Saturday, December 31, 2011

10 Things that will NEVER be fair

Fair, what a concept.  First I think it would be fair to go over a couple of definitions of fair.  The definition of fair is behavior in accordance with the rules.  The popular definition is that all will be treated the same way in the same manner.   In that way, I'll list a few things that just aren't fair.

10. Life - Ok, lets just get this one out of the way first.  This has been said by parents to children since time began.  The consistent reply to every young persons wail of 'That's not fair!'  Nothing about life is fair, and yet life follows cause and effect and we must deal with it as best we can.  Everything else that follows is defacto contained within life, but we hear this one so often that I had to mention it.

9. Talent - I'm good at a few things but I'm not great at any of them.  I can not think of one thing that I am better at than anyone I know.  I know other people that are very likely better than anyone THEY know at certain things.  After a while I came to realize that there is really no such thing as Talent.  Instead there is interest and drive.  If you work at anything long and hard enough then you will be as good as you can be at that thing.  It may not be possible that you can be the best ever at anything.  Some other people may have better faculties to expand their interests further than you can.  So if they work at it just as long as you do, they will be better when the limits of your mind and body have been met.  No fair.  I have to take solace in the fact that no matter what it is you are good at, there is only one person on the earth at any one time that can be the BEST at it.  Out of billions of people, it COULD be you, but it probably isn't.

8.  Luck - Lady luck is a capricious wench.  I have considered myself both lucky and unlucky as most have.  I think for some reason this is more about how you view the circumstances of your life.  When I look at things on an piece by piece basis I think I'm not lucky at all.  If there is a random element in a game that will determine if I win or lose, I will more often remember the times that things didn't pan out for me.  I still believe that the distribution of random numbers is still statistically straight and all things even out.  On the other hand on a more macro basis I consider myself very lucky,.  I have a great family, I have a great job, I live within my means and I have hobbies I enjoy and am able to do (this blog among them).  How much more lucky do I need to be?!  No fair indeed.  Have you ever noticed that not only is Luck a lady, but it's a Lady that sings when everything is over?  hmmm...

7.  Produce. - This little game we play at the Grocery store is pretty interesting.  When we pick out fruits and vegetables we look at the color, we poke and prod and we try to find the best bits that are available, but the skin of the fruit doesn't necessarily tell us if its good.  Sometimes you get the best looking apple that is just pithy and sour.  No fair!

6.  Technology - This is a horribly unfair thing in life that has really only afflicted us with it's crooked dealings recently.  It seems that every time we buy and learn new technology it gets replaced with something 'better'.  The one I had, well that's no longer really useful at all.  Even though 3 years ago it was the peak of it's advancement.  Just once I'd like to be able to use some technology until it wears out instead of have to replace it because it's simply no longer useful.  No fair!

5.  People - We are taught from a young age to share and play fair for the most part.  The truth is, people are inherently unfair in their tastes.  Lets look at pop music v.s. any specific music that you tend to like.  Pop music is universally decried as crap by people and yet it is what sells the most.  Meanwhile the 'good' music you like is there only because of the bullheadedness of the artists.  Of course we are talking about individual taste.  On a more difficult note people often lie cheat and steal.  It's who we are.  We are unfair.  Hopefully, we try individually to be more fair and thereby make the world a little better place.

4.  Traffic Fines - This isn't universal, but Traffic tickets don't really seem to be fair at several points during their application.  Depending on the infraction it seems that the law is being applied unfairly at the start.  Some people always get the ticket and some people get out of the ticket.  Then you get this arbitrary fee based on your infraction based on the city you are in.  This is not fair because the money you need to pay may or may not be a deterrent to the law you've broken.  Lets take speeding.  I speed.  You speed.  We all speed.  Some people don't and they usually clog traffic with their constant law adherence.  When we get a ticket the fee will remain the same for everyone that broke the law.  Well if I'm a millionaire paying a 250$ fine is not much more than an annoyance.  If i'm a single mother of 4, that ticket is going to really hurt.  So what we are saying by our traffic penalties is that we want to keep the poor safe?  I guess that's noble, though inadvertently so.   Some states and countries actually make your speeding ticket a percentage of your income.  now THAT would hurt in the same fashion no matter who you are.  But it's still no fair.

