Saturday, January 31, 2009

Quote of the Week

Pro football is like nuclear warfare. There are no winners, only survivors.
- Frank Gifford

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Facebook 25

The Facebook 25, also known as The Narcissistic 25, is a forward going around facebook encouraging people to share 25 unknown facts about themselves with friends. There are no pre-canned questions so the survey is free-form and allows the writer to expose as much or as little as they desire. In the spirit of social networking I participated in the Facebook 25 with mostly boring tidbits about me, but some could be considered “explosive” enough to share on this blog and discuss.

1. It is difficult to think of 25 things that people don’t already know about me. I am not what one would call quiet, secretive, or mysterious.

2. Somewhere during college I realized many of my grandiose dreams of becoming a politician, constitutional lawyer, or author required sacrificing my desires to pay off my college loans, travel the world, enjoy time with my friends, have time to read books, take up photography, and get a few dogs. Many dreams are mutually exclusive to others and require choosing a few so you don’t lose them all. I thoroughly enjoy what I have, and do not regret what I walked away from.

3. If anyone told me 15 or 20 years ago that I would be married by 26 to a guy from Minnesota that I picked up in a bar in Chicago, I would have laughed and had them committed to an insane asylum. Glad I didn’t follow some life script we dream up in our youth; reality is often more amazing than our dreams.

4. I love food. Whether it is a gourmet meal at a fine restaurant, a wonderful dinner cooked in my home surrounded by friends, or my daily peanut butter and jelly sandwich; I derive great enjoyment from eating and preparing food.

5. Food doesn’t love me. Not that I have food allergies or anything (well, besides aspartame causing my head to explode). My metabolism is not what one would call fast. My weight gain record is 11 pounds on a one week cruise at 13 years old and 16 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas more years than I can count; impressive stats really.

6. People watching is a national pastime. I love sitting in a park, café, mall, airport, or city street and just watching people go by. I like making up stories about their lives; what they do for a living, where they live, and what they are like based upon the way they carry themselves, what they wear, and who they are with. The thing with people is their reality is probably crazier than any fictional life I imagine for them.

7. People make judgments about us each and everyday based upon nothing more than their split second analysis. Because of this I learned to project more confidence then I really possess; people respect and admire confidence. Underneath this steel exterior lies a whole host of terrifying insecurities.

8. Not all men (or women) are created equally and life is not fair. This is not saying I believe in discrimination, this is simply stating that we are all different and should learn to accept, embrace, and respect those differences rather than pretending we’re all the same. Life would be boring if we were each good at the same things. We each possess unique strengths that make us who we are and should spend more time bettering those strengths rather than succumbing to our weaknesses.

9. My Dad told me in fifth grade that I wouldn’t be a gymnast because I was too tall, a dancer because I was too klutzy, a professional athlete because women wouldn’t make money in sports, a supermodel because of my large build, an astronaut because I was afraid of heights, or a vet because I would never be able to put an animal to sleep. This was devastating news at the time but in hindsight good advice and the toughest form of love. Why spend life trying to fit the proverbial square peg into a round hole when we can find what we are good at and be the best at that. I’m glad someone told me at 11 rather than finding out years into pursuing impossible dreams.

10. I am smart; not Einstein smart but I would beat most of the US population in a battle of wits and intelligence. This is one of my strengths and I wouldn’t give it up for all the grace, good looks, agility, or metabolism in the world. I am not bragging but think we should be able to embrace our assets without fear of offending those who do not possess the same strengths. It is a shame that somewhere along the line intelligence became “uncool;” something that people, especially women and teenage girls, thought they needed to hide. Just as not everyone is a gifted athlete, musician, artist, writer, actor, comedian, singer, dancer, cook, etc., not everyone is blessed with intelligence and it is a gift that should be embraced like any other.

11. I am only 5 foot 9 inches which I fully understand is 5 inches taller than the average for American women but I am still not happy about it. Nothing is more beautiful or commanding than a woman over 6 feet tall and I feel like I was ripped off by 3 inches.

12. I was not always comfortable with my height as it limited my dating options; I tried but couldn’t be with a man smaller than me. It pains me to admit that I am attracted to men who are large enough to protect me and allow me to wear high heels (specifically 3” heels that make me 6 feet tall). Betty Friedan and all the feminists before me are rolling in their graves as I admit this as a personal shortcoming (excuse the pun).

