Thursday, November 26, 2015

5 Things to Do on Black Friday That Do Not Involve Shopping

 Black Friday seems to start earlier every year. 6 pm on Thanksgiving is the magic hour this year when the local Target, Kohls, and the Mall of American open their doors. Remember when Thanksgiving was for gathering around the dining room table with your family or friends and Black Friday actually fell on Friday? This post is written in spirit of Black Friday actually hitting on Friday.

Don't feel like facing the Black Friday crowds tomorrow? There's plenty of things to see and do that do not involve standing in line at Toys R Us at 5 am or driving around just trying to snag a parking space at the mall.
  1. Go outside. REI is closing their doors on Black Friday and urging REI shoppers to pursue an activity in the great outdoors. If you live in Minnesota you can get into any state park for free on Friday. Outdoor ice skating rinks are open in my part of the world. Or take a jog around the neighborhood to burn off some of the indulgence of your Thanksgiving feast.
  2. Paint. You know you want to do it. Something in your home could probably use a touch-up or a fresh coat. Paint a room, paint a mural on your wall, find a place to paint pottery, or even a paint by number. Remember those? Indulge your inner artist or just brighten up your powder room.
  3. Take in a movie. This option may involve crowds and even standing in a bit of a line. But at the end of your wait, you get to sit down with your popcorn and Blue Icee  and enjoy the show. Here's a  listing of a few movies opening on Thanksgiving Day or earlier in November that you and yours may want to catch: movie insider.
  4. Hit the gym. Black Friday is an excellent gym day after all of the consumption on Thanksgiving. Take a class, reserve a tennis court, or hop on an elliptical. Your body will thank you!
  5. Spend time with your family, unplugged. That means without screens. Pull out a board game, a puzzle, or a game of charades. If your family is like mine, detaching from screens is always a challenge but we all seem to somehow survive and have fun sans screens.
In the hours remaining until Black Friday hits, I wish you and yours a most Happy Thanksgiving and hope you have time to reconnect with family, friends, and community!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tis' the Season

Milo Baughman Chaise
Has the pre-holidays onslaught been filling up your mailbox since September and overflowing out of your mailbox over the past few weeks? Catalogs, special offers, sweet deal post cards. The season is upon us—the holiday shopping season complete with the stacks of holiday catalogs. E-mail offers abound as well, but I'm talking about those glossy catalogs and fliers that you get to lug into the house everyday or just pitch directly into the recycling bin.

Despite seeming like a huge waste of paper, the annual holiday catalogs are interesting to flip through and a mindless time wasting activity that I've enjoyed every holiday season for as long as I can remember. My favorite catalog was always Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, which featured every unimaginable item that I could not possibly afford.  Since I never bought anything Neiman Marcus finally got the hint and took me off their list.

Neiman Marcus has quickly been replaced by the Restoration Hardware tome. Their RHModern catalog is a hefty 540 pages of rather expensive and very much modern housewares with a dark and heavy aura. Some of which are just so impractical, ugly, and even dangerous that I have to share a few favorites that would not survive a week in my house:
Cast Cambium Console
  • Cast Cambium Console Table is a mere $1195 and is supposed to resemble a tree trunk. If I didn't know this was supposed to be a tree trunk table I would think of it as a piece of modern sculpture that could be easily tripped over.
  • Fortuny Studio 76 Floor Lamp at nearly $4000. If this lamp were to remain standing in my house while balanced on spindly legs, it would certainly be deliberately pointed in someone's eyes  in an attempt to blind a guest who might take one of the boys up on their offer to just stare into the light. Plus it looks like a gadget out of a 1960s James Bond film.
  • The Texture of Tibet collection is my absolutely favorite in luxurious impracticality. The Milo Baughman Model #149 Chaise, 1954 in Ivory Tibetan Wool is the ultimate luxury item that would instantly get destroyed in my home. For starters it is white. Being furry and a chaise lounge just creates more temptation. The boys, their friends, and the dog would all be drawn to climb on, eat snacks on, wipe their dirty fingers and paws, and spill pop all over this lovely lounger. How could anyone keep this chair clean and not end up with a nasty, matted woolly mess that just drained you of $3295?
Fortuna Studio 76 Floor Lamp
Restoration Hardware Modern wins—catalog with the most expensive and least festive (in my opinion at least) holiday catalog. They beat out the flying drones, back hair shaver, and customized bobble-head statue of yourself in the Sharper Image catalog and the extravagant Nutcrackers and expensive fake, plastic Christmas trees in the Frontgate catalog. Consumerism at its finest brought straight to my mailbox.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Bigger Problem Than a Paris Setback

Friday night's massacre in the City of Lights has illuminated a growing global problem. ISIS and other terrorists groups are not just confined to the Middle East and Africa. If they can hit Paris twice in 10 months what will stop them from striking in other cities around the world?

