.

Frontier Days is always one of the highlights of the summer and I can't wait to find out who else is performing. It's bound to be a great summer!

Note: According to the Frontier Days website, seating for the main stage has changed this year. It's no longer blanket seating only. It's now "open seating" which means blankets, chairs, or standing. We'll definitely have to be there EARLY to save our favorite spot on the lawn!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Let It Go!

I'm not a terribly religious person. I consider myself more spiritual than religious, but maybe others would call me a "Cafeteria Christian" meaning I pick and choose what part of my religion I subscribe to. I would prefer to say that I'm open to the ideas of many ways of thought.

I say all of this as a preface to something I was emailed earlier today that made me think and spoke to me. It's a poem by Bishop T.D. Jakes, who I will admit I'm not terribly familiar with, called "Let It Go." The message in this poem is a good one about the people and stuff in our lives. It reminds me that it's not good to hold onto things and relationships that are not positive in my life. Sometimes, in the past, I've been guilty of holding onto stuff (both material and emotional) way too long. And also in the past, I've been guilty of holding onto relationships in my life because I thought "negative attention or love was better than no attention or love." The fact is that negative is negative and it brings me down like a lead weight.

But that's not who I am anymore. I deserve better. I deserve relationships and stuff in my life that support me and lift me up and help me be a better person. And I hope that in my relationships, I support, lift up and make the other people be better too.

This poem reminds me of a topic I've written about before about Reason, Season, and Lifetime People. I believe that 100%. Sometimes it's easy to mistake Season People for Lifetime People, but the trick is to let them go when you realize the Season is over and not look back with regret.

Without further ado, here's the poem. I hope it speaks to you the way it did to me.

Let It Go by TD Jakes

There are people who can walk away from you.
And hear me when I tell you this!
When people can walk away from you: let them walk.

I don't want you to try to talk another person into staying with you,
loving you, calling you, caring about you, coming to see you, staying attached to you.
I mean hang up the phone.

When people can walk away from you let them walk.
Your destiny is never tied to anybody that left.

People leave you because they are not joined to you.
And if they are not joined to you,
you can't make them stay.
Let them go.

And it doesn't mean that they are a bad person,
it just means that their part in the story is over.
And you've got to know when people's
part in your story is over so that you
don't keep trying to raise the dead.

You've got to know when it's dead.
You've got to know when it's over.
Let me tell you something.
I've got the gift of good-bye.
It's the tenth spiritual gift,
I believe in good-bye.

It's not that I'm hateful, it's that I'm faithful,
and I know whatever God means for me to have
He'll give it to me.
And if it takes too much sweat I don't need it.
Stop begging people to stay.
Let them go!!

If you are holding on to something
that doesn't belong to you and was never intended for your life,
then you need to ..LET IT GO!!!

If you are holding on to past hurts and pains ..

If someone can't treat you right, love you back, and see your worth...

If someone has angered you ...

If you are holding on to some thoughts of evil and revenge ..

If you are involved in a wrong relationship or addiction ..

If you are holding on to a job that no longer meets your needs or talents ..

If you have a bad attitude...

If you keep judging others to make yourself feel better...

If you're stuck in the past and God is trying to take you to a new level in Him...

If you are struggling with the healing of a broken relationship....

If you keep trying to help someone who won't even try to help themselves..

If you're feeling depressed and stressed ....

If there is a particular situation that you are so used to handling
yourself and God is saying "take your hands off of it," then you need to...

Let the past be the past.
Forget the former things.
GOD is doing a new thing for 2008 !!!

Get Right or Get Left .. think about it, and then LET IT GO!!!

My House Burned Down Today - 26 Years Ago

Friday, April 23rd, 1982, approximately 3:35pm.

I was a happy go-lucky 10-year old rushing home from school to grab my duffle bag and head out on a weekend Girl Scout camping trip. Running across my front lawn, I smelled fire, but couldn't figure out where it was coming from.

When I got in the front door, there was my mom standing in the kitchen and I told her I smelled something on fire outside. Although nothing could be smelled inside, together, we headed out to find the source of the smell. At just that moment, Dave came to the front door saying he smelled something.

