My First Sailing Lesson: Nobody Warned Me It Would Involve Physics!

The list of items to take to my first sailing lesson concerned me.  It included, “a change of clothes,” followed by the comment, “You will get wet!”  Most of the items seemed fine – “sunglasses,” “US Coast Guard approved lifejacket.”  But I was alarmed to see the final item on the list – “rosary beads.” 

Okay, the list DIDN’T include rosary beads, although I gave it serious consideration – and I’m not even Catholic. But the list did include the, “You will get wet!” warning.

I had envisioned more of a “sip a glass of wine as I slowly glide toward the sunset” lesson. 

I immediately texted my daughter, Zoe.  She was the one who had signed me up for this impending disaster.

Me: “Zoe, I think this lesson is going to be a little more exciting than I planned.” 

Zoe (being an incredibly sensitive and supportive daughter, comforted me by immediately replying): “Buck up, sailor!”

We arrived at the Willamette Sailing Club and met our instructor, Walt.  I figured Walt would take us straight to a boat, but instead, he took us to a classroom.  Perfect, I thought.  A wave couldn’t hit me there!  But to my shock and dismay, I was hit with something far worse – Physics!  Walt explained that the same principle that causes an airplane’s wing to raise the plane off the ground is what causes a sail (which he pointed out was like a vertical wing) to propel a boat.  He briefly explained the scientific principle, and I briefly stared blankly into space. 

Physics lesson safely averted, we headed for the boat. 

The boat’s name was Sunshine.  More relief.  How could a nice boat named Sunshine kill me? 

This is when we realized that we were missing something that Walt had repeatedly mentioned during his lecture was a key ingredient for sailing – Wind! 

Walt optimistically announced that once we were on the river, we might find some wind.  He said this as he put a paddle in the boat.  I immediately envisioned my myself desperately paddling toward the distant shore, sweat dripping from my forehead. 

Low and behold, there was a little wind on the river!

We spent much of the lesson learning how to “tack.”  “Tacking” is how you turn the boat in a different direction. 

Tacking is a three-step process:

First, the person holding the “tiller” (the long handle connected to the rudder) calls out, “Prepare to tack!”

Second, the crew calls back, “Ready!”

Third, the person holding the tiller calls out, “tacking,” and pushes the tiller so the boat turns 90 degrees. 

That’s how it’s SUPPOSE to work.

Sadly, I added a few steps –

Me, gripping the tiller for dear life: “I forgot what I’m supposed to say!”

Walt: “Prepare to tack!”

Me, intently focused on not peeing my pants: “Prepare to tack.”

Two of my crew, my oldest daughter, Zoe, and her husband, Will, called out, “Ready!”  My younger daughter, Emma, was apparently asserting her constitutional right to remain silent.

Me yelling: “Tacking,” as I pushed the tiller out too far knocking us off course.

Walt: “Not so far.  Pull it back.”

Me: “Oh,” as I pulled the tiller too far back, over-correcting.

You may be thinking, ‘Oh, he’s just describing the very first time he tried to tack.’  You would be wrong.  That was pretty much EVERY time I tried to tack.

All-in-all, it was a really fun lesson.  My crew never once threatened to mutiny or even made me walk the plank.  Best of all, I NEVER GOT WET!

***THE END***

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Just Because A Store Is Open 24 Hours Does NOT Mean You Should Shop At 4 AM

The fact that the parking lot was a barren landscape was the first sign that I should have abandoned my plan to shop and immediately made my escape.

Nevertheless, like the stupid teenager in the horror film who goes down into the basement to investigate where all the blood and screaming is coming from, I continued.

Before you label me a weirdo for being up that early, let me defend myself.  I was up because I had to drop my sister off at the airport for her conveniently scheduled 5 a.m. flight.

I entered the store and people were scattered everywhere, frantically restocking shelves.  (Where had they all parked?!)  I felt like I was competing on American Gladiators trying to crawl over, around and through them to snatch my basic food essentials.  One of my most basic food essentials was in an aisle particularly crammed with workers.  I was forced to squeeze my way through a dangerous gauntlet of these industrious folks who were swinging box cutters around like The Three Musketeers.  I was on a critical mission – to find and capture a family-sized box of Cheez-Its. 

