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Friday, February 27, 2009

Hindsight is 20/20

Today's Aloha Friday presented by An Island Life poses the question:

If you could start your blog all over again, what would you do differently?

That's kind of an easy question me, I would have set up less pages on my blog. Well, maybe I would have the same number of pages, but use one page entirely for my blogroll. I have an idea that as soon as I figure how to do it, you will see it. I like all the concepts of each of my pages, but unless I write daily on each of them (and I have never done that), they will never get the following I want. Which pages of my do you prefer and which ones would you change or drop all together? I would love some input.....

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Obama Regime: Why We Cannot Have Fun Anymore

In 1999, I had just become the General Manager for a Real Estate Development Company and my first project had just placed the final, top piece of steel layer on the building. As is customary, together with the general contractor, we hosted a "topping out party" to commemorate this point in the construction of a building. All the trades involved in the construction, all the engineers and architects and my staff were treated to a big lunch on the property and then everyone got to go home early. In front of over 120 guys and a few women, I thanked everyone for all their hard work to date and wished for continued safety in the completion of the project. Of course, most of the tradesmen had been through this process many times in their career, but it was a big deal for me. I was a little nervous to speak to them as "the person in charge" but I was honored to be surrounded by so many competent workers. I remember the caterer brought delicious barbecued chicken and beef, a bunch of side dishes and some amazing brownies and cookies. For once, everyone sat for more than ten minutes to eat and talk to each other. My company gave me a nice budget to host a really nice lunch for a traditional ceremonial event and I think everyone truly enjoyed themselves. Getting to go home early was also much appreciated as the days on site were long and grueling. In the scheme of the $89+ Million dollar project, hosting a fun lunch and losing a half day of work does not amount to much money, but it represents something far more important. This is the FUN aspect of work and helps define the WHY we go to work and continue to work so hard.

Later that same year, it was "Take Your Child To Work Day" and I was bringing my two sons in with me. I was doing a presentation for the Chairman and President using power point and I let the boys operate the computer. They got to have a coke and some M&M's during my brief talk. Then Jon, my construction manager, let them take turns wearing his hard hat. At the end of the day, both boys said I had a really FUN job! The same could not be said for Libby's son. She was in the accounting department, and her son looked at spreadsheets all day in silence and he deemed her career "a waste". I think President Obama and his entourage of staff could learn a thing or two about why people are willing to work hard and should study why some companies retain their employees better than others. FUN is not a four-letter word!

I am pretty sure I never want to be employed as a staff member in John Kerry's or Barney Fife's (I mean Frank's!) office as it sounds like they think 'all work and no play' is the only legitimate way to run a business. And without studying the details of a Northern Trust company or any other company, I think we should not be so quick to think negatively with their efforts to incentify and please their employees. Even if they take money from the big old Federal Government, isn't it possible that that company will have better economic results when adding a little FUN to their business plan? Some fun activities are tradition as in my topping out event and others are designed to bring out the competitiveness of the staff and sell more widgets or whatever. Having FUN and enjoying your job is one of the things Americans have always gotten right....until now. A golf tournament? Boo. A trip to Las Vegas for middle-class employees who have worked their butts off all year? Boo. You've got to be kidding. This is what the rest of the world is envious about, we get to bake our cake and eat it, too.

Jump ahead four years: Let's say Obama has free rein and all FUN items are removed from every office no matter whether it's real estate development, a bank or a company that sells lumber. Do we collectively work as hard or do we punch out at 5:01 pm? Do we know our fellow employees well or are they just another name on the phone list? And don't get me started on on the jobs that could be lost in hotels, the food industry and the golf courses because all fun events have been cancelled! That's got to be a whole other ranting post.

Regulate, yes. Review and challenge, yes. But please do not remove the real reasons why we leave our children each day working for this great economy. Will someone please talk to Barack for me about this, I am just too angry to speak to him write now!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gardening in the Desert

Here in Arizona, spring is in the air, and by that I mean, summer is almost here. Today, it's 85 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. I would be laying out in the sun if it weren't for the fact that I am English/Irish/Scottish/German (you can call me Tiger), and am so sure that I will get skin cancer or worse....dry skin.