13. I was almost born on August 13; my mother spent most of that day in labor and I was born shortly after midnight on August 14. It dawned on me last year that my birthday would be different if I was born in any other US time zone besides Eastern. This is just one of the millions of odd and random observations I make constantly.

14. 14 is my lucky number, this could be because it is my birth date but I really like how it sounds in other languages. Catorce. Quattordici. Quatorze. Vierzehn. Fjorton.

15. I am not very good at foreign languages and by not very good I mean terrible. I feel like such an ugly American when I travel overseas because no matter how hard I try I cannot communicate in any languages but English and Spanglish.

16. My favorite personal feature is my smile and the Crest White Strip is the best invention of the past 10 years.

17. I get calls from every charity on the planet due to my being a sucker for sappy telemarketers. I finally had to set criteria for who received my finances because I am (unfortunately) not rich. I never donate to overseas charities; there are enough problems in the United States that require my time, attention, and money. My focus is often on helping animals in need; as far as I’m concerned people can take care of themselves.

18. I love dogs, big and small. This is not a secret at all, what I don’t normally admit is I like dogs more than I like most humans.

19. I am not a jealous person, but will always be a bit green with envy at the relationship my sisters developed with each other after I left for college.

20. Going away to college had a profound impact on my life and who I became. Leaving my comfort zone of home, family, and a small town to spend four years meeting new people from a variety of backgrounds expanded my world in ways I cannot begin to explain. I fondly remember my college years, not because of the late nights, difficult professors, fatty food, and crappy keggers, but because college is one of the only times in life where we are surrounded by people of similar intelligence and encouraged to explore ourselves, think freely, engage in heated debate, question authority, and grow.

21. People often think I am older than my age, including many who mistake my mother as my sister. My mother loves this and I am forced spend exorbitant amounts of money on face creams and sunscreen in self-defense.

22. I play violin and sing but do not do either very well. It took me many years to realize my position of first stand in the high school orchestra and spot on the choir had more to do with my leadership qualities (getting people to come to rehearsal and practice their parts) than my musical abilities. No matter why I had my experience I am grateful to read, understand, and enjoy all types of music (except country).

23. I am not religious. I celebrate religious holidays because of tradition and family togetherness, not because of the true meaning of the day. Christmas for me is a celebration of winter. Easter is a celebration of spring. I (occasionally) attend church because it is a place to listen to cheap, beautiful live music. If there is a higher being then I think there is more than one required to do all the work required of higher beings. I guess this technically makes me a neo-pagan for those who must put me in a neat little religious box.

24. I regret not keeping a journal through the years, but I was so busy making a juicy past that I did not have time to keep memoirs of it. Actually, that’s probably for the best now that I think about it, less evidence.

25. No one is more amazed at the number of facebook friends I have than me (currently nearing 500). I am incredibly fortunate that in my life has crossed paths with such a diverse group of people across the globe in only 33 years.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hail to the Chief Puppy

The First Family is in the final stages of making one of the most important decisions of their lives; what kind of dog to get. Unlike most families who decide to get a new dog, the Obama’s have the media breathing down their necks and the American public offering more advice than a nosy mother-in-law. Dogs are like humans, each possessing characteristics that are appealing to some and appalling to others. Finding the right breed is like finding the right friend, that person who is the peanut butter to your jelly, the gin to your tonic, the rock to your roll.

The Obama Family (well, their staffers more than likely) researched what they were looking for in a family pet and narrowed their choices on what breed would join the long history of White House pets; the Labradoodle and Portuguese Water Dog. The Labradoodle is what is often referred to as a “designer dog.” Dog purists look down their noses at designer dogs, scoffing at those who own half-breeds, as if their mix makes them second-class to their purebred animals. What these purists forget is even “pure” breeds were designed at one point in history for a given purpose. Only a handful of what historians would consider ancestral breeds exist; most of the 157 American Kennel Club recognized breeds or the 170 Westminster Kennel Club breeds and varieties are modern crossbreds created to form new “standard” breeds. Newfoundlands, aka Newfies, were created by adding Mastiff to the St. John’s Dog for greater size and strength. German Shepherds were created in 1889 crossbreeding different shepherding canines for better strength, agility, loyalty, and intelligence. Bernese Mountain Dogs are a cross of several Swiss dogs and some Newfie thrown in for better temperament and increased size. Dachshunds are a cross between German, French, and English hounds and terriers, originally bred for hunting badgers. Border Collies are a mix of droving and gathering breeds, including the Cumberland Sheepdog, bred for farming and herding. Almost every dog breed came about through human intervention to create a breed for herding, hunting, guarding, killing vermin, pulling sleds, or whatever need arose to create a new type of dog. So in actuality almost every dog breed recognized is a “designer dog.”

