A Penguin Story

A Penguin Story

I saw this image in November and thought it was adorable.  I have been looking for a place to use it in the blog during the holidays.  Since I could not find a way to work it in, I’m writing a blog/short story about Penguin Carolers.

The Story Begins

Four penguins, Southie, Emperor, Glazier, Lifer, were swimming away looking for food and caught a large wave that pushed them pretty far out to sea.  There are a lot of penguin predators once you get out that far.  And, not being able to see land wasn’t helping them gain their sense of direction.

Luckily they were together, because if they were alone, they’d be shark bait for sure.  So, there they were, out to sea, looking for predators.  That was no fun.  Every blip in the water made them jump.  Was that a leopard seals, fur seals, whale and shark.  Ahhhh.  They were freaking out.

Great, this is exactly what they needed.  They had a families to feed.  Their only job at the moment was to go out, grab some chow and bring it back to the family.  Their wives were not going to buy this wave story.

Let’s just pick a direction and go for it, was Southie’s idea.  His name alone gave him confidence he’d head in the right way.

That’s when Glazier saw the hump of a whale.  “Great, just great.”  He indicated the hump and the penguins began to dive and flutter.

“Cut the splashing,” was Lifter’s advice. But the whale got closer.

As the penguins began to say their prayers and write their wills, they noticed the whale approaching them was a Baleen whale.  Not a meat eating whale at all.

Were They Saved?

The Baleen whale, who went by Jolene,  approached them; and asked what the heck they were doing so far out to sea.  They told the wave story; she didn’t buy it.  Why was the truth so hard to believe?

Emperor decided it was time for him to take control of the situation.

“Does it matter how we got here?” he asked.  “What matters is how we get home.”

You gotta admit, he had a good point.

The four penguins tried to describe the coast, snow and rock formation that they came from.  However, the whale only could find his way based on his sense of smell; and the penguins couldn’t describe the smell of their rocks.  At least not in a way that helped Jolene.

“I’m going up North,” she said.  “You can hitch a ride on me.  You’ll be safe.  As long as you don’t mind me diving down every so often, we’ll find a safe place for you to land.”

So, off they went. Within a day, it started to get warmer.  This concerned the penguins.  They were used to it being 4°F, falling as low as – 58°F  with winds that gust up to 124 miles per hour.

They were sweating bullets.  The farther north they went; the warner they felt.

The good news is, they started to see land.

How Warm is Too Warm?

The Baleen whale was feeling it was getting warm too.  She was ready to head South again.  But, she wanted a little rest. Leaving the penguins not far from shore, she headed to some cooler water.

Being a conscious breather, she has to remember to breathe, even while sleeping.  Jolene and her family normally rest quietly in the water.  Some like to sleep vertically; others like horizontally.  Jolene liked to sleep vertically.  Jolene and her family sleep alone in their pod.  Some others sleep while swimming slowly next to another animal, but this wasn’t her thing.  Anyway, the penguins are too small to help in this respect.

Off Jolene went.

What’s Happening on the Shore?

Swimming toward the shore, the penguins saw these pink and tan animals.  They walked on two legs like them; and even splashed along the water.  They made sounds that had more tones than they did.  At first it was strange.  Then it became interesting.

Their sounds changed from ones with lots of stops between them to sounds that were smooth and all linked together.

The penguins really liked it.  Some of the sounds were fast and spunky.  Others were soft and calming.

They swam closer.  They watched closely.  Glazier was paying closest attention of all.  He tried to mimic the sound.  After a few tries, he got it.

In his excitement, he clicked and cawed at his friends telling them how to make the sounds.

After a half hour, they were all able to make the smooth sounds too.

As they listened, the penguins heard more and more sounds.  They listened and looked around, taking everything in; capturing every detail of the area and animals.  There were strings of lights. Two-legged animals had colors over them.  Some were bright at the bottom and fuzzy around the rim and at the top.

The animals making the most sounds held flat weeds in front of them.

They felt they may have stumbled into a celebration.  It looked fun.  Everyone was so happy.  Maybe it was some kind of holiday.

Being penguins, they really had no sense of time.  And, being so far from home, they really didn’t know all the customs of the holiday.

“Should we show this to the quins when we get home?” asked Lifer.  All agreed this was something everyone would enjoy.

“Wait until the wives get to see this,” said Southie.

If only they can find their way home.

Warmth was finally taking over.  They couldn’t take it anymore.  Jolene Baleen showed up.  Thank goodness.

