Ken Kesey Owes Me $5.20

Yesterday, I accidentally ate a hamburger the size of a Greyhound Bus.  Only it didn’t go down so smooth.  This was all Ken Kesey’s fault.  Yeah, I know he’s dead, but that doesn’t make it right.

I live in Eugene, Oregon, where author and Grateful Dead groupie Ken Kesey is revered.  He’s like a white Buddha.  In fact, the city dropped a bronze statue of him reading to kids smack down in the middle of town.  The “disenfranchised” use it hang their clothes to dry and/or display their valuable home-crafted trinkets for sale.  Drop by to visit it sometime.  Go in a group.  Take a can of mace.

But I digress.

Kesey wrote a book called, Sometimes a Great Notion.  It’s supposed to be really good.  I haven’t read it, of course, but I saw the movie starring Paul Newman, which was filmed in Oregon.  It was really good, and I cried when Paul Newman’s character drowned.  Anyway, I’m certain that’s where the tragedy of this hamburger nightmare started.

The McDonald’s Worldwide Conglomeration of Death (because there’s something seriously wrong with that outfit), recently came up with their own “Great Notion.”  They named it the “Gran Mac.”  It’s like the classic Big Mac, only several stories taller, and the diameter of a sewage drain lid.

The saying goes that it’s not how many times you fall down that matters, it’s how many times you stand back up.  Well, I fell down yesterday.  I tripped and fell face first into a Gran Mac.  I didn’t want to do it.  But this beast was an artery-clogging siren calling me to her rocky shores.  Polishing off that monstrosity of a burger (if you can call this aircraft carrier-sized block of carbohydrates and fat a burger) was backbreaking, or I should say, jaw-breaking.  My mandibular muscles are still aching.  And the carcass of that thing is still rolling around down in my lower intestines.  It’s churning away like a muskrat caught in a whitewater river sinkhole.

The entire experience is my shame.  And before you ask, “no,” I haven’t gotten back up yet.

So, Mr. CEO of McDonald’s Worldwide Conglomeration of Death, I only have one comment for you: “Sometimes it’s NOT a Great Notion.”

The Secret to Hiking with Grizzlies

By Jack Edwards

I take deep pleasure in hiking through the great outdoors.  At the mere suggestion from my wife that we go for a hike, usually at gun point, I hop right off the couch.  So I guess you can call me an “outdoor enthusiast.” This is why I was riveted by news that the National Park Service is considering restoring grizzlies to the “North Cascades Ecosystem.”  I read this in an article in the Seattle Times, by Phuong Le, titled, “Grizzly bears in the North Cascades? Feds release plan to restore population.”

Because I’m working on being a more “positive thinking” person, I decided to make a list of how this might enhance my life, and the lives of others – both adults and children (or as grizzlies refer to them, snack-size people).  (Sorry!  “Positive, Jack, stay positive!”)

The first thing you have to remember is that while these majestic creatures may seem “scary” or “intimidating,” Le’s article notes that, “grizzly bears tend to avoid areas of human activity.”  So it seems that we are unlikely to see a grizzly slipping into to a Seattle Starbucks for a half-caf vanilla latte after a long hibernation.  On the other hand, they enjoy a well-groomed hiking trail as much as the rest of us.  My brother-in-law, Tucker, and his wife, Jan, ran into a grizzly years ago while hiking in Montana.  They’re still trying to scrub the undies they were wearing that day back to their original white.  (“Okay, STOP with the negative, Jack!”)

Here are three benefits of hiking with grizzlies:

  1. Le reports that the grizzlies will “be radio-collared and monitored.” Talk about a silver lining. This means that whatever particular body part (or if he’s really hungry, “parts”) of your hiking buddy are missing, rangers can quickly locate and recover them.  (Presupposing the grizzly is willing to give it back.)  A funeral director can sew it back on in no time – probably at no extra charge (who are we kidding, he’s a funeral director.)
  2. According to Wikipedia, grizzly bears weigh no more than 900 pounds. So if you hike in groups of five to ten people, you’ll match his weight, and have at least a fighting chance. In the alternative, you can walk toward the back of the group, if you get my drift.  What’s the old saying? “You don’t have to outrun a grizzly, you only have to out run your friends.”

