November 27, 2007

Leaf Wars

I am ready for them this year. I have always been prepared, but this year I have changed the readiness status to “High Alert.” This year I will win.

I’m talking about leaves, and not just any leaves. I am talking about those sneaky kamikaze leaves from the Norway Maple and the Oak tree near my hot tub. They have spent all year since their budding last spring to find a way to infiltrate my hot tub. I will not have it!

I used to have a love affair with leaves. Check out my essay “The Burning Shirt.” But my raking days are now over, and these new pilot leaves are taunting me and trying to make my life miserable – even more miserable than it usually is.

Here’s the problem. If I take a nice long soak in my hot tub on a breezy day, the leaves try to join me. They do not combine to increase the water quality. They are the enemy.

Today was a particularly bad day with large gusts. So I got in there and assumed the position. I stood naked in the middle of the tub in my best defensive karate position. I don’t know any karate positions but I have seen enough kung fu movies. I fought off the incoming salvos of those persnickety pesky perpetrators.

My wife says that the sight of me alone should be enough to scare them away. I am not sure about that. I think that I need more.

After dark I am going to go out there again. I will turn the flood lights on the trees to illuminate their pernicious off casts. And I will light the glowing blue of the hot tub so as to back light me in my warrior glory. A scuba mask and shield of some sort will protect me. I will bay at them. Those twirling last twists of dying protoplasm will know that I mean business!

Victory is mine!

November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving by ESPN

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to express gratitude. We say thank you for all that we have. In my house we are especially thankful for all the cooking done by my wife. But saying thank you is not enough and this year I want to do more.

Preparation of the holiday feast falls on my wife’s shoulders, as in many American households. I am determined to lighten her burden this year and I have signed up as her official assistant. In past years I have helped here and there, but this year I really want to be there for her. I want to be her Sous Chef – no, I want to be her Do Chef. Whatever she needs done, I will do it. Whatever. Whenever. I will be there.

And I don’t want her to have to be calling to me all day and begging me to do stuff. So I have devised a fool proof system which will build on the strength of our long term marriage.

She is going to send her instructions to me by mental telepathy and I will receive them using Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP.) In my house we call this ESPN because it is an acronym that is easier for me to remember. She will think, “I need him to mash the potatoes,” and I will leap from my seat in front of one of the three football games that are on today and run to the kitchen to complete the task. The ESPN will run in only one direction because I do not want her to hear what I think or say to myself when she sends me instructions. It is hard to be filled with gratitude for an entire day.

Another important aspect to this new system is that it has been set up to be an experiment because we will need scientific evidence that it works. Therefore, my wife cannot supplement her mental instructions with verbal ones. If by some chance I miss one of her messages during a really important play, then in that one instance she will have to carry on alone.

At the end of the day we are going to review the results. I may not be home by then so we will do it by telephone conference. If I were home her verbal report might have interference from all that ESPN stuff still floating around. And I want this to work well for her. It is all about her.

I just know this is going to be one big success. I can’t wait for Christmas. I wonder what games will be on?

November 18, 2007

Social Networking

Warning: I am about to reveal my ignorance. Many would say it is not for the first time.

Do you remember the old AT&T phone commercials with “reach out and touch someone?” They were trying to get us to use our telephones more and the add was effective. I am expecting that any day now the “new” AT&T will come out with an ad with the tag line “reach out and touch everyone constantly.” Because that is where the world is heading.

Ease of communication has exploded with the cell phone and the internet. And now the internet is available on your cell phone, so that the world is with you at all times, if you want it to be.

I remember back in the olden days when the new ability to send and receive an email was very exciting. I liked that type of communication better than the telephone. I could pause and consider, maybe for a day, before answering. The interaction was in my control and on my terms.

But the old email was not good enough for many people. AOL began an online “buddy” system. AOL would inform you when your buddy was online and you could exchange emails your buddy. It was closer to real time connection. I never wanted to be anyone’s buddy.

Next came IM, or instant messaging. I have never done IM. All I know is that school kids did it constantly when they were suppose to be doing their homework. And there were chat rooms. All of this let people stay in touch with their friends.

And cell phones became more and more prevalent. And minutes became cheaper and more available so people used them more. And don’t forget text messaging. That’s where you tediously type short messages to others on your cell phone – not unlike the buddy system.

A new term, “social networking” was born. More modern online versions of social networking include Facebook and MySpace. I actually am a member of MySpace so that I can get announcements about my son’s band. I don’t use it for any thing else. Once in awhile I get emails through MySpace from young women who will be in my area soon and want to meet me. I think that they are probably selling Girl Scout cookies.

Lately social networking has gone mobile. You can now keep up with all of your friends or network from your mobile phone. You can even track where they are. One service will let you receive real time restaurant reviews with pictures from your friends and tell you whether they are in the restaurant or on the street outside. That is how good the locating service is. You can walk around and know the locations of all of your friends who want to be known. And they can always find you. You can always be in touch

I suppose all of this is wonderful, but I don’t know why. Why would I want people to know where I am? Why would I want them to be able to get in touch with me instantly? Why would I want to look at their pictures? I just barely tolerate talking to people on the phone. Why would I submit myself to all these other invasions of privacy?

I am missing something here. Millions of people are making use of the new social networking technology. My son sends 3000 text messages per month! To whom? About what? I just don’t get it.

And what does that say about me? It says that I am a crotchety, old, boring, introverted loner. This new technology is not being built for me. I am not the prime demographic here. Yes, I am missing something. But am I missing out?

Please, let me know what is going on here.

November 15, 2007

Donuts Make Scents

I have been looking for the connection between donuts and sex for a long time now. I intuitively knew there had to be a point of intersection, but my decades long search proved fruitless and stale until now.

My love affair with donuts began at a very young age. The dentist made me do it. Our family dentist, a high school friend of my father, was in Ball Square in Somerville, Massachusetts. Typically we would make the trek on Saturday morning for the torture session (a long and painful story for another day.) The reward for going was a trip across the street to Gail Ann’s Donuts. I can see, smell and taste the jelly donut, and the honey dipped, and the chocolate covered, and the lemon, and the powdered sugar and the cinnamon sugar, and the glazed cruller. My eyes are glazing over as I think about it.

A sugar high cannot be beat. It has helped propel me through most of my life. A couple of years ago friends and I made a pilgrimage to the newly opened Krispy Creme store. I stood in line watching the donuts glide down the conveyer belt to the waterfall of liquid sugar. I can still feel it in my body. I just wanted to jump over the rail and insert my head and mouth under that waterfall. Ohhhhhh boy!

So it came as no surprise to me when the findings were published for a study on the “Various Aromas Found to Enhance Male Sexual Response” by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation of Chicago. The second place winner was a combination of donuts and black licorice. I do not know what the licorice is all about, but I certainly know about the donuts. It just proved what I already knew. Truthfully, it completed my life. Donuts are an aphrodisiac – the poor man’s Viagra.

By the way, the first place winner was a combination of pumpkin pie and lavender. There is historical evidence that proves the accuracy of this finding. Who were the first settlers of America? Pilgrims. What did they eat at the first Thanksgiving? Pumpkin pie. How many Pilgrims were there? Not many. How many Americans are there now? 301,139,947 – I looked it up. How did we get from fewer than 100 to 301,139,947? Pumpkin pie. It could not have been donuts because Dunkin’ Donuts did not begin until 1950.

I am keeping these findings a secret in my house. I want to make sure that my wife still makes her famous Pumpkin Chiffon Pie for the holidays. And I promise not to ruin my Thanksgiving meal by filling up on too many donuts. Maybe.