January 12, 2008

This is ourselves, under pressure...

I've got blisters on my fingers...

It is now January the twelfth, two thousand and eight. I think it is fair to say that the New Year is well under way, the holiday season is well behind us and it is time to turn our attention to the daily issues that are important to we the people. If you’re anything like me you’re probably under some real pressure right now. I imagine you’re losing some sleep over decisions that are weighing heavily upon your sense of well being. Doubts are creeping in and it is getting more difficult to ignore them with every passing day.

Did I really make the most informed decision? Was I a bit too hasty in what course of action I decided to take? Is this truly the course I want my life to be on? Maybe what God and country think isn’t as important as what I feel is best for me. Maybe conforming to the expectations of my friends and community isn’t as satisfying as I’d hoped it would be. Is it just too much of a commitment for me to accept? Maybe I’m just not meant to walk in line with the elephants. Yeah, these are some of the very same questions I’ve been asking myself lately.

For me it has come down to one key question; am I really interested in continuing this commitment? Is the reward truly worth the expenditure of time and personal effort I’m expending to keep it? Quite frankly it has proven to be a lot more work than I ever expected it to be, the pressure of potential failure is stifling and the fear of disappointing those who have come to depend upon me on a daily basis is almost more than I can bear. I’m beginning to think it’s more of a burden than I can reasonable carry on my weary shoulders.

With all of that being said I have to ask my readers; is it too early in the New Year to give up on my New Year’s resolution? What is the protocol for giving up on one’s resolutions? I’m not sure what to do because I’ve never made one before. I only decided on this one because it seemed so easy at the time and I figured what the heck, I think I could actually do this one standing on my head. Here’s what happened...

A couple of days into the New Year I stopped by my good friend Asara Dragoness’s blog and discovered a thing called Blog 365. Well, when I surfed over to see what the site was all about I got caught up in all the excitement and before I knew it I’d signed up and committed myself to posting a blog entry e-v-e-r-y s-i-n-g-l-e d-a-y. Sure, most of you are thinking, “well, heck you’re already so prolific a writer and clearly it comes easily to one as verbose as yourself. How hard could be for the “Mayor of Bloggerville”, the great and powerful DirkStar?”

(That’s what I thought at first too.)

But then comes the reality of having to write something clever, witty and heartfelt on a daily basis. Yes, I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but it’s not as easy as I make it appear to be. There are days where I spend thirty to forty minutes staring at my keyboard shaking in terror that an idea simply will not come and I’ll have nothing to post. I’ve actually sat here and cried sometimes as the pressure threatened to overwhelm me. I just can’t blog like this...

So I’m asking you, my cherished readers and good friends, is it too soon to give up this resolution or should I guts it out and honor my commitment? Will you think less of me if I just give up and go back to blogging as I’ve always done it in the past? I mean, its not as if I haven’t learned from the experience. These past twelve days have made me a better and more tolerant blogger. Now that I realize just how hard you people are working to get a post up each and every day I won’t be nearly as quick to judge the quality or content of your efforts ever again. I mean it.

I’m leaving it up to you good people. My year is in your hands. Is it okay to give up on a silly, impetuous promise made in one rash moment of non-thinking impulse or are my fingers doomed to a never ending pain of carpel tunnel agony as I try to provide a selfish audience with a non-stop stream of political insight, family entertainment and comic relief. Remember, I have a child and can only afford to replace so many keyboards and I’ve already spent a small fortune on band aids trying to ease the blisters on the tips of my fingers. Please, can I just quit now?

Friday’s Market Numbers

DOW - 246.79

NASDAQ - 48.58

S&P - 19.31

I may have been a bit hasty investing Micah’s college fund in the market. How am I ever going to explain to Felicia that we can’t even afford to home-school the boy now?

Thank God I’ve still got the sock money in my dresser drawer. I can still recoup my losses if I play things right.

What was that rule again? Oh yeah, buy low and sell when I’m high...

January 11, 2008

Electric light orchestra...

"Oh I double-dog dare you, little man."

Okay, I’m completely perplexed. Felicia and I are pretty good parents. We do everything in our power to make sure that little Micah lacks for nothing in the world. The little man dines on the choicest of delicacies. He is dressed in only the very finest of fabrics. Why, if I’d had only a quarter-portion of the benefits he’s enjoyed in his early years I’d probably be president today.

Along with all of the physical comforts we’ve tried to provide for we’ve also tried to stimulate his intellectual abilities to their fullest capacity. Spread out across the living room floor of our home is a vast selection of cleverly wrought devices (hand colored with only the highest quality of lead paints) designed by the most innovative minds at Fisher Price Toys. My I.Q. has increased by four points (And yes, both Wizards and Pepper that does indeed now make my I.Q. a whopping 4.5.) simply by spending time with Micah as he plays with them.