And,

  1. I don’t want to get all religious, or “controversial,” but life in heaven is supposed to be significantly more enjoyable than life on earth.

In conclusion, I look forward in great anticipation, to the return of these magnificent creatures to Northwest hiking trails.  I want to continue to enjoy the great outdoors, and now that I think about it, I want to help my friends and relatives, my elderly friends and relatives, enjoy the great outdoors with me.  #NeverHikeWithoutGrandma

My Rosetta Stone Road to Korea

By Jack Edwards

I’m traveling to South Korea this fall, so I’ve decided to be fluent in the native tongue when I arrive.  You may be thinking, does he already have a basic proficiency?  The answer would be, yes.  I mastered how to say, “Where is the bathroom?” in Korean, quite some time ago.  I also know how to say, “That’s too expensive.”  So, with this solid foundation, I figure I should need no more than three and a half weeks to “come up to speed” to complete fluency.

I went online to Rosetta Stone.  My wife suggested that I order the first level and pace myself.  This made perfect sense; so after due consideration, I ordered everything Rosetta Stone had.  The whole shebang.  Every “level,” including one, that upon completion, should allow me to obtain a position as a professor of Korean linguistics at Seoul University – teaching post-graduate students.

I hit my first roadblock when I openned the Rosetta Stone box.  It contained several DVDs and a “Quick Start” booklet.  To truly “master” the language, I figured that I’d need to devote at least 20 or 30 minutes several times a week.  Unfortunately, after an hour, I was still trying to figure out how to download the program using the “Quick Start” guide.  I had a heck of a time deciphering the instructions, but what most concerned me was  that the instructions were in ENGLISH.  I’ll admit it; this caused me to begin to doubt my ability to master the Korean language by October.

I have tried to learn Korean before.  My wife is Korean, and not just Korean, but the Real McCoy.  She grew up in South Korea, and as you might suspect, a very popular pastime in Korea is speaking the Korean language.  Sadly, each time I have started studying Korean, I have ultimately abandoned my pursuit.  But as they say, “The 253rd time’s the charm.”

This time, I have a special weapon.  His name is Caleb.  Caleb is my nephew who is learning Japanese.  We have decided to become “accountability buddies.”  I only have one concern about Caleb as an accountability buddy – Caleb is nice.  He’s a really nice well-mannered young man, and I don’t think he has it in him to, for example, call me up and threaten me with severe bodily death if I don’t get my butt “back with the program.”   I may need more of an Arnold Schwarzenegger type accountability buddy, or maybe even Hannibal Lector.

Well, I better get back to my Korean studies.  Remind me again, what is Korean for, “Where is the bathroom?”

Donald Trump: An Unauthorized Biography

By Jack Edwards

My wife and I went on a free vacation to Las Vegas last year.  I’m still not sure who paid for it.  It was either Donald Trump, the Hilton Corporation, or (and this is my best guess) the Las Vegas Mafia.  Anyway, in exchange for suffering through a two hour timeshare pitch, we got a voucher that covered several nights at the Trump International Hotel.  We felt very fancy and entitled walking through its sumptuous lobby.  Here it is-

Trump was still running for the Republican nomination at the time, so we asked everyone who worked there about him.  They said Trump stayed there whenever he was in town, and they really liked him.  Of course, there were a few who didn’t like him.  Those people LOVED him.  I’m not kidding.  But, as I’m sure you would expect, there were exceptions.  There was the occasional employee who neither liked nor loved Trump.  These few people WORSHIPED him.  This made me conclude that:

  1. They really did like him, or
  2. Trump had contracted with the Las Vegas Mafia to hold all their relatives hostage to keep them in line.

And if you doubt my claim that there is a Las Vegas Mafia, I present this photograph as Exhibit #1 –

The only group of people sinister enough to drop a four story M&M store smack in the middle of the Vegas Strip is organized crime.  It’s not enough that they suck your wallet dry on the casino floor, they clean out your kid’s piggy bank too.  At least the kids whose parents are stupid enough to take them to Las Vegas.

