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etc. - a little of this, a little of that - by Oliver Del Signore

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category


Coffee may really be good for you after all

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — janice m.


Over the years, stories and studies have sometimes praised coffee drinking and other times condemned it.

I’ve always believed that pretty much everything can be good or bad for you depending on how much you consume, how often you consume it, and probably a host of other factors I never cared enough to discover. I figure that if I spend all my time worrying about everything, I’ll be wasting a whole lot of my life that could be better spent enjoying the many and varied things the world has to offer. So when it comes to liquid refreshment, for example, I enjoy my morning coffee without worrying that it might be raising my “bad” cholesterol or blood pressure. I also drink tea — green, white, all kinds — though mostly during the winter. And if I lived there, I’d be one of the folks getting New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg’s panties in a bunch over the evil and hated sugar drinks, which I very occasionally consume.

I just don’t worry about it. One day, I’m going to die of something so I might as well enjoy  what time I have as best I can.

What does that have to do with coffee? Well, it turns out, according to a recent study, that my coffee drinking might actually be buying me a little more time to enjoy the other things in life.

Study finds java drinkers live longer

One of life’s simple pleasures just got a little sweeter. After years of waffling research on coffee and health, even some fear that java might raise the risk of heart disease, a big study finds the opposite: Coffee drinkers are a little more likely to live longer. Regular or decaf doesn’t matter.

The study of 400,000 people is the largest ever done on the issue, and the results should reassure any coffee lovers who think it’s a guilty pleasure that may do harm.

“Our study suggests that’s really not the case,” said lead researcher Neal Freedman of the National Cancer Institute. “There may actually be a modest benefit of coffee drinking.”

No one knows why. Coffee contains a thousand things that can affect health, from helpful antioxidants to tiny amounts of substances linked to cancer. The most widely studied ingredient — caffeine — didn’t play a role in the new study’s results.

It’s not that earlier studies were wrong. There is evidence that coffee can raise LDL, or bad cholesterol, and blood pressure at least short-term, and those in turn can raise the risk of heart disease.

Even in the new study, it first seemed that coffee drinkers were more likely to die at any given time. But they also tended to smoke, drink more alcohol, eat more red meat and exercise less than non-coffee-drinkers. Once researchers took those things into account, a clear pattern emerged: Each cup of coffee per day nudged up the chances of living longer.

Click Here to read the rest of the story.

I drink about two cups of coffee a day and though the study indicates drinking more could further decrease my chance of dying at any particular age, I’m going to stick with the beverage I most enjoy for the bulk of my liquid intake — plain old room temperature water.

What about you?

Are you a coffee drinker? If so, how many 8-ounce cups a day?

Will this study tempt you to drink more?

And if you don’t drink coffee, will the results of this study tempt you to give it a try?


Truth in Toons: City Folk on a Farm Edition, Part 1

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?


For the past few weeks, Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse characters have “vacationed” on a relative’s farm.

I found the sequence amusing and thought you might, too.

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.










Truth in Toons: Teenage Son Edition

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?







A truth about daddies

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

A couple of decades ago, one of my Christmas presents from my then-very-young children was a framed picture of a man holding the hand of a young child as they walked toward a sunset.  The text said, “Anyone can be a Father but it takes someone special to be a Daddy.”

I’m sure most of you have encountered the quote at one time or another. Certainly, it’s all over the net. But it was the first time I ever saw it and it meant a lot to me. I still have it.

The cartoon, below, got me thinking about that picture and quote and my children.

When they were young, I loved goofing with my kids, making up stories that just happened to feature heroes and heroines with their names, playing GI Joe or He-Man with Michael and Care Bears and Winnie the Pooh with Cathy, and anything else that was fun. And I sometimes managed to sneak a little learning to the fun, just as I snuck a little nutrition and fiber into their green and red and purple pancakes.

Looking back, I can see how, as they grew and matured, daddy time gave way to father time. It had to, of course, as they became teens and approached adulthood, but while the transition from daddy to father was nearly a complete one when it came to my son, it was much less so with my daughter. As I write this, I feel like Michael’s father. I think of him as a man. But, despite her approaching thirty, and intellectually knowing she is a grown woman, in my heart, Cathy is still my little girl.

I expect the same is true about many men with daughters, at least the ones who could have been called daddies when their kids were small, including Garry Trudeau, who penned this:


I had a similar experience a couple of years ago as I stood with my daughter outside the doorway, waiting for the musical cue to begin walking her down the aisle.