So, with all the advantages we’ve worked so hard to provide our son with there is one thing that has me completely perplexed. Why, with all the cornucopia of goodness that surrounds him in our home is he magnetically drawn to only one thing in the entire house? No matter where I set him down to play or what toys I give him to play with, he will perform one quick spin on the floor to survey his surroundings and then immediately start crawling towards the nearest electrical outlet. For the life of me I just can’t figure it out.

Is it something I’ve done? Is it me? Is it perhaps my blog and my over-the-top Liberal politics? Why does my son have this death wish? I know I’m a bit difficult at times, but I’ve never walked into a room to discover Felicia French-kissing one of the outlets. (She does however keep a quart of vodka and a rather large bottle of sleeping pills atop the nightstand on her side of the bed labeled, ”In Case of Emergency”.) I don’t get it; he just arrived on the planet. Do you think he knows I invested his college money in the stock market?

I’ve tried to reassure him in any manner of ways. I’ve told him we do change presidents every four years and Bush won’t be running the country for much longer. I’ve tried to let him know that God is not the hateful punitive ogre the Christian conservatives make him out to be. I’ve even tried to console him about the current state of music and entertainment. Nothing seems to work. Every time I set him down he makes a bee-line for the juice.

Are all children like this or am I just raising a future Goth kid? I wish he’d start talking so we could work through his obvious angst together.

Should I start him on sugar?

Thursday’s Market Numbers

DOW + 117.78

NASDAQ + 13.97

S&P + 11.20

I think I' m going to let Micah's college money ride a little longer. Come on Market, daddy needs new shoes...

January 8, 2008

Death of a salesman...

We're going door to door...

As the majority of you who read my blog on a regular basis are aware, I am a fairly mellow soul who rarely (if indeed ever) gets my panties in a bunch over the vagaries of daily life. That being said there is something that has been percolating in my brain until I am unable to further refrain myself from venting.

When I was a young man one of the most dreaded daily occurrences was the parade of door to door salesmen knocking on the front door. These guys did everything humanly possible to wheedle their way into the home where they would then harangue the helpless housewife with never ending sales pitches concerning such essential household items as bibles, encyclopedias, miracle cleansing solutions and brushes, vacuum sweepers and any number of assorted sundries.

Usually these sales calls ended with father coming home to discover a stranger in the house with his wife, dishes undone, no supper on the table and his cold beer, house slippers and newspaper nowhere near the front door. Shortly thereafter the salesman was sitting on his butt out on the lawn amidst a pile of his broken and smashed goods. The rest of the evening consisted of T.V. trays and dinners, father watching anything but the usual family fare of Roy Rogers, Lassie and Lost in Space. Children grew up hating the traveling salesman and vowing never to participate in such a despised and reviled profession.

Now, as most of you who read my blog on a daily basis are also aware of, I am a house husband. My wife, God bless her self-employed industrious soul, earns more in a day than I could possibly earn in a week and my talents are better employed keeping the home fires burning. I take my responsibilities very seriously. Every day I am up at the crack of noon and is customary among domestic divas, I don the traditional uniform of hair curlers, fuzzy slippers and plaid housecoat before beginning a rigorous day of childcare and household chores. (Once or twice every three or four weeks I even try to have dinner cooked and ready for my wife when she gets home from work.)

Okay, so once I have Micah settled in front of the T.V. with a Coca Cola filled bottle in his eager hands I begin my rigorously scheduled afternoon. First, I stack the dishes in the kitchen sink to make sure they really need doing. Folks, there’s absolutely no sense in wasting water and dish soap on less than three sink loads of dishes when there are paper plates and plastic utensils in the cupboard. Second, I make sure I’ve got fresh coffee brewing to keep me alert during the rigors of vacuuming the house. This chore, as any house keeper knows is the critical chore in maintaining the appearance of a clean house. Nothing says clean like a well made bed and a vacuumed floor.

So, the other day I’ve got a cigarette in one hand, (no, I don’t smoke it’s just a prop.) a cup of coffee in the other and I’m vacuuming the heck out of the downstairs living room when it suddenly dawns on me that the dogs are carrying on a bit more than usual, so I turn off the sweeper and after a couple of minutes I hear a knock on the front door. I’m not expecting company so when I look through the peep hole and see a girl I have no clue whosoever she might be I return to my sweeping. Ten minutes later I turn off the sweeper and no sooner am I preparing to enter the kitchen and start my dish stacking when I hear a knock at the door.