My two criticisms of the Trump International, which you may or may not choose to attribute to Donald Trump (although I blame him personally), are:

1.  The elevators weren’t equipped with those key card inserts to ensure that only guests can travel up their floor. (I kid you not, in the evening, they assigned a stocky guy to stand in front of the elevator bank who made us show him our key cards before he’d let us pass.)

And,

2.  More than once, while taking a shower, the water went cold.  That’s a deal breaker.  If the Mafia weren’t paying for my room, I would have lodged a very sternly worded complaint.

Side note: As you know, Las Vegas visitors are required by law to attend a Cirque du Soleil show.  We went to see “O.”  Here’s my review:  Watching people do one amazing high dive after another was incredible… for the first 30 minutes.  Then it’s time to wrap it up and let us get back to the bar, uh, … I mean the casino.

When we got back to the hotel on our final evening, we decide to hit the lounge.  This is where the The Donald, in no uncertain terms, convinced me that he can get Mexico to pay for his wall.  He got me, the biggest cheapskate in the Northern Hemisphere, to pay $500 for this drink-

Okay, not quite $500, but WAY too much.  Embarrassingly too much.  Although it did go down quite smoothly.

So, if you want to get all technical about it, I didn’t actually meet Donald Trump, but I got a pretty good sense of the guy.  And in the end, yes, I have decided that I completely agree with your assessment of him.  You are right.  You are ABSOLUTELY right.

 

Only You Can Save this Endangered Creature!

By Jack Edwards

 Our world is rapidly changing.  Mankind’s behavior is wreaking havoc on our planet.  Time is of the essence, and we must act NOW.  Among our challenges is to save one of our humble creatures whose very existence teeters on the brink of extinction.  I am speaking, of course, about the “thank you wave,” that little over the shoulder wave we give to drivers who let us merge in front of them.

The population of thank you waves was once abundant in North America.  Herds of them roamed freely over the Great Plains as far as the eye could see.  Wait, those were bison (or were they buffalo?)  Anyway, as with the bison (or buffalo), we took the thank you wave for granted.  And now, although there are “thank you wave deniers” yapping away on talk radio, the thank you wave stands on the precipice of complete obliteration.

President Trump even referred to this crisis during his inaugural address.  I quote: “The day of drivers allowing others to cut in front of them without reciprocating with a thank you wave, IS OVER!  Big league!”

I let people cut in front of me all the time on my morning commute, and the last thank you wave I got was on Christmas Eve back in 1994.  Although even then, I wasn’t certain if he was just making a quick adjustment to his rear-view mirror.

I think I can speak for every American, when I say that the thank you wave is a creature we want to survive for our children, and our children’s children, and our children’s children children, and our children’s children children children.  But  no longer; it really should end there.

Ironically, there is one wave which we can all agree should be totally eradicated.  A wave that has been nothing but a blight on the face the earth: The sports stadium “Wave.”  This wave should have died a natural death along with streaking in the 1970s, but it somehow managed to hang around like a nasty case of scabies.

With your help, we can save the thank you wave.  Just like we did with the buffalo.  Unfortunately, we can’t use the same plan we did with the buffalo.  That plan worked like a charm.  Remember the old adage, if you want to save an animal from extinction, just get the American public to start eating it.  We now have more bison roaming around our country than the common fruit fly.  But sadly, unlike with the buffalo, we can’t simply adjust our palates to enjoy the lean, healthy taste of a thank you wave.

Gold Rush: Living Room Couch Edition

By Jack Edwards

I’m not going to point fingers, but there are people who think there is no difference between men and women (aside from a little plumbing).  To these people, I have two words: Are you completely insane?  Wait, that’s four words.  My error.  I meant these two words: Gold Rush.

Gold Rush is a reality television show that airs Friday nights on the Discovery Channel.  It follows a group of daring individuals who aggressively compete for the affections of a handsome young man.  Wait.  My mistake again.  That’s The Bachelor.  Gold Rush is slightly different.  Yes, there are bachelors on the show, but many lack certain social refinements, like basic hygiene.  These guys spend their summers working on three gold mining crews in the Alaskan Yukon.

