Tuesday, February 28, 2006

YouTube Tuesday: High-Five a Muslim

In case you haven't heard yet, today is International High-Five-A-Muslim Day. It's a great way to encourage cultural healing and international unity and to fight against the "culture wars."

Why high five? Well, as the man says "a nod, it isn't enough. And a hug is, well, just too much."

Play the video to hear more.

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Eye of the beholder

Once again I've tried to stay above the fray on this whole port management issue, mostly because I don't like to make snap judgments based on the inflammatory reporting we get from today's media.

I'd much rather wait until I read inflammatory blog posts before I make my snap judgments.

And to be sure, the recent conflagration surrounding the port management issue had resulted in a profusion of blog posts. But here's thought that struck me yesterday:

This issue is a terrific case study in hypocrisy.

There are several layers of hypocrisy at work here. One level has been resoundingly put forth by the self-described liberal bloggers: That the Bush administration has railed against governments that support terrorism, yet they did nothing to prevent the takeover of American ports by some of the same countries.

A second layer can be directed at the same self-proclaimed liberal bloggers: That they condemn the fear mongering by the administration, yet have no problem engaging in fear mongering when it's politically expedient.

But the third layer of hypocrisy that is particularly interesting to me - and which I am admittedly guilty of - applies pretty much to any American who has said anything about the issue.

Americans of all political stripes automatically assumed that since the contract was going to an Arab country, that there is a higher security risk. Technically, there would be a security risk with any company be it Arab, British or Klingon. But by assuming a higher security risk based on the country and region of origin, Americans have employed the same kind of fake logic that led thousands of Muslims to attack Danish embassies in response to what independent newspapers printed.

The Danish government wasn't responsible for the newspapers, yet outraged Muslims attacked Danish and other embassies, businesses and individuals in response. Neither the Dubai government nor Dubai Ports World, were responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks, yet racist Americans react in kneejerk fashion to this latest port management business merger.

Two sides of the same coin. I guess sometimes hypocrisy is in the eye of the beholder.
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Monday, February 27, 2006

Lord of the dance

For the past couple of months my Supermodel Wife has been torturing me, and it finally all ended yesterday.

She was addicted to a show on one of the major television networks (they all look the same to me) called Dancing with the Stars. Basically, it's one of those shows where they take former celebrities and make them do stupid shit with so-called experts. In this case, the non-stars were paired with professional dancers in a four-month dance-off.

It mercifully ended last night. Needless to say that I wasn't into the show – probably for the same reason that I don't ovulate and complain about breast tenderness. I mean, I don't want to say the show is ghey, but when Carson Kressley first saw it, he said "Damn, that show is gay!"

But I did want to make one point of criticism.


I mean come on, we all know Jerry Rice was the clear winner. But do you think the judges would actually let a black man win? Hell no! They gave the top nod on a silver platter to that pansy boy band dropout Drew Lachey.

Puleeez! If there is any justice left in the world, there will be a congressional investigation. I have a dream that some day, a man will be judged by the quality of his ball room dancing, rather than the color of his skin.

In the meantime, bring on The Sopranos (debuts March 12, 9 p.m. diggity!).
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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mission Center maul

The City of Mission recently erected placards touting the pending destruction of the venerable Mission Center Mall.

The mall, which according to the Kansas City Star, closed its doors for good last week, will be replaced by a high-end shopping/residential center.

The Mission city council had hosted some hearings on proposals to rebuild the central business district, and the Star published a report in one of the unread back pages, but of course, I first heard details about the plans from my barber a few weeks ago.

Part of the plan is to remove the empty, rotting corpse of the Mission Center Mall and replace it with Plaza-style shops a high-rise hotel and 10-story condo building. Removing the mall shouldn't be that difficult, since it's falling apart already.

And, living only a few blocks away from the site I can't say I was too keen on the high-rise hotel and condos. Then I took a look as the presentations available on the Mission web site, and I have to say that this looks a helluva lot better than the current eyesore.