The ISIS network first came onto the mainstream American radar screens back in June 2014 with invasions in Iraq and Syria. This pesky ISIS problem was seemingly ignored as a minor irritating terrorist group that showed disturbing videos online and was social media savvy. Fast-forward to November 16, 2015. ISIS and ISIS affiliates are now active and/or actively controlling parts of 13 countries stretching from Algeria to Pakistan to the Philippines. Something is working for them and anyone reading this post has some idea what is working for ISIS and failing for the West.

Last week not only saw the simultaneous and carefully planned attacks on Paris, but also attacks in other countries that were overshadowed by Paris.

  • 250 innocent people were injured and 43 were killed in a double suicide attack in Beirut on Thursday. ISIS claimed responsibility. 
  • At a funeral in Baghdad last week 19 people were killed and 41 wounded by a suicide bomber. Who is rumored as the culprit? ISIS. 
  • Thousands of refugees flooding out of Syria, Iraq, and Africa are seeking asylum in Europe only to have borders closed when they finally arrive after a harrowing journey. 

Dwelling on evil and wallowing in blame and sorrow is easy. Fingers are quickly and, in some cases, wrongly pointed at many politicians, religions, and world leaders in the aftermath of terror attacks. Figuring out the solution is the challenge. The world is brimming with good people who will not stand for terror. Peace, justice, and the good in humanity will eventually override the few who are creating the evil and chaos that is seemingly taking over parts of the world. The solution must come now, not 14 months from now when the administration changes in the White House.

What happened in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad last week could happen in Peoria, Buenos Aires, and Brisbane this week. This is a world problem that calls for a world solution. Paris is not just a setback; Paris is one horrible example of evil that will be repeated unless ISIS is stopped soon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Portlandia or Presidential

Season 5 of Portlandia won out over watching the fourth Republican Presidential candidate debate tonight. This probably reflects badly on me as an American voter and someone who cares about politics. I really do care, but tonight I cared more for Portlandia than having to watch Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. There are just too many candidates in the pool for my liking.

Sadly given the busy schedules and demands on time I have taken to just watching the clips and out-takes of the debates—the chatter afterward about who won and who lost which round of a debate. The Saturday Night Live sketches of the debates are also amusing. The Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders SNL segment is a "must see "regardless of your political affiliation; Larry David has perfected Bernie Sanders.

Fortunately it remains early on in the Presidential race and Republican front-runners will plummet and rise in the polls. These Presidential races seem to start a few months earlier each election cycle and cost the candidates more money every four years. Imagine what the United States could do with all of the money that gets poured into Presidential races!

The American public, myself included, will have to turn off Netflix and start paying more attention soon. I'll leave you with this frightening scenario—Donald Trump vs. Bernie Sanders. Sort of scares you back to reality doesn't it?

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Return to Normal

Return to normal, but what is normal?  If you have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account and peer into the lives of those you follow, their lives might seem normal. Or dull. Or even extraordinary given what side of life they share. A social media definition of normal.

The past few months have taught me that normal is all relative and sometimes a life situation that seems normal is not. Since I signed off a few weeks ago for a blog hiatus, my definition of a normal life has changed.

What is normal:

  • Leaving a daughter at college
  • Your son turns 17 and is growing up
  • Your work life changes and evolves
  • Your child gets sick
New definition of normal:
  • Your daughter is a thousand miles away at college
  • Your son thinks and acts like he is 21 and not 17
  • Your biggest work event of the year seeps into your entire life
  • Your son needs ER visits, emergency surgery, and a week long hospital stay
  • All of this happens in the same week.

All that is seemingly normal sometimes takes a turn for the worse and you are forced to adapt. To become even more flexible. To cope. To survive, not only for your family but for yourself. The last few months have been all of that, which forced me to walk away from my passion of blogging. I'm pleased to say that the blog is back. It may change into something that you normally may not see from me, but then what really is normal?