Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Love Ya To Death

I read a funny story in the Dallas Morning News today. Well, funny to me - not to Kenneth Hughes. Here is the story:

-------

Kenneth Hughes was at work Monday when detectives asked him to come to Dallas police headquarters and answer some questions: Did he and his wife and daughter have trouble getting along? Were there problems within his family?

Hughes, 57, told them no. Afterward he learned what the questions were about. Officers were arresting his wife of 33 years and their daughter, who they said had tried to hire someone to kill him.

"It just floored me," Hughes said. "I couldn't believe it."

Hughes' wife gave a gun to a hit man as a down payment. Luckily for Ken, the hit man went to the police instead. Hughes continues to insist that he gets along well with his wife, saying "I just don't understand."

-------

Now, what is the moral of this little story? Well, obviously some men need to be just a tad more in tune with what is happening in their marriage. I'd be willing to bet there were some warning signs that Kenneth overlooked.

Men, be extra careful if your wife:
  1. Asks for a gun for Christmas.
  2. Sprinkles something 'extra' in your dinner.
  3. Gets mysterious phone calls from someone named Bubba, Spike or Luigi.
  4. Knows your insurance agent's number by heart.
  5. Watches the following movies over and over: A Perfect Murder, Unfaithful, and Sleeping With The Enemy.
Have I missed anything? Let me know. You may help save a life. Meanwhile, I'll be upstairs watching one of my favorite movies ...

Please pass the Ritalin

Kids are hyper these days. Scientists are baffled. Doctors are prescribing Ritalin left and right. But I know what the problem is.

They all have COMPUTERS!

I used to sit for hours at a time, reading a book. Now I can only read three words of an article on Today's Trillion Dollar Bailout before clicking on a link to Governors Tell Unemployed 'Tough Luck' where I find a comment on Why We Are All Doomed To Poverty And Despair, which I didn't finish because my email box popped up with a message from a Facebook friend saying Hey checkk out htis hot video which in spite of the spelling errors I thought might be a nice distraction but at that very minute somebody sent me the following urgent copywriting request:

Dear Lesley, the copy you sent looks good but the client wants to change from a spring auto loan postcard to a summer home equity loan insert and they want the main headline to use the word "organic" and could you please talk about the government stimulus but don't mention the words "government" or "stimulus" and they need a coupon at the bottom so we only have room for 50 words.

Forget the Ritalin. Please pass the Merlot.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lessons from my loved ones

A friend recently posted a sweet Valentine's Day idea on Facebook. He took his wife out for dinner and gave her a written list of "30 Random things" that he loves about her.

I am a little late for Valentine's Day, but I have been thinking lately about the people I love and what they have taught me. Here are some of the not-so-random things I have learned from my family. (Happy very-belated Valentine's Day! I love you all.)

Sister # 1 taught me that I can be anything I want to be. She has been a lawyer, a writer, a home repair guru, a lawyer again, and a rock of support for sisters # 2, 3 and 4. If she decides to do something, by George, you know she's gonna do it. She never ceases to amaze me.

Sister # 3 taught me that I should do the things I love, and do them a hundred percent. She has a wonderful, unique ability to open her heart and mind, and she gives her all - all the time. She has a childlike joy that makes everyone smile. She never ceases to amaze me.

Sister # 4 taught me that my hurts don't have to define me. She has a core of steel, wrapped in a soft shell of compassion. She is honest but never cruel. I still think of her as the baby, but in many ways she is more mature than I am. She never ceases to amaze me.

My husband taught me that it is more important to be kind than to be right. He always thinks of the other person first. He genuinely likes people, even when I point out the many reasons why he should not. He is everything I someday hope to be. He never ceases to amaze me.

My daughter taught me that deep, lifelong connections are the key to happiness. She calls me at least once a day. I treasure each call. She nurtures her friendships and lets people know they are important to her. She never ceases to amaze me.

My older son taught me that God allows U-turns. He decided one day that he would take charge of his life. And then he did. He has apparently forgiven me for my shortcomings as a mom. I will always be grateful for that. He never ceases to amaze me.

My younger son taught me that it's ok to be imperfect. Life is a journey, and the road is not always straight. He just keeps trucking on, with a smile on his face and a kiss for his mom. He is sweet and he always tells the truth. He never ceases to amaze me.

And Riley? Little Riley has only begun to teach me things. So far she has taught me that getting older is wonderful, because it means I can be her grandma. She has taught me that there's always something new to learn, and that you should hurry up and learn it because then you can start learning something else. And she has taught me that every bedtime requires at least two stories, three kisses and fourteen hugs. She never ceases to amaze me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For Sale

(from my favorite "free" category on craigslist ... might also be listed under "vaguely erotic household items" or "personals: females seeking electronic appliances")

Free carpet cleaner. Sucks but does not squirt.

...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Dale Girls discover their relatives

I taught elementary music for several years, and I remember one year we got a new student whose last name was the same as mine. When I told him my name, he exclaimed, "Maybe you are my ancestor!"