The rising popularity of the “oodle” varieties, those breeds crossed with poodles, is a sign of the changing needs and desire of today’s dog owner. Not many people in the market for a new dog are using them to hunt, herd, or pull them across the finish line at the Iditarod. Due to the rise of allergies and respiratory issues an increasing number of people are looking for breeds that do not shed, or shed lightly. While there is never a guarantee that a dog will be a non-shedder, cross-breeding poodles can preserve the characteristics of certain breeds while creating a lower-shedding (and highly intelligent) version for today’s pet needs.

Would be pet owners have varying needs on size, energy level, playfulness, level of affection, demeanor with children, intelligence, or weather tolerance which is why it is necessary to do research on a breed before choosing a new family pet. If more people understood the background of a dog and chose an animal that better suited their lifestyle there would be fewer adult dogs in shelters from owners who discover the dog they chose was too big/shed too much/barked all the time/required so much exercise/needed advanced training/required grooming/was bad with children/etc. It is cruel to get a dog and not understand or embrace its true nature and origin, providing them with the level of upkeep they need. It is even worse to just give an animal back because it didn’t “fit” anymore.

The whole concept of a dog “not fitting” is completely foreign to my family whose long line of shelter mutts came with a whole host of issues that would send too many families to the return counter. They grew to exponential sizes, shed enough hair daily to produce a new dog, chewed through couches, broke through windows, required insulin, had cancerous tumors removed, lost bladder control, and triggered more than a few asthma attacks. It is important to choose a dog that is right for your family and lifestyle, it is even more important to remember that the dog is a lifetime commitment; returning a dog is tantamount to dumping a family member. Anyone who thinks otherwise should consider getting a fish.

Many experts fear that the Obama Family choosing the designer Labrador or a less popular dog like the Portuguese Water Dog could result in a growth of puppy mills filling the sudden orders from an American population enamored with the First Puppy. Whatever dog they choose it is going to catapult the popularity of the chosen breed (or mix of breeds if a mutt is selected) and will increase the number of people looking to get rich quick by mass producing puppies. I empathize with the First Family; I truly believe that searching shelters to rescue an animal is the first course of action in finding true puppy love but it does not always work out. My husband and I searched far and wide for months trying to find a pound puppy to suit our needs. Unfortunately our difficult set of criteria led us to a breeder. It was too hard to find a low shedding dog who would not trigger my respiratory issues, would remain small enough to fly in cabin to NY to visit my family, would have enough strength and agility to run a few miles with me around the lake, and who would provide a personality and training challenge for two humans who knew their four-legged children would be their only children. After much research we landed upon the Schnoodle, a cross between a Miniature Schnauzer and Miniature Poodle (note: poodle crosses are now abundant in shelters due to an increase in puppy mill raids). Would I recommend a Schnoodle to everyone? Absolutely not! Our two Schnoodles bring us endless love and laughs, but they are highly protective of their home and bark at everything that moves outside, need at least an hour of decent exercise everyday or they don’t sleep at night, require a trip to the beauty pawlour every 8 to 10 weeks, chase anything with four legs (with the intent to kill), are so smart they figure out unique ways to get in trouble, are terrified of loud noises, voraciously chew, demand attention, see bodies of water and must swim in them, and have a few unique health issues like cystic pimples. And you know what? None of these traits came as a surprise to us because they are all well documented for their breeds. We knew what we were getting in to, and you can too with proper research and a variety of dog selector tests and quizzes available online.

