Archive for category: Idiosyncratic Celebrations

Mother’s Day: My Gift is a Loaded Question

07 May 2007
May 7, 2007
Question Mark Briefcase

If you’ve seen this bag, let me know. My wife will love it, especially if it will hold a few bottles of wine!

As I sit by the subway door each morning on my commute to work I am rewarded with “first look rights” of people and their possessions as they enter the train. You never know what treasures you will find (objects or their owners). This morning I spied this wonderful Question Mark attaché the minute it came on board. “Wow,” I thought, “that would be a perfect Mother’s Day gift for my wife. Perfect. Just her style.” I mean, you could look for years before finding THE PEFECT GIFT for someone (you know I am always on that quest). No doubts, she would love it.

I stared at it for two stops before I got up the courage to ask its owner where she had gotten it. The train was crowded. She stood just out of my whispering zone and talking to her would require I either lean over the person sitting next to me or, worse yet, make myself completely vulnerable by standing up to engage her for all to see and hear. My wife thinks I’m an extrovert: that it’s easy for me to just waft in and out of conversations with total strangers. Yes, I can make it look easy under certain conditions (I think of myself as an introvert with extrovert tendencies). But I firmly believe commuting time should be quiet time. Yet the nature of this potential gold mine demanded I rise above my basic instincts and public policies.

Staying seated, I raised my voice just enough so she would know I was directing my unsolicited chatter towards her. I rose above my own Cone of Silence and chose my words carefully, giving priority to both their clarity and economy. I certainly didn’t want her to ask me to repeat myself. Once would be enough.

“Excuse me, could you tell me where you got your briefcase?” I didn’t think it was a purse but I wanted to use the more gender-neutral term just in case. My fellow commuters could too easily misconstrue a man asking where a woman got her handbag. “That would make a great present for my wife,” I added for insurance.

“I got this twenty years ago,” she replied. “I don’t even remember the store.”

Disappointed, but proud I hadn’t let the opportunity to query pass, I would have to continue my Mother’s Day quest elsewhere. I asked if she would pose for a photo to show my wife. If I couldn’t possess the ideal present, I could at least document it.

Luckily, I found just the thing later today to honor the mother of my children who also doubles as an aspiring sommelier. (Don’t worry, Susie’s too good –and too busy– a mother to be spending time reading my online musings. It will still be a great surprise.)

A Hole in One!

08 Nov 2006
November 8, 2006
A hole in a tree

The Dems knocked one right through this tree.

Don’t Go in the Water (or to Silver Spring)

29 Jul 2006
July 29, 2006

Shark Week at Discovery Channel

Hooper ya idiot. Starboard. Ain’t you watchin’ it?

Quinn, from Jaws

Killer hurricanes. Massive floods. Record heat waves. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. And now this. Huge sea creatures attacking high rise buildings in the burbs of our nation’s capital. This isn’t just another summertime assault by a Great White; it’s an attack of the great GREAT BIG white shark. A 1950s B sci-fi flick? The result of global warming? Al Gore must be snickering “I told you so!”

Wait. It’s Shark Week and Discovery Channel’s worldwide headquarters just outside DC has been eaten alive by a big fish. I was there —those teeth are huge.

Don’t go in the water (or to Silver Spring –at least for the next week)!

Put Another Candle on That Birthday Cake

10 Jul 2006
July 10, 2006
Family picnic from the 1950s

An idyllic birthday from my past (that’s me on the left).

My birthday approaches. And as it gets closer I must find a set of goodies to suggest when my family asks: “Daddy/Husband/Favorite Son-in-Law, what would you like for your birthday?” A set of techno toys is lust-worthy, but iconoclastic presents are always nice. I am, after all, a good gift giver so that makes me a very, very difficult gift receiver. I think: I alone know what I want. Oh, the hubris.

So, what do I want? I scour the Web looking for something I just must have. And I scan. But nothing comes to mind. Pretty little designy things catch my eye. I’d love a new video iPod. But I’m waiting for the next gen (that is, the so-called “real video” iPod). I thought it would be out in time for my special day. But alas, it seems that it won’t be here until the first quarter of 07, if that (and quite honestly, I’m quite happy with my 3G in its supple Corinthian leather case). Tivo? I won that in a contest a few years ago. High def TV? A bit premature and a little pricy. Although, at Hamburger Hamlet the other evening I slyly remarked on how sharp that HDTV in the sports bar was. “Look how amazing that fairway looks!” I said to my wife. A seed sown for next year’s gift perhaps. I like to think ahead.

I’m not ready for an Intel Macbook. I’m quite happy with my late model iBook. I’m a sucker for new technology but early EARLY adoption isn’t important to me. I’ll wait a bit even though I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback on that stylish Darthbook.

What to do, what to do. And what to suggest at just that opportune moment.

Nothing cool and cuspy comes to mind. Clothes? Nah. Shoes? I’ve got what I need. And early on my wife and I decided that buying clothes for each other wasn’t our style. We know what we like.

I know what I want when I see it. But not this year.