The true benefit of shopping at 4 am is spending quality time with the earlier risers in our community – those folks who shame us with their productivity and cheerful attitudes.  And by this, I mean the meth addicts who have been up all night tweaking and are now in desperate search for junk food.  Okay, not ALL the 4 a.m. customers were meth addicts!  Only 99%.  Okay, on this particular morning there was just one.  This tall, skinny wild-eyed lady zoomed in front of me as I approached the checkout stand.  She plopped a bag of donuts on the counter and stood there in a daze rocking like a 1963 Bel Air on seven cylinders.  Then she suddenly snapped from her daze and pulled out her Oregon Trail Card. 

For those of you not familiar with The Beaver State, let me be the first to inform you –

The genius politicians who run our state wisely decided to name our food stamp or “food benefit” card the “Oregon Trail Card.”  This is because no one epitomizes the independent spirt of those brave pioneers who traversed the thousands of miles of mountains, rivers and treacherous terrain to settle here in the 1800s, like a stoner who gets up at 10 a.m. every day to smoke a bowl before settling down to watch The Price is Right.

The moral of the story: Just because a store is OPEN 24 hours a day, doesn’t mean you should shop at 4 a.m. – no matter how much you need those tasty Cheez-Its. 

***The End***

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When I First Heard the Term “The Silent Killer” I Thought They Were Talking About a Fart

I recently made the enormous mistake of taking my blood pressure on one of those home testing machines.  When I saw the reading, it almost gave me a heart attack!  Let me put it this way, if my blood pressure was the stock market, we’d all be lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills and sipping Dom Perignon.  My blood pressure was one nanoparticle from the zone labeled, “Seek medical attention now!”

I took immediate action.  And by, “took immediate action,” I mean I whacked the machine a couple of times and tried it again.  Yikes!  The same shocking result.  It was either broken, or my life expectancy was about two-hours.

Doctors call high blood pressure “the silent killer.”  (My old knucklehead friends at Alsea Elementary would beg to differ.  They had a different definition, but I digress.) 

The medical community loves to invent witty little names for medical conditions.  “The Silent Killer” is right up there with another medical knee-slapper, “The Widow Maker.”


Confronted with this dire situation, there was only one sensible course of action.  So, I started pondering whether I would rather die from a heart attack or a stroke. 

By chance, my bi-five-yearly physical was scheduled the next week.  I pictured a nurse taking my blood pressure and screaming, “Heart attack on a plate!  I need a stretcher!  STAT!”

In the meantime, I stumbled across a book called The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, by Dr. Mark Hyman.  He claims that if you follow his diet, you will dramatically improve your vital signs, increase your overall health, and lose weight.

Let me summarize the diet –

No sugar (of, course)

No starchy vegetables (my favorite)

No sugar laden fruits (again, my favorite)

No processed foods

No dairy

No legumes (for my fellow geniuses from Alsea Elementary, this means no beans).

No caffeine

And, most painfully, no alcohol.

You’ve heard the phrase, “grass-fed beef?”  Go on this diet and you be a “grass-fed person.”  I’m just kidding!  You get to eat regular servings of protein. 

I was two days into this diet when I saw my doctor.  Surprisingly, my blood pressure was high, but not crazy high.  My doctor told me to track it over the next month or so and report back if it got much higher.

This morning, my blood pressure was 105 over 69!  So, I took immediate action!  I whacked the machine on the side a couple of times and retook the test.

Let me put it this way.  If my blood pressure were the stock market, we’d all be destitute and living in cardboard boxes!

Thank you, Dr. Hyman!

***The End***

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Expecting a Baby Boy? Why Not Name Him Judas?

Fun Fact: Jesus didn’t just have one disciple named Judas, he had two.  Seriously!  There was that infamous Judas Iscariot, the scoundrel that betrayed him, and a lesser-known Judas. 

I spent an afternoon at the University of Oregon library researching the second Judas, because I wanted to know more about him and his full name.  It turns out his full name was, “The Other Judas.” 

Can you imagine being the other Judas?  All day long, “Hey, I’m not THAT Judas!”

Last year, about 25 babies in the US were named Judas.  Yikes!  Talk about a cross to bear!  First day of school, the teacher is calling roll, “Judas!  Judas!  Is Judas here?”  Stunned look on all the classmates’ faces. 

I assume all the parents who named these 25 poor souls are currently doing hard time for sundry crimes of depravity – grave robbery, elderly abuse, wearing man-buns.

In Greek, the name Judas means, “Let him be praised.”  This is the second biggest mistake the Greeks have made after inventing those horrid little grape-leaf appetizers. 

