#608 Tuning the radio station dial perfectly so there’s absolutely no static

I’m a terrible tuner.

Yeah, I’m the guy twiddling clock radio dials before bed every night with scrunched up eyebrows. Usually I end up on a crystal-clear station that I quickly realize isn’t the one I was aiming for or I end up accidentally using my body as an antenna so the sound gets fuzzy the second I move my hand away.

People, if you’re like me, you’d definitely find these moments over on 1000 Annoying Things, that non-existent netherlist we’ve mentioned before that features entries like #992 Someone shaking your hand with freshly wet hands from the bathroom, #991 Bendy straws that crack at the bendy part, or #990 When a chocolate chip in a cookie turns out to be a raisin.

Brother, that’s why nothing’s as nice as landing perfectly on your radio station of choice after twiddling that little orange dial for a few quick moments. When you nail it just right, slowly move your hand away, pause for station identification, and then quickly click the switch over to Alarm, you’re loving it lots.

See, radio waves float and fly through our lives sending highway traffic reports, wacky morning DJs, and bumping bass beats bouncing around the air like magic. It’s up to us to catch them like butterflies with our thin antennas, dusty clock radios, and determined little fingers driven to get that job done.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here and here

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#609 Finding hidden storage compartments in things you already own

My friend Rob welcomes visitors to his swanky apartment by flash-bulbing them in the face with a dusty old Polaroid camera.

After the picture slides out and the  color fades in he staples it to a foam board in his front hallway. Over time he’s created a giant collage presumably titled Anybody Who’s Ever Visited Me and turned a blank white wall into an artsy conversation piece.

When some friends and I crashed with Rob a year ago he promptly flash-bulbed us in the face a couple times. He handed me the extra pic while sticking the first on the wall and I stuffed it in my bags and forgot about it … forgot about it, that is,  until last week when I noticed a tiny white corner sticking out of my suitcase and rediscovered the blurry photo inside a brand new secret pocket!

Yes, finding hidden compartments in things you already own is like striking oil in your own backyard, people.

After all, you’ve known your old pal Backpack forever. You know her left zipper’s gummed up and you’ve watched with teary eyes as her stitching slowly ripped off her left strap. So when you notice a secret built-in pencil case pouch deep down in her inner shadows, it’s a mind-blowing moment. Suddenly she’s got a whole new strut in her step and trot in her walk, like she popped back out of backpack rehab.

Same thing with Bathing Suit. Sure, his zip-string is loose and dangly, he’s covered in lint balls, and his bright red logo has faded to a dull pink, but when you first notice that tiny mesh pocket for holding keys hanging inside his elastic waistband, your brain blasts to outer space. He’s like a hunched over old man suddenly tossing away his cane and then tap-dancing across the sidewalk.

So today let’s give thanks and give cheers to the surprise sunglasses holder in the roof of your car, that second pocket in your navy blue blazer, and the hidden change holder riding like a treasure chest deep down in your car’s arm rest.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#612 The Kids Table at the holidays

The Kids Table is where all the kids eat dinner at holiday family gatherings.

It’s generally a rickety card table from the basement pushed beside a yellow plastic one from the playroom that ends up turning Grandma’s hallway into an eat-in kitchen. Sometimes it’s two different heights, sometimes the chairs are broken, and usually the whole thing is covered in a plastic Christmas tablecloth freshly ripped from the dollar store cellophane.

No matter what though, The Kids Table a great place to find burps, laughs, and juice spills at a holiday meal. Everyone’s enjoying a warm evening with cousins decked out in their finest cableknit sweaters, rosy red cheeks, and massive bedhead.

Yes, The Kids Table is great for many reasons.

First off, no parents, no problems. Nope, they’re all baking pies, playing ping-pong, or sipping eggnog by the fireplace. The parenting theory here is that the kids sort of form a group safety net who will likely come screaming if somebody gets hurt, so no need for a pesky watchful eye. So with all adults distracted, rules fly out the window and suddenly elbows lean up on tables, chewed-up brussel sprouts get hidden in napkins, and somebody starts eating mashed potatoes with their bare hands.

And no matter what how old everybody is the rule at The Kids Table is that you must act like you’re seven. Teenagers who think they’re too old for the table quickly start blowing bubbles in their milk, pouring salt in people’s drinks, and giggling like mad. Then someone pops a loud fart and everyone laughs for ten straight minutes.

Lastly, let’s not forget that The Kids Table eats first and sometimes features special items like lasagna with no onions, random chopped-up hot-dogs, or real Coke.

People, a lot of good times and great moments happen at The Kids Table. Little ones learn from older siblings and cousins. Childhood bonds and friendships are formed over toys, tears, and gravy spills. And for kids, it’s good practice for eating with high-school pals at the local greasy spoon when someone gets their driver’s license or scarfing a hungover breakfast with college roommates at the dining hall.

So thank you, The Kids Table.

For all you do.

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#613 Your tongue, your actual tongue

Babies are funny.

While zooming down the highway with my friend Agostino last week he broke into a story about his one-year-old daughter. Apparently while feeding her a bowl of mushy peas she suddenly started sticking her tongue out, slowly and suspiciously peering down at it, and then wiggling it around.

It was like she suddenly came to the starstruck realization that “I can control this thing!”

