Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Call for Patriotism

At first I was against it but now I am for it. Only I want to expand it. What am I talking about, you’re wondering? Well, Obama’s tax plan of course. It is brilliant…but short sighted. I would like to invoke his plan in all aspects of our life, in the name of patriotism of course. It is in the footsteps of his tax plan that I propose the following amendments.

First I propose that the top 5% of all students in schools across America give their highest grades to those receiving lower grades. Therefore those hardworking, earnest studying, goody two shoe, bookworms who earn all A’s will be asked to sacrifice their A’s and allow those who are getting D’s and F’s to get C’s. Sure, those straight A students may only be getting B’s on their report cards when clearly they earned A’s but that is a small sacrifice to pay to allow little Tommy C’s when his efforts only earn him D’s and F’s. Think about how much happier little Tommy will be when his report card is full of grades he clearly didn’t earn. To those students who wish to protest such a suggestion I ask, “Are you not a patriot?” It’s time to be patriotic my friends.

Now, now, I’m sure there are a few who will try to tell you this is called “grade redistribution.” I can see how you might think that, but it’s not. It is simply a call to be patriotic. Taking away from those who rightfully earned it to hand to those who haven’t is all part of the “American Dream.” Talk about “no child left behind.”

Now, I would also like to include as part of this plan something that hits much closer to home, literally, for me. You see, in Alaska, we pay much more for our goods and services than the rest of you do in the continental US (“Lower 48”) because of our location and the amount that our goods cost us in shipping. The same can be said for Hawaii. So I propose that the continental US collectively begin to pay a slightly higher cost for their goods and services to help offset or lower the costs of Alaska and Hawaii’s. A cost and goods tax just on those states who pay less than Alaska and Hawaii. Again, let’s not call this, “cost of goods and services redistribution” as I’m sure many opponents of this plan will want to, but instead refer to it in the words of Joe Biden, as a “time to be patriotic.” Plain and simply it’s time for the “Lower 48” to be a little more patriotic.

Something else that concerns me greatly in the landscaping business is how many American homes are without adequate landscaping. Could part of the housing problems in this country be partly to blame because of poor landscaping and therefore lower curb appeal and resale value? I’ll let the experts decided this, but I can tell you this much…good landscaping certainly doesn’t hurt and will only help. Therefore, I believe as a country that we need to have those people who have spent more than $10,000 on landscaping their yards help those who have inadequate or poorly landscaped yards by giving up some of their landscaping to these homes. The reason why I say those homes which have spent $10,000 or more on their landscaping is because this ends up being about 5% of American homes, which means that 95% of American homes wouldn’t have to worry about this tax burden, but would actually benefit from it. I know you worked hard for that money and landscaping on your home. I know it may not seem fair, and really it isn’t, especially since it will be given to those who most likely are just too lazy to do anything with their own yards anyway. For that I am truly sorry. But if you had enough money to spend $10,000 on landscaping for your home, it’s time to be a little more patriotic and to help those who didn’t, and maybe you’ll think a little more the next time you feel like investing in the curb appeal of your own home. Besides, when it comes down to it, are you really going to miss a few trees and shrubs…especially if it’s going to make your neighbor’s home a little better? This is not to be considered “landscape redistribution” no matter what anybody tells you.

Finally and certainly not lastly, I’d like to see all those men and women who are dealing with the tragic and life demeaning reality of hair loss cared for by having the those people with a full head of hair give up a small portion of that hair to be transplanted to those who do not. And I cannot stress this enough, it’s about being patriotic and not about “hair redistribution.” Maybe, just maybe, if all of us with lots of hair had a little less, and those who had very little had more…well maybe we’d be a little better off as a country. And a lot more patriotic.

So I say let’s not just stop with the taxes…lets institute Obama’s tax plan across the board and hope that it helps tackle Americas most proliferate problems. Whoever said socialism isn’t patriotic just wasn’t very patriotic.

My name is Jared Palenske and I endorse this message.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Alaskans for Global Warming

I’m making a stand. I’m not taking this lying down anymore. I’m going to fight back. I want my two degrees of warmer weather. That’s right, I’m for global warming, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep it and a tantrum is not out of the question.

Please don’t get upset with me…try to see it from my point of view. I’m not trying to be selfish, I’m just having hard time letting go. I’ve gotten used to those two degrees of higher temperatures and now it’s nearly impossible to think what life would be like without them. Yes, I’ll admit, those two degrees have spoiled me rotten. So what if I wasn’t alive when the temperature was two degrees less. I can imagine what the world was like then…and I don’t like it…I mean there weren’t even colored TV’s back then.

