This holiday season, give the gift of guilt

Gift of guilt - scissorsWhat comes to mind when you hear the phrase, the spirit of Christmas? When I was young, my notion was so naïve. Like many children, I believed Santa and his reindeer flew around the world on Christmas Eve bringing presents to all the children. But then I turned 25, and I began to question this narrative. Eventually I realized Santa traveling the world with eight reindeer was, of course, a complete impossibility. He would have needed far more than eight reindeer even in the best of weather conditions.

Now that I am older, I know, of course, that Santa doesn’t deliver the presents (well, not most of them anyway). People do. I have learned that the spirit of the Holiday Season is first and foremost about people buying gifts for other people – and the 2 A.M. Black Friday fight fest to see who grabs the last 60% off flat screen TV – you or that jerk with the mullet haircut in camo pants and a T-shirt that reads “Recall Santa. I didn’t get what I wanted.”

As far as what to get others on your Christmas list, I’ve discovered – mainly from watching my relatives – that Christmas is about ensuring that the recipient knows damn well how incredibly thoughtful your gift is, compared to their lame attempt. Studies have shown that most gifts will be forgotten within 48 hours – never to be seen again until next spring’s garage sale – or re-gifted to a co-worker at the office Holiday Party. So why not get into the true spirit of the season by giving them instead a gift they’ll remember for a long time – the gift of guilt?

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  • I'm getting everyone on my Christmas list a subscription to View From the Bleachers.
    Cynthia Clay
  • Published On Dec. 11, 2014 by TEJ
  • My open letter to the guy crossing the street against traffic without looking up

    Dear person who never looks up while crossing the street, no matter how much traffic there is,

    letter to guy crossing street - manHey, how’s it going? I hope I didn’t interrupt you from anything important. Please, by all means, go ahead and finish texting LOL to your friend Brad. Don’t forget the smiley face emoticon. Your text is far more important than anything I have to discuss with you. I’ll wait……… Done yet? Super.

    Anyway, I just wanted to introduce myself. You see, I’m the guy whose car almost creamed you earlier today when you walked into traffic against the light and never once looked up. I doubt you remember me.

    I can imagine it must have been hard to hear my horn blaring or my brakes screeching to avoid hitting you, what with that AC / DC song playing on your iPod at 175 decibels. I could hear them rocking away from inside my car with my windows up. I have to say, excellent choice in music, dude. Can’t go wrong with Highway to Hell – a classic.

    You know, when I was young, I was taught that the center of the solar system was the sun. I now realize that my teacher lied to me – because clearly the solar system revolves around an eight-inch space between those earbuds of yours.

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    • You sure hit the nail on the head Tim. Too bad your aim missed that jerk's head. Maybe …
      Eleanor rushworth
  • Published On Dec. 04, 2014 by TEJ
  • The secret to taking the stress out of moving

    My wife and I recently decided to move. Of course, when I say that, I mean that my wife decided we would move.  As her husband, she did allow me some say in the matter. I had the option of coming along or staying behind in an empty house soon to be occupied by complete strangers.

    I considered the pros and cons with manly logic, and in the end concluded that following my wife’s lead was probably the better option. Besides, that way I got to keep the giant flat screen TV.

    The process of moving can be stressful. Just thinking about the endless list of tasks can feel overwhelming. If you’re planning to move any time soon, follow my advice and take the stress out of your move.

    Step One: CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT MOVING. Seriously, what’s so bad about your current place anyway? Oh, sure, so your neighbors’ 17 pit bulls can get a bit annoying when they all bark at the top of their lungs every time a car drives by. Hello! – ear plugs?! But if you don’t want to heed my advice about not moving, I understand. My wife ignored it, too.  Read More…


    • I love step 4. hire movers... and the photo of the moving truck smashed into the house. great. How can we …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Nov. 19, 2014 by TEJ
  • Lessons in bonding

    Emailing my daughter - GirlRecently my college-age daughter Rachel emailed me, asking for help with a problem. Such an event – being rarer than a sighting of Halley’s Comet – calls for all-hands-on-deck-full-throttle parental engagement.  “I’m there for you, Rachel.”