Anyway, in year's past, I would be outside tending to my gardening on a day like today. You see, I have large pots around the pool and on the patio at the front entry. Two years ago they were filled to the brim with annuals, spiky ferns and once I even tried periwinkle rhododendrons. By May, the flowers were streaming down the sides, bursting with color. Last year, I primarily filled with easy to care for petunias and zinnias. This year: (Front)


Nothing tells a neighborhood just how bad you've got it, economically speaking, than a bunch of empty pots with possibly some old, overgrown weeds and plants from last year! I try to smile when I see the couple walking by and whispering to each other as they stare at the unsightly vision that is my house. (Of course, I actually have really great neighbors and they were probably whispering sweet nothings into each other's ears, but the mind can play with you!)

If you've never lived in a desert before, let me share with you what it's like to garden here:

* First, you need a drill to dig a hole, as the dirt is hard as a rock.

* Next, wearing gloves is important because our creatures are mostly poisonous, so uncovering a scorpion can be painful. Of course, the gloves are miserable because it's so hot and your hands can get very sweaty.

* Most flowering plants do not like the 100+ degree weather we experience for about 5 months of the year. Plants look best from February to June. Then they fry. You can plant in October, too, but watch carefully, because they can freeze in November through January.

Just makes you want to run right to Lowe's with this coupon and buy some flowers doesn't it? Still, the house looks boring without the splash of color. And spring gardening sounds far more fun than spring cleaning. I was going to give that up for Lent before someone informed me that what you give up is supposed to be something you actually really enjoy and will miss for the six week period. (I am giving up large portions of food for Lent instead, because I figured this is not the year to be messing with God).

Am I planting flowers to appease the neighbors....keeping up the Jones' as they say? Not really. Gardening used to be a certain part of just who 'Beth' is. "Oh yes, I know Beth. She's the one who blacks out at parties and says all that hysterical stuff to every one's spouse......and doesn't she have the most beautiful flowers in her pots in the Spring"? I feel like a little part of me is missing this year.
And, I am not like my friend (you know who you are!) who actually buys fake flowers from Joanne's and places them in her yard. We went to an outdoor party at her house last Spring and I kept on commenting on how remarkable her garden was because none of her flowers seemed to close up at night. Finally, she spilled the beans and told me. I actually enjoy watching them grow so that would not work for me.

I'll just have to be frugal, use the coupon and I welcome any advise you may have for me on what flowers I should choose or how to make the flowers grow larger. Thanks in advance!

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Hello, Is Anybody There?

So I sit and wonder where are all the empty nest people lurking these days? I am assuming that there must thousands of people who blog daily while sitting in their empty little houses. Maybe they are secretly blogging behind a desk at work, but drive home to find a pet and maybe a spouse. I tell myself that it's just me and that really, there are some baby boomer blogging parties going on as we speak, I just lost the invitation or the host/hostess does not know who the hell I am.

When I Google 'empty nest Moms' I get about four or five blog sites, most of which mention the empty nest but then go on to offer up a prayer or describe a seventeen-step recipe for a heart-healthy dinner. I'm just not feeling the love!

If you are a person who's children no longer live at home, will you please come to my "house" for drinks or something else that could be considered fun? My house feels particularly empty today. I am thinking about calling the kids and ask how their days have been. Maybe they are missing the company, too. But I kind of doubt it. They are all enjoying life to the fullest right now and to hear that I went to Trader Joe's today and plan to walk the dog in 45 minutes isn't exactly riveting conversation.

Okay, so maybe this is a whiny, slobbering little post. That's what I feel today and isn't that what you're supposed to do...write about your true emotions and troubles?

"The sun will come out....tomorrow"..........................

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Talk to the Home Builders While You are Here, Mr. Obama

Camelback Presidential Suite

Andalusian Presidential Suite

Hello President Obama and welcome to our fine city. You are probably receiving this note as you step off the plane this evening, in Phoenix. I hope your flight was uneventful because I have to tell you, I have noticed you are looking a little weary these days. The last two Presidents started to get that worn, torn look in the last years of their terms, so I suggest you start pacing yourself a bit.

Why don't you give Steve Nash a call and stop by the stadium for a little one-on-one basketball before heading to your fancy hotel and spa? He runs circles around his opponents and it could be a fantastic workout for you. You will be wishing you weren't sneaking off stealing those cigarettes after a session with Nash, that's for sure.