3.  Cellphones - These aren't fair to people with fat fingers.

2.  Rebates - I hate rebates, they are very unfair.  For those of you that have shopping done for you, a rebate is a way to discount a product, but not really.  You buy something at full price and then you take the rebate certificate and study it.  After careful study, you will find that you need Proof of purchase as well as your receipt (another proof of purchase) and a picture of the store that you bought it from.  A picture of you opening the product so we can see that it was used and not resold on ebay.  A link to ebay with that item at the time you sent in the rebate showing that you didn't sell the item on ebay.  A ridiculously large manila envelope with environmentally friendly adhesive in which to post all of these items.  THEN,  send all of these things in to the rebate fulfillment department that is usually somewhere in New Mexico postmarked no later than 15 days but not before 7 days from the date on your receipt.  Between 4 and 20 weeks you can expect your rebate to be denied for some reason.  The most likely reason being that they didn't want to pay it in the first place and now it's too late to try to get your money so you will hopefully give up.  Otherwise, you will get your 4 dollar rebate on that crate of facial tissues.

1.  Working for the man - If you are self employed, just think of this as a top 9 list.  If you work for someone though, you should understand that as good as the company is that you are working for, they are paying you less than the money they make from your services.  Sometimes a LOT less.  There are those that would argue that since you have the security of a regular paycheck, you will accept less in payment.  That would be true if your job were TRULY secure.  The last 5 years have shown us that no job is particularly secure.

A new year dawns.  I really can't believe I've written this blog for as long as I have, but reading the last couple of entries, it seems to be rather apparent.  Keep reading!  tell your friends!  Thanks!!!  And Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

10 things Christmas Isn't

Ho ho here we are again.  A year has past and now we are quickly approaching the penultimate holiday of the year.  For some reason I've always considered New Years to be a part of the prior year. That's probably just me or maybe it was just an excuse to use the word penultimate.  As an adult, a lot of things change, certainly Christmas. This year I'm going to look at what Christmas probably isn't.  Please note that this list is more of an observation of what Christmas isn't for a lot of people and not just me.  These things do not necessarily fall in common with my own experience.  I still like Christmas.

10. Genuine - Christmas is a lot like Disneyland.  It's got a lot of attractive things about it that aren't really true.  Since this whole list is about what X-mas isn't this would probably be obvious.  But it's a little more than that.  When you are a kid, Christmas is a different place all together.  It's full of delights both vulgar and sublime.  As you become an adult, you realize that Christmas has sold out to everything everywhere.  It's used as the shill to get you to part with some of your hard earned cash.  It started with Coke and that new fangled Santa Clause that we now see as the advertising icon of the Holiday.  But it's more than that.  I don't think there is a Christmas carol that hasn't been re purposed for the sale of goods and services.  I don't blame people for trying to make a buck, but still.

9.  Charitable - Ok Mark, now you're just being snarky.  Christmas is the most charitable time of year!  Yes it is, but with that it becomes the least.  You see.  Once again there are times that we encouraged to give and donate through some money grubbing enterprise that would like you to remember them and their product as you donate.  Even under the guise of giving to the needy we give our money to those who are looking to profit from the season.  There are areas of Christmas that appear to be charitable, but really should be all year round and not just for Christmas.  Look at it this way, there are people that are chronically hungry all year round.  Giving them a feast on Christmas might not be as charitable as giving them a sandwich over a longer period of time.  On this wise, I would point out my own wife, who is one of the most charitable people I know.  Her willingness to help is extraordinary.  My willingness to help is usually much more pedestrian unfortunately.