Together we headed towards the backyard, thinking we'd find someone burning leaves or some one's shed on fire. All the way around the house, we could smell something, but never saw anything on fire. As we crossed the front yard in front of the garage, the burning smell was very strong.

[Now here's what you should NEVER do if your house is on fire]

I'm not sure who's idea it was, but when we reached the garage door, together, the three of us lifted it up only to find a small fire in the back left corner of the garage. Immediately, we slammed the door. Mom told us to stay outside as she ran inside the house and called the fire department (I don't think 911 existed back then). I ran inside and grabbed my green stuffed rabbit I'd had since I was either 3 or 4. I have no idea where Dave went.

Most of what unfolded the rest of the day is a blur in my mind, but very specific memories have stuck in my mind. I have no idea where Mom and Dave were as the firemen did their jobs, but I ended up across the street watching from a neighbor's driveway.

After it became apparent that the fire was not just some small thing that could easily be put out, someone told me to go inside the neighbor's house and call my dad. He was in Chicago, easily 2 hours away with the train commute, working at Wieboldt's. I will never forget standing in Sue Presutti's family room watching my house burn through her picture window just as my dad answered the phone. "Dad, the house is in FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRRRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!" And then nothing but screams, shrieks, and sobs from me as a huge fireball flew out of the garage and all the firemen hit the ground. Mrs. Presutti took the phone from me and probably explained to Dad what was going on and that we all got out safely, but that he needed to come home immediately, but I honestly don't remember that part.

The next thing I remember is being outside shaking and crying uncontrollably as I watched the flames with no idea where Mom and Dave were.

At some point, my friend Kristi showed up (she only lived a block away, so she probably could see the fire above the trees) and we walked to the park. I don't know if anyone even knew I was gone. And I don't know how long it took them to put the fire out.

When we returned, the fire was out, but the firemen were still there. We were lucky. The fire destroyed the garage, attic and their contents, but almost nothing else. I finally saw the inside of the house a few days later and most of the rest of the damage was from the smoke and the water. Smoke and water damage were fairly extensive, however.

The cause of the fire has never been determined, but my assumption has always been some kind of electrical issue. That's what my parents have always told me, but even they don't know for sure. That said, initially Dave and I were blamed for playing with matches by one of the firemen. He tried to get us to confess to playing with matches, but we hadn't (and didn't, for the record) and everyone agreed we had been at school.

We were out of our house for about 6 months and for much of the time, we lived at the Arlington Park Hilton (now Sheraton), which was a blast. The first few weeks, however, at least for me, weren't so settled. I floated around between my friends Kristi and Amy, even the night of the fire. I'm truly blessed that my friends were so welcoming and generous. It was a difficult time for me, but knowing my friends had my back made things better.

All in all, my family and I were really fortunate. If the fire had occurred at night, we never would have gotten out. The one smoke detector we had was located back by the bedrooms and the firemen told my parents that it didn't go off until they were already on the roof with chain saws! Sure we lost things in the fire (and if I had thought ahead, I would have scanned the pics of the aftermath, but I didn't), but we lost nothing of consequence. Our family pictures were saved. Mom, Dad, Dave and I were all safe and healthy.

All of that said, I don't think anything has ever been the same. I've always been a bit jumpy around fire and still go back to that day when I smell that indescribable smell. Before I go to bed every night, I check the door going to the garage to make sure it's not hot.

About 2 years ago in the middle of the day, the smoke detector started going off. I couldn't smell anything and ran around the house feeling doors. I grabbed Betsey and Ross and got them out of the house and called 911. The firemen showed up and couldn't find anything except a malfunctioning smoke detector (not one needing new batteries - an actual malfunctioning one). I was embarrassed, but it's never far from my mind, especially today.

I never did go on that Girl Scout camping trip. In fact, I've never camped again and have no desire. When I think of camping, I think of a weekend at the Hilton. I've always wondered where that little bit of "high maintenance" in me came from, but now I think I know.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Shouldn't Everyday Be Earth Day?

Tomorrow is Earth Day. Last month I participated in Earth Hour. But all this Earth Hour and Earth Day stuff (not to mention the economy) has gotten me thinking over the last few months about my own impact on the environment and how what I do (or don't do) will have ramifications for generations to come.

