Dear Mr. Leaf-blower

I know you wanted to be a Jedi Sir, but I’m here to tell you the truth. Your hourly walk up Image result for man leaf blowerand down the sidewalk by my house, armed with what amounts to an outside vacuum cleaner is no more protecting us from Stormtroopers than it is actually cleaning up leaves.

I understand the need to quell the rebellion Sir, but blowing leaves from the sidewalk onto the street, only to have a puff of wind skitter them back on the sidewalk is the very definition of idiocy. I applaud your tenacity Sir, I really do. Most people would give up on the leaf-blower at some point in order to go… well… have a life, but not you Sir. Not you.

Its been about 5 weeks now and as if by decree,  every day around 8am you begin leaf-blowing. I know you’ve run out of sidewalk at times Sir: I saw you heading up the street a few blocks, chasing those damn leaves to another street where they might choose to relocate. But then on your return, you see there are now new invaders to the street. Who.Must.Be.Denied.Vacancy. That seemed to really reinvigorate your search and fight against invading Storm-um – leaves. So I guess I’ll leave you to it. You will not be deterred I can see.

Until snow comes. Tee- Hee.

Oh shit.. I bet you’ve got a snow-blower.

Charity or Moral Judgement. You choose

CharityCharity, and socially pressured charitable giving is something I’ve found unique to the US. Back in the UK, charity is limited to fun runs, random treks across weird places and the bi annual ‘bring and bake sale’ for the local church roof.

See in the UK, there is a welfare state so most citizens don’t need a food bank. In fact, I’m not sure if they even exist over there. I never heard of them and we weren’t exactly shopping at Whole Foods/ Waitrose back in the day. While people are definitely in need in the UK, charity is more invisible, maybe less urgent(?) because the state takes care of so many basic needs. You know, the things Uncle Hairdo (aka Mitt Romney) thought weren’t ‘rights’ for the basic American; food, housing, water, healthcare. In the UK (and most if not all of the EU), the state takes care of the poor, the sick and those who can’t provide for themselves. So charity.. when it happens, tends to be oriented towards those causes which – lets be honest – while important, don’t mean the difference between kids going hungry and not.

Having grown up in a country where charity and charitable donations were optional, often linked to a medical cure, support or local community needs, charity wasn’t something I thought a lot about. I gave when someone rattled a tin at me, I contributed my $25 to anyone who ran a marathon (god bless their insanity) and willingly brought and bought cakes to fund local village needs. But I’d never, ever, been pressured into giving until I moved to the US.

Now charity is defined as ‘ benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity’ and ‘generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering‘.

Charity is not defined as ‘being made to give to a worthy cause or be judged as a terrible human being’. But apparently some people have forgotten this.

My first interaction with charity was via my (then) companies annual ‘United Way’ campaign. I noticed the posters around the office and thought ‘oh, how lovely, they raise awareness for those in need as a company’. How benevolent.

3 days later I received an email from my office lead noting that ‘you haven’t yet contributed to the United Way campaign’ and noting that ‘While charity is a choice, as a company we aim for 100% of our employees to participate in this event’.

Wow. It didn’t seem like much of a choice, and the tone of the note certainly wasn’t benevolent. More ‘The Krays’ than ‘Kris Kringle’. But, being me, tell me I have to do something and suddenly my heels develop crampons and I’ll obstinately dig roots in my refusal to participate.

The next note raised the level of threat to ‘orange’ by reminding me that ‘Here at <>, we pay our employees extremely generously’ and that the requested contribution of $25 a month was ‘a trivial amount’ that would make a ‘huge difference’ to the campaign (and, I’m assuming their participation %) while having a ‘negligible impact’ on my net pay.

Now this was back in the 90’s and $300 was a huge number to someone who’s monthly rent was $750, but I’m guessing the partners at the ‘generous’ company didn’t factor in that not everyone was taking home 6 or 7 figures every year.  I dug in my heels even further and decided to proactively boycott United Way (and the corporate ninnies who were driving it), by donating my money directly to people I could see were in need.

Aka. Bums.

Denver is filled with homeless people. Drug addicts, drunks, mentally unwell folks and kids who’ve escaped who knows what. Sleeping under bridges, in doorways and sadly, under bushes in my local park. All of them could use something and I decided that my $25 a month was going directly into the dirty, shaking hands of someone who wasn’t strong arming me into giving. Screw United Way. Screw corporate ‘giving’ campaigns. And if I chose to hand out ‘after tax’ profits without a thought for the tax implications (gosh.. I could have saved a whole…ooo. $30 on that $300) then I consider it giving just a little bit more.