So here are a few pics from the presentation.

Here's the current view of Johnson Drive looking to the southeast (at the mall).

And, through the magic of computer imaging, a view of the proposed development.

Here's the proposed development from the Roeland Drive elevation.

And here's the "artistic" rendering

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Equal time

Okay, Cheney and the Bush administration have been taking a lot of abuse over the past few weeks, and I have to admit it's hard not to abuse them given some of the boneheaded things they've done.

Likewise with the radical and violent Muslims in reaction to this whole Muhammad cartoon thing, and rightfully so.

So now, in the interest of equal time, I want to take this opportunity to lob a few stones at the liberals' glass house.

You see, it's the House Democrats who introduced House Resolution 4694 - a decidedly undemocratic measure which seeks to limit, nay, deny third parties in American politics.

In an uncharacteristic show of balls, the Democrats led by Rep. David Obey (D-WI) named the resolution (get this) the "Let the People Decide Clean Campaign Act."

Key highlights of the resolution:
  • Mandates public funds (taken from the U.S. Treasury) to candidates for the House of Representatives
  • Forbids candidates from taking private funds such as contributions from individual donors
  • Provides funds for candidates of the "two major parties"
  • Third-party candidates must obtain enough signatures to exceed 20% of votes cast in the last election within their district to be eligible for the same funds that Republicans and Democrats would receive
  • But third-party or independent candidates cannot pay petitioners to collect the signatures that would make it possible to fund their campaigns.
So, the anti-democracy Democrats are so afraid a third party (presumably the Green Party - the reason Al Gore wasn't elected 8 years ago) will take away their votes that they want to lock everyone else out of the game.

Now, I agree that there are serious issues that need to be dealt with in the American electoral process - money and influence peddling to name a few. And you're kidding yourself if you think it's just a "Republican problem." However, the solution isn't to infringe on our rights by limiting our choices (number of parties/candidates) or our voice (monetary contributions and media purchases).

If the parties are really interested in improving the process, they should consider a drastically reduced campaign time frame. Why do we need two years of campaigning to decide who we're going to vote for, when most people just vote the party line anyway?

Limit campaign spending to a two-month period just before the election, and you'll solve 80% of the problems. And neither party would have to out themselves as the bastards they are.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Muhammad and Me

I recently added a new link to my blogroll on the right. I try to limit the number of blogs I link to here, since I use it as a kind of daily reading list.

Anyway, I discovered Muhammad And Me while perusing the referring links in recent StatCounter records.

I was immediately hooked. The artist, Bobby Wheelock, has been publishing cartoons of Mohammed and himself doing everyday activities like riding bikes, shaving, flying kites and making cupcakes.

And while there is no explicit mention of the prophet Muhammad, my personal interpretation is that this is implied.

Reading through some of the comments, it's clear that some people get it and some don't. Some post virulently angry words. And that's okay.

There are two positive results from this artwork. First, it is portraying Muhammad, and implicitly, the Muslim community, in a non-violent everyday approachable manner that is probably closer to what the majority of Muslims are like than what we see on news casts.

Secondly, it is invoking reactions in the realm of ideas, rather than the realm of embassy burnings.

So, keep up the good work, Bobby, I look forward to seeing more.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Air Nelson

From my inside source, Matt the Architect, here are the latest aerial photos of the Steven Holl-designed addition to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

UPDATE: I forgot to include a link to interior pictures I posted previously.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

I can see clearly now

Saturday morning I did something I never thought I would do.

I opened the medicine cabinet and threw away all of my contact lens paraphernalia. Lenses, lens cases, cleaning solutions, eye drops -- all went into the trash.

The "friken laser" surgery was a success. No more glasses, no more contacts, no more squinting and fumbling for my "eyes" when I wake up in the morning. For the first time in years, I'm no longer a "four-eyes."