Over the last couple of years, I've made recycling part of my everyday existence. We have garbage pick-up twice a week with separate recycling pick-up on the second day. Without failure, I take out recycling each week, but I find myself having less and less garbage to put at the curb. I put out a bag this morning that I actually felt guilty about. It wasn't as full as it could have been, but it had some spoiled food (that I forgot was in the frig) and cat litter in it. Trust me, it was a public service to anyone who visits my house to have that bag out of here. I almost never put garbage out twice a week and it's more often once every third garbage pick-up.

What else do I do around my house?

1. I shovel my snow rather than using a snow blower. Of course, I don't have a snow blower, but I don't want one. Shoveling is good exercise and has zero impact on the environment.

2. I've used recyclable bags at the grocery store for ages. I have a few canvas bags that I'm not even sure where I picked up, but I didn't pay for any of them. Once in awhile I need a bag or two from the store, but one or two once a month is a lot better than a bunch every week.

3. If I do have to get bags at the store, I prefer paper to plastic because I can use the paper bags with my recycling.

4. I reuse plastic bags for cat litter disposal.

5. Because I carry a large purse, I usually refuse to have items I purchase at other stores placed in bags. I just toss them into my purse instead.

6. I drive a 13-year-old 1995 Honda Civic because it gets 30 miles per gallon even just running around town. Sure, it's not so pretty on the outside, but it's been paid off for years and runs great.

7. At home, I've replaced the most used light bulbs with CFL bulbs.

8. In order to keep my Nicor gas bill lower than the GNP of a large third-world country this past winter, I used double-insulated my windows using that shrink-wrap-like plastic on the biggest windows in my home. I also kept my heat at about 63 at night and about 67 during the day, unless I had clients at the house. Dave also put extra insulation in my attic.

9. Last summer I grew tomatoes that saved me money on groceries. This summer, I'm going to grow other veggies too. I love doing this because I know exactly what is used on my plants (nothing) and they are 100 times fresher than the food I can buy at any grocery store.

10. In the summer, I keep blinds closed strategically in my home to avoid the direct sunlight heating up my house. I also use ceiling fans to keep air circulating and avoid the AC.

11. I air dry much of my laundry rather than running my dryer. Usually this means that for every 3 loads I wash, I only dry 1 load.

12. I keep my phantom load to a minimum. I've unplugged lights, clocks, and other electronics that aren't used regularly. I keep my PC, monitor, and printer turned off unless I am using them.

13. I buy in bulk and look for the least amount of packaging whenever possible. Rather than buying a smaller box of laundry detergent that I'll go through in a few months, I've got a huge box of detergent that I've had for 7 months and am not even 1/3 through! That's much less waste into the environment.

14. I have an iPass. Despite my belief that people should be rewarded more for taking public transportation, rather than driving solo, having an iPass gets me off the roads faster (when I'm forced to drive) because I'm not sitting idle in traffic waiting for the manual toll lanes.

15. I'm slowly replacing all of my traditional cleaning supplies with earth-friendly cleaners. Because I hate to waste things, this process is taking a little while.

16. I'm a Freecycler. The Arlington Heights group is quite active and I encourage you to get involved. It's free. What's not to love. I've gotten rid of some awesome crap on Freecycle! You know what they say, "one person's junk is another person's treasure." Never has that statement been more accurate. I've also gotten some cool stuff too - excellent furniture for Dave, my irises, and a cutting board, for example.

17. I give gently used clothes to charity and have been known to have a garage sale.

18. I don't subscribe to magazines or newspapers, except one weekly local paper. Everything else I read online.

19. Of course, I turn off the water when I'm brushing my teeth. And I only run the dishwasher when it's completely full. My washing machine has settings for small, medium, full and super size loads, so I can customize it depending on my needs and don't waste water, but more often than not I only use it when it's completely full.

20. I don't use paper plates, paper napkins, and very few paper towels. I prefer real plates and cloth napkins. Plus, it just feels more dignified to eat with them, especially when dining alone.

21. This summer, I'm having a Solar Attic Fan installed by Dave's new company, Crystal Solarlighting Solutions!

22. I run my appliances (dishwasher, washing machine, dryer) at night to avoid heating up my house during the day and also because electricity is cheaper.