Selfishly I hope the First Family chooses a Labradoodle. Portuguese Water Dogs are also beautiful, low-to-no shedding animals deserving of more publicity in the United States. A search on for a Portuguese Water Dog yielded just a handful, and one is currently on hold for the President and his family in a campaign to promote shelter dog adoptions. She’s cute, and she happens to be in Minnesota, but as a proud owner of two Schnoodles I would love to see a poodle mix in the White House. My hope is choosing a poodle mix will help legitimize the “oodle” breeds and bring about better breeding practices and guidelines for these gifts to the animal loving asthmatic. Whatever type of dog ends up living in the White House it will bring the First Family unconditional love, something that is rare and needed in the dog eat dog world that is national politics.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Quote of the Week

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
- e.e. cummings

Monday, January 12, 2009

Feeling Mighty Fine in 2009

I make lists for everything; shopping, cleaning, work tasks, menus, decorating, parties, etc. Lists are an important part of combating my natural ADD tendency to lose focus on a task, work on 30 things at the same time, and ultimately accomplishing nothing. The only thing I like more than a good list is a categorized list. Shopping lists can be categorized by what store the item is at, cleaning lists can be categorized by room of the house, and menus are often categorized by length of cooking time to ensure all items hit the table at the same time. Understanding the way my brain works and the need for lists to achieve personal success helps in all facets of my life, including my annual New Year’s Resolutions. In theory each resolution should yield improvement to one’s body, mind, or spirit. This year I tried to categorize my resolutions by personal improvement area to allow my brain to clearly focus on the tasks. However attempting to categorize my New Year’s Resolutions proved impossible because good resolutions, the kind that really yield positive improvement, should feed the body, mind, and soul.

  • Reading: Finish 12 books; keep track of what is read.
  • Outgoing: Get out of life ruts by trying a new “thing” every month; restaurant, museum, park, sport, stage production, etc.
  • Electronic De-clutter: I become incredibly overwhelmed by my email boxes (work, personal, blog) and end up ignoring them as if the piling messages will just go away. Each inbox should remain below 200 messages, deleting or filing messages to keep the number in check.
  • Firm Up: Workout at least 180 days this year with a minimum of 150 group fitness classes.
  • Year of Living Chainlessly: Only visit national “chain” restaurants when local options are not available; support local merchants and growers wherever possible.
  • Animal Planet: Contribute to local humane society, support local pet friendly establishments, get involved with an animal charity event, remember to brush Luna & Solei’s teeth, and visit dog parks at least 10 times during the year.
  • Bare Necessities: Before every purchase question myself; “do I really need this?” “Do I have something like this already?” “Can I live without this?” Don’t stock up on items just because they are on sale. Avoid Target where many of these unnecessary purchases occur.
  • Detoxification: Practice an average of four Alcohol Free Days (AFDs) per week to cut out “needless” calories, netting out to 208 AFDs for the year. This requires “paying it forward” for times planned of debauchery (vacations, holidays, birthweek, etc.).
  • Let Me Entertain You: 2008 was severely lacking in the house party department. In addition to the usual casual stuff at Casa Van Betta we will throw at least one “theme party” a quarter (and resurrect our Iron Chef battles).
  • Be a girlfriend, not just a wife: Plan at least one date with my husband a month, reminding each other that there is more to marriage than bills and housework.
  • Settling In: Finish painting the hallway, office, and third bedroom; all are still builders’ white nearly 4 years after completing construction.
  • Photographic Memories: Finish scrapbooking 2005 Europe Trip, Australia 2006, and New Zealand 2007 trips.
  • Writing: Post at least one blog a week of “feature article” length; 750 to 1000 words.
  • Healthy Weight: My resolution last year was to maintain a “Happy Weight” which I technically accomplished since I finally learned that I could be happy at any weight. With this amazing discovery it pains me to admit I still need the scale to trend downward for my health… and that discovery is worthy of a “featured length” article.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Quote of the Week

Don't be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.
- Charles Richards

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Not so Great 2008

Welcome to my annual New Year’s Resolution report card, where I take the proverbial red pen to my list from last year and rate my performance against goals. Just like last year, my resolution grade point average is well below what one would define as “Ivy League caliber.” However this year’s evaluation opened my eyes to something only a good dose of well-documented self-reflection can reveal; how much I changed as a person during the course of one year. The ability to go back in time and re-read entries is one of the cooler aspects of keeping a blog. While I did poorly on accomplishing these goals set a year ago it is astonishing to realize how little I care about my horrific performance; quite a shock for a type-A overachiever. Some goals are no longer important or relevant in my life, and most things on this list pale in comparison to many of the other goals I personally accomplished during the year. So I will continue to make resolutions, tweaking them yearly to align with where I am in my life, but I will also acknowledge that many of them will be neglected not out of laziness (although it is a contributing factor) but out of changes of personal direction.

