"...it's like Will Rogers, Jean Shepherd and some grumpy Jewish man all rolled into one."

Friday, December 28, 2012

Resolutions for 2013

In the new year starting on or about January 1, 2013, I hereby resolve to:
  • Stop saying "Whoa!" in my Vinny Barbarino voice everytime I see John Travolta on TV.
  • Let those close to me know how much I love them every day, even when I'm really not feeling it.
  • Play more tennis while wearing a headband, for the amusement of my opponents.
  • Lose 30 pounds before my audition for the film version of "Les Miz". What? You're shitting me...
  • Exhibit more patience when dealing with people who obviously have their heads up their asses.
  • Be a better husband and father as soon as I remarry and start a new family.
  • Try to get through an entire episode of anything produced by Tyler Perry.
  • Slap the next person who says, "Oh, I don't follow the news."
  • Embrace the fact that I'm well into middle age and stop trying to appear cool in front of the youngsters, yo' hashtag.
  • Take all the energy I waste hating on Oprah and transfer it to Katie Couric.
  • Exercise more. Step 1: take the batteries out of the remote.
  • Eat better. And by "better", I mean "more" and "faster".
  • Stop referring to sleep as "downtime".
  • Work smarter, not harder. Step 1: Get a job with dumber people.
  • Stop and smell the roses. Walk around me, asshole!
  • Learn to read music rather than always waiting for the record to come out.
  • Be thankful for small mercies, but really wallow in others' discomfort.
  • Stop telling Carol, "This vacuum SUCKS!" and then breaking into laughter.
  • Accept the things I cannot change, have the courage to change the things I can, and acquire the wisdom to know the difference between "No Standing" and "No Parking".
  • Think globally, act locally. Step 1: Is there a touring company of "Les Miz" anywhere near here?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Platform for 2016

The campaign for POTUS/2016 started even before the votes were cast in 2012. Pundits were already speculating on prospective campaigns from Hillary, Christie, Rubio -- even Smilin' Joe Biden.

I announced my candidacy back on November 7th to my ardent Twitter followers (19 and counting). I run not as Democrat or Republican, but as a true-blue United Stater. Our political history is studded with third-party campaigns, all waged with principle, honor, and insufficient cash reserves. I honor that tradition and already meet one of those criteria.

Here's my campaign platform for the highest office in the land (well, now that pot is legal in WA and CO, I guess Governor in those states is technically the "highest"), as the proud standard-bearer of a new political party based on the cornerstones of Progress, Innovation, Technology, and more Innovation -- henceforth to be known as the "PITI Party":

The PITI Party's 2016 campaign theme: "Politics As Usual Pays Handsomely"
  • The Middle Class. Every election cycle centers on the challenges facing the Middle Class. However, that is often to the detriment of the other two classes -- the Youngest Class and the Eldest Class. While the Middle Class may struggle with taxes and mortgage payments, the others have needs as well. The Youngest Class is confronted with issues created by hand-me-downs and too-tired-to-go-through-this-again parentage; the Eldest Class resents the accusations of "you should know better, you're the oldest" and being expected to baby-sit for free for the other classes. The PITI Party pledges to treat members of each class with equal indifference and disdain.
  • Homeland Security.  The PITI Party is committed to "Homeland" security, unless the show continues its recent string of shark-jumping plot twists and experiences decreased viewership in Season 3. In that case, we hope "Nurse Jackie" is coming back.
  • Natural Resources and Energy Policies. The discussion around energy has long been centered on importation of foreign oil and implementation of renewable energy sources. PITI encourages all United Staters to look inward and take advantage of the resources available within our own borders. Fortunately, this includes the oil we've already bought and paid for, along with coal plants and this fracking thing, so we're good for now. So-called "green" energy sources are rejected for being unpatriotic -- they are neither red (fireplaces), white (some kinds of gas), or blue (oil slicks).
  • Human Rights and Personal Freedoms. Same-sex marriage, legalization of marijuana, equal pay for equal work, a path to citizenship. All admirable objectives; too bad a four-year term isn't enough time to make anything really happen. Good luck with all that, though.
  • The right to bear arms. In the last election, neither major party came within a country mile of any substantive discussion regarding gun control. The PITI Party puts forth a foolproof three-point plan to guarantee the safety of all citizens:
    1. Ban all guns.
    2. Ban all crime.
    3. Therefore, guns become unnecessary. Citizens can resolve disputes as the Founding Fathers intended -- through fisticuffs and/or name-calling.
  • The military. The days of colonialism and westward expansion are long-gone; today's modern military is in place to defend our borders. However, since Borders has gone out of business, along with Tower Records, this creates challenges for determining the proper role of today's fighting men and women. But are married couples best-suited to be at the front lines? Perhaps service academy graduates would be better prepared for this responsibility. Of course, there are those who graduate from a service academy and go directly into waiting tables, cashiering, or other service-related occupations without contributing to our defense. In fact, some of these people are downright offensive and really shouldn't be dealing with the public. But we digress -- a lean, efficient military is the future. So, no chunkos need apply. And there's no need for billion-dollar aircraft carriers; aren't planes supposed to be able to fly in the first place? There, the PITI Party has saved US taxpayers a billion dollars without even lifting a finger -- imagine what we can do if we really try! Perhaps you'll consider donating some of those savings to our Kickstarter campaign.
Before running out of space or interest, here are a few other platform highlights:
  • Eliminate the office of Vice-President. Betcha can't name more than 3 without stopping to think about it.
  • Get rid of the robes worn by Supreme Court justices. Besides looking foofy, do you know how much of your tax dollars go toward dry cleaning those suckers every year? Neither do we, but it's not like we have an uncle in the business.
  • Replace "right-to-work" legislation with "right-to-loaf" legislation. The Constitution guarantees life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -- not the pursuit of oppressive workplace environments. The Party encourages all USers to sit down and take a load off. Professional football is televised three nights a week; let's shoot for six.
  • Replace the current tax code with a more equitable system. Like one based on height - the taller you are, the more you pay. Rich or poor, man or woman, minority or privileged -- these distinctions would no longer matter; height knows no creed or color. The IRS's new motto will be: "Stand Straight and Pay Up!"
We look forward to your support. Please join our PITI Party!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Time-Saving Kitchen Hints

