When young parents bring home a newborn, they’ve had nine months to prepare for the blessed arrival. And as the child grows and becomes mobile, they have a chance to childproof things, so as to keep their budding prodigy and their home safe from one another.

But when you bring home a cat, kitten, or several, well, you better have prepared in the same manner as beachfront denizens prep for a hurricane. I’m including the whole plywood-over-the-windows thing here.

One of the most important things to remember is that cats, once they can move on their own, can get in places ninjas are afraid to venture. These creatures are flexible, possess no fear of heights, and have claws the military has expressed interest in.

They climb better than Tom Cruise in “Mission Impossible” even with his window-hugging Spider-Man technology. So unlike your toddler, who can’t usually reach your priceless collection of Lalique crystal on that shelf six feet up, a cat will be playing floor hockey with the broken shards 15 seconds after spotting it on his or her first foray through the house.

You see, cats have a sort of sixth sense for anything that has a monetary or sentimental value. Their desire to play with, smash, hide, or destroy said object is in direct proportion to its value.

Thus, if you do have such objects in your life, you have two choices: Lock them in a large safe with a Doberman stationed out front or pretend you don’t care about them. However, this odd psychic trick of the felines would suggest going for the safe. Do you really want to have to lift up the stove or the fridge to retrieve Grandma’s prized Hummel? And then you still have to glue it back together.

If you’re one of those people who have furry or soft pieces of furniture, please cover them in a nice, soft Kevlar and steel mesh sheet. If not, prepare to see them turned into shredded wrecks that resemble a fleeing gazelle after the lions are done with lunch.

Yup, stuffing covers the floor like entrails, and springs and internal parts will be exposed. At the very least, you’ll be able to make a scientific study of the relative strength of velour versus polyester. Seriously, order a Kevlar couch.

Do you, perchance, have some lovely houseplants? Hide them. Now. Better yet, get them into witness protection before the cats get to them.

I had a lovely little bromeliad (air plant) that I’d been raising for several years. It was thriving, green, strong, almost ready to head off to college. I was so proud. Then, about 15 minutes after the cats noticed it, I found a few stray fronds on the kitchen floor. It was gone, eaten, and the cat in question looked very happy and wondered if I had anymore such snacks lying about.

Our 75-year-old jade plant, appropriately named Grandma Jade, provided a wonderful jungle-gym type of experience for two of the beasts. Thankfully, they were small at the time.

Had senior demolitions expert, Lemon, and all his 16 pounds of feline glory tried to scale Grandma, I shudder to imagine the consequences. She and her foliage friends now reside securely locked in a spare bedroom and, ironically, they seem to be thriving.

I go in weekly to water them and there’s always at least one cat or another eyeing the door hungrily as I carefully slip in and out. They can smell all that soil and photosynthesis; I just know it. Thankfully they haven’t figured out how to open the door. Yet. I am wondering about why Sylvie has been dragging around a set of blueprints for the house and eyeing my circular saw though.

Most cats are well trained in the area of the litter box quite early. And cats that like to go outdoors will find natural spots to take care of business out in the flowerbeds, gardens, or woods.

But if you have a semi- or unfinished basement like we do, then that constitutes a very large indoor litter box. Thus, you have to make sure never to leave such a room open unless you relish the idea of sifting through hundreds of square feet of dry old dirt in search of cat presents.

If you have a special-purpose room that is devoted to a delicate, expensive, or complex endeavor such as model trains, model building, fabric arts, jigsaw puzzles, pottery-making, or other such things, put up a barbed-wire fence just to be safe. Cats see such landscapes as giant Toys R Us stores open just for their entertainment.

Nothing is as much fun as knocking over a carefully constructed remote-control plane or pooping in the canyon that you carefully constructed on the model railroad’s back 40 over a six-month period. I hope you’re getting the idea.

Finally, it’s a good idea to keep your cats well supplied with a safe, interesting, and constantly changing collection of actual engineered cat toys. Cat hotels, scratching posts, balls, laser pointers (they really do chase the little red light), furry things on strings, balls of yarn, or remote-control mice are all possibilities.

While cat toys will never quite replace your favorite breakable items in a cat’s way of thinking, they do help. Oh, and an empty cardboard box is always a huge hit. It’s like those kids that play with the box and not the gift at the holidays. Only with cats, you can just go straight to the box and skip the gift.

