How to Avoid a Halloween Candy-mare

Candy-mare

When I bought my house, the realtor told me to stock up on candy.  She said the next street over really went all out on Halloween.  “Stock up on candy” turned out to be code for, “Cash out your 401K and hire a former Army Supply Sergeant to coordinate candy distribution logistics.”    My new neighborhood turned out to be Ground Zero for trick or treating.  I don’t know what drives a person to take the time, effort and expense to stage a full horror show complete with severed limbs and Zombies in his front yard.  Let’s face it, people who go turbocharged nuts for Halloween are a little off.  They’re whacked.  A piece of their brain is missing.  And the odds of a dozen of these people end up living on the same block is astronomical.  Think DNA identification testing error.  Of course, what probably happened is that one weirdo moved in and then infected his neighbors.  His neighbors being people who happened to lack self-esteem and might otherwise have gone off camping with a Jimmy Jones type in Guyana who promised a refreshing Kool-Aid spritzer after they got the tents set up. 

We have kids who live in the neighborhood.  But we don’t have two million kids.  Parents actually bus these rascals in.  Beginning just before dusk, a convoy of 1986 Dodge Caravans driven by chain-smoking moms in moo-moos arrive and unload their precious cargo of running noses. This year, Halloween nearly killed me.  I had been nursing a lower back strain and getting up and down every 30 to 90 seconds was really aggravating it.  To make matters worse, and yes it shames me to say this, I had recorded an episode of Nashville that I was trying to watch.  (Don’t judge me – you’re no better!)  It took me an hour to get through the first ten minutes of the program.  The interruptions were incessant.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to follow an episode of Nashville, but I was losing track. 

Earlier in the evening, a friend of mine who I’ll refer to as “Tim,” because his name is Tim, posted the following warning on his Facebook page: “Any child caught trespassing on my lawn tonight will be shackled, beaten and hung from the basketball hoop in my driveway!”  I found it more than honorable of Tim to broadcast fair warning via the worldwide web, though I paused to wonder what percentage of five to eleven year olds were likely to check their Facebook updates given their near total insane focus of collecting as much free candy as possible prior to their mother calling “time” from the Caravan.  Tim later added the comment that next year he planned to install strategically placed punji stick pits throughout his front yard.               

Now that another festive Halloween has passed, let me offer a few brief guidelines for next year’s celebration:

  1. Wear a costume.  I’m happy to hand out candy to anyone between the ages of fetus and 110, but wear a costume.  “I’m a babysitter.  I’m babysitting these other kids.” No.
  2. Open your bag.  I’m handing out free candy here folks.  I’m not your manservant or your valet.  Don’t just stick you bag out; open it up.
  3. If you’re an adult in street clothes accompanying a child, don’t stick out a bag after I’ve put candy in your kid’s bag.  There are two kinds of pathetic.  There is regular pathetic, and then there’s the overweight adult with no costume begging for candy pathetic.  (Listen to me here, folks.  These are nuggets.)
  4. If you’re trick or treating in Tim’s neighborhood, you might consider staying on the walkways.  On this note, I have something shameful to confess.  When Tim recently posted a question on Facebook asking where he could purchase dry bamboo to make punji sticks, my “buy local and sustainable” instincts kicked in, and I suggested that straight-grained Douglas fir should work just as effectively.

Well, I need to go now.  One of the Dodge Caravans broke down in my driveway last night, and I told the owner I would jumpstart her battery.

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Google Buys NSA on eBay

Google Final

At a press conference yesterday, Google announced that it had purchased the National Security Agency (NSA) from the US government.  The Obama administration had posted the agency on eBay earlier that day, and Google used the “Buy It Now” feature to secure the purchase.  Google spokesperson Charlie Snort explained that the timing of the purchase was perfect.  “This appears to be the final tool, or piece of the puzzle as it were, which will enable Google to complete its stated mission to collect and catalog all available data of not only those living in the United States and among the free world, but indeed, all seven billion people on earth.”  Snort added that Google already had the ability to filter most email traffic and capture the inner most personal thoughts and desires of the public.  Now, however, with its newly acquired intelligence agency, the company will be able to assure any entity seeking to purchase information the from Mountain View, California company that it can feel confident that few if any secrets remain.  “Very little mystery will continue to exist concerning any particular target,” Snort added.  The spokesperson was quick to correct his use of the word “target” and explained he meant to say “person.”  “Our customers can now feel comfortable that whether they need to know the favorite cuisine of the First Lady of France, or the lingerie tastes of the guy down the street, Google stands ready to deliver.”