8.  A particularly happy time for people - I remember hearing that there are more suicides around the holidays.  I don't really know if that's true and I don't really care.  I do know that for many people, the holidays just underscore their loneliness.  Now lets turn to the family.  If you are an adult at Christmas, it's a time that increases pressure for you to either go into debt, or find extra funds for the holidays.  Charity and warm feelings don't grow on trees you know.  Bottom line, it takes effort to be happy.  Happy doesn't just happen to you.  If you don't go to the trouble, you probably won't be happy.  The season doesn't really matter, it just accentuates it.  Not really my own feeling, I still like it, I just know it's out there.

7.  WARM - Unless you live in the southern hemisphere, Christmas means cold.  It is the solstice after all.  Now if you are giddy and all into the holiday, you actually welcome the cold, it's fun and it reminds you that Christmas is coming and all the fun that it is!  Or it just reminds you that things are going to get a lot more cold before they get warmer.  This isn't a bad thing as you approach the equator.  I remember living in Arkansas and sure it would get colder, but it wasn't a big deal.  You just hoped it was cold enough to stop school from molding your brain for just one day.  This of course holds no weight at all in Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.  It's probably the hottest time of the year for them.  Which just adds to the weirdness.

6.  Productive - The effort you put into your holiday is usually subtracted from the amount of effort you put into work.  This isn't always true.  Some people don't have the luxury to relax their productive intensity during the holiday, but it does seem the month of longer lunches, extended time off and office slacking in general.  This time of year is really less productive because the time that you normally would spend on the projects of your life, you are now spending in merriment.  Now before I get the arguments of 'hey what's wrong with a little merriment?' Heaven knows that I'm the first to make that argument.  I'm simply saying that Christmas is not really a time of great productivity not only because of the holiday, but because when it gets cold we get less motivated to move.

5.  An entitlement program - The meaning of Christmas is not to become an entitlement program.  What I mean by this is when kids say things like 'Well if you get me that, that can be my Christmas'.  This presupposes that they not only will be getting something, but it needs to be within a certain range of value.  Christmas spirit could not be further from that sentiment.  I will refer you to my gift giving blog entry for more of an idea of what gift giving is about in my opinion.

4.  Peaceful - We wish peace, but with all of the extra things that are happening in our lives, there is likely not a less peaceful time of year.  If you doubt my supposition, just go hang out at a Walmart on black Friday.  The 4 horsemen wouldn't go in there.  They would put off Armageddon to some time in February.

3.  A Surprise - As Children, Christmas is a time of surprise overload.  everything is strange and awesome.  As an adult you understand that someone has to set up those surprises.  That realization is at it's most stark when you are building your kids first bike and you flashback to the first BIG gift you got from Santa (mom and dad) and why mom and dad seemed to be so tired.  It all makes sense but you wouldn't trade any of it.  Besides. there are really very few surprises that are welcome as an adult.

2.  Helpful for weight loss - Man people on a diet are a noisy whining bunch.  So if you are on a diet like I am, you look forward to Christmas with dread and excitement.  I don't fool myself into thinking that I will be staying on my diet during the holidays.  On the other hand, I don't want to loose the ground that I've gained through diligent caloric concentration. Nothing that is created as a holiday treat is good for you.  If it is good for you, it sucks. The meals around Christmas are more or less Thanksgiving minus.  This doesn't bring into account the people dropping off holiday goodies for you to eat as well.  No wonder Santa looks the way he does.  I guess nobody claims Christmas is helpful for weight loss, but sometimes it's hard to come up with 10 things.

1.  It's not the actual Birthday Of Jesus - Now I don't know this for CERTAIN, but since the holiday itself was a nod to pagans I would assume that the actual birthday came about at a different time.  For some people this is a really big deal, so I will not mention the MANY dates that are attributed to Jesus' birth and there are a bunch of them.  I will only say that the Christmas card with the camels walking across a snow covered desert might not have been accurate on several counts.

Don't get me wrong, Christmas is still a lot of fun and I love the holiday.  Just trying to come up with something different for the holidays.

As a special holiday gift to you:

Sometimes the best thing about Christmas is goofy kids.

