Category Archives: Random

A Quick Note About Stuff and Things 5-31-2016

stuff and things

(Image/samantharosling.tumblr.com)

Hey guys.

I had an unusually busy and not-super-fun weekend at a car dealership. I’ve decided that buying cars is one of my least favorite things.

I wanted to write a post today, but Time is being an inconsiderate jerkface, so I’m unable to. I’m writing this fake post instead just to say hi, and tell you random things you might not care about.

1. Read ‘Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person’

Alain de Botton wrote this extremely thought-provoking piece which ran in the New York Times Sunday, and I thought it was really interesting. Also, several people I know in real life or through the blog shared it with me, so it clearly has appeal with the kinds of people who read things here.

British author de Botton is the founder of the London-based School of Life which is dedicated to All The Things we discuss here, and is geared toward helping people “Develop Emotional Intelligence.” Frankly, I’m embarrassed I didn’t know about The School of Life before this past weekend, because it only took watching the 90-second intro video for me to realize their mission to help people with all the life stuff we don’t learn formally or informally as children is something easy for me to get behind.

2. Reader Lynda asks: ‘What Are You Going to Say to Your Son?’

What we teach our children about healthy relationships is THE key to changing the world RE: How to stop having crappy, dysfunctional relationships, and keep couples and families together.

Her specific question was this: “My question for you is what are you going to say to your son to teach him how to have a healthy relationship as he grows up? What seeds are you going to plant to help break the cycle? I have only a few years left with my boys under my roof to teach them what they need to know, and I don’t want to feel like they are doomed, given the family history. What are your thoughts?”

It’s a great question, and will be a post in the near future.

3. How Do We Rank Living Things?

You probably heard about the gorilla that was shot and killed by zoo workers this past weekend at the Cincinnati Zoo while rescuing a 4-year-old boy who crawled under a fence and fell into the gorilla exhibit while his mother’s back was turned.

The internet lost its mind, and after watching a minute or two of video on Facebook, everyone suddenly became experts on gorilla behavior with small human children.

Harambe, a 17-year-old, 419-pound male western lowland silverback gorilla died tragically having done no wrong. You’ll read no heartless commentary from me on his passing.

Animal lovers globally were weighing in on whether the gorilla should have been shot or tranquilized, and questioned whether the life of one human of which there are 7.4 billion should be valued over the life of a rare and endangered silverback gorilla.

I have a variety of thoughts on the matter, but there’s really just ONE question I’m most interested in exploring: How do we rank the value of life?

Are we wrong to automatically rank humans over animals? What about certain animals over others? What about certain people over others?

We must, and will, discuss.

4. Do Women Complain More Than Men?

I might be misremembering, but I think I read MBTTTR commenter Linbo ask this over the weekend, in the spirit of: “Are wives sometimes too demanding of their husbands? Are women more likely to complain about something than men? If so, why?”

I think that’s another post and discussion to be had.

5. Try Brain Surfing. It’s Fun.

This month, I had the good fortune to cross digital paths with author and brand strategist Heather LeFevre. She wrote a kick-ass marketing strategy-travelogue hybrid book called Brain Surfing The Top Marketing Strategy Minds in the World” which I’m in the middle of and liking very much. If you’re in the marketing world and/or are passionate about international travel, you’ll like it because it’s exceptionally creative and offers crucial insight to business owners and marketers about brand empathy, community building and storytelling. 

6. Please Root for the Cleveland Cavaliers to Win the NBA Finals

Pretty please, and thank you.

7. Watch ‘Bloodline’ if You Have Netflix

I’m serious. Season 2 just recently released. That’s just a good life tip you can thank me for later. Check it out here.

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The Accidental Vagina

vagina emoticon

I was falling asleep because it was late and I wake up early.

“Talk soon,” I texted before plugging my phone in for the night.

She replied: “Goodnight!  ({})”

I stared at it for a minute. Did she just send me a vagina emoticon? It was too late and I lacked the brainpower to figure it out.

The Vagina Dialogue

I forgot about it for most of the next day, but a text exchange with her later that night reminded me of the vagina symbol, and I felt compelled to ask about it.

“Before I forget. Did you send me a digital vagina before I fell asleep last night?”

“WHAT?!?!? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!… Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha what are you talking about?!?!?”

“Was it a Rorschach test? I totally saw a vagina. ({}) <– that is a digital vagina. My face hurts from laughing about this.”

“Hahahahaha! It’s a hug!!! It’s a smiley face with two hands giving a hug!”

I questioned her sanity for the first time, as this was the clinical psychologist who befriended me and convinced me I had adult ADHD and needed to treat it properly to maximize my quality of life.

“That’s a vagina hug!” I said.

“Omg. That’s amazing!!! Hahaha. I don’t see a vagina at all!!!”

“I just showed it to a friend. He is not especially pervy. He’s married with two kids. I asked, what is this? He insta-replied: ‘That’s a vagina,’ and I laughed some more.

