Sunday Before Thanksgiving Is National Toilet Day

 

Photo credit:  Drew Hays

 

Today is National Toilet Day proving that some people will do anything to sell more greeting cards. Thanksgiving is Thursday and Christmas, which we began celebrating before Halloween, is coming up. Or did I miss it?

Thanksgiving is actually a worthwhile holiday in my opinion. It wasn’t generated out of thin air to sell more greeting cards although I don’t buy the whole pilgrim hats and Indian corn motif.

It’s a fine idea to be thankful for all the good things in our lives especially when it seems we’re forever bombarded with inappropriate touching stories on the news.

Besides, Thanksgiving isn’t fake. We think it actually happened. At least there was a big meal in the woods someplace and the local citizens invited the undocumented aliens to join them. That’s when the native Americans, who didn’t even know they were in America, should have thought of  building a wall.

I haven’t seen cards for Toilet Day on display at the Quikie-Pay. Maybe Spencer’s has them in the back. But there certainly are racks upon racks promoting Valentines Day (fake holiday), Mother’s Day (fake), Father’s Day (fake), Secretaries Day (fake), and Great Pumpkin Day (also fake but kind of cute). You can thank Hallmark and American Greetings for inventing most of these. And they thank you, too. For them, every holiday, real or fake, is a cause for Thanks-giving.

I like holidays that mean something. Giving thanks has meaning for me. Christmas, the Gran’ Daddy of ‘Em All, we now know came about long before Christ but wasn’t called Christmas. It  was a huge pagan festival not unlike Burning Man. Thanks, Pagans — nobody throws a party like you guys!

Holidays to honor individuals seem to be fading. Things have never been the same for Abe and George since they were mashed together into Presidents Day. Martin Luther King, Jr. had incalculable impact on our country but, I don’t know, has his special day really caught on? How do you decorate for it? At least he gets lots of free publicity since every town has a street named after MLK. Too bad the 18 letters in his name don’t easily fit on a street sign. We sometimes hear it pronounced ‘milk’ as in, “Take a right on MILK.”

My favorite holiday is July 4. First of all, you can count on it being celebrated the same day year after year. Continuity matters. It’s a birthday party — who doesn’t like birthday parties? Parades, cake, ice cream, fireworks. Wow.

Also, I enjoy my own birthday celebration, Cheating Death Again Day.

Please send cards; Hallmark and I will thank you.

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To be fair, World Toilet Day is a UN sanctioned  event to draw attention to the serious health problem of inadequate or no sanitation in many parts of the world.  But that won’t stop me from sharing the best potty joke I know:

Thieves broke into the local police station and took all of the toilets — police have nothing to go on.

Happy Easter.

by Joe Grant

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Easy Fix For The Big Problem With Messaging

Why don’t people reply as they used to when you send something to them?

Here’s what I mean.

In our modern techno-fast age we’ve pretty much replaced letters with email or texts. Waiting for days by the mail slot for an envelope to clunk through is so 1980. So why is it so hard to acknowledge when you receive something especially when you can do it electronically faster than you can say LOL?

As an example, when I send a report or document to somebody and the machine goes “whoosh,” I picture an envelop magically zooming into space and at the exact same moment making a perfect 3-point landing in the recipient’s machine. The process is so beautiful I wish I could hug Ben Franklin, the inventor of lightning and email, I think. 

But of course things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes you think you sent it but you never pressed Send!  Or by mistake you fire a highly personal message to Lisa Bacchagallupi instead of Lisa Grant (that’s happened and it wasn’t good). Or, here’s something I’ve gotten really good at: you indicate an attachment . . . but then don’t attach it. D’oh!

My beef is you won’t know these things happened if you don’t get a signal from the recipient that what you sent has indeed been received.

Are you still with me? And yet there’s a simple solution right there on the keyboard. It works like this.

Upon receipt, Recipient sends a quick note to Sender which says “Got it. Thanks.” Of course as we all know, “Thanks” is optional these days because it takes too damn long to say or type it I guess.

This absence of common courtesy gets worse when texting, already a minimalist effort complicated by having to learn a special secret language which, IMHO, not all of us are conversant in.

Example: “BFFL can’t do McDs. Make it Starbucks.”

I sent that not long ago but HEARD NOTHING. No little bloop-bloop from my phone. I’ve checked 5 times to see if I missed hearing a reply. Crickets.

Did you know these feedback gaffes cost our country nearly $800 billion a year? I might have read that on the internet someplace. 