23. I purchase recycled toner cartridges for my laserjet printer from UHS Technologies in McHenry and they deliver! If you want information about them, email me.

24. I recycle old cell phones and color inkjet cartridges by mailing them to an organization that benefits the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation.

25. I cook in bulk. Last night, for example, I made tarragon chicken, but rather than making enough for last night, I made enough for the week. It's delicious cold, but even if I want to reheat it, that takes less energy (and time!) than it takes to cook a meal from scratch. I do this when I grill, make stew, pasta, everything. Sure, my weekly menu is a bit boring (I'll eat something for lunch and dinner until it's gone), but it cuts down on my food preparation time and it uses less electricity or gas.

26. This summer, I will be cutting my grass half as often because the gas for my mower is expensive and puts icky stuff into the environment.

There are probably other things that I can't think of right now.

Every small step makes a difference. What do you do to help the environment?

Is There a Kitty AA?

Ross has an addiction problem. He won't admit it, but the signs are all there. He lies about where he's been and what he's doing. I'm sure he'd lie about who he was with but Betsey is his only choice and she's quite the nark. He's got the constant munchies and sleeps away much of his day. His motivation is severely lacking. All classic addiction symptoms.

What is he addicted to? Licking plastic.

I brought home some dry cleaning the other day and hung it in the guest bathroom. Last night I woke up about 3am and discovered him sitting on the toilet in the dark licking the plastic bag. When I confronted him about what he was doing, he refused to respond, but just looked at me with these glazed over eyes. This morning I pulled the garbage bag out of the can to take it to the curb and he whined when I took it away from him. He's so desperate to lick plastic that he sits next to the litter box and licks the plastic box liner!

Ross would rather lick plastic than sun himself. He would rather lick plastic than snuggle in clean, unfolded laundry. He would rather lick plastic than irritate his sister.

I must confess, I've known about Ross's experimentation with plastic for almost 12 years now and I've always looked the other way. I assumed (incorrectly) that it was a phase he would eventually outgrow and that it was not getting in the way of his other activities. I was wrong. I've been a bad parent.

So now I must deal with this problem. Ross is an addict. And I've been an enabler.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

4/20 Confession

In honor of today being 4/20, I have a confession to make.

I have never smoked pot. In fact, I have never tried any illegal substance.

Really. I've never even had any desire to do so.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Check Gas Prices In Your Area!

As a public service because gas are so high, I've added a new feature to Little Merry Sunshine.

In the left sidebar, you can now find the lowest gas prices within the last 24 hours in your area through

To use this widget, simply type in your zipcode. Gas Buddy is dependent on gas station consumers reporting prices to the site on a daily basis. If there are no results for your town, then no one has reported the prices. Reporting is simple. Just follow the instructions on the site. I encourage you to report prices as you see them. We're all in this mess (created by W) together.

Search for gas prices by US Zip Code

Does Wearing A Flag Pin Make You Patriotic?

In last night's debate between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, Senator Obama was again asked about why he doesn't wear a flag pin. The implication being that if you don't wear the pin, you must hate America and not have a patriotic bone in your body.

That got me to thinking, what makes someone patriotic? Is it a flag pin or is it something else?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines patriotism as "love for or devotion to one's country." But that doesn't quite cut it for me. Love and devotion are good things, but are they enough?

That made me think about my beliefs on religion. In my life, I have known many people who believe that if your butt isn't on a church pew every Sunday morning at 9:00am SHARP, then you are not a "good Christian." BUT I have known too many people who have their asses firmly planted on the pew week in and week out and take that as a license to go screw people over all week long. I don't think those people are good Christians at all. Being a good Christian to me, is about doing as Christ did - helping those less fortunate, living by the Golden Rule, being non-judgemental, being humble, being a good steward of our planet. I've always felt more connected to my religion (I'm Presbyterian) when I'm out volunteering and just living my life as an example to others, but not needing to proselytize and convert others to my way of thinking. It's about having my actions speak so loudly that words are unnecessary.

Being patriotic is a similar thing for me. Anyone with apposable thumbs can stick a flag pin through his/her shirt. But that doesn't mean that they are patriotic, any more than sitting on a church pew makes one a good Christian.

