Two things I want to see before I die…
But do I, really? Because once I see a ghost I have to wrestle with telling anyone, keeping it to myself, or living the rest of my days wondering if I really saw either of them and was it a moment of insanity.
Most people who claim to have seen a U.F.O. or a ghost are deemed crazy. I Google’d “what percentage of people believe ghosts are real?” and it says 45%. 36% believe U.F.O.s are real. 33% believe aliens are real.
Conclusion …not everyone would think I’m crazy if I saw a ghost or an alien but I’ll never know which of my friends and family believe me or not.
More importantly, will I believe myself? Like, if I looked out my front door and saw a purple dog, walking on it’s hind legs, holding a leash and walking a duck on that leash, I wouldn’t believe eyes. If something like that happened I would hope someone else is around and I could say, “hey …come here …look at this.” This other person would come and look and either (a) say, “holy sh** …a purple dog walking a duck on a leash,” or (b), “what am I supposed to be seeing?” If that person says, “what am I supposed to be seeing,” it means, yes, I am actually having a fit of madness (of course I would forever wonder if they, too, saw the purple dog and duck and did the same thing and convinced themselves instantly to not say they see a purple dog and duck).
If nobody else was around, and the purple dog and duck simply walked by, waved neighborly, and then disappeared around the corner …then what? Of course, I would never tell anyone and would hope I don’t start seeing purple dogs doing all sorts of human like things and that maybe I had a bad cuppa coffee. Or maybe I drifted off to sleep and dreamed it. But, again, I would never tell a soul.
Now, let’s say I meet someone who has no problem saying he saw a purple dog, wearing shades, riding a unicycle and everyone says, “oh my gosh, Uncle Frank is insane. He won’t stop talking about the purple dog on the unicycle.” I would laugh, awkwardly, and agree this person’s Uncle Frank is nuts, but deep down, I’d want to talk with him in private. Or would I? Or would I, instead, be terrified that someday I’m going to be Uncle Frank telling this story and my entire family would think I’m crazy?
People who say they’ve seen aliens and ghosts believe it with all their heart and soul. They tell others. They write books and have TV shows. There’s grainy, blurry pictures “proving” these sightings. Yes, even though I want to see either thing, myself . . . even I think those people are crazy, or at least are opportunists preying on people like me who want to believe.
This could lead to a discussion about why anyone tells anyone anything. I saw a bear, up close, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I saw a bald eagle swoop down and grab a fish out of the water. I saw two 12 point bucks walking my neighborhood. I saw my 4th-grade son catch a pop fly in left field once, as if he was a major league baseball player, even though until that moment in time he’d never come even close to catching a pop fly and he never caught one since. I saw a humpback whale swim under our sight-seeing boat in Maui once and it was so close I could’ve jumped overboard and landed on it.
Do you have any difficulty believing any of those things I listed? Of course not. They seem reasonable. But I’m not sure why I would tell anyone.
Same with an alien or a ghost. I hope to see one, if only to satisfy my own curiosity, but you’ll never know and that’s OK.
And I’ll just hope I don’t start seeing aliens, ghosts, and purple dogs on a daily basis.
Some things are OK to keep to yourself.
#UFO #alien #aliens #ghost #ghosts #paranormal
I see it and hear it. I’m not blind or deaf. I know when I’m at parties and I walk up to a group of people and they’re talking about their chest freezers, they stop talking as I approach. They look around and won’t make eye contact. They try to pretend they were talking about something else and I can feel the tension. Everyone is very uncomfortable talking about their chest freezers in front of me knowing I don’t have one. My wife knows this shame, too. How many times has she heard other Moms talk about going to Costco and stocking up on frozen meats, vegetables, and fruits, completely insensitive to the fact we have only the freezer that came with our fridge and we don’t have room for extra stuff? No doubt it’s impacted our marriage.
But no more.
We have a chest freezer, now!!! #ChestFreezerLife. This is a gamechanger. We’ve talked about it for years but it just never felt like the right time to buy a chest freezer (is there really a wrong time to buy one?). “Maybe for Christmas,” we said. “Maybe this summer,” we’d say. But then we’d put it off and put it off using excuses like the expense and where to put said chest freezer as a reason to put off making the purchase and the decision.