Sure enough, when I look through the peep hole there is the same woman standing as still as Lot’s wife after the salt incident holding a piece of paper. Well, I’m thinking maybe Felicia is being served for something and maybe I ought to open the door and see exactly what is going on. Well, I pull the folds of my robe together in a show of decency and modesty then I open the front door just far to stick my head into her field of vision.

“Yes?” I ask.

“Hi, my name is Heather and I’m with so and so. Our company is doing some work in the neighborhood and we just wanted to let you know ahead of time so you won’t be concerned when you see us on your neighbor’s property.”

As I prepared to shut the door I gave her a sincere and heartfelt, "thank you." I was just glad Felicia wasn’t being sued or even worse. That’s when the unfortunate incident happened.

Just as I’m closing the door concluding our interaction...



She held out a piece of laminated paper towards the door and without thinking I opened the screen door as little as possible and reached out my hand for it.

“Which of these home improvement services would you be interested in receiving some free information about?”

As soon as I opened the storm door to take a hold of the proffered paper a gust of cold air blew in through the breach and it happened.

Oops dere it is, oops dere it is. Who let the dog out? Whoot, whoot! Free Willy...

As my face reddened, hers took on a look of abject horror. I let go of the door and she let go of her laminated sales sheet. I reached for the folds of my house coat and she turned and fled from the porch faster than Brittney’s sister after a pregnancy test at her doctor’s office.

Look, sometimes I wake up in the morning and it just looks so nice out I think to myself, hey, I think I’ll just go ahead and leave it out all day. It’s not like I’m going anywhere. I’m a house husband after all. I’m not expecting unsolicited callers and sales people. Why should I? Aren’t they a long gone and extinct dinosaur of the distant past?

And that’s when I had the epiphany moment. I realized how often this scene is being played out on a regular basis lately. The door to door sales people have returned. It has been slow to penetrate the national consciousness because they’ve changed their appearance. Gone are the trench coat wearing guys with the black cases at their side. Gone are the free brush samples. Gone are the leather bound Bibles in hand. Now it’s all about installing doors, windows, patio decks, room additions and roof tiles.

God I hate door to door sales people! My home is my castle and I hate having it assaulted by hawking hordes of demonic sales people.

If you are a door to door sales person, let me give you some advice. First, if you hear someone at work in the house, say maybe vacuuming, knocking on the door until you force them to answer it is probably not going to work to your advantage. Second, if they answer the door in a robe it is a signal for you to apologize for interrupting their morning and then quickly as possible make a graceful exit. Third, if you don’t want an eyeful, don’t make them open the door on a windy day.

Last but not least. Stay away from my door. I know who you are now. I won’t be fooled again. If I need new doors or windows I’ll call someone. Please, don't make me have to kick your butt off of my front porch and onto the lawn.

As a side note; thank you, Heather for the follow up call and the very kind words. Also, the flowers were very sweet and quite appreciated.

Monday’s Market Numbers

DOW + 27.31

NASDAQ - 5.19

S&P + 4.55

Thank goodness for a rally of this magnitude. I was beginning to think 2008 was going to be a very bad year for Wall Street.

January 7, 2008

Are you ready for some football?

Man, these rules are complicated.

Tonight is the National Championship game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the L.S.U. Tigers. I’m not really all that concerned with who wins or loses the contest; after all it is just a game. As long as the event is played cleanly and with a spirit of fair play I’ll be content. I just enjoy watching athletic college kids playing a healthy Christian game of tackle football.

I of course will not be indulging in any alcoholic beverages as I believe this would set a bad example for the younger bloggers who look up to me as an example of decency and all that is good in the world today. I strongly encourage everyone who is not as disciplined as myself to plan ahead and provide a designated driver. Remember; driving with beer in your head is a good way to wind up dead.

(Yes, the preceding was a public service announcement.)

I know that anyone leaving a comment today will do so in a fair and impartial manner. Any non-bipartisan comments favoring one side over the other are strongly discouraged. Although not so strongly discouraged as to injure anyone’s feelings. Let’s all just root for no one to get injured and for the game to be unmarred by unruly acts of unsportsmanlike like behavior. Please, can’t we all just get along?

Remember; it’s not whether you win or lose that matters, it’s how you play the game. Let’s all just try to enjoy the festivities without any emotional turmoil. It could be a real learning experience for the children, and after all, aren’t they what its really all about?

As I wrap up today’s post I thought I’d add a new feature. Everyone seems to cover the Market on a daily basis only. Yesterday’s closing numbers disappear faster than Britney’s kids after a custody hearing. Each day I’ll post the closing numbers of the previous day’s Market and we can all watch the fun on a long term basis.

Friday’s Market Numbers

DOW -256.54

NASDAQ -98.03

S&P -35.53

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