Everything went pretty well. There were a few things that I didn't like, but on balance I'd say it's the best $3,000 I've ever spent (well, except for that weekend in Niagara. Man, that was one crazy Yom Kippur!).

So first the negatives. I felt like a complete douche bag in the pre-op (that's medical talk for "pre-operation") room. They made me wear a dorky hat and matching dorky booties over my shoes, smeared yellowish-brown iodine over my face and told me to relax.

This minor humiliation was remedied slightly by the four other people in the room who were similarly attired. It was remedied even more by the Valium they gave me to help effect the aforementioned relaxation.

As for the surgery, there was some minor discomfort caused by the clamps that keep you're eyes open and the scalpel used to slice open your cornea. I'd say it was about the same level of discomfort as getting your teeth scraped by the dentist. It wasn't that bad, really, and I think the doc liked it when I made the laser sound effects (piong! zwiong!).

The only other negative is the taste of the antibiotic eye drops they gave me ("Because this is a surgery and there is a risk of infection with all surgeries"). It turns out that when you put eye drops into your eyes, part of the solution seeps down through your sinus cavity and into the back of your throat and onto your tongue. The eye drops, which I take every four hours, are as bitter as a Democrat after election day.

But all the discomfort is worth it. It's the strangest thing to not reach for glasses first thing in the morning. Medical science truly is a miracle.

Now about that stem cell treatment for baldness...
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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Eyes only

I meant to write about this sooner, but what with Valentine's Day and VPs shooting people, I just haven't got around to it.

Tomorrow is a big day for me. My life, after nearly 25 years, will change dramatically.

I'm going in for eye surgery.

Chances are you know someone who has had laser eye surgery. Basically, they cut the lens off of your eyeball and use a laser to reshape it so that you can see again.

I can't tell you how excited I am. For the first time in ages I'll be able to see without some kind of optical prosthesis. I'll be able to see the soap and shampoo when I take a shower. When I'm at the swimming pool, I'll be able to use those goggles to look under water at the girlies' bathing suits. I won't have to worry about fumbling for my glasses if an intruder breaks into our house in the middle of the night. Oh joy!

My supermodel wife keeps telling me how nervous she is. She's afraid there will be some malfunction with the laser which will result in me having a one inch hole burned through my head. But the way I see it (currently through my coke bottle glasses), if we've learned anything from movies like Logan's Run, Goldfinger and Star Wars, medical procedures involving lasers rarely go wrong.

And if they do, you can get a neato bionic limb out of the deal.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Death by Cheney

A friend just emailed this image to me, and in the finest of Internet traditions, I'm passing it along even though it's in extremely poor taste.

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In response to Dan

I've enjoyed reading Gone Mild for some time now. Sometimes Dan almost makes sense, and I get the feeling he's just about smart enough to become a moderate.

But Dan, I'm not sure I agree with the conclusion you draw in your final paragraph of today's post regarding the whole Cheney shooting boondoggle.

I understand the release of information was delayed, but isn’t that pretty standard procedure in a situation where there might be a fatality?

I'm pretty sure that when, say, someone is shot in, say, east Kansas City, the police wait to notify next of kin, etc. If you accidentally shot someone in the face while out in the middle of nowhere, and maybe you thought you killed a good friend, wouldn't your main concern be to get them to a hospital and notify their family? If that person were of some notoriety, wouldn't you want to try to limit the "media circus" at the hospital for the family's sake?

I'm not trying to apologize for the VP, but I don’t really think the delay of a day or so in this situation was malicious or malevolent. I mean, it sounds like you’re trying to make Cheney out to be another Ted Kennedy, which is a low blow.
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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

What a Dick

There's been a lot of hoo-ha made about the "Dick Cheney Hunting Accident" – especially in the blogosphere.

I think I've shown a great deal of restraint in not taking the easy way out and writing a post about such an obvious and meaningless topic. Some people, including this guy, are using the situation to try to score political points, noting that Cheney is one of only two VPOUS's to shoot a guy while in office (here's a quick quiz question, how many VPs have shot a guy while not in office? The answer might surprise you).