“He said, and I quote…”

“I’m dying right now from laughing,” she said.

“…it may be a little wider and looser than I prefer. But that’s definitely a vagina.”

“I really don’t see it!!! What role do the white hands play? So like, ({}) what is the white part and what is the yellow?? All I see is a smiley face with two hands.”

“I don’t see any color here.”

“The round thing is yellow, and the bottom is white. Ok, I’m going to text myself to the iPad and see if I can see it.”

“Allow me,” I said, and proceeded to text her the vagina symbol.

“OH MY GOD!!!!! Hahahahahahaha.”

“I thought you sent me a vagina. I thought you were trying to be sexy, like: ‘Hey, check out this super-hot vagina!’ But I really had to go to sleep.”

“I can’t believe it. I send that A LOT. Oh. My. God.”

“This is one of my favorite moments, ever. I am 100-percent writing about this.”

“Do you see what it’s supposed to look like like??? Hahahaha.”

vagina hug

“Yes. I’m giddy. You’ve been sending vaginas to everybody.”

Despite being a super-smart and easy-to-like human being, she’s like your crotchety parent who doesn’t want to use new and improved technology, and refuses to give up using a Blackberry. So this kind of thing was bound to happen.

My mother literally said to me the other day: “I’m going to buy a new TV—but it’s not going to be a smart TV!”

“Why don’t you want a smart TV, mom?” I asked.

“I don’t want those sonsofbitches spying on me in my living room!” she said.

dr evil right

So when you send hugging emoticons from a Blackberry to people with iPhones (and hopefully Android devices, too!), what they really see is vaginas.

I thought you needed to know.

You’re welcome.

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Ask Me Things, Please

Image courtesy of kindnessresources.com

Image courtesy of kindnessresources.com

In an effort to evolve this blog and maybe have a little fun or some great conversation, I launched a page called Ask Me Stuff which you should go read.

I want you to ask me things because it will create some new content opportunities and because maybe I’ll accidentally help someone once or twice.

Let’s call it a social experiment.

For anyone inclined, I appreciate your time and contribution very much.

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Check Yourself Before You Autocorrect Yourself

Fast food. It's helpful! But shitty. You know, just like autocorrect. Photo by Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Fast food. It’s helpful! But shitty. You know, just like autocorrect. Photo by Cate Gillon/Getty Images

“Hey! What’s the name of that HBO show you keep telling me to watch?”

“A song of boners.”

“A song of boners? I’m pretty sure that’s not it.”

“Lmao. A GAME OF THROBS I mean.”

“Throbs, huh?”

“OMG. My auto carts socks tonite.”

“Don’t hurt yourself! Game of Thrones! Got it. Thanks!”

“FML.”

Autocorrect technology on smartphones is AMAZING. A miracle technology. It really is.

It will turn a fat-fingered “tinifht” into the intended “tonight.”

It will turn “Swrdos” into “Swedish.”

And “giisbess” into “goodness.”

I can’t even imagine how ridiculous I might sound if I disabled the feature.

But.

Let me say that again. BUT.

It’s also the most maddening piece-of-shit technology I’ve used as well. While it generates laughs…

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…it also drives me insane when I type things 14 times—totally NORMAL properly spelled words—but it still thinks I’m talking about some nonsense I’ve never even heard of before.

I ACTUALLY mean to say the thing I’m typing you stupid SONOFABITCHIN’ phone!!!

It’s brilliant. And completely dumb.

It’s useful. But an obstacle.

It’s helpful. But, my God. It’s also totally shitty.

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It Begs the Question

What other things in this world offer such wonderful helpfulness while simultaneously being awful?

What else has the same helpful-to-shitty ratio?

I brainstormed answers with a friend:

Fast food.

Condoms.

Masturbation.

Vegetables.

Cigarettes.

Lawns.

Good, but bad. Helpful. But shitty.

‘Thank you for this tie.’

It dawned on me that I wanted to write part of this post on my phone and let autocorrect do its thing.

I’m going to do that right now. I’m going to write a fat-fingered, unedited fake cover letter for a fake writing and editing job I’d like to have. I’m going to write it on my autocorrecting phone, then copy and paste it here.

You know. Just to see what happens.

Dear Sir or Madam:

You need a writer and endure, and I need a job. It’s liken it was meant to be.
Since my first news story’s was published as a college studs t, I have dedicated my life for the craft of writing and editing so tree. Tend my days as a beat reporter in Florida, to an trade publics business writer, and now to an internet marketing professional, I possess the writing chops, experience, and keen eye for derails that you are looking diff in an editor.
I am well-versed in both interns and external communicating best practiced, and am confident I’m qualified R&B you positing.
I howled you’re as excited to meet me as I am for mert you. I very much look firewater for meeting you and I can’t the DJ ruin enough for considering me for your opening.
Thank you for this tie.

Sincerely,
Matt

“Thank you for this tie.”

That made me laugh.

That was supposed to say “Thank you for your time.”

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Autocorrect—helpful, but shitty.

