TBT: Taking a Shot

So yesterday I met with an old coworker.

I hate to call him that, cause not only did we spend gobs of hours fooling around with coffee and tea, we kinda got paid to do so.

He also created some of the most beautiful tracks  on my album, found just about all the other artists involved, and calmly put up with my nonsense when I simply couldn't live with something and had to redo it.

The hours we spent together (and there were lots of hours over three years) felt more like play than work, so for the rest of this blog I'm just gonna say he is a friend.

Anyway, so an old friend calls me up and wants to know if I could meet for lunch the next day and talk about the coffee business. And I'm like "Sure . . . of course . . . lets do this."

Boy was I excited.

He owns a small coffee roasting business and might have an opportunity to expand exponentially. I won't go into details, cause they're not mine to share, but let us just say that his concern is quality control vs bottom dollar economics.

Something I know well.

And yes . . . it felt really good to share.

I hadn't taught retail mechanics and training methods or even thought about something as esoteric as a Profit and Loss Statement in a very long time.

I spent a decade and a half mastering a skill that I have no use for right now.

Wicked weird.

But thankfully, it's all still there rattling about, it just happens to have to share space with venue preferences and the lyric stylings of Rascal Flatts.

The reason I bring this up for ThrowBack Thursday is that despite the fact that I only have two cups a day and haven't compared a Guatemalan against an Aged Sumatra in 15 months, I'm still a coffee and tea guy.

I still love the stuff.

I still love talking about the stuff.

I absolutely still love teaching the stuff.

And I still got it.

I mean, imagine the great high school quarterback waking up to find that he's 38 years old, two cars, two kids, hot wife, and still has the arm strength to chuck it down field with pinpoint accuracy.

That's some cool stuff right there.

What makes ThrowBack Thursdays fun is looking at the old pictures of ones self. The odd clothes, the massive hair, the Teen Beat poses, the 'What was I thinking?' and of course the 'Who is that guy?'

But part of being an artist is the constant aching struggle to find an objective identity in a purely subjective medium.

So in fact . . . looking at my yellow pad filled with notes on production and distribution and corporate structures and long term objectives . . . I realized I know more about the man I was then than I know about the man I am now.

Which is perfectly fine.

I'm not a man in crisis and I don't have any plans to change course.

Adventure isn't about chasing the calm waters, it's about trying to catch the wave. But if I do find myself shipwrecked somewhere down the line, at least I know where to swim.




The 40ft POST: It's the Little Things

I don't know how you decided to spend most of your Wednesday morning, but I spent it chasing down my neighbor's dog who had escaped from her own treacherous back-yard.

I know what you're thinking.

"But Josh . . . you hate dogs . . . you're scared to death of them."

Yeah . . . alright . . . but Penny is just a little thing and I kind of felt compelled to make sure that my son's friend's dog didn't get eaten or run over or swiped.

And speaking of little things . . . I lied before . . . I do know how you've spent your morning. If you are anything like 97% of the Fantasy Football community, you spent this morning chasing down every waiver-wire, long-shot, handcuff you could get your grubby little fingers on.

Am I right?

Of course I am.  Because every stud on your roster went down. Like . . . not even metaphorically . . . we're talking 'hit the ground and stayed there.'

Now if you're wondering why I chased a dog around the cul-de-sac rather than restocking my line-up, is because, for the first week ever, my team stayed healthy and scored big. I doubt it will last much passed Sunday morning, but right now I feel like Ric Ocasek surrounded by supermodels. And the reason I didn't have much bench woes either was because of this little guy:

Darren Sproles.

Now hopefully your wife let you watch TV on Monday cause Eagles vs the Colts was not a game to miss, and I'm not about to give you a play-by-play, but two things were clear: Sproles is a top ten running back (#1 in my ForFuns League, #4 in my ForReals league) and he was criminally underutilized once the shiny new toy (Jimmy Graham) came to New Orleans.

Uncle Chip knew it and picked up Sproles for a song. (Most likely something from The Grateful Dead's back catalogue)

Thing was, the second I heard the news of the trade, I started salivating a little. A turbo charged humming bird in turbo charged offense plus three years of bed rest in an RBBC. How is he not gonna light shit up?

But the overwhelming analyst opinion was . . . well . . . meh.

He's gonna get like 6-8 carries a game and is really only a late round handcuff if you can nab Shady in the first round.

And in every mock draft I participated in (of which there were way too many) he got chosen after kickers.

Kickers.

Everyone had to know something I didn't.

Which I'm cool with. Again, this is only the fourth year I've watched football with any regularity. In the grand scheme of things, I'm barely out of diapers, so in all honesty, I felt a little ashamed for my early season enthusiasm.

Now in my ForFuns league, Sproles goes in the 8th round, just about the time everyone's loading the bench with possible flex players. I honestly didn't notice at the time because - if you remember - I accidentally lost my 3rd round pick due to wifi issues and a stupidly timed queue filled with line-backers, so I hadn't even filled my roster yet.

But in my ForReals league, I was the guy who nabbed Shady and I spent the entire draft crossing my fingers that I could get Sproles late enough not to look like a dreamy eyed jackass.

And there he was. 11th round. And now he sits, nestled on my bench, and creating a whole new problem . . . which we'll get to in the fantasy portion of The 40ft POST.

Okay . . .

THE BIG NEWS:
Of course the big news in football right now is domestic violence and child abuse. I'm sorry, but I can't really write funny things about either of those two.

IN LITTLE NEWS:
Lesean McCoy tipped his waiter 20 cents for . . . in his words . . . "Not being respectful" and got called out for it on Twitter.

Having been in the retail/food business for over fifteen years, I would like to tell all multi-millionaires something that they probably don't know.

Waiters live off of tips. And when they see a well dressed man in an expensive car, they know that if they put on the shine, they might have a chance of eating something other than Top Ramen that night.

Because of that skewed economic tilt, are only three reasons you get bad service.

One: You happened to catch the guy in a bad moment. Maybe his car broke down, or his dog died, or his girlfriend is sleeping with her cousin. The poor dude's heart just isn't in it. Show the love, tip him big.

Two: He's at the end of a very long day and is punch drunk. Imagine, McCoy, running into Carolina's front seven, not 23 times over the course of an hour, but 423 times over the course of ten hours. Send him to the locker room with a crisp Benjamin.

Three: You're being such a dick-head that he's given up the hope of taking his best girl to the movies and just wants to salvage a little dignity. You gotta self actualize that one, but his body language should be much easier to read than Seattle's pass rush.

Anyway, it's your call.

WHAT TO WATCH:
Honestly, I don't know anymore. Bad teams beat good teams. Good teams beat better teams.  I thought it would be fun to see if Brady was gonna light it up with a healthy Gronk, but we're still on hold. I thought it was going to be fun to see what kind of RB Moreno was gonna turn out to be after going on a tear week one. Ouch. The Niners were finally gonna have a chance to see what their offense could do when they had a full length football field to work with (commit penalties, apparently). And Seattle was going to prove how unstoppable they are.