Do this. Write this on a stickie and slap it on your screen:

If you get something, say something

Repeat after me — If you get something, say something.

It’s easy. It’s courteous. And it could even save lives by eliminating unnecessary anxiety attacks and blood pressure spikes.

Like I’m having right now sitting at Starbucks waiting for a friend who may be at McDs. Or isn’t coming. Or never got my message AFAIK.

Please let me know if you got this, OK?

Thanks.

 

The Secret To Our Happy Marriage

 

Our life takes us all over the country in an RV we call the Rock Star Bus. We sold almost everything we owned 4 1/2 years ago — houses, cars, furniture  — to jump into our homeless life.

We show up in a new place every few weeks, on purpose. It’s how we roll.

One of our treasured habits is to take a daily walk wherever we are. We especially like trails in the woods or along rivers, or poking along the main streets of little towns to see what the people there are selling and maybe chat up a few for some local knowledge.

But the real benefit of our peripatetic adventures, besides stretching our limbs and increasing blood flow a notch, is how it’s brought us closer together.

Of course we’re pretty damn close anyway living in a 45 foot box on wheels.

But one of the secrets to our connubial bliss is our daily 30-minute walk during which we never stop talking. The name for these walks as we talk came to us after much deep thought and deliberation: Walkie-Talkies. Our more sophisticated readers will discern the clever creation of a portmanteau right in front of their eyes.

Walkie-Talkie benefits are manifold. We review local opportunities and plan our day; we observe nature and after much study can now point out with nearly 100% accuracy the 3 common wild species usually seen while ambulating: grey squirrels with fuzzy tails, different kinds of black and grey birds; and the truly ubiquitous “dog-on-a-leash” almost always companioned by a human holding a plastic baggie away from the body.

The best outcome of a W-T comes when we tackle a “serious issue.” There aren’t too many of those in our life, thankfully, but they do come up and a Walkie is the perfect place to air them out. In fact, we’re careful to keep such onerous things to ourselves until we’re safely out on a W-T.  They can be a little stinky . . . but the goal is to be done with them, i.e. solved in a civil manner. Then we carry them to a proper receptacle in a plastic baggie held away from the body.

Usually Walkie-Talkies are the perfect vehicle to yack about what we read recently, heard at the local grocery store or hookah parlor, relate an off-color joke (that would be me), or comment in an unspecific way how we’d run the world once the populace becomes enlightened enough to put us in charge.

We laugh, we giggle, we ponder, we sleuth, we wonder at nature’s wonders, and comment on the odd garbing of fellow walkers (out of their earshot, of course). I know for sure we’ve solved most of the world’s bigger problems but for reasons of propriety we keep the solutions to ourselves.

We always feel closer after our Walkie-Talkies. It’s a safe time for each of us to bring up anything that vexes . . . so you know we’ll never run out of topics.

Now I’d like to make you a little gift. If you want to get some exercise, have a good excuse to peer into the neighbor’s yard and windows, and strengthen a relationship you really care about — try our Walkie-Talkies.

It won’t cost you any money, except perhaps for some plastic baggies, the need for which will certainly dissipate after Walkie-Talkies become a daily half-hour habit.

_____

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What Chefs Can Teach Us About Life

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Photo credit: Chinh Le Duc

Watching a skilled chef create in the kitchen is enthralling. Slice this, chop that, mix these, a simmer here, a whisk there — it’s a kitchen ballet. They do it with the same ingredients available to all of us.

We can learn about life from these culinary wizards.

 

 Chefs Are Always Experimenting

A master chef is never afraid to try new things. He creates. He’ll add an unexpected ingredient, change the balance, and continually taste to discover how the flavors combine for a new savory experience.

Life, like cooking, is a series of experiments. Doing new things, things you’ve never tried before, causes growth and keeps things fresh and stimulating. Even mixing up the basics can make a big difference. And if something you try flops, do what a chef does: throw it out, learn from it, and try something else.

 

Adjust Your Seasonings

You’ve seen chefs on TV add a little more of this, some more of that, until everything is exactly the way they want it. They “season to taste.” They adjust.

So should you.

Partying too much and it’s affecting your work or family? Back it off a bit. Not getting enough sleep? Try going to bed earlier.

You’re the chef of your life. Take stock of the ingredients you’re using. Maybe there’s one you haven’t tried in a while (daily exercise? meditation?). Could be time to stir in something new.

