Thursday, February 17, 2011

This Week's Column

The force is strong with this one
Super Bowl Sunday was a great night for me for a couple of reasons.
First, the Green Bay Packers were triumphant and the Lombardi trophy came home.
Second, one of the commercials brought back many childhood memories. It was probably the most popular commercial aired during the game and has more than 20 million hits on YouTube.
The commercial features a little boy, dressed as Darth Vader from head to toe trying to use the force on everything in his house, including the family dog. Then, thanks to some help from his dad, he starts the family Volkswagen.
My brother and I lived, ate and breathed “Star Wars” growing up. If we were kids today playing outside in the never-ending snow, it’s a sure bet we’d be pretending we were on the ice planet Hoth. We tried the force on everything, hoping that at some point it would work. Pencils, television remotes, toys or whatever might be lying around were all attempts at mastering the force.
And let’s not forget the Jedi mind trick. That never worked either but, boy, it would have come in handy — especially when we got in trouble for something.
As I watched the brief spot during the Super Bowl, I was instantly transported to my childhood and the fun I had with the classic film. It’s neat that “Star Wars” never gets old, becomes lame or goes out of style.
As I googled to find more information about the commercial and the child who played the Darth wannabe, I was equally impressed with his story.
Little Darth is played by 6-year-old actor Max Page, who by the way hasn’t even been able to see “Star Wars” yet. His regular gig is Reed Hellstrom on “The Young and the Restless.”
Max was born with a congenital heart defect and had his first surgery when he was 3 months old. He also has a pacemaker and makes frequent visits to a children’s hospital in Los Angeles.
His mom said in an interview on “The Today Show” she was always glad to see him have the chance to run and play. Now he’s a YouTube and international sensation adored by millions.
The original Darth, James Earl Jones, presented Max with an autographed official Darth Vader helmet. In an interview with “Access Hollywood” Max said he'd probably show it to his dogs first, as any 6-year-old would.
As much as I love the commercial, the story of the child behind the mask is as cool as his commercial. The force may have been what brought him to the world’s attention but once unmasked his story and adorable face warmed hearts and made a lasting impression.
Max, among many other children who deal with medical conditions way too early in their lives, is amazing and special just because of who he is, no Jedi powers needed.
I, however, could still use the extra bonus of the force and have to confess, when I can’t reach something, there’s a part of me that still contemplates its usefulness. But alas, no Jedi powers here…just a lightsaber app on my iPod.
If you haven’t seen this adorable commercial you can see it at
May the force be with you, Max Page.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

This week's column

Have you ever attempted to work from home? Let me rephrase, have you ever had to work from home with a mischievous 9-year-old Chocolate Labrador trying to get your attention?
I did a couple of weeks ago when it snowed. At first it was great.
I threw my hair up in a hair clip, put on my comfy flannel PJ pants, wore my ratty Packers sweatshirt and didn’t even worry about makeup.
My desk was the dining room table with the trusty laptop, planner and various other papers spread out in great order. Donned in comfy clothes and with plenty of room to work, the day looked great. A warm cup of coffee finished the work space and the amazing smell filled the house.
So there I was, ready to work. I started answering emails and noticed I had company. There was Boo, sitting on the floor staring at me. I ignored him at first but then the whining started. I tried to explain to him that even though I was home I was trying to work. As you would expect, he didn’t quite understand. So I ignored him again.
My plan didn’t really work. To the whining he added the nudge to the arm. The nudge turned into a full face on my arm and then the barking started.
I knew he was not going to stop and I really needed to get work done. A compromise was needed. I grabbed a couple of tray tables and set up a workspace by the couch. Not nearly as relaxing and spacious but I made it work. Armed once again with my trusty laptop I began to work.
This plan seemed to have success. Boo was able to sit next to me on the couch while I worked and all was well, until the huffing started. You know, the deep breathing out making a “huff” noise to make sure you know they are there and in need of attention. After that he got up and barked at some cars driving by, and then the whining started back again.
The day pretty much continued in this way. I would work, he would whine.
Throughout the day another phenomenon occurred. Why is it that Boo can be in the house for eight to nine hours during the day when I’m not home and not have to go out, but if I’m home, trying to get something done, he has to go out every hour? It’s a complete mystery to me in the world of dogdom.
I began to see he had a master plan. At one point I got up to get more coffee and when I came back I saw that he took my seat by the laptop so I couldn’t get to it. Or so he thought.
Trying to keep to a normal nine to five day I planned on working until about 5 p.m.
Boo finally settled down but near the end of my “at home workday” until he decided he needed to be as close to me as he could possibly get. For an hour I sat and typed a story while Boo’s head was resting on my shoulder, sometimes in my face.
I did get quite a bit of work done, it was just a bit more challenging than I expected with Boo constantly vying for my attention.
A few days later I saw Boo wallowing on his back on the floor, legs flailing around, tongue half out of his mouth with a goofy expression on his face. The gray around his mouth has grown and while he still thinks he’s a giant puppy his age is beginning to show. He’s working on his tenth year.
In that moment the frustration of trying to work with him the other day disappeared. I sat down next to him and scratched his belly. Sweet old dog.