Uncomfortable bleachers

I’m not going to go so far as to say that I HATE cheerleaders…

But after spending a day cramped in the bleachers of a high school gymnasium (because my wife and her sister are the coaches of a high school dance team) and hearing:

Goooood job good job!

Goooood job good job!

Goooood job good job!

A VERY GOOD JOB!

over and over and OVER again…I will say that the level of hate that I have for their CHEERS is immeasurable.

Boo Halloween

Halloween is dumb.

I’m fairly certain that I didn’t like Halloween when I was a kid – I just saw it as an excuse to get sick off candy (I wonder why I’m worried about diabetes…hmmm).

I came by my loathe for Halloween honestly. I remember being maybe 13 when my mom first showed me how to detract trick-or-treaters (outside and inside lights off, hide in basement).

I don’t understand how this crazy ancient Celtic pagan holiday (Samhain – the festival of livestock slaughter, bonfires and masks that signified the end of the harvest season) became the entire month of October. There is a house in our neighborhood that has a whole graveyard, a couple of dementors on the edges of the driveway and zombies littering their yard. Some people put more effort into the “Halloween Season” than they do to taking care of their yard.

Now, I certainly don’t have kids and I might feel differently if I did (seeing my 14-month old niece dressed as a monkey…pretty cute), but since I don’t, I avoid Halloween at every turn. The last time I dressed up was about 7 years ago when both Alli and I put on afro wigs and horrible flannel shirts and went as “Bob Ross”.

Overall, I can’t put a big reason on why I don’t like Halloween…I just think it’s a waste of time and a contributor to early juvenile diabetes and obesity. I think we have a big enough problem with that as it is.

Flame away.

Relationship Advice

Today, People Magazine posted a story online (I got the link from CNN, I swear) in which Vanessa Hudgens (she of High School Musical fame) shares the “secret to her great relationship with co-star Zac Efron.”

There are so many things wrong with this story, but I’d like to tackle her “secret.”

“If you really love someone, you shouldn’t have to work at it,” the actress tells Cosmo Girl! for its July/August issue, reports Entertainment Tonight. “You finish each others’ sentences and have the same sense of humor.”

First of all, it should be assumed that we all know this is a 19-year-old talking about the secret of her great relationship with her 20-year-old co-star. It’s beyond ridiculousness. Hudgens and Efron have been dating since October of 2007. For those of you that are bad with math, that’s less than 12 months.

While a great relationship should not feel like work, you still have to work at it. If I’m going to take a celebrity’s sage advice about relationships, I’ll stick with my boy Will Smith who said:

Will and Jada Smith with son Jaden on the red carpet at the Oscars

“Counseling, individual learning, books, conflict resolution,” Smith confided. “It is a full time job to try and be happy. People tend to think that they can go to work for 50 or 60 hours a week and then come home and their relationship is just supposed to work.”

That’s the truth. Why would you spend less time working at your relationship than you do on your career? I know that People’s business is selling magazines and driving traffic to their site, but it’s really irresponsible for them to prop up this lackadaisical attitude toward relationships, especially from a teenage pop star who has been in her supposed “serious” relationship less than a year.

Over the past several months, Alli and I have been doing some pre-marital counseling for a couple that I will be marrying in late July. It’s been a terrific experience because out of all the things I’m good at, I think I’m probably best at being married. It’s not a skill that will necessarily lead to a long, illustrious career, but it sure makes my life a lot more enjoyable.

One of the things that I’ve found is a constant in the couples that I look to as relationship mentors in my life is that if you want to make a relationship or a marriage work, you should work harder at your relationship than you would in your career. When you do, it won’t feel like work. You’ll be happier, your significant other will be happier, and you’ll find that working at a relationship can be the most rewarding thing that you’ll ever do. If I had but one piece of advice to give to couples, that would be it.

That, and don’t get relationship advice from 19-year-olds in People Magazine.

Those Awful Lawyer Commercials

Maybe I haven’t been paying attention…when did personal injury lawyers and ambulance chasers become cool again? You know who I’m talking about, don’t you? Those awful attorneys have managed to skim millions of dollars from unsuspecting clients by promising big payoffs for Vioxx usage and miscellaneous injuries. That’s the only explanation for the deluge of advertisements we’re subjected to on a daily basis.

