50 is the New 50

Now that I’ve gotten another year older, I can’t help but reflect on the past 53 years since my birth. My how times have changed! I miss not having to count calories, I miss being handsome, and I really miss not getting up in the morning and walking to the kitchen without sounding like I was taking a stroll on packing peanuts. I also miss my mother’s cooking.

When our beloved dog Goldie was approaching her sunset years, she still loved the thrill of the chase; in this case it was squirrels. But due to her advanced age, rather then chase the tree rats a mile, she chose to run just 50 yards and she would quickly return to the front porch. She was content with her memories knowing she used to be the best. No matter the species, the more aged we become it is typical to want to lay down, sit on the front porch and remember the “good old days.”

Some mornings I don’t even recognize myself in the mirror. I can’t say I was ever thin, but then again my navel never looked liked it needed a tattoo that reads, “Inflate to 35 psi” either. My once thick head of red hair resembles the first snow of winter; white, sparse, with accompanying bare patches. I chuckle at a magazine article recently that touted, “Red hair never turns gray”, as if white is any better? I see magazines that proclaim “50 is the new 40 or 40 is the new 30″, but I’m not buying it. My 50 is the new 50 and I’m learning as I go.

Now that I’m older I’ve learned I find true contentment for me in the flames of a campfire, the arms of my wife, and in the heart of God. I’ve learned that a car with air conditioning trumps one without heat. I can always put clothes on, but I can’t drive without them. A bowl of cereal will forever trump a gourmet meal if it means I can stay home. And lastly I’m not saying I’m old, but if you still feel bad that you missed sending me a gift, I’m still registered with Crate & Casket.







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Aargh, Not Another Catalog!

Having the name John Baker seems like it should be rather simple for people to get it right. I despise standing in a crowded room (usually at a doctors office) and having a receptionist yell out, Don Baxter, Ron Becker, or even worse.

Advertisers are no better than the receptionists as they too seem to be notorious for working with skewed data. Some time ago I served an Appalachian hospital as a dietary director. The first few years all correspondence addressed to me stated, John A. Baker, Dietary. However like the characters in the movie ‘Multiplicity’, the more the information was shared, the worse my name got butchered. By the third year I was receiving mail addressed to John A Baker, Dictary. Just before I departed that job, I was actually getting mail addressed to Joan B. Dictary. Even now as an inside joke my wife calls me Joan.

Today it appears all marketing firms conduct business from the same play book. Don’t any of these firms research their target recipient? Anybody who knows me can bet that I am not a candidate who likes heights. In fact I hate them so much, I married a woman who is only five feet tall. If my mailbox gets a flyer for a hot air balloon ride, zip-line adventure, or bungee jumping event, you can be sure the brochure will find itself lining the first gerbil cage I can find.

I learned the hard way, don’t buy your wife a gift of hand lotion or perfume from a store that also sells woman’s intimates; the store will mess up your information then share their skewed data. The store must have sold my name to other catalog companies because within weeks, I was inundated and scratching my head. Some of these catalogs were as misguided as a Ham of the Month Club being sent to the Goldstein Family. The new catalogs reminded me of going into a computer store and being overwhelmed with all the gadgets, jargon, and accessories. I’m a simple man and I want to keep it that way.  If the catalog model on the product cover looks like Cat Woman and the Orkin Man had a child, I’d recommend staying away from it.

I’m not interested in political t-shirts unless they come bullet proof, I certainty don’t need a Tractor and Farm Supply catalog since I don’t own a ranch and my wife hasn’t doubled her weight since we got married. And last but not least I really don’t need AARP, a Whisper 2000 hearing aid or a “Granny Launcher” (the electric arm chair that pops up in your living room).

Wouldn’t you want to receive a catalog on how to purchase a gadget that remotely shuts off blaring car radios next to you at the stoplight? Or a catalog that sells lie detectors that you can point at someone and know if they are trying to pull one over on you? Now that’s the kind of stuff I’d like to buy. I did receive two items on the same day this week that did offer me hope. It seemed very logical. I received a Victoria Secret catalog with a flyer for Globe Life Insurance. Now this makes sense! At the age of 53 if I dared open the first one, I’d most likely need the latter.