    Thus began an email exchange that I am proud to say profoundly impacted my daughter and our relationship. Her gratitude for my sage advice is evidenced in her words that, well, she couldn’t even put into words how helpful I was.

    Rachel:  Hey, Dad. Wanted to ask you something. My boyfriend Brad and me had a fight. I saw him with my best friend Brianna. They were holding hands. He says she’s just a friend, but I think he’s lying. Should I confront him?

    Me: Thanks for your email, Rachel. I am happy to help. Frankly, this is a common problem for many young people. In fact, your mom often struggled with similar issues when she was your age.

    Here are my suggestions. First, never start a sentence with a verb unless it’s a command. When you write “Wanted to ask you something”, the reader is left wondering: Who wanted to ask me something? My daughter? My boss? A strange man in a tall hat? You never want to leave your reader guessing.

    Also it’s not “Brad and me had a fight.” It’s “Brad and I.”  Me is the objective form of the first person pronoun. In this context, however, you need the subjective form.

    Rachel: Whatever, Dad. I don’t think you understand. I think Brad is cheating on me. Last nite, I texted him. No reply. No idea what he’s up 2. What should I do? Read More…


    • Lessons in Grammar! Whew .... Let's hope I enter all the correct language in this comment. There was grammar in …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Nov. 13, 2014 by TEJ
  • No, Grandpa, that’s not how you beam up. Let’s go over this one more time.

    Future tech - motorcycleI’m proud of my mother. At 93 years of age, she decided to tackle a computer for the very first time. Her bruises are healing. She even has an email account. It’s been a struggle, but after only a week of practice, she’s already figured out how to turn on her computer. Until 3 months ago, she had never heard of email or Google or Facebook. She’d never surfed the web, never watched a YouTube video of a cat riding a roomba.

    Today she sent me her very first email. She wrote, Dear Tim, I ma laerning ti sned emali but ti deos not thenw othew byrw kt wodh pcx; s93@m &m$k m1t8 btn%+. Love, mom”.  What a beautiful message.

    I appreciate that learning new technology comes more slowly to the elderly than, say, to an eight-year-old techno-dweeb raised with a cell phone surgically affixed to his thumbs. And it made me wonder: What sorts of new technology will be hard for me to comprehend when I’m my mother’s age?

    I can only imagine the conversation with my future eight-year-old grandson as he patiently tries to explain to me how to use the everyday tech tools of his generation…

    ************************************

    Grandson: Hey, Grandpa. I see you’re still having problems figuring out how to use some pretty basic devices. Didn’t you have jetpacks and 3-D printable holograms when you were growing up?

    Me: Surprisingly, no, Nathan. Things were less complicated in the 1960s when I was your age. Back then, we had not yet invented iPads or cell phones. Heck, as I recall, we were all pretty stoked about the recent invention of the Etch A Sketch. Hard to imagine, but people used to read these contraptions called books. So, yes, I could use a little help with these modern day gadgets.

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    • Love this story Tim and the jargon is fabulous. Less than 40 years from now hum... and it …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Oct. 28, 2014 by TEJ
  • Announcing a new and improved name for the Washington Redskins

    Redskin helmet - No IndianLately, all the media attention about the NFL has centered on the issue of domestic abuse. But long before that issue grabbed the headlines, another controversy had been building for months, even years: The often emotional debate over the name of the NFL team located in our nation’s capital: The Washington Redskins.

    A tiny fringe group of a few million annoyingly sensitive Americans, including 35 Native American tribes and more than 50 organizations that represent various groups of Native Americans, seem to think the term “redskin” is an offensive stereotype that stirs images of primitive, angry, bloodthirsty savages screaming menacingly and wishing to annihilate their enemy – in other words, acting like a typical Washington Redskins fan. And they are demanding that billionaire team owner Daniel Marc Snyder change the team name to something less offensive – say, the Washington Camel Jockeys.

    The list of suggested alternative names grows by the day. Some names that have been proposed include:

    The Washington Gryffindors, the Washington Slytherins, the Washington Hufflepuffs,… well, pretty much anything you can think of from Harry Potter. Also, the Washington Redhawks (which personally I would find highly offensive if I were a Blackhawks fan), the Washington Skins (not sure how our nation’s nudists would feel about this one) or the Washington Pigskins (which I would find highly objectionable, personally, if I were a pot-bellied pig).