What fools we were!!! A chest freezer pays for itself in less than a year, especially for a carnivorous family of five that also likes smoothies (made with frozen fruit, duh). Look at the picture on the right. Look! Frozen fruit galore from Costco along with chicken, ground turkey, and a variety box of ice cream treats – that box of ice cream treats would never fit in the simple, ol’ fashioned freezer in our kitchen.
Bring on another shelter-in-place. We’re ready. Bring on a food shortage. No shortage at our house. Bring on grandkids because we have ice cream. OK. No. We’re not ready for grandkids, yet.
This is my open letter to my fellow chest freezer folk …I’m with you, now. Did you buy an entire cow? Tell me about it. Did your uncle come back from hunting season and beg you to take venison burgers and sausages? Did you happen to see the “manager’s special” on ribs at your grocery store and do you want to tell me how much you paid per pound? I sooooo want hear it, now. I’m a chest-freezerman. That’s what we do. Look? I saw bread on sale, so I bought an extra loaf. I know! So smart.
I’m officially a grown-up. Feels great.
Am I the only 47-year-old man that goes into a tailspin when he’s given (or wins …ahem …yes, I won!!!) a $100 Visa Gift Card? It’s like gold. It’s found (won) money that can’t be deposited into a bank. It can’t be invested. It must be spent. But how should it be spent?
Immediately my mind goes to the question, “what have I wanted for a while but really isn’t worth the money?” Things like replacing the shattered screen on my iPad? A new Peter Grimm hat? Maybe new bedsheets as a little surprise to my wife and I …been thinking about going with bamboo-based sheets. Or do I treat the family to a movie (Mulan on Disney+) and dinner (Thai food …yum)? Or maybe I just give the $100 to my wife and say, “apply this to groceries,” because it hasn’t been the best year financially? I need some new eye serum moisturizer …the stuff I like isn’t cheap and I probably don’t need to spend that much on wrinkle-reducer for my forehead and, let’s be honest, none of it probably works, anyway. Or do I save it and give it as a gift to someone …maybe my daughter for her Spring Break and a reward for a hugely successful high-school career? $100 would mean much more to her, right? Sure would make me a great father for a few minutes.
The choices and options are endless. That’s why I keep a list, actually, of stuff I want, where I recently added a salad spinner, knife sharpening steel, and the bamboo sheets. Just think about it …we spend 1/3rd of our lives sleeping …why not make it heavenly?
Does this say I’m indecisive? Does it say I’m vain and materialistic? Does it say I’m greedy? Honestly, if you’re a psychologist and reading this, what does this say about me?
I guess what I’m asking is this …what would YOU do if you won (did I mention I “won” this …in a competition …sorry to brag) a $100 Visa Gift Card?
No matter what it says about me and my personality (flaws), it’s fun, anyway.
In an attempt to make my day as efficient as possible, I’m starting to run the stopwatch on everything I do.
This is the next thing I’m going to use to change my life …employing maximum effort in the most efficient way in bursts and sprints to get more done. This time-everything approach will reprogram my approach to life and hopefully eliminate procrastination.
Then I’ll write a book on it. I’ll call it, “Time to Control Your Life,” or, “Perfect Timing on Life.” It will become a movement …people will start to time everything they do and we’ll start to realize how much we can do in 5-minutes and 7-minutes and I’ll go on a speaking tour about the collosal waste of time that social media is, yet doesn’t have to be. I’ll have chapters on saving time and making time and lecturing people about how little time they actually have in life.
Would you read that book? How many minutes a day would you spend reading for self improvement?
Reader L.P. asked me yesterday, “what is Project 47?” Basically, every year on my birthday I start a project on myself and my life. In July I turned 47-years-old and closed the book on Project 46 and began Project 47.
Some great things came out of Project 47:
A buncha other great stuff happened during Project 46 but this mini-blender was a pleasant surprise. As you know I have a very detailed and specific list of things I
demand ask for at Christmas, Father’s Day, and my birthday. This mini-blender wasn’t on that list, but my wife really hit a homerun despite going rogue and “off-list.”
