Gilt by Association

There's been much in the news lately about skittish investors buying gold. And not just futures either, but insisting on taking deliverance of the actual bullion. All that demand is driving up the price of gold to over $900 an ounce.

Ever noticed how humans are pack animals? We hear the warnings of Wall Street analysts and rush to buy or sell whatever they may be hawking or shunning that particular day. It some cases it creates forced losses for some investors. But let's not get into the legality of some practices.

We wonder whether we should have jumped ship on certain stock months before and then beat ourselves up for holding stock that takes a nosedive into oblivion. Yep, I infamously held my Enron stock to the bloody end. There's so much emotion wrapped up in our investments, just as our hopes and dreams and children's college and our retirement are wrapped up in those investments. Who among you hasn't been filled with angst upon opening your quarterly statement?

The best advice I have heard recently about investing in the stock market is to take emotion off the table. Sort of like the best poker players. The best of the best let no facial muscles betray their hands. When we take emotion out of our investments, we can invest the same monthly amount in stocks regardless of the market. Over time, the gains will offset the losses and provide us with a nice nest egg. And while everyone else is madly selling off their stocks in favor of precious metals, we'll be racking up more shares at discounted prices.


The Bucket List

The Bucket List. Place an X by all the things you've done and remove the X from the ones you have not, then send it to your friends (including me).

Things you have done during your lifetime:
(X) Gone on a blind date
(X) Skipped school
(X) Watched someone die
(X) Been to Canada
(X) Been to Mexico
(X) Been to Florida
( ) Been to Hawaii
(X) Been on a plane
( ) Been on a helicopter
(X) Been lost
(X) Gone to Washington, DC
(X) Swam in the ocean
(X) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Played cops and robbers
(X) Recently colored with crayons
(X) Sang Karaoke
(X) Paid for a meal with coins only
(X) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
(X) Made prank phone calls
(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose & elsewhere
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(X) Danced in the rain
(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(X) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(X) Watched the sunrise with someone
(X) Blown bubbles
(X) Gone ice-skating
(X) Gone to the movies
( ) Been deep sea fishing
(X) Driven across the United States
( ) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
( ) Gone snowmobiling
( ) Lived in more than one country
(X) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
(X) Seen a falling star
(X) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser
(X) Seen the Statue of Liberty
( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
(X) Been on a cruise
(X) Traveled by train
(X) Traveled by motorcycle
(X) Been horse back riding
( ) Ridden on a San Francisco CABLE CAR
(X) Been to Disneyworld
( ) Been in a rain forest
( ) Seen whales in the ocean
( ) Been to Niagara Falls
(X) Ridden on an elephant
( ) Swam with dolphins
( ) Been to the Olympics
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
( ) Saw and heard a glacier calf
( ) Been spinnaker flying
(X) Been water-skiing
(X) Been snow-skiing
(X) Been to Westminster Abbey
(X) Been to the Vatican
(X) Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
(X) Been to a Major League Baseball game
(X) Been to a National Football League game

If you want to, do it. I’m not much for tagging people anymore.


What Are You Giving Up for Lent?

[Editor’s note: It was brought to our attention that in yesterday’s blog the author neglected to include a picture of a computer to reference posting a blog and checking email. Here’s the picture that should have been included.

Now, onto today’s blog.]

Day One of Lent.

Day One without my Triple Decaf Grande Latte.

So far so good. Of course, it's still early in the morning.


Agenda for Today

Hurry, hurry, hurry…
Before the next job…
Then there’s supper…

Why pancakes for supper? Because it’s…

Then home to…


Weather Report

Epiphany is winding down. I go to a Carnivale party over the weekend where the hostess insists that I can't drink or eat until I have beads on. Break open another box of beads straight from New Orleans, put two around my neck, and head straight for the bar on her back porch where the drinks are chilled not with ice but by the outdoor air.

At church, we are reminded that Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. The priest confesses to having an addiction. To baseball. He's looking forward to Ash Wednesday. Not because he plans to give up his addiction during Lent, but because Wednesday is the first day of Spring Training games, which to him means the first day of Spring.