    None of these names has generated much support, so naturally I came up with several much better ones. Tell me what you think: The Washington Lobbyists, or how about the Washington Cabinets? Or maybe the Washington Gridlocks? I thought about the Washington Senators – but then I realized I was too late. The Senators had already been bought.

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    • Very reminiscent of one of the first articles we wrote for the law school newspaper in which we attempted to …
      james ellis
  • Published On Oct. 14, 2014 by TEJ
  • I have solved our nation’s debt problem – no need to thank me (Part 2 of 2)

    debt problem - mount rushmoreYou may not have heard (if you’ve been in a coma since 1994), but our national debt is spiraling out of control. If you could imagine a fire hose spraying a stream of $100 bills instead of jets of water, that’s essentially the way our federal government pisses through money on an average day. If you’re having trouble staying awake at night, here is a number that might help: $233 billion. That’s not the latest national debt figure. Oh, no. That’s just the interest on it we pile up each year.

    Won’t somebody come up with a plan to stop all the fiscal hemorrhaging? Anybody? Nobody? Okay, I guess it’s up to me to bail out America…. Again.

    Last week, I shared Part I of my solution to our national debt problem. In this week’s thrilling conclusion, I solve it even more. So let’s get started, shall we?

    Cape Canaveral – Kennedy Space Center: $11.5 billion. If you’re still a kid at heart, this one’s for you. Located on the pristine golden beaches of Central Florida’s Atlantic coast and just a two-hour drive from Disney World. Always wanted to be an astronaut? Now you can own a whole crew of them. Guess who gets to press the “Blast off” button at Mission Control? You do! Comes with a free ride on the next Space Shuttle Endeavour flight. (Fine print: Next scheduled Endeavour flight: 1st of Never.)

    State of Alaska: $780 billion. Call the Last Frontier your home with this incredible once-in-a-lifetime bargain. See Russia from your house. Be the first among your friends to own your own state. Comes with tons of room to spread out all your stuff, not to mention access to our nation’s largest oil and natural gas pipeline. Stunning views of mountains, grizzly bears, bald eagles and hot ex-governors. Juneau what else? For just $20 billion more, we’ll even rename the state capitol after you. Flexible payment terms. Ask about our layaway plan.

    debt problem - interstate highwaysUS Interstate 80: $87.6 billion.  If you thought you could “get your kicks on Route 66”, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Own a part of the world’s greatest highway network. The nation’s second longest interstate, I-80, runs from scenic California through the Nevada Dessert (where you can do 130 mph and the state troopers won’t hassle you) through the golden corn fields of Nebraska, before your journey ends at glamorous New York City. Read More…


      No Recent Comments
  • Published On Oct. 08, 2014 by TEJ
  • I have solved our nation’s debt problem – no need to thank me (Part 1 of 2)

    debt problem - statue of libertyHere’s a number that might scare you: $17,746,662,973. That’s almost 18 trillion dollars, give or take a few hundred billion. That’s the current estimate of our national debt according to the OMB (Office of Management and Budget).

    Here’s a slightly smaller but equally frightening number: $1 million.  That’s the amount our nation’s debt is expanding – per minute. The clock is ticking. Economic experts estimate that our national debt will increase by another $10 trillion in the next decade. And I thought I was bad about managing my money. I look like Ebenezer Scrooge compared to Uncle Sam.

    Depressed? Don’t be. Because I have a brilliant solution to our nation’s debt crisis. And it doesn’t involve painful tax hikes, closing down your favorite park or eliminating daily delivery of your mail.

    As many of you know, I (often imagine that I) am a highly sought-after, award-winning, Harvard-educated economist. I won’t drone on about my many notable achievements in the fields of econometrics or applied macro-economic asset price modeling theory (because I have no idea what those words mean).  Suffice to say, I took both Econ-201 and Econ-202 Pass-Fail in my second year of college.