What I don’t understand is why the rest of the world has to be so greedy? Can’t we come to some sort of compromise about it? Why does it have to be so one sided? I’m starting to feel like my feelings don’t matter. I mean, come on, it’s two degrees over the last 100 years. That isn’t so bad. Alaskans have worked hard for those two degrees and now the rest of the world seems hell bent on taking them away from us. Let’s try to find another cause for the world to rally behind, like not allowing fat people to wear stretchy pants.

I love Alaska. I’ve always loved Alaska. But I love it even more now that it’s two degrees warmer. They say that everything is bigger in Alaska, and two degrees is a lot bigger than you probably imagine. It can mean the difference between below freezing (31˚ F) or above freezing (33˚ F). I’m not sure about you, but I like the idea of above freezing. It makes me feel all warm inside.

Florida and Hawaii are allowed to have their warm waters and tropical beaches, so why can’t Alaska? Maybe we want the same thing. Maybe tropical beaches are in Alaska’s 1000 year master plan. Who gave the rest of the world the right to tell us no? I’m beginning to think its discrimination against us because we aren’t part of the famed “lower 48.” They want our state to provide picturesque ice capped mountains, glacier filled valleys, fancy igloos, and the world’s supply of ice cubes, but they could care less about letting us be who we really are – tropical at heart. It’s discrimination at its worst. Where are Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and the rest of their Rainbow/PUSH Coalition? Why aren’t they representing Alaska? It is an outrage! An injustice! A mark against the human race.

I’m really a simple man at heart. I just want a little warmer weather and maybe a little longer summer, that’s all. Maybe that’s why no one is listening…I’m too simple. I’m not a shady politician looking to make exuberant amounts of money to pay my exuberant monthly utility bills by filling peoples' heads with lies and trying to make the whole world feel guilty for causing these two (heavenly) degrees. (And yes, I am referring here to a certain unamed former vice president, and the fact that the only thing growing faster than the size of his waist is the amount of money he is making from this global "crisis.") Nope. I’m just a simple guy wishing I could wear swimming trunks every once in a while.

Everyone agrees temperatures have risen. How much of it is natural and how much is caused by the humans is up for debate. The thing is, I really don’t care about the reduction in milk production of the Colobus monkey in East Africa because of global warming. Nor do I care about the link between global warming and the increased antenna size of the Nettle-tap moth. My life is 100% unaffected because these female moths no longer find their long-antennaed males attractive and therefore are having difficulty reproducing. I’m sorry, I just don’t care and neither did anyone else until scientists figured out they could use this “scare” to fund their otherwise useless research.

I’d just like the rest of the world to see it from my perspective. Let us have our two degrees and I’ll promise to do my part in protecting the earth – I’ll ride my bike to work – I’ll plant a few trees – I’ll only eat tuna fish that was caught without the catching of dolphins – I’ll even go as far as to only use one sheet (single ply) of toilet paper per wipe. That’s all I’m asking – let us keep our two degrees. Please?

Locked on Target

What is it with kids and throwing up? How it is that they are able to throw up exactly where you don’t want them to when they’re sick? One would assume such pinpoint accuracy with body fluids could not be possible from something so tiny, but they’ve definitely got the gift of aim. If it weren’t so amazingly disgusting, it would actually be incredibly impressive.

I’ve had every square inch of a 10 foot radius surrounding the kids covered in towels, and yet somehow they seem to find the one small gap in coverage every time. Wham! Just like a sidewinder missile slamming into its target, or a bat honing in on a moth with it’s sonar in the dead of night, they’ve gotcha! If there is even the slightest breach in coverage, they’ll be sure to find it…every time.

Oh, and is it just me, or does food in their stomachs seem to double…or triple…in volume from when it entered? I swear that more comes out of them than ever went in. Macaroni and cheese multiplies in the belly worse than Gremlins eating after midnight. You may think I’m joking, but anyone with kids knows what I’m saying is true.