This blender is one of those made-in-China products that comes with many different brands on the box. Mine is SupKitDin but that “company” doesn’t even have a website. It’s the type of product that I could put my name on (The Project 47 1-Minute Blender) if I became a health-coach, Podcaster, and wrote a book.
Point is …it’s GREAT and was a true highlight of Project 46. I use it 4-5 days a week. It can’t handle ice cubes and fully frozen fruit, but when I get feeling snacky* and like I want to raid our cookie drawer or quick toast myself a bagel and smear some peanut butter or cream cheese on it …I know it’s a “sugar” craving. With this mini-blender I can throw 10-12 blueberries, 1-2 strawberries, 1/3rd of a banana, a splash of OJ, and diced celery, cucumber, and leaf spinach into this thing with some water and supplements and …bam … I have a smoothie I can guzzle (I “guzzle” because it’s now about the flavor, it’s about putting some quick healthy sugar into my body to fight off the craving for anything with white flour or sugar like a cookie, bagel, candy bar, or bowl of chips).
I should post a video of me using it.
If you’re embarking on a Project You of some sort, this is a must-have. It’s cheap and I don’t anticipate it will last more than a year and when it dies, I’ll buy another one. For $20 (or less), this is nothing more than skipping 3-4 visits to my corner smoothie place and it’s paid for.
Viva la health.
* Feeling Snacky: the urge to microwave a bag of popcorn or run to Starbucks and get a coffee and a little snack in the middle of the morning or afternoon
I’m going to interview Chris, the topic of this Blog, in a future Blog entry and ask what clicked inside him two years ago that he started creating fabulous works of art in his basement.
Often, my Blog is about me and random stuff that excites me, and I guess this is too. I’m excited to see a guy who is supposed-to-be calmly drifting into middle-age but instead decides there’s more to him. Personally, it inspires me, because many, many times I feel like throwing in the towel on writing (and trying to finish my book) because my brain asks me, “who cares?”
Chris Dragan reminds me that someone cares. Or, as long as he cares and is inspired, that’s all that matters.
I love his stuff. I think any male currently between the age of 40 and 50 years old will love his stuff. Go to his Instagram page and start scrolling. I dare you to stop.
It’s 70s, 80s, and 90s pop-culture (OK, not everything is, but most of it is) and his work makes me nostalgic for a more simple era. I believe his art has real potential to ride a wave of that nostalgia, the nostalgia that currently has Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” and Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” screamed at college football stadiums, and has the documentary “High Score” in the top-10 on Netflix (as of the writing of this Blog).
Again, I love Chris’ work. I’ve purchased a piece (Green Day tiles), missed out on another, and wish I had more money to buy more pieces. What I love more than the art itself is that he’s doing it at all. He loves creating. It makes him happy. It makes his friends happy. Mark my words, it will make many people happy. When I look at some of his work it’s as if I’m looking back in time. When I see his recreation of Nintendo’s Zelda game cartridge hanging on the wall next to a Mario and scenes from Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, I suddenly remember my 1987 bedroom, the orange carpet, my freshman year of high-school, and index cards taped together creating the Zelda kingdom so I could easily find my way around and back to the pond with the magic fairy with the magic flute that allowed you to transport to another part of the kingdom rather than going cell by cell (if that sentence makes sense to you …buy something from Dragan Pop Art). I remember my parents let me have a 13″ color TV in my bedroom (it wasn’t an easy thing for me to convince them I should have one) and I would watch Monday Night Football until I fell asleep and somewhere in the night my Mom must’ve come into my room and turned off the TV. But mostly I wanted a TV in my room so I could play video games and be left alone. Oh, I played hours upon hours of Nintendo. I had amazing grades in middle-school and high-school because I could only play Nintendo non-stop if my grades were good. Looking at the Zelda cartridge, I can hear the music and I can remember the two guys in my chemistry class that I’d talk to about Zelda – we’d even exchange notes and tips about Zelda …not about chemistry.