I reply to most blog comments on my phone so “if” gets turned into “of” a lot, or some other ridiculous correction happens with great frequency. Sometimes I see them later and edit them.

I bet a bunch of people read my replies and think I’m a stupid moron. I freak out when I write things poorly. Sometimes I publish blog posts and miss a typo and find it the next day and want to die because hundreds of people read it and now think I’m the dumbest person in the world.

Don’t deny it.

A newspaper gets printed daily. Millions and millions of words. But once in a great while you find a misspelling in a photo caption and think: “Hahahahaha! Look how freaking stupid the paper is! No wonder it’s going out of business!”

I just finished Biz Stone’s Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of a Creative Mind, which is the story of Twitter’s creation from one of its three co-founders. I loved it.

But I found two typos. The book probably has 70,000 words. And I found both typos.

“Applaud” was spelled “appluad” (if I’m remembering right) and the word “from” was used when “for” was intended which I mistakenly do ALL THE TIME.

Otherwise, the book was perfect.

But look at me, sitting here remembering those two things. I wonder whether Biz cares.

I’m working on my first book, and in addition to worrying about whether anyone in the entire world will ever give a shit (besides my mom and grandma, who I actually hope never open it), I also worry about how many mistakes might be published.

I once wrote a post called Clean Copy apologizing to readers for the crappy, typo-infested posts I was publishing.

Even if no one likes anything I write, I hope they hate a well-proofread version of my suckage. I hope they hate clean copy.

What Else is Helpful, But Shitty?

There are so many things.

But I wonder how many things can challenge autocorrect for the top of the Helpful, But Shitty Totem Pole.

Bad weed?

Police?

Bowel movements?

I don’t know.

But I bet you do.

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The Resourceful Rabbit

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The Jesuit Standoff

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This might be a Jesuit Standoff about to happen. Photo by Neil Beckerman via Getty Images.

Pooping embarrasses me more than almost anything.

You might say I suffer from a super-minor form of parcopresis. It’s not full-blown psychogenic fecal retention. I’m physically able to defecate even in a worst-case scenario.

My mind is telling me “No.”

But my body… my body’s… telling me “Yes.”

I go to great lengths to avoid Matt-has-to-poop detection from others. The thinking seems to be that if they know I poop, they will think me smelly and disgusting and not like me.

“Hey Matt! Are you throwing a party for your birthday?”

“I don’t know. Maybe.”

“Maybe!?!? Why wouldn’t you?”

“What if people don’t come? That would be so embarrassing.”

“Why wouldn’t people come?”

“Well. I don’t know if you’ve heard. But, um. Sometimes I poop.”

“ … ”

“Don’t just stare at me. Say something!”

“Matt. Everybody poops.”

“No way.”

*Brain explodes*

Real-Time Poop Update

About mid-morning, I snuck off to poop in my office building. More often than not, the room is empty. This is good. Very good.

I saw a guy walk in before me. I gambled. I can sneak into a stall without being spotted.

Right when I walked in the room, a guy I know exited one of the stalls.

Boom.

Stealth mission: aborted.

I played it off like I only had to pee and made small talk about the weather with the guy who had recently finished pooping. Not one time during the conversation did I judge him for his biological tendencies. But my instinct was to pretend I wasn’t jealous of him.

I left and returned to my desk to sit in discomfort.

Sometimes, I will go to a separate floor. I know a bathroom in the building that is rarely used and if the likelihood of getting busted seems high in the nearest bathroom, I’ll retreat to that location.

This is not sane. I can’t explain it.

Why?

I don’t know.

I. Don’t. Know.

No one has ever poop-shamed me. At least not that I can remember. But I’ve always been REALLY shy about this. I don’t think any amount of reflection will find the root of this problem.

During the early years of my elementary school experience, the stalls in the boys bathroom didn’t have doors on them. I didn’t like that. It was weird for me to have people look at me while I was pooping. I was equally uncomfortable making eye contact with other poopers.

Maybe my own insecurities are why I made fun of The Dump Kid®.

So, to be sure, it’s NOT simply a phobia related to my desire for women to not think me gross and ugly.

But that is a really big factor.

“Please Don’t Go In There.”

I can’t even begin to tell you how bad my timing was.

What seems like an exceedingly high percentage of the time, my wife would need to go in the bathroom I had just used, or was currently occupying.

I hated this.

Some guys are the proud-to-fart types. I am not. I think it’s a tad disgusting. Every single fart let loose in the company of someone who wasn’t a gross guy friend or my son was done 100-percent by accident.

One of my biggest fears in my newly single life is that I’m going to end up spending the night with a girl after a long night of beer drinking. A bunch of draft beer works the opposite of Gas-X (Note to self: Stock up on that stuff.)

So, she wakes up in the morning to my bed head, looking my grossest, with eye boogers and bad breath, looking infinitely less sexy than she remembered from the low-light beer goggles at the bar or party or whatever the night before.

And I’m farting.

Good God.

