The Secret Life of Oliver the Cat

Cats come in many varieties.  Among them are Persian cats, Munchkin cats, and Siamese cats.  I have a rare breed of cat.  It’s called an Alarm cat.  My Alarm cat goes off at 5:30 a.m.    And by “goes off,” I mean begins meowing quietly just outside our bedroom door every three seconds.  He then gradually increases his volume to a level just above that of the average NASA rocket launch.  Simultaneously with reaching his crescendo (I swear I am not making this up), he starts slapping the door with his paw.  I put my head under the covers and try to ignore him until I’m afraid he’ll wake the neighbors.

There are many reasons people love cats.  They’re playful.  They’re mischievous.  And, of course, they tear our upholstery to shreds. 

Oliver the Cat is no exception.  He too enjoys playing.  His favorite game is called, “Wait for the People to Leave And Knock Over All the Vases.”  Of course, this is only when he can find the time.

Here is Oliver’s demanding schedule (and by “demanding,” I mean that he does a lot of demanding) –

Wait for me to get up and then demand that I feed him his breakfast immediately.  We always keep dry food available for him but only give him canned food in the morning and evening.

Next, wait for my wife to get up, pretend he hasn’t eaten, and then demand that she feed him breakfast immediately.

(I’m embarrassed to tell you how long Oliver pulled this scam.  His owners, sadly, are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.)

It is then time for him to demand that we let out, so he can go across the street to Neighbor Jim’s house.  Once at Neighbor Jim’s house, he lies about the porch and generally acts like he owns the place – something akin to his County Estate.  So far, Neighbor Jim has been a good sport.  But I’m pretty sure the clock is ticking. 

The remainder of the Oliver’s day is spent either meowing loudly to be let back in, or, approximately 30 seconds after coming back in, following us around the house meowing at the decibel level of an air raid siren demanding to be let out again.

We love Oliver, but having an Alarm cat is challenging.  My only hope for relief is that Oliver doesn’t understand Daylight Savings Time.  I can’t wait to “Fall Back.” 

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Who Are These People Who Park Outside The Lines?

I’m not saying that parking outside the lines should be a crime.  That would be crazy.  I’m just saying that, at a minimum, we should eat these people.  After all, it costs over $40,000 a year to incarcerate someone. 

If you’re a “softy,” and eating these people seems too extreme, there are other cost effective options.

Public shaming.

This is where the judge makes the person wear a sign around his neck exclaiming his sin.  It could say something like, “I Park Outside the Lines,” or, perhaps, more appropriately, “I Park Outside the Lines – And I Should be Eaten.”

“The Stocks.”

This option has, historically speaking, always been a crowd pleaser.  This is where you lock someone’s head and hands into the holes of one of those wooden contraptions.  The guy ends up looking like a target at a state fair carnival.  The added benefit is that he’s bent over at a 90 degree angle with his posterior sticking up in the air.  Of course, we would put a basket of complimentary eggs nearby. 

Caning.

This punishment is all the rage in Singapore.  Some of us remember the American kid charged vandalism who got caned.  You might remember his mother running around doing a media blitz trying to rally “civilized” countries to persuade the Singaporean (fun word to say out loud) government not to cane the little miscreant.  I remember thinking that if I were that kid, I’d tell my mother to clam up and let me take the beating, so I could preserve at least an ounce of dignity.  In the end, the kid got the stick (four whacks).  If we settled on caning as the punishment for parking outside the lines, then I think we should use a car antenna as the “cane.”  Whipping one of these knuckleheads with a car antenna just seems Zen, or maybe I’m thinking of “feng shui.” 

But even though I’ve felt obligated to jot off a list of other cost effective alternatives, let’s not completely rule out eating these people.  We should definitely keep that option on the table.  And by “keep that option on the table,” I mean, keep these idiots ON the table.  You’ve seen those roasted pigs with the apple in the mouth?  I’m not sure what the flavor profile would be, but hey, everything goes down smoothly with a little ranch dressing.