As I was recovering from my bypass operation nearly a decade earlier, I realized the two things I wanted most to live long enough for were to walk Cathy down the aisle and to dance with her at her wedding. And there I was. And for a few moments, as she stood there next to me looking so beautiful, and a little nervous, through the magic of memory, she was, once again a tomboy in pigtails and jeans.

My little girl.

I guess she probably always will be.

So, guys, were you more father or daddy?

Ladies, were you, and are you still, daddy’s little girl?


Waxing? Egads!

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Last Thursday, as they do every almost every Thursday, my daughter and her husband and my son and his wife came over for dinner and a movie. His wife somehow managed to miss an incredible number of classics, like Meatballs and Ghostbusters, but that’s a subject for another day.

For most of the day, Martha did what women do when company is expected – she cleaned the already clean house whilst I slaved away at the keyboard. Or maybe it wasn’t already clean. I can never tell. To me, if nothing impedes my progress from point A to point B, and there are no insects in residence, the house is clean. Thankfully, Martha has somewhat higher standards. But I digress.

As the hour of their arrival drew near, it was time for us to get ready. So, having just showered, I was standing at the sink shaving when a word I won’t repeat here slipped out. You should know that I hate shaving. For twenty years, I sported a full beard, not because I thought it was fashionable or I thought I looked especially good, but only so I would not have to shave. It came off as a temporary gift to my lovely bride, who always hated it, on the occasion of our 25th anniversary, and when everyone started remarking that I looked ten years younger, I figured she’d endured prickly kisses long enough. But I digress again.

So the word slips out and through the shower curtain she asks what’s wrong.



“I really hate shaving.”

“You should wax it. Then it would take a long time to grow back.”

“Yah, right. That little patch on my leg I did that time when Cathy used to do it hurt quite enough, thank you. No way I’m doing that to my face.”

“Oh, it doesn’t hurt that much and only for a few seconds. Women get bikini waxes all the time. If they can stand it down there you should be able to stand it on your face.”

“But you’re forgetting one thing.”


“Women are crazy. They’ll do almost anything if someone tells them it makes them look better.”

Let’s just say the conversation deteriorated from there until kids and spouses arrived. But my point was a valid one, despite Martha’s protestations to the contrary.

What women will do to impress other women goes beyond all reason. And it is mostly to impress other women.

Sure, we guys appreciate it when you slip into that silky black dress with the spaghetti straps. And we appreciate it even more when you slip out of it, if we get to be in the vicinity. But we’d have appreciated jeans and a t-shirt just as much. Which brings me to my point.

Ladies, guys really don’t care what you wear. We don’t care if the jeans make your butt look too big. Or too small. Or too flat. We don’t care if your shoes match your handbag. We don’t care if you even wear shoes. We don’t care what color stones or metal you stick through your ears or hang around your neck. We don’t care if you spend hours layering on makeup so it looks like you’re not wearing any. Save yourself the hours and don’t wear any! We won’t even notice.

As for bikini waxes, just thinking about it causes our analogous area to recoil in horror.

The truth is, all we really care about is that you’re willing to be seen with us in public and that you don’t run screaming from the bedroom when you wake up next to us in the morning. After that ladies, it’s all gravy for us.



It’s the little things that women really love

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner — Chip Johnson.


Ladies, today’s post is mostly for the guys, but feel free to take me to task if you think I got anything wrong.

Despite having been married to Martha for a bit more than 32 years as of this writing, I don’t consider myself any kind of authority on marriage. I have no degrees to proffer, no studies to cite. Just experience. And here is what I’ve learned from my experience and from observing the world around me — when it comes to relationships, it’s the little things that count.

Some of you married guys have already figured that out. For the others, and for those who are single, pay attention.

Women are complex creatures. And they never forget. Ever. And while they certainly appreciate the gift of a ruby ring or diamond bracelet, it is entirely possible for them to go through an entire lifetime without ever having received one and still be deliriously in love with you and happy they married you.

Really. And it’s all because of the little things. You see, guys, women live for the little things.

For you single guys, here is a good test for prospective mates – is she all about the size of the rock, the furs, the cars, the “address,” the right friends, the right clothes, and so on? What do you think will happen one day if you’re no longer able to provide all those things? Will she decide you’ve “grown apart” and find someone who can give her what she covets?

But if she doesn’t care about any of that, doesn’t care about “things” but about “little things,” then you probably have a winner.