The little Dale girls grew up without any nearby relatives (or ancestors, for that matter). I knew that other kids had aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins, but it never occurred to me that we might have some, too. If I had realized that each relative represented one birthday gift, I might have exerted a little more effort to uncover them.

Gradually, after several epic road trips, we did manage to meet some of our extended family. The aunts, uncles and grandparents were old. Most of the cousins were boys. What a disappointment.

We did have one uncle, however, who was really great. Uncle Roland was mom's brother. He lived in Dallas, and he came to visit us about once a year. On the Dale Excitement Scale, his visits ranked right up there with Christmas, Halloween and Shopping For School Supplies.

Here's why we loved him so much:

1. He gave us each a dollar! Every time!! A dollar! EACH!!!!

2. He recognized our talent and eagerly looked forward to the plays we would put on for him. In fact, I believe to this day that our plays were the main reason for his visits.

3. He was the slowest talker in the world. This was endlessly fascinating to us. Here is one of his stories:

Uncle Roland: (with a Texas drawl) Ah was goin' up to the city ...

Us: Thanks for the dollar!!!

Uncle Roland: ... the other day ...

Us: Can we go to the store now??

Uncle Roland: ... and ....

Us: Hey, you know Mary Bredeson's dog?

Uncle Roland: ... I saw ...

Us: She's gonna have puppies!!!

Uncle Roland: ... a man ...

Us: She's HUGE! Mary says there's 7 or 8 puppies in there!

Uncle Roland: ... on a ...

Us: She's gonna sell them for like a hundred dollars each but she said we could have one for FREE! Can we? Huh? Just one? Please oh please oh please?????

Uncle Roland: ... horse.



Saturday, February 14, 2009

For Sale

Available on craigslist:

(I found this in the "free" section)

bald, female mannequin. only has one arm, and it's not attached. i brought it home bc i thought it was funny but it's really freaking me out PLEASE GET IT OUT OF HERE ASAP!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Seriously good news

Things are looking up!

I am tired of all the doom and gloom in the news lately. So this morning, I opened my newspaper determined to find something good to write about. Surprisingly, it didn't take long!

First, I found an article about Bernie Madoff's wife. Did you know that she withdrew $15 million from their brokerage account just days before he was arrested? What amazingly lucky timing! Good for her.

Then, I found an article about 696 lucky people at Merrill Lynch, who were "secretly and prematurely" awarded $3.6 billion in bonuses just before the firm was acquired by Bank of America. Amazingly lucky timing, once again! Good for them.

I bet you are smiling already. I'm sure you are happy for these lucky, lucky people. I know I am. But wait! There's more!

YOU are also a lucky, lucky person this morning. Congress has reached a compromise on the new stimulus bill, and it includes a generous provision for you. (yes, you!) The "cornerstone" of the bill is a tax credit which will translate into an extra $13 per week in take-home pay for the average worker. That's right, you can look forward to a whopping $13 per week. Good for you.

Ironically, the nickname for this tax credit is "Make Work Pay."

I have a better idea.

Let's go into the wallets of the fat cats who stole our 401(k)'s, our IRA's and our homes, running rackets that were not all that different from Mr. Madoff's ponzi scheme. Let's take back the bonuses they generously awarded themselves. Let's uncover the fraud that was perpetrated on the American people. Let's put some people in jail.

Let's make them pay. THAT would be good news.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ring-a-ding-ding

Strange but true:
Tales from way back when I was alive

Hey, remember how I told you about the good old days of television?

"ya. we didn't believe a word you said"

It was all true. Would I lie to you? Things were different back then.

"no kidding"

Like for instance, nobody had cell phones.

"nobody? how did you call each other, then?"

We used regular phones. You know, the kind that plugs into the wall. There weren't any cordless phones either. All the phones looked like this:




















"dude. where are the buttons?"

No buttons. You turned the dial instead.

"that must have taken forever"

Not really. You only used an area code if you were calling out of state, which nobody ever did unless it was a real emergency, because it cost extra. So most of the time you only needed to dial 7 numbers.

"unless you were calling 911, of course"

Oh, there was no 911. If you needed the police or the fire department, you had to call the local number.

"ok, so your house is burning and you'd have to go online and look up the number for the fire department?"

Not quite. There were no computers either, remember?

"oh my lord. so you'd, like, stand there and burn or what?"

Well, you'd have to go to a neighbor's house, or look for a pay phone.

"i don't even want to ask"

There used to be pay phones at all the gas stations, and other random and usually unsafe locations. They looked like this:
























"nice. it looks like you could get a disease from that thing. so what if you wanted to text somebody? how did that work?"

Oh, there was no texting.

"gasp"

No ring tones. No camera phones. No video phones. No phone games. No phone Internet. No phone GPS. All you could do with your phone, was make a phone call.

"you are so funny. i almost took you seriously for a minute there.
no camera phones! good one."

