Friday, February 17, 2006

Mr. Long Island The Humor Column Swimsuit Edition

BY MICHAEL WATT Ask Mr. Long Island

Some of these columns are more fun to write than others.

Take this week, for instance. I knew I had my topic when I came home from work on Tuesday (Valentine’s Day) and saw a copy of this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition sharing desk space in my office with the current issue of Forbes. The juxtaposition of the two magazines together created a situation where you have one publication featuring women I will never meet next to another about money I will never make. Oh well.
On the SI cover, right below the eight scantily-clad bathing beauties, was a Post-It note from my wife, Sharon. It read, “Happy Valentine’s Day,” indicating that Sharon has a rather interesting sense of humor. (An argument can be made that this fact was clearly established the day she agreed to marry me, but I digress).

Actually, my 15 year-old son Alex subscribes to Sports Illustrated and he lets me read it when he is done. Usually. Year in and year out, for some reason, the Swimsuit issue never makes it back downstairs from his room and this year no doubt will be no exception. Even by SI’s standards the issue seems racier than ever, which is why Sharon wanted me to take a look before Alex got his hands on it. She wasn’t sure if it was appropriate for Alex to be exposed to this sort of thing and she wanted me to weigh in with my opinion.

At first blush asking me to determine whether something is “too racy” is tantamount to asking Dean Martin if you’ve had too much to drink. It really boils down to Sharon not being all that thrilled about members of her gender parading around in little more than bathing suits made from the same materials used to make those little flags that flap in the breeze in used car lots. The idea that her little baby – all 6-foot-three of him – spends any amount of time ogling the paper pulchritude just adds to her consternation.

It goes without saying that I am far too hip to even participate in such a conversation. “Oh let the boy read his magazine,” I said to Sharon, but not until I gave the matter my undivided attention and a great deal of scrutiny, turning the magazine’s pages with the care and reverence usually associated with biblical scholars and the Dead Sea Scrolls. In my humble opinion if our biggest problem as parents is our teenage son perusing swimsuit models in a sports magazine than we are doing pretty good in the parenting department.

Ironically, it was my reaction to the magazine rather than my son’s that gave me cause for concern. For whatever reason – old age, maturity, you name it - the women featured in this year’s edition, beautiful as they are, did absolutely nothing for me. They seem about as real as the mannequins you see in the storefront windows.

Yvette and Yvonne Sylvander, on the other hand – they were real. So real the memory of their images on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue from 1976 – that’s right, 30 years ago – is still emblazoned in my brain like the sight of my first bicycle under the Christmas tree. Wholesome, healthy and frolicking in the sand just like any other perfectly matched pair of, uh, incredibly well-suited teenage girls having fun in the sun – that’s what I’m talking about. Call it mis-guided youthful optimism but those models conveyed a sense of attainability, even if only in my dreams.

A few years after the Sylvander twins Sports Illustrated featured Christie Brinkley, a strikingly beautiful woman if ever there was one. While Christie’s attractiveness clearly pushed her to the unattainable level, the fact is I did spend a short amount of time in the same room with her (see previous article One Score and A Super Model Ago) so that has to count for something.

But for my money the Queen of Real is and always will be Cheryl Tiegs. The infamous shot of her in the cotton, white fishnet bathing suit emerging from the water is just a drop in the bucket when it comes to discussing immortalized poses struck by the long-legged and lovely Ms. Tiegs. Diligent soul that I am I took it upon myself to call upon the resources of the Internet to do a little research so I could re-visit the images that basically carried me through my teen years. The poster shot of her in a pink bikini with her thumb hooked through the strap on her right hip, for instance, covered more bedroom walls of adolescent males across the nation than a factory of Benjamin Moore paint. I think I actually went steady with the shot of her on the cover of Time magazine in March of 1978, the one where she sports a red one-piece bathing suit.