Sunday afternoon on our way to a Girl Scout delegate training session, my second daughter asks when I'll take them out of school. I have a tradition of checking the kids out of school on one of the first really nice spring days to go to the cathedral and play in the garden. She says that playing in the garden as a child made her feel like princess. I remind her that it's still winter.

"I hate winter," she says.

"Then kill the groundhog," I answer.

But the radio this morning reminds me that the groundhog saw his shadow after all. I miss the traffic and weather on the 8's and ask my husband what today's forecast is. His reply? He gives me the rundown of the highs and lows for the week. But today?

"Blustery with a chance of winter."


Do You Want Fries With That?

When the Wall Street Journal published an article about Wal-Mart’s decision to stop selling fabric in some of their stores, the first thing that crossed my mind was “I haven’t bought fabric at Wal-Mart ever!” Someone told me that sewing is a dying art. I’m not really sure about that. For most home seamstresses and tailors, if we’re going to put that much time and effort into something, we’re going to use the highest quality fabric we can afford and it’s not found at Wal-Mart.

But that got me thinking about the differences between home-tailored clothing and ready-to-wear store-bought clothing. Sewing hasn’t changed much through the years. Neither have the patterns that I use. Sure the styles change. But on the back of every pattern is a size chart that is the same today as it was in the 1950s.

Amazingly, for clothes that I buy at the store, I wear the exact same size today that I did when I graduated from high school! When I graduated, I was 5’10” and 110 pounds soaking wet. (I wouldn’t have been able to step on the catwalk in Madrid because my BMI was 15.8.) I have since had three children and put on a few years. (My BMI is now in the healthy range.) According to the back of my patterns, I should be wearing clothing that is at least three sizes larger than what I was wearing in high school. Surely I’m the same size I used to be! Dressmakers don’t lie! Do they?

Hogwash! Somewhere in Milan or Paris or New York there’s a Jack Nicholson-like fashionista yelling at women “You can’t handle the truth!” Do they think that we’re so much more emotionally fragile than men that we can’t deal with our ever expanding waistlines? Men go into stores and buy their clothes by their waist size and inseam lengths. Why do women have to assuage our vanity by buying sizes we haven’t worn in decades? Seventh Avenue isn’t going to let their sizes slide back toward normalcy any more than we Americans will give up our love for hamburgers, French fries and Phish Food ice cream.

Maybe it’s all tied together. There’s some great big giant conspiracy between fashion designers and the food industry. They’ll just keep feeding us oversized portions at a never-ending trough of all-you-can-eat food-bar gluttony. Then they’ll convince us that we’re just as svelte as we were before marriage and kids and two cars and a mortgage by selling us clothing in sizes that have been dumbed down for our acceptance.

I guess I’ll go pick up a new pair of jeans at Wal-Mart. After all, they have a wide selection in my size. Just a few aisles down from the in-store McDonald’s.


Sport of Call

Have you heard the news that the Washington Nationals phenom Dominican teenage shortstop isn’t who or as young as he says he is? Seems like Esmailyn “Smiley” González, aged nineteen, isn’t who the Nationals thought they were signing. He’s really Carlos Alvarez Daniel Lugo, aged 23. Apart from the fact that this sheds a bad light on my team, it’s also a good reason for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make an official visit to Cuba to open trade.

If you’re not a baseball fan, you are probably scratching your head saying, “What does some scandal in baseball have to do with opening trade with Cuba?” Easy.

The Dominican Republic is a country of 9.2 million people, 159 of whom play professional baseball in the United States. Cuba is a country of 11.4 million people, 15 of whom play professional baseball in the United States. The Dominican Republic, like much of Latin America, has an unregulated network of middlemen, street agents, who produce fake IDs and participate in money-skimming and kickbacks. Cuba still has relics of the communist regime (other than Castro), namely programs aimed at producing world-class athletes formerly funded by the Soviet Union.

