Ramblings of: A Leap Holiday

Why isn’t Leap Day a holiday?  It fits all the requirements.

  1. It’s rare.  Coming only one time every four years can’t possibly do any long term damage to the GDP.
  2. It’s universally known.  You can go anywhere in the world today and the date is February 29.
  3. It’s in the perfect slot of the calendar.  There are no competing holidays going on to compete with it.

 

I think the only reason why Leap Day isn’t recognized as a National holiday is the lack of good P.R.  No-one has ever really pushed the idea of Leap Day as a legitimate holiday.  I am here today to correct this most grievous of errors. I proudly submit to you an example of National Leap Day.

A good holiday needs a mascot.  Leap Day has the most obvious one that nature provides.  The frog.  Nothing else leaps around like the beloved frog.  Sure, you could debate the qualities of the kangaroo, but being that this is an American holiday first, frogs get the crown.  This sets up a plethora of opportunities.

You have “The Princess and the frog” on TV for the kids.

You can sell green tights for festive parties.  (These could also be reused for the little known holiday of St. Patricks.)

Frog legs could be the official food of the day.

“Jump” by Van Halen would be the official holiday song.

Contests of pogo stick hopping, trampoline gymnastics, double-dutch jump roping, and various bungee sports could be held in festivals all over the country.  You could even have low riders bouncing and leaping to see who gets the highest.

And don’t forget about the sales!

Leap day discounts on:

  • Sneakers
  • Pogo sticks
  • Jump ropes
  • Foam frog toys with bungee powered jumping legs
  • Nostalgic Frogger video games

The list is endless.

So I call unto you dear reader to get involved and help make Leap Day a National Holiday.

Pass the word on to your friends and family.

Call your Congressmen and Senators.

Ask the candidates where they stand on this during the election.

Take a leap for National Leap Day.  Together we can make this happen!

Thoughts of: Throwing the grad out of a plane.

With my own thoughts being held hostage by fatigue and virus, my mind kept turning to the last post by The Nomad Grad.  If you’ve ever read her blog, you know she loves adventure and tells the tail of her exploits quite well.  Hillary now has the chance to both confront a fear and live a desire by jumping out of an airplane.  It’s one of those wild and exuberant chances that just begs to come true.  Plus it’s on her bucket list.

So I would like to ask you to go over to her blog and understand why I think she’s should be thrown into mid air (with a  parachute).

If you agree, click on the second link and vote for her by liking her on the voting page.

http://nomadgrad.com/2012/02/27/want-me-to-jump-out-of-a-plane-and-blog-about-it-read-on/

http://www.bucketlistpublications.com/portfolio-view/hilary/

Thoughts of: Paint and change

My wife painted the bedroom over the weekend.  A light shade of green, if you’re curious.  I thought it was fine the way it was with its blue paint, white trim, and French cottage look to it.  She said it didn’t flow with the rest of the house.

She was right, of course.  The rest of the house is colored in shades of tan, cider, and different shades of green.  The blue was different, but I didn’t care.  I liked the difference.  It was a soothing color and it was well done.

This wasn’t the first time she wanted to redo the room.  She’s painted and repainted it three or four times now.  She’s always looking for the elusive color to match the reddish carpet.  We picked the reddish color because it was the only way to transition from the horrible 80’s era pink tile in the shower.  (Personally, I think the shower curtain does a wonderful job of hiding it.)  Now the carpeting has worn out and we have this chance to try again.  Or, rather, she has the opportunity to change things again.  I’ve noticed women like to do this.

They’ll work like mad to get things the way they want and after a year or two want to redo everything all over again.  Before you know it, you’re debating curtain patterns and going from store to store in search of the perfect bed spread.

Men, for the most part, are different.  Once we get things the way we want, we leave it alone.  Why go through all the effort to change it?  It works fine.  Yeah if the living situation changes, like having a kid, then we’ll change things.  It makes sense then.  The living situation has changed.  You have to make adaptations for it.

But change just for the sake of change?  Why?  If the furniture’s good and the appliances work, why put the money in new stuff when it could be better spent on other things like fixing up the car or going on a nice trip.

I think the old adage rings truer than known.

“A man’s home is his castle.”  It’s a private place.  Yeah, we have our friends over to see the “Lodge” or “Man Cave” but that’s to show off our stuff in it.  Our treasures.  It’s our place of rest and respite between adventures.  Redecorating is tolerable as long as it comes in intervals of 15 years or so.