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How to Kill Your Family and Look Good Doing It

I recently returned from a family vacation to Hawaii, otherwise known as “the scene of the crime.”  Let me state this emphatically: It was not my original intent to kill my family.  However, and this is a VERY important point, I did not ACTUALLY kill them.  I just ALMOST killed them.

I used the AllTrails app on my iPhone to find a hiking trail near our Airbnb.  One looked great.  It was called the Hanauma Bay Death Trail.  No, that wasn’t it’s official name.  It’s actual name was the Hanauma Bay Ridge Trail, but I think the word “Ridge,” in place of the far more accurate “Death,” was a typographical error.

The first sign this hike was a mistake was when I Googled the name of the trail.  A news story popped up that said the hike was illegal.  Here is the headline –

Here is the meat of the news story –

An illegal Hawaiian hike?  Dare I risk it?  OF COURSE! Me at the water cooler after my vacation:

Boring co-worker, “What did you do on your vacation?” 

Me, “Oh, nothing much.  You know.  The usual…We just went on an EXTREMELY ILLEGAL tropical hike!”    

The second sign this hike wasn’t a good idea was literally a sign, or more specifically, TWO signs.  A “No Trespassing” sign posted on each side of a tourist hanging dead from a nearby tree – just kidding about the dead tourist – but NOT about the two signs or the LOCKED GATE blocking the entrance to the trail –

But, much like a naive character in a horror movie who follows a mysterious trail of blood down into the basement to find out where all the screaming is coming from, I led my family forward. 

So under the gate we went.

The AllTrails app is super easy to use.  You just keep your blue location dot on the red line marking the trail.  Which, in this case, I stupidly did.  Here is the overview of the trail –

The trail began friendly enough –

A neatly paved trail gradually going up the rim of the volcanic crater which created one of Hawaii’s most popular tourist destinations, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

Here is the bay side from the top –

Once past the summit, the red line continued off the paved trail and down an embankment. (This image fails to adequately show how incredibly steep it is.) –

This might has seemed odd to a hiker less experienced than myself, but not me.  I was committed to following the red line, as they say, … even if it killed me.

As I led my family toward certain death, I did so with absolute confidence.  Down we marched like lemmings toward a shear drop-off above jagged rocks hundreds of yards below.  (In all fairness to AllTrails, the red line did not actually lead off the edge – there was at least a three millimeter “safety buffer.”)

I apologize for not having any photographs of the “ledge of death.”  At the moment, I was occupied hanging on by my butt cheeks to the slippery volcanic soil and screaming for everyone to stay back. 

In all fairness to me, I was actually far more likely to have killed myself than anyone else.  By the time we realized that the red line was leading us into oblivion, we had skittered several hundred yards down a steep embankment of loose sandy soil.  A steep embankment which we then and to climb back up

I was by far the worst physically fit.  If we were on Survivor, I would’ve been the first voted off the island.  In fact, they might have eaten me. 

I learned two things from this Extremely memorable experience:

1. Never trust the instructions on a free app.

2. At the very least, someone should have posted no trespassing signs and locked the gate. 

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Why You Should Start Smoking Cigarettes Immediately

Medical professionals agree that if you want to be healthy, you need to do three things.  First, eat right.  Second, exercise.  And third, chain smoke.  Doctors recommend a bare minimum of two packs a day. 

If you think I’m making this up, you’re wrong.  It’s based on scientific research.  Doctors have known about the benefits of smoking since the late 1800’s.  And this is especially true for those suffering from asthma.  Take a look at this Scientific ad, if you don’t believe me –

Please note the warning at the bottom of the ad: “Not Recommended For Children Under 6.”  This is an important clarification – Children under six CAN smoke – it’s just not recommended. 