Can I digress for a moment......Where does a President go off and sneak cigarettes? I am guessing the master bedroom, but then Michelle would have to be privy to this behavior. Maybe you smoke in the master bathroom sending the fumes through a slit in the window or through a vent. Sounds so junior high......Sorry, now where was I?

Oh yes, the visit and speech here tomorrow. I won't be in the audience for your speech because I do not like sleeping overnight in a line outside when it is in the 30's just to get my one ticket to attend. I imagine most of the 500 people will be young camper-types who do not have jobs or are skipping their college classes. I do however have a suggestion for your visit though:

I hear you have chosen the fine city of Mesa to discuss your plans to help with the problems of foreclosures. Mesa is just as good as any city around Phoenix, as we have one of the worst foreclosure problems in the nation. I suppose you chose a high school to seem all local and hometown boy-like. That's fine, but while you are in Mesa, why don't you stop by one of our small home building companies to talk to them and ask for their suggestions on how to correct the housing problems. There is a wonderful company called Vantage Homes that is located in Mesa not far from Dobson High School. They are struggling to make it through this foreclosure problem. I do not know them well but they seem unique and could offer you some fantastic ideas. You see, even in the crazy, good times for home builders several years ago, they were quietly building starter homes for people, mostly in the outskirts of Phoenix in cities like Buckeye and Surprise. They never created a lavish office for themselves, kept their executive salaries low and worked long hours. Many of their homes were sold to the communities' minorities, young people and folks from the military. But due to all the bad loans given out and this bad economy, their projects are really hurting with all the foreclosures. It's really just a supply and demand problem; too many houses on the market (mostly foreclosed homes, too). And, I was disappointed that somehow the $15,000 tax credit got cut out of this stimulus bill for any new home buyer who qualified. But, hey, why not add that to this next bill? Vantage Homes and many other builders could be a wealth of knowledge for you, Mr. President. Please do not just listen to your Washington think tank group on the issue of foreclosures and kick-starting the home business.

Taking care of the home builder, of course, also takes care of so many middle class businesses you seem to like so much. They support construction, interior designers, plumbing suppliers, landscapers, makers of TVs, furniture....I could go on and on, but you understand.

Enjoy your stay here. You are staying at one of the newest, swankest places in our town tonight. They have two Presidential Suites to choose from and I would imagine, you get first dibs. (Click on the links at the top of this post to see the fancy rooms). So, kick your shoes off and ask one of your staff members to add a visit to a home builder while you are here. We'll all be glad you did!

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Give the Ultimate Gift: The 'Once Around'

The # 8 suggestion of perfect Valentine's Day gifts is also my story on "Love" in Sprites Keeper's 'Spin Cycle'. Make sure you head over to her site to read some wonderful stories on the topic of love.

I always feel sorry for men around the Valentine's Day holiday as most advertisers target them to purchase something for their partners. But we women often feel the pressure to get something for our partners as well. Maybe it's that hard-to-dinner or cute teddy bear purchase (yuck), or as in my case ten years ago, the extraordinary sexual favor.

Valentine's Day was on a Thursday this particular year and our office was planning to close an hour early, presumably so that everyone could get their gift or make that dinner for our loved one. A group of women in the office chose to eat in the office kitchen that day because of our heavy workloads and the early dismissal. Now, as women often do, we started to discuss what we were going to give our partners and guess what the guys were going to get us. We were a group of slackers as most of us hadn't thought of a single clever present to give.

The young receptionist saw this cute purple bear with a heart that said, "Be my Baby" and thought her boyfriend would like that. We decided only a 20-something with a body like hers could get away with giving such a lame present. Then, our marketing manager, Nadine, spoke up. I'm thinking....oh no, here goes. There's one 'Nadine' in every office. She's the type that's ahead of the curve, cutting edge so to speak when it comes to men and the affairs of the heart. Our 'Nadine' was from California and knew things the rest of us could only dream about. We listened to her words very carefully:

"You could always try the extraordinary sexual favor tonight. Why don't you give the 'once around'". We act cool. No one speaks, but to protect the naive group, I speak up. "Oh yeah, the 'once around', what is that again"? She's of course on to us. She has us right where she wants us. Nadine likes educating her students.