Many in the baseball world have been hoping for Fidel Castro’s quick departure from this world. They believe that his brother Raul will be more open to talk with the United States.

If the world-wide economic downturn continues to upset oil production and prices, Venezuela and Russia might no longer have such a strong grip on the affections of their compatriots. Even though China is eyeing the waters off Cuba as ideal sites for drilling, the paradigm of the global economy might prompt President Raul Castro to meetings with his neighbor to the north.

If that happens, MLB will have a new crop of athletes 90 miles away. Having Cuba as a player in the world of American baseball will force a change in the dynamics that drive the Dominican baseball problem-children whose actions create many high-profile scandals in the United States.

And then we can get back to that all-American game of baseball. Now where’re my peanuts and Cracker Jacks?

[Editor's note: The author still holds Becca as a friend and appreciates her candor.]


It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World

You know that guy from CNBC who yells all the time? Why is he yelling? Does the title of his show, Mad Money, have anything to do with why he yells? But it brings up an interesting observation.

Have you ever noticed that we’re getting more and more entrenched in our beliefs? You can’t turn on the radio anymore without being bombarded by people yelling about their perceived injustices. Every time you turn on the TV or radio the talking heads are spouting off about something new that we should all be up in arms about. They rally their audience to call in with just as much ire as they have.

What does it do to everyone? It separates us. It keeps us from our full potential. As long as it’s always Us versus Them, it’ll never be We.

The other day on television, I saw that someone I used to work for was claiming something as fact about the new stimulus package. But the actual history that he was “quoting” was exactly the opposite of what he was claiming to be true. He was claiming something as true that was completely false. I should know. It was one of the areas that I covered when I worked for him.

And he was mad about it. He was trying to get his constituents riled up. Knowing his constituents, they’re as mad as he is now. They’ll be calling into the talk radio shows with their hatred for all things out of their comfort zone. And we’ll still be divided.

It’s time to do the hard thing. Tell all the fear-mongers to sit down and shut up. It’s time to do the even harder thing. Realize that it’ll take all of us. Because we’re all in this together. If the ship goes down, it’s taking all of us with it.


I'm Amazed

1. Put your iPod or other music player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the NEXT button to get your answer.
4. Tag friends who might enjoy doing this as well as the person you got this from.

The One On The Right Is On The Left – Johnny Cash
I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow – O Brother, Where Art Thou Soundtrack
Women’s Prison – Loretta Lynn
I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash
Pas De Cheval – Master Ballet Class
Lullaby – Dixie Chicks
Faster Polka – Laura Hausmann (Fun Favorites Pre-Ballet)
WHAT IS 2+2?
Cochabamba - Sarazino
Stretch/Adagio – Lynn Stanford (Ballet Class At 6:15)
Steve McQueen – Sheryl Crow
Refugee – Tom Petty
Travelin’ Light – Widespread Panic
Despertar – Aisha Duo
China Girl – David Bowie
Gypsy Biker – Bruce Springsteen
Daring Night – Van Morrison
Seasons Of Love – Rent: Original Broadway Soundtrack
Half The Fun – Snow Patrol
Sentimental Journey – Les Brown and His Orchestra
Hark the Herald Angels Sing – Royal College of Music
I Dug Up a Diamond – Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris
Busted In Baylor County – Shooter Jennings
Now I’m a Fool – Eagles of Death Metal
If I Wanted To – Melissa Etheridge
Tendu in 5th – Densil Adams (Ballet Dance Notes)
I Am Weary (Let Me Rest) – O Brother, Where Art Thou Soundtrack
Right To Be Wrong – Joss Stone
Help! – The Beatles
I’m Amazed – My Morning Jacket


Calling All Men

When Live Spaces made their latest changes to the format, my husband claimed that they were just trying to make their site more like Facebook in order to compete. He has had a Facebook page for quite a while; so coming from him, the comparison made sense. He said he likes Facebook because all these people from high school have been coming out of the woodwork to be his friends.

