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So, today is my birthday.  I am 40 years old.  First of all, I would like to thank everyone that wished me a happy birthday.  You made me feel truly special.  I even got a Happy Birthday a day early from my buddy, Dan in New Zealand.

I have been thinking about how everyone reacts differently to birthdays, especially older ones.  Most of my friends that hear that I am turning 40 seem to want to give me condolences.  It is as if getting older is a bad thing.  It really isn’t.  The bottom line is that having a birthday signifies the fact that I am alive.  I personally am not ready for the alternative.  So birthdays, keep on comin’.

For me, today could not have possibly gone bad.  My wife threw me an awesome surprise birthday party two weeks ago which was so awesome that anything that happened today was truly icing on the cake.  That being said, I had a great day.  It started with playing golf with my buddy Nick.  I was very happy he could come out and play despite the fact of being newly married.  We had the slowest round of golf EVER.  I remember great conversations, and I think we played golf too.  After golf I hung out with the family and opened up two presents from my sons.  Afterwards, my wife got a babysitter and she and I hung out for a couple of hours.  Very cool.  We had chinese food for dinner and homemade carrot cake for dessert.  The carrot cake was awesome, made just the way I like it, cream cheese frosting with absolutely no additions beyond carrots.  That’s right, no nuts and definitely no raisins.  It was pure, unadulterated carrot cake.  Then to top it all off, I get a butt load of Facebook birthday wishes to remind me that there are people in the world that think about me.  If for no other reason, birthday wishes are why everyone should be happy about birthdays.

So, to commemorate my birthday blog, I would like to share my most favorite birthday songs, three of them actually:

3.  Birthday by the Beatles
2.  Happy Birthday by Stevie Wonder

1.  And my favorite birthday song of all-time:  The Birthday Song by Jon Lavoie

WARNING!!! The following song has explicit lyrics.  If you do not like bad words or language that describes adult acts or anything that might be considered naughty and unacceptable to be played in church, then DO NOT LISTEN to the song.  Ye Be Warned Says I.

But it is really funny:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Youp9r30hjs

Thanks everyone.  Happy Birthday to me.

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You ever notice that some words are made negative by their prefixes, but the positive form of the word is lost.  For example, you would say that I disdain you, but you would never say I ‘dain’ you.  Or if something can be untouchable, can a more positive item be ‘touchable’?  I can be overwhelmed, even underwhelmed, but what about just whelmed.  Well, if you are reading this blog, be aware that I dain you, I really do.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I have decided that I am officially old.  I don’t think I am old because of my age, although turning 40 in just over three weeks doesn’t help, but it’s official because of my son.  Last Sunday I picked up my son from his mom.  He was playing a game on her cell phone in her car.

A Very Addictive Game

The game was Angry Birds.  I had never played Angry Birds.  I had never seen Angry Birds.  I heard about the game, but had no idea how to play it.  Brett’s mom suggested that he show me how to play the game.  He did, and he was quite good at the game.

Do you know why this game made me feel old?  I have always been up to date.  ALWAYS!  I am up to date on pop culture and I am up to date with technology.  I was creating web sites before there were programs to make web sites.  That’s right, I know how to write HTML code.  Of course, no one does that anymore, but when I did, very few knew how.  Did it make me cool?  Of course not!  But that’s not the point.  The point is, if you were to ask me about anything a 10 year-old to a 25 year-old would know about, I would know about it.

I have always felt that I would feel old when my children did things that I thought were stupid.  Isn’t that the definition of being old?  I feel like sitting on my porch and yelling “Damn kids!”  The first sign of me getting old was when my son and I were at a movie and we saw a preview of ‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’.

Would it be wrong to forbid any Bieber CD to exist in my house?

My son turned to me and said, “I might want to see that.”  WHAT!?!?  I am sorry, but I just can’t support that.  Now, I did not actually say that, but I thought it.  I felt like saying, that’s not music, I will show you some real music.  And that is exactly what an old person would say.

