Parenting teens is easy once you embrace being an embarrassment

My son really hates it when I call for a price check.
My son really hates it when I call for a price check.

Everyone with teenagers please raise your free hand. And by “free” hand, I mean whichever hand isn’t either guarding your wallet or refrigerator door. For parents without a free hand because you are guarding both, don’t worry; we can see it in your eyes. It’s that blank, pleading stare recognized and shared by all parents with teenagers.

It’s a look that says, If not for over-the-counter medication and America’s Got Talent, I would curl into a fetal position until my kids turn 20.

Part of what makes raising teens so challenging, aside from mood swings that raise the bar for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, are the lengths parents will go to avoid doing things their teen views as “totally embarrassing,” such as breathing while in the presence of someone they might know from school. Or making eye contact with them anywhere outside of the home. Or referring to them as “Pookie” or “Scooter” while standing in line with other parents and teens during school registration. Continue reading Parenting teens is easy once you embrace being an embarrassment

Airlines may be asked to crash planes to help reduce passenger stress

image Recently, a federal jury in Billings, Mont., awarded $1 million to a woman who said she suffers from post-traumatic stress after her Delta Airlines jet made an emergency landing in November of 2011.

The case gained attention because it opens the floodgate for other post-traumatic stress lawsuits, which includes anyone who has ever ridden in a taxi in downtown New York. Though I never suffered anything as severe as post-traumatic stress from my own NYC taxi experience, it was many weeks before I could free my mind from the terrifying image of my driver giving other drivers the bird with both hands as he navigated through Madison Avenue traffic using only his knees.

Even today, I’m sure that his back seat still has a perfect impression of my hands — in the form of a death grip — which he can use as a nice conversation piece. Continue reading Airlines may be asked to crash planes to help reduce passenger stress

A steady stream of firefighting moments

image I’m fast approaching my fifth year as a volunteer firefighter. In those five years I’ve experienced some of my life’s greatest emotional peaks and valleys while fighting fully involved house fires, searching for lost hikers, transporting injured ATV riders off the dunes, educating kindergarteners about fire safety, and extricating both the living and the dead from mangled automobiles — sometimes within arm’s reach of one another.

Most of those images will remain reels of mental footage tucked away in my memory like the VHS cassettes of my youth; waiting for me to find them some day when, more than likely, I’m searching my mind for something else entirely.

As I sat here at the breakfast table quietly eating a bowl of Froot Loops, I began scrolling through some of the firefighting photos on my iPad. Among them are moments of fun, intensity, fear and camaraderie built on a shared understanding of trust and faith. Also among those photos are firefighters I once stood with who are now gone — some by choice, others… after having been chosen. Continue reading A steady stream of firefighting moments

Parent’s survival guide to having a teen driver

image As you may be aware, our son recently became the first of our four teenagers to get his driver’s permit. That leaves three more of our teens who will likely be entering the roadways over the next few years.

I’m sorry about that.

In fact, I’d like to apologize in advance for any mailboxes, trash cans or backyard swimminng pools that may be damaged in the future. And that’s just for my son. Once our other three get their permits, no one is going to be safe. At least once they dislodge themselves and the car from our garage door.

For those of you who might be facing a similar situation, or who are now reconsidering having children at all, I’d like to offer this short video sharing a few tips with parents on how to survive having a teen driver. It’s less than two minutes but it could save your life.

Especially if you’re driving anywhere near our neighborhood…

Television for cats: just one more reason not to have cable

Cat with remote If you have a cat, I’m sure you’ve heard about the world’s first TV program specifically designed for cats. This groundbreaking show premiered — ironically — on the Oxygen Network, which demonstrates what can happen when creative minds are allowed to collaborate freely and openly in a room that is actually being deprived of oxygen. That’s the only explanation I have for some of the things I saw on this show; things like cats doing yoga. Cat haiku. And a cat that eats with chopsticks.

Yes, I said a cat that eats with chopsticks.

As you might’ve guessed, the cat I saw doing this was Siamese, which is a breed known for its intelligence. I watched in amazement as Ying-Yow (which is Cantonese for “always hungry”) demonstrated his supreme cognitive skills by using chopsticks fitted with special “booties” to eat a mixture of dry cat food and squid. As impressive as this was, he still isn’t as smart as our cat, which would have simply run away to find a new family.

But not before breaking his chopsticks in half and shoving them into the nearest “booty.” Continue reading Television for cats: just one more reason not to have cable

There goes “The Neighborhood” (and it’s probably my fault)

image If the blog-o-sphere had a homeowners association, I’d probably get kicked out of the neighborhood for not mowing the lawn.

And maybe for still having my Christmas lights up in July.

But there is no homeowners association here. In fact, no one knows WHO’s running this place. Which might explain how I managed to get invited to be a special guest in “The Neighborhood” for this week’s episode of “The Lives We Live.”