They try to draw a line from this incident to a "shoot-first-ask-questions-later" philosophy that they think the administration has. But I think, from a liberal's perspective, the paranoia should be focused in another direction.

If I were a paranoid, foil hat-wearing, knee-jerk type of Liberal trying to drum up anti-administration sentiment (I know, that’s a really tough assignment these days), I'd be playing the distraction card. As in, "Cheney intentionally shot the guy in order to create a media distraction."

I mean, you have to admit that in the few days since The Shooting, there has been relatively little media attention paid to things like Domestic Spying, Oil Prices, elections, taxes (except by me), hurricanes, Karl Rove, fundraising and the Winter Olympics.

Well, okay, nobody pays attention to that last one anyway.
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Happy VD!!

Best wishes to my reader.
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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Harpooning a loophole

My supermodel wife and I were working on the 2005 tax return this weekend. The mere mention of the "T" word makes me shudder with nausea.

Most of the year, unless I'm drawn into a political discussion, I can exercise some mental gymnastics to at least convince myself not to think about all the money that I earn that the government takes from me to spend on things like buying cigarettes for homeless people or fighting wars against poverty, terrorism, drugs, hurricanes, wildfires, ozone, or whatever the cause du jour is.

But during tax time, I have to face it. The figures and dollar signs are all right there in black and white in triplicate. I have a theory that per-capita alcohol consumption increases during this time of year, and it's not because of the Super Bowl.

Luckily, I think I've found a loophole. All I have to do is change professions. As I was googling for information regarding the limits and processes for deductions on charitable contributions of property, I ran across this little chestnut in IRS Publication 526.
"Expenses of Whaling Captains

Beginning in 2005, you may be able to deduct as a charitable contribution the reasonable and necessary whaling expenses paid during the year in carrying out sanctioned whaling activities."
That's right. All I have to do is become a Whaling Captain, and I'll be able to deduct pretty much all of the "reasonable and necessary" expenses of doing my job.

Now, granted, it might be difficult to find a lot of whales in Kansas. I mean, the Missouri River and Tuttle Creek Reservoir are the largest bodies of water (not counting the Ogollala, which is drying up anyway.) But I didn't read in IRS Publication 526 that you had to be a successful whaling captain.

For once the government has passed a tax law that helps me.
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Friday, February 10, 2006

Who is Roc Swizec?

So I'm taking a leisurely amble through the recent server logs for this blog (that's right, I'm checking up on you), when I noticed a link from blogshares.com. Since, like George Bush and the NSA, I'm always trying to spy on everyone on the Internet, and also because I'm a little curious, I clicked the link to check it out.

Blogshares, it turns out, is a derivative of the fantasy stock market game -- using blogs as the "companies" traded. So when you submit your blog, there are a number of shares and the shares are assigned a market value based on quality of and demand for such shares.

I know, I don' really understand the stock market either.

But I was surprised to find the shares for Three O'Clock in the Morning fetching an impressive B$19.24 each (B$= "blog" dollars, duh).

Not only that, but the market valuation for this blog came in at a whopping B$3,180.84, a small number now, but just take a look at the growth curve. And according to the Blogshares analyst (whoever that is) my blog "is a growing blog (BUY)" and my "stock is underpriced (BUY)"

But whom do I have to thank for this. Well, the only person to "buy" stock in my blog is the enigmatic Roc Swizec. Very little is known about Mr. Swizec. He seems to be a very mysterious figure. I only hope he isn't involved with some kind of nefarious underground blog crime ring.

But if he is, maybe he can help be convert some of this B$ into real cannolis (as Tony Soprano would say).

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Roeland Row

It looks like the city council in Roeland Park is taking diplomacy lessons from the Jackson County Legislature.

According to intrepid reporter Michelle Burhenn, discussion at a recent council meeting devolved in the end into petty bickering and name calling.