The only people who watch Gold Rush are guys.  No women, and by this, I mean absolutely NO women, watch Gold Rush.  I know this because I conducted a scientific survey.  As you may know, the key to a valid survey is selecting a statistically proportionate sample of the public, in this case, the female public.  I employed the following “empirical” study protocol:  I asked my mom, my wife, both of my daughters and a lady in the grocery store line buying a box of Franzia wine, and none of them liked Gold Rush.

Guys love Gold Rush for three reasons:

  1. It shows a bunch of rugged adventurous guys (not unlike themselves, they imagine), operating heavy equipment in the wilderness mining gold, while super loud music pounds away in the background.
  2. …Hmmmm…

Okay, there’s only one reason.  Guys like Gold Rush for one reason.

These are the mining crews-

The Beets Crew.  Tony Beets owns this outfit.  To picture Tony, imagine one of those troll dolls from the 1970s, except imagine it a lot hairier and screaming the F word at everybody.  Tony drops the F-Bomb at least 1000 times per episode.  And that’s just when he’s talking to his children.

The Schnabel Crew.  Parker Schnabel runs this outfit.  Parker is 22 years old and spent his off season last year in Australia.  He must have misunderstood when he heard about the Gold Coast.  He didn’t come back with any gold, but he did come back with a blonde bombshell who he put to work driving a rock truck.  (And I bet even she doesn’t watch the show).

The Hoffman Crew.  Todd Hoffman leads this bunch.  If his business had a mission statement, it would read:  We seek to locate the richest and most profitable gold mining ground available, and then avoid it at all cost.  He’s currently navigating Chapter 7 bankruptcy (Just kidding, Todd!)

I wholeheartedly recommend the show.  But I have one warning for the guys:  Don’t even think about watching it unless you’re willing to commit to the show 100%.  It’s like crack cocaine.  Tell your family that your Fridays nights from here on out are booked.  (You might want to consider recording The Bachelor to keep them occupied.)

Inauguration Day: The Real Winner

By Jack Edwards

The time has come for the world’s most powerful nation to once again demonstrate its tradition of a peaceful transfer of power.  Two mighty forces have stood toe to toe, pounding away with millions of dollars of negative ads, hammering each other with harsh rhetoric, and, at times, actually spitting globules of mucus at one another.  And now, finally, after a year and an half of ceaseless bloodletting, where no holds were barred, where every dirty secret, true or libelous, fanned the flames of the masses, one combatant stands victorious.  The name of this victor, of course, is Twitter.  Yes, Facebook fought long and hard.  It out spent Twitter by tens of millions.  It had the money, the experience and the social cache, but in the end, it could not compete with those 140 little characters.  Ultimately, Twitter was The Little Engine that Could.

Who could have possibly foreseen a Twitter victory?  It came out of nowhere. Be honest, when most of us first heard of it, we thought the idea was crazy.  What practical value could there be in shooting 140 characters into cyberspace?  But, alas, Hollywood stars saved the day.  They began sending important, cutting-edge news snippets to their adoring fans.  Here are a few examples (I promise you that these are REAL – I did not make them up, and I certainly have not edited them.  Who am I to impugn an A-list celebrity’s grammar?):

Paris Hilton: “Just finished an intense pilates session with my trainer.  Feels so good to work out.  Now time for a healthy lunch.”

Miley Cyrus: “im bored.”

Kim Kardashian: “I worked out & had a mani-pedi and its not even 8am! I need a nap!”

I know what you’re thinking: With witty, captivating messages like these, did Facebook ever have a chance?

And now, thanks in part to the assistance of the Hollywood’s elite, Twitter will now take its rightful place as Commander in Chief of our nation’s “apps.”  It will be our “App in Chief.”

In closing, I have some advice.  I must first, however, emphasize that I am not an actual LICENSED financial advisor.  Here it is: Twitter trades on the NASDAQ using the symbol TWTR.  As I write this, it is trading at $16.94 per share.  So if you haven’t done so already, download the app, liquidate all your savings (every last dollar), and BUY TWITTER!  Do it now, and if you’re lucky, you might get the answer to that all-important question:  Precisely what did Paris Hilton have as her “healthy lunch”?

A three minute vacation for your brain.

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