I forgot how confusing life can get for a Pacific North-westerner when the temperature rises above 76 degrees.

So this week we'll continue with our Brady/Gronk watch . . . cause why not? Let's also see what Cleveland can do now that they've handed Brees a 0-2 start to the season. (If you remember I called a good day for Hawkins last week) Can Foster stay healthy with that many carries? Will Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson continue to do aaronrodgers/jordynelson/things all year long (oh, please please please) And lastly, will the Giants offense usurp the Raiders as the most difficult thing to watch in sports?


INJURIES AND BAD DECISIONS:
Again, not really gonna touch this one. You're already well aware of those players that are gonna be warming the bench, although, a hurt Brandon Marshall is statistically better than a healthy Brandon Marshall, and my brother pulled off the trade of the century scoring the Texan's defense for a yet to be hurt Knowshon Moreno.

That's some Jedi stuff right there.

The one that actually broke my heart was poor Mark Ingram. He was finally getting the call. He was my second round pick in 2011 before I knew there was such a thing as an RBBC, and though he never scored for me, I've been rooting for his success ever since. : (

As for the bad decisions part. Two Pittsburgh running backs caught with a hooker and a bag of weed on their way to the airport = Funny. But that was two weeks ago. Everything else since then has been terrible . . . just terrible.

Someone needs to send Johnny Football back to Vegas or I'm not going to have anything to write about.

NORCAL NOTES:
Hmm. Well. That was interesting. The Raiders got toasted (but played hard like Rudy) and you gotta feel just awful for James Jones who had two fumbles all of last year and now has two fumbles in one single play. I'm still rooting for them though.

And the Niners vs Chicago. Or as I liked to call it "The 3nOut Penalty Bowl" I guess the key to defeating the Niners is to hammer the offensive line until Kaepernick throws the ball to your corner back, and an injured Brandon Marshall. Don't think that tactic will hold water by the end of the week, and I expect to see a lot more of Gore/Hyde when they play against Arizona. But Kap is still the man and I'm gonna preach that all season either way.

FANTASY LAND:
ForFuns League (1-1) 4th place
ForReals League (2-0) 3rd place

So I had one miracle fantasy day, and one bed wetting day. Pretty typical. I probably should have gone with Joique Bell instead of Golden Tate for my flex, but it was against Carolina and I figured Stafford was gonna have to throw it a lot. But who in their right mind would put Bradshaw in for Forte? Or Sanu in for Hurns prior to Green's turf-toe? Anyway, no real regrets.

Except one:

Now there are a lot of theories as to how to draft and deploy your defense. You can draft early hoping to chase down Seattle 2013, or you can just wait til the second to last round. Now there is not much per/game statistical difference between the top 12 (unless you had Seattle in '13) so I prefer to go with the lazy crowd and pick 'em last.

Now if you're with me and the rest of the couch potatoes, there are two strategies you can implement. Since there is little statistical difference over the whole year, you could just stick with what you got and weather the ups and downs . . . or . . . stream defenses in and out based on tasty match-ups.

The problem with sticking with one team, even though it's the safest bet,  it's also terribly boring.

The problem with streaming match ups? Well . . . if you're anything like me . . . you guess wrong an awful lot.

Like last week . . . with Miami . . . in my ForFuns League

They gave me negative points this week.

And my ForReals Green Bay defense didn't fair much better.

Had I stuck with Cleveland (the team I drafted, I'd be in 2nd place instead of 3rd.)

So I've decided for the rest of the season to just chill with the match-up chasing.

Unless someone offers me Seatlle '13 for Grimes.

And speaking of Grimes . . . that takes us to a much heated debate over the usefulness of using a bench spot for your superstar's handcuff. A lot of analysts are against the idea, wasting valuable real estate for someone who might never get the call. A lot of analysts are bullish on the idea because if your stud goes down, you've got a lottery ticket locked and loaded.

I believe it's entirely situational. What I look for with a handcuff are two things. Injury probability and offense situation.

I learned this by picking up Michael Bush in both 2011 and 2012. In 2011, he was the back-up RB for Darren McFadden. Run DMC goes down, Bush comes in, rocks the house. The following year, Bush goes to Chicago to punch TD's for a tired Forte, Forte goes down, Cutler throws to Marshall. Bush keeps sleeping. Same guy . . . different outcome.

So flash forward. I snag Arian Foster in the third round. One of the top running backs in the sport and has had a year off to rebuild some cartilage. But if he goes down . . . and lets all cross our fingers that he doesn't . . . not for fantasy reasons, but for human ones . . . if he gets injured, then the RB behind him is going to get a lot of carries.

That guy was supposed to be Grimes. Third year in the league, second year with the Texans, lit it up in the preseason. His lottery ticket chances are sky-high. But then this week, while letting Arian take a nap after a very long day, Grimes gets some carries, goes nowhere, and then the other back-up, Blue gets some carries and does more.

If Arian goes down (god forbid) what are we likely to see? Rookie Blue light it up? An RBBC with the hot hand that does no one no good. Or was I right in grabbing and storing Grimes?

Could be a thing to watch. Dad grabbed Blue about thirty seconds after the Raiders cried uncle, so thankfully I don't have to agonize over blowing two bench spots in a futile juggle for percentages.

But here's the thing. I'm sticking with Grimes. Coach O'Brian has stated publicly that he doesn't like the RBBC approach and much prefers a single person carrying the rock. That minimizes the RBBC fear a bit. (Only a bit, because coaches lie all the time) And although Blue might be a nice stash, Grimes has more experience on the field and in the league. I think Grimes, despite the show against the Raiders, is gonna be the man.

And who knows?

I might be right . . . just like I was with Sproles.

And speaking of Sproles . . .

My late round McCoy handcuff that has outscored the leading back twice in two games and is currently sitting on my bench.

I have the best problem right now. I don't know whether to start him this week as my flex and have two Eagles RBs in my line up, or go with the safe guy (Joique Bell) who I drafted seven rounds earlier and who is pretty much guaranteed to give me an honest stat line.

Send me your thoughts.

and speaking of thoughts . . .


CRAZY/STUPID PREDICTIONS LAST WEEK:

Hoyer settles down, Hawkins has a big game. (Close)

Arian Foster goes for 200yrds and 4TDs (138 and 1)

Victor Cruz ruins Dad's day by being benched and scoring big (Nope, good call dad)

Golden Tate outscores Megatron (Tate 5-57, Calvin 6-83) Coulda been close though.

Everyone holding Gordon is an emotional wreck (OMG 10 weeks is so long!)


CRAZY/STUPID PREDICTIONS FOR THIS WEEK:

49ers vs Arizona turns into the high scoring shoot out we've been screaming for.

Lamar Miller can't catch a frigging break and Daniel Thomas scores.

Victor Cruz switches jerseys with Donnel and Eli throws four picks.

Arian Foster learns how to share and Grimes goes for 75 yards.

NO matter who I pick with Joique or Sproles, it will be wrong.