The funny thing is that my wife likes to tell me that as bad as our kids puking aim is, she can think of people who are worse. It’s strange that she only brings it up when she’s cleaning the toilets.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Perfect Diet

It seems like I’m always hearing people around me talk about the latest diet they’re on or that they plan to try. The two most popular diets I hear about are the Atkins and the South Beach Diets, but the more I hear people talking about them, the more I realize how imperfect these fad diets are and wonder why no one has been able to come up with the ultimate diet – you know, the sure thing. The foolproof way to lose weight. I’m talking about a diet that allows you to drop those unwanted pounds but still lets you enjoy all that yummy food that’s overburdened with carbs and packed full of empty calories. The Perfect Diet.

I’m so tired of waiting for someone to develop a diet like this that I’ve decided to come up with one on my own. And I really must – without sounding like I’m patting myself on my back, which I totally am – say that it’s a doozy. This is a diet so revolutionary, so dynamic, so out of this world that you’ll probably drop 3-5 pounds just reading about it. It is specially formulated for those who wish to eat anything they want to and still drop the weight. That’s right, you heard me correctly – a diet that lets you eat whatever you want whenever you want, and you’ll still shed the weight like water on a newly waxed sports car.

I’m going to call it the North Shore Diet, and without going into all the boring details about how I came up with the name, I’ll keep it simple by saying that I thought it sounded cool (and in case this thing ever gets big, yes, I do have plans for some famous surfer to be my spokesperson). So how exactly does the North Shore Diet work? I thought you’d never ask, especially since I’m already three paragraphs into this and I’m beginning to get the feeling that I sound like a crummy infomercial where I try make you believe you can’t live without some lame product and then I rake you over the coals for shipping just in case you want your money back. But this is way better than a cheesy infomercial...because what I’m about to tell you will absolutely change your life. And I won’t even charge you shipping.

The diet is simple. Think, ‘in with the good out with the bad.’ Imagine you’re craving a greasy, triple patty, triple bacon cheeseburger (a.k.a. the Triple Bypass), and you’re thinking to yourself, there is no diet in the world that will allow this kind of gourmet fare – I’ll just have to sit down with a bowl of tofu instead. Well forget everything you thought you knew about dieting because on the North Shore Diet you are going to sit down to eat that cheeseburger your taste buds have been dancing for. However, alongside the cheeseburger, in this diet you’ll be expected to also sit down with equal portions by weight and size of low fat, low carb food items such as fruits and vegetables.

So here’s how it works: after taking a bite of the unhealthy, high calorie, artery clogging burger, I want you to chew it for as long as you possibly can to savor every possible ounce of flavor. Then, when the urge to swallow it down seems unbearable, spit it out. That’s right, spit it out. In its place I want you to take one mouthful of the healthy, low fat, low carb item and swallow it down as quickly as possible. Repeat the above steps until the burger has been completely chewed up and spit out and the healthy item has been completely chewed up and swallowed…or until you’re full. Whichever comes first.

Yep, it’s that simple. I believe in simplicity.

However, there are a few important things you’ll want to remember. You may be confused as to what kinds of foods to spit and which ones to swallow. Here is an easy rule of thumb: if just thinking about the item makes your mouth salivate, if it’s something that you desperately crave, or if it’s something that can be easily found at any local quick mart, it’s most definitely a spitter. On the other hand, if it is something that makes you want to throw up when you think about it, if it is something your dog won’t even eat, something that usually sits in your cupboards untouched and collecting dust, or if the words “puffed rice” appear anywhere on the packaging, then it’s probably a safe bet that it’s something you can swallow.

This applies to beverages as well. Juices, sodas (yes, diet sodas included), or basically anything with flavor should be enjoyed by swishing around in the mouth before being spit out and promptly followed up by a nice large gulp of healthy water.

And what should you do with all that chewed up and spit out food, you ask? Compost it of course. Throw it in with your grass clippings and yard waste and turn your unwanted food into luscious, nourishing fertilizer for your garden. Truly, recycling at its best. **Note: for this reason I might suggest keeping a five gallon bucket handy while eating, making it quick and easy for throwing into the compost pile.

Another secret to success with the North Shore Diet is to eat the healthy stuff as quickly as possible after spitting out the good stuff. There are two reasons for this. First, the sooner you can get the healthy stuff down, the sooner you can get to another bite of what you are really craving. Second, I find that if the healthy item is eaten quickly after discharging the tasty item, your mind, if even for but a few seconds, is tricked into thinking that the healthy item is in fact the very same as what was just spit out, and is therefore…bearable.