Reached during a rare appearance at a White House briefing, President Obama proudly described the sale as a major coup for his administration.  “This is yet another example of my administration’s continued willingness to reach across party lines in the spirit of compromise.  My friends in The Tea Party haven’t been able to shut up about the need to shrink government and privatize traditional governmental operations.  Well, here you go.  Heck, I’ve attended several top security briefings during my tenure as Commander and Chief, and it’s clear to me that most of the ‘intelligence’ the NSA has gathered as of late is from Google anyway.  Just wait until Google staffers unlock the doors to the NSA offices.  I wish I could be a fly on the wall and see their faces.  Believe me, all they’re going to find is a bunch of notepads with Google passwords written on them.  Okay, they might find a Yahoo account in there too, but, come on….” he added with his trademarked chuckled.  “Now, instead of calling in a representative from the NSA for a briefing, I can just type my inquiry into my Google taskbar.  And,” he added with a grin, “don’t forget to note that we got our ‘Buy It Now’ price on eBay.  How often does that happen?  Suckers! This was yet another Obama victory for the American People.”

Later in the day, Google issued a written press release assuring citizens of the United States that the new division of its company collecting and cataloging terrorist threats to the American people would be provided to law enforcement agencies at “a steep discount.”

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Stinky Football Fan Creates Chaos

Stinky

Dear Abby,

I am at my whit’s end.  I requested a change in the location of my college football season tickets, and couldn’t be happier with the new view; however, my wife and I quickly realized why these seats became available.  The guy to our left smells like a dead possum.  The stink fumes rising off this guy are actually visible.  I have visited landfills on hot August days that were less offensive.  After considerable thought, we have identified the following options:

Option 1.  The stadium has a “jumbotron,” an enormous video screen visible to all 60,000 people in attendance.  For an immodest fee, fans can post announcements during breaks in the game.  Birthday wishes.  Anniversaries.  An occasional marriage proposal.  (This is the University of Oregon’s Autzen Stadium – but delete this comment before you publish this, I don’t need to get dragged out to the parking lot by the athletic department’s henchmen and put through a little “Spring Training” if you get my drift.  Let’s just say they don’t tolerate criticism of their program very kindly, even if it is just one smelly guy in Section 32.  I repeat, DELETE THIS COMMENT BEFORE PUBLICATION!) Anyway, my idea is to surreptitiously take a photo of my neighbor using my iPhone, and then posting the photo with an anonymous message on the jumbotron.  Something subtle.  I’m thinking, something like, “When even your dog won’t sit next to you, it’s probably time for a shower!”  This option could also include hiring one of those planes that fly over the stadium before the game pulling a banner.

Option 2.  I watch my share of law enforcement dramas on television.  So I have seen my fair share of fake autopsies.  The pathologists and cops are always smearing some sort of gel beneath their noses to dull the odor of the corpse.  (Sometimes the tv detectives smear this stuff on before they enter a home where some poor sap of a beat cop has discovered a decomposed body; so you know it’s got to be good.)  If that stuff is real, I could get some of it.  Of course, it would take away from the “crisp fall day” experience, but the air isn’t too crisp as it stands now.  Right now, it’s the “ripe fall air.”

Option 3.  I could confront him.  Tactfully.  Now keep in mind, I don’t know this fellow.  He is a complete stranger.  And this would take something of which I am in desperately short supply.  Courage.  This is the Achilles heel of Option 3.  I floated the idea by my wife that she might engineer this little social intervention.  She explained her position on my request as follows, and I quote, “No.”

So, Dear Abby, I implore you.  Help!  If you are kind enough to respond to my plea for advice, I can use Option 4:  Taping your column to his seat prior to the next game.  So, please, in your answer, refer to us as “Sitting behind him.”