“Who would of thought going North would be warm verses cold,” Emperor said.  “I mean it was only two days of swimming, wasn’t it?”

“Jolene, did you know going North would be warm versus cold?” asked Southie.

There’s No Place Like Home

“Normally, I swim much faster and am in cooler waters in just a few days,” she said.  “This is highly unusual, but it feels like heading back South is going to be best for everyone.  Maybe with calmer waters, we will find your home.”

She was ready to head back; and so were the penguins.

Sure there were many twists and turns, but in 72 hours, they had found the penguins rocks.

“Why didn’t you say, this was the place where the seaweed smelled sweet, the air smelled like volcanic ash and the shore smelled phosphorus?” asked Jolene.

“Well, most of Antarctica has no scent.  The glaziers and objects hold their aroma because of the cold,” said Lifer.  “Next time, we’ll know.”

“Next time?” everyone said.  “There won’t be a next time. There’s no place like home.”

After thanking Jolene, they swam as fast as they could to their shore and rocks.

When they landed on the shore, the other penguins were happy to see them.  It was time for the male penguins to return to the females and meet their babies.  Then the woman would leave the kids with their dads and head off to find more food.

Upon returning to their colony, the wives heard their story and were pretty skeptical of the whole thing.

Then the penguins grabbed their seaweed in their flippers and began to make the sounds they learned off the shore in the place that was warm.

They stood with pride and made smooth sounds and bouncy sounds for an hour.  This had the other penguins and their new babies in awe.

So, their story was true.

A Note from MPG

Hope you like the picture too.  If you liked the story, share it with a friend or just let us know.


Minimalism – Little Pink Houses?

Minimlism is the future

Minimalism – Little Pink Houses

Every now and then, there is talk about minimalism.  This is closely followed by the image of tiny houses.  So I have some questions. How hard is it to go minimal? And, is John Mellencamp right?  Will there be little pink houses for you and me?

What is Minimalism?

Defining it is half the battle.  The short answer is that minimalism is personally defined.  I guess that means what’s minimal to you is different than what is minimal to me.

The broadest definition includes reducing the number of possessions, people and ideas you bring into your life.  It’s a complete simplification of your universe.   Quality over quantity.

If you have a 10,000 sq ft house, then minimal to you is living in a 5,000 sq ft house.   For me, it would be moving to a tiny house.

When I think of the minimalist movement, I think of people living off-grid in a rural area.

But, then, if you think of it more; it’s also people in big cities that have limited space.  They have to make decisions of what ‘must haves’ they need handy.

Millennials Are Thinking Minimally

Apparently Millennials are really embracing this idea.   This makes sense as stats show they are waiting longer to have kids, buy houses, etc.  They grew up with everything, but now see other things are more important.

Off the Grid

We watch all the shows on Alaska, people building houses in the deep woods or high hills, tree houses and tiny houses. Yes, that’s Chip’s influence.  Those and the Weather Channel.  I didn’t even know WC had reality shows.  What ever happened to ‘weather on the 8s?’  This leads us to tiny houses.

Pink Tiny Houses

Most of the tiny houses shows have me saying to myself, “how can they do that?”  Yes, it’s less expensive than a regular house.  It’s portable in most cases.  It can be great for one person and OK for two.  However, little kids could provoke a challenge.

One of the cool things about these homes is the innovation that designers put into economizing space and not compromising needed functionality.

I love the people who look for stainless steel appliances.  Only because the HGTV shows have the same desire whether they are buying at the beach, in the Caribbean or any other city in the world.  Americans priorities don’t compromise, internationally or minimally.

Can You Park Your Tiny House Anywhere?


Although some municipalities are warming up to the idea of tiny houses within their building codes.  Normally, they don’t put up a fuss if you are putting the house on property you already own.

But, here’s my favorite part.  Tiny Houses have there own communities.  It’s like Airbnb for Tiny Houses.


One is tryittiny.com. This site is all about renting or trying a tiny home.  Within 150 miles near me there is only one place to rent a tiny home.

If I go up to New Hampshire, there are four farms that will let you park your house on their land for …. about $300 a month.   If you want waterview or lakeside, it’s 650/month.

In this instance, you have a home that will cost btw $45,000 to $125,000, plus a rental fee.  Just sayin’.

From what I can tell, if you select the whole US for options, there are about 19 states you can park or try a home.  One is Hawaii … aloha!

Tiny House Hosting on FaceBook

With, 11,000 followers, they help connect tiny house owners with landowners.  So it’s match.com for tiny homes.