Nadine starts to explain that this maneuver takes some physical agility but she never has any trouble performing it. In vivid detail she explains how the women mounts her partner, then she spins once around in a clockwise motion. I want to take notes but decide it might look stupid if I taped instructions onto the headboard that night, so I try to picture the motion in my head instead.

"So, you just sit on your man's special part and spin around", I say, like I totally get it. "No, you are thinking of the helicopter". Right.... "This move is much harder to do right but more pleasurable for both parties involved", Nadine explains. "You must start and end in the missionary position". We all smile; we know that one!

The day's over and I rush to the grocery store. I don't feel like cooking a 5-course meal, so I get two steaks, two twice-baked potatoes, a ready-made salad and a bottle of champagne. I passed by the display of ugly teddy bears. Tonight, I will attempt the 'once around' for my partner!

As I am cooking, I find the song 'Fly Me To The Moon' to play on the stereo and start to giggle. Bill looks at me quizzically. He knows me well enough at this time in our relationship, that I've got something up my sleeve. Why that song? There is a great movie called "Once Around" and they play that song several times throughout the show. I think I'm so clever. But I'm nervous, too. What if I f**k it up? I use my nervousness as the primary excuse for the two cocktails before the dinner and champagne.

Several hours later, Bill gives me my present and it's lovely and I give him a big thank you hug. "Now, follow me, as I have a little something for you, too". Champagne makes it sooooo much easier to say such things with authority; I highly recommend drinking lots of the bubbly!

As I undress, I think to myself should I tell him I am going to do this amazing act on him or just do it? Why didn't Nadine tell us how to start?! I decide to just relax and have some fun.

Once in position and all "things" are tight and in place, I say, "okay, now I'm going to do the once around" in my sexiest voice I can muster, placing my hands in the starting position. I push off and spin in the correct direction only to hit the wrought iron bedpost at the bottom of the bed squarely in my forehead.

Note to self: Start in very middle of the bed. Best to use a bed without posts!

We start laughing hysterically because being drunk on champagne makes you think ramming into metal is funny. But, we are not quitters. I move him to the middle and start over. I give a bigger push off and make it 180 degrees and land on his feet.

Note to self: Ask your partner to point his toes so you can glide past with ease!

"How did you think of this move, Beth"? I think of Nadine and how she said she spins around with ease. "Maybe it can't work", he says with this big ole grin on his face.

I pull his toes in a pointing position, remount and take a big breath and push off like the Apollo 13. In driving school language I make it to the "10" position, but then continue straight off course and onto the floor. (Things can get a little slippery when wet). We are laughing so hard that it hurts. I can't manage to get myself untangled and off the floor.

Like a gallant knight with shiny armour, he lifts me from the floor and places me on his shiny armour (hee hee). We aren't messing around anymore. Determination and will power has set in for the both of us. He places his hands on my shoulders and assists with the push off. His toes are pointed and a glide past the feet and continue around, making sure to lift my body just enough to stay "on" and land facing my partner who's smiling ear to ear. WE DID IT! We are sexual animals, YES. We collapse in each other arms as somewhere in the middle of this ordeal, we both had come and were exhausted. There's a good reason this is called the 'Once Around'.

Best. Valentine's. Day. ever.

Whatever you decide to give to your loved one, make sure to remember to relax and have some fun. We are lucky to have such wonderful relationships in our lives after all. Good luck.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

You Didn't Really Think I Would Bore You with More Valentine's Day Gifts, Did You?

Come on, don't tell me you raced to your computer this morning waiting with baited breath to hear about my third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh VD gifts (double meaning, yes). Oh, shit, you did? Okay:

4) Lingerie
5) Flowers
6) Home cooked dinner
7) Dark Chocolate from Europe

The eighth item is really the only good one worth blogging about. The others do the trick, though. And isn't that what the Valentine's Day celebration is all about....doing the trick?

I come full circle. But you'll find out about that tomorrow when we talk about doing #8 without

breaking anything.....
getting caught by the kids..........
falling off the bed...........
being alive to talk about it 10 years later!

It's true.............this is one trick that's actually a treat, too.