So there you have it. Hide the plants, lock up the valuables, cordon off the hobby rooms, and put up the barbed wire. You’re cat caregivers now (don’t use the word “owner”; it upsets them). May your deity of choice have mercy on your home.

Editor’s note: Michael Seinberg says he is fighting a losing battle with the four furry terrorists, but at least the plants are safe. So far.

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Well, the holidays are officially now past (unless the Super Bowl is considered a holiday) and I observed something this year. I seemed that, on those rare occasions when I did have the TV tuned to a broadcast station, there was an extraordinary amount of advertising that advised people that the best possible holiday gift they could buy would be a new car or truck.

Considering the state of the economy (slowly improving), the cost of getting a tree big enough to fit a car under it or conversely, the cost of getting a huge bow for the top of the car, I just wonder what these companies are collectively smoking.

In our family, at least, we purchase a car only once every 10 or 12 years after we have paid off and driven the current car into the ground. If I bought into these ads, I’d view buying a new car as no more of a deal than getting a new toaster or maybe some jewelry. And just to be very specific, many of the cars that were being pushed as gifts, cost more than my first house.

The message was always pretty much the same. Images of people zooming through a winter wonderland, snugly belted into gleaming vehicles that didn’t show a speck of road salt, snow, rain, or even dirt.

Is that a new feature I missed? Self-cleaning cars that always look new?

Obviously they didn’t shoot these commercials in the Albany area where a quick trip out after a snowstorm can leave most cars looking like they just drove through the Dead Sea followed by a mud bath followed by rust setting in.

But to get back to my initial question, how can these companies suggest with a straight face, that most people can, or should, buy a $30,000 to $80,000 car as a holiday gift? Do most families have large piles of cash lying about so they could just buy such a vehicle outright? Is long-term debt considered a great secondary feature? The gift that keeps on taking? Or are these companies appealing to a “different class” of people than most of us belong to?

I do wonder about such things. I also wonder about the implied importance of an expensive vehicle in one’s value system.

In one of these commercials, a family was gathered around the front of their brand new vehicle and the father moved his young school-age son out of the way so he wouldn’t block the car’s logo in what was obviously the family holiday-card photo.

If you’re wondering, this was a commercial for an expensive foreign car brand. The vehicle in question would likely cost the same as the son’s first year or two at a private college.

So what message was the company sending there? “Screw your kids, you need this SUV to complete your life!” Or maybe something like, ”He’ll thank you some day for teaching him about disappointment early in life.”

Yeah, that’s got to be it. Sorry kids, you don’t get to go to college but think of how great it was riding around in all that heated leather!

I found a lot of the car-for-holiday-gift ads to be pretty awful from a values standpoint. But then again, high levels of debt have never really been an accepted family value in our home.

So, in the future, when it does finally come time to buy a car, I’ll be avoiding certain foreign car companies (and a few domestic ones too) because I just don’t think we share the same values. I get that companies all need to make a profit to survive, but, when that mission overrides common sense, smart financial decisions, and true family values, then I’m hopping off that greed train.

And, if you are one of that tiny group that did get a new vehicle for the holidays, then I suppose congrats are in order. But you have to tell us all, did you have to renovate your house to make enough room to get a 60-foot tall tree in and then install a garage door as a front door, too, so you could get your new gift in and out? How’s that working out for you now?

Editor’s note: Michael Seinberg says he believes in buying holiday gifts based on common sense and a sane budget and not on what the Fortune 500 would have you do.

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Well, the holidays are officially now past (unless the Super Bowl is considered a holiday) and I observed something this year. I seemed that, on those rare occasions when I did have the TV tuned to a broadcast station, there was an extraordinary amount of advertising that advised people that the best possible holiday gift they could buy would be a new car or truck.

Considering the state of the economy (slowly improving), the cost of getting a tree big enough to fit a car under it or conversely, the cost of getting a huge bow for the top of the car, I just wonder what these companies are collectively smoking.

In our family, at least, we purchase a car only once every 10 or 12 years after we have paid off and driven the current car into the ground. If I bought into these ads, I’d view buying a new car as no more of a deal than getting a new toaster or maybe some jewelry. And just to be very specific, many of the cars that were being pushed as gifts, cost more than my first house.

The message was always pretty much the same. Images of people zooming through a winter wonderland, snugly belted into gleaming vehicles that didn’t show a speck of road salt, snow, rain, or even dirt.

Is that a new feature I missed? Self-cleaning cars that always look new?

