Archive for October, 2012

Here’s the deal. Those long-time readers of my blog know that Gloria and I are always having tons of fun with the antics of our rascally offspring. Why just the other day Timmy came up to me and said, “Pa, did you know that whenever legendary blues guitarist B.B. King would get an above average grade at school his parents would take him to his favorite store and buy him ammunition so that he could do target practice at the family’s inn?” To which I replied, “What the hell are you talking about, Timmy?” At which point he cocked his head with that wry McBee smile and offered, “You know, when B.B. got a B he’d go to BB&B for BB’s for the B&B.”

And I don’t need to tell you that we enjoyed a hearty laugh at that one.

Sorry, my people wanted me to test market my likability were I to have a wife and kids. There’s no Gloria. There’s no Timmy. Frighteningly, however, there is definitely a BB&B.

Sure, I’ve already versused Bed, Bath &Beyond here, here and here…but they just keep sending me these catalogues full of overly convenient products. They’ve left me no choice…

First up is the thirty dollar spill stopper. This is a shallow, ceramic bowl with an open bottom that you set atop your pots whilst boiling water lest they overflow.

This is a fantastic product for those consumers who have yet to master the very complex strategy of not filling your pots to the brim with water. Yes, this is a must have for chefs everywhere who refuse to entertain the notion of, “Using a slightly larger pot.”

And how about this awesome Magic Tap Automatic Drink Dispenser?

Is it just me, or are we getting lazier every minute? Pouring yourself a glass of juice simply shouldn’t involve two AA batteries. And this is supposed to make kids less spill prone? Sure, I’ve always found that having a child balance their cereal bowl above their head is way safer than having them set it down on the table before adding the milk. And whatever happened to letting our kids learn how to do things? I know I’d feel pretty bad for little Timmy if he got to college and was embarrassed by his dorm mates when they discovered that he’d never learned to pour for himself.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the impressive-sounding Thundershirt.

I was expecting an outfit that would help make your pooch look like they’d just returned from battle in the apocalyptic doggie thunderdome (“Two mutts enter, one mutt leaves”). Instead, we get this dorky vest that may or may not help with puppy anxieties, but will certainly get your canine ridiculed by his buddies at the dog park. I’m not sure if this calms a hound so much as it embarrasses them, as this once mighty animal has been reduced to wearing a skimpy, Velcro jumpsuit.

Call me old fashioned, but I sort of miss the days when every single problem didn’t have fourteen solutions. Where everything wasn’t automated and spoon-fed to us. Where we had to rely on a little elbow grease and ingenuity to get through the day. Where an honest day’s work and individual effort were prized above easy fixes.

Now…autocorrect…autosave…autopost…and done.

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Here’s the deal. In 1853 James Gadsden negotiated the purchase of 30,000 square miles of land from Mexico for the low, low, introductory price of ten million dollars. This land is present day southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico and without it out great nation simply wouldn’t be the same.

Well…I suppose, in all fairness, it would be roughly the same…just Arizona would be a little bit smaller…so, yeah, it would be almost exactly the same. Had we not bought the land, I doubt anyone would be running around nowadays complaining that Arizona simply isn’t big enough. If anything, Arizona could stand to be a little bit smaller. Have you seen the way they shove up against New Mexico and try to squeeze Nevada’s corner? Back up, Arizona. Give the other states some room to breathe.

Yep, if you’re like me not a day goes by where you’re not wandering down the street and you pass someone muttering to themselves, “That damn Gadsden Purchase.”

Seriously, what was the point? According to “historians,” there were “people” who “thought” it would be a good idea to build a southern “route” for a transcontinental “railroad,” and that this little section of “land” would be just “perfect.” Really? Transcontinental railroad? Hello? Ever hear of waiting for cars to be invented?

Look, we’ll never know whether or not they actually built a railroad through this newly acquired territory. And there’s no way, short of walking down to southern Arizona and seeing if we can spot some tracks, to ever know what happened. And do you really think I have time to walk down to Arizona? I’m much too busy writing about how I don’t have time to walk down to Arizona.

14th President of the United States, Franklin ...

Franklin Pierce?

