Monday, May 28, 2012

Strategic Planning With The Mystic Eye


   While cleaning out my son's room this weekend, I ran across The Mystic Eye, Fortune Telling Machine.  I love this toy and instantly retrieved it from a pile of Lego's and discarded trophies and placed it in a position of importance on my kitchen bar.  I informed my family that all future decision making would be done by The Mystic Eye.  My daughter's eyes lit up with excitement and my son rolled his, knowing full well that my decisions are not driven by a toy fortune teller. Allie grabbed the machine, popped in a coin and asked the ever important question, "Will I be a good cheerleader?"  The eyeball proudly announced that she most certainly would be.  Thrilled with the validation of her expert cheering skills and natural spirit, she tumbled off to try different ways to braid her hair and still maintain a high level of cuteness.  I asked if I would ever get any rest from the constant cleaning and cooking and after some time pondering the question, the eye informed me that it was highly doubtful.  Damn eyeball.  Perhaps I'm asking the wrong questions.  

   In fact, there are a few unanswered questions that would be worth dropping a few coins for.  I would like to know how it is that I came home from work one day to discover that the front door of our entertainment cabinet had been broken right down the middle and carefully placed back together, waiting for the next person to simply touch it and have it fall to the ground in pieces.  If only the Mystic eye could tell me which child was hanging from the hinges and broke my living room furniture.  I would like to know who stole my jewelry, my boyfriend, and/or my dog at certain points in my life.  These are things that would be handy to know.  

   As I map out my retirement plans for the future and strategically secure my place as a financially sound, old woman, I should have asked the eye if I should buy Facebook stock instead of relying on my terrible stock market instincts and media hype.  I would be richer today had I taken guidance from the floating oracle in a box that sits in my kitchen.  Of course,  I only invested what I could afford to lose and I don't think ten shares of worthless stock will affect my future standard of living.  You have to invest big to win big, so I will never be rich from the stock market. The mystic eye will confirm this I'm sure.     

   My son passed at his chance to ask the eye about his future and chose to continue with his online studies of reconfiguring the iPhone and ways to legally download unreleased movies in European countries not under U.S. jurisdiction.  He paid me no attention as I asked about colleges, pay raises, future daughter-in-laws, and other important topics.  The eye offered little useful information.   

   My daughter tumbled back into the kitchen, donning a perfect fishtail braid, popped a coin into the mystic eye and asked if she would be a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader.  The eye confirmed our future travels to Dallas and Allie tumbled off knowing her future was secure. 

   I left the eye and wandered off to check email.  I noticed a suspicious message from FedEx stating that my package had been detained at customs and I had to wonder what my son may have ordered from his international friends, as I had not ordered anything online since the Chalene Extreme Workout tapes and my failed attempt at Buns of Steel.  And why was it detained, I wondered.  The email went on to explain that I needed to confirm personal information and I chose to walk away from it, suspecting a phishing scheme.   I should ask the Mystic eye.    Perhaps it can shed some light.   I can only hope it isn't a live animal or something, now waiting in a state of perpetual hold because I'm not giving up my personal info.  I never really know what is going to arrive here as my husband orders from the on-line hunting shows, my son orders parts to computers that I didn't even know exist and my daughter has begged me to buy the "Grow Your Own Butterfly Garden" with live butterfly larva.  Realizing now that customs does detain certain objects, I'm reminded of a 4th grade project where I had to write a report about Alaska.  I wrote to the governor asking for information about their great state and if they could send me a penguin.  I had faith that my new pet would be shipped straight to my house, without delay,  because I was very polite in my asking. I'm still waiting for that penguin today.  I only hope it didn't get stuck at customs with butterfly larva and unreleased operating systems. Next time I'm in the kitchen, I'll ask the eye if my rare Alaskan penguin will ever arrive.  It's been a terribly long wait and I'm certain the Mystic eye knows.  Until then, I understand that we now have a copy of the next Twilight Movie we can watch as long as we don't mind it being in Russian.  