The thought makes me shudder. I’m not kidding. I literally shuddered.

I didn’t think my wife needed any help thinking I was unattractive. I tried really hard not to be gross. I don’t know whether she appreciated that. Obviously, in the end, it proved somewhat irrelevant.

The Jesuit Standoff

I didn’t coin this amazing term. A guy who is a co-worker and friend said he coined it at his last job. And it’s so spectacular, I choose to roll with it.

The Jesuit Standoff is something that happens with two people suffering from quasi-parcopresis, like me.

You’re sitting side-by-side. You don’t know who the other person is. You can only see their shoes and the bottom of their pants.

Who will make the first move?

This is a two-stage standoff.

Stage One involves who will actually commit the act of pooping first. There are beautiful moments in the pooping experience where it can be done quickly and stealthily. These are blessings and I say a grateful prayer of thanks every time this happens.

Other times, it’s less graceful. Less covert to both the olfactory and auditory senses. Sometimes, biology wins the day. But if it can wait, the true parcopresis sufferer will wait until the coast is clear. And once in a while that means trying to outwait the guy next to you.

A standoff. A Jesuit Standoff.

Stage Two involves the great escape. This is the trickiest part of a stealth pooping mission. So much can go wrong during the cleaning, flushing, zipping and straightening-up process.

Hurry, hurry, hurry! Someone could walk in any second!

The reason this matters, is because I will NEVER intentionally leave a bathroom stall if there are other people in the room, unless circumstances (time) dictate that I must, or I’m in some super-weird place out of town with a bunch of strangers and don’t care because I’ll never see them again.

But if I did it here among familiar faces?

“Oh my God!!! There’s Matt exiting the stall!!! He pooped!!! He’s so gross!!! I’m going to send an email about this to everyone in the building!!!” they must always be thinking and plotting.

I don’t like it.

I don’t like people thinking I’m gross and smelly.

This happened a few days ago. A Jesuit Standoff. In my super-secret bathroom, of all places. It only took me about 10 minutes to realize the truth: This guy’s a pro. And he’s going to win.

One of my favorite moments that happens within the safe cocoon of the bathroom stall is when I hear people come into the bathroom, notice that all the stalls are full, and then just wash their hands as if they had only come into the bathroom for that reason. It makes me laugh every time.

The reason I know they’re doing this—this play-it-off-like-I-don’t-have-to-poop move—is because it’s EXACTLY what I do.

*facepalm*

How Not to Communicate

My social anxiety on this topic is highly irrational.

After all, you poop. Yes, YOU. *points and laughs* Gross person!

I kid.

When I really think about it, I submit this is the single weirdest thing I do. I’m almost 35 years old. And I insanely sneak around trying to pretend I never poop. It’s ridiculous.

I think we do this in our relationships, too.

I say that, because I did. And if I did, there’s a slight possibility that some of you do the same thing.

We keep silly secrets from those we love. Because we fear rejection with them in the same way we don’t want our friends and co-workers to know we’re pooping. Only the stakes are higher and our sex appeal is on the line.

There are things I didn’t tell my wife about. Things that, had I just been more upfront with her, I think might have made our lives better. But I was too scared.

Like a Jesuit Standoff.

Fear is such a worthless and debilitating emotion. But we all get scared, and that’s okay.

What’s NOT okay is hiding things from those we love—especially when irrational fear of rejection is involved.

We need to be honest and open about what’s inside of us if we want to share a life with someone. We can’t live in the shadows.

We need to live in the light. Walking hand in hand.

We need only be courageous enough to share more of ourselves. To be more vulnerable. To take a leap of faith. The following rejection or acceptance would tell you all you need to know about your relationship’s future, anyway.

What’s the future of our relationship? You and me.

You know… now that you know that I poop?

You probably think that I’m smelly and gross. And I’m sorry. I don’t want to be that.

But I’m taking a leap of faith.

That you and I can still have a next time despite this biological inconvenience.

Only one way to find out.

*PUBLISH*

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Hangovers and $4 Lobster

Yeah. $4. Right. Maybe with a bunch of pee on it.

Yeah. $4. Right. Maybe with a bunch of pee on it.

Because I had more fun than I usually do last night, I don’t feel amazing today.

While I was being a total waste on my couch, an interesting television commercial caught my attention. It also served as a warning that I shouldn’t be watching whatever I was watching because I don’t want to be part of the demographic the advertisement was aimed for.

The commercial was Golden Corral touting its $3.99 lobster tails.

Wait. What?

So, I hit the DVR rewind button to soak it in.

Yes. It was real. A real-life commercial advertising $4 lobster.

You Get What You Pay For

“Anyone had the $3.99 lobster at Golden Corral? If so, how was it? Thinking about trying it tonight.” – @MinnesotaFatz, who started a thread I found via Google at Day One Patch on this topic

People love to save money. They do. I love it, too.

But there are certain instances where by cutting costs, you actually end up spending more money replacing the shitty thing you bought, and on the therapy you need for the damage that shitty thing caused.

