The Lighter Side
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Friday, July 14, 2017
Remember taking family photos? Photos we took with actual cameras instead of phones? Pictures on actual film that you had to take in for developing? Then you'd come home with a fat envelope full of prints? Remember how you never knew if your photos had come out the way you wanted until you held them in your hand?

Now we view our photos on a screen. We delete them if we don't like the way we look. We plug our cameras or phones into our computers, transfer the photos, and, with the exception of those we share on social media, we forget all about them.

I was cleaning the back bedroom last weekend when I came across a box of old pictures. I found my wedding photos, tons of random snapshots of the kids and our pets, and lots of goofy pictures from family vacations, baseball outings, the kids in Halloween costumes...

I had always meant to hang them - I even had the frames - but I just never got around to it. Right there on the spot, I decided our photos had been hidden away for too long. With my handful of frames and some picture hangers, I went to work. I framed and put up all those pictures up and down the walls on either side of the staircase.

I didn't get that back bedroom clean, but I did create a family gallery that stretched from a worn out photo of my parents' wedding party to a picture of my own family on vacation. And the pictures I like best? The ones where we look goofy, or tired, or someone's eyes were closed. The photos that would have been deleted from our digital devices and our memories...they turned out to be my favorites.

Your "No Such Thing as a 'Bad' Picture" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, July 7, 2017
Pregnancy can be a burden for women. Sure there's the "glow" that everyone talks about but there's also the morning sickness, the bloating, the cravings, the back pain, and feeling like there's a bowling ball sitting on top of your bladder for half a year. Men aren't always spared the discomfort, either. Some get what's called "Couvade Syndrome". Whether it's psychosomatic, hormonal, or just plain sympathy, the symptoms are real and some are quite painful. Men can be afflicted with back pain, stomach upset, food cravings, end even breast swelling during their partner's pregnancy.

As if that's not enough for the poor expectant dad to endure, some cultures make sure that men feel the pain of pregnancy by deliberately forcing symptoms to emerge. But the Huichol Indians take it to a whole new level, making sure that men feel the pain of childbirth as well. In an elaborate ritual that takes place during labor, the father sits above his wife with ropes tied to his testicles. (Yes, you read that right!) These ropes are held by his wife. When the expectant mother has a contraction, she pulls on the rope...the rest is, well, self-explanatory.

American moms have less elaborate rituals of their own. Rituals for which American fathers, even if they suffer from Couvade Syndrome, should be grateful. After all, a 4AM run to the all-night market for a pint of chocolate-chocolate ice cream, a jar of pickles, and a back pillow is better than having a rope tied around the "family jewels"!

Your "That's Gotta Hurt!" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, June 30, 2017
Every year on the Monday following the switch to Daylight Savings Time, we celebrate National Napping Day. Well, I do anyway. It makes sense to nap after the Spring Forward adjustment so you can  make up for that lost hour of sleep. The largely unknown holiday was dreamed up by Boston University Professor William Anthony and his wife to illustrate the benefits of napping. The Anthonys have hard evidence to back up their claim that Naps Are Good - so good, in fact, that napping shouldn't be reserved for just one day a year.

After conducting exhaustive (pun intended) research, their team proved that a short sleep enhances both mood and performance and helps carry you through the rest of the day. Sleep-deprived people perform routine and repetitive tasks pretty well, but most of us need a few midday winks to keep our creativity and our critical thinking skills at morning levels.

Mid-afternoon naps have been part of human culture for thousands of years - even during the workday. But what if your boss isn't the type to let you sleep on the job? Show them this article from Entrepreneur Magazine saying leaders should embrace on-the-clock napping. The article points out that besides productivity gains, a twenty minute nap makes employees less irritable, which makes them easier to work with.

There are SO many reasons to grab a midday snooze. But the best one is the simplest: a nap just feels good.

Your "Let's Catch Some ZZZZZZs" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, June 23, 2017
Cat Ladies (and Gentlemen) rejoice: The American Museum of the House Cat is now open! Today we'd like to salute Dr. Harold Sims, who has been collecting feline related fun stuff for over 30 years. Now he's putting it all on display to help fund his no-kill kitty shelter, CatMan2.

