I spent an extra $20 on a hand cart last month because it’s made in the United States, plus another $10 on a broiler pan that’s also made here. So, for 30 bucks, I feel like a hero. Not like one of those heroes who run into burning buildings to save orphans and puppies, but a hero nonetheless.
And why not? I’m helping support the American dream for some business owner while I slash into our trade deficit with China and Japan and Mexico and Germany and Cote d'Ivoire and pretty much everyone else. I’m making it possible for some entrepreneur in Arizona to buy a few shirts for the school baseball team, if they ever get a chance to play baseball again, and for a clerk in Vermont to buy some locally brewed maple syrup. I’m tipping the scales, ever so slightly, for the home team.
Frankly, this is getting to be a bit of a fixation for me, but it’s probably one of the healthier addictions I’ve undertaken over the years. Besides the endorphin rush I get out of buying American products, my bragging rights come with almost no effort. I just add ‘made in USA’ or ‘made in America’ to my search terms and even Amazon will offer up a wide array of options. This is exactly the kind of heroics I like. All gain, no pain.
Even better, almost all the products have been very well made. I should probably retract my initial claim that I paid extra for Made In USA, because the quality level made these items more valuable than some of the imported stuff I’ve purchased. Several letters have rubbed off my made-in-China keyboard recently, as the photo with this blog attests, so I’m just a bit more in touch with the price/value ratio these days. So far, the Yankee products have ranked fairly high on that scale.
Beyond the products themselves, many U.S. manufacturers have fascinating back stories on their websites about how the business started. If you love the American Dream, this is required reading.
I’m also loving this process because I don’t need to depend on anyone else or any government programs to make it happen. I believe in free trade and I believe in freedom of choice, so I wouldn’t legislate where most (non-security/defense) items are made, but buying from my fellow citizens seems to be a very sensible choice.
It’s very timely, as well. I’ve heard a rumor that many Americans will be buying a ton of stuff over the next 26 days. Locally sourced items could make December just a bit more merry and bright.
Did you know that Dad Writes is Made in America with 100% natural ingredients and zero trans fats? Yes, it’s true, and you can consume unlimited amounts safely by simply subscribing here.
When it comes to mixed blessings, it’s going to be pretty much impossible to surpass Thanksgiving 2020. Our annual celebration of American excess is being disrupted for most of us this year, bringing a ton of disappointment and a surprisingly large number of benefits.
The disruptions are obvious, of course. There’s nothing better than a holiday that allows…no, demands that we eat nonstop from roughly noon until the last dishes are done. Our hearts are warmed by the family traditions, whether it’s Aunt Mildred’s stuffing recipe or the grandkids circling all the presents they want in the “toy mazagines.” Old jokes, platters used only once a year, placing bets on which old fart will fall asleep first on the living room couch…really, there’s no place like home for the holidays.
The upside is not quite as obvious, but that’s because we keep thinking about Thanksgiving like we’re living in a Normal Rockwell painting. We’re not.
The fact is, nobody has ever liked Aunt Mildred’s stuffing. It tastes like fish guts wrapped in a bicycle tire and she always insists on giving everyone a second helping. We only pretend to like it because she’s loaded and we wanted to inherit something when she kicks it, but now she’s moving in with her yoga instructor and there’s no point to this charade any more.
Meanwhile, Cousin Marley whines every year about failing to buy Google at $92, Auntie Kim complains nonstop about her ex, and there’s no escaping the incredible genius of Randy, who isn’t even a relative but somehow shows up every year anyway. And when dad and the uncles fall asleep on the couch, the sound of snoring isn’t the only thing emanating from their stupors.
In 2020, though, there's no family to get in the way of the perfect holiday. We can start eating and drinking as soon as we wake up, because it’s noon o’clock somewhere, and we can stuff ourselves with pizza or egg rolls or enchiladas or anything else we crave. We don’t have to deal with Aunt Mildred’s stuffing or Kim or Marley or Randy or all those smells emanating from the coma couch. If some chirpy cousin insists on doing a Zoom call, we can just put up a photo of a turkey as our background and hit mute while we search for any leftover Halloween candy in the back of the pantry.
Best of all, now we have time to come up with the perfect Thanksgiving music and maybe win the Nobel Peace Prize along the way. Seriously, someone needs to save us from eight weeks of figgy pudding and DUI reindeer.
Contrary to all common sense, Christmas music started up right after the election, or maybe it was already on the air by then and being drowned out by all those good-will-to-all ads that the candidates were running. Either way, it’s just too soon, and the only way to stop it is to insert Thanksgiving music in between. Assuming we had any Thanksgiving music, of course.