And the benefits of cigarettes don’t stop there.  They’re also good for digestion –

The more accurate term for tobacco cigarettes is “cigarette medicine.”  If used properly, and with a sufficient dosage, they can help you live to 100 –

This is probably why, “More Doctors smoke Camels.”

If you’re not so concerned with longevity, and more concerned about your dental health, you should ask your dentist which brand of cigarette medicine he recommends.  Your dentist may have very strong feelings on the subject.  Here’s one who does –

If you’re concerned about any possible side effects of cigarette medicine, don’t be.  However, if you’re one of those pointed-headed geeks who likes to do their own research before starting a new medical regiment, consider this trusted scientific literature –

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, ‘Wait a minute.  Hasn’t there been more recent scientific research that questions the health benefits of smoking?”

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you.  Because the last thing I want to do is mislead you.  The answer is, “No.”

You’re probably thinking about that group of “fringe” scientists.  Those wacky guys who claimed that we actually landed a man on the moon in 1968.  Here is an example of their trumped-up “proof” –

Notice how they cleverly added the fake footprints in the foreground to make it look like the astro-NOT was actually walking around?  This picture was actually taken on the back lot of Paramount Studios (where they also filmed the “live” television version).  It was all connected to Nixon and his Watergate Cover-up.  (Truth be told, it’s the real reason Nixon had to resign.) 

But back to the health benefits of smoking.

I’m not saying that smoking cigarettes is the answer to MOST of your health concerns.  I’m saying that smoking is the answer to ALL your health concerns.  At least if you smoke a minimum of two packs a day. 

I’ll leave you with this one last piece of medical advice: Remember to only smoke “fresh” cigarettes –

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Why You Should Cool Your Bananas

An existential threat looms in our near future.  The media relentlessly reminds us of it, and whether you wake up worrying about it each day, or turn a blind eye, we have an out-of-control freight train headed directly our way.  You know what I’m talking about, but I’ll say it – We have a Banana Crisis. 

Scientists tell us that bananas are being ravaged by an uncontrollable disease called Black Sigatoka.  I know it sounds like a Jamaican reggae band, but it’s the real name of this banana disease – I swear.  (Google it if you don’t believe me.) 

Can we even imagine living in a banana-less world?

The good news is that banana scientists are adamant that we will ALWAYS have bananas – just not the normal kind. 

Four hundred million Earthly people eat 30 BILLION dollars of bananas every year.  Now – THAT’S A LOT OF BANANAS!  But here’s the thing.  Most people eat normal bananas.  Here are normal bananas –

Normal bananas are long, yellow, and extremely delicious.  We grew up eating normal bananas. In fact, normal bananas even costarred in one of our favorite childhood books – Curious George.  There is only one bad thing about these bananas.  They turn brown faster than Joey Chestnut can swallow a hotdog.

BUT banana scientists tell us that there are many other varieties of bananas.  Here is an example –

Many of these unpopular bananas are called “plantains.”  “Plantain,” is the Latin word for “Weird.”  Plantains are strange green bananas.  The main difference in the taste between plantains and normal bananas is that they cost their weight in gold.

Of course, our favorite banana is the Chiquita banana.  Chiquita is Brazilian for “normal.”  We grew up eating normal bananas, and that’s the way God fearing pro-banana Americans want to keep it.Side note:  I started searching for a vintage Chiquita banana advertisement and came across another vintage ad that has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with bananas.  However, as your primary source of scientific information, I felt a duty to immediately bring it to your Medical attention.  Here it is –

So if you learn anything from this story about the banana crisis, learn that if you or anyone you care about gets pregnant, start smoking Nico Time brand cigarettes immediately.  Your baby’s life depends on it.

Now back to our regularly scheduled banana crisis –

As I said.  I simply cannot imagine living in a banana-less world.  So, I’m “thinking globally, and acting locally.”  I’m planting a Chiquita Banana tree in my front yard.  If we’re lucky, and Global Warming keeps up its rapid pace, I’ll be up to my armpits in fresh bananas.