When it really comes down to it, what I really lust for are those low cost/ high return intangibles. Breakfast in bed? Ummm, overrated. And not very comfortable. Besides, I’m usually the first up every morning. But wait. There is something. Yes, the more I think about it, the more I know I really, really want it.

I want a day, no, a week –no, a month of familial bliss. I’d like no fighting between and with my dear children. And no cajoling. Reminders to clean their rooms and feed the cat would be a thing of the past (at least for 30 days). And the culprit who spilled milk on the laptop keyboard would fess up right away. No dodging responsibility. Boy, wouldn’t that be great!?

I’d like to be listened to for the entire month the first time I make a request. Yes, that’s right. I would like my children to actually listen to my reasonable requests (only the reasonable ones). And, yes, dear sweet wife, a month of “I’m listening dear,” after which we come to mutually agreed-upon decisions on 1) child-rearing, 2) remodeling our bathrooms, and 3) who really has had the worst day when I come through the front door at the end of the worst day ever at work.

A month of nirvana. Those ethereal gifts are what make life sweet (oh, and maybe an iTunes giftcard). Happy birthday to me. Is that enough of a hint, dear family?

Related Post: Special gifts from last year’s birthday.

Happy Fourth!

04 Jul 2006
July 4, 2006

Uncle Sam

Related Stories: Carpe Diem and The Washington Post’s Patriotic Parades With Political Flair

Football: It’s a Vesica Piscis!

17 Jun 2006
June 17, 2006
Stewie and Arnold

Stewie Griffin and Arnold: fitting namesakes for our American football.

It’s the World Cup and EVERYBODY has football fever. Everybody but Americans. Ok, not all Americans. Everybody south of our soon-to-be fortified US-Mexican border is glued to their TV. The rest of us are carrying on our lives as we always do –waiting for our football season to start in the Fall. We live Saul Steinberg lives: there is the US and then there is the rest of the world.

We’ve got miles and feet; the rest of the globe has kilometers and meters. We’ve got gallons and quarts; you’ve got liters. It’s a divided world. Us and them. And for us it’s soccer, not football. And for us it’s a weekend of NBA and hockey finals with a little baseball thrown in for good measure.

Our football is just one of a number of sports that use that name, including rugby football, Canadian football, Gaelic football, and Australian Rules football. But to the majority of the world football refers to Association Football (as in the present World Cup football).

The term soccer, on the other hand, is only used here, in Canada, and in that bastion of soccermania, Samoa. Soccer came from the slang abbreviation of Association. New Zealand and Australia used to be on our side. But last month NZ dropped the word soccer from its official governing body’s name (now Football New Zealand) and those Australians caused a big controversy Downunder when they too changed their name to Football Federation Australia (most citizens in Oz still refer to it by “our” name). Just like our Iraqi Coalition, our allies are slowly falling by the wayside.

Much has been written about the sport’s lackluster popularity in the US. Perhaps if we changed the name of our soccer to the more “terra-centric” football, it might stand a chance.

But what to do with our own football? Two major sports with the same name could cause mass confusion. If we ditch soccer for football, what to do with the real football, I mean our North American sport? Branding is everything these days. A new and better name would make everybody happy and make us forget the old name just like that. (Loyalty? What’s that?)

Ummm, let’s see. We could call it Stewie Ball, after Family Guy‘s Stewie Griffin. His head is shaped like our football and his number one goal in life is Total World Domination. That sounds American. Or how about Arnold Ball after the title character of Hey Arnold! He, too, has a football shaped head. It’s a natural.

Or we could be more scientific. The shape of our football is technically a Vesica Piscis, the intersection of two identically-sized circles. We could call our sport Piscis (which would explain what happens when fans drink too much beer at games). Vesica Piscis literally means “bladder of the fish” (which would also explain the likes of famous football commentators like John Madden and Howard Cosell). You see? It’s all starting to fit.

There are also mythical and religious aspects to Vesica Piscis which, of course, coincide with the religious fervor of American football fans (and if I may connect the dots, the special place religion plays in American sports today). The Pathogreans considered it a holy figure.

The mathematical ratio of its width (measured to the endpoints of the “body”, not including the “tail”) to its height was reportedly believed by them to be 265:153. This ratio, equal to 1.73203, was thought of as a holy number, called the measure of the fish. The geometric ratio of these dimensions is actually the square root of 3, or 1.73205…

The ratio 265:153 is an approximation to the square root of 3, with the property that no better approximation can be obtained with smaller whole numbers. The number 153 appears in the Gospel of John as the exact number of fish Jesus caused to be caught in a miraculous catch of fish, which is thought by some to be a coded reference to Pythagorean beliefs.


See what I mean? IT IS starting to fit.

The Republicans should bring this up for a vote in Congress. A heated debate on something (anything!) surely would take our minds off of serious geo-political world events right now. Iraq isn’t going so well at the moment so lets replace our fixation on the maim and destruction in Bagdad with sportsman-like violence on the football field.

If I could just get the Bushes to play a game of Touch Piscis on the White House lawn this July 4th, that would give my name-change initiative just the push it needs.

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