Obviously they didn’t shoot these commercials in the Albany area where a quick trip out after a snowstorm can leave most cars looking like they just drove through the Dead Sea followed by a mud bath followed by rust setting in.

But to get back to my initial question, how can these companies suggest with a straight face, that most people can, or should, buy a $30,000 to $80,000 car as a holiday gift? Do most families have large piles of cash lying about so they could just buy such a vehicle outright? Is long-term debt considered a great secondary feature? The gift that keeps on taking? Or are these companies appealing to a “different class” of people than most of us belong to?

I do wonder about such things. I also wonder about the implied importance of an expensive vehicle in one’s value system.

In one of these commercials, a family was gathered around the front of their brand new vehicle and the father moved his young school-age son out of the way so he wouldn’t block the car’s logo in what was obviously the family holiday-card photo.

If you’re wondering, this was a commercial for an expensive foreign car brand. The vehicle in question would likely cost the same as the son’s first year or two at a private college.

So what message was the company sending there? “Screw your kids, you need this SUV to complete your life!” Or maybe something like, ”He’ll thank you some day for teaching him about disappointment early in life.”

Yeah, that’s got to be it. Sorry kids, you don’t get to go to college but think of how great it was riding around in all that heated leather!

I found a lot of the car-for-holiday-gift ads to be pretty awful from a values standpoint. But then again, high levels of debt have never really been an accepted family value in our home.

So, in the future, when it does finally come time to buy a car, I’ll be avoiding certain foreign car companies (and a few domestic ones too) because I just don’t think we share the same values. I get that companies all need to make a profit to survive, but, when that mission overrides common sense, smart financial decisions, and true family values, then I’m hopping off that greed train.

And, if you are one of that tiny group that did get a new vehicle for the holidays, then I suppose congrats are in order. But you have to tell us all, did you have to renovate your house to make enough room to get a 60-foot tall tree in and then install a garage door as a front door, too, so you could get your new gift in and out? How’s that working out for you now?

Editor’s note: Michael Seinberg says he believes in buying holiday gifts based on common sense and a sane budget and not on what the Fortune 500 would have you do.

Around the year 1990 or thereabouts, I stopped getting haircuts. This followed my cessation of shaving around 1986.

Basically, I did the reverse of what many men did, look one way as a young person, then adopt a “straighter” look post college, as we entered the working world. But then, I’ve always tended to work against the grain, the herd, fashion, or whatever the majority was doing.

Anyway, the beard was actually a simple way to look older. I was all of 21 or 22, had increasingly responsible jobs, and I looked like a high school kid. I wanted a way to look older and be taken more seriously. It more or less worked. I also saved a lot on razors and cut myself less.

After a couple years, my jobs became less traditional. I noticed a few men in the 80s wearing ponytails and I began to wonder about that. I liked the look and decided to go for it.

After awhile, it began to work and it seemed to look good with the beard. So, as we entered the full-fledged 90s dot-com era under Bill Clinton, I began to look like I’d stepped out of Woodstock, circa 1969 (I was actually 5 years old during Woodstock). What I learned along the way is, to look like this, there are certain social realities and grooming challenges.

For instance, when you have long hair, you usually need to keep it tied back in order to look neater and keep it out of your eyes, nose, and mouth (hair is not a good snack). Young women learned this by the time most were able to talk, while I was figuring it out in my late 20s.

What sort of hair ties does one use? Rubber? Nope, pulls too much hair. Colorful plastic clips? Not very masculine. Colored hair ties? Yeah, that worked, but the particular colors were critical.

I mean, nobody ever taught me that matching your hair tie to your shirt was important. Suddenly I had to learn proper accessorizing. Not something they brought up in “Boys’ Life,” I’ll tell you. And they didn’t cover it all those years later in “Rolling Stone,” “Men’s Health,” or any other magazine. And the barrette question just had me totally stumped.

Then there was the whole braiding thing. Does a guy braid long hair? Well, I learned that depended on whether or not he could braid his hair, needed help, or even had enough hair to braid.

Also, how did it look when done? French braid? Regular braid? Exotic? Did you complete the braid with a basic hair tie or something flashier? This whole issue could get very metrosexual, very fast.

I learned several things about braiding hair. First, I couldn’t do it to save my life, while most women could pull it off by age 8. Second, I had to have someone else do it and, even when done right, I wasn’t too sure how I felt about it. And finally, it took awhile before I really had enough hair to pull it off.

