Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dear Mom, Guess what....

A couple of my good friends got to go on a well deserved vacation last week. But when they returned home, I know they weren't expecting the drama that their 18-year-old daughter had in store for them. Even though they want her to be independent, they been doing everything they can to help her with her college and with her own car. I don't know how that's going to fare now. When my friends arrived home, their daughter told them that she is pregnant. While there will be no need for a paternity test, there's no comfort in knowing that the soon-to-be father isn't going to very helpful with this new life. In any case, my friends are moving their daughter back into the home. This is one adventure I wish that they didn't have to go through.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dealing With Weighty Matters

I don't know what has happened over these past couple of months. Somewhere in the midst of my added work load, the rise in my daily stress, the frustration of certain events in my life, the cessation of my exercise regiment, and fast food becoming my main diet --- somewhere in the all of that, 15 pounds snuck on to my body! WHAT HAPPENED?! Great! Now I need to add weight loss to my laundry list of things to do right away. NO, not 'weight loss', rather 'weight management.' We spend enough time worrying about losing keys, children, and relationships. And when I clean my house, I don't think about in terms of dirt loss. So, there you have it --- weight management.

So how am I doing to do this? Last week, a good fellow blogger of mine (Andrew) told me that he had just put online a health site that relates to weight control. That's when I check my poundage and discovered that mother earth must love me more because she's certainly pulling harder on me. Anyway, I'm going to start with Andrew's program. It's only three steps that are very common sense and very easy to do ... and free. To monitor my progress, I going to record my weight AND my waist. Sometimes your weight doesn't reflect that fact that you've removed fat and replaced it with muscle. However, by measuring the circumference of your waist, legs and arms, you can get a better indication of your progress. So I am starting today at 189 pounds and 39.5 inches. A goal to remove one to two pounds of fat each week is realistic. By using Andrew's method that he outlined on his site, I believe my weight reduction is very doable. When you visit his site, please let me know what you think! I'll post my progress here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dog and Pony Show

To make themselves even more money, the big boys in the front office came up with a new policy a few months ago. The air conditioner for the plant can only run between 7 am and 3:30 pm during the week days. Of course, this belt-tighten measure doesn't effect the A/C for the front office where the big boys reside.

So here we are, in the midst of a hot, muggy North Carolina summer. The folks in the plant swelter for much of the day. It has gotten so bad that fans have begun appearing all over the production floor. Thank goodness, the big boys are saving money from their A/C policy. I don't know how they would pay for the electricity used by those fans.

We did get a reprieve last Friday as we walked in a deliciously cool work environment that morning. Of course, we knew why. This was the day for a grand dog-and-pony show --- potential buyers of the business would be touring the facility. In the front office, a feast for a king had been laid out. I'm surprise they didn't have bowls of goodies throughout the plant so our visitors would think how well the employees were being treated. Of course, the big boys probably would have had the bowls filled with premium dog food but that's beside the point.

It's amazing how happy and productive you can be when you're working in comfort. But that doesn't seem to matter to the powers-that-be. A minute after the last visitor left the building, the air conditioning for the plant was immediately shut off and we were soon reminded that it is summer time. I guess the big boys felt that they had spent enough money for one day.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Credit Card Racket

All I wanted when I called my credit card company was a lower interest rate. They had just sent a letter saying they were going to raise my rates. Why? Is it because my credit score is too good? Maybe it's because I've never missed any payments. Maybe they don't like the fact that I have paid balances down low.

When I finally got a representative on the phone, they wouldn't give me a yes or no answer right away. They put me on-hold to do "research". While waiting, I had to listen to a couple of sales pitches. One was for a form of term life insurance and the other was loss-of-job insurance. I don't know about the loss-of-job insurance, but I do know that there are much better term insurance companies than what the credit card companies offer. After I listened to this mindless spiel, the rep came back on the phone and asked me if I wanted to sign up for the programs. I said no because the whole point of my call was to save myself some money, not increase my payments. But maybe that was the wrong answer because they said they couldn't reduce my interest rate at this time. All I can say at this moment is that they won't have my business much longer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

hair today, gone tomorrow

Lately, several of my older male friends are complaining about their increasing baldness. I've told them that it's just a matter of their forehead out-growing their hair but that doesn't seem to help matters. So here is my explanation of baldness.

First of all, not only does hair grow out from the head, but the follicles grow into the skull as well. After a time, these hair roots reach the brain and begin absorbing the ol' gray matter. This is why your hair turns gray. The amount of brain material that one has determines how long this process continues. Once a follicle runs out of brain cells to feed on, the hair dies and falls out --- hence, baldness.

Some guys take this all in stride. They'll polish their chrome dome and take time to reflect on their circumstances (sometimes blindingly so). Others will resort to wigs, hair transplants (in fact, let me get a plug in for a hair doctor: Dr. Larry Shapiro. Pun intended) and spray paint. Still others let their eyebrows grow incredibly long for that "comb back" look. As for me, I'm not worried. Just because I'm going gray doesn't mean anything. Although my head has started feeling a little lighter lately and it has become harder to remember things. In any case, the best advice for avoiding falling hair is to simply stand out of its way...

Monday, June 11, 2007

What Can I Say About Today!