The mayor accused one of the council members of misuse of a credit card, the council blasted the mayor for appointing himself to a meaningless historical committee, blah blah blah.

The only thing missing was a fistfight, which I guess shows that Johnson County is still much more civilized than KCMO.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006


A friend and fellow KSU alumnus sent this story to me. I don't know whether it's true, but if it is, it represents a set of priorities that is in short supply in the world of athletics. Are there any K-State fans out there who can confirm this? Ron Prince came to KSU from the University of Virginia. Any insight from that community?
"A young boy was throwing a football around with his older brother after school at the end of January. The little boy loved football and K-State. The family are also huge K-State fans.

While the little boy was running for the football that his older brother had thrown, he fell on a hard service and severely injured his neck/throat on the school sign. His older brother carried him into the school to receive help. On the way to the hospital the little boy died.

With Halstead being such a small community everyone was crushed. So the counselor of the school emailed K-State the day before funeral service to tell them what happened and I guess was hoping to get a card or something for the older brother.

Obviously he was extremely upset. The morning of the funeral the counselor gets an email from Ron Prince asking what time the service is. She replies that it's that morning only only two hours from then.
Fifteen minutes into the funeral service Coach Prince walked in. He stayed afterwards to talk with the family and the older brother who was obviously taking it very hard.

Needless to say the town was amazed by this. The principle who is a huge KU fan (named his dog Jayhawk) was taken back by this and said he probably do something he swore he'd never do - start cheering for K-State.

This is a true story, but the funeral was in Newton and the boy and his family were from Halstead, KS. The only thing that makes this story even more impressive about Coach Prince is that this funeral was the morning before Signing Day and thus, the final day to sign recruits for the 2006 season.

Coach Prince got in his car and drove directly to the funeral as soon as the school counselor returned his call last Tuesday morning. Coach Prince said it was one of the most difficult things he has ever witnessed (a funeral for a young child) and that HE was buoyed by the strength of the boys' family. The 12 year-old boy who died has an older sister who is enrolled at KSU."

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Razors edges

My grandmother is 94 years old. Almost a century.

She's seen America blossom from an agrarian upstart to a techno-superpower. From the nascence of flight to the moon landing, the splitting of the atom and the printed circuit, her life has born witness to technological advances that would seem like miracles just 200 years ago.

And, as of Sunday night, I witnessed the unveiling of one of those advances as well.


No, not nuclear fusion. Rather, the new Fusion razor from Gillette. This astounding advance in shaving technology was launched with a Super Bowl ad that was glitzy enough to send metrosexual men everywhere into a twitter.

The new device one-ups the four-bladed battery-powered Schick Quattro by adding an additional cutting blade, as well as a computer-controlled battery-powered vibrating motor. What will they think of next (lemme guess, six blades)?

But this latest escalation of the blade wars gave me pause to ask myself: Just because we can develop a five-bladed razor, should we?

I remember when I was a young lad and first began to grow fuzz on my chin, I was content to use a single-bladed razor. Then, when Gillette launched the radical new two bladed Sensor, I became hooked on the $5-dollar blade refills. It truly did seem to give me a closer shave.

But five blades!?!? Do we really know what we're getting into? I mean, where will it all end? How can we be sure this five-bladed technology will be used for good instead of evil.

I seriously think it's time to rethink our national addiction to multi-bladed, computer-chip-controlled vibrating razors. We have to think of the future. What kind of clean-shaven world do we want to leave for our children and grandchildren?

I hereby call for the government to step in and regulate the development of multi-bladed razors as well as the research into other advanced hair removal technology. Please join me by writing to your senators and congressmen (don't bother with the congresswomen), to insist upon the establishment of an independent committee to study the issue.

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Another side

I wanted to post a huge thanks for Front Bumper's comments on this post and for his post on a similar topic on his blog.

