Saturday, December 29, 2012

Giving It Away

Have you ever received a Christmas present that went into the “regifting” pile?  I’m pleased with everything I got this year, but if I get a gift that’s not my style, sometimes I tuck the unwanted item away in a drawer. In about three years, after my personal tastes have changed, I’ll rediscover that gift and love it.

When buying gifts for friends and family, I select ones that would make perfect gifts for me. One of my friends often gets earrings for her birthday or Christmas. The problem is that when she wears them, a little voice in the back of my mind whispers, “Give them back!” (That’s a joke.) The little voice really says, “Aw, why didn’t you buy yourself a pair?” Here are a few gifts nobody expected to receive.

 There’s nothing warm and fuzzy about these gifts.  In fact, they came wrapped with a few not-so-subtle, insulting messages. Don’t we all enjoy giving presents that people like and appreciate? Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean that good feeling has to end. Now is a great time to donate to a needy family or charity.  Who will receive your donation today?       

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Light in Your House

Why did lighthouses come up a recent conversation with my spouse? I forget what led to the topic, but afterwards I started thinking about the solitary lighthouses that stand out in the bay guiding sailors away from dangerous rocky shores. It’s unnerving to learn that lighthouse keepers have survived massive hurricanes while tucked inside the towers. In times past, it took three keepers to run the lighthouse so that a light always remained visible to passing boats. Often two or three families lived in the tower at the same time. Lighthouse keepers only left the tower for brief periods and passed time by playing board games, cards and reading. The keeper’s responsibilities also included repairing and painting the lighthouse, particularly if it received damage from a storm.

 If you click here, you’ll see incredible pictures of waves crashing against lighthouses, pounding at their foundations. It’s amazing that engineers could build structures strong enough to withstand nature’s fury. Here’s a video about a young man who faced his own storm:

Where do you get the strength to push through difficult circumstances?  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

No Tweaking

What’s green and red, but leaves only red behind? Pistachios! Remember the sweet, green nut with the red shell that stained our fingers red every time we ate a handful? After harvesting, food processors dyed pistachios red to hide blemishes left on the shell by the hand-picking process. Apparently, processor felt the normally beige shells need a prettier look to appeal to consumers. Today, since machines harvest the nuts, the blemishes and most of the red-dyed nuts have disappeared.   

People in the Middle East have eaten the nuts for centuries in spite of the blemishes, but we’re a nation of “tweakers.”  We love tweaking things: people with curly hair want it straight, short people want more height, young people want to be older (but not too old)—and we’ll spend a small fortune to make it happen. At Christmas time, we spruce up our houses for the holidays by displaying a few wreaths, some outdoor lighting, or window candles. Tweaks are slight improvements, but some of us take it to the limit. Have a look:

 Perhaps you can persuade your neighbors to decorate like that. We spend plenty of time and money changing and improving our faces, diets, homes, and many aspects of our lives. Isn’t there something that feels just right? What wouldn’t you want to change? 

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Hogzillian Problem

Cable shows draw me in like a magnet. They broadcast stories about people with unusual habits and lifestyles, cooking shows, home shows, history shows, crazy animal tales, and much more.  If you like interesting animal shows, try to catch Hogzilla the next time it airs.

About eight years ago, rumors of an enormous hog living in the back woods circulated among folks in Georgia. One day a hunter shot and killed the legendary wild hog that measured over seven feet long and weighed nearly eight hundred pounds. That’s a lot of bacon! Anyhow, the episode told me all I needed to know about pigs, which is why I enjoy these shows!    
If farm-raised pigs escape into the wild, within weeks they revert to their wild nature and often attack without provocation. Their voracious appetites annoy farmers because the pigs devour huge quantities of crops. I also learned that pigs continue to grow as long as they have enough food—hence Hogzilla. Down south, farmers struggle to control the wild hog population and the problems the animals cause.    
Everyday we face a variety of problems ranging from worries over the hogzillian national debt to decisions about what to buy family members for Christmas. Here’s a guy who understands something about problems:

The song is a reality check that helps keep our focus on real problems. What’s the biggest problem you’ve faced and how was it resolved?