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The Super Secret Solution to Battling Evil Grass Pollen

Another Oregon Willamette Valley hay fever season has passed.  And I have finally emerged from my HEPA air-filtered bunker in a low crouch and squinted up into the sunlight.  Over the past three months, as I sat in the air-conditioned darkness, I developed several thoughts I’d like to share. 

Here are the facts.  Ninety-nine percent of the world’s grass seed is grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.  The valley’s winds typically blow from north to south.  The communist city I call home is Eugene, or more formally, “The People’s Republic of Eugene.”  Eugene sits at the very southern tip of the Willamette Valley.  The average pollen count that irritates most people (“Very high”) is 200+.  The pollen count in Eugene can AND DOES exceed 500+.  Using these numbers, we can utilize a well-accepted mathematical equation to find the numerical “misery index.” Thus, X = 200 divided by Y = 500, and the result is of this equation is: That I am an idiot.  I honestly can’t believe I live here.

On the bright side, the pollen season only lasts three months.  And they’re not the fun-filled soggy fall months or the keister-puckering winter months.  I am free to venture outside anytime during these periods.  It’s only when the sun has the temerity to show its face and the temperature breaches 70 degrees that I have to run for my life. 

Setting aside my personal trauma for a moment, I must note that hay fever has gotten a raw deal on the public relations front.  Wall-to-wall negative press.  The media never mentions hay fever’s positive attributes – The pleasure of an afternoon nap brought on by the dopey side effect of an antihistamine.  Or, the PERFECT excuse for not mowing the lawn.

Luckily for me I know a physician who specializes in allergies – an “Allergist.”  For the purposes of this column I will refer to him as “Jason,” because his name is Jason Friesen.  That’s Dr. Jason Friesen M.D. to commoners like you. 

Last year during a conversation (if you call my whining to him about my hay fever and him suffering through my rant a “conversation”), I mentioned the two medications I was going to take the next year to battle my affliction.  Jason mentioned that I should start taking one of them early, because it took awhile for it to build up in the system.  Of course, I was GLUED to his advice.  This was gold.  Nectar from the sky.  AND with no evil CO-PAY. 

Nine months later I’ve raided the Costco pharmacy, and I am fully stocked:  A bottle of Claritin the size of an oil drum and half a dozen bottles of Flonase nasal spray.

A full thirty days before pollen season, I started taking a Claritin pill every morning with my multivitamin.  I wasn’t just religious about it, I was Mother Theresa religious about it.

The next time I saw Jason, pollen season was about to hit.  I told him that I followed his advice, and I was WAY ahead of the game.  I’d been taking Claritin every day for a month.  This is when Jason told me that I was an idiot.  (But he didn’t say it like that.  He said it in the nice doctor way.)  He told me that he said to start the Flonase ahead of time.  The Claritin acts immediately.   

So what I’m trying to say is that I’m really, REALLY, ready for pollen season next year.  I’ll consider this last season, in football parlance, a “rebuilding year.” 

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The Secret’s Inside the Bun

Americans went on a health kick back in the 1970s.  Organic this, organic that.  Salad bars as far as the eye could see.  But those days are over.  International House of Pancakes (IHOP) has created a hamburger WITH A PANCAKE IN IT. 

If it isn’t served with a ladle of corn syrup poured over it, I’m sure it comes on the side.

This burger actually came out in June, but I’ve been too busy pursuing my own selfishly leisurely activities (practicing the ukulele) to bring this exciting news to your important culinary attention. 

I can only assume that IHOP wasn’t selling enough “Grand Slam” breakfasts, and so they decided to beef up their lunch menu.  I can picture a room full of executives sitting around a conference table desperately brainstorming ideas as brilliant as the “Grand Slam,” when an inbred board member with a name like Charles Bennington Shoemaker III, sporting a belly practically bursting from his shirt, raised his hand in triumph.  “I’ve got it!” he announced.  “A burger, but with a pancake in it!”  The group no doubt universally nodded.  Then someone yelled out, “We can use the stale leftover pancakes from the morning shift!”  This suggestion was met with another robust round of applause.