Signed,

Sincerely,

“Victims of the stinker in front of us!”

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NSA Saves Billions Converting to “Buddy System”

Buddy System

The NSA announced yesterday it would significantly change the way it spies on the intimate personal details of Americans.  This change is expected to save billions of dollars.  Traditionally, the agency has used high-tech eavesdropping electronics to sweep through trillions of phone calls, emails and other electronic communications and store the data in enormous “data farms” in places where no one lives, like Iowa and New Mexico.  That will change.  Borrowing from the tried and true system developed by the Boy Scouts over a hundred years ago, the agency will now convert to the Buddy System, or “BS” for short.

The new BS system works on a voluntary basis which will be mandatory.  The NSA will randomly pair United States residents with one another.  Those residents in turn keep an eye on their assigned partner, or in BS parlance, “Buddy.”  They read each of their buddy’s emails, text messages and listen in on telephone calls.  And if they happen to be passing near their buddy’s home, they are encouraged to drop by unannounced to just say “hi,” and poke around a bit.  See what’s on the bookshelf, check the medicine cabinet, or if they get a chance, the underwear drawer.  And if a buddy is unwilling to share his or her passwords, they are instructed to immediately submit Form BS-99 to NSA headquarters.  That will “red flag” the person, and automatically place the non-compliant buddy on the no-fly list.

“Patriotic Americans are overwhelmingly supportive of the new system,” announced Frank Eavesdorper, NSA Chief of Homeland Operations.  “Citizens are willing to pay any price to keep the liberty their forefathers died to obtain.  I hear it again and again: ‘I have nothing to hide!  Come into my house.  Search through my family’s photographs.  Copy my computer’s hard drive.’  It brings a tear to my eye.”

The system isn’t perfected yet.  During testing, a few glitches arose.  Ricky, a 19-year-old from Newark complained to his NSA minder about having to read too many emails of his buddy, Betty, a 53-year-old from Houston, about her on-going menopausal issues, in particular, her continual hot flashes.  Bob, a 63-year-old long haul trucker from Seattle, likewise complained about his buddy, Candi, a 13-year-old middle school student from Omaha.  Apparently, Bob was having to sift through upwards of 100 text messages a day from Candi to her BFF Kathi, about their “dreamy” classmate Jack, and in particular, how Jack’s attention had recently been turned toward Charlene.  Of great concern was the fact that Jack had already eaten lunch with Charlene three times this week.  Then there was the unfortunate pairing of two Russian immigrants, one of whom, unbeknownst to the NSA, had been a bank robber back in the Ukraine (No fault to the NSA; he had “expunged” his record prior to immigrating via a wheelbarrow of rubles to a guy named Gladov at the Central Office).  One thing led to the next, and before authorities caught up to them at a Hooters in New Orleans, the two had gone on a three-state robbery spree.

“The new system is a work in progress,” explained CHO Eavesdorper.  “There are bound to be problems when you are stepping up to the herculean task of cataloging and storing the most private details of people’s lives.  But we’ll prevail.  Americans aren’t quitters.  We’ll ‘getter done.’

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The Vegan Vampires of Beverly Hills

Vegan Vampire

I have an idea for a television series.  It will be next season’s biggest hit, and probably the biggest hit of the next decade.  It’s called The Vegan Vampires of Beverly Hills.  Let’s face it, everybody wants three things.  First, deep down, everybody wants to be a vegan.  Being a vegan is cool.  It’s post-millennium.  Even I was a vegan for two months.  Actually, I referred to myself as a ‘casual vegan,’ because occasionally a trace element of an animal-based product might slip into one of my meals.  For example, I might be enjoying a vegan meal composed of, say, a baked potato and side of broccoli, and a low and behold, perhaps unconsciously from habit, a 24 ounce porterhouse might slip onto my plate.  Second, everybody wants to be a vampire.  That’s because vampires are extremely attractive and exciting to be around – you’ve seen the recent movies.  Or if you’re old like me and don’t go to the movies, you’ve certainly seen the movie trailers depicting all the attractive and super hip young vampires.  I’m not telling you anything new.  So don’t’ argue with me about wanting to be a vampire; it only means that you really do want to be a vampire.  And finally, everybody wants to live in Beverly Hills.