That's it for this week. Remember: Keep your friends close and your enemies away from the nachos.

HTT: How To Shopping List

Having spent most of my thirties as a very happy cog in the coporate American machine, if there is one thing I know a lot about; It's Lists.

Lists are the most essential first step in a little thing we like to call productivity.

One might begin with a basic 'To-Do' list for something as simple as daily chores. Then the list will progress to sub-tasks required in order to fullfill the original task. (ie: 'Fix Drawer' might include things like 'Find Screwdriver' and then result in a sub-orbital task such as 'Clean Garage')

In order to master the task of List creation, it is important to remain focused and fluid. Specificity is key here. You can't just put 'Write Novel' or 'Make Wife Happy', those things require too many variables. Instead you might create a list that starts 'Open Word Document. Type Chapter One at the top of the page.' or 'Pick up flowers.'

And be cautious. Lists can get addictive. You'll know you're hooked when you start adding things to your lists that you've already accomplished, just so you can have the instant gratification of crossing things off.

Now in my working life, which consists of many different roles, I make a lot of lists. As a blogger, I have a set of blogs that I want to write daily. As a writer, I have lists of certain chapters that need to be edited/rewritten. As a musician, I have several lists like Booking Inquiries, Marketing/Promotion, Reheasal, Website Maintenance (of which there are five seperate sites), Equipment Maintenance, and Financial Budgeting.

Being an artist is not for the weak kneed.

But my most important job, "House Daddy", requires at least a journeyman level of organizational competance.  There are chore lists (of course), errand lists (of course) and the main list which has a significant impact on Health, Wealth, and Harmony;

The Shopping List.

Now in my past life, the shopping list consisted of what I felt like having for dinner that night and picking up the things I didn't already have. My wife would do a weekly, sometimes bi-weekly shopping spree that would start with a list of two or three things in her head, balloon to about seventy-two items that she thought might be nice to have (depending upon how hungry she was shen she left) and result in her forgetting at least one of the three things whe went out to get in the first place.

We led a very inneficient life, but we both worked 40 hours a week, so we had more money than time, and as long as there was wine and a frozen pizza available, life was good.

Now, we simply don't have that luxury (and wouldn't trade back for it if we could), so it is of paramount importance that our shopping lists become so precise that not a single banana is allowed to go bad.

Sounds scary, but once you get the hang of a few simple principles and watch your food budget go from $200 a week to $60 and you realize you're eating better and feeling better than you ever have before, well, it becomes more addictive than crack.

For today's How To Tuesday, I'm gonna break down a few simple steps to get you going.

Step One: The Running List
Because we are a complicated Go-Go-Go society, we have a tendency not to plan for the things we need, but to plan for the time that we go shopping. Like . . . on Thursdays, I've got two hours between picking up my son from school and taking him to soccer practice. We will go shopping in those two hours. We'll get home, I'll make a list by looking into the fridge and the cupboards and we'll head to the store.  If he's good he'll get a donut.

The problem is that list will not include any of those things that run out at odd times. It won't include dish soap or sandwich bags or eggs. This inefficiency leads to two or three more trips during the week which is expensive (so many donuts) and the real cause of global warming.

However, if you keep a running list going. Then the likelyhood of tertiary Winco visits become fewer and far between.

But it's not that easy. You can't just write stuff down anywhere, so on to step two.  

Step Two: Consistency and Accessibility.
I hate Post-It notes. I mean they're a lovely invention and all, but they pile up, fall away, and promote this systematic clutter that I'm pretty sure is responsible for the mortgage crisis.

No, to keep a good running list, it needs to be in the same place, all the time, available to all, near the fridge, and with working pens within arms reach.

For example: My wife and I keep a little paper note pad, with a magnet on the back, stuck to the freezer door. The junk drawer (which holds all our pens) is located directly facing the fridge. One needs only to turn twice to write 'Garlic Salt'

Do not use a dry erase board. First, you can't rip off a sheet and take those with you to the supermarket (so you end up making a second list of your first list and end up depleting the rainforrests anyway) and second, those pens dry out fifteen minutes after you first start using them and you end up with a white board that still has a note to remind you to check the mail for a package you received years ago.

I've experimented with going digital. I can, for example, create a list on my phone that will automatically update on all of our gadgets, and alert me when I am five hundred feet from a grocery store, but the technology is still just a bit clunky when a paper and pen will do just fine.

Now comes the tricky part,

Step Three: Teaching Your Wife to List
My wife is very smart, very capable, and when it comes to paying bills or updating our Netflix queue, very organized. So for the life of me, I have never been able to figure out why she rejects lists in almost all forms.

I mean, she'll leave notes on my wallet of things whe wants me to do, so I know she knows how to write and the essential parts of micro-management, but despite the fact that her shopping MO has consisted of buying too much and forgetting what she came for, she just won't participate.

But one day, I figured it out.

Pay attention now, because this gem of information can save lives:

The reason she refuses to List - is because - if she has a comprehensive list in her hands - then there are entire aisles of the supermarket that she has NO REASON TO GO DOWN.

A comprehensive list strips her of joy.

The joy of discovery.

The joy of inspiration.

The joy of scented candles and low-fat brownie mix.

Doesn't that sound terrible? I mean if someone asked me to write a song about a very specific thing in a very specific key, using very specific imagery, at a very specific tempo . . . well . . . I'd do it . . . but I'd hate it.

And the good news is, is that what's required at this level, is speed, efficiency, and cost maximization. The very things I absoluetly love. So by taking on this particular responsibility, I've made us both happy.

The other good news is that once you've been married for a while, the majority of your conversations will usually be about the daily minutae of your lives. She's rarely gonna talk about existential moments while watching plastic bags being tossed about by the wind, but she will absolutely say something when you're running low on butter.

Repeat after me: "Put it on the list."

Now because no one wants to  live in a loveless marriage, go ahead and add things like "Please" "Thank-you" and "Your hair looks really good today."

Step Four: Planning meals
Now I have to feed three people (including myself), on three different time schedules at least three times a day. That's 63 meals a week. Sounds crazy/difficult, but lets just assume that you've mastered at least a bit of your homemaker skills, have lots of different recipes using the same ingredients and pretty much have an idea of the usual dietary staples.

Go canned where you can, beans, tuna, shredded chicken. Go dry when available, lentils, rice, split peas. As for vegetables: Purple cabbage, kale, carrots, brocolli, and cauliflower last a really long time (not like spinach or zuchinni which never seem to make it a whole week, and fuck mushrooms all together). Fruit will kill you. So no more than two or three of any type and only one or two types per visit (unless you have a special occasion that requires something exotic (like water melon slices for soccer games)

If you've maitained the list all week, then you should have a good idea of the last minute add-ons to get you through till Monday. 

Step Five: The Budget
After you've got you list, take a few minutes and jot down how much each item usually costs and then add up the total. This should give you a general idea of how much you're planning to spend, if you are over budget and need to erase a few things (are you really gonna eat those peaches?) or, if you've had a good profitable show the night before with generous tips, maybe a few luxury items that you hadn't considered (NY strip steaks on Wednesday. Mmmmm).