Particularly, it's encouraging to note the list of Syrian bloggers who have the kind of response a reasonable person might expect. The sentiments of these people and more like them represent the best hope for peace and progress.

Here is a partial list with some quotes:

The Damascene Blog
Everything went well until the mobs took out to the streets on Saturday. It is quite unfortunate to see that the Muslim street is still controlled by extremist ideas that are, in fact, very un-Islamic. The mobs harmed the cause and gave another blow to the image of Islam. If this is what protests will be like, they should stop immediately. As long as the extremists control the street, moderate Muslims will fail to defend their religion properly and will always find themselves between a rock and a hard place.

Earth to Omar
I don’t get it! If anything we are now in a worse situation than we were before. I can just imagine millions of people in Europe right now saying “see, I told you so”. What bothers me is how easy it is for a bunch of thugs to come along and create such a horrible image for Arabs. The people who commit such acts are the ones who fuel the western media with excellent news stories which further echo Arab fanaticism and ignorance.

Bits & Bites of Syria
I felt furious for this kind of response. This is not us, or at least, not what I thought we were not!

I welcomed, both, the commercial and diplomatic actions in response to the cartoons that mocked the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and for once, I felt that we are reacting in a civilized manner! Not any more!

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Sunday, February 05, 2006

Making Muhammad proud

From the AP:
  • Muslims rampaged Sunday in Beirut, setting fire to the Danish Embassy,
  • flames and smoke billowed from the building. Security officials said at least 30 people were injured.
  • lobbing stones at a Maronite Catholic church
  • demonstrators in Syria charged security barriers outside the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and sent the buildings up in flames
The Prophet Muhammad must be so proud of these acts. They are sure to advance the cause of Islam all over the world.

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Friday, February 03, 2006

When the Shiite hits the fan

I heard and read about the recent demonstrations by the Muslim communities in Europe and the Middle East.

What is stirring up the controversy? Abuses at Abu Grahib? High unemployment and racism in Paris? The rising civilian death toll in Iraq?

Nope. All of the recent protests and outrage are the result of a Danish editorial cartoon. The cartoon depicts the Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban with a fuse attached, as if it were a bomb. The caricature was picked up and published by several newspapers throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Of course any reasonable Muslim would be offended, just as Christians are offended when Jesus is depicted in unflattering caricatures.

But the reactions in Europe and the middle east are, how shall I say, extreme. For example, according to the Associated Press, 150 demonstrators in Indonesia hurled eggs at the building housing the Danish Embassy, then stormed in, pushing past security guards.

The problem is that all of this outrage is misplaced. The editorial cartoon is the reflection of a world view that has developed as a result of the actions of extreme element of the religion.

There should be outrage by Muslims, but is should be directed inward (in-rage?) toward the people in their religion who adopt violent and terroristic tactics, thus undermining the message of peace, love and understanding from mainstream Muslims.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shiite cleric in Iraq, hit the nail near the head when he said the militant Muslims bore part of the blame for distorting Islam's image.

According to the AP, he referred to "misguided and oppressive" segments of the Muslim community and said their actions "projected a distorted and dark image of the faith of justice, love and brotherhood."

What I would like to see is a call by the Muslim leadership, both abroad and in the U.S., for large demonstrations to denounce the militant edges of the Islam. That would go much farther than burning a Danish flag.

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Why I play golf

A lot of people I talk to, particularly women, don't get the point of golf.

"You're hitting a little white ball," they say. "You hit it, walk over to where it lands, and hit it again. What's the point."

For those people, I'm publishing 7 reasons why I play golf. I think you'll agree that this list makes a compelling argument.

Reason #1
Reason #2
Reason #3
Reason #5
Reason #6

And perhaps one of the most important reasons of all...
Reason #7
Brings new meaning to the phrase "A hole in one."

Mad props to my supermodel sister-in-law for the tip.

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Peanut Butter Jelly Time

It's an oldie but a goodie, and it still makes me laugh. I just needed to smile today.

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