My show is about a brood of young upwardly mobile and trendy vampires who are too cool to eat animal-based products.  You might think that ‘vegan vampires’ is a contradiction in terms.  You would be wrong.  You see, my vampires convince a naive USC Biology student to help them grow blood cells in petri dishes.  That’s what they eat.  Of course it’s blended into soy lattes and vegan scones and other very tasty and trendy consumables.  Now, before you start with, ‘yeah, blood in petri dishes is technically derived from animals,’ just stop it.  No one cares.  This is television.  Gilligan and his friends got stranded on a non-existent island for ten years after going on a three hour tour.

I haven’t quite figured out how they’ll spend their time.  They’ll either sit around talking ad nauseam about their relationships, or fight crime in the hills of Beverly.  Not sure which.  Although I hear the crime rate in Beverly Hills is pretty low.  Or maybe they could be like Robin Hood Vegan Vampires who shoplift disturbingly overpriced clothing and accessories from those snobby boutiques on Rodeo Drive and donate them to the poor.  Yeah.  It could be the Robin Hood Vegan Vampires of Beverly Hills, bringing couture to the homeless.

Now, you’re my witnesses.  I expect you, my millions of loyal readers to attest that this was my idea.  Because that’s how Hollywood people work.  They steal ideas.  (No, I didn’t steal this idea after reading Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.)  But I’m quite confident, with any luck, that a producer will steal my idea.  That’s where you come in.  I’m counting on you.  You see, I’m putting Greta Van Susteren on retainer.  She keeps saying she’s a lawyer, so I’m holding her to it.  But the real reason I’m retaining her is that she is a Scientologist.  (Yeah!  I know!  She looks so normal.)  A Scientologist lawyer is just what I need.  You simply don’t mess with Scientologists.  (Not unless you want Tom Cruise stopping by your bedroom at 3:00 in the morning armed with a sap.)  So I figure Greta can put these copyright violators in a headlock and twist some serious Hollywood money out of them.  That way I don’t have to actually write this inane script.

So, if Greta calls you, don’t be alarmed.  It’s probably not because she’s going to recruit you into her crazy church.  (Don’t flatter yourself.  You don’t have that kind of money.)  It’s because I put your name down on my witness list.  Now, knock those dollar signs out of your eyes.  You’re only getting the statutory witness fee and mileage.  But don’t worry, I’ll donate a portion of my profit to help bring couture to the homeless of Beverly Hills.

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Five Reasons Miley Cyrus Should Adopt Justin Bieber

Miley and Bieber Child

The hoopla surrounding Miley Cyrus’ artistic performance at the Video Music Awards show is quickly dissipating.  Experienced media experts predict her foam finger will stop making headlines in only three to five more years.  Unfortunately, I missed the VMA show.  A scheduling conflict prevented me from enjoying this year’s program — I had to clean the lint from my dryer.  But like Michigan mosquitoes in July, Miley’s spectacle was impossible to ignore as it swamped the mainstream media.  I was practically forced to watch it at gun point.  Having now seen it, and as a marginally responsible adult, I call on all other marginally responsible adults to step up and assist this wayward young woman.  And by this, I mean encouraging her to adopt a child.  But not just any child.  Justin Bieber.  There are five reasons.

First, it would provide both Miley and Justin with much needed media attention.  Each has been “acting out” as of late.  This may be due to their wallowing in the shadows of less talented musical performers for too long.  Living in the shadows with pent up talent is a recipe for disaster.  Justin’s adoption could prevent another explosion… of bad taste.

Second, Justin could use positive guidance.  According to the tabloid headlines I am forced to march past when I buy my groceries, it appears that the fresh-face tike has gotten irascibly sassy as of late.  He could use the solid grounding that someone like Grandpa Billy Ray could provide.  They say that the proof of the pudding is in the making, and all you have to do is look at how Miley turned out…. ummm.  Okay.  So, let me switch to another tired phrase: Second time’s the charm!