I have always prided myself in being up to date, being hip, cool with the kids, and down with the homies, but no more, I am outdated with no chance for an upgrade.  I wake up with aches and pains, I am nowhere near the shape I used to be, and my favorite activity is golf.  I practically have one foot in the grave.  So, what am I going to do about it?  I plan on embracing it.  I have no problem with getting older.  I will break 80 in golf this year, I just bought a brand new bottle of Ibuprofen, and I am delusional enough to believe that I am capable of getting my 25 year-old body back, and if I don’t, “Choice Man!  Choice.”

Remember this movie? Then you are old too.

I like my life.  I am getting older and that’s OK.  Besides, what’s the alternative?  If I am not getting older, I’m dead.  So, it’s you and me Father Time.  Bring it on!  Besides, I just completed Angry Birds and I am only missing three stars.  Take that Brett!

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I am a fan of Justin Timberlake.  You read that right, a huge fan.  I think everything he does is brilliant.  I love his music, his acting, and he golfs.  If I ever meet him, I will ask him to be my new BFF.  You may think I am crazy or pathetic, but I have a JT man-crush.  He just looks like he is having fun.  If I ever become famous, I plan on handling my fame the same way that he does.  He is awesome.  Did I mention he golfs?  I’m just sayin …

This may be my new look. What's not to love?

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So, I was planning on playing a little golf today, but I did not.  Do you know why?  I didn’t play because it was too cold and windy.   That’s right, too cold.  Do you know what today is?  It’s May 26th.  In less than one week it will be June.  If I could punch Wisconsin weather in the face, I would.  Annoying as Wisconsin weather can be, even this is an abnormal May for Wisconsin.  It could be worse.  I could have a tornado going down my street.  I’ll say this much, if one was to predict the Rapture, this was certainly a good year for it.  Sheesh.

Complaining aside, the weather was not what I wanted to blog about.  I am about to get on my high horse.  Ye be warned says I.

About a week ago, the big wigs of McDonald’s decided not to ban Ronald McDonald.

At least he is not obese.

You may be asking yourself, why would McDonald’s consider banning their icon of 50 years?  I’ll tell you why.  Over a year ago,  the same corporate watchdog group (Corporate Accountability International) that got rid of Joe Camel set its sights on getting rid of Ronald McDonald.  The argument is simple:  McDonald’s is trying to target your kids and convince them through the magic of advertising that McDonald’s is where they want to eat.  If you have kids, you know as well as I do that McDonald’s has succeeded in their goal.

Here is the problem I have with stories like this:  Who’s responsibility is it to make sure that your kids are eating properly?  Because the last time I checked, five-year-olds are not driving to McDonald’s and ordering a Happy Meal.  It’s McDonald’s job to get your kids to want to eat at McDonald’s.  It is the parent’s job to monitor what the child eats.  Am I to believe that it is now McDonald’s job to be a fast food restaurant and a parent?  I don’t think so.  When I was a kid I didn’t eat McDonald’s every day.  You know why?  Because my mom wouldn’t allow it.  My wife takes our kids to the McDonald’s Playland without ordering food.  She can do this because she is in charge of our kids.  What a concept!  A parent in charge of the kids.

I hope Ronald McDonald does get fired.  Not because of his influence on kids, but because I hate clowns.  If a restaurant wants to get rid of trans fats, or give happy meals a fruit option, or if an owner wants to put caloric information on menus, fine, but don’t make it a law.  You know who makes the laws in my house?  I do.  And if you can’t keep your 3-year-old from eating a Happy Meal, the problem isn’t a big, floppy red boot wearing clown, it’s you.  Parent your child and make the right choices for them, so that when they get older, maybe, just maybe, they will know why having a daily Big Mac may not be the best plan.