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Parking Over Things That Burn

    My car has been making a screeching noise that sounds like I’m dragging one of those folding aluminum lawn chairs with a cat attached to it.  Since my husband and I are both half deaf and have one good ear between the two of us, I cannot, for the life of me, pinpoint if the sound is coming from the front of the car or the rear.  His inability to hear high pitched tones complicates the matter and he thinks I’m simply crazy, because according to him, nothing is wrong.  It finally took a ten year old boy at the neighborhood bus stop to flag me down and tell me that I needed rear brakes.  Thank God for young ears. 
    Now that we knew the problem and I had retained a child mechanic, my husband was headed to buy brake pads.  I suggested that it might be a good time to buy spark-plugs, as well, since mine had never been changed in 168,000 miles.   As he was headed out the door, he asked me what size engine I had.  “Big,” is the only answer I have for such a ludicrous question.  Big and gray.  I think there is a number 3 on it, too, if that helps.   The next thing he asked me was even more ridiculous…”Where are your spark plugs?”   “I don’t know… in the glove box, perhaps.”  We got the manual out and began to look for a chapter on spark plugs and engine maintenance.  Out of a 191 page manual, most of it was dedicated to programming the radio and where to put fluids.  I am well schooled in both of those arts.  Liquids go in the cup holder and the radio is always programmed by whichever kid is lucky enough to sit in the front seat.  I did notice some rather concerning material in the manual, however, as we thumbed through it.  The first chapter began with “How to start the engine.”  Okay, if you just bought a $40,000 SUV and you don’t know how to start the engine, you should probably just put the manual down and walk away.  Another chapter was entitled, “Parking Over Things That Burn.”   Really!?!?!?  Was this a necessary chapter to write?  If you figure out how to start your car and then park on top of the burn pile, you truly don’t deserve a luxury automobile or any automobile at all.  
    My curiosity was tweaked at this point and I reviewed the entire manual, only to determine that it is grossly incomplete. It is clear that many chapters should be replaced with information that would actually be handy to know.  We can start with “The Spark Plugs Go Here” and follow that with a giant arrow.  There should be a chapter entitled, “No, You Aren’t Dragging a Cat, That’s Your Brakes Screaming.”   This is the kind of information people truly need.  The chapter about parking over things that burn should be replaced with “Don’t Park On Top of a Tree Stump in Your Friend’s Yard Because You Think Your Car Stereo Should Be Close To The Pool.”  This will be followed with “Why You Can’t Move Your Gear Shift and What Linkage Is.”  A second manual should accompany this manual which instructs you how to call your father and explain that your car is pivoting on a dead Oak stump.  Note that it does not help to tell him not to hurry because you’ll be catching some rays by the pool.   Now that I think of it, it would have been useful to have had a chapter on “Eight Kids Riding On the Top Of Your Car Does Not Make it a Float.”  This, too, would direct you to the accompanying manual on calling one’s father with bad news.
    Learning from personal experience, additional chapters should include “How to Fit an Eight Foot Christmas Tree In a Seven Foot Long Vehicle”, “Don’t Leave a Chicken In Your Trunk”, “What To Do When You’ve Rolled Your Hair Up in the Window and You Discover This While Entering the I-285/85 Interchange at Eighty Miles An Hour” and “That Witch Just Stole My Parking Space, License Numbers, Internet and the Consequences of Retaliation through Social Media.”
    These are the chapters that could have helped me out along the way.   My kids have shed new light on automobile ownership and while actual chapters are not needed, I think a basic sharing of information could be nice.  Perhaps a link to a website could be offered that explains how to negotiate front seat passenger seating without having full scale sibling warfare.  It could share photos offering explanations on what that goo is in the third row back seat (no man’s land) that obviously melted there three months earlier and now resembles a silicone polymer, not unlike Silly Putty.
    In fact, as the car manual is developed and addendums are created and links are published, a special tool should be crafted and added to the manual that goes with the chapter on “The Place of No Return and How to Fish your Debit Card Out from Between the Seats When Your Hand Will Not Fit, No Matter How Hard You Try.”  The chapter after that will be “We Told You Your Hand Wouldn’t Fit, Now Here’s How to Start the Car and Drive Home with One Hand Permanently Lodged Between the Seats.”    
    Until, Detroit or Hong Kong invites mothers to assist in the development of their auto manuals, I will continue to drive with squealing noises, outdated spark plugs and a plethora of treasure located between the seats that will never come out of hiding.  Luckily, I can take comfort knowing that the risk of my parking on burning objects has been greatly reduced now that I have actually read my owner’s manual.  Thank you Acura.

Early Retirement and the Great Resignation

        At the age of 57, I stared at my 35 year career, whispered a polite thank you to the heavens and hit the send button on my retiremen...