Third, being a single mom has done wonders for so many millions of American girls, and there is no reason it wouldn’t have the same character-building effect on Miley.  It’s unlikely that she’d have the energy to offend millions of viewers after helping Justin with his homework and overseeing his household chores.  In no time at all, we’d be enjoying a performance of “Miley Unplugged.”  As a side note, I think I speak for America when I thank MTV for giving us “16 and Pregnant” to help promote the benefits of teenage single parenthood.

Fourth, it is unlikely to require the display of very much nudity.  It’s not even likely to require the faux nudity that the 13-year-old producers of this year’s VMA show hoisted upon Miley.

And last, the arrangement would finally allow television producers to make good on creating that semi-retro comedy series they’ve bantered about for years: “Leave it to Bieber.”  Oh, the jocularious hijinks those two could present given 30 minutes a week (well, 20 minutes after commercials).  We’d all be lapping it up like hogs at the trough.

I’m not saying that Miley shouldn’t first consult with her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, to make sure he was “cool” with being a grandfather.  It would be a big change for him, what with all the little league practices and fishing trips.  But it would be something that Billy Ray and Miley could enjoy together.  It would strengthen their bond.

So there you have it.

Is it too early to set the TiVo for next year’s VMA show?  I fear the lint in my dryer is building up again.

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John Grisham was Right

Final Fresh Nectarine!

I offer Exhibit “A.”  Proof positive that most people don’t choose their jobs as much as their jobs choose them.  Exhibit “A” is a vocation smack atop the ‘Who in the world would chose that job?’ employment pyramid.  No, not portable toilet cleaner.  No, not North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un’s food taster.  It’s a job no high school student on this planet has dreamt of holding (yes, even the ones smoking dope behind the gym).  The job is prestigious; nonetheless, it’s often quite literally the butt of the joke.  Bingo.  You got it.  I speak of the lonely, and much maligned, proctologist.

On the first day of medical school, when the professor asks for a show of hands on the interest in various specialties – neurology, pediatrics, dermatology, do you see any hands rising for proctology?  Do you see one hand?  Is it even on the list?  Do you see one brave soul raising his hand for “other” and announcing, “Proctology, Sir”?  (Remember, each of these students is going to choose a lab partner to share a cadaver.  First impressions count.)

So when exactly does someone take the sharp bend in the road that leads to the glamour of proctology?  I have a theory.  It’s actually one I stole from John Grisham’s book, The Rainmaker.  I would like to say it was based on careful peer-reviewed research, but that would violate my policy against doing research.  I avoid this drudgery with my own brand of “research,” which I refer to as “Research-lite.”  (Yes, maybe I have been drinking too much Miller beer).  My policy is that if I can’t find an answer on my iPhone in under eight seconds (I was going to say ten, but who’s kidding whom?)  I make it up.  Try it.  It’s great.  Example – 38% of all professional baseball players drive American made cars.  (Sounds authoritative, doesn’t it?)  For all I know, 90% of them drive Yugos.  Back to my John Grisham inspired theory.  In Grisham’s The Rainmaker, a doctor tells the protagonist that one of the reasons he went into oncology was that there wasn’t much competition.  I mean how many people want to drop the Big News on one poor soul after another?  So I figure the same goes for proctology.  I’ve heard that the process of trying to land a residency in neurosurgery is practically a knife fight.  On the other hand, the proctology department is no doubt serving tea and cookies to coax students into their program.  The waiting room during interviews is probably a ghost town.

Think about it.  There are only a couple of ways for a proctologist to view the “subject” or “target” as it were, and they both require that the doctor either sit on one of those little stainless steel stools, or crouch down for a good look.  (And to think that I once quit a job because I didn’t like the view.)  Amazing.  After sweating the grades through primary, middle and high school, and then skipping all the parties in college to get the grades for medical school, this is your reward.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure it’s deeply fulfilling in its own way.  I’m serious about that.  I SAID I’m serious about that.