The budget will guide you through a lot of the decision making processes along the way, so it's handy to have.

Step Six: Planning Your Route.
Now if you're a budget ninja like me, you have probably noticed that different things cost different amounts at different places. Also, there are certain items on your list that can only be found in one place. For instance, in order to maximize my monday list yesterday, required a visit to four different stores.

That sounds nuts, but hear me out. The probiotic smoothie for my little prince's GI tract is only available at Whole Foods, where a bundle of wilted Kale costs $4.50. Winco has fresh sprightly Kale for $1 along with 95.7% of all the other things on my list. Whole Foods is on my way home from Winco, so there's no gas lost. Costco is the only place that sells the tuna and salmon steaks and chicken breasts that I like, and it too is on my way home.

Don't skip on the things you like. You're a princess and you should treat yourself like one.

But you can aleviate a lot of pain and frustration simply by marking down all the places you need to go and creating a simple circuitous route.

And you may even get lucky. Yesterday I noticed that there was a Sprouts located between Winco and Costco and was able to find the smoothies I wanted, plus some of the vitamins at a much cheaper price, which saved me a trip to Whole Foods and the Vitamin Shoppe. And saved me about $26.

Win-win

Step Seven: The Shop
With your list and budget in hand, go to town, and keep a running tab in your mind. When me an my dad used to go shopping we would make a game of guessing how much the total was going to cost so that we could know which stuff was going to grace our pasta salad. If we did good, then we could upgrade to the cheesy top shelf salad dressing and if we were really good, there might be artichoke hearts involved.

I freaking love artichoke hearts on my pasta salad.

And when my mother-in-law taught me how to make them from scratch . . . I wept . . . for there were no more worlds to conquer.

Once you've got a running tab, you can begin to challenge your budget a bit. Feel free to overindulge in the meat aisle if you found a sale on your favorite apples. And also double check the items thatyou expected to find at another store, you might be surprised when you do a little price comparison.

For instance, I came in $40 under budget on this last spree by making little adjustments as to where I got what, and saved myself twenty minutes by avoiding Whole Foods all together.

Last Step: Trust the List.
It's a good list. You've worked hard on it all week. Don't second guess it or you'll end up with too much milk or an extra bunch of bananas. Example: We - for some odd reason - kept double buying frozen peas - and ended up having to make all kinds of recipes that included peas. And now my son won't eat them anymore.

The List is The Thing.

Go forth and be merry.

Five Things You Need to Know About Common Core Math

So I saw this video about a girl bursting into tears over having to do her math homework.

Which made sense cause we all know how much girls like to cry and how bad they are at math.

(Thats a joke: In fact girls are criminally better at math than boys right up until highschool when hormones kick in and all bets are off. Also, my boys cry a lot.)

So this could have easily been my son on Tuesday night.

Except it wasn't him crying,

it was me.

And I was crying because I am a thirty-eight year old father of two. I have been in charge of multi-million dollar budgets (addition/subtraction/multiplcation and division), I have built everything from furniture to entire stage sets (geometry/architecture) and I scored in the high 600's in the math portion of my SAT's (that used to be a good number).

Ten years ago, I actually received a letter from my step-son's teacher thanking me for not only understanding the math cirriculumn, but using algebraic techniques that not only helped my son get over his math hump, he also used my techniques to help other kids in the classroom.

In fact, when I was in the eighth grade, my teacher actually let me teach in front of the class on a regular basis.

And yet.

And yet.

I was totally confused with my son's fourth grade math homework, which involved nothing more complicated than rounding up.

Freakin lost. 

And if you Facebook, or Reddit, or YouTube on a regular basis, you know exactly why.

Common Core Mathematics.

It's the new thing. It's the new math. It's going to make us more competitive with the Chinese.

Or something like that.

Anyway, I thought for today's five I'd highlight five particular things to know for both yourself (because who wants to be out of the loop?) and especially for the young parents whose darling children will be competing with the Chinese in 2034.

Here are five things you need to know about Common Core.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW PART ONE: The Problem
Throughout the United States there has been a concern that our children aren't learning math at the same rates. It's taken entire commitees to discover that the boys and girls in South Central were simply not getting the same kind of instruction as their Beverly Hills counter parts.

Go figure.

It also wasn't limited to the LA area. Apparently there were all kinds of discrepencies among different counties, different states, and the US as a whole when compared to nations like Canada (Where the Oil Comes From)

It's especially problematic because Economists believe that understanding mathematics will be key in the new technology age.  Also, if you can't count your money, why work?

So the structure of our previous system lacked three major components. Common Standards (What does Johnny need to know by the 4th Grade?) Common Approach (Thad Vanderbilt III gets the same homework as Cletus Hatfield) Common Metrics (How do we know it works if we can't test it?)

Super simple.

WHAT YOU  NEED TO KNOW PART TWO: The Solution
First part is the Common Standards. If you simply map out mathematical learning - from first grade to donning the cap and gown - you can build a very precise ladder - from addition to differential equations - in about a half hour.

The second part is Common Approach. First you take the top teaching techniques from all the wealthy schools, the highest rated approaches from studies done by the best colleges, and then copy the Chinese. Mash that all together and you get the best way to teach math.

Now . . . as it turns out . . . the best way to teach math (based upon the above criteria) is using spacial and applicable worldly concepts (pictures and words):

Such as this: Johnny needs to know how to multiply 42 X 76.

That's hard.

But what if we tell Johnny that he has forty-six friends who owe him $72 each?

Johnny likes Pokemon cards and is gonna want to know how many he can buy.

That's a lot of Pokemon cards, Johnny. A lot of Pokemon cards.

Draw how many Pokemon cards you wil get, Johnny. Draw.

So, supposedly, what math was really missing was visualization, verbalization, and greed.

Okay, fine, I don't necessarily agree, but my degree is in Musical Theater, so there's that.

The last step is Common Metrics. Testing . . . that's what Metrics are . . . testing.

Add that all up and yet get a cirriculumn that can't lose to the Chinese.

What could go wrong?

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW PART THREE: How they f@#ked it up (Part One)
Two words: Metrics and Marketing.
First . . . metrics. Developing a system on a foundation of current testing methods sounds really really good on paper. It's the scientific method at it's best. Formulate a hypothesis. Test the hypothesis. Share your results. Implement the new system. Good stuff.

But it's a fallacy.

Cause that's not what they're doing.

They're formulating a hypothesis based not on a good idea, but on the limitations of the testing methods. It doesn't work in science, it doesn't work in business, it really really super really doesn't work in art.

There are simply too many variables to account for. Especially when you can't account for human learning variation, and environmental and socio-economic factors. Obviously, we're going to have to know if it works, but that's a problem for 2034 when our children reach the marketplace. What is needed isn't a rigid system based on predefined testing methods, but a fluid one, using a non-metrics based hypothesis, and accounting for child learning variation.