Other than the Kardashian family -- who doesn't love to cook? While poetry may be food for the soul, pastry is food for the tummy. Whether you're an ominvore, a locavore, a vegetarian or vegan, a pescatarian or even a Lutheran -- you gotta eat!

What's the number one obstacle to whipping up delicious meals in your kitchen (other than homelessness)? As with many things we wish to accomplish, our enemy is time. Picking out a recipe, compiling a list, getting to and from the store, and completing all the prep work before even getting your meal on the stovetop, in the oven, or spinning in the microwave eats up valuable time that could be better spent balancing your checkbook or staring into space.

Follow these hints for efficientizing your kitchen experience. They're fun, easy, and only marginally increase your risk of food-borne illness, or accidents due to use of sharp implements.

  • Keep your oven set on 350 at all times. Most recipes call for this setting, give or take 75 degrees. Waiting for the oven to pre-heat is a big time suck; having your oven ready-to-cook all the time saves valuable minutes. As a bonus -- it will also cut down on your heating costs in the winter!
  • Avoid hoity-toity prep steps. So many recipes ask you to julienne, dice, mince, chop or cube your ingredients. Honestly, the only person on earth who knows what "julienne" means is Julia Child, and she's a goner. All those fancy techniques don't mount to a hill of beans (see next hint for more on beans) once your food hits the table -- even the finest pot au feu (literally, "aw, I have few pots"), regardless of how tasty, looks like an amorphous mass of various colored constituents when served. To save time and pretention, put all your meats and veggies through a paper shredder. Easy, automated, uniform cuts, and a handy collection bin besides!
  • Beans are the most versatile ingredient of all. Besides being nutritious, beans come in easy-to-open cans and are already cooked. Pop a can open, stick a fork in it - they're done! But if you have illusions of being a "chef", you can substitute beans for almost any other main dish. Want to serve your guests chicken? Dump a few cans of chickpeas into a roasting pan and work them into a poultry shape with your hands. Instead of serving roast beef, wrap some string around a pile of kidney beans (use the light variety if you prefer your roast "rare"). Fish? -- garbanzos have a scaly skin that will fool anyone willing to come to your house for a meal. Pork chops are the easiest of all to impersonate, since no one serves pork any more.
  • Place settings are for sissies. Steak knives, salad forks, shrimp spoons -- it's all too much. Plates and cups get soiled and often require washing before their next use; they're time- AND energy-consuming. It's much easier to buy a case of plastic picnic tablecloths at Costco and toss one over your dining room table. Serve your meal directly onto the tablecloth, eat with your hands, and then just ball it all up and toss when you're done! Your kids will love it, so much so they'll even eat their vegetables if they first get to go mano-a-mano with them.
  • Think of chewing as "optional". There's an old kitchen adage - "This took all day to make, and fifteen minutes to eat." Don't regret the time it took to cook -- embrace the rapid consumption and streamline wherever possible! Eating can be broken down into three major components - insertion, chewing, and swallowing. Insertion and swallowing take virtually no time, but chewing can be lengthy and tedious. How to avoid? Easy - put everything in the blender or food processor and turn your meals into puree'. (And it's a nifty way to sound like a fancy-pants sous chef when you can say you "pureed" the evening's meal.) Serve in a tumbler with a bendy straw -- what fun!
  • Avoid cookbooks. Cookbooks promote a misdirected focus on "cuisine", which comes from the Latin for "food served in other countries that I won't care for". Everyone has their favorite comfort foods -- mac and cheese, soup, Hershey's syrup -- and you'll be much happier picking out one or no more than two "stand-bys" you can serve night after night after night. Your family wants variety? Hey, that's what restaurants are for. You'll save a TON of time when someone else does the cookin'!
Follow these handy hints and your meals will be ready and done with before you know it. Look for other time-saving hints coming soon, including tips to shave valuable minutes off your housecleaning and personal hygiene routines.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Make Your Resume Stand Out!

