#279 Anything really, really heavy

Boom-badda, boom-badda.

Back when I was a wee lad I remember begging my parents for some newfangled gadget from Radio Shack that let me play LCD checkers in the back of the station wagon. It was like Game Boy’s Great Uncle or something and after I fought with scissors to break it out of its frozen-carbonite-like plastic shell I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this thing is really light.”

Sure enough, a couple dozen King Me’s later in the back of our bumpy wagon and this E-crap of Terribleness went kaput. I guess it was essentially plastic-wrapped air with a rusty circuit board wedged inside and couldn’t keep up with my killer moves. But it got me thinking that maybe there’s just something better about things that are really, really heavy…

• A pile of blankets on top of you. Because nothing beats getting buried under the hot fuzz on a cold night.

• Pens. There is a direct relationship with the heaviness of your pen and its quality. Bottom of the barrel is those flimsy four inch plastic ones that clip onto your mini golf card. Top of the heap is the fat one the size of a hot dog sitting beside the wedding reception guest book.

• Gold bars. When your bank account is loaded with tipsy pyramids of gold bars you’re either an ancient Egyptian King, Veronica Lodge’s dad, or Scrooge McDuck. Either way, gold’s been valuable since before recorded history for coins, jewelry, and arts.

• The Earth. It really is a great planet. And sure, we may have problems, but have you tried living anywhere else? The commute is always a nightmare and don’t get me started on the lack of water or air.

• Things made of glass. Listen up, plastic Jeep windows, Styrofoam cups, and the stained yogurt container I’m heating up this leftover ravioli in right now — your days are numbered. Because there’s something to be said for going heavy and going back to glass for the win.

• Old toys from your Grandpa’s basement. When you come across an old dump truck or a heavy wood paddle and ball it’s time to get down with a high quality afternoon. Keep fishing through boxes and you might find a solid metal xylophone or a doll who’s rock hard head could double as a battering ram.

• Ununoctium. Poor Mendeleev didn’t leave spots for this synthetic element — also know as last square on The Periodic Table and the heaviest element on Earth. Packing 118 protons into an atom isn’t easy but it makes for a fun challenge for nerds.

• Babies. Yes, it’s a great sign when babies come out heavy and healthy and then keep growing and growing and growing and growing until they turn into me and you.

• Old, dangerous playground equipment. We’ve chatted before about how metal see-saws, hot slides, and rusty Big Spinners beat plastic rocking horses two feet off the ground any day.

• Unwrapped Christmas presents. Heavy mystery boxes crank up that exciting what-could-this-be factor on Christmas morning.

Yes, in these days of bendable, breakable, and throwaway there’s something nice about anything really, really heavy. Heavy means this action figure won’t break next week. Heavy means this omelet is packed with cheese. And maybe heavy is just a sign of substance, a sign of comfort, and a sign something was put together by someone who cared.


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#280 When little kids get really, really excited

Big news, big news.

I’ve got a new girlfriend.

Her name is Leslie and she’s a kindergarten teacher.

Now, one of the things I love about her is swapping stories after work because we do such different things. I work an office job in the suburbs so I tell horror stories of yellow-font-on-white-background Powerpoints while she talks about teaching kids to tie their shoes.

A few weeks back she asked her students what they wanted to be when they grew up.

One boy wanted to be a veterinarian, one girl wanted to be a scientist, and then a shy girl got all excited, her eyes lit up, and she waved both arms in the sky until Leslie answered.

“Yes Jessica, what do you want to be?”

“Oh, oh, oh!!! I want to be a farm!!!”

Now, Leslie didn’t want to kill the kid’s creativity despite the challenges of morphing into a few hundred acres of soybean plantations so she softly challenged back a bit to see where she could lead the conversation.

“Jessica, I love farms too! There’s horses and barns and trucks! There are people driving tractors, people milking cows, and people feeding chickens. Do you want to be one of those people!?”

Jessica’s eyebrows scrunched up and she squeezed her tiny nose like a pig before looking up in a head-twisty daze.

“It’s hard to be a farm because a farm is a place,” Leslie continued. “It’s somewhere we find a lot of different things. You could be something at a farm, though. Let’s say for a second you couldn’t be a farm. Is there anything else you’d want to be?”