This year, with all the time we'll be saving by not having to entertain Marley and Kim and Randy, we can finally get around to creating the great songs that this all-American holiday deserves. It's hard to believe we've gone this long without Thanksgiving jingles and carols and noels, since the rhyme schemes are so obvious.
Turkey rhymes with murky, perky, quirky, and even herky jerky. Yams and hams are a natural, as are pies and thighs, slurps and burps, and giblets/niblets. We can even do a song about turkey gobbles and family squabbles, stressing over dressing, and Uncle Roy on the Lazy Boy.
There are only two types of people in this universe: poor benighted souls who want all Christmas music all the time and the sane people who would outlaw any Christmas music until there is actual snow on the ground and we can all see our breath. Sorry, but it’s not Christmas yet when Starbucks is still hawking their pumpkin spice latte and George Washington is trying to sell me a mattress.
That's why we're calling on all the unemployed songwriters in America (see: all the songwriters in America) to make the magic happen. There won’t be any bump for the economy as everyone downloads the tunes for free, but we’ll have a brief truce in the war over how much Christmas music is too much…and too soon. Did I mention the Nobel Peace Prize? Why, yes, yes I did.
Have a great Thanksgiving. We can't wait to hear the song about Aunt Mildred's stuffing.
Find out what great songs will celebrate Thanksgiving from this year forward by subscribing to our weekly rants at Dad Writes. Just click here.
Finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, a Halloween worthy of celebration. Even the darkest of clouds has a silver lining and this infernal pandemic is giving us a reason to celebrate at last.
Regular readers know that I’m a true expert on Halloween, especially when it comes to techniques for getting the best candy with the least aggravation. It’s a game for chess masters as parents strategize the optimal routes for their children and try to psych out their neighbors to score full-size Snickers in exchange for a roll of Smarties.
Not so this year, though. With social distancing and hygiene concerns, millions of kids are giving up on the idea of standing six feet apart to wait for a Junior Mint that mom will insist on sterilizing in the microwave. Millions of people are standing in line for hours to cast their ballots this year, but how long is anyone really going to wait for some Candy Corn?
Finally, on a holiday that’s really about the parents, we can celebrate without guilt and without all the craziness. With so many families opting out of the traditional tricking and treating, it’s a breeze to follow our simple guide to Halloween bliss.
Of course, there’s no risk this year if you simply put a sign on the door to announce that you aren’t giving any candy. After the panic buying and shortages in March, most parents I know are keeping their soap and toilet paper locked up, so you’re safe.
Isn’t this the holiday you’ve always wanted anyway? Just you, a big bowl of candy and, well, what else do you really need? Halloween should always be this way, even if we’re not lucky enough to have a pandemic next year.
What great insights will we offer for Thanksgiving and Christmas? You'll never know unless you subscribe by clicking right here right now.
Never forget how lucky you are to be right here, right now.
That seems like an odd sentiment for the year we're sharing, or even for this particular week, but your thinking shifts just a bit when there's a gun to your head.
Yom Kippur begins at sundown tonight, bringing to a close the Ten Days of Awe that began with Rosh Hashanah. Among the many traditions surrounding the Jewish High Holidays, we are instructed to consider ourselves as being written in the Book of Life for the coming year. Or not.
In the Jewish liturgy, our period of introspection and atonement ends at sundown on Monday, with our fates sealed for the coming year. When Rosh Hashanah begins, we know that we made the cut a year ago, but when the sun sets at the close of Yom Kippur, the information’s unavailable to the mortal man.
I’m not quite sure I believe in a divine Book of Life, but I know absolutely that turning inward is a remarkably powerful process. Isolated within a congregation or, this year, alone in front of a live stream, the mundane becomes less and less relevant and my perspective changes dramatically.
Never forget how lucky you are to be right here, right now.
In the midst of a pandemic, a recession, and quite possibly the first sparks of a civil war, right here and right now looks pretty dreary. The western United States is burning, we've had so many tropical storms that they've run out of letters to name them, and cold weather will only increase our isolation.
On the surface, in the daily slog, none of this feels lucky. In the context of a lifetime, though, the picture looks quite different. Like so many millions of people, I’ve come close to the end at one time or another, either through illness or error. I’ve had financial reversals and physical challenges and more than a few disappointments on the relationship front. Each setback has been painful, but somehow I have been sustained to reach this day.
