Post-holiday leftovers

Nobody can begrudge the president taking a year-end vacation, and it’s not his fault that fabulous Hawaii is one of the places he grew up and calls home. Certainly nobody expects him to spend the winter holidays in Chicago.

But it makes for a difficult public perception issue when the inevitable mini-crisis requires him to interrupt his respite and speak to reporters. He has used modest settings for the most part, though the press hasn’t been as restrained, appearing on-camera in their flowered shirts and garlands, with beaches and palm trees forming the backdrop. At least they’ve kept their pina coladas out of the shot.

I can’t imagine this sits too well with the average American, struggling to make ends meet and survive the holidays without strangling Uncle Cal. Still, it’s not that easy to find many vistas in Hawaii that are as alarming as our current national malaise.

My suggestion: Next time there’s a would-be underwear bomber or a suicide blast in Pakistan or the Indianapolis Colts decide to pull their starters in the second quarter, set Obama up in front of the constantly erupting Kilauea volcano. While Sulfurous Hell Itself tries to break through the Earth’s crust in the background, the president can reassure the nation that we’re not all about to die, at least those of us not hanging out with lava.



Driving back home from a holiday visit to Charleston on Saturday, I was reminded once again how boring interstate travel is. It’s only about a three-hour drive, though the lack of stimulation en route makes it seem like so much more.

Your threshold for what’s entertaining and what’s not gets drastically lowered in such a situation, and you find yourself amused by the most innocuous things. Signs, for example.

Several times during the trip, I whipped out my notepad thinking a particular phrase or place name was hilariously funny and worthy of a mention on this blog. Now that I’m home, enjoying the stimulation of being able to stand up, I’m not sure if these signs are funny or not.

What do you think: Mungo Homes? Exit Realty? Nitro Moose Family Center?


Here’s a bad idea for provoking family conversation during a long New Year’s Day car ride: “Let’s each pick two resolutions for personal improvement we’d like to see the others choose for themselves.”


I noticed that among the new state laws taking effect on January 1 were numerous bans against texting while driving. There was also a measure, in Texas I believe, that requires an adult to accompany any teenager who wants to visit a tanning salon.

Two questions: Does the adult have to accompany the teen into the tanning bed? And, is texting while tanning still okay?


Is this finally the time that we abandon the “two thousand and …” wording in the name of the year, and instead go with the more breath-conserving “twenty …” prefix? Do we realize how much carbon is emitted with those extra two syllables? So wasteful.

I predict the more concise language won’t happen for another two years, when we hit “twenty twelve.” After spending a year fumbling through the seven-syllable monstrosity that is “two thousand and eleven,” we’ll finally come to our senses.


I was listening to the NPR cooking show “Splendid Table” the other day, when the host announced halfway through that they were “sponsored by Mars.” Is this a preemptive effort by an advertising firm to make sure the Red Planet doesn’t suffer the same PR disaster that befell Pluto when it was demoted to “134340 Pluto, second-largest known dwarf plant in the solar system (after Eris)”?

No, apparently not. Turns out Mars is a maker of “fine candy bars” in addition to being the fourth planet from the sun.


I lamented last week in my New Year’s resolutions post about how this would finally be the year that I stamped out the last vestiges of fun from my life. I can barely remember the last time I said “whee” — probably the memorable summer of 2005 when my son and I took a roller coaster tour of the South.

But later that Friday, I came excruciatingly close to crying out in involuntary glee. We were riding in the elevator of a Charleston hotel when I noticed the inspection certificate next to the door. Inspections in South Carolina are handled by the “Office of Elevators and Amusement Rides,” one reason we have such low taxes but also the reason so many people die from punching electrified “up” buttons.

I believe in safety-conscious fun so I quickly looked around for the harness and belt that would keep us attached to the floor of the car when we hit that zero-G inversion curve near the fourth floor. It was nowhere to be found. I thought about forcing open a small door in the back of the elevator to look for it, but by then we had creaked to a stop about six inches above the lobby (as close as we were going to get).

As the door opened, I stepped down and out of the elevator. “Whee?” I wondered.


It was that time of the year this weekend to post new calendars around the house. My wife and I are very insistent that, no matter what room we’re in, we must know what year it is.

She had a nice collection of about six different kinds, and asked me to choose which would hang on the wall of our back bathroom, where I groom myself each morning before heading off to work. All of them had nice pictures representing the various months we’d be encountering this year (January, February, etc.). I based my choice, however, on who in these pictures would be watching me as I went about my morning ablutions, some of which are more embarrassing than others.

There were cats, there were forests from the Blue Ridge mountains, there were wild animals in their natural habitats. All were animate objects who could conceivably judge me and find me lacking.

Finally, I picked street scenes from various old cities around Europe. There were a few people in the distance in a couple of the photographs — some hiking Belgians in May and a couple of strolling Macedonians in an ancient piazza in September — but mostly it was just buildings and streets. There was a horse in April, though he had his back to the camera.

So I figure that gives me about three months to clean up my act. Or find sticky notes small enough to cover the eyes of the Belgians and Macedonians.


I wanted to at least acknowledge that today is the worst day of the year. Here’s a link to my post last year on the subject.


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2 Responses to “Post-holiday leftovers”

  1. planetross Says:

    In no particular order but probably in the same order as they appeared in my sight as I read them:

    Presidents … U. S. ones don’t seem to travel overseas for holidays very much … what’s up with that? I’m just wondering.

    Picking resolutions for others are the best leftovers … for another life or marriage.

    Mars is like Snickers, but without peanuts … and without all that scientifically proven stuff yet. I’m sure Snickers is out there still.

    Leaving the “whee” factor out of elevator rides is high on the agenda for …. ever. … unless Keano Reeves is around … then it would probably be okay … but I’ll walk afterwards and not take the bus.

    I seem to be stuck in a train cycle at work: it’s 2 years in a row for trains from around the world for me. I put stickers of giant teeth with googley eyes and miniature bears and ice cream cones on most the months … so it’s better somehow.

    January 5th is the best day in the world! … my birthday 🙂

  2. fakename2 Says:

    I only have two comments presently. First, what do people expect the President to do? Rush to the scene and smite the terrorist with his sword?
    Second, I’m disappointed in the amount of detail I’ve received regarding the terrorist’s injuries. I understand he set his lap on fire. What I want to know is, exactly how injured is his lap? Is it injured enough that we can give him a Darwin Award? Normally you have to die to get a Darwin Award, so that your particular genetic material will no longer passed on to future generations. But a sufficiently injured lap will accomplish the same thing.

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