See you tomorrow!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Eight Perfect Valentine's Day Gifts, continued

1) Homemade Cookies, preferably made in someone else's kitchen, like from The Perfect Portion

2) A New Puppy for the Kids and Family

3) JEWELRY !!!!

Everyone has their favorite Valentine's Day gift and I would imagine the # 3 item on this list has a lot of fans. I also imagine that some crafty jewelry salesman must have started this gift-giving tradition a long time ago. Men either love or loath getting jewelry for their significant other for Valentine's Day. I personally don't think you can go wrong with a piece of jewelry.

My new favorite company is called 'Speak' jewelry because they have a nice variety of good, basic pieces that go with everything. Here is a good choice:

Silver Heart Bracelets that are Scripted on the Back

I like these because they throw a positive spin on life...especially for empty nesters. One design says, "Unanswered prayers come in unexpected ways...", the other heart says, "Life is full of gifts...all you have to do is untie the ribbons." That's kind of nice, don't you think?

If you click on their widget (next to this article in the sidebar, make sure you ask them for the emtnester code for discounts!). Call today or tomorrow to be sure you have it in time for the big Valentine's Day holiday.

Now, I don't mean to be a nag, but hurry, hurry!

Tomorrow, I will share with you #4,5, 6 & 7 gifts. #8 is reserved for last!

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Walking in the Dark

It's funny how being up at 3:00 am in the morning can bring forth so many of life's unanswered questions. Last night was one of those kind of evenings for me. I forgot to take the melatonin pill or the Tylenol pill and my body and brain apparently thinks I only need 5 hours of sleep. I don't want to take a serious sleeping pill, like Ambien, because states like Arizona have started keeping a master list of prescription drug users and that's one list I don't care to be associated with. Also, I don't want to turn out like Nancy W. Kappes and start writing posts like her letters to Jenny at The Bloggess (although, I would apparently have a much larger following on my blog).

Last night included folding of clean clothes, dishes, and planning of recipes for my sister's upcoming visit. After this fun-filled middle-of-the-night affair, I turn off all the lights because I think I need to kinder to the world and use less electricity and fumble my way through the hall back to bed. I start taking steps like I'm a concubine from China or something. My feet only spread apart 12 " inches per step. Why is it that when the lights out and it's dark that we cannot take regular-sized steps? I also lose all ability to walk with confidence simply because I cannot see what lies ahead in a house I've lived in and haven't changed the furniture around in for almost 8 years. We are so dependant on our sight senses that we are actually impaired!

So, I decide at 5:45 am, that I must practice and build up my ability to function better without seeing. I walk to Andy's old room. I forget that I moved the big square coffee table in there and now I have a lovely bruise on my left shin. I turn the corner to get the heck out of there and hit the wall. But, I am starting to get my night vision so I start to cheat. I maneuver into the living room, inching my way towards bed because I have determined that this is a pointless exercise and want to get some sleep. If I go blind, then I'll be like everyone else in this predicament and learn to walk without sight at that time. We never practice and do the things we should do until we have to:

Like saving money. Saving for a rainy day or when the Democrats get elected into office or when your company goes belly up. That's just the way life is...I guess....

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Friday, February 6, 2009

The Eight Perfect Valentine's Day Gifts

I believe there are only eight perfect Valentine's Day gifts to give to your loved ones. This makes it easy for all of you who are stressing about this silly little holiday and what to give.

For the next few days, I will share with you all eight gifts and maybe offer a little help in getting these. One gift is over on my Wrigley page, so o check it out, too.

One of my favorites is the homemade cookie, and by home made, I mean made by Morgan Wilson of 'The Perfect Portion'. Morgan takes care of all the people in the Phoenix Metropolitan area from Surprise and Peoria all the way over to Chandler and Mesa!

Here is a plate of cookies she made for clients for the Super Bowl Game. They are simply the best sugar cookie I have ever eaten. And the price if right, too!

Of course, you can make your own cookies if you'd prefer, but here's the information if you'd rather leave the baking to Morgan:

Valentine’s Day Specials

1) All orders must be received by Tuesday, February 10th

2) Cash & Check ONLY

A) Cookie Bouquets* (includes valentines container)

Using ½ dozen cookies: $25

Using 1 dozen cookies: $50

B) Heart Iced Sugar Cookies* $2.50 per cookie (minimum order of 6

*All cookies can be customized with individual messages

*If cookies are to be shipped, additional charges will apply.
(I am sending a dozen cookies to both my college kids in Pennsylvania & Ohio....don't tell. I cannot think of anything a college kid wants more than for parents to send them food!)