This is not universal.

For example, once in a great while I go to a grocery store called Aldi that you may or may not have heard of. Almost everything they sell is private labeled. It’s inexpensive.

Their Keurig coffee they sell is pretty awful.

Their Just Add Water! pancake mix is amazing. Not even kidding.

I wouldn’t even consider buying beef or dairy there.

But their private-label fake Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles? Legitimately better than the actual Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles. True story. Not that I eat terrible-for-you-sugary cereals. *facepalm*

As a general rule, I’m of the opinion that if something seems like a too-good-to-be-true deal, the product is shitty, or there’s a catch. (Fine print: May cause explosive diarrhea or AIDS.)

“It probably tastes about as good as a $3.99 lobster can possibly taste.” – @Boyle5150 in Day One Patch thread

Get Ye to the Golden Corral!

I thought buffets were awesome when I was little.

I think they’re less awesome now. The exception being those crazy seafood buffets in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Unlimited crab legs, yo. However, you also pay about $35 a head for that radness. Still a good deal if you don’t get chronically ill afterward.

I can’t be sure that I’ve ever been to Golden Corral. Probably once or twice when I was little.

But I am sure of two things:

1. I don’t want to go now.

2. I never want to taste $4 lobster, unless it’s on a dare AND I have regular-priced lobster and liquor handy to immediately cleanse my taste buds.

“I heard about a $5.99 lobster that they don’t even have out on the buffet. You have to go to the back and give this guy Mickey a tugjob.” – @caleb1915 in Day One Patch thread

This is LOBSTER, people!

This is the only food of which I’m aware that has a fluctuating market value!

Every dinner menu in the world:

Filet Mignon – 9 oz. – $32

Ribeye – 16 oz. – $29

Sirloin – 14 oz. – $23

Lobster tail – Market Price*

THAT’s how badass lobster is. Dow Jones up in your mouth.

But not at Golden Corral! There it’s only $4.

Lobster. A real lobster tail. For $4.

“This thread makes me want to poop.” – @Bombasador in the Day One Patch thread

Possible Reasons Golden Corral Sells $4 Lobster

This is pure speculation.

1. They only serve lobsters which suffered from Lobster Shell Disease.

2. They actually serve Trans-Ocean Lobster Classic Chunk Style Imitation Lobster.

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3. The lobster has pee on it. Like, literally, when you eat it, you also eat someone’s pee.

4. It’s a typo. Corporate sent a memo to the advertising agency, and the message accidentally said $3.99 rather than $31.99.

5. It’s a clever ploy to get lobster enthusiasts to go to Golden Corral.

Customer: “Oh boy! I’m sooooo hungry! I’ll have the $4 lobster tails, please. I’d like three.”

Waiter: “I’m sorry. We’re all out of the lobster.”

Customer: “What? How? It’s 5:30 p.m. How’s that possible?”

Waiter: “So, the all-you-can-eat buffet, then?”

Customer: “Ugh. Yeah.”

Golden Corral Management watching on a closed-circuit camera: *fist pump*

I haven’t thrown up today, despite feeling pretty bad.

Some of the details from last night are a little fuzzy. There was vodka. And an amazing beer brewed with chili peppers. A Russell Hammond from Almost Famous doppelganger. Shrimp tacos. A Heidi. Lots of laughs. A Lisa (I think). An Irish folk band. More beer.

I don’t think we made any late-night plays for $4 lobster.

But there’s always next weekend.

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The Problems That Remain

To Do List

The list stresses me out. Maybe it does you, too. Time to make it smaller.

When I have a bunch of chores, I tend to save the hardest stuff for last.

I think there’s probably an argument—a good one—for knocking out the more-challenging stuff first. But I’m a world-class procrastinator. One of the best of all time.

And if anyone knows how to push off challenging tasks for later, it’s me.

Finance coach and get-out-of-debt proponent Dave Ramsey preaches a debt-elimination method he calls the Debt Snowball Plan.

It calls for listing all of your debts from smallest to largest, making only minimum payments on all of them, except the smallest one. On the smallest one you put everything you can into paying it off.

When that goes away, you take all of that same money budgeted for debt elimination and you apply it to the second-smallest debt. The amount of money each month dedicated to paying off debt “snowballs” until your debt is completely eliminated.

Ramsey is coaching people to knock out the easiest stuff first. To taste the small wins. And to feel the motivation to tackle the bigger challenges and win those, too.

Whatever problems you’re facing in your life are probably the most-difficult for you to overcome.

Any problems you had which didn’t require a lot of time, money or effort to solve, have most likely already been solved.

What’s left is the really hard stuff.

One of my favorite writers and thinkers—Seth Godin—wrote about this a few days ago in his “The problems you’ve got left…” post.

Godin writes about business. About marketing principles. I work in marketing so I try to read him every day. But he has a knack for writing things that cross over into other aspects of the human experience as well. I think he’s a genius.

In this post, Godin is asking us to evaluate the remaining problems, challenges, obstacles in our lives at work.