    I have successfully balanced my personal checkbook 8 of the past 12 months. And I have completely paid off our family’s credit card debt on all but 5 of our 17 credit cards. I saved $4,000 by the time I was 18 years old by doing summer jobs, and I didn’t blow it all until late spring of my freshman year of college (hey, I needed a new stereo system). So when I say I have a solution for the nation’s debt crisis, I think my credentials speak for themselves.

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    • I can't wait for Part Two. While Part I had some good ideas about selling stuff, the total even without …
      Rey Carr
  • Published On Oct. 01, 2014 by TEJ
  • Man Cave 2.0 – a wife-friendly version

    man cave - sports roomA successful marriage is all about compromise. In the interest of marital harmony, I learned early on that I needed to let my wife win a few negotiations now and then.

    In just a few weeks we will be moving to our dream house, by which I mean her dream house. Don’t get me wrong. I am sure I will love it, because that’s what she tells me. Of course, no guy’s dream house would be complete without a MAN CAVE.

    I had visions of the perfect man cave. I wanted to go beyond the ordinary items that every man includes in his private oasis – your know, basic things like a regulation-sized beer pong table, a dart board that curses in Spanish whenever a dart hits it, or a TV larger than the wall it is attached to. Those essentials are givens, of course.

    No, I was looking for something a little more exotic. Something that made a manly statement about me, Tim Jones, as a man! So I came up with my list of Tim’s Top 10 Must-Haves for His Man Cave:

    1. A jumbo-sized wall chart showing the proper operation of power tools – as demonstrated by hot girls in bikinis.
    2. A combination billiard / air hockey / foosball table that with the press of a button recedes into the floor.
    3. A Batman-style utility belt equipped with a potato chip dispenser, cheese-wiz canisters in six artificial flavors, and a holster for my burrito-firing bazooka.
    4. A beer tap in the shape of an elephant trunk – pull on left tusk for guacamole; right tusk for salsa.
    5. A bear rug – with grizzly in full roar – wearing a Seattle Seahawks helmet  (for a touch of class).
    6. A life-size wooden mermaid, salvaged from the prow of a pirate ship, just like the one that Blackbeard used to pry the cork from his rum by wedging the neck of the bottle in between her cleavage and twisting his wrist in a starboard direction.
    7. An oversized phone shaped like a football that makes a deafening crowd roar for thirty seconds whenever it rings.
    8. A giant aquarium – on the ceiling – that you can stare up at during commercial breaks in the game to watch manta rays swimming overhead.
    9. A wall-mounted animal head – anything with antlers. I’m thinking moose but am open to suggestions.
    10. A lava lamp. (I’ve always wanted one ever since 7th grade.)

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    • Tim, you are a man's man, and I mean that in a manly sort of way. Even your soft, …
      Seth Greenblatt
  • Published On Sep. 24, 2014 by TEJ
  • Always lie to your kids

    Lie to your kids - RachelI love my kids. That’s why, when they were young, I made a point to lie to them every chance I could. As any experienced parent knows, you need to lie to your young, impressionable children to help prepare them for their lives as adults – and to help you forge a trusting relationship with them.

    Parents who care about their young children start lying to them early in their formative development – ideally while their offspring are still in the womb. Don’t wait until they’re in middle school. By then your chronic pattern of honest communication will likely have caused irreparable damage.

    There are many reasons we adults lie to each other: to get out of cleaning the garage despite your wife’s nagging about it for the past three months; to deny that you scarfed down the last piece of your wife’s birthday cake; or maybe to hide the fact that you were really golfing when I, er, I mean you, told the wife you were helping a buddy move. Of course, there are also bad reasons for lying, but at the moment, they escape me.

    But when it comes to children, caring parents know that lying is a way to avoid crushing their kids’ self-esteem. It’s not your job to destroy your child’s hopes and dreams by dispelling the myths of their childhood. That’s their future therapist’s responsibility. Your job is to keep telling your kids whatever you need to, to get them to behave, brush their teeth and maybe, just maybe, not kill the family cat, Bonkers.

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    • Drew, you completely forgot the all important step 3. You "look like' Santa ... of course not YOU Tim …
      Jeanne Whalen
  • Published On Sep. 16, 2014 by TEJ