Women, on the other hand, don’t see a castle.  They see a great hall used for family gatherings and entertaining.  It’s also a showcase to display their natural artistic talents.  Not only in what they’ve done today, but how they can change it around and keep it fresh tomorrow.  It’s a personal expression of growth for them.  Like them, it’s fluid and ever changing.

This can be hazardous, because one day they husband can come home to a place he doesn’t recognize as his.  That’s every bit as bad as not letting the wife change things to express her changes as well.

They say marriage is a compromise.  If you hold to that truth, then the best advice I have is to let the men hold on to a key item or make a key decision so they feel the castle is still theirs while you men let the women update her hall for the next gathering.

Ramblings of: The Cadillac Ciel Concept

Image from autospectator.com

I have a question for you.   A car question.  What would you consider Cadillac’s market competition?  I bet I could pick your age demographic by your answer.

If you said Audi, Lexus, or BMW; I’d bet that your in your 20’s or 30’s and that the first influential Cadillac was probably the Escalade.

If you said Mercedes, I’d say you’re in your 40’s and the Cadillac that excited you was either the STS or the Allante.

If you said Lincoln, I’d guess you’re roughly in your mid to late 60’s and love the Deville.

But what would you say if I told you that Cadillac’s first competition was Rolls Royce?  It’s true.

Back when Cadillac was formed, it’s goal was for the same exclusive, upscale clientel as Rolls.  Cadillac won awards for technology and racing back in the 1900 to solidify it’s standings.

What changed their status was the intorduction of mass production.  With the advent of the automated factory, GM could push out Cadillacs like Ford did it’s Model T.  Soon Cadillacs were everywhere; and, as the poet once said, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”  They just weren’t exclusive any more.  They just weren’t as special.

As the decades moved on, Cadillac bloomed and faded like everything else.  It had it’s highs in the late fifties with the large Tail-fins that are so much an iconic symbol of the brand that  I’ve had to go out of my way to prove that the car in “Chrisine” was a Plymouth and not a Cadillac.  When GM was struggling in the 70’s and early 80’s, so did Cadillac.  It rebounded in the late 80’s with the Northstar V-8 engine and has moved forward since.

The moment I realized that Cadillac was once again a high standard in the world was when a 18 year old woman was excited to be going to the auto show.  The openly hoped tht Cadillac would have their Escalade on display.  I was stunned by this and often wondered how the sales teams at the dealerships handled the influx of very young people coming in their doors, kicking tires, asking for test drives and taking home brochures.

The edgy body designs moved them squarley into the high tier of BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and Lexus.  Their improved quality and detail has kept them in in this spot.

But what of the highest spot?  Does Cadillac belong competing with the likes of Rolls Royce, Bentley, and Maybach?  The Ciel concept says distictively, yes.

See, there’s this dirty little secret that Rolls, Bently, and Maybach don’t want you to know.  They are owned respectively by BMW, Volkswagen, and Mercedes.  That means they are using parts of their lesser branded cars in these cars where people can’t notice them to save costs.  It doesn’t mean they are using cheap parts, far from it.  It means that they are just using common parts when possible.  GM could do the exact same thing with the Ciel concept and make it cost efective to build at limited numbers without sacrificing quality and performance.  That’s the key with this car.  It has to be rare.  Maybe 1,000 a year tops.  The excusivity will justify the unholy to normal people price while the preformance and quality have got to be the best possible to cement this fact.  That means no cheating on anything seen.  You hear me, GM?

Pull out all your top of the line materials for the interrior and ask, “What is ten times better than this?” and use the answer for the materials of this car.  It’s the only way to compete at this level.  All in or bust.

Personally, I think Cadillac needs to build this car.  It needs a halo car just like Chevrolet has its Corvette z06.  A car like the Ciel not only bringsd excitement and quality to the brand, but it encourages others to try and achieve more.  This car can make kids in high school say, “Ooh!  I want that!” and then they work a little harder so they can get it.  It might be for an hour.  It might be for a week.  But a few of the students will truly be inspired and will continue on through highschool and college so they can get the job that affords them this car.

That alone is woth the cost of building it.

Here’s some more pictures.

Image from carscoop.com

 

Image from Coolhunting.com

Luke’s Journal: The Darkness

People often wonder what the biggest difference is between living in society and living alone.    After last night I can honestly say that the biggest difference is what happens when you are sick.