I must admit I had a great deal of fun “researching” this week’s column. Seeing the shots of Cheryl stirred feelings I had long since forgotten, for instance, and re-visiting the Sylvander twins took me right back to my bedroom in my parents’ house, tacking that SI cover to the wall and then staring at it for hours on end, wishing I could mentally will the women to come alive so they could frolic right there with me.

Like I said, some columns are more fun to write than others.

Thank you for reading this column.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Lessons of the Filing Cabinet

Last night I decided to finally clean out my filing cabinet. It’s something I usually do at the end of each year, pulling out the files that can be boxed up and stored in the garage and starting fresh files for the new year. Not everything gets pulled; only the files that need to be refreshed yearly. Since it is already February, this obviously was not a task that I felt would bring much pleasure! And turns out, I was wrong.

I came across a file titled “Articles” and pulled it out to look through it. I knew it was in there and since it was not very full, I never paid much attention to it. Even though I encourage clients not to have such a file, I was O.K. with mine because it was not bursting at the seams. (note: I still discourage this type of file because people with organizing issues generally tend to overstuff it.)

Going through the contents of folder was an eye opening experience. First of all, how old some of the articles were. Some were easily ten years old. Obviously those hit the trash because the subject matter, even if it still held interest, was definitely outdated. Actually, everything in the folder ended up in the trash because it either held no interest for me or was information that was outdated or could easily be found on the internet.

The thing I found most surprising was the items I came across that I could not figure out why I had put them in there. Subject matters that I could not understand why I would keep. Subjects that had no relevance in my life today, nor did I think they did five or more years ago. There were photos that were clearly for decorating ideas yet I could not identify which photo had held interest for me when I put it in there. Clearly my tastes have changed over the years to the point that I could not even recognize my previous taste!

It actually was a fun thing to do, since most of the things I saw I asked myself, “What in the world did I put this in here for?” It’s amazing how life and time changes our views, interests, tastes, priorities, choices, decisions, etc. It was refreshing to know that I have been evolving and growing over these years and that makes me feel good.

I guess the best lesson I can pass on by the experience I had with my Articles folder is that we are ever changing. I work with so many people who struggle with giving or throwing things away. Things that were from a time when there were a different person. Think of who you are today. What interests you now? Who have you become? How have you changed? It is always good to remember who you were and where you came from and it is good to see how much you have grown and how some material things from the past do not hold much water for you today.

But I can almost guarantee that the clutter in your life is not representative of who you want to be now and where you want to go in your future. When you get rid of the burden of clutter, it opens up room for new things to come. And I don’t necessarily mean more material things. Freeing your space also frees your mind and your spirit. Be excited about new things to come and being able to let go of things you no longer need, use or love. You don’t have to say goodbye to who you were; that will never change. But making more room for growth and who you will be in the future is very freeing.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