Its not the giving that I object to. Its the strong arming. The moral judgement being made. All so that can say ‘we donated $X to United Way in 1996’ in their recruiting brochures and sales pitches. But how much of that came from the actual company itself? 1%, 2%… 3% if you’re lucky. So my ‘generosity’ is being used to pimp the company’s image? Grrrrrr.

Which brings me to this weekend when I was asked to donate at the checkout counter not once, but three times. At the same store. My the same Whole Foods checkout clerk.

‘Are you able to make a charitable contribution to the local food bank today Miss?’


The phrasing ‘are you able?’ prompts me to announce to my fellow shoppers that I am not only able to pay for my overpriced local, organic vegetables, but hey.. I’m loaded dont’cha know? Saying ‘no’ would be the equivalent of admitting ‘actually I’m not sure if my debit card is even going to pay for these suckers’ and who’s doing that in a line full of well dressed, Lexus driving neighbors.

Never mind that I spent my summer gardening, growing local organic vegetables specifically for a local food bank (we donated 2,500lbs of fresh produce over a 10 week period).. if I say no, my fellow shoppers look disdainfully at me and my cashier doesn’t even try to hide her embarrassment at my lack of warm heartedness.

So instead I say ‘sure’ and donate my $5. Hating her. Hating the line of people all sagely nodding ‘ah.. a good person’ even though I might be going home to whip my children with these local carrots and chastise my dog with a parsnip.

Whole Foods prides itself on ‘giving back’ to the communities that it serves, but when every shopping trip turns into a moral adjudication of my charitable spirit, I’d actually rather that they didn’t involve me in that. They’re not giving back. I AM.

And I’ve chosen my choice. I chose to donate directly through actual food. Which I did. All summer. So while I still hand out my $5s and $10s to people on the street and feed those rattling cans at Christmas, if anyone else asks me if I am able to donate while I’m buying some Dawn and toothpaste, I think the only legitimate response is ‘Bah humbug’.




An open letter to Kanye West

bound 2Kanye (or should I call you Yeezy?). Can I speak plainly?

I know we’re not close, in fact we’ve never met and are highly unlikely to do so (what with you being a lesser god of all media and me being a work-at-home corporate drone who lives in Colorado). But I’m sure you’re constantly surrounded by ‘yes men’ and that not too many of your employees are willing to stand up to your ‘greatness’ if it threatens their paycheck, so I feel a responsibility to share some truths with you before this thing gets out of control.

Now I know that you lost your mother in the last few years, and yes, your friend Beyonce was robbed of that award a year or so back (you know, she doesn’t have to win everything to still be considered accomplished), but there’s really no excuse for your latest ‘track’ – ‘Bound 2’. Some might call it ground breaking, others might call it driving the bleeding edge of rap but I’m not alone in considering it a mother of god travesty against those things we call ‘ears’.  Most importantly, I think you need to know the reason why your video has received over 5 million views on You Tube in just 6 days isn’t because people love the track. Its because the world is uniting in the shared view that you’ve clearly lost your mind. Sorry Yeezy, but here’s some things you might want to consider.

1. Your video opens with scenes from a ‘National Parks of the West’ montage.

Now call me ignorant, but rap hasn’t ever been considered part of the old west, and its certainly not a feature of any National Park that I’m aware of. In fact, it is my understanding that rap was something largely urban in nature and originating from LA and NYC – neither of which feature packs of wild horses, glacial lakes or wide expanses of aspen groves. I’m not sure why there’s a rap soundtrack to eagles Kanye? Are you trying to tell me that you’re a bird? That you want a bird? That you’re a predator? And why are those horses running Kanye? Most horses I know tend to stand around chewing grass. I think it might have something to do with that noise you’re making Kanye; sorry but I don’t think those horses like rap. Please make it stop dude. I don’t want to have to call in the ASPCA on your ass, otherwise it doesn’t look like they’re stopping until they hit Jersey.

2. You’re wearing a Bauer load of plaid

I’m not sure if you’ve spent much time in the West, Kanye, but [plaid isn’t mandatory out here. If you must visit Eddie Bauer, its not required to buy and wear the entire store at once. We left plaid in the closet along with spurs and six shooters back in the day and while we’ll pull it out for an occasional themed party or ironic evening, sorry, but it doesn’t make you ‘fit in’. In fact, no Westerner would be caught dead wearing two plaid shirts with a tie die t shirt and another plaid shirt wrapped our waist. You can have too much plaid Kanye. I’m not sure what message you’re trying to communicate with all that tartan dude – that you’re down with wood chopping? That LL Bean needs to step it up? That the Crips need to try a new theme? I’m not getting it Kanye, and that tie die? No  Kanye. Just No.