I just saying that you can't honestly test a classroom/school/county/state/country, but you can test an individual. Start there.

The second fallacy is Marketing. Somehow, after the Bureaucracy Dept. finished with their assessment, they handed it to a Marketing Dept. to communicate.

This is the exact language of what my fourth grader is expect to learn:

"Developing understanding and fluency with multi-digit multiplication, and developing understanding of dividing to find quotients involving multi-digit dividends"

In short, he needs to know how to multiply big numbers and divide big numbers.

English is a very cool language. And there are times when specificity is important, just like right there with my use of 'specificity', but . . . and I shit you not . . . one of the paragraphs used the term "Generalizable"

Generalizable.

Yeah . . . um . . . that's not a word.

I mean . . . it can be . . . in a Shakespearean sort of smashing things together, but you don't get to do that unless you're either The Bard or a Hip-Hop mogul.

What I'm saying is . . . generalizing really . . . which I am able to do . . . so the overall generalizability of this next statement should be pretty easy . . .

If you can't communicate simply, how exactly do you expect anyone to get it?

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW PART FOUR: HTFIU (Part 2)
Okay . . . so let us be generous and assume that the problem of not having a common standard is an important one to address.

Kay?

Can we agree on that?

Now let us also be fair and say that they did their homework and Common Core Mathematics is going to be the solution to that particular problem.

Hey, maybe it's not how I was taught, but maybe it's much much better. Maybe it's faster and maybe once our children develop the understanding of fluency of dividing to find quotients involving multi-digit dividends, they'll move out of the house sooner.

And let's be frank, no system, I don't care who you think you are, no system is without problems in the early stages. None, not one, can't happen, stop dreaming.

It's too early to tell.

Maybe, just maybe, it's revolutionary.

And that would be radical.

(See what I did there? With the Revolutionary and the Radical? I kill me sometimes)

But even with all that in mind, there is one massive, glaring, 'I can't believe you didn't think this through first' problem.

The simple fact is . . . I don't understand it.

It's not the way I was taught. It's not how I have taught. And because it's inclusion of spacial and verbal approaches (which again, we've already agreed might be revolutionary) is a total reimagining of mathematical constructs, what am I to do? Because I haven't been taught this method, and because I don't have the answer key, and the language is ambiguous at best (sheer nonesense at worst: See Marketing Dept.), I simply have no frame of reference with which to help guide a nine year old through it.

I can't help a nine-year-old with his fourth grade math.

And neither can you.

I am a firm believer that parental guidance is essential to learning development.

And Common Core has left me out in the cold.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW PART FIVE: How to fix it.
First things first, parents: Don't panic. Don't get angry. Don't get frustrated. Don't yell at your kid.

I made those mistakes on Tuesday and it didn't help anyone.

Start with what you do know. You know the actual math, right? You know how to multiply, you know how to divide, you know how to round-up (if you've forgotten, YoubeTube it).

Find the answer first.

Next, there are all these weird lines, and graphs, and pictures to draw. If you're lucky, your child will have started some of that in class and you can look at the previous work and make some educated guesses as to what the correct application should look like. If you're not lucky, pour yourself a cup ofchamomile  and sit down next to your child calmly and let him or her describe as best they can what they think they need to do.

Get as far as you can together.

You probably have an overacheiver, so they might be horrified to leave something blank, but in your firmest hand and a ball point pen, write this on his/her unfinished problems:

"Hi Teacher, I'm sorry, I don't understand what is asked for here. Would you please be so wonderful as to email me a PDF of what the finished product is supposed to look like?"

Do not be afraid to do this. Teachers right now are getting very angry letters and phone calls and sometimes even some major verbal abuse over this . . . so trust me . . . they know. And a polite engaged parent, even one that is totally lost, would be a godsend to them.

So that's what you can do.

But what can Common Core do?

The answer is like totally super simple.

Can't change it. Can't amend it. It's the result of millions/billions of dollars worth of research, political manuevering, training and implementation. It's what we've got to work with, so giddy-up.

No . . . the solution is something easier:

Stop sending it home.

That's it.

No more Common Core homework.

Leave it in the classroom where a trained specialist can guide our children through it.

You have my kid for eight hours, and I get him for another eight.

Your job is to teach him Common Core, my job is to teach him EVERYTHING ELSE.

I'm not even being smarmy about that, and I'm not kidding. From what I've seen of the homework and the school work, there's so much redundancy imbedded into it that it would not take more than five mintues to remove 50%.

Just remove some (not all) redundancy by simply scanning through the verbage to edit out a good portion of the ridiculously worded questions, and you've just turned a year long method into a light afternoon and then schedule some field trips. Any teacher with a liberal arts degree can do this in five minutes and still have half an hour to work on their abs.

Also, imagine this: What if in the last hour of the day, the teacher hands out the sheet that was originally intended for homework?

He tells the students to start working on the sheet and to raise their hand quietly if they have a question or don't understand.

If only a few hands go up, Great! Then the teacher can guide those children with their individual needs.

If a bunch of hands go up, Great! Then the teacher knows that either his method of explaining the concepts was disfunctional or that the work in general was too ambiguous (read: nonsense) and he can try a different approach right there with the entire class and send a polite letter to the Common Core Marketing Dept. and tell them that question 42 on page 76 should be rewritten.

He can even offer some suggestions.

Awesome, right?

And the "No Homework" rule doesn't have to apply forever. It only has to apply till this generation starts procreating, which if you watch MTV at all, is gonna be like six months from now.

And if you're the kind of teacher that just can't get through the day unless they know those kids are doing something productive in the afternoons, assign something else. Make 'em read a book, make 'em write in a journal, make 'em learn a new chore (please start with mowing the lawn, please).

It really doesn't matter to me.

But if you stop sending Common Core home, you will alleviate almost all of the emotional conflcit that goes with implementing a new system without training and guidance and BONUS: Having the system communicated through a single filter (ie: a trained professional) you will be able to see more clearly which parts work and which parts don't, which will enable the entire system to react and adjust much faster.

It's like a win-win-win.

Now if you don't take this advice then you've got a serious problem.

A serious problem.

First, the backlash to Common Core is already gathering steam. The system is making parents crazy and Senators are being hate-mailed. It puts parents and children at odds with the entire educational system and not only will it be smooshed in it's infancy, but there will be also a small substrate of children whose entire mathematical understanding will be in chaos.

Don't take this super simple advice and Common Core will exacerbate the very problem it was trying to solve.

Take it, and we might just have a chance to beat the Chinese at whatever it is we think we need to beat them at.

Please share this blog with every parent and teacher you know.

Or don't.

I'm a blogger . . . not a member of an educational think tank.

See you in 2034.


TBT: Getting Saucy


Today we embark on a grand tradition of canning tomato sauce for the rest of the year.

Funny thing is, I didn't even know people still did that, but apparently, yeah . . . it's a thing.

I was lucky enough to get indoctrinated during my first year as an honorary italian.

It started innocently enough. I was fascinated by a little antipasti dish of pickled vegetables that my mother-in-law  seem to always have available at the dinner table.