You don’t need a heavy hand. A chef will never say, “Hmm, needs more salt. I’ll add 4 more cups.” No, the adjustments in the kitchen are modest and gentle. A little change can go a long way. Don’t be fooled by thinking you have to turn your life completely around overnight. Too great a change may throw off the balance.

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Good Chefs Learn From Great Chefs

Chefs are always learning. They visit every new restaurant that opens. They observe other chefs more skilled than themselves, they’ll take master classes in particular cuisines. They’ll travel to other countries to see how the local food is prepared. All good chefs are always learning (many admit they even “steal”) from others.

You can do the same. These days we have access to “master chefs” of all kinds in self-help books, audio tapes, podcasts, and You Tubes.  Get a coach, take a course.

If you’re in a rut, try a new recipe. You don’t have to buy all new kitchen implements or throw out everything in your refrigerator. Just get some inspiration and guidance to look at life differently. Remember, we all have access to the same ingredients– it’s how you put them together that makes the diffrence.

 

Clean Up

You’ll never see respectable chefs work in a sloppy or dirty kitchen. If there’s a spill or crash they clean it up and move on.

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The lesson here is obvious:  If you make a mess, clean it up. It’s your responsibility.

Life is messy sometimes, of course. Pots boil over, sauces slosh. It does no good for the chef — or you — to pretend it didn’t happen. Stop what you’re doing, mop it up, then continue forward.

Finally, remember if things don’t come out of the oven just they way you want, you can always stir up something different tomorrow.

Life is endlessly delicious.

 

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My Selfish Writing Goal

 

There’s another learning I’d like to share about my writing experiment of posting a blog daily for 30 consecutive days.

The readership numbers are pitiful.

Or at least that was my first thought when I analyzed which posts got the most visits and reads. Of course since I hadn’t blogged in 4 years it’s not a surprise readership fell off a tad!

Why Blog?

I’m a commercial guy. My career has been focused on persuading masses of people to buy products, engage a service, or in some way alter their thinking to take action of some sort favorable to the interests I’ve been paid to represent. I’ve been communicating, advertising, and marketing, if you can believe it, since high school.

It’s been all about delivering results. It was never fine art or great writing — it was to sell. My first retail ad agency boss told me, “Your job is to get the products out of the back room, onto the shelves, and out the door.” Results! And they damn well better be measurable, kid.

So you can imagine how it feels to have to use a magnifying glass to read the click and read numbers for this writing project, the Ramblin’ On blog you’re reading.

It’s flattering, of course, to have thousands consume your stuff. But these days, building  an audience is merely a subordinate result, not my main goal.

I’m writing because I want to write.

There. I’ve said it.

And yes, it’s ego-trippy as hell. But isn’t that the reason some people feel compelled to write . . . or paint, or play music, or craft things with their hands?

They do it first for themselves.

It’s kind of unsavory, isn’t it. We’re uncomfortable hearing someone else trumpet, “me, me, me!” Yet authenticity with your self is the secret to happiness. If you’re in touch with what’s inside but choose to project something different outside,  you’re a fake.

This is not a commercial venture for me as many other things have been in the past. So I’m going to do my best not to think about how many more people are reading today’s blog than read the one before.

Here, this explains it best:

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Willpower – Why It Doesn’t Work and What Will

 

 

We’ve all tried it: Willpower!, the superpower we think if we only had enough of we could accomplish anything.

So we try. Then when we fail we say to ourselves, “I guess I just don’t have enough willpower.” That becomes the go-to excuse for why you don’t accomplish the things you say you want to.

Is that the pattern in your life?  If so it’s because Willpower! is the wrong thing to depend on.

Success results from true commitment, a total belief before you’ve actually done it,  that you have already done it!

Let me try to explain. It’s not easy to understand.

Think back to something you really wanted to do in your life. Maybe in childhood it was learning to ride a bike, or later you had a deep knowing that one day you’d strut across the stage with an advanced degree in your hand.

These weren’t just wishes or hopes. They were rock-solid projections into your future. You so clearly saw yourself in those realities it was as if they’d already come true.

Indeed, that’s how the people who accomplish big things get them done. They commit to the accomplishment not as an aspiration, but believe it so completely — they’re so committed — that they have no doubt about it.

Crazy as it sounds, they know they’ve already achieved it.

But if you depend on Willpower! to make things happen, you won’t get there. Using willpower means you’ve got to decide again and again whether to stay on track every. single. time. there’s a temptation. Like if you’re on a diet each time you open the fridge. That’s a hell of a burden, deciding at every turn if you’re going to stick with something. Sooner or later your willpower will go flat. Then disappear.