Soon enough you’ll soon discover that the true brilliance of this diet is that it makes the process of eating painfully and excruciatingly long, and in no time you’ll be feeling fuller faster and with a lot less food. In fact, the whole process will likely have you throwing up your arms up in disgust and saying “to hell with it,” thereby eliminating the need or desire to eat another wretched bite.

I’d also suggest keeping a small snack size candy bar and zip-lock baggie of carrots in your purse or glove box for those in between meal snack cravings. As soon as the craving hits, feel free to immediately pop the snack size candy bar into your mouth and chew it to your heart’s content. Savor it for as long as possible, and then when your mouth is overwhelmed by its own saliva (this is where the genius of packing your snack in a zip lock bag comes into play), spit it out into the bag to be conveniently carried back to your compost later. Then, of course, finish by polishing off the lovely carrot sticks, an effort in itself that will quickly remind you of how much you hate the process of eating, causing most – if not all – cravings for between meal snacks to stop.

So there it is, the North Shore Diet in a nutshell, or carrot stick, if you prefer. If you are one of the millions of people seriously considering a diet of some sort in the next little while, I’d whole heartily urge you to take this diet into consideration. After all, it does come with a 100% money back guarantee.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Nightmares of Engineering

We’ve sent man into space and even walked him on the moon. We have satellites that can beam images and words to anywhere in the world in mere seconds. We now have portable computers the size of manila envelopes that can do the work of computers whose wires and circuit boards once took up the space of a small house. We have the means to perform lifesaving operations that would have been truly impossible fifty years ago.

Yet, despite all our technological advances, we are still fully unable to create a manhole cover that can line up flush with the surface of the road. Maybe the reason for this is that it’s not mathematically possible. Maybe the cost to do so would be much too high for our already over burdened taxpayers. And then again, maybe, just maybe, there are much more pressing issues in the world that seek our more immediate attention; such as self venting beer cans which make it easier and quicker for guzzling beer, or lights and electrical appliances that can be turned on and off by the simple clap of one’s hands.

Whatever the reason, science and engineering have yet to come together to solve this serious dilemma that plagues the roadways and thoroughfares of America like a bad case of irritable bowl syndrome. I’m sure there isn’t a person reading this who hasn’t had the jaw-jarring experience of having their tires encounter such a well constructed manhole. They are, after all, everywhere; and even worse – they seem to be multiplying by the minute.

One might think, after encountering such an obstacle, that their vehicle had stumbled upon a naturally occurring obstruction such as a pothole…only to find another same head-rattling bump mere seconds down the road, too timely to be mere coincidence. So cleverly placed are these manhole covers that one would reason they’d been specifically engineered and strategically placed so as to take advantage of having the most tires possible running over them. Kudos to the engineers for accomplishing such a feat.

To me such errors seem as blatantly obvious as building a house and upon completion discovering that the front door opens up directly into the coat closet rather than the front entryway. Or building a bridge by starting each span on opposite sides of the river only to find that the two sides don’t meet up where they should in the middle. I must, however, be in the minority on this issue, because it clearly continues to remain a problem, even on newly completed roads and parking lots.

How is it possible that such an overwhelming majority of manholes can end up exactly 2 inches lower than, but never even with the pavement surface? I’ll never know. One would think the solution would be as simple as raising the level of the completed manhole by 2 inches and thereby conveniently matching it to the finished grade of the road’s surface. Then again, if it we’re truly that simple I’m certain it would’ve already been done. Which leads me to believe that my mind must be much too simple to understand the true mathematical limitations of such a feat, and it may just be best that I leave the matter in the hands of the experts. After all, if it were truly that simple, we’d all be engineers…wouldn’t we.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Mullet: Back from the Brink

The Mullet, once considered the mainstay of American hairstyle, has been lost and forgotten never to rise again. Or has it? Once considered the cornerstone of American style, the Mullet has now fallen by the wayside. What caused this piece of fashion history to lose its prowess, its attraction, its ability to warm the hearts of millions? For many, we may never really know the truth.

What was once considered near the edge of extinction, the Mullet has made a dramatic comeback in recent years leading many experts to question if it had ever really been in danger of extinction in the first place. Where has this dramatic comeback occurred you might be asking? Simple. Construction sites across America. And many experts are now saying that it never really left, but merely retreated to these safe havens, lurking and waiting for the day of its mighty comeback. And come back it did.