I finally bit the bullet and created a Facebook page. And he's right. If only my old high school yearbook had survived all these many years! Being able to jog my memory with the way some of these people who've been friending me looked back in the day would help me better decide whether to confirm or ignore their friend request. The past few days anyone with any reference that even remotely rings a bell gets the confirm button. It's amazing who turns up as a friend.

In checking out the friends on my husband's page, he has a mix of men and women. The men on my page number in the round number. Four to be exact. It turns out he has one, possibly two, maybe three, women on there with whom he did some mattress dancing. That in addition to his already full bevvy of gal pals.

Whether we ever dated or not, if you're male, send me a friend invitation.


The One Zagat Forgot

What’d you do for Valentine’s Day? Imagine this, a four-star one-table restaurant. Our table for two was by a steady fire, two candles on the linen-covered table. Delicate bone china, softly patina’d silver and sparkling leaded crystal rounded out the setting.

The first course was artichoke-parmesan crostini. Our fingers lifted the four crisp pieces from the small plates. The first round from a bottle of an Argentine Malbec filled our glasses. The entrée was a medium-rare for me, rare for the husband pepper-crusted filet mignon with a red wine reduction sauce served alongside creamy spinach and slow-roasted tomatoes. More Malbec. Finally, the pièce de résistance. Two individual light-as-air Grand Marnier soufflés with crème anglaise. Decaf coffee, if you please, came with a pitcher of real cream.

Total bill for the evening? $35.00. Where’d we find such a well-kept secret? Chez nous.

Yep. I cooked; the children set the table and built the fire; the two youngest acted as our servers. (The kids had pizza for supper and their own individual soufflés for dessert.)

No cards, no gifts, no flowers. Just a simple home-cooked meal for two.


Valentine's Swap

Fresh off the press! Pictures of the swap spread. My swap buddy was S.L. Here is the whole kit and caboodle that she sent.

A close up of the adorable card.

Here are the dish towels and the pretty plates.

The card-making or scrapbooking supplies, plus the candies, the heart-shaped bathtub grippies, and the little mailbox.

Here's a close up of the little mailbox, soon to be filled.

Thanks to S.L. for the best Valentine's Swap!!!

Creativity Under Construction

This is the first time I've participated in the gift swap. My giftee might have opened the package and gone, "What the?" I feel like I could have done better. Because after I opened the package from my gifter, my eyes started to well up.

What adorable heart-patterned plates! And the red-heart-on-red towels! And valentines making supplies complete with the cutest little mailbox I've seen. My swap buddy really outdid herself. Thank you, S.L.

So to N.W., my swapee (is that really a word?), the thought process was that everything relates to bubbles. Enjoy the bubbly in a bubble bath while blowing bubbles. And if you just need to let out some steam with the way the economy is treating you, stomp on those bubble wrappers.

Bring on the next swap, Becca. Wifey is going to roll up her sleeves, put on her thinking cap, and scour the pages of Etsy. Watch out world!


Antici (Say It) Pation

[Editor's note: Read only within twenty feet of a cold shower. And for Heaven's sake, hide it from the kids.]

I've only had one one-night stand. Except that in all honesty, it really couldn't be called a one-night stand because it lasted five years. It just started as a one-night stand. I knew all the guys, including him, at his former fraternity. He was a grad student and five years my senior.

Back at his apartment we worked up a sweat on that late August night two weeks before classes began. Then dropped down exhausted with only a sheet on top of us as we drifted off to sleep. A few hours later the full moon shining through his open window woke me. It cast enough light to see the field that stretched out beyond his window. Marvelling at the simple beauty of a grey landscape I rolled over to look at him and was surprised to find him propped up on one arm looking at me. His reaching over to stroke my hair led to another hour of sweaty intensity which was followed by more sleep. We awoke at almost the same time the next morning. His first offer wasn't coffee or breakfast or a ride back to my sorority house but another go at it.