I wish all the best of the season and a happy new year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

10 ways to utilize pancakes

I'm not a fan of Pancakes.  I am, on the other hand, a fan of crepes.  Pretentious?  possibly.  Elitist? Maybe.  For some reason I just don't like how puffy Pancakes are.  I can't eat more than 2.  Crepes on the other hand I could eat for a really long time.  YUMMMMM.  They are the same you say?  Clearly not.  But I don't mean to malign the poor pancake.  There are many uses for them.  Wait, I've got 10 right here!

10.  Concrete patch.  -  Yeah, the weather can be trouble.  Especially when you are in a temperate zone.  All that hot and cold going on really plays hob with the concrete and asphalt.  It's only a matter of time before potholes show up.  Whip up a batch of Pancakes and Bingo!  Smooooooth Drivin.

9.  Frisbee - How could this not happen?  Easy to throw, easy to catch, doesn't hurt if you miss and it hits you in the head.

8.  Simulated Eclipse - Hold up that bready breakfast against the sun and you can see the corona.  Perfect for picture taking.  Afterward add maple syrup and your corona block becomes a filling snack.

7.  Movie Manhole Cover - Remember in Superman II?  Those wierd disco clad goons from the negative zone broke out (thanks to an errant nuclear blast) to terrorize earth?  In one scene the bad chick (Ursula) chucked a manhole cover at Supes (The Late Christopher Reeves) and he got plowed.  Of course that cover wasn't real.  It was probably Styrofoam.  Well, pancakes are more biodegradable.

6. Invading Pancakes! - Speaking of movies.  apparently MOST sightings of UFO phenomenon are in fact linked to fraud.  GASP!  I really find that hard to believe.  But if you want to pile on.  Spray paint a pancake silver and chuck it while your friend takes a few pictures.  It will be so organic looking that all the fancy computerized analysis will not know what to think!  Congratulations, you have perpetrated the first flapjack based fraud.

5. Oil Spill?  No Problem - Have you noticed that pancakes don't let syrup pour over it until it is completely saturated?  I rest my case.  Those pancakes on TV don't count.  A.  that's not really syrup, B. Those aren't really pancakes. 

4. Coasters! - Unsightly rings on that coffee table be gone!  whip up a batch of smallish pancakes and laminate em! Well I'm sure you could make something like that out of some resin.  But in a pinch...maybe?  I guess not.

3.Cheap dinner meal.  -  So you've got a bunch of people coming over?  Whip up a batch of pancakes and bang.  They will be full in moments and you will not have to part with much green.  Unless of course you are offering REAL maple syrup.  YIKES that is some expensive stuff.  Of course you could just go with the traditional pancake for!

2. Makeup for those fearing age.  - Everyone talks about pancake makeup.  I've never actually been exposed to much makeup.  So after doing some research, a pancake makeup is a foundation that covers like a coat of paint and is used for covering blemishes and more importantly Tattoos!  consequently it is completely NOT edible. 

1.  A serving plate for Bacon - Bacon is one of the great meats ever to be found in nature.  I'll probably come up with a bacon themed blog.  Many times pancakes are the bridesmaid to this meaty bride, and ever would it be so.  so how about a plate that looks like a pancake that you put your bacon on?  Perfect.

It has become obvious that this blog is getting harder to write.

See ya in 15.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

10 tips for successful dieting

*sigh*  I must be running out of material.  I'm sure some of you have said this several episodes ago.  I found a website that does top ten lists.  It's sad really.  I didn't think that I was the only one, but I thought that it was kind of unique with my own spin.  The site I found has many many top ten lists and most of them are pretty funny (the ones I read anyway).  I decided that I don't really do this for any other reason except to give myself a place to put my thoughts down, but thanks for reading!

Anyway, The sigh up there wasn't for that, it was for the fact that I'm on a diet.  yes, a diet.  Now before you run away, this particular blog entry is about my own anecdotal experience with dieting.  I don't mean to convert anyone to anything, I don't really want to do anything but tell everyone the things I realized in the course of my dieting.  I've got several weeks to go before I hit my 'target' weight, which in my opinion is way too light, but I'm trying to hit it so I can say that I'm not a part of the nation's obesity problem, which apparently I currently am.