Being sick in town is not the most fun thing to be, but it’s sure a lot easier.  They’re  chock full of medicine if you ever run out.

Your doctor has your medical history at hand so that she doesn’t have to guess what works and what doesn’t for you.  Or, more importantly, what you are allergic to.

If you can’t reach your doctor, you can ultimately go to the Hospital.

All these multiple layers of coverage are reassuring for the average person, but the largest benefit is communication.  The ability to dial 911 and get help in a reasonable amount of time is one of the cornerstones of society.  It’s an invisible blessing that people take for granted until they need it.  It is also the biggest difference between living in society and living in the bush.

I was sternly reminded of this over the last few days when I became sick.  I don’t know if it was a flu.  (After all, I hadn’t seen anyone for a month and colds are mainly transferred by people.)  But it sure felt like one.  Fever, chills, weakness, and lethargy.  All the hallmarks of a full blown flu.

This is where the differences show up.  I didn’t immediately dive into my stores of medicine.  I only have so much.  I went around the house and got things ready for the siege.  There is so much to do when living in the bush compared to living in society.

The main thing was to bring in two weeks worth of wood for the stove.  When you’re weak, shivering, and tired; the last thing you want to do is step out into that frigid air and haul in heavy chunks of wood.

The next is to make sure you have enough water.  Yeah, I have plumbing to my well, but the pipes are apt to freeze.  Filling up a lined trash-can with potable water is just common sense.   That water will be used for cooking, cleaning, and bathing.  When you’re sick in the bush, you don’t get the luxury of having a shower or bath.  A good rag bath is about all you can expect to wash away the clammy sick stink from your body.

That water is also needed to clean out your handkerchiefs.  Those big boxes of aloe impregnated soft tissue might be the miracle of the modern age, but they are still bulky and take up way too much needed storage that could be used for better purposes.  Old school handkerchiefs are what works best in the bush and you had better be able to clean them if you want to keep your nose clean.

Finally, you gotta eat.  Whether you want to or not.  My favorite type of cold food is the usual.  Chicken soup and tea.  What I should call it, though is chicken broth and tea.  For the most part I use those pouches of instant soup.  The ones with the freeze dried everything in them.  They take up less room than the cans do once you get the out of the box, and at that point I’m more for the broth than anything else anyway.  It’s smooth on the throat.  Same for the tea.  I used to drink mainly black tea, but after living here for a while I’ve grown accustomed to pine needle tea instead.  And why not?  Pine needles are plentiful around here and all I have to do I grab a bunch when I’m thirsty.  I will say this to you “civilized folk”;  Pine needle tea and chicken broth is an acquired taste when combined.

Once you have all this done, then you are ready for deal with the flu.

Dealing with it takes a lot more effort here.  There’s far fewer distractions for you when you’re sick.  You can’t just pop on the local TV show and where I live, radio is sporadic at best.  I have my MP-3 player to help out, but even then you get tired of just hearing music for hours at a time.  Same with playing solitaire.  I’ve learned a long time ago that I’ll win one out of every three games when playing five card solitaire and one out of five when playing seven card style.

But no matter what.  Eventually the time comes when you’re so tired that you don’t want to sleep and all distractions become useless.  That’s the time when the darkness comes.

The world changes for you at that moment.  It seems stiller.  Like time itself has stopped.  That shadows seem darker.  Noises around you are both familiar and different.  Everything has an alien presence to you.  You start to question every choice you’ve made in life.

Was it wise to move here?

Should I have stayed in the corporate world?

What would my life have been if I had married Tammy?

Will I die here?

Is this the year they find my body in the spring?

Would they find my body, or will I just be left to rot away in this chair?”

And while this goes on, you can’t help but feel a strange presence in the room.  It’s nothing like in the horror movies, but you feel the dread just the same.  Is it death waiting in the shadows for you?  You don’t know but you don’t want to find out either.

Sometimes you try to ignore it.  Sometimes you talk.  And sometimes you yell at the presence.  No matter what you do, it doesn’t matter.  The presence never goes away.  He just sits or stands by patiently waiting for the time for him to collect you.

And then, just as suddenly, he is gone.  The shadows lighten, the sounds normalize, and time starts moving again.  The night has ended and you fever is broken.  Your home feels empty but yours again.  There is one difference though.  Down in the lower 48, the sun usually comes up to greet you at this moment.  Not here.  Up here the sun doesn’t come until spring.  Up here you have to make it light yourself.