And what an amazing day that must be, for you, for me, for anybody. After all, we grow up inside these flabby blobs of flexy muscles, whirring organs, and gurgling body parts, and then discover what everything does along the way.

The mysteries of your tongue are sort of discovered along the way, too. And what beautiful mysteries they are:

1. Tongue got your cat. Yes, the muscles at the back of your tongue help make certain sounds while talking like hard g’s and c’s. Try saying the word “go” or “cat” really slowly and you’ll feel that pink puppy push across the roof of your mouth.

2. Bubble blower. Hey, that wad of chewing gum ain’t gonna balloon into a thin n’ shaky pink bubble on it’s own.

3. Whistle while you work. Think of your mouth like the cold garage where your lips and tongue come together to jam after school. Your lips make a small opening and your tongue gets the bumping grooves going. Also works for singing.

4. Taste the rainbow. When you’re a one-year old baby you’ve got around 10,000 tastebuds covering your tongue and when you’re a wrinkly old fart you’ve got around 5,000. These tiny flavor-detectors are why mushy bananas and macaroni taste so good when you’re a kid and bloody steaks and olives do the job when you’re older. On top of all that, your tongue helps move food to your teeth and then down the gully for digestion. He’s basically the whistle-blowing traffic cop of your body.

5. Clean your fur. If your entire body is covered in fur your tongue helps you clean off instead of taking a bath.

6. French kissing. Apparently swapping spit is a common gesture of affection throughout the animal kingdom with lovers kissing with their tongues in jungles, deserts, and bat caves throughout the world. Evolutionary biologist Thierry Lode even argues that tongue kissing has a real function — to explore a partner’s immune system through their saliva. Yeah, I know: hot.

Once upon a time you discovered your tongue with a profound sense of eye-widening wonder and amazement. Over time you began using its magical powers to try new foods, learn how to speak, sing in the car, or snuggle up with a young love.

So today give three cheers to that fleshy pink slab of greatness sitting inside your hot, disgusting mouth. Use its noble powers today to sit back and scream forward one big booming word with me…

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

— Listen to my podcast 3 Books with Neil Pasricha

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#614 When people you don’t know wish you happy holidays

Holidays are stressful.

Gift shopping, mall hopping, money dropping, and through it all you’re planning in-law sleepovers, giant family dinners, and complicated travel plans.

It’s nice in these roaring revved-up moments when a complete stranger catches your eye and wishes you a heartfelt happy holidays.

Whether it’s the cashier at the grocery store, the receptionist at your gym, or the lady getting a perm beside you at the salon, it’s nice scoring that warm little season’s greetings to remind us we’re all chasing the same ol’ thing.

That’s right: Love, big hugs, family time, and cozy company right when we need it most.

AWESOME!

Photo from: here

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#615 When your friend waits outside to make sure you get inside your house safely after dropping you off at the end of the night

When your friend drops you off after a lazy hazy night it’s always nice when they sit with their engine quietly revving till you get in the door. And when you pop it open make sure to wave back so they can bee-beep or flash their headlights to say goodnight before quietly drifting away down into the dark suburban night.

AWESOME!

Photo from: here

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#617 When you win a point in tennis with the ball hitting the net and then just dropping over the other side

I’m terrible at sports.

Yes, when I was a kid I retired from soccer after just one season. In my final game I took a booted ball right to the face which snapped my glasses in two and caused me to crash to the field in a wet, goobery mess. Unfortunately, since we were low on players and couldn’t forfeit the big playoff game, I was forced to hang out on the field, blind and drippy, until the whistle blew.

And it wasn’t just soccer, either. I hung up the cleats after a season of baseball, too. Somehow I managed to bat fourteenth in the lineup and lead my team in hit-by-pitches. This was less because I crowded the plate with gritty teeth and steely determination and more because most twelve-year-olds can’t pitch straight and I have very slow reflexes.

Since I’m so bad at sports, I tend to over celebrate any type of tiny sports victory I can get. I’m not talking about shooting a buzzer-beating three pointer or catching a winning touchdown, either. No, I’m talking about any teeny-weeny play during the game where I get to feel like I actually did something right for a second.

My five faves are:

1.The Air Hockey Self Score. This is where your opponent fires the plastic puck so hard it bounces off your end and scores on their own net. Fist pumps all around.

2. The Accidental Pool Shot. Here’s where you aim for the six-ball in the corner pocket, but miss completely and send the cue ball spinning wildly around the table until it accidentally bumps another ball into a completely different pocket. We’ll take it.

3. Rim Rollers. Okay, over to basketball. This is when your shot bounces off the side of the backboard and clangs around for ten seconds, bouncing in every direction, before eventually, reluctantly, spinning around the rim and slowly falling into the basket.

4. The Slow Strike.  Do you ever go bowling? If you’re as bad as I am you love that moment where your ball barely nudges a corner pin and causes a slow-motion domino effect that eventually gives you a strike. Booyeah, time for a little celebration.

5. The Tennis Dropoff. Here’s my favorite one of all. Yes, when you win a point in tennis by hitting the ball into the net and having it immediately fall over and die on the other side, that’s just perfect. Now you get to relax and enjoy a brief moment of success.

Now I know what you’re thinking: These are all terrible cheap shots no athlete would be proud to score. But I’m no athlete, people. I’ll take my cheap shots when I get ’em if I get ’em. I’m not too proud to admit it, either.

So who’s with me?

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

Illustration from: here

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