To me, being patriotic is about doing, just as being a good Christian is about doing.

Here's some of what I think makes someone patriotic (in no particular order):

  1. Becoming educated on the real issues facing our country and world
  2. Taking action on those issues - writing letters to the editor and to elected officials, petitioning government, attending public meetings, etc.
  3. Volunteering for committees related to those issues
  4. Protesting (yep, I said protesting)
  5. Running for public office - dog catcher, school board, library board, sanitation district, state senator or president - every office is valuable and needed
  6. Working to improve to collective good - setting up a food pantry, delivering Meals on Wheels, etc.
  7. Registering to vote and voting in every election. How many of us can honestly say we've never missed an election - not just the big ones, but the little ones too? In my opinion, if you don't vote, sit down and shut up. You've lost your voice and your right to it.
  8. Questioning authority and those running for office, rather than blindly sitting by and always believing everything we're told just because the words come out of an elected official's mouth.
  9. Being a public servant - either through military service, volunteerism, or being an elected official.
  10. Respecting human rights both in the United States and all around the world.
Being patriotic isn't about being a Republican or Democrat. For me, being patriotic is about how I live my life. What do you think makes someone patriotic?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In Case You Missed It . . .

Since it's not everyday that I get mentioned on the blog of a New York Times Best-Selling Author, go check out the post titled "DB BS" on Brad Meltzer's Blog. Yes, that REALLY is me he's talking about. I sent him an email about the parachute found not belonging to DB Cooper, as had widely been reported (including by Brad).

Oh and yes, that's Brad and me in the pic above. He came to town almost 2 years ago on his book tour for The Book of Fate and we hung out in his tent at Wal-mart. Seriously. It was cooler than it sounds. Really. Trust me.

Oh ya, and if you're new here, Brad and I are friends. I'm not just some crazy fan. I may be, but we're friends. Really. Check out the history.

Monday, April 14, 2008

What Should I Do With My Tax Refund?

Jessica, I have good news. You're getting a tax refund. Wahoo! I'm getting a tax refund!!!!! Yeah!!!!! Um, Jessica, I don't know how to break this to you, but it's not a very big refund. It's not? Well, getting money back is always better than paying. I mean, even $100 would be awesome. Well, it's not exactly $100. It's a little lower. It's actually $2. $2????!!! Are you kidding me? Is this some kind of haha funny CPA joke? Don't you mean $20? No. I mean $2. Don't spend it all in one place.

That's pretty much verbatim the conversation my accountant and I had this afternoon. I'm getting $2 back and she wants me to not spend it all in one place. What the heck can I do with $2 these days???

Here are the ideas I've had so far, but I'm tossing it out there to everyone. Please give me some suggestions in the comments section. You have until the IRS actually deposits the $2 in my checking account. My favorite idea will win a mention in my blog. I'd buy you a prize and mail it, but really what can you get for less than $2 plus postage?

With $2 I can:

1. Purchase 0.55 of 1 gallon of gas at $3.599 per gallon.
2. Buy 8 25 cent gumballs.
3. Mail 4 1 oz. letters ($1.64) and 1 postcard ($0.26) and have 10 cents leftover.
4. Feed my addiction to Diet Coke with 2 2-liters of Diet Coke at Valli's (through 4/15). Wait, I won't have enough money for tax.
5. Go on a shopping spree at the Dollar Tree. It looks like they've got some great luau party supplies.
6. Pay 2 tolls in cash (twice the price of using my iPass) going into the city and back (80 cents each way) and have some change. Of course, that doesn't include gas or parking once I'm in the city.
7. Well, I was hoping I could get a small dipped ice cream cone at Dairy Queen, but even without tax, my $2 isn't enough.

I'm fresh out of ideas. Please let me know what you think I should do with my $2.

Did You Hear About the Guy Who Got F'd By a Horse?

How do you follow up a loving post about your parents' wedding anniversary? With a post about a guy getting f'd by a horse, OF COURSE.

I was out on Saturday night with some friends - we went to Big Shot in Arlington Heights and then to see SpeeDating: The Musical at the Metropolis. More about that in a post later tonight, but while at Big Shot, Rob mentioned that Joel was in a YouTube video about a guy getting f'd by a horse. And then this morning, he sent out the video. It's hysterical, but absolutely not suitable for work.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad!