By now, you may be asking yourself, or shouting at the monitor, “Okay, so what the heck are these little things that can work such magic on women?”

They’re the things you do, or should do, every day that let her know you are thinking about her, that you love her, and that you appreciate her and what she does for you and the family.

“Specifics, man!” I hear you shouting, so here are just a very few of the innumerable “little things.”

Tell her you love her every day. And mean it!

Show her you love her with tender kisses or hug when she doesn’t expect it. (Note: DO NOT come up behind her when she’s cooking or washing dishes or exhausted after a long day with sick kids and grab her butt and expect her to melt in your arms. DO offer to help her cook or to help with the dishes or to take care of the kids so she can rest.)

When you notice your underwear drawer has, once again, magically refilled itself, thank her

Offer to rub her feet or back.

Now and then, leave a little love note for her to find. (NOTE: Words like “I love your smile” will usually get a better response than “You still got great hooters, babe.”)

Surprise her with little things she enjoys, like her favorite cookie or candy bar, or breakfast in bed.

Listen to her. And try to figure out what the words actually mean.

Change a diaper.

Play with the kids.

Send her a romantic card when it’s not her birthday or Valentine’s day.

Offer to vacuum the living room.

Hand her the car keys one Saturday and tell her she has the day off, to go have fun, and not come back until after dark.

Fill the bathroom with candles, draw a warm bubble bath, and invite her to relax in the tub while you read her favorite poetry. When she’s ready, wash her hair for her. Then her back. Then her front. (NOTE: DO NOT use washing her front as an excuse to “get her in the mood.” Just wash. If she’s in the mood, trust me, she’ll let you know.)

Next time she drinks too much, sit with her and hold her hair back as she heaves into the john.

Tell her how nice she looks, even when she doesn’t. (But don’t go overboard and exaggerate. They know when you’re doing that and they don’t like it. A simple, “You look really nice, tonight” is sufficient. If she protests, let her know she always looks good to you.)

Don’t groan when she tells you her mother is coming for a visit.

Once in a while, caress her hair as you walk by.

Grin like a fool and give her an enthusiastic “Woo hoo!” when you see her naked, or nearly so.

Keep yourself in good shape, inside and out.

Are you getting the idea yet, guys? I hope so. Give it a try. And mean it. I think you’ll be well pleased with the results.

And for you single girls who  have read this far, you, too, can use the “little things” test. Take note of whether your guy does the little things without prompting. If doing the “little things” fades along with the passion of the first six months or so, don’t expect it to come back without lots of constant nagging.

And really, who needs that?

So, ladies-who-kept-reading, am I wrong or am I right?

What “little things” are most important to you?

And what say you, guys?


Unspoken Communication: Girls vs. Guys

Monday, June 4th, 2012

When this was first published four or five years ago, I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen about the basic emotional and social difference between men and women.

I came across it on my hard drive yesterday and have not changed my mind.

What do you think?

Does it or does it not say everything that needs to be said on the subject?



Truth in Toons: That’s Life Edition

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?












They’re everywhere

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Congratulations to this week’s Comment Contest winner – Marian.


A Monday rerun from 2008

They’re everywhere

I’ve been sitting here thinking about clods. Not the dirt or clay type, but the tactless moron type.

I’m sure we all know the kinds of people I’m talking about. Like the guy who hasn’t seen you for awhile and greets you with, “Hey, Joe. Good to see ya. Boy, you sure have packed on the pounds.” Or the woman you’ve just been introduced to who asks, “Are you the Mary Jones whose husband had the affair with that grocery clerk?”

A cure for clods?

What goes through their heads just before they ask such questions? Or does anything go through them?

Could they really be unaware of how gauche they appear? Or maybe they just don’t care. Or maybe they get off on embarrassing or humiliating people.

When stuff like that happens to me, I try to turn the embarrassment back on them.

To the guy who would say, “Boy, you sure have packed on the pounds I’d reply, “Gee, thanks for noticing and calling attention to it. Some of the folks around here may not have noticed.”

In answer to the second question, regardless of whether or not hubby wandered, I’d stare at the women in disbelief for a second, then turn to the person who introduced us and say, “I’m sorry, but is this the person you said had so much class or the one who was a big ass?” Then I’d shake my head and walk away.

The way I see it, if we suffer clods, we just encourage them. A horsewhipping is what they deserve, but is probably a bit too much in this day and age.

More’s the pity.

How do you deal with clods?


Truth in Toons: Battle of the Bulge Edition

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Comments welcome.
Which are your favorites?









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