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I am not a sushi guy.  I don’t hate sushi, but I would never travel to a restaurant for the sole reason of eating sushi.  If you are a sushi person, this is what you would do and have done.  Nonetheless, the best sushi I have ever eaten was from a restaurant in Vancouver, Canada.  First of all, Vancouver may be the best city I have ever been to, EVER, and I have been to a lot of different cities on this planet.  I went to a Japanese restaurant on a recommendation and I was not disappointed.  I knew it was going to be good, because 90% of the people eating there were Japanese.  Most people were talking in Japanese, including the restaurant staff.  The sushi was so fresh that my fish begged me not to eat him, telling me this crazy story of how he was trying to find his dad.  He was delicious.  Best sushi and best Japanese restaurant I have ever been to.  You may not be aware of this, but the West coast of North America has a long history of Japanese immigration.  This was especially problematic during World War II.  Over 100, 000 Japanese were placed in internment camps.  I bet you didn’t know that the US had internment camps.  Well, we did.  I bet you won’t find that in your 8th grade history book.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I am at home visiting the family for Thanksgiving.  My wife, and three kids braved the crazy airport scene to arrive in California where most of my family resides.  If you can avoid LAX, I highly recommend it.  We landed at 8:45 pm and did not get out of the airport until 10:15.  Here is the thing, we got all of our bags at 9:20.  It took us almost an hour just to get out of the airport, CRAZY!  The bizarre thing is that I was born and raised in LA, but now this place feels like a foreign country to me.

If you are from the Midwest, which now I must say I am a Midwesterner (You have no idea how sad it is to write that.  I am even looking at it now and thinking if I should erase it, but sadly, I can’t, the Midwest is my home now. Sad clown), you should consider a trip to LA for the experience.  I promise you, the city will not let you down.  It starts with the flight into the airport, where you will see more lights on the ground then possibly anywhere else on the planet (and I have been to a lot of the planet).  When you arrive, you will see every walk of life; black, white, hispanic, asian, muslim, greek, jews, gentiles, you name it, they will be there.  Also, foreign languages will be spoken all around you.  When I go to the grocery store near my mom’s house, the dominant language by far is Spanish.  You might find that odd, I find it very cool.  The bottom line is, despite having way too many people, too many cars, traffic at 3am, and times of smog that could kill a canary, I love LA.  However, I now must say, great place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here.

Alright, now that was a huge digression.  I want to talk about family, my family, all of my family.  On Thanksgiving we ate at my Dad’s house. 

This picture is nothing like dinner at our house. First of all there are no ribs in the picture. Secondly, there is no can-shaped cranberry sauce (A must have. Don't eat, but must have). And who eats fresh green beans? Where is the green bean crap?

At the house were my father, stepmother, stepsisters and their families, my stepbrother and his family, my sister and her kids, my cousins, my family, some random people I didn’t know and my mom.  There was like 35 of us.  The dinner was planned and hosted by my stepmom and it was a great time.  There were babies everywhere and multiple generations.  We shared stories, laughed, and ate; we ate a lot.  Looking around the gathering I couldn’t help but think to myself, this is who I am, this is me.  All of this is what has made me who I am and if you are like me, I would encourage you to embrace that fact.  Your family and my family has made us who we are today.

My sister who tells a story of my father’s arrogance.  She says, “Am I right? He is arrogant!”  My father notices that no one is disagreeing with her.  Everyone in the room doesn’t say a word as everyone looks at each other and bust out laughing because we all know it’s true.  Even my mom chimes in on how my father has the ability to smooth talk his way through any situation, fully expecting to get his way. – this is me.

We share how my mother used to make all of us stand in line at the grocery store as she headed back into the store to find more items.  If she came back and we did not hold our position, or if the checker made us move, she would get mad at us for not standing our ground.  Always stand your ground. – this is me.

My father talked of not knowing his father and being raised by his mother.  It is very clear that despite not being raised by his father that he did not take that path.  He broke his cycle, and became a father to his kids, all of his kids.  You see, my sister’s dad is not my dad, nor my older brother’s, and obviously not my stepbrother’s and stepsisters’, but you wouldn’t know it in that room.  He may not be the father by blood, but he is father by action. – this too is me.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, I hope you spent the time with your family.  Maybe it was stressful, maybe it was joyous, maybe your drunk uncle got out of control again, but remember this:  Your family has made you who you are, some for the good, and some for the bad, but all you, and if you take a moment, you will see the little origins of you in the faces and actions of your family members.