Pictured (L-R): Michael E. Paulk (Mom's brother), Frances S. Paulk (Nana), Mom & Dad

Ok, I will probably get killed for this post, but I'm going ahead with it anyway. And in case anyone thinks I'm being the slightest bit sarcastic, I assure you I'm not. I mean every word with the utmost sincerity.

Today would be my parents 38th wedding anniversary. I say would be because they got divorced when I was 12. Well, technically, they got separated then and divorced a few years later, but the split happened when I was 12.

I know that wedding anniversaries aren't celebrated once two people get divorced, but I think that overall, my parents were two good people who did two really great things (me and my brother Dave) and that should be celebrated. Back in the day (1970), my parents surely would never have just lived together unmarried and had kids - those things simply weren't done back then. So, had they not gotten married 38 years ago today, Dave and I wouldn't be here now.

So thanks Mom & Dad!

And thanks also for having a friendly divorce. I appreciate that you've both been civil and kind to each other over the years. Neither one of you has ever bad mouthed the other, at least in my memory. In fact, it seems to me that you've both gone out of your way to remain at least friendly and there for our family. Mom went to the funerals of Dad's parents in the 1990s and Dad has never missed a major milestone in our lives because it was inconvenient or uncomfortable to be around Mom. Dad has also kept up a relationship with Nana over the years, which she loved. And even now, he always asks about her and is firmly in Mom's corner with the care Mom has given Nana these past few years, even when others have disagreed with some of Mom's decisions.

I'm sure it can't be easy to have to maintain a relationship with your ex-spouse, but for the sake of Dave and me, you have. And you should both be proud of that.
Thanks for getting married and thanks for giving us the best family possible.

Please join me in raising a glass to my parents today on their 38th wedding anniversary.

Singing In The Rain

I love the rain. I love thunder and lightning. And I especially love all the pretty green grass and flowers that bloom because of it.

On this rainy Chicago Friday, here's a little treat to put a smile on your face. If Gene Kelly Singing In The Rain can't make you smile, I'm not sure what will.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Potty Humor

As I was driving to see a client this morning, I saw an old toilet sitting at the curb near a neighbor's home waiting to be picked up by the garbage man tomorrow and was reminded of this story . . . Enjoy.

You probably remember that when I was 10 (in fact, on April 23rd, it will be 26 years ago - yes Mom, I checked, this is the correct date) my house burned down. To catch you up, the fire was mostly contained to the garage and attic, but other parts of the house were severely damaged from smoke and water. As a result, we could not live in the house for almost 6 months and the entire house was redone, including replacing the toilets.

I'm not sure why the toilets were replaced, they worked fine and did their jobs. But since insurance was paying, we got new ones.

My best girlfriend Amy lived just down the street and I pretty much spent the entire summer avoiding (or causing) trouble with her. One afternoon we decided to play croquet and I remembered that we had a croquet set in the shed, which had not burned down. So we walked down the street to my house to get the set and take it back to her house. Due to all the construction, we were not allowed to play in my backyard.

When we arrived at my house, there in front of the huge dumpster in the driveway sat one of the old toilets. Amy and I looked at each other and just knew what the other was thinking - we had to make it look like someone had used the toilet. Being girls however, we weren't just going to actually use it ourselves. That would be vile.

We got out the hose, filled the toilet up with water and realized that we needed yellow food coloring, but we couldn't get it from Amy's mom because Pam would immediately know something was up. We had to be more creative. We walked around the block to a family I babysat for and explained that we were making a cake at Amy's house and could we borrow some yellow food coloring.

After we poured almost all the food coloring into the toilet, we decided that we needed some wood chips from the backyard to really make it look good. On our way to gather wood chips, we walked by my neighbor George's garbage cans that he kept in the walk-way between our houses and saw a very stained, almost threadbare pair of men's tighty-whities sitting on the ground next to his garbage cans. Instantly, we knew we had to have them! We grabbed the biggest stick we could find to pick up the briefs and carried them, along with the wood chips, back to the toilet. We squirted the rest of the food coloring all over the tighty-whities and crushed up the wood chips and dumped them in the toilet. The tighty-whities were arranged (using the stick) on the ground next to the toilet, with some leftover woodchips.