Go to any construction site across America and you’ll find four core distinctions; safety equipment (brightly colored safety vests, hard hats, safety glasses, etc), heavy machinery, sweaty men (and women for that matter), and the Mullet as the preferred hairstyle of choice (again, for both men and women).

For many of us who feared (or hoped as it may be) that the Mullet had followed the way of the Dodo bird or bikes with banana seats, sadly I’m afraid, this is just not the case. The Mullet is alive and well and thriving at a construction site near you. It turns out that the Mullet and construction go hand in hand, like Mexican food and bad gas, or politicians and lying.

There’s no question that the Mullet has evolved from its original inception, which researchers hypothesize has contributed to a broad social belief that it has “gone out of style.” While some Mullet-wearers choose to keep a traditionally filthy and ratty hairdo, many have opted to comb it nicely, and others even keep theirs in nice neat braids. Perhaps most deceiving, it is not at all uncommon to spot a Mullet pulled back tidily with a hair tie or decorative clip. But despite these differences, each of these hairdos still exhibits the one classic characteristic that separates it from all other styles. “Business in the front, party in the back.”

Nobody knows what pushed the Mullet toward the brink of extinction. Some say it was tied to the introduction of punk rock, while others blame the early 90s insurgence of boy bands and their clean cut pretty-boy ‘do’s. Others insist it was a part of a far left liberal movement to socialize haircare and push the more uniform and governmentally “controlled” hairstyles of today.

Whatever it was, most would agree that as few as two years ago, the Mullet seemed lost to so society at large. There were attempts to keep the few known living Mullet-wearers in protective habitats in hopes of mating them and turning them back into the wild, but they failed miserably. The government was forced to abolish federal Mullet habitat funding after a large public outcry against the millions of dollars being spent to revive an all but dead fashion. The science just wasn’t on their side.

Even the well known Adopt-A-Mullet foundation ended up going bankrupt after it was discovered that its board of directors had been laundering money and lavishly spending it on themselves. Once word of this spread through the public and after a thorough investigation by the FBI, donations quickly dried up and left many Mullets who had once been adopted to fend for themselves, eventually being pushed out by the newest and latest styles to hit the streets.

Who would have thought after so many failed attempts to keep the Mullet around that it would rebound on its own in such a dramatic way? And yet it has, in the small confines of American construction sites, flourished beyond anyone’s belief or comprehension. It has quickly and ubiquitously become the hairstyle of choice for American construction workers, from the people holding stop signs to direct traffic, to heavy equipment operators, and even to upper management flunkies sitting in leather office chairs. The Mullet has once again rooted itself into American culture by attaching itself to the heart of America…its construction workers.

So for those of you who thought the Mullet had gone the way of the dinosaur – no longer existent, a thing of the past, something you might only find in an old photograph – I’m happy to say you are mistaken. The Mullet is thriving once again, and it would only take a small stroll to your nearest construction site to catch a glimpse of this once prominent, beautiful piece of American history. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and discover for yourself this historical fashion icon, and if you’re lucky, you just might find something else at that construction site you never thought you’d see again.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

42 Uses for a Cardboard Box

An empty cardboard box, to most adults, is just that, an empty cardboard box. To small children however, an empty cardboard box combined with a little imagination, is so much more. Here are 42 uses for a cardboard box (kid’s perspective).

1. A place to hide your toys.
2. A place to hide your sibling’s toys.
3. A chair for watching your favorite show.
4. A table, you insist eating your meals at.
5. A place to stuff a willing/unwilling sibling.
6. A place to hide after stuffing your unwilling sibling in it.
7. An object when strategically placed, perfect for tripping your parents.
8. The perfect sled for stairs.
9. A stepping stool for reaching things that have been purposely placed out of your reach.
10. Something to jump into.
11. Something to jump on.
12. Something to jump over.
13. One of the best presents you could ever receive.
14. An object that causes headaches for parents. (Note to parents; Advil or Tylenol work best at preventing headaches when taken before giving the box to children…an hour before is usually sufficient)
15. A fort, tent, house, castle, cave or anything else you wished you lived in.
16. A bed for you and or your stuffed animals.
17. A potty! (Please note after use as potty, cardboard boxes with imagination or not is not suited for children’s play)
18. An object worth throwing when angry.
19. A helmet or hat. (Depending on size)
20. Something more fun to color on then paper, coloring books, or even walls for that matter.
21. Something scary, to chase a sibling with. (Works best when sibling is convinced it’s a monster trying to get them)
22. A laundry basket.
23. A trash can.
24. A place to hide uneaten dinner and or lunches in.
25. Something to get hurt from playing on or around.
26. Something fun to tear into tiny pieces making sure to leave bits of it strung through out the house.
27. Yet another thing to fight over with your sibling.
28. A boat, vehicle, airplane, or any other mode of transportation you see fit.
29. Something fun to leave around in random places.
30. A robot costume.
31. Something to chew on.
32. A place to keep your most valued treasures.
33. A container for holding water in. (Note to parents; this usually results in a soggy mess and wet floor)
34. Something for your parents to carry you in. (Warning: parents with bad backs, or bad tempers should not attempt. This only leads to worse backs and worse tempers)
35. A springboard or launching pad.
36. Something to unwind a roll of toilet paper into when the toilet is already full.
37. An excellent tub toy if sneaked past unsuspecting parents.
38. A tunnel, as long as it’s not to dark.
39. A quiet place to get away.
40. A shield for protection, separating you from an angry, biting, screaming, scratching, kicking, punching sibling.
41. Something, any use besides playing with, is out of the question.
42. Something to cry about when thrown away.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Perfect Wedding Gift