You'll see:
  • Modern fine art.
  • Fine picture art dating back to the late 1800s.
  • Poster art.
  • Vintage cat advertising (one of my favorites).
  • Antique automated toy cats from the 1890s.
  • Art glass cats.
  • Cat clocks.
  • Folk art.
  • Cat themed window displays.
Dr. Sims has the largest and most valuable collection of kitty kitsch in the country, so it's impossible to list it all here. You'll just have to visit Sylva, North Carolina to see for yourself. But don't worry: the museum isn't off the beaten path. It's located at the gateway to the Smokey Mountain National Park, just a hair off of U.S. Highway 441. You can fly into Asheville and be there in one short hour, which leaves plenty of time for a cat nap on the way (as long as you're not doing the driving).

When you get there, you'll see the good doctor's purrrfect prescription for keeping his no-kill shelter operating indefinitely. And you'll get to spend time with your people: cat lovers! I could spend nine lives there, but I'd settle for a summer visit instead.

Your "Send Me to Sylva for the Summer" Gift Guru,

Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, June 16, 2017
There's hardly ever a Lighter Side to crime, but this one takes the Ironic Justice award.

When Lawrence Riddle robbed the Bank of Labor in Kansas City he was hoping to go to prison. Why? After his arrest, Riddle told authorities that he'd rather be in jail than at home with his wife.

So he robbed a bank Old School style -  just like in a vintage black-and-white movie. He gave the teller a note that said "I have a gun, give me money." The teller promptly gave him all the cash in her drawer - about $3,000. But instead of jumping into a fast getaway car, he sat down in the lobby waiting for the police to collect him.

In court this week both Riddle's lawyer and federal prosecutors asked for leniency because Mr. Riddle had been suffering from severe depression after having heart surgery. Plus, all the police found on his person was a hair brush and some nail clippers - no gun. Then Riddle apologized, telling the judge that he never intended to frighten the teller. He also testified that he was feeling like his "old self" again after getting treatment for his depression.

Robbing a bank without doing some prison time is almost unheard of. But in a rare move, the U.S. District Court granted leniency - sort of. Mr. Riddle was sentenced to 3 years probation, 50 hours of community service, and six months house arrest by Judge Carlos Murguia - whose sense of justice is apparently as keen as his sense of irony.

Your "Don't Do the Crime if You Can't Do the Time" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, June 9, 2017
Trying to get your beach body ready for summer? Susan Peirce Thompson, President of the Institute for Sustainable Weight Loss, has some advice for you: slip into some slippers.

Wait, what?

According to Thompson, trying to lose weight is exhausting. Even without those punishing visits to the gym. And there are two very good reasons for your fat-fighting fatigue:
  1. Fat cells are crammed full of toxins. When you diet, your body burns these "garbage can" fat cells for fuel and the toxins literally flood your bloodstream. So you get tired. Very tired. 
  2. At the same time, you're consuming a lot fewer calories. In fact, you're not getting the fuel you need just to function normally. To use your fat cells for fuel your body runs at a deficit. Which makes you more tired.  
So here you are, depleted, tired, and you're supposed to use your willpower to stay away from unhealthy fat-building foods? Under the best of circumstances human willpower holds out for about 15 minutes. When you add the stress and physical fatigue of exercise, your willpower is outgunned. Instead of exercising you should be laser-focused on building new eating habits.

Bottom line, her advice for sustainable weight loss is this: "Drink a lot of water. Rest. Keep your eating immaculate. Imagine yourself shuffling around in bedroom slippers all day."  According to Thompson, you can "watch your bulges melt away" if you just kick off your sneakers and kick back in your slippers.

You don't have to tell me twice!

Your "Sneakers Off!" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, June 2, 2017
Every year, I ask my dad what he wants for Father's Day. The answer is always the same: "I don't need anything."

To which I reply, "That's not really the point of Father's Day, Dad." Then he just waves me off with that universal Dad Grunt, which leaves me to my own devices as far as finding the perfect gift for Pop.

This year he surprised me. When I asked what he wanted, he said, "No gifts. I want all of you and all the grandkids to turn off your infernal gizmos and gadgets. Just for a while."

"That's all?" I asked.

"Yep. Let's just have dinner and talk to each other for a change," he said. Then he crossed his arms over his chest and looked over his reading glasses at me, "Really, Linda. That's all I want."

Now anyone with kids knows that it's a mighty feat to get them off of their devices even for a minute, let alone an hour or two. But I'm going to make it happen, even if I have to be the Bad Guy this Father's Day.

Because my dad has never asked for anything for Father's Day in his life. So if that's what Dad wants, that's what he's getting! But he'll have to forgive me if I pick out one or two nice gifts, too. Because being a gift guru is in my blood and that's what I want to do for Father's Day.

Your "Tune Into Dad" Gift Guru,
Posted by: Linda | 8:00 AM | permalink

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