Jessica put her head in her hands for a few seconds before getting really, really excited again. Her mouth dropped open, her eyeballs popped wide, and she started flapping her arms like wings. She started breathing really fast as her body boiled to the brim with adrenaline and her brain fired electrons in all directions. Then she looked up at Leslie with a skyrocketing energy and the blood-boiling force of a thousand trains before jumping off the carpet and yelling out again.

“Oh, oh, oh!!!”

“I want to be a pumpkin!!!”



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#281 The loudest guy at the game

There’s always one.

It’s the beer belly guy with the megaphone, the face-painted lady with the dangly earrings, or the boozy teens with the letters on their chests. These folks don’t rest and we all can attest that they make our entire fan experience better than the best.

The loudest guy at the game cheers the crowd. The loudest guy at the game makes the home fans proud.

The loudest guy at the game … is just really damn loud.


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#282 Sending yourself emails to do stuff in the future

It’s good getting along with Future You.

Whether it’s all-caps screaming to pick up the milk, terse finger-wagging reminding you to hit the gym, or polite memos to your Work Self to staple that important pamphlet tomorrow, well the point is that you’re making plans and pledging to get the job done.

And there are variations on the theme such as The Time-Delayed Send, The Bizarro Self Voicemail, or the classic 10 Exclamation Mark Surprise.

You have one new message.


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#283 Eating the thing you’re cooking while cooking it

Also known as Chef Snacks.

When you’re stirring stew, popping corn, or frying fritters there’s nothing as nice as sneaking a few bites when nobody’s looking.

You can do The Wooden Spoon Slurp to see if the soup has enough salt or the macaroni has enough cheese. Or you can try the 7 Layer Taster where every combination of your 7-layer dip is tested — from cream cheese with salsa to guacamole with olives. Or you can do the classic Batter Binge, where that sweet and creamy dream liquid tastes like a chocolate-chip speckled swirl of heaven on your tongue.

And hey, come on — eating the thing you’re cooking while cooking it really is good for everyone. See, nobody likes a Saltless Surprise, so it’s good for the cook to perform these vital Tongue Tests early and often to ensure a tasty, tasty, tasty, tasty, tasty, tasty meal.

One tasty for every taste test.


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#284 When the chapters in the book you’re reading are really short

Have you seen Twins?

Yes, before The Governator governed he played Danny DeVito’s book-smart-street-stupid long lost brother in this classic screwball comedy. The story goes that The Terminator stole all the brains and muscles in the womb which turned him into a Superman but left poor Danny with only the throwaway genes left over.

Now I know it’s just a movie but there’s a classic scene where Danny is swerving a car through downtown streets while Arnie flips through the manual in the passenger seat. He’s literally fast-flipping page after page after page like he’s peeling through a phone book when DeVito turns to him and says “What’re you doing?”

To which Arnold responds “Learning to drive.”

And come on, don’t short chapters help us all feel a little like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins? Honestly, when you’re flipping pages fast, cracking that spine hard, and blazing through the book so quickly… well, it sure feels good, it sure feels great, and it sure feels a lot like


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#285 Your skin

Pop quiz, hotshot.

What are your body’s five largest organs?

No peeking, no peeking, we’ll reveal the big list later. But for now let’s just say skin is top dog and deserves six big props for six big reasons:

1. It’s our body’s giftwrap. No offense, but you wouldn’t look great with your organs hanging out. Blood vessels and big bones, slippery organs and kidney stones, seriously — it’s much better with skin holding everything into a tightly wrapped package. Plus, let’s not even think about the smell.

2. Bouncers in dark glasses make for no dirty trespasses. Your skin has three layers — the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat. The epidermis is on top and it’s part of your body’s security system — acting like a night club bouncer and sending low-class bacteria and viruses down the street. Now, this is a pretty tough job so new skin cell bouncers are always forming below. You can’t see it but your body loses 30 – 40,000 skin cells every minute of the day. This amounts to nine pounds of dead skin falling off your body each year.

3. World’s fastest note passing. Sure, we live in crazy days with text messages bouncing to the other side of the world in seconds. But those texts have nothing on the speedy skills of your dermis which contains nerve endings that speed dial your brain whenever you touch something. Garden soil, Grandma Hair, it don’t matter — speedy messages ping pong till you know what’s going on.

