Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Games For Women, NOT DOGS!

My wife Wendy is breathing easier now that she successfully threw a bridal shower this past weekend for her future daughter-in-law Lindsay. It's not easy planning such an event for a dozen ladies, most of whom she had never met. What to do, what to do?

She consulted the internet for bridal shower games. One game Wendy and her sister came up with was a version of "Scattergories" where party-goers took a letter from the bride-to-be's name and formed a word that fell under a specific category. For example, think of a color that begins with each letter in Lindsay's name.

Not that easy when you think of it. Can you come up with a color with the letter "d" that doesn't begin with "dark?" One party-goer came up with "dead red." Dead red? I don't think you'd find that in even the super-giant box of crayola crayons. Hmmmm, but when I Google "dead red" I come up with a nail polish called "Drop Dead Red." Well, maybe that's why Wendy did give credit for that answer.

Another game was "Guess that spice!" It was a game where small amounts of different spices (nutmeg, ginger, dill, etc.) are put in these small plastic bins. There were ten different bins, each with a different spice. The game was for party guests to guess each spice by its aroma, appearance and taste. Wendy actually had two trays with ten bins on each, so the game would go more quickly. Then before the party, she hid the trays underneath a table in another room.

Only problem was that when the bride-to-be was dropped off at our house, her Boston Terrier came along for the ride. Simon was ready for a game of his own. The game was called, "Find Out Where Those Interesting Aromas Are Coming From." So he was playing that game all by himself while the rest of us were distracted with last minute shower preparations.

While we were in the kitchen, we heard a loud commotion in the other room. Wendy investigated and I heard her cry out, "Dammit Simon." Simon had won his little game and was tasting the spoils when he knocked the bins onto the carpet. As I vacuumed, Wendy rushed to clean and re-fill the containers. I proposed that contestants get extra credit if they detected and included "dog slobber" with their answers.

Bad dog! We punished him by taking him to my son's house and forcing him to watch Michigan State take on Louisville in basketball. Since I believe Simon is a "Go Blue" Michigan fan, watching rival MSU upset the Wildcats to make the Final Four probably was probably quite painful. That'll teach him.

By the way, the winner of the spice contest correctly named eight of ten spices, which was pretty impressive I thought. I doubt I could have named any.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

E-Mail From Bob

[I'm having trouble keeping up. Between blogging, e-mail, compiling and tracking my NCAA basketball tourney bracket, jotting a few notes in my quintennial journal that I'm keeping this year . . . I'm falling behind. So I'm going to try to kill two birds with one stone here--copy and paste parts of an e-mail exchange between me and my buddy Bob. We're both following closely the NCAA basketball tournament which included our favorite teams (at least at the beginning, since my Michigan Wolverines won their first game but lost their second). His favorite team is the Michigan State Spartans. Other than that though, he's an okay guy.]

BOB: Well the Spartans have made it to the Sweet Sixteen. Kansas awaits. How are your brackets holding up? Like most years, upsets or not, the Brackets tend to get back to the favorites by the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.

So who holds the bragging rights in the family pool as of the first two rounds?

Hope you will be rooting the Spartans to the Final Four.

Since you brought up college sports nicknames recently--don't you think we should have a college with the nickname sandbaggers? Nevada State Sandbaggers or the University of New Mexico Sandbaggers or some such thing. Of course, it works too in those flood plain areas--The Fighting Sandbaggers from Iowa State.

And come on, why hasn't Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti taken on the Emu as a mascot. That's perfect. It's a natural. Then again in a recent Harris poll, 8 out of 10 Emus said they'd be offended by the association. If Akron can be the Zips, why can't Eastern be the Yps? And with CMU you'd have the Zips, the Chips, and the Yps. Check the relative GPAs at the MAC schools and rename the lowest team the Dips. Find the team with the most gang members and change their name to the Crips--they flash gang signs anymore. Dam, gotta stop those three martini lunches!

They have a high school here in Fluvanna County whose mascot is the Flyin' Fluco. Using verbal ingenuity like that, we don't need to disparage any more Indian tribes.

DAVE: Paste and string. That's all that's holding my bracket together today. Louisville has to win out for me to have a chance. I don't think I picked any 8 vs. 9 match-up correctly. I lost three of my sweet 16 and one of my elite eight. So I'm third out of seven in my family bracket and about seven out of nineteen in my nephew's money bracket. My brother Gary (the Enforcer) is leading in both right now.

I'll try to cheer for MSU from here on out, but it's hard for me to garner any enthusiasm for it. It's kinda like cheering on your nephew's little league team. That's a pretty good comparison, I guess. Your heart just isn't into it.

Besides, my supervisor here will be doing enough MSU cheering for both of us. I was able to have some fun last week here at work. For Christmas, one of my presents came in a University of Michigan gift bag that plays "Hail to the Victors" when opened. I saved that bag and carried my lunch to work in it twice last week, once after U of M made the NCAA tourney and again after they won. When I opened my 'lunch bag', Hail to the Victors! I'm sure my supervisor sitting next door loved it. It was loud too.