What you need is commitment which is not a superpower.

Commitment comes when you make a decision. Or, in a way commitment is the decision. That’s how people can proclaim out loud they’re going to complete the New York City Marathon. They know it because they see themselves at the finish line. It’s a done-deal in their minds and all they have to do now is get in shape, lace up and run the race. The steps along the way are easier once you commit to the decision.

Back when you made that commitment to ride a bike, you saw yourself riding a bike. When you committed to hanging tough until you got that degree, you saw yourself with the paper in your hand.

You must see where you want to be before you get there.

Commitment: Lose 50 pounds = you see yourself looking killer at the beach.

Commitment : Open your own restaurant = there you are meeting diners and bustling around a place with your name on the door. You dream about this nightly.

Commitment: Drug and alcohol free = you’re having a good time with real friends, enjoying a loving family, and living the life you deserve.

People who make big goals happen have made a decision deep in their being. They see the results in their minds in the present . . . until one day they realize it’s happened in the material world.

You can envy people like that, you can think they have some special gift of Willpower! that you don’t, but it’s not about willpower, folks.

It’s knowing that the decision is made, the path is clear, any obstacles will not stop you, and you are already there. It’s stepping forward with confidence and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, knowing the Universe will muster all the resources necessary to make it happen.

You don’t need superpowers;  Willpower! won’t do it.

What you need is to (1) decide with certainty, (2) commit to the decision, (3) see the end result in detail, and (4) live it. So in your mind it’s already done.

And so it will be.

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5 Things I Learned Writing Every Day for 30 days

 

Phew! I made it.

Today I’m writing the last blog of my 30 day challenge. Didn’t miss a day and in the process learned a lot. So here’s a little summary in case someone else out there is nutty enough to try the same thing.

Background

After a couple of years thinking about it, I pushed myself off the edge and started writing October 1 for 30 consecutive days. There was no grand plan; I just jumped in and the water was cold. That served its purpose. Sort of.

5 Things I Learned

1. Chaos is not good. A month later rereading every post (not recommended unless you’re medicated) it’s obvious I should have respected my readers more than pecking out whatever came into my head every morning. Some rhyme or reason to the topics would have been nice.

2. It’s a pain in the ass. Writing daily is a load. I’d sit down in front of the computer and expect something profound to magically fly onto those millions of white pixels on my 27″ iMac. Yet, knowing I committed to punch something out every bloody day pushed me through the briar patch of perfectionism. At least I sprinkled a few sentences out in to the open.

3. It’s not about me. Who knew? I thought everything was about me. The meager readership stats show blogs titled How to7 Things, or The Complete Guide. . . generate more views and readers than those about what cereal I ate for breakfast. A friend told me once when I tried to build a Twitter following, “Face it — people are more interested in Kim Kardashian’s butt than your life.” Ouch.

4. Volume works. Publishing something daily is more about volume than quality. Once in a while something pretty good pops out, but there’s a lot of chaff to wade through if you’re a reader. Nonetheless volume is what builds an audience. Picasso, to whom in no way whatsoever do I compare myself, pumped out tons of stuff right until his last day. Not all was great, but it left its mark. Showing up often makes more sense than trying to shoot that one golden arrow into the bullseye.

5. Discovering your “voice.” Every how-to about blogging says you’ve got to discover a distinctive voice — your niche, style, or approach. Well, after 30 days I’m not feeling it. My topics have been all over the board because there was no plan to what I’d write about. Help me out here — I could write about travel, books, aviation, electronics, ham radio, computers, the RV lifestyle, and why today’s brite-white teeth fad drives me crazy. Is anybody interested in that stuff . . . or should I keep to the potpourri-ing? The easiest writing happens when you go off about something you know. This whole “voice” thing confuses me and so far it doesn’t appear I have one.

What’s Next

I am not going to write tomorrow.

But I will continue soon now that I’ve had this burst of authorship. In November I’ll recycle a few articles from here on Medium which you should visit if you enjoy good writing. And I want to increase readership, so if you enjoy what you read here expect requests to help me gain more readers.

Thank you, dear readers. I’m grateful to you for taking the time to read my stuff, and especially to those who commented. Performance without applause or feedback can feel meaningless.

Oops, almost forgot. Here’s the latest on Kim Kardashian:

Kim Kardashian West Dressed as Aaliyah for Halloween – and the Internet Is Not Pleased