There is an old Johnny Cash song called, “A Boy Named Sue,” about a guy who named his son Sue because he wouldn’t be around to raise him.  (Obviously, a “Father of the Year” contender.)  His reasoning was that doing that would make his son tough and develop the necessary skills to survive.  I’m pretty sure the only thing it would do is sentence the kid to a lifetime of therapy.  Same with “Judas.”

I asked ChatGPT what I should title this column (seriously, I did).  It suggested:

“Judas: The ultimate parent-teacher conference conversation starter.”

Judas?!  Can you imagine?

“Mom, Dad, this is my new boyfriend, Judas!”

McDonald’s manager handing out nametags to new employees – “Hey, Judas, nothing personal, but we printed yours out as, “The J Man.”  Cool?

An announcement over the elementary school PA system, “The winner of this year’s Christmas Celebration costume contest is….”

On the other hand, if my parents had named me Judas, I would have to admire their bold, independent, and unflinching world view. 

Then I would change my name to Jake.

Nothing Says “No Smoking” Like a Conveniently Located Ashtray

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of enjoying a short 14-hour flight from Tel Aviv to San Francisco.  And, I don’t want to brag, but I was flying coach.  I would have measured my leg room, but I forgot my micrometer. 

Fourteen hours is plenty of time to sit and ponder.  It’s also time to take full advantage of all the complimentary amenities offered in coach – free water, a free reading light, and of course, a free toilet.  (At least for now.  Don’t think those shysters running the airlines aren’t plotting a way to install pay toilets.)

Of course, First-Class passengers get to travel in their hoity-toity individual cubicles they refer to as “pods.”  They lean back, scratch their big bellies and sip flutes of champagne as they glide joyfully from time zone to time zone. 

I too fly in a private pod.  Only my pod is called “the toilet.”  And, at least 50% of the time, there’s no champagne.

Anyway, there I was, somewhere between Belarus and Belgium, enjoying the peace and tranquility of my pod, when I noticed something disturbingly askew.  On the toilet door in front of me was a No Smoking sign, and directly below it was… you guessed it!  An ashtray!  Here it is, I opened it up to make sure I wasn’t seeing things –

I don’t smoke, but just looking at that stylish little ashtray made me want to fire up a Marlboro.  It was so conveniently placed that I could light up and tip my ashes without so much as shifting my sizeable posterior an inch.  The average smoker must spot these little ashtrays quicker than a toad spots a fly.  It’s got to drive them crazy.  It’s probably the reason for the epidemic of passenger melees. 

The flight attendants need to change their preflight announcement from, “It is against federal law to disable, tamper with or destroy lavatory smoke detectors,” to, “It is against federal law to disable, tamper with or destroy lavatory smoke detectors, and never mind the siren’s song of those conveniently built-in ashtrays installed specifically to drive you insane.”

Enjoying that little oddity consumed a whole 13 minutes of my 14-hour ordeal.  This left me 13 hours and 47 minutes to recline in my assigned seat, stretch out in the 4½ inches of leg room, and of course, enjoy that UNLIMITED supply of complimentary water.  

I Would Love to Watch My New “Smart TV,” But, Unfortunately, I’m Not That Smart

I had the same TV for 20 years, but recently, family members started complaining.  They said the sound didn’t work.  I told them the sound DID work, you just had to do the following:

1. Turn the TV on. 

2. Turn the TV off.

3. Wait eight seconds, until you hear a “click” sound.

4. Turn the TV on a second time.

Voila!  Picture AND sound!

They also complained that it wasn’t a “smart TV,” i.e., it didn’t get any of their fancy “streaming” channels. 

Truth be told, the major obstacle I had with getting a new television was the thought of getting rid of the old Sony.  That thing was heavier than a Buick Skylark.  I bought it just about the time my youngest daughter was born, and she just graduated from college.  Way back when men were men, and TVs were, well, super heavy TVs.

So, I fired up my old 2002 Tacoma and headed off to Costco.  I immediately fell in love with an 86-inch model.  It was perfect!  Unfortunately, I made the mistake of taking my wife with me.  She said, “no.”  She explained that given the size of our family room, if we got an 86-inch TV, we’d feel like we were sitting in the front row of a movie theatre. 

I buried my sadness in a $1.50 hot dog. 

We finally settled on a 65-inch model and hauled our high-tech trophy back to the house.