I think we can just as easily apply this to our lives at home.

He wrote this:

“The problems you’ve got left are probably the difficult ones.

“We’d all like to find discount answers to our problems. Organizations, governments and individuals prefer to find the solution that’s guaranteed to work, takes little time and even less effort.

“Of course, the problems that lend themselves to bargain solutions have already been solved.

“What we’re left with are the problems that will take ridiculous amounts of effort, untold resources and the bravery to attempt something that might not work.

“Knowing this before you start will help you allocate the right resources… or choose not to start at allthis problem, the one that won’t be solved in a hurry, might not be worth the effort it’s going to take. If it is, then pay up.”

I immediately started to evaluate my “problems.”

Which ones lend themselves to bargain solutions?

There are some that do. Facets of my life that can legitimately improve if I’m only willing to make a few small, disciplined changes to my schedule, to my work ethic, to my routine.

The big problems are big.

They require big ideas. Big effort. Big solutions.

But in the meantime, maybe we can start building some momentum by knocking out some of the simpler ailments that impact our lives.

For most of us, the biggest obstacle to getting started is inertia.

People don’t think enough about it. I know I don’t. But it’s important. And it’s real.

Inertia is the resistance of an object to any change in its state of motion. You know. Isaac Newton shit.

It means that objects at rest tend to stay at rest. That’s the bad news.

Because it’s really hard to get moving sometimes.

But inertia can be our friend, too. Because the same principle applies to objects already in motion. They tend to stay in motion.

Our lives, I think, work the same way. When we’re stuck in ruts… financially, spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally… we tend to stay stuck in the rut.

Until something—hopefully our will—forces us to do things differently.

And that’s when real change happens. A snowball effect.

Building problem-solving momentum, feeling the joys of those small wins, and using inertia as a tool rather than a hindrance.

I don’t know if I’m ever going to achieve the life mastery skills I want to feel in control of all the important parts of my life.

But I know that I have big problems.

And I have small problems.

Seems extra foolish to not at least get those small ones marked off the list.

Because I don’t believe life should be a list of chores.

I believe it should be a list of adventures.

Of hopes and dreams.

What do I want to do today?

I think that’s what happiness looks like. But there are still things that must be done.

Responsibilities. Obligations. People who need us.

I really want to play. And I intend to. Perhaps more this year than I have in a very long time.

But there are some things which require my attention first.

And it’s time to get down to business.

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The Three Wishes

No wishing for more wishes. Just three.

No wishing for more wishes. Just three.

Everyone has considered it.

Finding that genie lamp.

Three wishes.

“Only” three. Because we’re greedy and we want more. We want to wish for more wishes, but the genie says “No, no, no!”

Just three.

Three wishes to improve your life.

So, you start brainstorming… what do I really want?

Peace. Love. Money. Sex. Fun. Adventure.

What I really want is happiness. Legitimate. Not fake happy. Like alcohol. Like cheap sex. Like drugs. Real happy.

So, if I find the lamp, right here, right now… what do I choose?

My Three Wishes

Wish #1 – $5 million

“Um. Hey Matt! Are you retarded? Why not just ask for $50 million? Or $500 million? Or $10 billion?”

Good questions.

Because I’ve really been hung up on this one. I’ve been thinking about it all morning, because I take my hypothetical nonsense very seriously.

I’ll tell you why not all those bigger numbers. Because I can’t trust that I wouldn’t become a complete asshole with a billion dollars.

As silly as it sounds to non-rich people like me, $5 million is a conservative wish.

Here’s what $5 million does for me.

  1. It eliminates my debt. Whew. That was annoying.
  2. I can put $1 million away for my five-year-old son to accrue interest for the next 20 years before he’s allowed to touch it.
  3. I can put $2 million away for myself to accrue interest for the next 20 years. That’s $7.7 million if I earn 7 percent over that period. I’ll be 55. I’ll be comfortable. But not a rich asshole.
  4. I have time. I have about $1.5 million left over to just live on. I can write. I can travel. I can pursue my individual goals and interests with the freedom of not being chained to a corporate job, and not being a slave to debt.
  5. It’s enough money to eliminate worry. But not enough to make me lazy. It’s enough money to make me more attractive, but not so much that I’d have to worry about a woman only wanting to be with me because of the money. I would still have the drive to pursue my writing interests. No wishing for shortcuts. I’d have the time to write books. Maybe even ones that matter. That someone cared about. But I would have earned it on my own. That would be amazing.

$5 million.

That feels like the right number. Maybe the genie will talk me into $10 million.

“You gotta think about inflation, Matt. You just gotta,” the genie might say.

“Fine, genie. Fine. Make it $10 mil. Whatevs.”

Wish #2 – Musical competence

I want to take my love of writing and my love of music and put them to use creating songs. And if I really understood music and knew how to play instruments and could carry a tune, I might be able to pull that off.

I want to play guitar and piano. I think that’s enough. I can learn other instruments the old-fashioned way, but I’m not afraid to cheat my way to talented musician.