David Peterson

One of the ones that makes me laugh every time is the one from ambulance chasers Peterson & Company. These are the guys who use the awful URL to pimp their class action lawsuits out to the masses. The ones with THIS GUY talking about 816lawfirm.com. Is there a more embarrassingly generic web address?

What they don’t tell you is that they get you to sign up for a larger class action lawsuit and then when they get millions and millions of dollars from the offending company, the reward is split up among the thousands of folks attached to the class action while the attorneys recoup their nice fat commission on the full amount.

Companies like this seem to be spreading like the plague. It seems like a new commercial pops up every other day.

However, the worst offender has to be Brown & Crouppen. You know them… A sophisticated legal weapon. The fat guys in their commercials just seem like mobsters. “I’m Terry Crouppen. I’m a lawyer. I fix problems.” “We kept our word. We made ’em PAY!” That’s my favorite one…with the guys sitting around the table talking about how rich they made their client and all that. “He’s a good guy. He didn’t deserve this.” And you’re right. He didn’t deserve to be canonized on your cheesy TV commercial to boost your ego.

Now, Brown & Crouppen have a new awful ad with the Crouppen son talking about how they’ll call them back in 24 hours guarantee or they can call him personally. Just a question, though…how do they do that? You don’t put your number up there LifeLock-style. An empty promise, it seems.

I have a proposal. It can be like McCain-Feingold’s Campaign Finance Reform…the government should mandate that these lawyers are required to disclose the amounts that they themselves received for each winning case and put that on screen as a comparison to what their clients actually walked away with.

Maybe then we’ll be able to fast-forward through their awful commercials in peace.

Use less gas, dummy

The Kansas City Star is reporting that gas consumption is down throughout the region (and across the nation).

High gas prices across the nation are causing people to drive less and less because the result of higher fuel prices is that people must conserve money to make sure they can pay for more necessary things like food and shelter.

I know I’m not the first person to say, this, but I’m going to say it anyway.

Higher gas prices are a good thing.

The United States consumes more fuel than every other nation on the planet. It makes sense that we should probably pay less for it since we use more, right? This is true. However, we’ve grown accustomed to such low gas prices that any spike at the pump results in us crying foul and calling for boycotts of Shell and any other oil company that sells gas.

And while it’s true that oil companies like ExxonMobil and BP have made more money in the last several years than ever, I still don’t think we pay enough for gas.

Boycotting specific gas stations really doesn’t hurt anyone but the gas station owner, who operates on a very very slim margin. Out of the $3.34 per gallon (the price at the Quik Trip I pass on my way to work), the gas station actually profits a very small percentage, with the majority going to the oil company and the refineries to pay for the crude and the cost of refining it.

Oil companies are making huge profits because we still have yet to temper our consumption of oil. High gas prices have not done anything to the way that we live our lives. I still drive my SUV from Olathe to Fairway by myself every day, filling up once per week for $60+ each time.

Maybe when gas reaches $4 per gallon, I’ll actually get serious about taking the bus because it will finally be worth the huge hassle (we’re talking about 2 transfers and about a 2-hour commute to go 20 miles) to actually ride it. I imagine there are others out there who think the same way.

That’s why higher gas prices are a good thing. Maybe they will finally encourage us who consume more oil than any other nation (although China’s nipping at our heels) to change the way we think and put pressure on those who can do something about it to actually…do something about it.

I still believe that the American people have a say. It’s one of the reasons why I support Barack Obama. He’s someone who I believe will take the voice of the people under consideration when developing legislation. The issue is that people don’t care enough about it right now to really do something about it. We can’t rely on corporations like oil companies and car companies to magically do the right thing. They are going to do what is most profitable because they are still profit-based companies. They don’t owe you lower gas prices. It’s up to you to stand up and say, “If that’s how you’re gonna play it, then I’ll just change my lifestyle entirely.”

This is the only way we’re actually going to get viable alternative fuels and good mass transit in bigger cities – by actually telling people that they suck.

This isn’t an Earth Day post, but was inspired by a discussion I heard on the radio on the way into work. The host was outraged by the high gas prices and brought in an expert who basically said, TOUGH. And I agree. It’s time for people to get used to $4 per gallon gas because it’s not coming down anytime soon. Hopefully, it will inspire some folks to do something about it.

(And to those of you who are going to suggest that I get a different car, the answer is no. This one’s paid for.)