10. Give up - You have to really give up when you go on a diet.  You have to stop dreaming about what you are going to do when you finally get out of this self imposed concentration camp.  I've got news for you.  You will never leave.  Not if you do it right.  You see, what got you to this place is what you where doing before.  Once you decide to go on a diet, you have to give up on your old eating life.  At least give up on it until you decide it's ok if you check out of life.  There are some people that will tell you things like 'I don't even like the taste of sugar or fat anymore, I can't stand it'.  Yeah right, that's great for that person.  I like all of my sweet foods as well as my fatty salty foods.  They are my friends and I miss them.

9. Give yourself a day off - Everyone needs a day off from whatever they do all the time.  Diets are no different. If you are solid on your diet and you are following it by the letter, you need to give yourself a break.  My own rule?  When I'm on vacation, I'm on vacation from everything.  Once every 2 weeks or so I give myself a day that I don't count and don't care.  Here is what I've found.  While I still like my crappy food, I actually like less of it.  I started to remember the difference between empty, full, and what I was doing.  It re-affirms that you are in fact going in the right direction.  I wouldn't start this until you are at least 1 month into your diet routine.

8. It's all about the calories - I'm trying to lose weight here.  That's my goal.  There is but 1 way to do this and ONLY one.  I'm sorry.  ALL of the other diets that have names or gimmicks or special devices or any other nonsense are exactly that nonsense.  The only way to lose weight without medical intervention is to take in fewer calories than you burn.  Fat?  Sugars?  Protein?  Starch?  WHAT?  It doesn't matter.  A calorie isn't made of anything, it's a measurement.  If you go to Europe they have kilo-calories, which sound like some kind of supervillian's way of terrorizing a fat farm.  A Kilo-calorie is the same as an American calorie.  So a calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise one gram of water 1 degree C.  OR, it's 4.186 Joules.  Ok, I'm getting WAY off track.  My point is, it doesn't matter what you eat, it only matters that you eat less of it.  Yes I know that some foods are more healthy for you etc, and that's all fine and well, but calories from fat are the same as calories from anywhere else.   Here is the trick.  Types of foods will fill you up easier and probably be better for you.  Ok, that's cool.  Protein is really good about calories.  My personal favorite is a bowl of shrimp.  it's pretty cost effective on the calories and it fills you up.  Eat only shrimp and you will probably be in trouble.  So eat some greens as well.  Little bit of bread is yummy.  Just count the calories and stop when you should be done.  Individual results may vary.

7. Exercise, or don't - As I said before, it's about the calories, not about the exercise.  If you like exercising, knock yourself out, I hear it's good for you.  If you watch 5 minutes of that Biggest loser show, seems like that's all they do is beat themselves up and eat next to nothing.  Well, what I've found personally is that when I exercise, I tend to be more hungry and I will more than make up the calories I 'earned' during exercise because my body will tell me I'm hungry.  If I don't exercise, I don't have have that spike of hunger and I find it easier.  What I'm saying is, you don't need it to lose weight, but you might need it for good health.

6. Have a target in mind. - Don't beat yourself up for nothing.  Have a goal in mind.  My own goal is based on my BMI, which is horribly unfair to tall people.  Once I get there, my diet is not over, but I will start eating to maintain my weight not lose it.  I won't actually gain that many calories per day, but honestly, by the time I get to my goal weight, I will have been doing this for so long that I will feel like it's a great deal.

5. Say goodbye to your friends - When you diet, the first thing you start seeing is that your friends that you used to go to lunch with are still going to lunch;  without you.  They understand, and they don't hold it against you, but you are going to have to not go to lunch with them most of the time.  It's sad, I know, but it's a part of the problem.  You see, I love going out to lunch.  Not for the lunch really, but for the company.  I can test out some new jokes, I can get the latest on the insurance we all hate or the customer that we all have problems with.  It's a great time.  Oh, and I eat more food than I really wanted to, happens every time.  It doesn't help that some places we go have adopted Soup's penchant for calling one block of food from their menu 2 servings.  That sucks.  you get fooled into thinking that you are only eating x calories, when it is really x times 2.  I don't really think it's cool to go into a restaurant and not eat so instead I eat my soup at my desk.