What a gift that would be.

Maybe people would like my music. Maybe they wouldn’t. But I’d love to be able to create it.

This will probably sound really vain. But I would love to make people feel the way I do, when I’m standing in the concert crowd. Just totally moved. Very, very powerful stuff. And if I had an expert understanding of musical composition and the talent to play and sing? Maybe I could pull it off. Regardless, it would be awfully fun to try.

Wish #3 – A no-gamble marriage

And by no-gamble, I mean the genie magically guarantees that when I decide who I want to be with for the rest of my life, that there’s no chance she leaves or ever wants to.

I don’t need a fairytale. With the freedom of having a few million dollars in the bank, and the freedom to pursue my love of writing, cooking and music, and travel anywhere I want, I would have the opportunity to create the fairytale myself.

She’s in it for the long haul. Maybe with the magical stipulation that if I’m an asshole, the spell is broken. No quitting. That doesn’t mean she never gets upset with me. If she didn’t, how would I ever grow?

I just don’t want to invest another five, 10, 20 years in someone only to have it fall apart again.

That will be my biggest fear in this new chapter of my life.

I want to find her myself. I want to earn her love myself. But when she arrives, I’d like to never have that ugly little voice in the back of my head poking and prodding like I know it will.

Maybe she doesn’t like you anymore. Maybe she doesn’t love you anymore. Maybe she doesn’t like having sex with you anymore. Maybe she’s having sex with someone else. Maybe she wants someone else. Maybe she hates you. You’re not good enough.

I could do without that.

That will be the curse of my current wish coming true. Just to meet someone who really matters. The person to share the couch with on Friday night. To sit on the other side of the breakfast table. To at least be open to the idea of being a stepmom to my precious son.

Once that happens, it will be a whole new set of problems.

All that doubt creeping in.

Poisoning my imagination with jealousy and paranoia. Things I never experienced until a couple years ago.

And never want to experience again.

The Really Important Stuff

In the end, we all just want to be happy.

To be happy, we must feel grateful for the many blessings in our lives. Our health. Our opportunity to even be alive. Our various blessings in their various forms.

We must feel physically healthy. Mentally healthy. Emotionally healthy. Spiritually healthy.

I think with money.

And a healing talent like music.

And the love of a beautiful woman—beautiful in all the ways that really matter.

I think I can feel gratitude.

I think I would have the time and money to pursue a supremely healthy lifestyle.

I think I could stave off my demons and find the spiritual peace I need to be the best me possible. The best father possible. The best friend possible. The best husband possible. The best man possible.

I don’t want it handed to me. None of it.

I don’t just want to wish to be a famous musician with millions of dollars and the happiest marriage on the planet.

The journey matters.

Growth matters.

The ability to discover ourselves and mold ourselves into the people we want to be is how we achieve that happiness we all long for.

So, a pile of freedom in the form of financial security?

A talent I don’t, and never will have, without the help of my new genie friend?

The promise of loving without fear? Forever after gift-wrapped for me once I find her?

That sounds like providence to me.

A special thanks to the Daily Prompt for inspiring this post.

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The Worst Cat in the World

This is not my cat, as far as I know. But it looks just like him. Just like that very bad cat.

This is not my cat, as far as I know. But it looks just like him. Just like that very bad cat.

I have a very bad cat.

His name is Eli.

He lives in the unfinished half of my basement, and I don’t let him out much.

Because he pees.

He’s a pee-er.

A cat who pees.

All over the house. It’s maddening. And gross. So, he doesn’t get the run of the house anymore.

He’s very naughty.

And I’m the only person he loves in the world. So, I can’t give him to anyone.

Because he’ll just swat at them and hiss.

He is a very, very bad cat.

But he’s my cat. And he’s super cute when he’s not going “Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrr!”

Eli is not a good boy.

He’s not.

But he’s also not the worst cat in the world.

Disney’s Biggest Mistake, Ever (Including Aladdin 2: Return of Jafar)

Pete.

Sneaky Pete.

Peg-Leg Pete.

He goes by so many names. But I don’t care what you call him, so long as you acknowledge the truth.

Pete is the WORST CAT EVER.

Pete "the cat." Worst. Cat. Ever. Image courtesy of Disney.

Pete “the cat.” Worst. Cat. Ever. Image courtesy of Disney.

He’s terrible.

He’s a big, fat, mean idiot. And in the spirit of Safer Internet Day, which is supposed to help reduce the digital bullying quotient for 24 hours, I guess, this seems like a good time to shed light on what an asshole Pete “the cat” really is.

After some exhaustive research, which primarily (okay, only) involved looking at the Disney character’s Wikipedia page, I discovered that Pete “the cat” is Disney’s oldest character.

So, let’s all give Disney a huge round of applause for becoming the gold standard in creating magic for children, despite such a huge misstep right from the get-go.