Actually, the first shock really came when I discovered that it was possible for people to eat dinner at the same time. We did breakfast in my family.

Anyway, I waited quietly as a dormouse until I caught her in the kitchen; vegetables mounded on the counter along with a very large canister of salt and the biggest bottle of vinegar I had ever seen.

I inched forward.

"Can I . . . cccccan I , , , , help?"

"Of course!"

Knowing it was my first time, she was very gentle and let me slice the carrots.

"Maybe a little smaller." she would say.

"Maybe a little thicker." she would say.

"No, I don't think you're ready for the eggplant. Maybe next time." she would say.

But I studied hard and I learned fast.

And when tomato day finally came around, I felt like I was ready.

A little history: It turns out that tomatoes actually originate from South America. Can you imagine italian cooking without tomatoes? The entire Roman Empire must have lived off of nothing but olives, cheese, and wine (later referred to as "The Blood of Christ"). I think Columbus deserves his own day, not for discovery, but for marinara.

So canning tomato day is here once again.

And there are a few particulars that are always gonna be:

First, it's gonna be a hot day. Every year we push it further and further back into the calendar and every year god doesn't care and pushes the temperature in to the high nineties.

About halfway through the tenth crate, the flies start swarming. In the fifteen years I've been making and eating and canning these vegetables, I have never seen an actual fly get into the jars, so I'm pretty sure it's not a health thing, it's just the universe's way of testing our dedication.

They're like our little Isaac.

The process is simple. We wash the tomatoes while Giulia preps the work station. We find a comfortable chair and a sharp knife and a large bucket for the castaway parts.

We begin to slice.

First the heads-into the bucket. Then the headless tomato gets halved. Then, with the gingerest of angled cuts, we remove the spongy white center and any green still left in side - into the bucket. Then the outsides, with the skin and flesh, we cut them into sections and toss those sections into a large colander and season with salt.

While the worker bees are slicing, the matriarch busies herself with washing and boiling the jars and every few minutes adding more salt to the tomatoes we just finished salting.

"Mom! I already put the salt!" my wife will say.

"Okay . . . okay." Giulia will reply before deciding to add just a little more.

This will happen seventeen times before lunch break.

Now in our home kitchen, my wife makes me nervous while watching her cut anything.

I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the way she holds the knife. Maybe it's the way she chops down instead of sliding across. It's definitely because she doesn't seem to know what to do with her other hand, and how distracted she gets when it occurs to her that the car insurance bill is due three months from now.

But when it comes to tomato day, she's a machine.

Every year I'm in awe.

I have tried to keep pace with her, but it's like tomato day is her secret super power. She can carry on two conversations, while simultaneously giving her sister shit over the phone for never arriving on time or at all, and not looking at her hands once.

I, on the other hand, have spent many years in the kitchen honing my deft ninja skills, I have focus and drive and the sharpest knife at the table, yet she can still out cut me two to one.

She's uncanny with her canning.

(Sorry . . . couldn't resist that one)

As the colander fills, and the salt is added on top of salt, we start scooping the fleshy bits into the freshly cleaned jars. A little bit of basil, a little bit of salt, a tight seal on the lid, and we break for lunch as Giulia places the filled jars back into the boiling water for a final bit of disinfecting.

Lunch today will be my new recipe (split pea soup with chicken and kale).

After lunch we will cut up whats left of the bits. Shoo away a few more flies and begin the clean-up.

The backyard tables will look something like a crime scene and we'll all be sticky and covered in goo.

"Ma! Take a break." my wife will say.

But Giulia will just wave a hand at her as if patting the head of an undisciplined but favorite child.

She might mumble something in italian.

I think it's a silent prayer with two meanings:

First,

Oh Lord, let this sauce bless our tables for the year to come.

and second.

Dear Jesus, get these people out of my house so I can take a nap.

Amen.

The 40ft POST: Game On!

Well . . . Well . . . Well

Welcome to the second installment of Wait . . . Dad's NFL Blog, The 40ft. POST.

Got a lot of great feedback from last week. Thank you Dad, Thank you Jeff, Thank you Steve. And we also picked up quite a few extra reads, if not actual fans, so we got that going for us . . . which is nice.

Also . . . 

Who's got two quotation marks and had Allen Hurns locked and loaded on sheer guess work in his ForFuns Fantasy league?

"This Guy."

I am the 1%.

Anyway,

IN BIG NEWS:
Can't read a single headline without stumbling over Ray Rice's lifetime (hopefully) ban from the NFL. All I've got to say about that situation is if some network offers him a reality TV show, I will officially cancel Comcast and write this blog from my local coffee shop.

Questions answered: Yes, the Seahawks are frighteningly good still (cough, cough, 2013 Ravens), The Falcons were not significantly cursed by "Hard Knocks" (cough, cough 2013 Miami), Mark Ingram was finally able to take his Heisman Trophy out of his mother's linen closet, and for the rest of the season Norv Turner is going to be on the sidelines looking at both hands mumbling "Peterson-Patterson? Peterson-Patterson? Uma-Oprah? Peterson-Patterson?"

We might also add that the Giants are still getting used to their new offense. Which we knew back in June. But there's comfort there. Unless you're a Victor Cruz fan. And by Victor Cruz fan I mean . . . Dad.

Questions left unanswered: Maybe the New England offense is gonna be dangerous with Gronk back in cleats? Maybe Knowshon Moreno isn't just a one-hit-with-Peyton-Manning-as-QB-wonder? Maybe they should get the ball out to Jamaal Charles more than 11 times per game?

Actually, that last one's a gimme.

The answer is yes.

Yes, oh god, yes.

But in the imortal words of some one who says immortal things, there's a lot of football left to play.

WHAT TO WATCH:
This coming week is gonna be all about confirming what we already know, Seattle scary, Phillie Fast.

Crossing our fingers for another valiant effort: Hoyer, McCown, Carr.

Seeing what we didn't see last week: Niners, Patriots, Cowboys.

And hating everyone on the Giants except Rashad Jennings (who is still really just a Raider)

Now last week we talked about the NFL as the "Do what the winning teams did last year" league, where I came to the crazy conclusion that we would see a lot more fast paced, ground and pound offenses trying to capture a little lightening from the Seatle, Eagle, Niner, Chief bottle.

What I missed was the throw wobbly short spirals with uncanny accuracy to Julius Thomas.

My bad.

I also missed the shifty dudes with two roles. Harvin, Sproles, Golden Tate, Patterson and to a lesser extent Woodhead and to a lesser lesser lesser extent Mcluster.

Confuse the defense with RB's in the WR position, WR's in the RB position, Michael Vick on the field.

That last one didn't work so well.

But "E" for effort.

Yet, I think I posted correctly in that Chip Kelley's 2013 offense opened the doors for experimentation in 2014 that Denver's use of Tebow 2011 did not do for 2012. I don't even think RGIII got a bootleg.