Ah, morning sex. It's the best kind there is. You wake from a refreshing sleep raring to go. Damn the alarm clock. Full speed a head. Whether you're gentle and slow and tender or down and dirty, the mental picture stays with you all day. You can reminisce during your wait on line at the bank or during your tedious meeting. You can remember the touch, the feel of hands on skin.

Lots of people seem to picture a tub for two filled to the brim with bubbles and surrounded by scores of tea lights as the epitome of foreplay. But the most seductive of all suggestions is to tell the person what you want to do and then follow up with "What about tomorrow morning? Will it make you late for work?"

Eight hours of waiting for it. Eight hours to have it invade your dreams. Ah, the thrill of it when you finally get that release you've been wanting, been needing. Tell me goodnight but twitter me in the morning.


The Herringbone Collector

Police officer. Nurse. Chef. Lobbyist. What do all of those have in common?

We had a substitute mail carrier yesterday. At least, I think so. I saw some strange man walking down the street carrying a mail bag and stopping at each house to put some things in the mailboxes. He was wearing blue jeans, an untucked white shirt, a baseball cap and white tennis shoes. His boxers’ waistband was visible over his jeans’ waistband.

It’s much easier to identify people by what they wear. For years now, however, business dress has been trending toward the casual side until it’s hard to tell by looking at them who work in the buildings and who are just trying to get to the museum. For a while, the easiest way to tell the tourists from the natives was by their ubiquitous tennis shoes. Tourists wear tennis shoes everywhere. Most natives wear some other sort of office shoes.

Causal Friday evolved into Casual Summer wear. Casual Summer somehow got strung out into Casual Autumn and even Casual Winter and Casual Spring. My husband’s suits would see the light of day only on Sundays. Until our church went to Casual Summer.

But he’s taken a new tack at work. Suits are back at the front of his closet. Even when he rides his motorcycle to work, he’ll wear a suit or slacks and a sports coat. He’ll lay the jacket in the top rack. He looks more professional. This in today’s economy can help him keep a leg up.

Just like the police officer and the nurse and the chef, wearing a uniform to work can help identify who you are and what you do. Whether it’s the black suit or the camelhair jacket, he looks like a lobbyist in his lobbyist uniform. And I just love a man in uniform.


Ms. Green Genes

My parents grew up on farms and moved to town after they got married. They kept a garden on my grandfather's farm every year when I was young. My mother would weed the rows while I would pick up stones. We'd bring home all sorts of fresh vegetables. Very few dishes on our table came from the grocery store.

In past years I've planted tomatoes and peppers. One year I tried okra and eggplant. But for a backyard gardener with younger children, giving up too much of their playing area of the lawn wasn't a real option. But this year?

This year I'm going to try something more ambitious. There are eight packets of seeds waiting to be put in either a starter system for planting after the last frost or the ground when the soil is warm enough. My goal is three-fold.

First, growing some of our own vegetables will cut down on our grocery bill. Second, we'll be eating healthier by eating fresher. Third, it'll be good for the environment by not depending on foods that are shipped miles and miles to our table.

I'm not quite ready for turning over my entire yard to a modern-day Victory Garden. But in the meantime, I'll be stretching my atrophied gardening muscles, especially the one between my ears.


Sir Nix-A-Lot

I'm about to utter something that every person utters at some point of their lives. "What's wrong with kids these days?"

Children, mostly teenagers, will forever push the envelope on their parents' authority. When those same children sulk and punish their parents by shutting them out of their lives, you have to wonder "Didn't they know to expect to be reined in?"

Parents who abdicate their role as parent and let their children decide the rules give the rest of us a bad rep. Our children don't understand when we say No because some of their friends can have anything they want.

Recently my husband went to drive carpool home after a church event. One of our daughters told him that she and a friend wanted to walk to the coffee shop and wait for the other girl's mother to pick her up there. When he said no, guess what her response was. Yep. Sulking. It's the same response every time her father, or me, tells her no. Which seems to be happening more and more frequently.

I know I shouldn't take it personally. But having your daughter give you a continual cold shoulder gets a tad old. Being the parent of teenagers, especially teenage girls, is one of the most emotionally demeaning occupations on the face of this earth.