For those who aren’t familiar with this blog-based show, it began last week with seven bloggers from around the world. Each contributes something — a video, post, song — about themselves and the life they live. Following each episode, someone is voted off. This might explain why I was asked to be a guest — and not a participant…

Send him home before the rose ceremony so we can avoid all of the awkward crying and begging.

The show’s host, Kendall F. Person, asked me for a short video highlighting something from my life; something compelling that would let people know who I am. I told him he could either have “compelling” OR something about “me,” but finding something about me that was also compelling would be next to impossible. Continue reading There goes “The Neighborhood” (and it’s probably my fault)

Call off the search party! Or maybe keep the party, not the search

Yes, those are my legs. Sorry about that...
Yes, those are my legs. Sorry about that…
You may have noticed I’ve been “missing” from the blog-o-sphere since last Friday. Then again, you may have noticed a weird spot on the kitchen ceiling that could be either maranara sauce or cranberry chutney from Thanksgiving, and therefore completely oblivious to my absence.

And who could blame you?

I had every intention of writing a short post for Friday morning, explaining how I would be off the grid and away for a family reunion (Mine, not just some random family), and how when I got back it would be on a deadline day (today) — which is like walking into the middle of a circus fire.

But I didn’t get the chance to write that post. Instead, I just disappeared without a word and left everyone in state of panic, wondering: My GOD! Will cranberry chutney leave a permanent stain?!?

So, I’d like to offer a sincere apology to everyone for what may have appeared to be a thoughtless act of self indulgence. The truth is, I put a lot of thought into indulging myself. So much so, that I ran out of time to write a post before I left. But I did bring you back a few photos and a short video. There’s also a T-shirt in the mail to all of you from Sun River, Ore.

And by that I mean one T-shirt, so you’ll have to share… Continue reading Call off the search party! Or maybe keep the party, not the search

If retirees don’t stop moving here, we may have to blow up a whale

image Many of you have heard that Florence, Ore., where my family and I live, was once again named one of THE best places to retire in the United States. I say “many of you” because, at this very moment, both roads leading into town are clogged with traffic, most of which consists of giant U-Hauls driven by white-knuckled retirees from Florida. My guess is that they were told to evacuate due to hurricane [insert most recent here], and just kept heading west until they (a) hit water again, or (b) found the brake.

An article about our ranking recently appeared in USA Today, and the Florence Chamber of Commerce has been flooded with calls from news agencies wanting to know how it feels to be in the national spotlight, and if, due to the publicity, we expect Kanye West anytime soon.

The truth is, we Florentines have earned ourselves national attention twice before.

The first was in 1970 when, while attempting to dispose of a decomposing whale carcass (by utilizing a well-thought-out plan involving (1) several pints of beer at the Beachcomber Tavern and (2) a truckload of dynamite), several onlookers complained of “being injured” after being struck by a piece of flying blubber roughly the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. Continue reading If retirees don’t stop moving here, we may have to blow up a whale

Five ways to reduce stress with random weirdness

image Let’s face it: we’re all a little stressed. Especially you sir, in the back, the one giving himself a mohawk with the Epilady shaver. The consequences of living in an increasingly fast-paced society are beginning to show. And not just when we’re in the drive-thru behind someone ordering lattes for what appears to be everyone in Kanye West’s posse; it’s in our general lack of patience with everything.

Our devices.
The Bachelorette.

And while there are plenty of self-help books for finding inner peace and tranquility, they all have the same problem: Who has the time? If I could start my morning with meditation or yoga, I’d use that time for something more beneficial.

Like sleeping.

As a wise woman once said: “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

So, whoever’s going to come up with an effective plan for finding patience and tranquility for our society, they need to hurry up! In the meantime, here are five weird things you can incorporate into your daily routine that should help. Or if nothing else, get you to put down that Epilady shaver: Continue reading Five ways to reduce stress with random weirdness

How it looks being on the radio

imageOne of the advantages of being on the radio is there’s a certain amount of anonymity. You’re never going to be in the grocery store and have someone behind you say,”HEY! Didn’t I see you on the radio? What you said about fruitcake was a disgrace! I LOVE FRUITCAKE! I’m heading to the express line so I can meet you in the parking lot, Mr. Funny Man!”

It’s true there’s always a chance someone could recognize your voice in the grocery store. Which is why radio personalities use a special “radio voice” on air that’s different from their normal speaking voice. For example, many people don’t known it but off the air Howard Stearn sounds a lot like Elmer Fudd.

It’s true. I once heard an off-air tape of Stearn in the studio asking for some visiting strippers to take their tops off…

“Pweeze wadies, pweeze. I’m feewing wike I need to see your bweasts…” Continue reading How it looks being on the radio