I’m sure someone commented, “Boy, that’s one big IHOP pancake burger.”  Then, the board plowed thousands of shareholder dollars in market research, to identify the perfect name.  And it was WAY “outside the box.”  With great fanfare, the company announce the new “Big IHOP Pancake Burger.”

And it turns out to be healthier than you might have guessed.  I couldn’t find a calorie count for the Big IHOP Pancake Burger, but IHOP’s Big Brunch Burger is a very slimming 1040 calories, so you can just imagine. 

In fact, when I was searching for the Big IHOP Pancake Burger’s calorie count, I couldn’t find it anywhere on IHOP’s website.  If what I’m imagine happened, happened. If IHOP’s liability insurance provider in fact convinced them to remove this heart attack in a bun from their menu, my procrastination in bringing this delicacy to your attention almost certainly…

Saved your life! 

You can thank me later, maybe by buying me a tasty Grand Slam breakfast.

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The San Francisco Poop Map – your opportunity awaits

The nonprofit “Open the Books” has published a San Francisco “poop map.”  (Google it if you don’t believe me.)  The “Poop Map” charts all the locations where volunteer poop reporters have found “deposits” of human fecal matter.  After this map was published, most people looked at it and only saw the obvious –– one BIG pile of poop.  However, I looked at it and immediately smelled an opportunity.

Let me explain ––

If you look closely, you’ll see that not a single pile of poop was reported on the Golden Gate Bridge.  Not one!  The Golden Gate Bridge is 1.6 miles across.  That’s 1.6 miles of virgin territory.  To an industrious individual with a “can-do” attitude, this presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  If somebody acts quickly, he can be the first to leave his not-so indelible mark on one of the world’s greatest engineering achievements.

One of man’s deepest longings is to leave a reminder to the world that he existed.  To the first “taker” (or “leaver” as the case may be) of this opportunity, this hero is one deuce away from immortality. 

When Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon, do you really think the only thing he left behind was a flag?  Look, I don’t pretend to be an official NASA historian, but I’ve been on plenty of road trips.  And if there is one thing I know about road trips, it’s that when the car finally pulls into a gas station, “things” get left behind.  How far is it to the moon again?  A quarter of a million miles?  Do the math.

This “Golden” (Gate) opportunity isn’t going to last long folks.  The San Francisco Poop Map is popping up all over cable news.  Noticing this situation isn’t exactly like deciphering an Egyptian Hieroglyphic.  It’s staring all of us in the face.

Someone needs to step up.  And that someone is YOU.

I’ll even provide step-by-step instructions –– 

Wear a long overcoat.  Walk about half way across, and then pretend like you’re just bending over to catch your breath.  Bingo-bong-o.  Done.  Mission accomplished.     

And once you’ve proven you have the “right stuff” to leave your mark on San Francisco’s most iconic landmark, why rest on your laurels?  Shoot for the stars!  How so, you ask? Take another look at the map.  Another challenge awaits.  Another mountain to climb.  This is because, believe it or not ––

The pristine (and poop-less) shores of Alcatraz sits innocently awaiting your arrival. 

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Why You Should Enlist in the Space Force

I’ve decided to enlist in the Space Force.  Is it for patriotism? No. Is it my duty to my fellow citizen? No. I’m doing it for one reason, and one reason only: Tang. 

If you are under 50, you might not be familiar with Tang.  Tang is a beverage that scientists developed for astronauts in the 1960s.  Using cutting-edge technology, NASA scientists were finally able to overcome the challenging task of combining sugar and orange dye.

Drinking Tang by the gallon is how we kids were able to feel like we were a part of our country’s space program.  And by “feel like we were a part of,” I mean drinking it until we had an intense sugar high and then running around in circles like nuts.