It's Not Easy Being Green

The other day I was reading an article about ways to save money. The author was noting that today most families have multiple TVs with one being at least 35 inches and more cable channels than you can keep track of. She wrote that in 1970 her family had a black-and-white 27 inch TV. "A" TV. One. With three channels and a public television channel picked up via a rooftop antenna. Remember those days? We got ABC, NBS, PBS, sometimes CBS, and when the weather was just right sometimes TBS. (We lived about a three hour drive away from the TBS studios.)

When my father bought our first color television set, he brought it in after work to set it up. I was on the floor, cross legged, watching The Brady Bunch.

“Can you wait until it’s over?”

“The picture will be in color.”

“You mean like our home movies?”


“Can you do it during the commercial?”

But switching out the sets took more time than the commercial did. And when the picture was back on, I’d missed prime viewing of Peter Brady. Bobby was the closest to my age but much too much like the other boys my age. Greg was much too old and much too BMOC. Peter was just right, just geeky enough to be human and just average enough to be your regular Joe.

Even worse than missing seeing Peter onscreen was seeing Peter as a Martian. He was green! Everything was green.

My father adjusted some knob and voila! He wasn’t green anymore. He was red. More adjusting. No longer red, now wavy.


The actual episode is lost in the dark recesses of my mind. The memory of missing out on Peter is still there. Even though my infatuation with Peter is gone, I’m not too enthused with going back to just three (and on a good day five) channels. Saving money is good. But sometimes you just need a good Brady Bunch fix from TV Land.


I Want My REM TV

There's a recession going on. There's also a stimulus package being debated in the Senate. A lot of the stimulus package has implications for my husband's clients. He's been working eleven and twelve hour days for the past two weeks while the Congress works on the package.

He's had to attend hearings on both sides of the Capitol, some lasting all day and past the usual quitting time. This week he's been coming home only thirty minutes to an hour late but eating supper in front of the TV. ESPN? Nope. C-SPAN 2. My kids have started recognizing senators by face, even those in the background shots.

His boss sends bed-check emails at 9:30 p.m. asking if he's working his contacts. It's great for his job. He's very busy and has been billing beaucoup hours. His utilization is double the normal rate.

But, watching the Senate votes on the stimulus package amendments on a Friday night? Come on! What about the latest blu-ray we just got from Netflix? Cuddling on the couch with his laptop and his Jameson's while listening to the umpteenth roll call isn't my idea of romance.

Of course, there's always tomorrow. Unfortunately the voting may continue tomorrow as well. Maybe it's time for a solo date with a nice warm bubble bath, my latest magazine, and a glass of red wine. The current broadcast or the bubble bath, either way, will both lead to a drowsy feeling. I just hope he doesn't wake me up when he comes to bed.


Yen and Yank

Suffering through withdrawal is a real bear. That relentless headache and those sore muscles can stop even the most active person in her tracks. Which they did to me this week.

My withdrawal is from caffeine. Yep, the earlier blog on switching back to decaf was written before the abrupt halt and the symptoms began. When you go cold turkey, those symptoms can knock you on your arse. Even talking to friends couldn't lure me away from my fetal position.

To recap, caffeine is a diuretic. Check. Had the water retention so bad it hurt to bend my fingers. Caffeine opens up the blood vessels. Check. Those suckers clamped down tighter 'an a drum. No blood flow to the brain? Well that was the massive headache. No blood flow to the extremities? That was the shivering.

There may be residual amounts of caffeine still floating around on some mitochondrial level somewhere in there; but, I think my body has flushed most of it away. After the past few days of feeling like I've been through the wringer, I'll be sure to satisfy my yearning for the flavor of coffee with a decaf from now on.


Body, Mind, and Spurious

By now, we’ve all seen it – the photo of Michael Phelps smoking a bong at a college party. During the Olympics, Phelps was chemically clean. When Olympic gold medals and multimillion-dollar sports contracts are at stake, we hear all about chemical enhancers. But aren’t we all guilty of using drugs to enhance our performances?