But high percentage plays, 4, 5, 6, yards down the field seemed to be the thing we all watched, unless you are Matthew Stafford looking for Calvin Johnson and just kind of lobbing the ball in that general direction, so I also think I was right in Kelley's offense having an impact.

Impact everywhere except on Kelley's actual 2014 offense for the first 30 minutes against the Jags. I couldn't watch the game cause I haven't bought the big package, but watching the stat tracker, it went something like this:

FOLES incomplete pass to MACLIN

FOLES incomplete pass to MACLIN

FOLES incomplete pass to MACLIN

PUNT

I'm looking at my iPad going, what? A slow one-sided aerial attack? Did I miss something?

By the end of the half the Jags were up 17-0, and all I could think of - as a McCoy owner in my ForReals team - was this:

"That's it. I'm done with football."

But good ole Chip must have walked into the locker room and said something like "Well, now that we've freaked everyone out, shall we play a game?"

And then went on to score 34 points and leave the Jags TD-less.

I really want him as my Uncle.

and speaking of crying "Uncle"

INJURIES AND BAD DECISIONS:
First of all, I never want to see that Tyler Eifort replay again. Second of all, remember last week when I said I was slightly regretting taking Foster over Doug Martin? NO RAGRATS. Lacy is down, Tate's down, Gehart's down, both Chicago receivers went down (but they might be more like weeble wobbles), the Ram's QB went down (what was his name again?)

Still up? Practically all the guys I put on the "Pretty Much Guaranteed to Go Down List." Percy Harvin, Steven Jackson, Arian Foster, hell, even Michael Crabtree caught 3 for 25.

Oops.

Good thing I don't do this for a living.

I will however point out that I thought it would behoove the NFLPA to renegotiate for a more reasonable set of rules regarding marijuana and low and behold, the vote could come as early as tomorrow morning. Even Senator John McCain sent a letter to Goodall regarding a rethink.

I always knew McCain was a hippy.

Or has Josh Gordon in his Dynasty league.

Actually, McCain sent the letter regarding the usage of Human Growth Hormones and it's increased use among child athletes. And he sent it in February.

But still.

Way to be progressive Johnny boy.

and speaking of progress . . . 

NORCAL NOTES:
We really wanted to see what a Niner offense can do with a healthy receiver core and a QB whose dreams of a Manhattan Penthouse are predicated on a Super Bowl win.

But the "flawed" and "weakened" Niner defense didn't let that happen.

Yeah, okay . . . maybe Romo didn't have that great a game, but still . . . the defense played hard and angry and exploited every mistake they could get their hands on. That actually means something.

And the Raiders?

Well . . . what can I say?

They executed exactly the way I called it.

A little bit of Mojo, a little bit of Run DMC, a little throw left, a little throw right, a freshman QB who's head was sometimes still in the last play and a defense that was slow but knew where to be. It wasn't a win, but it wasn't a mess. I think they done excellent.

"A" for Almost.

and speaking of letter grades . . . 

WAIT . . . DAD? FANTASYLAND:
ForFuns Team: 1-0 (2nd place)
ForReals Team: 1-0 (5th place)

The four months leading to this first Sunday were tough. I had to learn a lot, not only about football itself, but also drafting strategies, past mistakes, and I had to learn a lot about who I was, and what my meaning might be in this life.

The third one's a joke.

My existence in the cosmic universe was confirmed years ago.

But I still couldn't find any luck with Running Backs.

Anyway, if you remember last weeks comlumn, this year was Homework over Hype. There would be no dedication to RBs (ala 2011), there would be no essential hording of QBs (ala 2012) there would be no breakout candidates (ala Spiller, Wilson, Miller, Austin, Eifort 2013) and I was absolutely not gonna chase the WR craze that every analyst pontificated upon (ala 2014).

And both my teams did exactly what they were supposed to do.

Hit their projections.

And that's exactly what happened. Win, win.

But there of course, were some anomalies.

First, the ForReals Team, my entire defensive core wet the bed.

I was shocked, since that's never been a problem for me, but the guys who were supposed to lock it up, didn't; and there was this curious moment where I drafted Jadaveon Clowney, cause I figured offenses were just going to run in his direction to avoid JJ Watt, but I had second thoughts and switched him out for Quinton who was projected to do much better and hadn't spent the entire preseason hurt (I'm getting gun shy with breakouts; Spiller, Wilson, Miller, Austin, Eifort). Quinton goes down with a concussion in the first series and Clowney goes out a series later, so I lost an entire spot either way. Bad luck with a chance of meatballs.

The other anomaly - in my favor this time - was that in my ForFuns League, Sunday morning, I read that Cecil Shorts III was injured and I decided to put up Hurns instead of Pitta in my WR/TE spot.

Just for fun.

And yes, that was fun.

ESPN and CBS Sports have both sent me gift cards for IHOP.

One column in Rotowire called me a Jedi.

I'd like to add to the record that I didn't know she was my sister.

But it's not enough to parade around Dave&Busters with my hand held high, I wanted to know if my strategy worked.

And a curious thing happened.

The guy who beat my score in the ForFuns League did it with 2014 Hype.

His first three guys were Green, Marshall, and Thomas (WR,WR,TE)

Also, the one reason I jumped to second was the Nostradamus addition of Hurns in the midnight hour.

Maybe the analysts weren't crazy after all.

Cause check this out:

In the ForReals League, there were actually five guys that beat my score. Two of them, just a few points above so we won't count them because of how bad my defense died, but of the three remaining, the one who didn't win but still beat my score; Green and Marshall (WR, WR). And the guy who beat him?

Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones. (WR,WR)

And the boys who beat all of us?

Peyton, Murray, Thomas. (QB,RB,TE) Which considering their tenth spot, was almost identical with my strategy: Just grab the most dominant player at his position in the round.

and maybe lean toward a Niner if you're me, and a Cowboy . . . cause  . . . you know . . . Steve.

So in the ForReals League, we have two winning teams that went Homework, Two Winning Teams that went Hype, One winning team that went Classic (RB,RB,RB), and of course the one team that went AutoDraft (gotta have a control).

So we'll track it and see.

and speaking of seeing things . . . 

LAST WEEKS CRAZY/STUPID ANALYSIS:

There will be three QB's breaking the 5,000 mark this year (Holding)

Moreno will be a top ten RB (Touchdown)

My teams make the playoffs (Holding)

Eli gets pulled from the game (Flag, Offensive foul)

Michael Sams makes the roster (Holding)

CRAZY/STUPID PREDICTIONS FOR THIS WEEK:

Hoyer settles down and Hawkins becomes the next Allen Hurns

Arian Foster runs for over 200 yards and four touch downs against the Raiders

Victor Cruz has a good fantasy day and Dad spends the rest of the year in panicky deliberation.

Golden Tate out performs Megatron. (But only because Carolina is going to swtich to a 3-2-6 defense; three man rush, two man safety, six on Calvin)

Everyone who is holding onto Gordon right now will see their work/life/FF balance disintegrate as they spend nine/tenths of their waking moments checking Yahoo Sports for breaking news. 