Other Websites

mytinyhouseparking.com – gives list of tiny house communities you can live at.  From what I can see, they have about 50.  With most being in the Upper West coast, Texas and Mid-Atlantic.  That surprised me, I thought the Mid-West would be well represented.

This one also provides guidance and resources to start your own tiny home community.

tinyhomebuilders.com – they share four categories, where to buy tiny houses, finding builders (which there are more of than communities), tiny house communities, individuals interested in buying, selling or renting.

In the Tiny House World – Good Behavior Counts

The Tiny House communities don’t just take anyone.  You need to qualify as a decent human who embraces the minimalism lifestyle.  And, of course, there is the possibility of a credit or background check.

Extreme Minimalism – Living with only 15 items

This topic just keeps getting better and better.  As we said above, everyone defines minimalism in their own way.  However, there are extreme minimalists.

Before, I share the list, it includes a ton of technology items.  Again, wrong assumption, but expected an extreme Minimalist to have two sticks and a flint to make it high tech.

The technology list includes: cell phone, head phones, universal charger, laptop, camera and GoPro.

Others: backpack, workout clothes, socks, sunglasses, one change of clothes (clothes on your back, plus one to travel), somewhere/thing to sleep, water source, money and ID.

I’d add a first-aid kit and flares, but that’s me.  I’m guaranteed to fall and get lost.  Probably should add a compass too in case my phone isn’t connecting.

Reducing the People in My Life

Reducing possessions is no big deal to me.  However, reducing the number of people in my life is much harder.  I have 29 first cousins and another ton of second cousins.

All are married or committed and have kids and some of their kids have kids.  I’d have to weed out over 550 people that are family.  That doesn’t even count Chip’s family.

As for friends, over time they reduce themselves mostly because of logistics vs friendship value.

Now what?

Statistics are saying by 2030, most people will be living some form of a minimalistic lifestyle.  Thirty percent will be in tiny houses and off grid.

So, what happens to all the houses that people used to live in?  And what type of work do the transient minimalists do?

If you go on Indeed.com (employment website) and type in minimalism, 25 job opportunities pop-up.  Most are technology and marketing.

Other people feel going minimal allows them to follow their passions vs be tied to a structured job.  Maybe US minimalists will work like some Europeans who work for 6-8 months and travel and explore the rest of the time.

Also, there is the expectations that technology (even in manufacturing) will be changing constantly.  So. lifetime learning and frequent retraining will be the way of moving forward.  Not sure how that will impact the minimalist lifestyle.

The way it appears is that money also is less important than lifestyle.

I know two people who live this lifestyle.  They say it is the most freeing and carefree way to live.  Each make a decent living.  One does work a little and hike a little each year.  The other lives in a tiny home and spends the rest of his time fully integrated into society.   On weekends, he does live more natural.

Live in Abandoned Big Home, Tiny House or Stay Where I am?

In all honesty, I think I could make any of these work.

The idea of people abandoning their large home to downsize dramatically is interesting.  If minimal is the new culture, no one is interested in buying the big home.   I wouldn’t mind giving living in a 10,000 sq ft home for a month and see if it suits me.  May feel like Logan’s Run. (Hmm)  It’s good to go against the populous once in awhile.

The tiny house, could be fun for awhile, but the only way it has long-term comfort is if you rarely want company or want to be mobile.  I guess it would make it easy to relocate for work.

Stay where I am also has some comforts.  Packing is a pain.

What would your definition of minimalism be?  Tell us what you think.

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Chip and Pinterest – Gift-Giving Dream

Gift Ideas from Pinterest Eliminate Guessing

Chip and Pinterest – Gift-Giving Dream

According to the Agency Omnicore, only 19% of Pinerest users are men.  However, 40% of New Signups are Men; 60% New Signups are Women. Men account for only 7% of total pins on Pinterest. Chip is not one of them.  So what do Chip and Pinterest have in common?  He uses it to get gift ideas for me.  This just pose some challenges for him though.

Bad Luck Gift-Giving

Let’s say, some people (not me) have not been thrilled with Chip’s gifts.  They appreciate the effort, but love that most places give gift receipts.  He always gets them.

For a period of time, he had some success walking into stores; looking at the displays and buying whatever it is.  If there was a mannequin with a complete outfit, he’d buy the whole thing. He did the same with electronics; pretty much everything you can think of.