35 Time Management Tips

1. Allow extra time for activities and projects to accommodate unexpected delays.
2. Catch up on your reading while you wait for appointments. Audio books are a great way to make use of your time while driving to work.
3. Copy your car and house keys and keep duplicates with trusted people, in case you get locked out of your house or car.
4. Designate a place for your keys, wallet and items you use daily so you will not have to look for them when you are ready to leave the house.
5. Establish routines and check lists
6. Get the children off to school more quickly by preparing as much as possible the night before: choosing outfits, deciding what they want to eat for breakfast or lunch, determining what they need for school.
7. Group activities together. Save time by making all of your outgoing telephone calls together, taking care of all your errands at once, etc.
8. Keep driving directions in your computer. Not only directions to your home to give to friends but also of places you have been so you will not need to ask for directions again.
9. Mark pantyhose that can only be worn under pants so you don’t have to search for “good” pairs while getting dressed.
10. Plan telephone calls (whether to doctors, plumbers, clients, etc.) whenever possible. Have all necessary materials in front of you. Write key questions down in advance.
11. Plan your meals before you write out your shopping list. It will save time because you will know exactly what you need.
12. Realize that you can't do everything. Delegate in the office and at home.
13. Write reminders in calendars for when cards or gifts need to be mailed or bought.
14. Use only one calendar. Keep personal, professional and family items on one calendar. It will help to eliminate scheduling conflicts.
15. Use your most productive time to do your most productive work. Alert in the morning? Afternoon? Tackle your most difficult, important work during the time of day when you're at your best and you're most likely to complete it.
16. Work on incoming mail at one specific time during the day. Junk mail goes into the garbage, items that need action go into your in box, and non-action items should be filed.
17. Put your clothes away after you take them off; do not let them pile up. It takes 30 seconds to hang up your clothing each day. If you let it pile up, chances are you are looking at a waste of ½ hour at the end of the week.
18. Keep all papers in one area of the home and use a filing cabinet for storing papers. This will prevent running around, looking for what you need. Avoid putting papers in odd locations like night tables or in kitchen drawers.
19. Keep all instruction manuals and warranties in one area. An accordion file or binder with sheet protectors are two options for storage.
20. At the end of each day, have all family members go through the house for 15 minutes and put away their things.
21. Set up an area in the home where family members can put items that need to be repaired.
22. Keep like items together in medicine cabinets and make sure you get rid of any expired items on a regular basis.
23. If you need to get something done, avoid interruptions. No e-mail, no phone calls, no conversations.
24. Any time you think of something that you need to do, write it down. Do not interrupt what you are doing to go on to the idea that comes to mind. Also, don’t rely on your memory. What gets written gets done.
25. Keep a To Do list in a notebook or on your computer. Also keep a list of errands you need to run. Keep the list with you so if you find you have some time on your hands between appointments, you will have something to fill the void.
26. Keep a master grocery list of items you regularly use. Hang the list on the refrigerator and check off items as you run out of them. Keep this list in your computer so you can easily add things and print copies.
27. Each evening take some time to plan out the next day. Also think what you might want to wear the next day so you have an idea in mind and are not rushing to figure out what to wear.
28. When planning a vacation, get an idea of activities you will be doing and what clothing you will need to bring for each activity.
29. Know when you are overextending yourself. We all try to get as much packed into each day as possible but in the long run, this is not a healthy way to live. If you feel overloaded, think of what things you can take off of your schedule to make life less stressful.
30. Try living in the moment. Give up multi tasking and really focus on each thing you are doing. You will find it reduces stress and makes you more mindful.
31. When you are getting ready in the morning avoid distractions such as e-mail, computer or anything else that might grab your attention. Stay focused on what you are trying to accomplish and keep your eye on the clock.
32. If you work out, try to fit it into your morning routine. This way it is done and you do not have to worry about fitting in exercise at the end of the day when you are more tired.
33. Not sure where you are wasting time? Keep a time log for a week to assess your use of time.
34. Pay bills on line or have bills automatically deducted from your checking account. If you have a credit card that gives you rewards, have all bills paid by that credit card to increase your rewards.
35. Limit your time watching television. Consider recording shows you enjoy and watch them when you have more time on the weekend or on days off.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Long Island Podcast Network Now has 8 Different Shows

This is interesting, because 2 weeks ago, the Long Island Podcast Network at had only one type of show: a music show where we would play unsigned bands from Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Now, we have 7 new shows with 2 more planned from Spring 2006:
1. Sports Podcast with Paul Little from Brentwood
2. Comedy Podcast with stand up comedian Billy Bingo from Bohemia
3. Health Podcast with Dr Sollazzo from Smithtown
4. Fourplay Radio Show with Steve Strangio from Suffolk
5. American Idol Season 5 Audition Recap with Bruce Chambers
6. 24 Recap
7. Long Island Restaurant Reviews with Suffolk Dawn from Huntington

We have a Long Island real estate podcast starting with Joyce Coletti from Long Beach.

Check out the web site for all new podcast shows. We are always looking to produce new shows and for new podcast show hosts. The LI Podcast Network now has close to 6,000 subscribers.