Classy Lady: Take one continuing education class on any topic; photography, cooking, ballroom dance, tennis, creative writing, underwater basket weaving, etc.
  • (B) I did take a class, but it was offered by work and related to my career and not personal development outside my job. What I did do this year is learn new skills in cooking and photography not from a class but from others who enjoy the same passions as me. This might not be textbook training but it was fulfilling nonetheless. I am also attending fitness classes and learning more about what my body can and cannot physically achieve.
Let’s Get Physical: I will do something physical (walk, jog, blade, bike, etc.) for 30 minutes a day, every day.
  • (A-) For a great majority of the year I got outside with the dogs and walked at least 30 minutes everyday. The big discovery was The Firm in Minneapolis and how much I love “group fitness.” I am a social animal and am much more successful working out when surrounded by a large number of people. Becoming a disciple of Diva Doug is one of the best things that happened to my body and mind in 2008.
Hydrate: 8 glasses a day, every day.
  • (B-) I ebb and flow (excuse the pun) on this one. My hydration plan is excellent when sitting at my desk during the week, but somehow water finds a more adult replacement every weekend.
Cruelty Free Beauty: By the end of the year all the beauty product in the house, from shampoo to face cream, will be from companies who abstain from animal testing.
  • (C) We did the best we could in this category given some change in life circumstances. Most all of our health and beauty products are cruelty free these days except our toothpaste and underarm deodorant which are both necessary items in our lives and don’t come with acceptable cruelty free replacements (Tom’s of Maine doesn’t address my tartar control needs, natural antiperspirant leaves me stinky). I was well on my way to a completely cruelty free facial regimen and ended up needing the assistance of a dermatologist and some prescription topical treatments which I know were animal tested. All in all we saved a few animals with our changes.
Photos Finished: All photos will be uploaded to the internet within two weeks of taking them.
  • (D+) The photo thing was a bit weird this year; the number of pictures I took fell 50% from last year yet I am still working on completing post-production and sending them to family and friends. What I did notice about working on photos 6 months after they are taken is how many more I am willing to part with; I can let go of the emotional attachment of the moment and make clear decisions on what is a good photo and what is crap.
Loan Free: Pay off car loan by end of year
  • (F) The financial crisis hit this goal hard. My yearly cash bonus came in the form of stock options that were underwater the day I received them. The Jeep will be paid off in early 2009 regardless.
Face First: Reaching an age where facials are necessary and no longer a luxury, I will make the time to get facials quarterly.
  • (A) Best resolution ever, especially after receiving my fourth quarter facial at Ph Orem. If you live in Minnesota, or are ever visiting, you must give it a try; best facial I have ever had in my entire life.
Reading: Finish 12 books. Writing: Post on blog an average of 3 days a week.
  • (C+) I didn’t come close, but for what I lacked in quantity I truly believe I made up in quality. It is amazing going back to some of my earlier posts and seeing how my writing improved and the response I am getting for certain topics. Our brain is a muscle that gets stronger with more use.
Don’t let the sun shine in: Apply sunscreen to my face every morning.
  • (A+) I feel like I’m cheating with this resolution every year since it is a habit firmly ensconced in my daily routine, but it is so important to both my health and looks that it will forever remain on my list.
Variety is the spice of life: Get out of life ruts by trying a new “thing” every month; restaurant, museum, park, sport, stage production, etc.
  • (A+) This is a resolution I am particularly proud of both thinking of and accomplishing. It is so easy to forget that life is about challenging ourselves to grow, learn, and become better people. I meant to keep a running monthly list of these accomplishments but was so busy doing them I forgot to keep the list! I saw a few shows (Avenue Q , My Fair Lady, Jersey Boys), joined a CSA, joined a new gym (that I consistently visit 3 to 4 times a week), rock climbed (on a wall), replaced my whole wardrobe (was seriously outdated!), tried several new local restaurants, and visited a new country (Belgium).
Weight of the world off the shoulders: Relax tense back and shoulder muscles with a deep body massage quarterly and hang on the inversion table at least 4 days a week.
  • (D) The purchase of a memory foam topper for our bed helped many of my back issues but I should really utilize the inversion table more because it feels so good.
Maintain Happy Weight: Get back into the 170s and stay there!
  • (D-) I came very, very close to getting back to the 170s and realized I was dangerously slipping back into the old habits of a recovering bulimic/binge eater. I also realized that I could be happy at any weight which was honestly a much more important achievement than anything the scale could say. I focused on making healthier decisions rather than the number on the scale and felt and looked better for those decisions, even if I never reached this weight goal.
Great Skate:Complete another Inline Marathon.
  • (F) I made a conscious effort to skip the Northshore Inline Marathon after 4 straight years of racing because of scheduling conflicts (deciding between Europe and skating 26 miles was a no-brainer). I attempted to sign up for the St. Paul Inline Marathon and realized that I would be out of town for a family event that weekend. I will skate my fifth Northshore September 2009.