4. Expect to be ripped off - There will be times when you have to go out to eat and unless you live in California, you will have no idea what the food you just ate is worth.  When I say worth I say worth in terms of calories not in terms of money.  Money means nothing to a dieter.  If we can find a healthy alternative to really good ice cream we will pay quite a bit more because it's 'cheap'.  So the calories you just ate?  yeah, you thought they were around, say, 600 calories.  nope, 1100.  That's right.  500 more kilo-cals than you thought.  I HATE that.  What a rip off.  if I would have known that, I would NEVER have eaten that.  Well, too bad.  you did, so lump it.  you got ripped off.  On the other hand, the meal was 2 for one on a coupon.  yay.

 3. Be ready for the love - By the love what I mean is people telling you things like 'You don't need to diet' and 'well you don't need to go this far' etc.  They are telling you how jealous they are of your will power.  It's the same reason they keep inviting you to lunch.  They would like to see you break character.  (once in a while is good though.  see number 9).  You will really know you are getting things done when people you don't even know that well in the office ask you your name and you've been there for 3 years.  sweeeeeet.

2. Patience!  For Cryin Out Loud! - if you are doing it right, it takes a LONG time.  1-2 lbs per week is pretty good.  that's what I'm trying to stick to.  From what I'm given to understand, that rate is enough to keep your body liking the idea.  if you crash diet and lose a ton, you are probably not losing that in the right places AND you are probably making some other tradeoff's that you won't like.  Slow and steady wins this race.  It took a while to put that extra weight on.  Unfortunately, it will take a while before you start seeing results.  We don't like that so much.  You'll feel like you are starving yourself and you still look about the same.  Well take heart, if you keep on it, you will lose weight.

1. Remember where you were.  -  Before you were dieting, you were living the good life.  You were mostly short of breath, clothes didn't fit right, and you preferred smaller mirrors, but you got to eat whatever you wanted to and it was GREAT.  Now you breathe easier because you aren't carrying around 40 lbs of luggage around with you, you fit into stuff you thought you'd never look at again and you look at yourself and think 'is that really me?'  BUT you don't quite eat like you used to all the time,  just once in a while.  Well, if you don't keep track and stay balanced, you may find yourself going back to where you were.  Just remember when you are eating that second helping of seconds of chocolate silk pie, there is other stuff that comes with it and maybe more.  Plan your eating and you'll do it for a long time!

I didn't tell you my technique for losing weight.  it's a website called and I just log my calories every day.  I do a few other things and if you're really interested, you can email me or whatever and I'll tell you.  I think it works for me, but I can't say what it will do for you.  I can confirm that it does not give you super powers, but you might feel pretty good about things.  See you in 15 days!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Top 10 tips for giving good gifts.

So the holidays are rounding the corner and everyone would like to tell you what to buy or where to go to find something to buy.  That's terrific.  It helps the economy and is fun to do.  How many of you, on the other hand, find that Christmas along with other gift giving holidays are more of a hassle than they are worth?  The real question is.  Do you give gifts outside of the holidays and birthdays?  If so, then you are fine ignoring them or paying a small token of attention towards them.  Otherwise, I'm afraid you are stuck.  These are a few tips for giving good gifts that will at least SEEM thoughtful.  If you are a cheap S.O.B. that doesn't give gifts because you are just too darn cheap, then read no further, there is nothing for you here.

 10.  Gift cards are for Grandparents and suckers - I'm not saying that Grandparents are suckers, I'm saying that it's ok for them to use gift cards.  It's easy and it's better than trying to measure every gift for value and appropriateness to what has probably become a pretty large family.  If you are not giving gift cards to grand-kids, then you had better be a manager giving them to employees because there is no other situation where a gift card is really appropriate unless the person you are giving it to is really in dire cash straits.  The reason that gift cards are not terrific gifts is that people will tend to use them for necessities and not for memorable items that they can link to you so they will forget very quickly that you gave them anything at all.