It looks good on many big, burly long-haired men like certain Native American folks you see in movies and on TV. It looked good on “Game of Thrones.” But did it work for short, Jewish guys? The jury is still out.

Another issue with long hair was the reaction of potential employers and others of a more short-haired variety. During this period, I worked for other people and, whenever I went in for an interview, I had to carefully consider my look based on the job.

The straighter the job, the more I had to trim the beard, tie back the hair, and carefully coordinate the hair-tie color with the suit jacket or tie (or shirt, that’s what went wrong). It was a nightmare.

And deity forbid that I let my hair down. Oy! You could just see the looks on the faces as you shook hands and sat down for the interview.

There would be this forced smile that didn’t reach the eyes and you could almost hear the thoughts. “Does this guy bathe regularly? Is he a commie? Anarchist? Hippie? Y’know, he kind of resembles Jesus….”

On that last one, my wife once informed me that I was getting some very odd glances from older church ladies back before my hair went gray.

By the late ’90s, I was a full-fledged long-haired hippie throwback and happily self-employed. Ironically, it worked even better, as my job was as a computer consultant. People in business had a definite idea of what a techie should look like, and for some reason, long hair played into it (though proper accessorizing was still critical).

I actually once had a new client tell me that, had I shown up in a suit and tie looking all straight, that he would have thrown me out. This also was the era when business casual started to gain steam and suits were replaced by khakis and polo shirts with company logos. I fit right in, though I stuck with jeans.

To actually be in fashion for once in my life was a bit of a shock. I almost opted for a haircut in protest. And I don’t abide khakis.

Since then, I’ve had a couple office gigs that I learned even more from. Not-for-profits are way more comfortable with long hair than corporations (unless you’re a 20-something tech genius who just came up with the next Facebook). Lady bosses much more often prefer long hair then male bosses do (still no idea on that one). And the new generations seem to vacillate between long hair and no hair.

I’ve noticed a trend where some younger guys who begin to lose hair just go totally bald in their 20s. This was unheard of in my youth, when men worked with the comb over, toupees, and Hair Club for Men.

I refer to these youngsters as quitters in the hair game. C’mon guys, there are options to shaving your entire head every morning! Can you spell Rogaine?

I learned a few other things along the way. Once you start to go gray, people start referring to you as distinguished. But this brings up the question of a distinguished hair tie. Leather? Silver? Corduroy to match the patches on your jacket?

Once the beard starts going gray, you start getting senior discounts (even if it is 10 years early). You rarely get asked for proof of age when purchasing alcohol and the church ladies no longer look at you quite as oddly. Finally, I could go out in long flowing robes and not tie my hair back. What a relief!

And you learn that fashion, no matter what the magazines say, is really about what works for you. Fashion seems to go in cycles and what is old becomes new again every five to 10 years.

If you wait long enough, even disco fashion will return. They’ll just call it EDM fashion (electronic dance music, which is a rehash of the rave culture, which harkens back to disco — well you get the idea.)

Thus, I was in fashion for a bit in the 90s, so by my calculations, I should be back in fashion in another five or so years. But I might need more tattoos (I have only one) and maybe a few more piercings (only three at present).

Now, after  more than 20 years of long hair, maybe I’ll have to finally look into braiding lessons. That might be in fashion soon. Unless the hipsters start braiding their beards. Wait, does that means you weave beads in? Tiny barrettes? Artisanal hair ties? Oh man, what next?

Editor’s note: Michael Seinberg remains long-haired, bearded, tattooed, pierced, and perfectly happy with that, he says, noting that his employer is too. Of course, he’s still self-employed.

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If you follow some of the cooler quotes that are attributed to Buddha or other figures from Eastern religions, you tend to think, “Wow, that makes a lot of sense!”

The reason is that much of Western religion seems to be about telling us what not to do, what not to think, all the terrible things awaiting us if we don’t follow the rules, and so on. So it’s the whole punitive versus philosophical approach, at least on the surface.

However, in the interests of full disclosure, I have heard there is supposedly a Buddhist hell. I imagine it resembles Crossgates on Dec. 24 at 5 pm. At least, that’s how I picture hell.

Now, before you fire up the torches and the Twitter posts, keep in mind that I’m a nice Jewish boy from Long Island (seriously). Though I’m not really what you’d call a practicing Jew, I was raised as such, so my view of organized religion comes as a result of that. I did not grow up going to church or mosque on a weekly or daily basis, so bear that in mind.