Nerdy? Yes. But I wasn’t alone. Don’t even pretend you didn’t have a favorite game (Tecmo Bowl? Super Mario? Tetris?). Or you knew someone who you thought spent-way-too-much-time with Nintendo.
I’ve never been a big “art guy” but envied people who were? I envied how they could look at something for such a long time and just stand there in awe.
Now I get it.
Chris Dragan’s Dragan Pop Art pieces will be on display at the Detroit Shipping Company at least until mid-September.
DETROIT SHIPPING COMPANY
474 Peterboro Street
Detroit, MI 48201
Please, if you’re looking for something to do, go see his work. I don’t know how an artist sells their art (because once it’s sold, the artist never knows what happens to it …it is in a man cave? A living room? A bedroom? A garage) …it must be bittersweet. But if you’re inspired, buy something. Definitely snap a picture, post to social media (Instagram preferably), and tag @DraganPopArt.
But mostly, be inspired. Follow your heart. Follow your dreams. Don’t stop believin’.
Like all other decisions in my life, the decision of my “next water bottle” has taken a good, solid six months of research, hemming and hawing, denial, and finally … pouncing on a great deal.
This thing is perfect. I don’t care how much my wife and daughters laugh and say, “you got a tiny water bottle because you’re a tiny person.” At the moment, I like this water bottle more than I like them. No. I love this water bottle. I tolerate them. Harumph.
I had a Swell bottle, but it was too tall for the water dispenser on my fridge and those Swell bottles are really only for cold beverages. I had a clear plastic bottle, but even the nicest plastic breaks down.
Enter the Zojirushi SM-KHE48 16 oz. stainless mug (which for me is a bottle). And it’s perfect because…
Again, the wifey and the oldest daughter laughed, but it holds SIXTEEN OUNCES. Looks are deceiving. Even I didn’t believe it so I measured out sixteen ounces of water and poured it in and I’ll be damned …it holds sixteen ounces.
“Don,” you ask? “Did it really take you six months to pick out a water bottle?”
Yes. Yes it did. At first I thought, “Yeti,” and that would be that. But I didn’t like their shape or their cost. Then I thought, “TJ Maxx,” and if I’m patient, eventually I’ll find exactly what I’m looking for and I’ll be done. But TJ Maxx never ended up having what I was looking for. Then I thought, “are you really going to spend more than $20 on a bottle that holds water and don’t you have drinking glasses all over your house, and don’t you stay inside your house all day and night?”
Then my Dad gave me a gift card for my birthday (um, yes, I’m 47 and he still gives me a little birthday money and …so what!?!?!) and I finally pulled the trigger.
Now, I know in my heart that all stainless steel water bottles are made in the same place and every company just buys the same bottles and slaps their brand on those bottles. I know there’s only about 100 different designs. But I like to think there’s a design team at Zojirushi and this “Business Traveler” or “Middle Aged Hiker” design was the result of 100 engineers and 50 market research people locking themselves in a room and writing on the white board things like, “trail hiking,” and, “airports.” And they said things like, “it needs to be perfect for a carry-on and for the outdoor enthusiast who wants to keep carrying-on.” Multiple engineers were fired when they came up with a design that was, “good enough.” And you know how they have those big stadium events with cheering fans when they announce a new iPhone? I want to believe when they announced the Zojirush SM-KHE48, the CEO came dancing onto stage amidst fireworks and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” and everyone went ballistic when he revealed the latest in their line of stainless steel mugs and drinking bottles.
My water bottle arrived. It’s perfect. It’s actually more than perfect. So if you want your water drinking life (and maybe your mobile coffee drinking life) to be perfect, you might really like the Zojirushi (once you wash off the China virus …did I just say that …shame on me).
Best. Ranch. Ever. #BestRanchDressing. Best ranch dressing. #RanchDressingRules
Sorry. I’m trying to go viral because after a lifetime obsessing about ranch dressing (if “lifetime” can be defined by “since college”), I’ve found ranch nirvana.
#RanchNirvana (hashtags will get me famous).