3. You appear to be trying to ride a motorcycle

I know we have lots of wide open spaces here in the West (once we’ve muscled the wild horses out of our lane on I70), and motorcycles are cool, but Kanye… I think you might need to rethink your approach. No helmet? No jacket? Hell at times it looks like you’re not even holding on to the handlebars. How on earth are you managing to accelerate when your right hand is waving in the air ‘like you just don’ care’? I care Kanye – I care. And so should you when you’re riding a bike.. this shit is dangerous dude. Hands on the handlebars. And rapid deceleration while you wave your hands around isn’t going to fly buddy. That’s a recipe for a 4Runner to take you out from behind. And no amount of plaid is going to help you then Kanye, no siree. Leather up dude.

4. Your motorcycle passenger doesn’t appear to be clothed

I agree that one of the joys of riding is socializing with friends, and I see that you’ve managed to pick up a passenger during your short ride, Kanye. How congenial of you. Although I’m a little distressed to see that she’s not wearing a helmet either and to be honest, she didn’t seem to be wearing anything in the way of protection gear whatsoever. Not even a padded bra. Now c’mon Kanye, you can play the fool with your own body and head, but that girl is gonna get cold. And shit, that hair is going to get all kinds of knotted up the way its blowing around like that. Help a girl out, lend her a helmet or at least a scrunchie. And man, she’s gonna chafe without pants, so you might want to give her something to sit on at least. Maybe one of those many plaid shirts you’re wearing? You can certainly spare one can’t you Kanye? Don’t force that girl to freeze her nipples off.

5.. or facing the correct way

Now Kanye, I know that you’re a ground breaker and all, but seriously man, that girl needs to turn around when you’re riding. Shit is going to go south really fast if she doesn’t. I mean, you can lean right and she can lean left and I guess you could see around her hips or something, but Yeezy, that ain’t right. Spin that girl around and here’s a suggestion. Have her sit behind you instead of in front. That way, she’s blocked from a wind a bit, and you don’t have her hair all flapping in your face while you’re trying to check your mirrors. I know this sounds kinda boring, but the one who’s driving really does need access to those handlebars, and while its not as cool and sexy as before, she’ll have more to hold on to that just her mouth or boobs. Which is all she seems to be holding at the moment. I don’t want to pass judgement Yeezy, but I’m not sure she’s prepared for a bike ride just now. Just sayin’.

6. Neither of you seem to be watching the road

Now I’m sure if I had Ryan Gosling sitting on my motorcycle and rubbing himself all naked and stuff, I’d have an issue watching the road too. But c’mon Kanye, you need to  drag your eyes away from those boobs and focus on that Dodge Durango which is trying to cut across your lane. I know the West doesn’t have all that LA traffic, but its not Montana here.. we do have other road users. And to be honest, riding with no hands on the bike, a naked chick wrapped around you and an Eddie Bauer worth of plaid hanging off you is going to be a bit of a distraction for most other drivers. Check the road at least once or twice dude… if only to make sure you don’t miss that exit or rear end that Fiat. And you might want to stop the writhing schtick until you’re off the bike. Full body hugs and wriggling aren’t a great idea at any speed on a motorcycle, plus she looks like she might be trying to eat you. That’s what service stations are for buddy.

7. I think something is wrong with the suspension on your bike

I did notice that you’re bike seems to be exhibiting a weird bumping motion while you’re riding Kanye. Now I’m sure that everything’s fine and that you’re just riding on C470, but to be honest, both you and your passenger lady seem a little too bumped around for the speed you appear to be traveling (I’m guessing pretty low based on your hand being nowhere near the throttle). Now I’m not a mechanic, but you’re gonna want to have someone check your wheel alignment and your shocks dude. No bike rocks like that unless its about to lose a wheel or you’re riding over a field of Ruffles. Or did you hit one of those horses? God I hope not.

8. Stop.. please stop that caterwauling

Finally Kanye, I think you might want to change the station on your bike radio. Sure its cool that you got that option on your Ducati (you and all those Goldwing riders!), but damn, that noise you got going is pain-full. It sounds like a bag of kittens being thrown off a bridge onto a heavily braking high speed train. I don’t know what station that music is coming from, but Yeezy, change that shit UP. Its NASTY.  Most bike riders tend to listen to the sound of their engine and such, but if you insist I’d suggest you tune into some 92.5 and get some local country going. With all that plaid, you’ll fit right in at the Stampede and you can get  ahead start on learning those moves.

Your sincerely,


It gets better! Tell me how…

feedbackHey guys.. its coming up on my 1st anniversary of writing this junk and I think its time I hear back from you. Tell me what you think  (expletives welcome), participate in my poll, send me a note or just hit the tiny ‘x’ in the right hand corner and wait until next week.