I’ve also been anti-authoritarian my whole life, so anything or anyone trying to tell me what to do in a forceful way doesn’t really sit too well. Thus, hearing cool, interesting, uplifting, or positive ideas from other religions that are presented as ideas, philosophy, suggestions, or whatever, is simply more palatable.

Of course, the problem is that in trying to embrace Eastern philosophy, you run into some very ingrained Western thought patterns.

When I was in college, I learned to meditate as a means of reducing stress. This was way back before they tossed drugs at every problem.

There are lots of techniques, but the basic idea is to concentrate on your body, breathing, or whatever, in an effort to un-focus your mind and allow everything to just kind of settle.

The whole Om Mani Padme Om thing is just a device to get your mind to kind of empty. You could just as easily chant “I love Netflix” or “Kim and Kanye are scary” or  “Bacon is Good.” Whatever works for you.

The key is to slow the thought process down to where your mind is as empty as a politician’s promise. The reality is that we don’t do empty mind well in the West. Actually, we kind of suck at it.

We’re always being bombarded with input, visual and aural stimuli, smells, and so on. You have to make quite an effort to just find a place quiet enough to meditate.

You also have to turn off your phone, which pretty much excludes most of the current population of the United States. Most smart-phone owners view such an act as about equal to doing without oxygen for a couple hours. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say you shut off the phone, found a quiet spot, and got into a physically comfortable position. Now you need to clear your mind and focus on your breathing.

Each time you breathe in, say “one” inside your head. Breathe slowly and steadily.

Wait, did I turn off the washer? Did I unload the dryer? What am I making for dinner? Are the kids out by the pool alone? Does the car need an oil change? Where is my spouse? Was that the dog whining? Wait, what was I supposed to be doing? Is that a squirrel?

See what I mean about clearing your mind? It’s like clearing one of those houses on a hoarders’ TV program. You need a mental backhoe.

So maybe meditation isn’t your bag. One major tenet of eastern philosophy is to focus on living in the moment. The idea is that much of our stress is caused by regret or sorrow about the past or worry about the future.

If you live fully in the moment, you are so engaged and energized, that many of the stressors just melt away. So let’s try being in the moment.

OK. You’re sitting at your desk. Feet firmly planted on the floor. Your computer is glowing brightly, your coffee cup is full and warm, your clothes are comfy, and your office is humming quietly around you. You are here and no place else. You are now, and no other time.

Wait, isn’t there a meeting in 20 minutes? Is the PowerPoint ready? What will I have for lunch? Wait, don’t I have to stop by school for a teacher meeting after work? Did my spouse take out that trash? What was I supposed to be doing? Living in the moment? Which moment? That one? The next? I’m so stressed!

OK, so we’re not really batting .1000 here. Personally, I find living in the moment, meditating, being mindful, and all the other Eastern practices very tricky to master, due simply to the nature of Western civilization; such as it is.

The messages we are fed every day are mostly designed to sell us things or change our way of thinking in order to sell us more things. Those messages employ fear as a major motivator plus greed, envy, superiority, and pretty much any and every other negative feeling and emotion you can dredge up.

Thus, in order to live a more Eastern existence, you kind of have to ignore or remove yourself from a lot of what passes for normal society these days.

This is why Buddhist monks tend to live high up in isolated monasteries without cell service, high-speed cable, or even electricity, in some cases. Their daily lives involve meditating, cleaning, cooking, eating, and sleeping. Their lives are simpler, slower and designed to encourage contemplation. And they are rarely called on to prep a PowerPoint.

The bottom line is that Eastern philosophy has much to teach the Western mind. The key, at least in my muddled mind, is to embrace what you can, when you can.

It’s like healthy eating habits for the mind.  We all know we should be eating more veggies and fruits, leaner meats, more complex carbs, and fewer sweets. Of course that doesn’t help you as you stand at the brunch buffet eyeing the six pounds of fresh bacon, two-foot mound of scrambled eggs, and the made-to-order Belgian waffle station.

In the end, trying each day to slow down a little, be a little more grounded, meditate for a few minutes when we can, and care less about the future or past in favor of the present are all good steps. The sum total could actually change your life in positive ways. But, at the same time, a little bacon never killed anyone, just so long as you don’t eat all six pounds.

Editor’s note: Michael Seinberg says he has been interested in Eastern philosophy, meditation, and mindfulness long before there were apps for it.

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