I, for one, long for the days when 95% of my breakfast consisted of liquefied sugar.

‘But, Jack,’ you say, ‘do you mean that if I enlist in the Space Force that I’ll be forced to drink Tang three times a day, my teeth will rot out, and I’ll gain 50 pounds by the end of basic training?’  Don’t be silly, you’ll gain at least 75.  It’s called sacrificing for your country people!  Get over it.  Stop with all the me, me, me! 

There are other benefits to enlisting in the Space Force –

Weightless “slimming” 

When you’re floating in space, those “love handles” that hang on your sides like smoked hams will magically disappear.  Without gravity, your love handles, and any of your other handles, will simply blend into your weightless blob-like shape.  You’ll look great.  Really.  Just because I’m being paid a commission for every Space Force recruit I sign up doesn’t mean I’d lie to you (well, not necessarily). 

Nifty Space Force Uniforms

Have you seen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan?  ‘Nuff said. 

Look, I’m not saying the Space Force is for everyone. There are plenty of people who wouldn’t fit in.  The Space Force is only for those who are unselfish, love our country, and have decided not to live their lives in a narcissistic manner, void of all true value or meaning.  So if you “bow out,” I understand. 

And just like the Army, the Space Force will have a “buddy program.”  So you can sign up with a friend.  I’m still looking for a buddy, so if you’re interested, let me know.  In the meantime, I’ve already started my conditioning regimen to prepare for boot camp.  I’m sucking down Tang by the gallon. 

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Sign the Petition – New Rules for the Kentucky Derby

I was typing away furiously yesterday on a topic I felt would be near and dear to my readers – the San Francisco Poop Map, when a subject even more important (if you can believe that) came bursting into my living room.  It was Maximum Security – the only undefeated horse in the Kentucky Derby.  Maximum Security left the entire field eating the mud he was kicking up behind him.  However, he got disqualified because some whiny horse owner got his (or her) panties in a bunch because the horses mixed it up (daintily) in the final turn. 

Maximum Security comes blasting across the finish line (to no one’s surprise) and I wife and I (we are horse racing experts for 90 minutes every year) figure that’s the end of it – time to get on with our day.  No.  “OBJECTION” is flashed on the screen.  What? Then we find out that there’s some kind of Marquis of Queensbury Rules that apply to horse racing.  We’re stunned.

My wife turns to me, and says (this is a direct quote), “I thought they left it up to the horses.”

“So did I,” I replied. 

Then we had to sit there and watch some carpet-bagging 65-1 horse with the worst name in horse racing history, Country House, who wasn’t even involved in the infraction (I think he was off getting his nails done) be named the winner. 

It was sickening. 

So, I’m calling on all the Trump Resisters and the MAGA supporters to stop arguing over how orange Donald Trump is for a moment and come together in unity to help insure that this injustice will NEVER repeat itself. 

Please sign my Petition to immediately implement the following new Kentucky Derby policies:

1. Anyone caught whining about the race results is banned from entering a horse for ten years.  No exceptions.  And, the violator must show up every one of those years to muck out the stalls.

2. Once the starting gates swing open, it’s every horse for himself.  Here’s the only rule – first horse’s nose across the line wins – even if he’s just trampled across three other horses to do it.  (We’re crowning a champion here, People!)

3. Jockeys are encouraged to use the techniques made so famous in the old Ben Hur movies – feel free to whip the other guy’s horse – heck, whip the other guy!  Let’s see some action.

Thank you for taking time out of your day (and your critical work either “resisting” on Twitter or “MAGA-ing” on Twitter) to sign my petition. 

Now, I can get back to the important work of finishing my column on the San Francisco Poop Map.

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Also-

Check out these great books:

The Lawyer’s Song: Navigating the legal wilderness

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Seven Rules for the College Playground –

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Seven Secrets You Need to Know to Hire the Right Lawyer –

https://buff.ly/2roFIov

A three minute vacation for your brain.