I could go on and on with family stories from this weekend, but what I will remember most is that we may not be the Brady Bunch, the Cleaver’s or even the Cosby’s, but we are truly the Modern Family.  They made me who I am.  And remember this, if your family is the best at pushing your buttons, you shouldn’t be surprised because they are the ones that installed them.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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I went golfing with my father, brother and stepbrother yesterday.  It was awesome.  So awesome we are going to try to do it every year.  The funny thing is we all complained of the cold.  I live in Wisconsin, so it made me laugh because the temperature was about 60.  I now know why I hate Wisconsin winters so much, I clearly have a California weather gene.  I’m just sayin …

I’m Just sayin … (Part II)

Is it just me or when you go home you walk through a time warp and the family dynamics become that of when you were a kid?  I’m a grown-ass man with kids, but when I am home I can’t help but wonder why it’s Thanksgiving and my mom has not made my apple pie yet.  I may throw a tantrum soon.  Wrong? Yes, but true.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I have decided that I love old dudes.  I don’t love naked old dudes (see Old, Fat and NUDE), but I do love old dudes.

It all started with a golf course.  I took golf lessons from a guy from a pro at a local 9-hole golf course about two years ago.  It is about 10 minutes from my house.  I enjoyed taking lessons from this guy so much, whenever I get a chance to play golf, I play at his course.  I have played there so much over the past two years that I am officially a regular.  When I enter the pro shop, I am greeted with a “Hey Brett, how is the new little girl?  Sleeping at night?”  As a matter of fact, before Violet was born, for two to three weeks I could not set foot on the course without someone driving their golf cart from another hole after seeing me from a distance (I am not difficult to spot from a distance on a golf course.  It’s like a Where’s Waldo for the blind.) just to ask if my daughter was born yet.  I never pay full price, and sometimes the pro will play a round with me just for fun and I get a free cart.  I am thinking about having my 40th birthday at this course.  I asked the manager about it, and he gave me my favorite line “It is normally 3-4 hundred bucks, but for you, 250.”

Is there a better sentence than one that ends in “…for you, we can do better.”  I love the hook up.  The bottom line is that I love special attention.  The cool thing is, I never ask for it.  If you know me, you know I would never walk into a place and ask everyone to be friends with me, but it just happens.  Interestingly, it happens for my son, Brett Jr. as well.  He hates talking to strangers, but everyone loves him.  It must be a gene.

I digress.  Now, prior to Violet being born, I made one promise to myself: To play as much golf as possible before her arrival.  Because I play on weekdays and usually early mornings, I played golf with a lot of old dudes.  Their average age is probably around 70.  I was even invited to play in their senior league on Wednesday mornings.  I could not commit every Wednesday, but on the days that I showed up, they placed me on a team that needed a player and I was welcomed with open, wrinkly arms.

As a result of my summer experiences and as recent as last week playing with an 80-year-old man, I have come to learn a few things about older men; not only do I love them, but old dudes don’t give a shit.

I am officially looking forward to turning 40 next year and beyond.  Oh to be as relaxed as an 80-year-old on a golf course.  Now that is something to wish for.  They just don’t care.  They are happy to be alive and happy to be playing golf.  They tell great stories and tell the truth about life in the most enjoyable way.  There is no doubt in my mind that I have played with some guys that used to be rich business men, CEOs, criminals, partially and/or fully racists, veterans, and in general crazy dudes when they were younger, but they have drunk the chill Kool-Aid and no longer give a care.  I love ‘em.

What is my favorite thing about them? They love to bad mouth women.  I don’t mean bad names, or degrading words, but the typical stereotypes of men versus women stories are classic.  I am not condoning bad mouthing women, but it is the freedom that they all share about their conversations.  It has made me come to one simple conclusion:  With freedom comes a cost.  You have got to be done with sex.  If you had no desire to ever have sex again, what thoughts in your head would you allow to see the light of day?  Think about it.  I love my wife, and I have a healthy fear of her on a regular basis, but I would never, ever let every thought that crosses my mind out of my head.  I am not stupid.  But what if I was done F#@king?  That’s right, freedom.  Welcome to the world of the old dude.  Say whatever the hell you want plus golf.  It doesn’t get any better than that.  Old age here I come.

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One night I went to the fridge for milk and we were dangerously low.  We did have breast milk though.  Would it have been wrong?  I was also thinking, if I created a drink, like rum, whiskey and breast milk, who would drink it?  You know it would be a popular drink somewhere on this planet.  A weird twisted part of the planet, but it would be popular.  I’m just sayin …

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