It’s pretty simple really. Get this ranch base from Penzeys Spices. Put a heaping tablespoon in with 1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup mayonnaise. Mix with excitement. Done.
I’m not alone in my obsession. I think obese America is obsessed with ranch dressing. Sometimes I can’t believe, prior to 1992, that I dipped french fries in ketchup and dipped my breadsticks or mozzarella sticks in marinara sauce. Oh, what a hopeless fool I was.
My new thing is being plant-based and avoiding added, unnecessary chemicals in food. ALL store-bought ranch has chemicals. Even the brands with very little still have ’em. Ranch done right is mayo, buttermilk, and spices for flavor. That’s it. I’ve tried some homemade recipes and my own mix of spices, but never got that right flavor. Now, with Penzeys Spices ranch base …I’ve nailed it. Well, they’ve nailed it.
Even my teenage daughter, known for never liking anything her Dad does, is on board with the best ranch ever.
For my family, the gold-standard ranch is whatever ranch they use at Jet’s Pizza (which I was told is Marzetti’s, but we don’t believe it). Following Jet’s ranch is the ranch my Aunt Denise makes with Hidden Valley’s seasoning packet (it has quite a few chemical preservatives I don’t need). Then there’s the ranch they have at Zehnder’s in Frankenmuth followed by store-bought Marzetti’s in a jar.
That’s it. That’s the list. You’d think this is a pretty simple mission. Eat the best ranch. But oh no. For too long we’ve opted for ease and convenience of whatever bottle of ranch is cheapest at the store (usually the Kroger brand which is serviceable at best).
Plus, the math works out in my favor. A 16oz bottle Kroger brand ranch is, like, $2.99. My family goes through a bottle of ranch a week (should I be admitting that?). $12 per month. The small Penzeys Spices jar is $4.69. One bottle of buttermilk is $1.99 (3 cups). Mayonnaise is $1.99. Total $8.69 and I can make the recipe three times and . . . I won’t show you my notepad and the complex math, but it works out to $11.58 per month, which isn’t a huge savings, but what is the price of my happiness and the price of less (zero) added chemicals in my ranch?
I know ranch isn’t good for you in any shape and form. Mayonnaise and buttermilk are, well, fat (and not plant-based …I get it …I’m a hypocrite …but I’m going to try a version of this with vegan mayo and buttermilk alternative and then my teen daughter will roll her eyes at me and report back). But my family eats healthy. I eat lots of salads. I make cauliflower hot wings and vegan zucchini poppers, for goodness sake. Let me have my ranch to dip things in!
For now, this is my public service to the world. If you’re going to have ranch, why not make it count? Like coffee? If I’m going to have 2 cups a day, what’s the price of getting a can of Maxwell house and hating every sip? I pay a little more for fresh, locally roasted beans. Now my ranch is local, chemical-free, and every bite of my salad makes me happier. If you love ranch and this Blog post has attracted the thousands of readers I’d hoped it would, join my revolution. #ranchRevolution
As the Partridge Family once said, “come on get happy.” Viva la ranch.
August has been a rough month. I had tickets to Hellamega, a concert with Fall Out Boy, Green Day, and Weezer. I was going with one of my best friends, my 16-year-old son, and he was gonna bring a friend.
Wanna know my Top-5 favorite (instrument) bands?
Green Day is definitely Top-10 (my younger sister bought me a CD for Christmas in the early ’90s and I was like, “oh …thanks …a band I’ve never heard of …um …OK.” . . . and then I fell in love with those British punk rockers . . . and then I learned they weren’t British).
You can see from my list, when a concert featuring THREE of my own, personal favorite bands gets cancelled, it’s very difficult emotionally.
Oh. Right. And time with my friend and son. That sucks, too.
Where was I? Oh, Rivers Cuomo (the founder and leader singer or Weezer, which you knew, and if you didn’t, you’re banned from my Blog) knows how hard it is for his fans, so all summer he’s been dropping love-letters (aka “songs”) for us Weezer-less superfans and here’s another. A song off the upcoming Bill & Ted movie soundtrack.
Enjoy. Hope it helps with whatever canceled-concert-sadness you have.