Yep, ha ha. I am such a kidder. No constant, instant, unavoidable 24-hour communication! Can you imagine? Who on earth would call THAT the "good old days"??

For Sale

Available on craigslist:

Nice 9 foot green heavy cloth market umbrella. One support is broken but could be fixed suitably if your wife is not as picky as mine.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Carpal Tunnel Bad Hair Day Syndrome

My new haircut gave me carpal tunnel syndrome.

It's not surprising, really. My hair has never been particularly cooperative. To start with, I have way more of it than I need. I'm a small person, but I've always had big hair. From a distance I look like a blonde Q-Tip that's been through the washer a time or two.

My hair is wavy, but not wavy enough to look cute or be in style. Just wavy enough to stick out at random angles.

It's thicker on one side than the other. So I always look a little off balance.

And it grows faster than bamboo.

I've tried all kinds of styling tips and tools. I tried scrunching it and letting it air dry.

Here is what I was hoping for:























Here's what I got:




















I tried straightening it with a Chi, the latest super-duper styling tool that heats up to a million degrees Fahrenheit in 60 seconds flat.

(Important tip: if you drop the Chi while using it, do not try to catch it. Let it fall. Trust me.)



I was hoping the Chi would make me look like this:






















But I ended up looking more like this:


















I just don't have the knack.

But THEN, yesterday, I went to a new hair stylist. She did a great job. She whipped out her blow-dryer and a round brush the size of a 40-gallon industrial drum, and within a few minutes she had me looking really cute. She insisted that I could do it at home. All I needed was a round brush like hers.

I bought the brush, toodled on home, and woke up this morning full of optimism. I hopped in the shower, washed my newly-trimmed hair, and faced the mirror with confidence.

Then I picked up the brush. Holy cow, that thing is heavy. For her, it glided through my hair. For me, it got all snagged up. For her, it lifted and styled. For me, it pouffed and frizzed. Half an hour later, I hobbled out of the bathroom, gingerly holding my wrist.

How do I look after all that work? Pretty much like I always do. A little wavy, a little frizzy, a little off balance.

A less determined person might be tempted to give up at this point. But I hear there's a new styling gel made from beeswax, aloe and quick-dry cement ... it might be worth a try.

On a lighter note ...

No politics today. My blood pressure can't take it. No more pondering why elected officials whose policies have led us to this mess would dig in their heels and throw temper tantrums and compare themselves proudly to the Taliban.

Nope. Today I will play with Riley, and ponder more important things.

Like, why did my new jar of honey have a seal on top, with no pull-tab? How was I supposed to get that off? I jabbed it with a knife, knowing full well that anything I do with a knife at 6 am is a bad idea. Then I tore it off in little sticky sections, leaving smears of honey all over my fingers, glops of honey on the counter and a little honey trail leading to the trash can.

I think I'll leave it.

While I'm off at the park with Ry-Ry, maybe some little ants will come along. Maybe they will happily follow my trail. They won't bicker about who is in charge. They won't complain that there is too much honey being wasted. And even though they will encounter some trash along the way, they will end up in a huge smelly landfill where they can make a better world for themselves.

Or maybe I will squash them all with my shoe.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I just don't get it

Somebody sent this email to my husband yesterday. I don't get it. First, please read the email. Then see my questions at the end. Maybe you can help me understand.

----------------------------------------------------------

To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn't pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.

However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.

First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a Back Story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You've seen my big home at last years Christmas party. I'm sure; all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.

However, what you don't see is the BACK STORY :

I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn't have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business -- hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends went to their jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom's for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the discount store extracting any clothing item that didn't look like it was birthed in the 70's. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don't. There is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden -- the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations... you never realize the Back Story and the sacrifices I've made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn't. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds.

Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don't pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my "stimulus" check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The question I have is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 2,200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single mother sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check? Obviously, government feels the latter is the economic stimulus of this country.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you'd quit and you wouldn't work here. I mean, why should you? That's nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don't understand ... to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn't need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don't defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?

It's quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child's future. Frankly, it isn't my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I'm done. I'm done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

So, if you lose your job, it won't be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about....

Signed, THE BOSS


----------------------------------


Ok, now here's what I don't get:

This email was not sent by a "boss." It was sent by a blue-collar worker. Let's call him Joe. (A random and over-used name, I know.) Why on earth would Joe feel sorry for The Boss?

Here is what The Boss was saying, as far as I can tell:

1. I am way smarter than you.
2. I work way harder than you.
3. You have a lot of nerve, aspiring to my lavish and well-deserved lifestyle.
4. I will soon retire and sit on a beach.
5. You won't.
6. Tough luck.

Now, maybe Joe sent the email around because he is outraged by it. But I don't think so. I think he agreed with it. I think an awful lot of Joe's believe that they made the right decisions, and worked hard, and saved hard, and are now being screwed by the Big Bad Government. I think Joe thinks he is The Boss.

Wake up, Joe. When was the last time you made enough money to generate a quarterly tax bill of $288,000?

Wake up.

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