#247 – If I Die

I recently witnessed a new Facebook app in action. It’s called “If I Die.” According to the marketing material, a user can create a video to be published on his or her Facebook wall after death. The user appoints three trustees who each have to confirm the user’s death in order to post the video. Two days ago, Art Williams’ “If I Die” video appeared in my Facebook newsfeed. Art was an acquaintance from high school. Except for the tidbits I’d seen in his posts after accepting his friend request, I knew nothing about his adult life. I certainly had no clue about his addictions and the havoc they’d wreaked.

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#248 – Asking for It

Fielding an appeal from an employee for a pay raise can prove almost as nerve-wracking as requesting one, especially if the boss hasn’t been in such a position before. When a secretary first asked me for a salary increase, I lost sleep worrying whether she deserved it and, if so, in what amount. Those were the thoughts running through my mind when Jimmy sought my advice today, after receiving his first ever raise request.

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#249 – Bouncing it off You

In my opinion, all gift givers fall into one of five categories: 1) those who care only for recognition of their “generosity”; 2) those who give what they think the recipient should have, whether or not that person actually likes the present; 3) those who investigate a recipient’s actual wants and needs and try to fulfill them; 4) those purchasing the first remotely acceptable item they can find, in order to cross shopping and gifting off their to-do lists as soon as possible; and 5) those who subscribe to the adage that it’s the thought that counts, although the recipient hasn’t the vaguest idea what the giver could’ve been thinking. Ava’s father apparently falls into the last of these categories.

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#250 – Trawling the Classroom

For a host of reasons, teachers shouldn’t use their classrooms as trawling grounds for dates with attractive parents. First and foremost are the ethical considerations: perceived, if not actual, preferential treatment for the child of the targeted parent. Then there’s the embarrassment factor: taunting of the child by classmates due to the teacher’s crush. And last but not least is the detrimental impact on the educational system itself: nowadays, kids learn slowly enough without having teachers distracted by efforts to score a new stepchild from the student pool. While most people, including educators, recognize and agree with these concerns, a few require a kick in the ass to properly reorient their moral compasses, like Mr. Rogers for instance.

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#252 – Be My Valentine

The unusual Valentine’s Day experienced by my favorite old lady, Betsy, demonstrates the worth of a couple of trite but true expressions: “seize the day”; and “you’re never too old for love.” I heard all about the lessons she’d learned when I had coffee this morning with her granddaughter.

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#254 – Surprise, Fatso!

Jimmy, Ron and I had a roundtable discussion about weight loss programs this morning. In particular, the three of us debated whether a membership in one can ever be a suitable gift for your wife. Not that any of us want to see our women third-world thin; still, we’d rather forego having spouses whose dress sizes run in double digits. The question is what can a man do when he sees his formerly-svelte bride heading in that ominous direction?

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#255 – The Love Meter

While chatting last week, my friend Ava once again bemoaned the crappy attitude of her youngest son. Unlike his fifteen-year-old brother Stephen, the now-thirteen-year-old Luke shows no respect to his mother, underachieves in school, and treats his home like a garbage dump. I half-jokingly told Ava she wouldn’t have these problems if she’d stop treating the two boys equally. As I put it: “Why show both kids you love them the same, when one of them seems far less deserving than the other?”

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#256 – The Irony of It

Don’t ask me why, but I’m fascinated with the subject of ironic deaths. My prototypical example was the passing of Jim Fixx. You may remember him as an advocate of good health promoted by running and author of the 1977 book, The Complete Book of Running, who suffered a fatal heart attack while running. More recently, I spotted a slightly different but equally absurd example of the genre in an Atlanta Journal Constitution article, titled: “Undersea documentarian killed in helicopter crash.” I’ve often tried to imagine my own ironic expiration as well, but I’ve never been able to conceive a suitable scenario, until last night.

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