Up here, you have to be the light.

Ramblings of: The allure of spring

Spring must’ve come early this year.  My subconscious mind thinks so because I have this craving to buy a motorcycle.  It happens every spring.  I either want a motorcycle or a boat.  (And to be honest the boat cravings don’t kick in until June anyway.)

Usually my symptoms are alleviated by just running in to a dealership and asking for a brochure.  I end up leaving the store without the brochure because the salesman always tells me that they just don’t have one for my choice of the year.  It seems to me that the salesman must get a lot of requests for brochures because they always seem uninterested once the request is made.  Another thing that I noticed is that there are few if any female sales people at motorcycle dealership.  And I’m not talking about just the grizzled Harley dealers either.  I’m talking about the brands that active reach out to the female clientele.  It’s odd that these dealerships wouldn’t have multiple women on hand to better communicate with female buyers.

But I digress.  After the usual disheartening caused by the dealership, I’ll go through the routine of looking up various reviews of the bike-du-jour, price it at the manufacturer website, and rationalize an excuse for owning it.  If I’m really feeling the pain, I’ll go all out and even buy a magazine or two to build up the romantic notion.

Then after annoying the wife for a bit, I eventually come back down to reality.  The first thing is that my wife doesn’t want me on one.  She’ll argue that they are just too dangerous where we live.  I can’t fault her on this.  Florida might be perfect for riding for the most part, except that along with texting and otherwise distracted drivers, we also have high elderly population on the road.

That might sound insulting or even bigoted, but when you see someone walking into the DMV with an oxygen tank, you get a little nervous.  When you see someone in an old Grand Marquis stopping at every intersection because they can’t tell if the traffic light is red or green, you get more apprehensive.  And finally when you read the report of an elderly person running their car into the broadside of a garbage truck because, “They didn’t see it.”  You start to profile.  I’m not saying that it’s right.  I’m just saying that what happens.

Then your mind flashes back to that episode of House where he fell off his bike.  Dr. Chase discovers that more asphalt has worked its way up the wound and has to be scrapped off with a wire brush.  Yeow!  I don’t think I’d like that too much.

Add in wearing a full helmet, riding suit, and boots during the hot, humid, months of summer and the romantic vision of owning a motorcycle melts away as quickly as it came.

So for the rest of the year, I will dream the dream and live vicariously through the pages of magazines, while the rider rides.

Thoughts of: Optimism and the American Festival

I went to another festival over the weekend.  This time it was a Greek one.  Unlike the Highlands games and Celtic Festival held in Sarasota, the Greek Festival was held by a local church.  The size and scope of it was smaller but this one was catered more towards families with little children and fellow clergymen.

The carnival rides and bounce houses were set up for immediate viewing of the kids as you walked to the entrance.  This helped build up excitement for the little ones.  Once you got in though, you were guided into the newly built main hall where various vendors showed off their creations catching the eyes of the wives while the children tugged haredly at their father’s arms, begging to get to the rides.  The wise wives would take the initiative and suggest that the Father go on with the children, lest they break something.  They would find them later on.

All the father’s wanted to do was exit door right and get to the various food vendors where delectable meals of Saganaki and cold beer was to be had.  The father was usually the last to get his way.

What interested me was not the various games, rides, vendors, or food; but the general popularity of the festival itself.  Look around you.  I bet that somewhere, sometime over the weekend there is a festival going on that is in driving distance to you. It may be held indoors because of the weather, but it’s still going on.  There is a resilience to the festival.  The size and activity amount may change according to the local economy, but not matter how bad it gets, there’s always  one going on.  And why not?  People always want to have happiness in their lives.  The festival can be an inexpensive way of doing that.

Festivals even show up in our displays of culture.  In such dark movies like “The Postman” or television series such as “Jericho” there’s a scene where people go to a festival and celebrate life.

That’s what we do.  That’s what we’ve always done.  We celebrate life, family, friendship, community, and are optimistic of the future.  Sure things have been bad for a while.  Yes there’s always uncertainty during an election year.  But these events are not permanent and we do not let them control our entire lives.  The festival is a symbol of that optimism.  So what if the rides are bad and the calories high.  Life is meant to be enjoyed.  The festival gives us another excuse to enjoy it.