Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One last longhorn...

Technology is a take-no-prisoners juggernaut, leaving the destruction of Americana in its wake.

I love my HDTV, I am writing this on a new laptop while sipping coffee from an automatic grind, drip coffee maker. Technology and modern convenience are necessary evils in this forward-thinking, evolving world. I get it.

But sometimes I mourn the loss of the Cowboy. Not the kind that melted down in the run-up to the NFL playoffs. The real Cowboy.

The guy that didn't need a GPS to know where to poke the cows. He knew instinctively where to go and what perils lie ahead. We don't have instincts like that anymore.

The real cowboy knew the forecast by gut and by watching the horizon... not The Weather Channel, which was still 180 years in the future. Honestly, his forecast might have been more accurate.

Everything he needed was in his saddlebag. Rope, soap, beans and bacon, jerky, a kettle, flint rock, ammunition, coffee, cigarettes, salt, a good sharp knife, maybe a Bible, and certainly a flask of whiskey. The essentials. No shampoo, no Blackberry, no 16 year old scotch, no pager.

He spent his time alone with his cattle. There was always enough time (and quiet) to think. His true love was likely the memory of a woman. His commitment was to his herd and the horizon.

His idea of luxury was a hot bath in the next town, which might be two weeks away. His best friends were ranch folks and the occasional friendly Indian. His idea of mass transportation was a stagecoach, and his only communication was a telegraph wire. No cell phone, no text messages.

Just a man, his horse and the great outdoors.

There are cowboys today, but they're not the same. Real Cowboys are as extinct as purple sage and unowned land. They died when barbed wire and highways appeared.

Ironically, to those who enjoy today's advanced technology, it's popular to call those simpler times. I would argue they were infinitely more complex and difficult.

Back in the day, it was common to find an occasional feral horse, saddle still on. That usually meant that somewhere, a cowboy had thrown his last rope and gone to meet his maker.

What I wouldn't give to have him back.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Aiden Bo Baiden

The list of "most popular baby names" came out for 2008, and the boy names seem a little monotonous to me:

  1. Aiden

  2. Jayden

  3. Ethan

  4. Jacob

  5. Caden

  6. Jackson

  7. Noah

  8. Jack

  9. Logan

  10. Matthew
Aiden, Jayden and Caden? What about Baden, Faiden, Laden and Maiden? Ethan is my favorite on that list, but I might be a little biased, since I have a new nephew by that name.

For the girls, the most popular names were:

  1. Emma

  2. Sophia

  3. Madison

  4. Isabella

  5. Olivia

  6. Ava

  7. Madeline

  8. Addison

  9. Hailey

  10. Lily
Where's Emily, Jennifer and Susan ferchrissake? How could those just fall out of vogue?

I'm a rebel, I'm more likely to look at the list of popular names and choose something completely different.


Big shopping day! Although this is one of the worst holiday shopping seasons in recent history, I have a feeling it isn't over. I might head out and see what kind of bargains are available today... which is being billed Black Friday, The Sequel.

I hope your Christmas was as great as mine was!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

How the mighty have fallen...

A few friends and I threw together an impromptu Boys Night Out tonight. We all have kids, so it's hard to go out and cut loose often.

Right after our kids' bedtime, we decided to rendezvous at a local dive called Ethyl's. It was crowded with a couple of Christmas parties, the music was really loud and it was entirely too smokey to enjoy.

There was also a hint of a possibility of sobriety checkpoints near Ethyl's, so we did the only sane thing - went to a place closer to home.

A bowling alley.

We hung out in the lounge* right under the wall of plaques commemorating members of the '300 club.' Ironically, we were poking fun at the names on the plaques while we WERE IN A BOWLING ALLEY DRINKING ON A FRIDAY NIGHT.

After a pitcher or three, it was nearing two of the guys' strict midnight curfew, so at 11:55 we were out the door.

And I'm all like "wow, you guys are pussies to have to be home so early." Like saying this somehow made me feel superior.

Yes, this is what it's come to. A bunch of 40-somethings trying to find a place where the music isn't quite so loud, the smoke not so thick, where we could stay out of trouble and avoid the cops.

And be home in time to keep the peace.

By the way, we still had fun, even though it didn't conclude as per normal - dining at 4 am at the Casa de Waffle.

*doesn't "bowling alley lounge" invoke an interesting mental picture? Can you almost smell the cigarette smoke, stale beer, Tombstone pizza and rental shoes?

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I've given in to an insatiable desire to spend even more time on the computer. I've joined Facebook.

Day one, I have 35-40 friends. I can't believe I know so many people who are also slowly wasting away to nothingness in front of their computer screens.

If you, too, wish to forget what your family looks like, go to Facebook and join. But be careful. If you get email on your mobile device and have a bandwidth limit, joining Facebook might put you over.

I have a slogan suggestion. Facebook... because I had forgotten all the reasons I stopped talking to these freakin' people in the first place.**

*Sounds like an insult that a librarian would use.
** I kid. I love my friends.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Haircut Day

It's weird.

Today started with crappy roads and cold weather, which made the task of transferring the baby seat and driving both vehicles out so the van could get serviced rather dicey.

Then the session of one of my bigger clients, which was a very full page of several hard-to-read promos, was running a quarter-hour late.

I began the daunting task of bringing all of my billing in-house, which involves heavy levels of data entry and client contact. I did some banking and balanced the books, which is never a positive experience. (Why is it you never err in the positive? This time I was off less than 2-grand.)

The van wasn't finished on time so we ended up leaving it overnight, which isn't at all convenient.

The baby was very fussy today, as he struggled with teething and sinus congestion. He also had a diaper blow-out.