Ahhhh, spring is upon us! And with it comes the sweet smelling fragrance of newly budding flowers, the sounds of children playing and birds merrily singing, and of course wedding bells.Yes, wedding bells.

Spring, if you didn’t already know, is the most popular season for weddings, followed closely by fall. Nothing could be more fitting than to celebrate the union of two people who are transitioning from single life to married life during these transitional seasons.

With the arrival of spring comes the arrival of, as I am sure you are all aware, wedding announcements in the mail. With each announcement comes the pressure of gift shopping for the couple to be. Some couples’ announcements, those who we hardly know (don’t you love getting those?), can be easily tossed in the nearest garbage can, knowing that we can always say we never got the invitation. However, trashing the announcements of our closer family and friends is not so easily done and we therefore find ourselves trapped into buying a gift to help the merry couple on their way.

I personally have never been a fan of wedding gifts. It’s not the giving of the gift that has ever bothered me, for I believe true happiness comes from giving (which I’m sure my wife will attest to you that I do on a continual daily basis with my love, time, and devotion to her…but that is a topic for another day). No, it is not the giving of gifts that is so bothersome to me but the finding of gifts that is so troubling.

I agonize over it because I want my gift to mean something. I want the couple to know I care. I would like for them, years from now, to remember the gift my wife and I got them for their wedding, and with any luck, tear up a little over the memory. I want it to be the kind of gift where years from now their children call us Uncle and Aunt, even though we aren’t even related.

Such a gift needs to be something big. Something grand. Something out of the ordinary. Something if I dare say…extraordinary! Crystal ware which is used once a year spends the rest of the time collecting dust in the cupboard, and toaster ovens that break after a year just won’t work. They’ve been done. And unless I’m able to find a crystal toaster oven as a gift, I need to find something much more unique. Something that makes people scream, “Wow!” Something…practical! Like a year’s supply of ground beef.

I’m not talking the cheap kind, either. I’m talking 100% Black Angus extra lean ground beef. The healthy choice of course. Or, if you run in vegetarian circles, ground tofu would make a fantastic alternative. Something that will tell the happy couple, “I really care.” When it comes right down to it, who wouldn’t want a year’s supply of ground beef as a gift? It’s what’s in.

I can only imagine the look on the faces of these people after they’ve opened such an extraordinary gift. It would be priceless. They would, I’m sure, feel overwhelmed with emotion knowing that as they begin their wonderful new journey as husband and wife, with all the worries that are inevitably attached to this new and uncertain life, at least stocking up on ground beef won’t be one of them. That burden will have been lifted, almost as if by magic, from their shoulders thanks to my most wonderful and well thought out gift.

In fact the only real problem I see with such a gift would be how to wrap it. It would definitely be something I’d have to keep in the freezer right up until I hopped in the car to leave for the reception.

But if you’re not too keen on the ground beef idea, I’ve got some other ideas as well. Why not give the couple a year’s supply of toilet paper? Go over the top and buy them Charmin Ultra Soft 2-ply. Expensive? Yes. But worth it? Absolutely. Nothing could show the couple you care more than providing them the softest, most bum friendly, double quilted toilet paper available. Everyone needs toilet paper…such a gift would clearly not be wasted.