Today when I came in to work (I had yesterday off), I noticed my supervisor sitting near the aisle, wearing a big smile, with his hand cupped to his ear as if he were listening for something. Smart aleck. Hea, at least we proved wrong the naysayers who said Michigan didn't even belong in the tournament.

We have a high school team over here called the dreadnaughts. You know, those old battleships from World War I. I'm thinking, weaponry has become much more terrifying since then. Why haven't team names kept pace? Imagine if the Toledo Rockets were called the Toledo Doom-rockets. Wouldn't that inspire more fear in opponents? Why isn't there a high school or college team with the name Warheads. How about A-Bombers. I think there is a roller derby team called the bombers.

I think the same could be same of animal team names. Lions, tigers and bear are so yesterday. The Snakeheads? It's got my vote. Can you imagine what the mascot would look like? Or how about the Piranha. Better yet, the Packing Piranhas. That works on so many levels.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

They're Using Psychology

I remember the time my wife and I went to a weekend marriage retreat in Flint a half-dozen years ago, a marriage-strengthening exercise pitched during sermon at weekly mass. Convincing my wife to go, I said it would be an adventure.

The first night we sat in a classroom with about twenty other couples as the leaders of the retreat waited for us to open up and discuss issues in our marriage. They stressed that nobody was required to speak up. But then they sat there and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited with just faint background music playing. Finally, someone broke the tension by speaking out. I don't remember what was said or what the leader's response was. All I remember is that more silence followed as they waited, waited, waited for somebody else to open up. Many did. The psychology worked.

I hated it. Don't you hate it when somebody tries to "use psychology" on you? Certainly if you've ever been to a timeshare presentation or heard the pitch of a life insurance salesman, you know what I mean.

I had my latest experience with "psychology" this past week. My employer had offered $100 to each employee who completed a wellness exam that included height, weight, waistline, cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose measurements. Tax free money? That type of psychology will work on me every time.

But Big Dave here knew he was in trouble the moment he walked into the examining area. The wellness exam staff were thinner than models. If they had been standing sideways towards me, I might not have seen them at all. The psychology was starting already.

I liked the slick psychological move employed by the young medical assistant doing the fingerstick to draw my blood. When she asked what finger I wanted pricked, I held out my pinkie. She grabbed it, then complained that she didn't like doing that finger. When I asked why, she started explaining and while I was listening, POW, she stabbed me. Ah, the psychological power of distraction.

After the tests and measurements, they took me into the corner for the results. Holy cow! Not good. They had charts where they could point to the average man my age, then where I measured up on that scale. Man, why didn't I buy life insurance when they guy told me to. I felt like I was living on borrowed time unless I exercised more, changed my eating habits and eliminated any and all sources of stress in my life.

*Sigh* I hate psychology. At least it cheers me up to know my fav team, the Michigan Wolverines, are going to the NCAA basketball tournament after a several year absence. Then again, it's going to stress me out as I watch their games. Maybe I'll use a little psychology on myself and cheer for their cross-state rivals Michigan State instead. If they lose, it won't kill me (pun intended).

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Do The Wall Street Limbo

My wife and I took a day off from work to do some "destination shopping" this past week. What an eye-opener! it's one thing to see the headlines about the recession in the news. It's something else to see it first hand.

When we drove to this mall along I-75 near Monroe which I remembered as a bustling collection of factory outlets and discount shops, my jaw dropped. I've seen ghost towns that were busier. One large mall sat almost empty, except for two businesses that did not sell anything. The companion mall next door still housed some stores, but much of it was vacant also. The Rockport shoe outlet I thought was there was not.

Driving to Toledo we passed another huge mall--empty. A sign near the road advertised an auction at the site. I believe they were selling the store fixtures.

We stopped at an expansive home improvement store and I swear the employees outnumbered the customers two to one. And many of the employees greeted us with a warm smile and a cheery hello, very happy to see us there. "We have some great deals going on in here," one of them said to us.

Must be tough to be a salesman in this economic climate. Wendy and I had lunch at an Irish-style pub and we could hear a nattily dressed couple in the next booth chatting away. They talked about their "sales accounts" as they sipped their pints. Then one got a cell phone call. He explained to the caller, "I'm in the middle of a presentation." No he wasn't. Hmmmm, maybe it's not so tough to be a salesman. Who's expecting you to sell anything?

Meanwhile, the Dow-Jones has hit their lowest level in 12 years. Our government is spending money at twice the rate it is taking it in. And nobody seems to have a clue as to when it's all going to get better. Think I'll join that salesman in another pint.

P.S.--As Vickie and Babette alluded to in their last comments here, much of the blogging community is mourning the passing of Gene Maudlin, aka Horsetail Snake, who died this past weekend. I always admired Hoss for his irreverent wit as well as his ability to be upbeat and humorous regardless of the circumstance. We need more spirit like his particularly in these times. He'll be missed.