Not exactly a great day by any measuring stick!

And yet, at the end of it, I looked in the mirror and remembered I* got a haircut today. It's odd that such a simple event made such a positive impact. I look younger, it's easier to take care of, and it was a chance to socialize with the "barber"... the usual small talk about weather, the stock market and Christmas.

But it made my day. Renewing and invigorating, haircuts are.

*No, that's not a picture of today's haircut.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dateline: Clearwater Beach FL

We're poolside at the Sandpearl Resort on the beach, it's 70 degrees (a little cool for here) and I'm on my 3rd Pina Colada. The hottub is 103 degrees and we enjoyed the biggest lobster tail ever a couple of nights ago. I'll post pictures later, as if you really wanted to see them.

I need to remind myself I'm here on business. (98 percent pleasure, 2 percent business)

It's kind of Emily's and my gift to each other for Christmas.

Mobile Blogging from here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

MLB players, ownership completely out of touch

Former Milwaukee Brewers phenom C.C. Sabathia nailed down the most lucrative contract ever for a major league pitcher. He'll be playing next year for the... you guessed it, New York Yankees, for a whopping 23 mil a year, under a total contract of 161 million for seven years.

Meanwhile the fans are wondering if they'll have a job tomorrow. Many of them have already lost one.

I'm a huge fan of baseball and capitalism, but the timing of this deal couldn't have been worse. New jobless claims are at the highest level in 34 years and people are struggling to find ways to pay their mortgage. How, then, will they pay a higher price for baseball tickets?

Look, when most CEOs are making substantially less than many baseball players and are being excoriated for their greed and ineffectiveness, paid huge sums of money while the consumer absorbs the shock, I wonder what color of lipstick MLB will use to dress up this pig.

This is a high, inside pitch to baseball fans. Somebody should warn the pitcher before the benches clear.

Monday, December 08, 2008

May you live in interesting times...

That Chinese proverb will soon gain a new level of meaning for all of us.

My Dad has been warning me for a while that the paradigm of "normal" in this country will soon change. For a while I've been skeptical and pretty dismissive of his words. I am now changing my tune a little. Economically, all bets are off.

First of all, it's popular to criticize big business for greed and profiteering, (oil companies, banks, corporate employers) but it's important to maintain perspective. I agree, the exorbitant lifestyles of some of the CEOs, and the grotesque levels of profit made by the investors (stockholders) is a bit much, but I'm still a fan of profit. I don't blame someone for hopping on an elevator going up, and if a salary and benefits are offered to a CEO, it's personally irresponsible to decline it.

Unfortunately, stockholders and CEOs have been so bent on taking profits, there is little buffer for bad times. Those banks and corporations are the first to experience exigency when the economy degenerates. The popular recourses are now bankruptcy, layoffs and restructuring, which leaves employees in an unkind position. I fear that we as a public haven't even begun to understand how lengthy and severe this economic depression will be.

In our current economy (and the world economy as well), we've seen the first effects, drop in demand. Orders for raw materials have spiraled to serious, unprecedented lows. Consumer demand is dropping in most categories. Layoffs have begun, but we haven't even scratched the surface. As the impact filters down, business models are being jettisoned.

Deflation will be the next word of the day... and not for good reasons. The supply of money will dry up and the government cannot keep printing it. Prices will go down, and without a corresponding consumer confidence boost, they will not spur sales as intended. More companies will suffer losses, cut jobs and close their doors.

The biggest investment any of us have, our homes, have dropped in value precipitously. We (many of us, myself included) sit on a product that is worth less than we owe. This bubble-burst has been the elephant in the room for several years, as we saw 10, 20, and in some areas, 30 percent increases in real estate prices PER YEAR. Those of us who paid those prices are now left sitting on the edge with a stiff wind blowing. (and if you bought a home between 2000 and 2005, this is probably you)

Reality is now coming home to roost, my friends. I think we are living in VERY interesting times.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Iced cookies

We hosted a little holiday get-together last night for Emily and Paula's "Mommy's Message Board" group and during the course of the evening, things got a little... shall we say out of hand? High stakes deals were made. Products/services changed hands. There were a few too many witnesses.

It had to be done. They knew too much and were acting all nervous and chatty toward the end of the night. Dr. Mike and I arranged for the "cleaning crew" to stop by and "tidy things up."

The holidays can be harsh.

Monday, December 01, 2008

It is just me, or...

  • Do you also get a feeling of comraderie and synergy with the person in the car in front of you when your turn signals are blinking at exactly the same time and rate? It's like we're in the same positive chi aura. That, or we're both driving Chryslers.

  • Do you also feel bad when the Chinese restaurant delivers more fortune cookies than you need, indicating you're a big, fat, overeating hog? Is it really that unusual for one person to order Sesame Chicken, Kung Pao Shrimp AND Peking Duck?

  • Do you also wonder about what the hell kind of future lies ahead if Dippin' Dots will be our ice cream? (and how goddamn far into the future do I have to wait before I witness someone actually making a Dippin' Dots purchase?)

  • Are you also afflicted with an itchy rash on your arms after assembling and lighting a Christmas tree? I think I'll invent something called Tannen Balm* to ease the pain.

  • Do you also have a love/hate relationship with bumper stickers? I would never put one on my vehicle, but I am amused by the sarcastic, offensive ones, while completely put off by the "my son is an honor student" ones, and the latest rage, the stick figure family stickers.

  • Are you also having writer's block in YOUR blog world? I mean, look at the shitty material I came up with for this post. Surely it gets better from here.

*FUCK! I thought I had another Dave Original, but when I google "tannen balm" there are seven results. I swear I started this blog about 5 years too late.