You could even be funny by wrapping a single roll, and then after they opened it you could explain that the rest of the supply is still loaded up in the bed of your truck. You could even offer to transport it to their new love nest for them. Other gift-givers would definitely be jealous of such a gift, knowing all they brought was a crystal candy dish or a stinking toaster oven.

If a year’s supply of toilet paper seems too personal for the weddings of people you barely know, you might try giving them a year’s supply of paper towels. Same idea, but a little less personal. Might I suggest Bounty Ultra Strong, ultra absorbent paper towels. They are, after all, the quicker picker-uppers. And if you feel so inclined, spice it up a little by throwing in a few of those lovely print varieties. A slightly more expensive move, but the dividends from such action would far outweigh the extra cost.

I could go on with other gift ideas but think I’ll stop, just in case you have a wedding in the near future…I’d like to surprise you. But just remember, when it comes to weddings, I think it’s time for us to ‘think outside the box’ and embrace ‘out with the old and in with the new.’ I can’t wait for those announcements to start rolling in.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Primary Colors

So today my two year old child and I were pointing to different objects and saying the color. She has been doing well with colors for some time now but still loves to rattle off the colors of things whenever she gets the chance. After about ten minutes of playing we decided (by we I meant me) we’d had enough and so decided to watch a little Dora the Explorer.

We were lying on the couch together watching Dora and Boots as they attempted to take a fallen star back to its home, which by the way was a very powerful and emotional episode (I felt compelled to reach out with Dora and Boot's encouragement in order to help carry the fallen star home). As she and I were watching, I felt a finger out of nowhere being shoved into my mouth, and heard her very clearly and distinctively say, "yellow." She was obviously pointing to my teeth.

Well, what can I say, I guess the kid knows her colors. Not that I have the whitest teeth by any means but I never would have called them yellow. More of an off white, but yellow? Come on. Needless to say that pretty much ruined the rest of my star catching adventure with Boots and Dora, for the rest of the afternoon was spent trying to dig out my old Crest White Strips. Now if only I could remember where we packed them.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Kid Friendly

One of the best things about being a kid was that everyone was your friend. Gender, race, and background didn’t matter – if you were even close to the same age, you were friends. As kids we were so trusting, so innocent, and we saw the world through uncalloused eyes. We didn’t judge people the same way we do now, and brash judgments weren’t allowed to get in the way of seeing each person for what they really were – just as innocent and loving as us.

These friendships started in the easiest ways; sharing a toy, playing on the monkey bars together, or sitting next to one another on the school bus. You may have only met the person once and then never saw them again, but that didn’t change the fact that you were friends.

In fact, at that age you had so many friends it was hard to keep track of them all. The hardest part of life was trying to whittle your birthday party invite list down to twelve people or less. You couldn’t even remember the names of some of your friends because you had so many (which ended up helping in the whittling process). Names were minor details in the overall scheme of things because true friends didn’t need to know each others’ names. You didn’t have to know a person’s name to have fun. Being friends was enough.

And if you and one of your friends ever happened to have a similar interest, then you moved up to the next level and were Best Friends.
“Wow, I love the Power Rangers too, we’ll be best friends!”
“Yeah, best friends!”

If only we made friends as adults as easily as we did as kids. I imagine the world would be a whole lot better place.

The Evolution of Recipes

On the rare occasion my wife finds me in the kitchen preparing a meal, she often laughs at the fact that I don’t always follow the recipe exactly the way it is laid out. I like to deviate a bit by adding and subtracting ingredients in order to add my own flair to the meal. This ambition has occasionally lead to an eventful and tasty meal, but more often than not, has made the meal completely unappetizing and thoroughly disgusting. These experiments in particular have caused me to wonder just exactly how people ever came up with recipes in the first place. Exactly how did recipes evolve into what they are now? Has anybody ever studied the evolution of recipes?

I mean did Betty Crocker and Sara Lee get together and just start adding and subtracting different ingredients until they came up with the perfect recipe for chocolate chip cookies? I can only imagine how long it must have taken and how frustrating it must have been.

Betty Crocker “Maybe we better cut the chili powder out completely…it’s overpowering the rest of the cookie…and let’s cut the salt in half as well. I think it’s still a bit too strong.”
Sara Lee “I agree. What about the chocolate chips? Should we add more or do you think there was enough?
Betty Crocker “Some more wouldn’t hurt. Let’s move it up to 2 cups of chocolate chips – and I just had an idea – let’s try chopped walnuts this time instead of diced carrots. I still like the idea of diced carrots but think we should add them to our vegetable soup recipe instead.”
Sara Lee “Fair enough, but I also might want to try some carrots in a new cake recipe I’m trying out. If it works I think I’ll call it carrot cake.”