Then came the dreaded task…

Two hernias later, I had successfully hauled my perfectly good old TV to the dump.  It was an emotional moment.  We had shared many precious memories.

Back at the house, I got the new television out of its box and secured it to the pedestal.

This is when the REAL problem reared its ugly head.

When I bought this TV, I made a big mistake.  I accidentally forgot that I didn’t have a Ph.D. in Computer Science.  I really only watch cable news and the Food Network, both of which worked perfectly well on my old Buick…, I mean, old Sony.

At long last, with the aid of a YouTube video, my wife, and the Holy Spirit, I managed to navigate to the cable news channels.  Now, if I can just shake the habit of turning it on, turning it off, waiting eight seconds until I hear a click, and then turning it on again.  Oh, the memories.

Junie is a Loveable Fur Ball (Who Only Occasionally Bites Men)

The first time I met my daughter Zoe’s new dog, Junie, it walked over to me in a friendly manner, seemed to smile at me, and bit me.  Thankfully, I possess an amazing ability to react calmly to a crisis.  So, I screamed like a girl. 

Zoe raced over and asked me if it drew blood.  I told her it didn’t, and then she announced: “Then it doesn’t count.”

What the #@%?!

Fun facts about Junie –

First, Junie wasn’t really a “new” dog.  She was actually a “used” dog. My daughter and son-in-law got her from the pound.  (Probably on sale).

Second, Junie is half Pitbull and half “whatever happened to be trotting down the alley that day.”

Third, Junie does NOT like men.  Apparently, some jack*ss abused Junie early in life, and she clearly still harbors a “biting” resentment.

Fast-forward six months to a late-night phone call from Zoe:

“Dad, I’ve got an emergency, and I have to drop Junie off at your house.” 

I reminded her that the first time I met Junie, she said “hello” by biting me, and I’ve been avoiding her ever since.

My daughter responded by telling me I just had to remember three things –

1. Always let her come to you (don’t approach her).

2. Don’t pet her on the top of her head.

3. Under no circumstance should I make eye-contact with her.

No eye-contact?  Was she telling me how to take care of her dog or survive in a stretch in a San Quentin?

Smash cut to my daughter knocking on my door with “Junie the biting dog.

Most people who dog sit worry that the dog will get nervous and relieve itself on the floor.  I was worried that I would get nervous and relieve myself on the floor.

Fortunately, this story had a happy ending.  After two days of tiptoeing around the house trying to avoid eye-contact with Cujo, (I mean Junie), things finally settled down.  I’m not sure what ultimately changed Junie’s mind about me.  One possibility is that I won her over with my charming personality.  The other, more likely, possibility is that she remembered me screaming like a girl and reclassified my gender. 

Either way, I survived to tell the tale.

Don’t Let a Silent “H” Sneak Up and Bite You in the Tuchus

This story is absolutely true.  If you don’t believe me, I can produce a hundred witnesses to confirm its accuracy.  Okay, I can produce ONE.  But it’s my wife, and unlike me, she’s not an irredeemable liar. 

DANGER: This story is a full-blown PG-13, so anyone with even a mild sensitivity to crude humor should cease and desist reading this PRONTO!

Here it goes –

My wife was on a guided bus tour of Seoul.  As it proceeded, a tour guide stood at the front of the bus and explained points of interest.  The guide was a native Korean, and her English was quite good.  Except for the tragic fact that she had not mastered when an “h” in an English word is silent.  Who could blame her?  The English language was obviously invented by psychopaths.  It’s a complete disaster.  We’ve got “rhyme,” “ghost,” “right,” and then, of course, we’ve got “why, when and where!”  God help anyone trying to learn it.

To make matters worse, the Korean language doesn’t contain an “x.”  It takes tremendous effort to learn this little “x” sound, and many Koreans never master it.  Their “x” sounds like an “s.”   

So… here’s where the nitro met the glycerin –

There is a statute in Seoul called “The Phoenix.”  Here is it –

As the bus continued on its way, the young female tour guide swept her hands over her head repeatedly, each time announcing with great fanfare that they would soon see the “Rising of the Phoenix.” 

Only, to everyone on the bus, it didn’t sound like, “The Rising of the Phoenix.”  It sounded exactly like the “Rising of the [Popular male body part that begins with a P.]”

She announced this several times – each time swinging her arms skyward in a glorious arc.  Finally, someone approached her apprehensively and whispered in her ear.  In a millisecond, her joyous expression melted faster than butter on a hot pan. 