The Challenge – The Person Who Wants Nothing

I am one of those people who never wants anything.  This is true since I was a kid.  At any given time, you could ask my brother if he needed or wanted anything and he could blurt out a minimum of three things.  Me, nuttin’.

There’s  no car I aspire to own;  place I have to go to; or clothes or shoes I want to have; no gadget I want.  This makes gift-giving for me hard.

When Pinterest became a valued pastime, Chip shrugged his shoulders and thought if meant more time to watch Alaska wilderness shows.  He was all for it.

Because, I’m a sharer, every so often, I would show him the pins on one Pinterest board or another.

He would scroll quickly through it; nod and say, ‘nice.”

Using the Pinterest Board for Good Not Evil

When a gift-giving event occurs, he panics.  “What to buy?’  He asks for ideas.  This time I shrug my shoulders and say, “nothing.”

Just an FYI … men don’t seem to like that answer.

He asks our kids … no ideas.

He’s on His Own – The Mission Begins

He walks into a random store to wander around aimlessly.  A female associate approaches him and asks if she could help him.  He said he wished she could, but he didn’t know where to even start.

She asks him to tell her about me.  Somewhere in the list he mentions I like to Pinterest.

Chip and Pinterest – A Match Made in Heaven

The associate perks up.  “Do you have access to her Pinterest page?”

Gently huffing in defeat,  he reports, no.

She said she occasionally ‘pins” and asks my name.

Boom, the skies parted, the sun shown and the rain stopped.

My page was found.  My interests and preferences. reveal themselves.

Chip is happy.  As the associate scrolls, vague memories of the late-night pin sharing all comes back to him.

In mere minutes, the associate shows him a few items and a victorious purchase is made.

Walking a Little Taller, But More Work to Be Done

Chip is a fan of buying one main gift and one or two smaller ones.  Always soo sweet.

With his new secret weapon in the holster, he goes to the next store.  No one there has Pinterest or aren’t allowed to have their phones on the store floor.

Chip pauses, then the light bulb shines.  He’ll just use his own phone and search it.

Whoops, only users can see your full board and pin selections; and he was certainly not signing up for Pinterest on the second floor of Macy’s.

He was able to get little quadrant pictures with some ideas.

He finally accomplished his purchases in under 2 hours compared to his usual 4-5 hours.  With some of the time attributed to drive time and a comforting double, carmel mocha iced coffee.

He buys a card in record time; and, gets the obligatory gift bag and he’s done.

Yes, I Loved What He Gave Me

Upon telling me the Pinterest shopping survival guide approach he used, I was curious.

Could there be a tool to access gift ideas?

Yup, there is … Pinterest Secret Santa tool.

Should Chip and Pinterest Secret Santa be Introduced

Well, maybe, but probably not.

The Pinterest Secret Santa tool takes your pins and searches Pinterest, Amazon and other retailers to suggest things to purchase.

If I were a betting woman, he would move him from moving around stores muttering to clicking around cyberspace muttering.

(In fairness, he is addicted to Amazon Prime and that is always the place he starts all gift-giving.  Luckily, he has restraint from purchasing me app controlled devices. 

That actually would make him like my brother who, as a child,  bought gifts for others with himself in mind.)

Here’s How Pinterest Secret Santa Works

According to Pinterest:

Secret Santa is a holiday promotion.  From what I can tell, this was a holiday effort.  So the rest of the year, I guess you are on your own.

Secret Santa allows people to find friends or family on Pinterest. It then uses the Pinterest API to create custom gift idea boards based on what those friends or family members have been saving.

And if the people they’re shopping for aren’t on Pinterest? Pinners can select a gift persona that resembles the person they want to give to, from world travelers to pet parents.

Pinners will see personalized idea boards that include Pins of trending gift ideas and gift suggestions from five major brands and suggestions such as Amazon for toys and games; and their Echo division with tech suggestions.

Bed Bath & Beyond is supplying ideas for the home. CVS Pharmacy will showcase the gifting supplies—wrap, tags, boxes, cards. And Universal Pictures will tease the release of holiday movies.

Chip and Pinterest May Enjoy a Lasting Relationship

Chip seems to like his discovery of Pinterest and its uses for his generous purchases.  Having someone take so much care to select gifts for the people in his life, is pretty special.