Yes, you. Think about it. We wake up groggy and head straight to the kitchen for our morning cup of coffee in preparation of that nine o’clock meeting at work. To combat the mid-afternoon food coma, we walk down to the corner Starbucks for a get-me-through-the-next-three-hours cup of Joe. And that’s just caffeine. Add in the sleeping pills (OTCs as well as Lunesta, Ambien, and Rozerem) to enhance our sleep, tobacco to enhance our steadiness, and alcohol to enhance our calmness and you’ve got a vicious circle of chemical enhancers.

We heard a lot about Floyd Landis’s use of steroids in the Tour de France. We heard a little about the North Korean shooter who was stripped of his Olympic Silver after testing positive for a beta-blocker taken to steady the hands. But have you heard about poker player Paul Phillips who admitted that Adderall and Provigil helped him rack up $2.3 million in his tournament career? What about the two Air Force pilots who were on speed (Dexedrine) when they dropped a friendly-fire bomb that killed four Canadian soldiers and wounded eight more in Afghanistan?

Wow! Using cognitive enhancers is more widespread and more desired than physical performance enhancers. (Okay, let’s just leave Viagra out of this, shall we?) Cognitive enhancers can help you stay completely clear until the task at hand is accomplished, but doesn’t leave you jittery like caffeine. Most of us know that we’ll never be on the level with world-class athletes who compete for a living. Our livings are made, more and more it seems, in white-collar fields where cognitive enhancers could help us deal better with overbearing bosses and the not-enough-hours-in-the-day syndrome. So we rationalize our use of cognitive enhancers by tsk-tsking the doping athletes while downing the Working Mother’s Little Helper.

So, before the estimated 600 new cognitive enhancers hit the market by the end of the century, maybe we just need to take a look at our out-of-whack ways of living, step away from the medicine cabinet, and just take a nap for a change.


Bus a Move

Every parent feels like an unpaid taxi driver. As those cute little bundles of joy get bigger and their extracurricular schedules get more hectic than their former feeding-and-napping schedules, parents are wont to find carpools to help move Child 1 from Place A to Place B so we can swing by the grocery store for milk before picking up Child 2 and the rest of the carpool gang from Place C and be home in time to take Child 3 to Place D and get supper ready before the piano teacher arrives. And that's just Wednesday's schedule.

Last week, my eldest needed to get from the high school to our church for her organ lesson. Usually it wouldn't be a problem. Except that I'm assisting with the after-school ballet classes, so I can't drive her. After checking the bus schedule and giving her a copy of it, I didn't give it a second thought, just assuming that she'd get there just fine. Until I got a phone call between classes.


"Where are you, Baby?"

"At the X X."

"Why'd you get off there? The bus lets you off two block from the church."

"I thought I was supposed to change buses."

I didn't have the schedules in front of me so I advised her to call her just-younger sister who knows where to catch the free shuttle in town. After we both got home that evening, I asked her if she found the shuttle. She did. But two blocks from where we was supposed to get off.

This child has got to get her driver's license soon. It would solve so many logistical headaches.


Snackin' Heat

Jennifer Hudson? Beautiful. The Boss? Rockin'. The ads? Creative. The game? Incredible. The food? Depends.

According to some news sources, the average person's choice of finger foods racked up as many calories as some people should consume in an entire day. Stop the grumbling. I can hear you, "Why didn't you write about this last week?" Would knowing that eight buffalo wings and four tablespoons of blue cheese dip pack 920 calories have stopped you from having another one?

It now seems that everywhere you turn you're bombarded with ways to exercise more, cut calories, and decrease your waist size. "Yeah, Wifey, even here." So, whatcha gonna do? Other than the hour and a quarter of vigorous push-ups to offset those eight wings and blue cheese, what are YOU doing to watch your bottom line? I need all the suggestions I can get, 'cause all those beers last night really add up.

And one last thing. Go Steelers!!!