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I Need Instructions on Roasting a Marshmallow?

I can handle many things but insulting my intelligence is not one of them. Maybe you’ve read labels of products you’ve purchased and the obvious dangers jump out at you. No I’ve never considered making my toaster a bath tub toy while it’s plugged in; I might end up looking like boxing promoter Don King. I’ve never thought it a good idea to use my lawnmower as a hedge clipper either. I wouldn’t want to pick my nose with my elbow since all the digits would be gone on my right hand. And definitely I would never want to iron my clothes while I was wearing them. Besides, I never looked good in hot pants. Yes, all of these are warning labels seen on these products.

Well imagine my incredulousness to the new 700 word instruction sheet by the federal government on how to properly roast a marshmallow. The article suggests a ten foot buffer between the child and the fire plus the added 30 inch minimum roasting stick to brown your cubed confectionary. If you’re wondering like me what pray-tell they’re wanting you to use, it think I know. Go to your church with the vaulted ceilings, find the telescopic pole they use to change light bulbs 20 feet in the air, and use it to cook your marshmallow.

Then if those instructions weren’t clear enough, the comprehensive bulletin suggests avoiding those “nasty calories” by substituting your roasted marshmallow with thin slices of fruit and angel food cake and roasting those instead. Isn’t a thin layer of fruit in a cake or crust called a pop tart?

I suggest if the government wants to burn money on things we can all agree on, why not post a 700 word bulletin on how hotels can set up breakfast areas properly. Why is it they always bunch everything into a corner and you’re bumping into everyone?

Or how about spending federal money on an advertising campaign that impacts a larger section of society? Full instructions on how to properly wear pants. Isn’t it ironic that using a belt can fix both sagging pants and the attitude of the person wearing them, yet it’s conspicuously absent? I think it’s time to dust off the old t-shirts that say, “Just say NO to crack!” and be happy knowing the message now applies to two distinct problems within society?

Oh and for the record regarding marshmallows, they said we should try turning over a new leaf. I’ll save you the trouble, marshmallows don’t taste any better wrapped in kale either.


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Back Seat Politics

Whoever said, “confession is good for the soul” was never a politician. When they’re caught in the wrong on anything, they spin faster than a top. I suggest we coin a new word ‘politicrit’. This is a combination of the word politician and hypocrite.

I can remember not long ago when our children were small. As we drove anywhere, I could hear in the back seat repeated over and over again these words, “Does this bother you? How about now? Now, how bout now? He’s sitting on my line, Stop looking at me!! Mom, he’s doing it again!!” I was soooo happy when the kids finally grew up and I could travel highways ands byways without ear plugs and migraines.

As obnoxious as it was then, it’s even more so now. No it’s not my children that is causing me the headaches, it’s the pundits and politicians with their annoying insults. Everyday when I listen to the news I literally feel like I’m cramped in a cheap minivan going on a trip with a group of petulant children named Reid, Pelosi, McConnell and Boehner. Does it matter who started the problem? Just fix it!!! We’re not all rocket scientists but imagine the logic here. If it’s leaking, seal it (border). If we’re over spending (the budget) curtail it. If you’re to blame, admit it.

A government spokesperson recently said, stopping flights to the three countries where Ebola originates would offend an ally. I ask what’s more important, your child’s life or offending someone 5000 miles away you don’t know? And stop distracting me from the ‘real’ news with stories on global warming. It’s 25 degrees this morning in Vermont, you think they’re convinced that a trip to the outhouse is warmer today thanks to a herd of cows belching methane or someone firing up a charcoal grill in Texas?

As we drive the road of life, these angry and obnoxious political children leaders must be told when it comes to their sworn duty, ‘There is no imaginary line in America, there is no name calling, there is no fighting over the best spot to posture and for goodness sakes, definitely no kicking our front seat!’ Because if they continue with this annoying and abhorrent behavior, it won’t be our seats that will get the kicking in the next election.

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