9.  Made by hand is made by heart - Why buy when you can make?  You say you have no creative talent?  You don't have the time?  I'm sorry, good gift giving is all about time.  This works particularly well if you are a child.  The things you create are priceless and will probably be enjoyed for a long time if you are giving them to your parents.  If you have a little skill in one area or another, why not exercise it?  I had a friend that used to hand watercolor his Christmas cards.  The card is lost, but I still remember it to this day.

8.  It's the thought that counts - People often say that in response to someone prematurely apologizing for a gift being cheap or inconsequential.  It really IS the thought that counts.  Think of the person you are getting a gift for.  Do you have a pet name or a common recurring joke that you share?  You can't find a gift that is a symbol of that common bond?  Or did you even think of it.  Given 5 minutes of thought, you can probably come up with many remembrances that can be commemorated in a gift.

7.  Get them something you would like - As a kid, this one irked me more than a little bit.  If I get my friends something I like, I may not get it myself.  You could hope vainly that maybe the kid wouldn't like what you got them and would graciously give it to you saying 'Thanks for the gift, but I want YOU to have it.'  Never happens that way.  This is a bit the opposite of number 8.  Instead of noting a shared experience, you are showing more of yourself.  So get them a book you love, or a movie that was very influential.  It will give you something to talk about later.  WARNING!  This gift idea had the largest chance of being a re-gift or unappreciated!  If you are way off the mark when it comes to your intended recipient, you may have the unfortunate effect of the gift being more memorable than who gave it.  Ideally, you want a little of both.

6.  What do you want? - This is a question often asked by parents of children to help them with the gift giving chore.  Unfortunately if this question is asked enough times, it reinforces in children the idea that Birthdays and Christmas are in fact some kind of grand payday.  It's not a time of thoughtfulness, it's a time of entitlement.  Instead of asking what they want.  Observe them in their natural habitat and figure it out.

5.  Nuts to you! - Food is an ok gift when you are buying something for the 'man that has everything'.  Perhaps he doesn't have a full stomach!  Food makes a good introductory gift to neighbors.  It's a pleasant exchange that does not require reciprocation but does not discourage it either. Alcohol is a step up from that, but make sure the intended recipients do in fact drink.  otherwise you are giving them a great gift to give to someone else.

4.  Oh, it's too much! - Unless you've won the lottery, it's probably not a great idea to give truly exorbitant gifts.  It makes people a bit uncomfortable, because they really are not at all planning on giving you anything in the same level.  Of course that's not the point, but still you want to be able to exchange gifts on even footing.  This is naturally not a hard and fast rule.  Especially if you are giving a gift to me ;)

3. Please...Be Generous -  I could just as easily have called this FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS.  Sometimes people get married later in life and decide that in lieu of gifts they have a favorite charity to donate to.  Don't think that you are getting the jump on anything by giving them the 'perfect' gift by any of the other points mentioned.  They have given YOU a gift and told you exactly what they want.  Some people will cross gifts off the list if you tell them exactly what you want because they want it to be a surprise.  for the most part, surprises are rarely good. 

2.  You should have seen the look on your face! - Gag gifts are a lot of fun IF they are given in the right spirit.  Lets take, for example, the fake lottery ticket that scratches to be a winner.  Funny stuff, if you give it to someone that doesn't need money.  Give it to someone that's fallen on hard times and thinks that their prayers have been answered and you have just given them false hope that you have to explain later.  That's no gift.

1.The Perfect Gift - What's the perfect gift?  Many times, it's something that strikes you at the wrong time but in the right place.  It's something that you KNOW is perfect for a particular person but there isn't an occasion around which to give this gift.  If it's someone you know and are close to, get it anyway and give it to them.  There really is nothing more shocking than a great gift out of the blue.  Especially if you aren't in the habit of doing so. Ultimately a perfect gift is something that someone wants but would never buy for themselves.  It takes some figuring out, but once you find it, you will find that it's more enjoyable being the giver than the receiver.

This blog has been posted early enough that none of you have any excuse now!  I'll be checking up on you in 15 days.