Your résumé is, for better or worse, your one shot at wedging the door of hiring opportunity open using the figurative shoe of your employment history. Here are ten tips for what you can do to make yours stand out from all the others:
1.     Remove your name, address, phone number and any personal information. This creates an air of mystery that hiring professionals find intriguing. They'll be anxious to start digging deep to learn more about you.
2.     One page is preferred. The easiest way to do this is to keep reducing your page margins to eliminate useless "white space". The whole point of your résumé is to promote yourself as the best candidate for the job for which you are applying -- white space just provides an opening for whoever is reviewing your qualifications to reflect and mentally compare you to other candidates, which you want to avoid since the odds are most other candidates are more qualified. (Alternate suggestion: Set up your template to print out on 11" x 17" paper.)
3.     If multiple pages are required... whether to document extensive work experience or due to your choice of a monstrous font size, print each page on a different-colored paper. It's a unique and distinctive approach and also implies your familiarity with the "color wheel". 
4.     An "Objective" is passé. Today's candidates in the know include a "Subjective". Unlike an Objective, listing the qualities of an "ideal position" that doesn't exist, a subjective statement provides an honest assessment of what you hope an average work day will be like at your new company. EXAMPLE: "Seeking a comfortable position with responsibilities similar to but less taxing than what I've done before, and with better pay and additional vacation days than my last job. Lax attendance policies, free soda/coffee, and attractive co-workers are a bonus."
5.     Be specific with your accomplishments. Include quantitative measurements of what you've achieved. Replace a vague "Responsible for creating Excel spreadsheets" with the more precise "Responsible for creating Excel spreadsheets containing up to 65,536 rows".
6.     "References available upon request". Here's a secret top hiring managers won't tell you -- no one checks references, ever. There are too many legal restrictions around what your previous employers can say about you, and employers are concerned with potential liability if they offer a negative (i.e., honest) assessment. The only questions the EEOC permits to be asked regarding previous employment are: "What did you say your name was again?" and "Are you hiring? I hear there's about to be an opening at your company." If you are asked for references (which should be done with formality, since the standard is "upon request"), provide names that will impress your new employer but are impossible to verify: Steve Jobs, Ronald Reagan, Carl Sagan.
7.     List your hobbies and outside interests. Since you'll be spending three-fourths of your time at work using your employer's resources to pursue them, it's important to make them known so the new company's IT department can adequately plan for bandwidth requirements.
8.     Be flexible about your education. Every job out there requires an MBA, so be sure to include that degree on your résumé. While there is great debate regarding the merits of public vs. private universities, there is no question that people think their school is the greatest. Leave enough room on your résumé so you can quickly write in the name of your new boss's alma mater once you discover it during the interview process.
9.     Bullet point or narrative style? Neither -- both have been done to death. Make creative use of the "Tab" key to set random indents. You can also highlight your individuality by switching from left to right justification mid-way through the page. However, avoid full justification unless you have time to count the number of letters in each line to make sure they match.
10.                        Over-promise and under-deliver. For example, I said I'd provide ten tips but have only included nine.
                               Good luck! If you follow these guidelines, you'll certainly need it.