Ever had one of those Mondays when you wonder why you got out of bed? As you drive to work, you hear a strange noise coming from your car. You drop your precious vehicle off at the garage and later learn that the funny noise is a serious $300 to fix. At work, the project that your boss told you months ago to not worry about has suddenly become elevated to crisis status and due ... last week! At lunchtime, you realize that you didn't put your lunch into the refrigerator at work ... mainly because you left it on your kitchen counter top at home. As you drive home, the "gasoline low" light comes on. What?! Did those guys at the garage drive to Europe and back? You put in a gallon's worth of gasoline. You'd put in more but that was all the change that you were able to scourge from your car. Thank goodness you didn't clean it over the weekend!

This was pretty much my Monday today. And as I pulled into my driveway after this long, mentally taxed day, I noticed that my carport door was slightly ajar. Since there have been a few random break-ins throughout the neighborhood, I thought that I would be in for a fitting close to this Monday. Instead, much to my surprise and delight, I found a box addressed to me courtesy of PayPerPost.

I couldn't get into the house quick enough. As I opened this unexpected teal colored box, my weary, dark mood became one of excitement and curiosity. What did I find inside? Well, first of all, there were these peppermint mints. Since I was already starving, I almost consumed the entire container. (I may be passing minty fresh gas for the next week or so now.) I also discovered that PayPerPost had given me the finger. Not the one that you would associate with a rough Monday. But one of their green, oversized "we're number one dollar" fingers. Then there was the T-shirt brick that announced to the world "I used to be a stripper". (Yeah, right. If you ladies want a video of me shaking my moneymaker, send me a dollar and I'll send you a video you won't forget. My G-string accepts PayPal.) There was also this tin of a green, sticky goo. Since it was past dinnertime, my first thought was to check the forgotten recesses of my refrigerator. I was wondering what to do with the green glob when I saw the final goodie contained within this PayPerPost package of pleasure. It turns out that I was one of the lucky 100 posties to receive a "Best of" double CD collection of The Police! So you know what happened next. The preparation of dinner and this post were spent jamming to the collective groove of Sting, Summers, and Stewart. OH YEAH!

So what day is this today? It can't be Monday. Something good happened. Thank you PayPerPost!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Toward Paperless Banking

At one time, I would write over 150 checks a year. Until a few years ago, that meant getting a fat envelope from my bank. No money inside, just a statement of my transactions and all the checks that I had written for that month. These days we're moving closer to a paperless society. Your bank will send you a monthly statement and nothing else.

Our checks have disappeared through the process of accounts receivable conversion. You haven't lost proof that you wrote a check. The banks are simply making an electronic image of your document while turning the check into a debt transaction. On your statement, your bank may label them "automated checks" or "authorized transfers" or simply "ARC". In any case, this is just the banks effort to speed up the transference of money. Instead of taking weeks for a check to clear, now it's just a matter of hours. Of course, there is an even faster way of transferring funds than electronic banking. It's called marriage.

some of you are too serious

I recently made a tongue-in-cheek post about promoting the rights of plants. After receiving some e-mails about it, a couple of you took my article a lot more seriously than I intended. So let me state here and now that I have friends who are animal rights activists, who are vegetarians, and some who are a little of both. That post was not meant to be disparaging to either group. OK? The only point I was trying to make was ... well, why don't you read it and tell me what you think?

Monday, June 04, 2007

If it were a snake ...

"So where are my [expletive deleted] car keys? [Expletive deleted]!" I realize that this is Monday morning and that it is 4 a.m. and that I'm up this early just so I can get to an unappreciative job. But the thing is I just had the keys in my hands less than five minutes ago.

Lately my memory seems to be a source of frustration than a tool of survival. So where are my keys? I retrace my steps through the house, not once but five times! On the fifth time through the kitchen, I saw them there, sparkling under cabinet lighting -- the only lighting in the kitchen -- sparkling like jewels on display in a museum. So why didn't I see them during the first four frantic searches? Is my subconscious trying to keep me from going to an exasperating job? It's not helping matters!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Maybe You Don't Need To Worry About Dieting Any More

I heard a very interesting science story about dieting on NPR the other day. If you've ever worked to manage your weight through various diets, you're probably familiar with the following scenario: you have done very well getting the pounds to come off. But then you reached your goal weight, you hit a plateau. You couldn't get the last few pounds off your body without taking drastic measures.

According to science writer Gina Kolatafor, this isn't your fault. She has recently written "Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss — and the Myths and Realities of Dieting". In her book, she maintains that our bodies are genetically wired to maintain our weight between a range of values rather than at a single number. Different people have different setpoints that will slow down or speed up their metabolism to keep them within that range. Ms. Kolatafor says that this explains why you can diet down to one weight only to regain what you worked so hard to lose in the first place. While this five minute story made Ms. Kolatafor ideas sound very plausible, I would like to get a hold of the book to learn exactly what she's talking about.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Reflections of This Home

Next month, I'll be in my current home 29 years. This is the longest that I have lived in one spot in my entire life. And I wasn't planning on being here this long. But this is the first house that I bought and I've been held hostage by the mortgage payments ever since.

As I look about the house I remember how bare was I didn't have much in the way of home furniture. The bed was a papason cushion. Towels were pinned as drapes to cover the windows. Milk crates served as both table and chair. Thirty years later, I may not be living the life of Riley. But I am much more comfortable than those days.

Change In Career?

Now that I seem to be getting my life back, perhaps a career change is due. I've always enjoyed mathematics, especially when it comes to modeling the way the world works (or doesn't). I wouldn't mind getting into statistics. Perhaps I can develop a method that would make areas like market research more predictable. Of course, I realize that this means taking the sum total of everybody's wishes, wants, desires and moving them to a level beyond crystal ball guesses. I couldn't be any worse than Congress is with their wild legislative assumptions as to our wishes, wants, and desires.