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Saturday, January 30, 2010

In Marketing...

the phrase "demographics" is used to describe various groups of people, some of which are targeted for advertisements or promotional campaigns. Obviously, today I entered a new demographic which is the over 41/less than 50 crowd. I received a coupon for "Touch of Gray" which promises, "...a breakthrough which reduces gray without getting rid of all of it." It goes on to say, "Let them see your experience and energy. You've got the best of both."

To the maker, Combe Incorporated, who graciously sent me the coupon for a free Touch of Gray product I humbly thank you. And salute you with the longest finger of my right hand.

Could this really be a 42 year old picture?

Friday, January 29, 2010

And the Moral of the Story... to NEVER give up. Think your having a bad day? Take 4 minutes and watch this video of a young wildebeest in quite a predicament. While it may feel a little too familiar, the importance of perseverance is quite clear. Not to mention the importance of having friends.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Crazy Hat Party... a party where people come wearing, uh...crazy hats. Now, while this sound pretty far fetched, it's really a blast. Imagine, everyone comes wearing a hat which they created, that displays something that's special to them. It could be a holiday (an Arbor Day hat would rock); a person (imagine the possibilities of an Elvis hat); an historical event (those British Dragoons wore some funky headgear); a hobby (my hat of geocaching is awesome); a religion (Does the Pope wear a funny hat?); a place (Leslie is wearing a hat dedicated to the Hawaiian islands). Just about any topic will do.

Short on cash and ideas, I thought about what kind of hat I should make for the Crazy Hat Sunday School Party which was to occur that evening. Over my lunch of fried chicken, mayonnaise and pickle on a bun, a moment of genius occurred. Krispy Kreme was right down the street, begging me to make a donut hat. However, practical as I am, I decided to stick with a Chick-Fil-A themed hat, as I was already here and too lazy to drive down to the donut shop.

I won first place that night and dedicated my winning hat to the Foundations Sunday School class the next morning. I'd say that was a good day of hat creating. And it was much easier than making an geocaching Elvis in a Pope hat.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lawnchair Larry Walters...

...was a simple man with a simple dream. He wanted to fly. And who could blame him. Even as a young man his eyes had been too weak to become a pilot in the Air Force, so his plans were changed but his dream never died. This truck driver would be the first to leisurely fly a lawn chair from his home in San Pedro, California to the desert. However, powered by 45 helium-filled, 4-foot radius weather balloons he ascended to nearly 16,000 feet, slowly drifting toward the Pacific Ocean.
It was a balmy Southern California day in July of 1982 when Larry and a group of friends launched his name from obscurity, forever associating him with a Sears and Roebuck lawn chair. Tethered to the weather balloons purchased from a local army surplus store, the seat as Larry described it was "very comfortable". It needed to be, because for the next 45 minutes Larry floated between San Pedro and the Ocean, entering the flight path for LAX. Two pilots had to change their course, reporting seeing a man in a lawn chair some 3 miles up.

The amazing thing about this whole ordeal was the level of the dream as compared to the lack of depth in the preparation. He took a pellet gun, a CB radio, sandwiches, cold beer (of course beer was involved), and a camera. All of those things may make some sense to the reader, though the gun may have you scratching your head. That, friends, was Larry's method of descent. Perhaps that idea wasn't all that bad, for after about 30 minutes Larry did attempt to pop a few balloons to begin the descent. However, in the chilling climate of 3 miles up, his numb hands dropped the gun. Fortunately, Larry had already popped enough balloons to begin slowly drifting back to earth. He eventually landed in power lines near Long Beach, California, creating a blackout for 20 minutes. While hanging in his chair in the lines he was only 5 feet from the ground, where he jumped into the waiting arms of the Long Beach police and several federal officials.
All in all his 45 minute, 16,000 foot journey fulfilled his dream and consequently made him an instant laughing stock. And yet there's something I can admire about the man. While I disavow his methods, I admire his determination. And with limited resources he did what he had to do to live out his dream of flight. While most of us would have attempted parachuting or hang-gliding to fulfill that destiny, Larry took a very different path. And with a name like Larry, perhaps a lawn chair really was the best method.

Footnote: Several years later Larry Walters drove deep into the Angeles National Forest and committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. He was 44 years old.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Here are two of my favorite guys in the world. My brother, Scott, is on the left. My father, Rick (should the gray in the mustache not give it away) is on the right. I've often found it interesting how different family members can be and yet how deep the love of family unites us despite those differences. As for the two men above, I remember a couple of instances that juxtapose those differences in who we are.

Years ago, Leslie and I lived in a small neighborhood that at Christmas would put out luminaries in the front yard. It was really pretty to see these flickering paper bags in front of each home on the street. My brother and father happened to be visiting in the late afternoon and so agreed to help me fill the bags with sand, set the candles and lay them along the sidewalk. Now for those of you who know me, I would just assume lay out a chalk-line, carefully measuring the exact distance between each bag. A bit over the top, maybe, but that's just how I roll. While I was filling the last of the bags with sand, Scott and Dad were busy laying them out along the sidewalk in the front yard. When I turned around, the line of luminaries looked about as straight as a line graph of the 2008 Dow Jones Industrial Average. They laughed as I followed behind, setting the bags in a straight line. Later I learned they did it just to get my goat.

It wasn't always done in a deliberate manner to toy with me, however. My Dad has always been the kind of guy who felt that functional was simply good enough. For twenty five years he had a slide bolt lock screwed to the inside of a bathroom door so it could be locked for privacy. I think he's beginning to rethink things however, as he recently removed the bolt lock and actually replaced the doorknob with one that locks. Similarly, a few years back Dad helped me put together a toy for one of the kids. I was bent out of shape to see that he had put a sticker of a clock on the toy upside down . He shrugged his shoulders, the kids never noticed and I experienced a small stroke from the incorrectness of it all.

I suppose my point is, perhaps what I love most about my brother and my father are not the multitude of things that we do hold in common, but the handful of things that are different about us. Maybe letting things go a bit more is an important component of true happiness. I'm not sure, but I'm working on it. And who knows, in 25 years I may remove the lockable knobs from my bathroom doors and install bolt locks., maybe not.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

From the Archives

As freshmen, Chris and Alan prepare to board a bus bound for a USC away football game.

As adults some 23 years later, Jay, Rick, George, Chris and Alan prepare to watch USC get their clocks cleaned on national television. Good times.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I Remember...

...Doing the Time Warp. Let's do the Time Warp again- er, or not! A couple of nights ago, though we did not know it at the time, my lovely wife and I sat down for a Netflix disaster. It seems that there are certain memories which are worth... not remembering. One such memory was of the cult classic, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". I will save you the effort in reliving the film by naming a few things which I had forgotten:

  1. The movie was so low-budget it made "The Blair Witch Project" look like "Avatar".

  2. Tim Curry is spectacular, if you like stained teeth and drag.

  3. Bonus- You do get to see a young and very nude Susan Sarandon, albeit as a plaster statue. Caution- ain't worth the investment.

  4. The movie is so blatantly gay that Paul Lynde would blush.

  5. While Meatloaf does makes a brief and forgettable appearance, the only good song from this musical is the one I quoted at the opening of this blog entry.

OK. So I've saved you some time and perhaps saved you some cash. The bottom line is, renter beware. Your distant cinematic memories often should stay that way. For there is no sweeter memory than the one which has been deeply eroded by the flowing waters of time. The sharp edges taken away and replaced with glossy, slightly blurred impressions. Instead, two hours of my life were lost, needlessly remembering a close up of of Tim Curry's lips and a cast of rejects doing the time warp. God help us all.