But either way it was a tremendous waste of money. President Franklin Pierce authorized the purchase of 30,000 square miles for the equivalent of 260 million in current cash. Okay, let’s back up here. It’s important to establish some basic background on the presidency of Franklin Pierce…And, as it turns out, I don’t know a single thing about the presidency of Franklin Pierce. So, moving on…

Just fifty years prior, Thomas Jefferson had spent the equivalent of 230 million dollars to scoop up 828,000 square miles in the Louisiana Purchase. Granted, Jefferson agreed that this move was unconstitutional but, as he put it, “Screw it. It’s a hell of a deal.” (Little known fact, Jefferson invented the two dollar bill to help sustain his Home Shopping Network addiction).

So…Jefferson bought a third of our country for less than Pierce spent on the corner of Arizona. Then again, history remembers Thomas Jefferson as, “One of the greatest U.S. Presidents.” While history recalls Franklin Pierce as, “One of the U.S. Presidents?”

And I, for one, am now prepared to make a bold proposal. Let’s check the White House and see if we kept the receipt. I say we get a refund. I say we deGadsden. I say we sell it back to Mexico. After all, what do we need more – hundreds of millions of dollars or a slice of Arizona? I’ve never even been to Tucson. In fact, I’m going to walk down to Arizona personally (don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of time to walk down to Arizona) and broker the deal myself. I’ll sell that land back to our neighbors to the south and pocket the proceeds. Sure, it may not be legal…but screw it. It’s a hell of a deal.

Here’s the deal. A mere twenty years ago children spent 84% of their play time outside, frolicking in the sunshine, exercising and improving their social skills. Today, kids spend 89% of their play time inside, eyes glued to a screen, sitting and rarely interacting with others. Yes, these are startling figures. And, yes, I just made them up. But the fact that they’re not real, per se, should not detract from the fact that they’re quite alarming and something must be done.

 

But let me ask you this simple question – is leap frog the answer?

 

Come on, what’s the point of this game? One child crouches down while a series of children leap over them then taking the crouched position in turn and become the leapee. Why? What’s the goal here? Who started this nonsense? How do they know when to stop leaping? Why do they even start leaping? What the hell is going on here?

 

Why are we encouraging our young ones to play this ridiculous game when there are so many healthy alternatives? What wrong with a hide and seek? There are clearly defined roles…the hider(s) and the seeker. And everyone involved knows when the game is over. With the insidious leap frog our kids could keep hopping off into the sunset indefinitely. How about a little freeze tag? It’s both a great workout and a unique chance for children to hone their living statue miming skills. What do kids learn from leap frog? How to leap? They should already know that, darn it! If parents aren’t teaching their offspring how to leap at home, what chance do we have as a nation?

A Australian Green Tree Frog

Is this our future…

Seriously, do we really want our children emulating carnivorous, short-bodied, tailless, amphibians with webbed feet, protruding eyes and semi-permeable glandular skin? Or, even worse, frogs? Is this how far we’ve fallen? Frogs are the role models of our future? Really? Did you know that the Striped Burrowing frog survives in a dormant state for nine to ten months in Australia’s hot, dry season by burrowing into a cocoon of its own shed skin? Is that what you want for your sons and daughters? Because that’s what will happen if you keep encouraging this frog idolizing. Your children will move to Australia and take ridiculously long naps in piles of dead skin. Think about that the next time you send them into the back yard for an “innocent” game of leap frog.

 

You know what…I’m sorry.

 

I’m totally overreacting.

 

There’s nothing wrong with leap frog. It’s good, clean, wholesome family fun and I’m sorry to have disparaged it. If kids want to play leap frog they should play leap frog. Just…be careful. You see, I played a particularly intense game of leap frog as a child and have been suffering the consequences ever since…

 

Theorizing that one could leap frog indefinitely within one’s own lifetime, I lead a group of school yard chums into my backyard in the summer of 1982. With each leap our velocity increased until I made one final leap into a brilliant flash of light and vanished. I awoke to find himself in the past, suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not my own. Fortunately, contact with my own time was maintained through brainwave transmissions with Al, who appears in the form of a hologram that only I can see and hear. Now, trapped in the past, I find myself leaping from life to life, bringing things right that once went wrong and hoping that each time that my next leap will be the leap home…