Call Morgan @ 623-466-2606 to place your order today.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Just How Unique Are You?

So yesterday I was filling out my profile for Timeless Bliss writers and they asked me a question like, "how am I unique?" and after staring at my blank computer screen for 17 hours (minutes), I write "that I can see the good in every situation". Good for me, except I truly hope that that this is not a unique quality and that at least a dozen others (probably bloggers) possess this attribute.

Really, if you think about it, it's almost impossible to be unique these days. For instance:

1) I'm divorced (so are 50 % of the adult population);
2) I have an amicable divorce (probably 25% of the divorced folks can say that);
3) I have lived in 10+ places in my life (we are a transient nation);
4) I find humor in most situations (ask blogrankings and they'll tell you I am somewhere in the middle of a large pack of humor finding people);
5) I'm remarried (big whoopee, lots of people remarry);
6) I've married twice to guys with the name Bill (now you're getting somewhere....);
7) I've been the breadwinner, the breadspender and the breadbaker in this family, at various times (adds some depth....)
8) I have a great family (lucky me, but lots of other folks claim this as well);
9) I have a football-shaped birthmark on my right hip (interesting, but very few studies on birthmark shapes leaves this area of unknown uniqueness);
10) I easily tire of writing lists like this one (most bloggers who do memes understand this one!).

So, it's time to digress. Is it important to be unique as a blogger? The answer can go both ways. You want to be unique (think Jenny, The Bloggess) where people are able to say, "she's hysterical" because you 'get her' and you relate to her on some level. If you are truly unique, probably people would read your blog and say, "I don't get it", never to return. Maybe all the truly unique bloggers quit writing after a year because no one reads their blog. I guess the correct answer is one should strive to be somewhat unique.

I think we are taught at an early age to be unique and we try to be unique but come to the realization when we are ancient (like me) that this is a goal we can never really achieve. We've been chasing after a fairy tale. And, I bet if my daughter who's a freshman in college right now were asked that question, she would come up with a answer immediately and without hesitation.

For you, I will venture out today with the goal of doing something unique. Who knows....I just may get dressed before noon today. Any thing's possible. At least when you can see the positive and humor in anything like I can you know the day's going to be fun and worthwhile. I will use my unique quality to the fullest today. Lookout world, here I come!

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Football and the Commercial Connection

Unless you are living in Singapore or in upper Canada with the Inuit Indians, you probably are aware that the cold, hard and shiny Steelers beat our little red finches (Phoenix Cardinals) in a football game last night. As hard as our little 3 pounds birds tried to stretch their wings and fly to victory, we were denied. It feels a little like the big town bully just beat up the new girl in town, if you know what I mean. But it was entertaining to say the least.

I don't get why the commercials had to be subdued because the economy is tanking. I think they should have been the most outrageous or courageous because the economy is dreary. I definitely have a crush on the baby e-trader, though. He's my kind of guy. Throwing up all the time on the keyboard and all. And this must really be a sign that I'm old as dirt, because I am very bored and tired of the Budweiser/Horse commercials. In fact, anything with a polar bear, a horse, a Dalmatian or lizard type of animal should not be placed in any commercials this year.

"Okay, Beth", you say, "then what would be good in this dismal year for commercials"? Well, I like that fast photography like they have in the Planet Earth series and I bet not a lot of people have seen a tree going from green leaves, that turn a brilliant orange color, to falling down to the ground in 15 seconds. That would be cool.

Commercials that show people laughing for no apparent reason for a solid 30 seconds would work for me. The company could shoot their name across the screen at the end with a happy face symbol at the end.

Of course, I would never turn down a commercial with male models involved (just to make up for all the commercials with the lovely ladies). And they don't even have to catch chips in their mouth or take a shower. Maybe it's just a rugby practice.

Okay guys, what commercials do you want to see? Name a commercial that will make you feel better in this most awful of economic situations? The sky's the limit.......................................

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