4. Waterproof or bust. Your dermis is also home to your oil glands which squeeze out their slippery namesake oil to keep your skin lubricated and waterproof. Don’t worry if you forget the rubber boots and raincoats because no puddle’s gonna sog you down.

5. A/C and a built-in fireplace. Your epidermis is also full of sweat glands which act like a thermostat in your body. If you get hot running around your body sends warm blood closer to the surface to cool off — causing the classic Red Face Effect. Also, your skin will release more sweat which evaporates and cools you down. Don’t worry — when you’re cold your skin does the opposite and pushes blood cells down to create goosebumps. These tiny bumps pull your hair up and create little warm air pockets and also produce more oil to coat your skin and keep the heat in. So how about that?

6. Safety shocks. Okay, there’s a reason that third layer of skin is called subcutaneous fat. Yes, it’s full of fat that helps your body stay warm and absorb shocks. Better to have a bruise on your thigh than a broken bone. I say there’s nothing wrong with some junk in that trunk.

People, skin is the largest organ in our bodies and unlike those brown, slippery things stuffed underneath your rib cage, it actually has to look good doing the job. It’s bigger than the next four — your liver, large intestine, small intestine, and brain — and covers you from top to bottom to get everything done, day after day, month after month, year after year.

Thanks for being there, skin.

We hereby declare you


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#287 Enjoying all the fresh smells of spring after a long winter

Flowers in snowWho’s done with winter?

Me, I’m finished with chapped knuckles, I’m finished with shoveling in pitch black darkness, I’m finished with sandpaper lips.

I say we all point our chests at the sky, open our hands up real wide, and smile with pride as we warm our insides.

When the warm air of Spring finally blows across our faces it means we can forget wet hats drying on the vents and those icy death traps known as our front steps.

Spring, spring, it’s a wonderful thing! Spring, spring, let the church bells ring! Spring, spring, gardens flash their seasonal bling!

It’s a beautiful moment unless… you have allergies.

I’m not complaining about Spring but hands up if all the tree buds and fresh grasses celebrating the end of hibernation, on the lawns and gardens across the nation, don’t plug your nose with snot, scratch up your throat, and itch your eyes to a bright fiery red.

I‘ve been battling seasonal allergies my whole life so I’ll be honest when I say that nothing makes me happier when I take care of my Itchy-and-Scratchy-Show symptoms and finally enjoy all those happy smells that make Spring so sweet.

Yes, I’m talking about the smell of freshly cut grass, the crispy fresh-air scent of bedsheets dried on the clothesline, and the first time you sniff some crispy-charred wieners wafting over from your neighbor’s blackened backyard grill. I’m talking about the smell of that basement closet full of bike tires and baseball gloves. I’m talking about the dark topsoil and scented wood chips that coat everyone’s garden. And when my nose is cleared up, I’m talking about the first whiff of warm breeze slowly wafting by full of magnolia and cherry blossoms.

So lose the jacket and get on your feet! Come join the party in the street! Just smell the trees and sniff those blossoms! Because enjoying all the fresh smells of Spring is so completely


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#288 Looking through the little window in an oven

Where were you 31,000 years ago?

Immortal wizards aside, I’m guessing you were the same place I was: nowhere. Nope, you were just a twinkle in your cave grandpa’s eye back then. Seriously, you weren’t around but your ancestors were scraping across soggy jungles, wet cliffs, and dirty deserts trying to patch together an existence on hunted animals and handfuls of trees.

And then they discovered ovens.

People, it’s true — according to our egghead pals over at Wikipedia the first ovens on earth are from back around 29,000 BC when our cave families cooked mammoths outside their homemade huts.

So I say let’s all stop for a second today and let our minds slip back to those cold desert plains.

Sharp winds whip dust across your dirty face on dark and dreary nights. Clouds crack and cold drops fall while you hear bushes scratching and footsteps stomping around you. Babies cry against sweaty chests, bleary eyes fade to rest, and everyone hunkers around each other for comfort and caring and touch…

Can you imagine how good it must have felt to cook up some gooooooood eatin’ back in those prehistoric days? Yes, I’m guessing your entire pack salivated while crouching around the smoky fire.

Next time you look through that little window in the oven to scope your rising cupcakes, bubbling lasagna, or crisping cookies, don’t forget to pay silent tribute to our past, when staring into the oven meant staring into energy… and life… and


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