Here’s my point – If you’re going to learn another language, it is critical to the preservation of your dignity to focus on the nuance of each native sound.  If not, you’ll end up saying “focus,” but they’ll hear, “fuk-us.” 

At that point, your listener is really going to expect, “The Rising of the Phoenix.”

I’ve Abandoned All Reason and Self-Preservation Instincts: I’m Now Driving the Speed Limit!

Bungy jumping, big wave surfing, skydiving – all these have one thing in common, they’re kids’ play!  I’m now driving the speed limit!  Cop cars are shooting past me right and left.  On their way to an emergency?  No, on their way to lunch.

Remember when the highway speed limit was 55 mph during the 1970’s gas crunch?  The government promoted it with that catchy phrase – “55 and stay alive?”  Guess what?  I’ve been driving 55 mph for the last two weeks, and I’m absolutely AMAZED that I’m still alive. 

On the flipside, my non-hybrid Honda Accord no longer requires any gas.  See for yourself –

Okay, a little gas, but not much! 

I’ve been looking for ways to reduce my stress since my last blood pressure reading was higher than the average PowerBall jackpot.  They call high blood pressure, “The Silent Killer.”  This is also the name I call my daughter’s dog, especially after he’s eaten a chunk of cheese. 

But I digress!

I knew I had to take swift action.  I thought to myself, Jack, why not slow things down, take your time…  perhaps die in a fit of some maniac’s road rage?

The picture above is a line of cars I pulled over to let pass.  My grievous sin?  Following the law. 

In all seriousness, I’m absolutely loving it.  And I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that I’m such a pathetic cheapskate that all I care about is saving money on gas.  Well, you’re right!  But I also enjoy my new slower-paced lifestyle. So please consider joining those over 75, a percentage of the criminally insane, and me, in the slow lane!

Driving the speed limit isn’t the right choice for everybody.  For example, traveling salespeople, pizza delivery guys and Los Angles Uber drivers, might find it impossible.  And, of course, cops headed to lunch.

How You Can Win at Powerball

Most of us have dreamed of winning PowerBall.  We’ve dreamed of luxury automobiles.  We’ve dreamed of palatial estates.  We’ve dreamed of first-class travel to exotic locations.  And, of course, we’ve dreamed of changing our names to hide from our shyster relatives.

By the way, I just discovered Microsoft Word drank the “woke” Kool-Aid.  I found this out a moment ago when I typed the word “shyster.”  When I typed that word, here’s what popped up on the screen –

Take a pill, Microsoft Word!  All I want from YOU is Spellcheck!  (And, by the way, let me take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude for Spellcheck, because, as many of my readers know, I am a product of Alsea Elementary School System.)

But I digress… back to PowerBall.

Believe it or not, there is a surefire method to win.  This method takes intelligence, focus, and most importantly, self-control.  SO, PAY ATTENTION IN THE BACK ROW! 

Here is the fundamental question: Do you have a burning desire to win at PowerBall?  I mean deep down – into the marrow of your bones?

If the answer is “yes,” keep reading.

Memorize this three-stop process:

(Do not, under any circumstances, skip any of the following steps.)

Step One: Locate a PowerBall vending machine.  If you can, find one at a small “mom and pop” grocery.  (If the store has a bin at the front counter filled with beef jerky that’s been sitting there fossilizing since WWII, you’ve found the right place.)

Step Two: Pull two one-dollar bills out of your pocket.  Snap them a couple of times to get the wrinkles out. 

(The final step is critical.  Pay strict attention!)

Step Three: Carefully, oh so carefully, slide the two one-dollar bills BACK INTO YOUR POCKET. 

The odds of winning PowerBall are 1 in 300 million.

By comparison, the odds of getting attacked by an alligator are 1 in 3 million – and that’s only if you live in Florida!  Who knows how astronomical the odds are for those of you in Butt Pimple, Michigan!

You have a 100 times better chance of getting attacked by an alligator than winning PowerBall.  One hundred times!

Here’s what I’m trying to say –

You are better off being attacked by an alligator with two dollars in your pocket than giving those two dollars to PowerBall.  (Unfortunately, in the event you are killed by the alligator, those two bucks will be divvyed up by your shyster relatives.)

And, YES, Microsoft Word, I’m well aware that “the use of this word may be offensive to [my] reader.”