Pete “the cat” was created in 1925. People who think he actually looks like a cat *COUGHAUSSACOUGH* will be very surprised to learn (if Wikipedia is correct—and isn’t it ALWAYS!?!?) that Pete “the cat” was originally designed as a bear.

Pete “the bear” makes sense. Because he’s a big, fat, mean idiot.

But after Mickey Mouse was created in 1928, the folks at Disney (perhaps Walt, himself) decided to make Pete a “cat” in order to be a more sensible villain for Mickey.

I noticed just how much Pete sucked a few years ago when my son started watching Disney Junior’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

Only parents of young children will be able to appreciate this total mockery of educational programming.

In every episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, the gang of Disney characters we all know and love (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, etc.) discover a problem.

They have a little friend named Toodles. Toodles is a handy robot toolbox that will show up with four tools to help the gang solve problems. The idea is to help young children troubleshoot when they have a problem to solve.

I get it.

And it’s a good lesson.

Except in Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, they teach the children horrible and dangerous lessons.

I wish I’d been smart enough to write down all the instances of this, because I’m totally going off memory here.

My favorite example is the episode where the group has lost a bunch of sheep. They spend the entire half-hour show hunting for all of them.

Inside a storage facility, one of the lost sheep found its way into a cardboard box on a very high shelf.

Nevermind how it got there. Mickey & Co. need to get it down!

“Oh, Toooooooodles!!!!” everyone yells in unison to summon their little robot friend with the solution to their problem.

Remember—the goal here is to teach pre-school aged kids how to solve problems.

I don’t remember what the tool options were to reach this very high shelf to pull down the box with a sheep that very likely weighed at least 25 pounds.

But I remember what wasn’t there.

Something sensible like a functioning staircase. Or a sturdy ladder.

You know what the right tool was for the job, according to these show creators, who apparently want children and sheep to fall and hurt themselves?

A trampoline.

One of the characters—maybe Donald, who’s just bad-ass enough to pull this off sans pants—jumped eight feet in the air to retrieve a box with a live, heavy sheep in it.

Remember when all those kids were dying on rides at Disney World six or seven years ago?

I’m not one for conspiracy theories. But it’s totally possible that Disney wants to kill children.

But I don’t want to believe it. Because I love Disney. And Disney World.

True story.

Sometimes, during a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode, Mickey & Co. will be on a journey. Following a path to a place they must get to in order to solve the problem of the day.

And you know what that sick bastard Pete “the cat” does?

He tries to muddle their plans like a big, fat, mean idiot.

Typically, they’ll all be walking along a trail and that’s when they’ll come upon a stand that Pete will have built in the middle of the trail.

And that’s when Pete will hustle them for a toll.

They don’t have money in Mickey’s world.

But they usually have something even more valuable like beans or marbles.

Pete: “Where do you think you’re going Mickey the Mouse?”

Mickey: (Totally good-natured, and not pissed and annoyed like me.) “Hey-ya Pete! We’re on a very important mission to save a cancer patient’s life or get food for a starving child or find Pluto’s lost rubber ball!”

Pete: “Well, that will be six beans.”

I would have told Pete to eat the biggest piece of shit in the forest and walked my group right around him. There is strength in numbers, even when dealing with a gargantuan menace like Pete. But Mickey is a pacifist.

Mickey: “Golly gee, Pete. I’m not sure we have six beans!”

And then all the characters empty their pockets. Inevitably, Goofy has some extra beans in his smelly boot or stored in his hat. And then we all practice counting the beans together for that no-good Pete “the cat.”

“1-2-3-4-5 and 6! We counted six beans! Great job, everybody!” Mickey says.

Then they just hand the beans over to Pete, without even bitching about the totally unfair tax.

The result?

1. The group loses a very important source of protein.

2. Pete gets away with bullying and isn’t in any way punished for slowing down the important mission.

3. Your children don’t learn how to problem-solve OR stand up to bullies.

Teach Your Kids What Pete Really Is

Pretty please.

I asked my five-year-old this morning: “Who is the worst Disney character in the world?”

He didn’t even hesitate.

“Pete,” he said.

I gave him a high-five.

“Yep. Pete. He’s a big, fat, stupid idiot,” I said.

He just looked at me without smiling because he’s not supposed to talk like that or call people names.

Pete “the cat” is a very bad character. Creatively, and in terms of his behavior.

We owe it to our children to protect them from his horribleness.

Fortunately, my son has mostly outgrown Disney Junior shows. Now, we’re watching really responsible shows for older children that involve fighting and behavior much more cruel than Pete hustling for beans.

But at least I’m less pissed.

And you can be, too.

I’m going to go home tonight and pet that very bad cat named Eli.

I’ll scratch his head and he’ll meow, meow, meow.

If I let him out, he’ll probably pee on something.

Because he’s a very bad cat.

Because he pees.

He’s a pee-er.

A cat who pees.

But he doesn’t look like a bear.

He looks like a cat.

A cute one.

And his name’s not Pete.

Ensuring he’s not the worst cat in the world.

But he’s close.

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