Pinterest Purchasing Fun Facts

  • There are over 75 billion ideas on Pinterest.
  • 87% of Pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest.
  • 72% of Pinners use Pinterest to decide what to buy offline.
  • 67% of Pinners are under 40-years-old.  Um… we are proudly in the 33%.
  • Over 5% of all referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest.
  • Pinterest said 80% of its users access Pinterest through a mobile device.
  • 93% of active pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases and 87% said they’ve purchased something because of Pinterest.
  • Two-thirds of pins represent brands and products.
  • Food & Drink & Technology are the most popular categories for men.
  • An average Pins made by an Active Female User is 158.
  • Recipes: There are more than 1.7 billion recipe Pins.
  • Shopping: Every day nearly 2M people Pin product rich Pins.
  • Articles: More than 14 million articles are Pinned each day.
  • Average time spent on Pinterest per visit is 14.2 minutes.

After reading these stats, maybe I’ll give Chip access to my Pinterest account.  If food, drink and technology are the most defined areas, he may have found a new playground.

I’ll tell you one thing.  My “look at my pins before sleep” moments now get more interest.

Tell us if you fear gift-giving or other ways you find gift ideas.

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Mr. Rogers – Best Documentary or Film

Mr. Rogers – Best Documentary or Film

If you haven’t seen the new Documentary ‘Mr. Rogers: Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ … Go. I mean stop reading right now and go. Even if you don’t think you like documentaries … Go.

Chip was up in Boston last Saturday. So I figured let me go check this out. We normally aren’t big movie goers and Chip is definitely not a documentary person.

Now, in the Fall, Tri-Star pictures is going to start filming a Mr. Rogers feature film titled, ‘You Are My Friend.’

My advice to Tri-Star, don’t even bother. No matter how charming Tom Hanks (scheduled to play Mr. Rogers) , he will never capture the genuine character of the real thing.

A Smidge Skeptical

The Mr. Rogers Documentary was introduced at the Sundance Film Festival in late-January 2018 to rave reviews.

Hmmm. It started with a limited release and is now getting expanded because everyone loves it. Me included.

My Question is …

Is it a coincidence that the documentary came out before the feature film? I mean feature films are planned and funded months in advance of shooting.

The skeptic in me says “I bet Tri-Star supported the documentary and it’s distribution to bring Mr, Rogers back to top of mind. Then, they come out with their feature film to a primed market and boom box office success.”

I’m Not Sure That’s Going to Happen

In fairness, the premise of the two movies are completely different.

The Mr. Rogers documentary focuses on relationships and his dedication to breaking down complex events in the news and culture for children to understand. Each show had a distinct message. And, with all this, he connects on a real one-to-one level to make each child feel how their uniqueness makes them special.

As for the movie, it’s about a reporters relationship with Mr. Rogers and how it changed her life.

Perhaps Really Not All That Different

In the documentary, which is made up of clips and interviews with family and people involved in the show’s creation, each person said how Mr. Rogers connected with everyone and changed all their lives.

The Mr. Rogers Documentary Viewing Experience

I’m a big mush. From about 5 minutes in to the end, I was frequently tearing up and remembering certain episodes from a child’s eye and realizing its impact now.

The most powerful part of the documentary was the pause. As I understand, each show he would take a minute to have a subtle or actual silent time.  I do remember the pause sections of the show.

At the end of the movie, they asked each contributor to stay silent for a full minute and focus on the person who made the deepest impact on their lives. Each and every person was in tears before they even shared who it was and why.

Some people just cried without sharing their muse.

As I Walked Through the Parking Lot

The theater was mostly individuals there with a couple people there in pairs.

As I said, the movie was very powerful from a reminiscent standpoint and an insightful one.

In the parking lot, after transitioning from darkness to light, a woman came up next to me. She told me she was sitting a few rows back and noticed she and I were emotional at many of the same parts.

We walked a few steps together to our cars and if we tried to describe a piece of the movie we both couldn’t get the words out.

It probably worked out well. If we both weren’t tearful, I probably would have talked to her for an hour. She may not realize how lucky she was.

Now What About The Feature Film

It will probably do fine, but it will lack the true authenticity that the documentary held.

Tom Hanks has touched many people’s lives with amazing performances and transformations. However, Mr. Rogers will be impossible to emulate.

Rogers was thoughtful, spiritual, curious, applicable and deliberate in a sensitive way.

His level of care and commitment were innate and his life’s work all at the same time.

He created a safe world for children. A loyal world for those who worked with him. Friendships with those who felt alone or friendless. And, created a world of make believe that was actually real.

Highly Recommend

If you have a few hours and 9 dollars, go to see the Mr. Rogers documentary ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor.’

Let me know how you liked it or share a favorite Mr. Rogers memory from your childhood.

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