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Hey, Pandora! Are ad placements a crap shoot?

Perhaps plodding along on parched pavement makes me punchy. Even so, as I staggered to log a few sweltering running miles yesterday, I had to laugh.

As I jogged, I was enjoying an upbeat variety of sweet, uplifting songs, piped by Pandora through my headphones. I happened to be listening to their Christian Praise and Worship channel.

Then something struck my funny bone.

In came the ads, every few songs. First it was a car commercial, followed by a spot for a regional grocery store chain. But then the irony crept in, as I heard one for paid online slots and another for an area casino.

At this point, I gotta admit it. I am a Christian, and I have been to a casino. 

I went with a friend a few decades ago. I also know a few Christians who play paid slots online. But not many. On the other hand, plenty of Christians say they are ideologically opposed to gambling. Take it or leave it, they just don’t love it. 

Hey, advertisers. Demographics are everything.

Again, I’m not saying no Christians ever play slots or go to casinos. Just thinking this is sort of curious promotional positioning. Advertisers who want the biggest bang for their advertising bucks tend to evaluate audiences carefully. Some hire market research analysts to study possible targets for their campaigns.

Listening to gambling ads on Pandora’s Praise and Worship channel sort of feels like hearing All-You-Can-Eat Buffet ads on the Extreme Workout channel, ski vacation ads on the Summertime channel, or divorce attorney ads on the Love Songs channel. It just sort of stops you in your tracks for a moment.

Then the music resumes, and you’re up and running again.

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I misplaced my mom, but it’s OK.

Actually, she sort of ran away. Nah, she pretty much power-walked at a full clip. And I totally started it – or so she said.

We were making our way through one of those giant big-box mega-discount department stores. We had walked up and down multiple aisles, picking up essentials and scratching them off the shopping list.

And then it happened. My Fitbit activity tracker went off, informing me that I had met that day’s step goal.

“Brrrip. Brrrip.” The thing vibrated on my wrist. And Mom noticed. I saw her glance at the similar device on her own wrist and frown.

There it was. The proverbial gauntlet fell to the ground. And Mom picked it up and ran with it, so to speak.

“Why don’t you take the cart and get in the checkout line, while I take a few spins ‘round the store?” my mom chirped. “My Fitbit didn’t go off yet.”

Did I mention my mom is in her mid-80’s?

I wheeled the shopping cart into one of the cashier lines. Several minutes ticked by, with no sign of Mom. So I did what any reasonable, mature adult daughter would do. I texted my teen at home.

“I think I’ve lost Grandma,” I typed. “She’s clockin’ some more miles in the grocery store to set off her Fitbit.”

I half-expected to hear a store-wide public service announcement:

“Speed-up on aisle four.”

Just then, my cell phone rang. It was my teen.

"Where's Grandma?"

Maybe I should mention that Mom did turn up a few minutes later, still frowning and claiming that her Fitbit must be broken.

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Rib cracked, windshield intact

File this one under the Am-I-the-Only-One-This-Stuff-Happens-To department.

Nope, it wasn’t a moving violation. But it hurt. (Don’t laugh. Ouch. I bet you just did.)

I had just returned from a dusty road trip to a horse expo, driving through woodsy areas and plenty of mud. The windshield displayed more bugs than a science fair presentation on entomology.

Trust me. It was gross.

Coming home to an unseasonably warm spring day, I decided to unpack and then wash my car in the driveway.

I dragged the garden hose out. I soaked and soaped and scrubbed and rinsed. The entire car sparkled – except the insect-spattered windshield.

So I grabbed the picnic cooler (which was still full of weekend refreshments) and slid it over next to the car. I picked up a spray bottle of window cleaner and a couple of rags. I climbed on the cooler and started working on that windshield.

And I slipped.

The hood of the car broke my fall … and cracked a rib. I knew it right away. I’ve broken ribs before, and there is nothing like it.

Gasp! Sputter! Groan!

It only hurts when I lift heavy stuff … or laugh … or breathe too deeply … or try to sit up straight … or roll over in the night … or …

The scorecard now reads:  Windshield 1, Rib 0

Now I’m off to buy a lightweight stepladder - and maybe come up with a better (or cooler?) story to go along with the rib injury.

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Happy Easter! Who wants to try the ‘Daddy-Is-a-Dentist Cake’?

Easter is one of our favorite holidays. In fact, it might be my own personal top pick.

First, the actual meaning of this Resurrection Day celebration is why I live. Second, I love how Easter seems to usher in the actual coming of spring, regardless of when the calendar says the solstice actually takes place.

And finally, Easter baskets filled with tasty treats are always a fun surprise, even if they mark the end of the Halloween / Thanksgiving / Christmas / New Year’s / Valentine’s Day / St. Patrick’s Day food orgy.

But is it possible to take the sweets craze a little too far? (Don’t answer that.)

Put down the Easter Marshmallow Bunny Peeps for a moment, and take a peep at this thing.

Now, ‘fess up. Who’s rushing to the store to buy Easter Marshmallow Chicks Peeps and M&M's Chocolate Candies Bunny Mix and make this candy cake? And who’s trying to grab a late spring appointment with the dentist?

Happy Easter! Who wants to try the ‘Daddy-Is-a-Dentist Cake’?
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Parents: Would you make a Facebook profile for your new baby or little kid?

Scores of parents are apparently creating Facebook profiles for their new babies, their toddlers, or their young children. 

Moms and Dads: Would you do this? Why or why not?

Parents interviewed by CBS CBS Pittsburgh, for example, described how they enjoy uploading photos of their children to the youngsters’ own Facebook profiles – in many cases, even before the kids are old enough to operate a computer.

“It’s easier than emailing,” one parent said.

Most often, these parent-originated Facebook pages are set for high privacy, sharing items only with family and perhaps a select group of close friends. But the stuff is still out there.

Lots of folks tag their little kids in photos on their own or loved ones’ profiles too.

Not sure this is delightful at all, but something certainly seems amiss.

Besides the simple fact of violating Facebook regulations (Currently, Facebook has a minimum age requirement of 13 years.), this practice seems to raise serious questions about personal privacy for minor children, personal security, and parental responsibility.

Anyone else find this alarming?

Maybe we should ask a few of those kids in about 10 years. Gotta wonder how a growing kid might feel about having his or her baby pictures posted on Facebook, when that youngster takes over the profile. Sure, photos and posts can be deleted, but caches and screenshots can still exist.

What about voyeurs and creepy porn producers, who prowl the internet and lift photos of children for all sorts of icky purposes?

Parents: Would you make a Facebook profile for your new baby or little kid?
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