I do think New Year's resolutions can't technically be expected to begin on New Year's Day, don't you? Since, because it's an extension of New Year's Eve, smokers are already on a smoking roll and cannot be expected to stop abruptly on the stroke of midnight with so much nicotine in the system. Also dieting on New Year's Day isn't a good idea as you can't eat rationally but really need to be free to consume whatever is necessary, moment by moment, in order to ease your hangover. I think it would be much more sensible if resolutions began generally
on January the second.
- Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones's Diary

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Mission: Survive Winter

I hate Minnesota in the winter. The hardest part about winter here is not the bone crushing cold but the length of the season. Just when you’ve had enough of winter, sometime after the champagne bottles from New Year’s Eve are empty and recycled, there are still another 2 to 3 months of this miserable season left in the upper Midwest. Year after year I declare that this winter I will embrace the beauty of the season; ice skate, snow board, toboggan, or snow shoe. This declaration is affectionately referred to as “Operation Embrace Winter” with a success rate that makes the Iraqi War look like one in the win column. Rather then set impossible expectations for yet another winter, it is time I declare defeat in “Operation Embrace Winter” and outline a new strategy for surviving until the tulips rise in spring.

Focusing on outdoor activities as a means of embracing winter backfired for a variety of reasons. Last year the temperature went below zero shortly after Thanksgiving and didn’t rebound until well after even the most dedicated partiers recovered from St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t care if you are from Ecuador or were born and raised on the Artic Circle; temperatures below zero, especially adding a bit of wind to them, are brutal. The only thing I embraced last winter was my husband, and that embrace was often me wringing his neck asking why the hell he moved me here. Most years “Operation Embrace Winter” failed not because of the cold, but because there wasn’t enough snow on the ground to engage in activities like cross country skiing and snow shoeing. By the time the blizzards did arrive in March most of the parks with trails are closed and preparing their golf courses for the warmer months; wishful thinking on their parts.

We attempted to enact “Operation Escape Winter” this year but determined the time and finances necessary to execute that mission were unavailable. “Operation Escape Winter” enjoyed much success in the past with trips to Hawaii, Aruba, and Florida but is unfortunately a very short lived solution since we are unable to launch “Operation Snow Bird” at this point in our lives. Working closely with a team of top advisors we are unveiling a new action to survive winter in Minnesota; “Operation Hibernation.”

Technically animals enter a state of regulated hypothermia to conserve energy during the winter which does not sound like much fun at all. Rather than do the hypothermia thing the plan is to engage in the “denning” done by bears and other animals. Denning is the act of hiding in a shelter to ride out the cold and this winter I am just looking to survive with my sanity, not become a snow bunny. The first steps in “Operation Hibernation” are preparing our bodies and our home for the mission. A crucial element in a successful hibernation is eating large amounts of food to store energy in order to survive the winter; this part of the mission was expertly accomplished over the holidays. The next order of business is preparing the den for hibernation. Our “den” now includes some of the warmest and most comfortable bedding ever, good food collected from the market and garden over the summer, plenty of books, dog toys for our cubs, Rock Band, and many forms of adult beverages should other bears wish to den at our house on the weekends. Our bunker is ready for a long winter’s nap.

Occasionally bears wake from hibernation, leave the den, and go foraging for food and fun. Unfortunately work forces most of us to leave our dens on a fairly regular basis making it nearly impossible to completely shut out winter. Part of “Operation Hibernation” is carefully planning activities outside the den to maximize fun but minimize exposure to the elements. Identifying indoor venues to temporarily provide us warmth and shelter when we are outside our den are important to maintain our sanity and survive the cold winter months. The gym offers a rare place in the winter where one can be hot and sweaty while still exposing skin. It is very important to carefully choose restaurants that are cozy, warm, and offer menu items that warm the soul. Other indoor places providing a temporary escape from winter are theaters, malls, and my personal favorite, spas. After several failures battling winter I am fairly certain that this campaign will be skillfully executed and won.