That's it for this week.





HTT: How To Planned Obsolescence

Planned Obsolescence.

or . . . 

Design obsolescence.

Either works unless you have no idea what I'm talking about . . . in which case . . . grab a piece of paper and a #2 Ticonderoga.

The concept is rather simple.

A company wants to make things for you to buy.

So far so good?

When you buy that thing . . . you become a customer. A consumer if you will.

However, if what you're buying isn't readily consumed like a potato or a cup of coffee, lets say you're buying a couch or a transister radio, then once you've made that purchase, you've stopped being that company's customer.

Get it?

You might buy one car every ten to fifteen years.

Bananas don't last that long.

So a company that makes bananas wants to make sure that your banana needs are met, but also that you don't get too frustrated buy buying a bunch that go brown. You don't like to waste money, and you don't have the time to bake bread.

So they sell them in all sorts of different sized bunches. Directly tailored to your banana needs.

I hate bananas.

But I love cars.

Yet, the practicality of me purchasing three cars on my monday trips to the grocery store . . . is well . . . unlikely.

This was a problem since history began.

Make a product that will last forever, like a hammer or a Toyota Echo, and yes, maybe you will have a loyal customer, but you also have a loyal customer who never needs to buy anything from you again.

They solved the problem in the 1950's by creating a term call "Planned Obsolescence" or "Designed Obsolescence."

And since capitolists hadn't learned to sin with the kind of veracity that they do now, the term actually meant that a company would bring out a newer more glamorous product just about the time that your local mechanic told you that you're gonna need a new transmission.

Your mechanic might say something like "It's gonna cost about $500." (remember, this was the fifties)

And you might think "That sucks, but I guess so."

And then you might look across the street at the car dealership and see the 1958 model with all that shiny chrome and two extra cup holders in the back seat, and you're like "Gee, I could spend $500 for a new transmission, or $3500 on a new model with extra cup holders and I won't have to spend Saturday washing the old one."

Which worked pretty good.

Cause you people really love your cup holders.

But once Eve of Wall St. took a bite of that apple, and the back seats started running out of space for new cup holders, it became evident, sinnister, but possible, that maybe, it's just a thought, but maybe the company should consider, now stay with me, maybe the company should consider building a transmission that might not last ten years.

Maybe eight years.

Maybe five.

How about three?

How about three years or 100,000 miles?

And why just focus on the transmission?

Why not make everything to last about three years and 100,000 miles?

Hell, we could even sell the schlub an extra warranty. For an extra $500, we could promise to replace anything that goes wrong with the car in 3 years or 100,000 miles.

Planned Obsolescence: To create a sparkly, glamorous, new machine at right about the time you get sick of your beater.

Designed Obsolescence: Hyundai.

You may now put down your #2 Ticonderoga.

The reason I write this is because today, Apple will announce a new set of products. Probably the iPhone 6 with a bigger screen and nearfield technology. Probably an new iPad with a screen that doesn't absorb so much finger oil. And probably some sort of wearable that plugs directly into your soul for recharging.

Now I am a man who has drunk deeply from the Apple koolaid cup.

But I will most likely buy none of these things.

The main reason, of course, is I have no money for these things.

The other reason is because I plan for planned obsolescence in everything that I buy and today's "How To Tuesday" is about how to do . . . just that.

Step One: Need.
Always start with asking yourself the question "What need does it fill?"

And the answer does not have to be sensible. Don't listen to people, like myself, who lean toward pragmatism. If a new blouse makes you feel pretty, I don't care how many identical blouses you have in your closet. Buy the damn blouse. Feel pretty.

I do, however, spend almost all of my consumer curiosity deliberating over this question. Recently I bought brand new piece of equipment that I didn't actually need, but I hoped . . . just hoped . . . that it would revolutionize my live sound. It did and I'm happy. Did I need it? No. Does it make me feel pretty? Yes it does.

In the case of the iStuff about to be launched today, there is absolutely nothing they could come up with that I actually need.

Yet.

Step Two: Longevity
Every Mac that I've owned has lasted forever. The only reason I've ever upgraded is because the next one did things that the other one simply couldn't. Some may claim that that is a form of Design Obsolescence, but I'm not buying that argument. My current Mac is six years old and still runs like a champ. The PC it replaced was crap six months after I bought it.

But getting back to the blouse analogy, if you need that blouse for one night and one night only, buy it. The shelf life of fashion is only around six hours. About the same as a banana.

And if you find yourself in the place where you're purchasing a lot of bridesmade dresses, then you don't need to rethink your spending habits, you need to rethink your friends.

There's also a second part to this one, and that's durability.

I take care of my things, so they have a tendency to last longer. But you take the case of my step-son who likes to drop his phone in toilets, wash them with his clothes, drop them, kick them, and leave them laying about in common dorm areas, then he's always gonna have to consider nerf products that have a leash.

and in his case . . . 

Step Three: The Cost/Value Equation.
Things cost. They just do. That's how all this works. So once you've considered both need and durability, it's time to give some serious thought to how much something costs in comparison to how much value you get out of it.

Don't forget that JOY is VALUE.

We'd get more joy out of a family trip to DisneyWorld than we would just puttering around the house this weekend. But . . . a trip to DisneyLand would cost about $3,000 less.

DisneyLand it is.

No honey, we're not going to DisneyLand, that was just an example.

Or like if my wife wants a new blouse for our date-night, I don't mind nursing a single glass of wine throughout dinner to balance the expense, but if she wants one for a special occasion where other people are involved, I don't even consider the price, I just insist that she not tell me.

I don't know why she always wants to tell me.

And there is the producer/marketing department concept of Feature Overload to raise the perceived value.

Like cup holders.

Or a refrigerator with wifi capability.

Or wider screens (on phones, not TVs, when it comes to TV's go big or go home. Phones on the other hand have gotten, well, out of hand. If it doesn't fit in my jean's pocket then it is no longer a phone it's a computer.)

Step Four: Don't be Cheap.
You will undo steps one thru three if you try to scrape the aftermarket barrel. I once tried to save lots of cash on a simple blu-ray player cause we didn't need a single damn extra option, but we like movie extras, and Blu-ray Discs now come with all the extras.

Bad mistake.

It's been nothing but trouble.

But I'm not in the market for a new one, cause this one works okay enough . . . mostly.

And finally . . . 

Step Five: Enjoy your things.
I know that sounds weird. The politcally correct want us all to move to a post consumerism ideal, where we only fill our lives with the bare necessities, but I love books and music and food and movies. I like having the right tool for the job and musical instruments that are as much decoration as they are playable. You might walk into my house and think I'm a bit garrish with my product lined shelves and garage full of . . . well . . . things . . . I guess.

But I like my stuff.

You should like your stuff too.

And even though I won't be queueing up at the Apple Store in two months to buy a watch that gives me real time data on my body mass index, but I'm sure there are those of you out there who will.

So enjoy it.

At least until iOS 15 comes out.

Then you're screwed.