And I am grateful for it. I feel very fortunate to be facing today’s challenges, because it means I survived the disasters of last year and the year before and the year before that. It means I ended up in the right column in the Book of Life, at least so far. I’m hoping for another reprieve this year, another opportunity to share in the journey with friends and family and to help a few strangers along the way.
I know I'm not alone in this. Each of us deals with the daily heartaches of life and each of us can lose track of the sparks that redeem our sense of wonder, or should. Each of us has the incentive to reclaim our gratitude, even we're not facing a potentially literal deadline when the sun departs.
Never forget how lucky you are to be right here, right now.
We hope you’ll join us on our fortunate journey by clicking here to subscribe to Dad Writes.
Constitution Day is right around the corner, but don’t be embarrassed if this major holiday slipped your mind this year. The U.S. Constitution is like a software Terms of Service agreement; we all click ‘yes,’ but almost nobody actually reads it.
That lack of familiarity leads to some hilarious consequences. For instance, many people believe they have a Constitutional Right to shop at Costco, while others think Freedom of Speech only applies to them. Amazingly, both of these beliefs are incorrect, although you’d never know it from reading internet posts.
Never fear, though, as your humble servant has read the document in the original Aramaic and will share all the insights you need to know to become a Constitutional Scholar of the first order. For example…
The Constitution was not really all that popular among the people who framed it, several of whom were nearly mortal enemies who disagreed strongly about almost everything. The only reason we ended up with the current version is that The Articles of Confederation (the world’s first Beta 1.0 release) sucked beyond belief.
The only way the Constitution got ratified was with the promise to add amendments to it immediately. (Back in 1789, everyone was still using dial-up, so “immediately” meant a couple of years. Still, Jimmy Madison made good on the promise to write up a Bill of Rights for the states to approve.)
Speaking of the Bill of Rights, Congress sent 12 amendments to the states, but the first two were rejected. That’s why freedom of speech is in the First Amendment and not the Third. It’s also why people who love the Second Amendment aren’t obsessed with Congressional pay stubs.
The Constitution was remarkably advanced for its time, but pretty backwards by current standards. Women didn’t vote, slavery was codified, and the Electoral College gave rural states an advantage that has only grown over time. (Yes, a few people still think the Electoral College is a great idea, but they are the same dopes who put mayonnaise on their pastrami.)
The framers of the Constitution were smart, but they weren’t supreme beings. They came up with a pretty good division of powers within government and between government and citizens, but they also failed to invent indoor plumbing or I-Phones or pizza delivery. Maybe it’s time we took some of them down off their pedestals and…oh, wait, that’s actually happening, isn’t it?
The concept of judicial review, which makes the U.S. Supreme Court the final arbiter of Constitutional meaning, is not granted by the Constitution. Instead, it resulted from a brilliant political maneuver by Johnny Marshall, who handed Tom Jefferson a tiny win while grabbing a big hunk of power for the court. Smooth.
We all should be grateful for that “judicial review” thing, because it’s our primary method of legislation these days. After Congress passes 12,000-page laws that nobody has read before the vote, SCOTUS clerks are the only people who actually read the laws and figure out what they mean. And when Congress fails to take any action at all, it’s up to the courts to dig up some old laws or rulings that they can twist painfully to apply to the pending case.
Yeah, I know, lots of people think SCOTUS goes too far in legislating from the bench, but that’s only when an activist* judge rules against them. When the Supreme Court rules in their favor, those esteemed jurists are merely upholding the Constitution. (*Activist = disagrees with me.)
As we look forward to this great holiday, it’s wonderful to consider how far we have come in the 23 decades since we adopted the Constitution. Hard to believe, but back then people were actually arguing about how powerful the president should be, separation of church and state, freedom of the press, what and whom to tax, federal power versus states’ rights, and the national debt. Thankfully, we have resolved all of these issues and marched forward in unison since then.
Finally, if 34 states approve, everything is up for grabs in a new Constitutional Convention. Depending on how you count “approvals,” we might already be just 6-8 states short of that benchmark, giving today’s politicians the opportunity to reframe our most important document. Fearless forecast: The sequel will not be as good as the original.
Before you get all caught up in your Constitution Day celebrations on September 17, do your patriotic duty and subscribe to Dad Writes, as required in Article LVIII.
Silence is golden in home movies, and how many spatulas do you need to make a PB&J? We tackle the explosive issues no other blog dares to touch…
Of course, there are many forms of progress that I like, including the simplicity of subscribing to Dad Writes by merely clicking here. No apps to download, no passwords required…what could be simpler?
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.