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Serious Question

If a nuclear bomb were about to go off and you and your loved ones were being evacuated to an underground safe area, where you would spend the next 6 months of your life, and they would only allow you to bring one item besides the clothes on your back – it could be anything at all but just one – what would you bring?

I’ve thought long and hard about this and decided I would defiantly want to bring a pair of clean underwear. You can never underestimate the power of clean underwear. I mean who doesn’t want a change of clean underwear. I’m sure everyone would after a few days of living underground together.

Yea, I’m almost certain that my one item would be a nice change of underwear – nothing to fancy – just clean and comfy, and maybe that glow in the dark just in case it is dark where we’re at.

Wait a minute though. Maybe, instead of underwear, I should take my woobie (my blanket that I’ve had since I was three). I wouldn’t want to leave it behind. Tough call, but definitely between clean underwear and my woobie. Sheesh! I really hope I don’t ever have to make such a decision. Maybe I could convince them – and by them I mean the powers that be – to let me bring two items.

Then again, probably not, because then everyone would want to. I know one thing for sure, if I chose to bring clean underwear, there'ss no way in you know what, that I'd convince Emily (my wife) to bring my woobie for me. So that’s not even an option.

Maybe I could simply turn my woobie into a pair of underwear. Then that way I could have the best of both worlds and still only be bringing one item. A change of underwear and my woobie all in one. Wow, that’s really not a half bad idea. Now the only question is whether or not I’d have enough time to make my woobie underwear before the bomb went off? It’s a chance I’m willing to take. I mean if I couldn’t have both a change of underwear and my woobie, I’d just as soon let the bomb take me.

So what would you guys bring with you?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I’m sure if I were to say the phrase, “lift-and-sniff,” many of you who are reading this would know what I’m talking about. Especially those of you unlucky enough to call yourselves parents. For those of you lucky ones who have no idea what I’m talking about – and if you don’t, please count your blessings that you never truly will – I’ll try to explain with a brief description.

Lift-and-sniff- The act of lifting or cradling a baby or toddler upwards in such a way that exposes the rear end of that child towards one’s face while inhaling, and by doing so allows the lifter to sense any formidable odor that might indicate that a deed (also known as a doogie) has indeed been done.

Is this tried and tested method nasty? Yes. Embarrassing? Absolutely. But is it effective? Quite.

As parents, we have long ago given up any true sense of the meaning of embarrassing. Things such as being spit up on, being pooped on, dealing with tantrums in the middle of public places, or saying something embarrassing about a person only to have your child repeat it in front of that very person hours later, are but a few of the many daily occurrences we deal with as parents. We really have no opportunity to stop and think about how embarrassing the situations are, for if we had time to actually stop and think, we would probably be asleep long before the thought in our brain could even fire from one neuron to the other, getting lost somewhere in the synapse between.

Why am I even talking about all of this, you might be wondering? Because this evening while getting my two beautiful girls ready for bed, I caught myself in one of these embarrassing events – the lift-and-sniff to be exact. I was in the bathroom helping them brush their teeth when I smelled an odd, distinct odor emanating from my youngest child. Without thinking, (mainly due to the fact that if I hesitated she may have known what I was about to do and ran for it) I swooped her up, making sure to plant her bum good and square up against my nose while breathing in deeply. At that exact moment I happened to catch a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror and witnessed firsthand how funny I actually looked while doing it.

But I don’t think ‘funny’ even begins to describe it. Hilarious would be much closer, thrown in with a touch of humiliating, and maybe a pinch of defeated. Yeah, that about sums up how I felt. Me, Jared Palenske, who had such high hopes and dreams of being rich and famous…now reduced to the level of performing the lift-and-sniff.

The funny thing is that I wouldn’t want it any other way. I know that may seem odd, but it’s absolutely true. Embarrassing or not I love my 3 girls (I include my wife as one of my girls) and am thrilled that I even get the opportunity to carry out such a feat (not on my wife of course, she’s on her own with that). And to think there are actually some poor souls out there who have never had the opportunity to perform the lift-and-sniff. I can hardly remember back to such a day.

Life is just too funny to be taken so seriously