Then we stood back to admire our work.

A few days nights later, my mom and dad had to stop by the house to inspect the progress. They went inside and left Dave and me playing in the front yard. Once they were safely inside, I found my mom's camera and went to take a picture of the toilet Amy and I had decorated. Predictably, just as I started to take a picture, my dad walked out and wanted to know what I was doing. Before I could answer, he asked if I knew anything about how the toilet had become "used." I'm sure the look on my face said it all because he immediately called out to my mom and she came running.

To say I couldn't have been more wrong about the kind of reaction my parents would have would be an understatement. It turned out that my parents had seen the used toilet a couple of days earlier and my mom had gone around the neighborhood ranting about how disgusting teen-age boys were these days! Now, she was humiliated because Amy and I had done it - not some icky teen-age boys. I got quite the lecture and probably a decent whooping too. I also had to go apologize to the neighbors I got the food coloring from and to George for stealing his underwear.

I never did get the picture that I was after, but we all still laugh about those "gross teen-age boys" to this day. And every time I see an old toilet sitting at the side of the road, I am reminded about the prank Amy and I so successfully pulled off.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What Would You Do If You Were Given 6 Months To Live?

Let me just say that I am not trying to tell anyone anything about me or them. I am healthy and happy and plan on being here for many years to come.

Today, however, has been a day of discussing mortality. I just met with my attorney regarding my powers of attorney (which you all BETTER have!). Then I met with my accountant regarding my 2007 taxes (yep, I know I've waited til the last second, but it's done). Then I came home and had lunch while reading Brad's blog and he wrote about Randy Pausch, a man I wrote about in February in a post titled "The Last Lecture." Ironically, this morning I also saw a commercial for the Diane Sawyer special tomorrow night titled "The Last Lecture: A Love Story For Your Life," which you should watch.

So I ask again: What would you do if you were given 6 months to live?

There are quite a few things I'd do:

  1. I'd call or write each person I've ever loved in any way and tell them how much they meant to my life and thank them for being part of it.
  2. I'd tell everyone who ever brought me pain or hurt me that I forgave them a long time ago.
  3. I'd apologize and ask forgiveness from those I'd hurt, even if I'd done that 20 years ago.
  4. I would gather my inner circle close to me and spend as much time with them as possible doing all the things we ever talked about doing - travelling, singing, dancing, loving, and more. And we'd capture it all in pictures or video.
  5. I'd toss out most of my stuff so my family didn't have to go through it once I was gone. It's just stuff, afterall.
  6. I'd get out of my head, where I have previously gotten stuck too much.
  7. I'd watch the sunrise and sunset everyday.
  8. I'd use the words "I love you," "please" and "thank you very much" more.
  9. I'd say "good morning" or "good afternoon" and smile at everyone, all the time.
  10. If I read any books at all, it would all be stuff that lifted me up and fed my soul.
  11. I'd see all the places I've always wanted . . . the Great Pyramids, the Grand Canyon, Paris, the Great Wall of China, and many more.
  12. I'd abandon my fears.
  13. I'd get out the "special" outfits, linens and dishes and wear and use them daily.
  14. I'd journal or blog daily and I'd submit some of my writing for publication.
  15. I would only eat foods I savored.
  16. I'd no longer feel imposed on when asked to go antiquing with my dad or the other things with my parents that aren't exactly my favorite things to do.
  17. Only kind and grateful words would cross my lips.
  18. I'd climb Baldy again.
And there are quite a few things I wouldn't do:
  1. I wouldn't waste a minute of time worrying.
  2. I wouldn't waste one second of time wasting time.
  3. I wouldn't watch TV.
  4. I wouldn't sleep much more than was absolutely necessary, which given I'd only have 6 months to live, wouldn't be much.
  5. I wouldn't work more than I needed to in order to fund the fun I would be having.
  6. I would never raise my voice, lose my temper, or lose patience.
  7. I wouldn't gossip.

Of course, even though I plan to live to a ripe old age, there's no point in waiting for "tomorrow" or some "special event." In short, I want to start Live Like I Was Dying so I never feel the need to squeeze it all in.