That said, while some folks are able to steer their vocational ship in the general direction of their interests, the wind blows where the wind blows.  (And most proctologists hope the wind doesn’t blow, if you catch my drift).  We’re all along for the ride.  So there you have it.  Exhibit “A.”  Game.  Set.  Match.  Edwards.

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Nike Targets Pot-Bellied Husbands

Nike+ Fuelband

It’s called the Nike+ Fuelband.  It’s a plastic electronic bracelet that wives buy to slap onto their pot-bellied husbands’ wrists to humiliate them into climbing off the couch once a week or so.  It’s like one of those little research bands that Marlin Perkin’s had Jim Fowler attach to the legs of rare African birds.  I am one of those rare birds.  I have been tagged.

It tracks my every movement.  The number of steps I take.  The number of calories I burn.  The number of donuts I eat.  My life is no longer my own.  I have considered a number of plots to “game” the system.  Don’t think for a moment I haven’t thought of attaching this thing to a toddler.  The only reason I haven’t is that according to my iPhone, toddlers burn about 10,000 calories an hour.  The Nike+ Police Force would bust me by lunch.

My wife slyly presented it to me as an unassuming special birthday present.  I received it in a beautifully wrapped box.  My wife beamed as I tore through the paper toward what I assumed was an assortment of chocolates.   Imagine experiencing that whiplash.

I am increasingly convinced that this high tech catch and release system was the brain child of my wife and Phil Knight.  Go ahead and scoff, but we only live 100 miles from him, and both he and my wife are rabid Oregon Duck fans.  Do I need to paint you a picture?  I do?  Okay, let me explain:

The athletic market is tapped out.  How many $200 pairs of gym shoes can you sell?  So, with what I imagine as the helpful prodding of my wife, Nike decided to focus on a yet untapped demographic – wives with pot-bellied husbands.  This demographic has historically been a tough nut for Nike to crack.  These portly fellows have resisted the flashy $300 neon track suits.  They’ve turned up their noses at the $100 wicking undershirts.  Sure, Nike has sold them 100 million Just Do It! t-shirts (usually from bargain bins), but these guys are just not doing it.  They are lying on the couch eating chips and scratching their bulbous bellies.

My wife no doubt wrote the script Nike gives to wives to use in conjunction with these little plastic ball-and-chains:

“Honey, you look like you’ve been losing weight.  This will help you keep track of the calories you’re burning each day.”

Or perhaps:

“This looks great on you.  Very athletic!  Much better than that stogy $8,000 Rolex I got you for Christmas.”  (Did I forget to tell you that for the $150 price, in addition to reminding you how sedentary you are, it tells you the time?)

Then there’s the name Nike+ Fuelband.  The name itself bursting with energy and motivational influence.  Some skinny marketing geek got a big fat bonus for coming up with that one.  No question.  They’re probably still howling about it in the lunch room of the marketing firm.

Meanwhile, as for me, the experiments continue.  I haven’t quite yet perfected it, but it appears that if I eat an entire half gallon of ice cream, scooping vigorously with the same hand as my Nike+ Fuelband, the little computer thinks I’ve run a marathon.  Rock on, Nike+ Fuelband.  Rock on, Rocky Road!

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Confessions of a Global Warming Agnostic

My Icy 1973 Future

True story.

It’s 1973 and I’m sitting in Mr. Scherberhorn’s seventh grade Social Studies class.  He’s rambling on about something, and I’m doing my best to tune him out.  That’s because I’m busy pondering whether I could pull off wearing a pair of plaid bell bottoms.  I wasn’t what you’d call a cool kid.  Bell bottoms would have been a stretch for me, plus, I was broke.  And I had just as much chance convincing my mother to buy me a pair as I did convincing her to buy me a Porsche Carrera.  Then Scherberhorn says something that snaps me to attention.  It snaps every other little spaz to attention as well.  It sat us up in our seats straight as washboards.

“Studies show that the Earth is cooling rapidly,” he says.  “Temperatures are steadily declining, and we are heading into another ice age.  We are moving toward worldwide glaciation.”

Glaciation?  Suddenly I’m picturing myself walking through high school commencement wearing a fur lined jumper.  The Beach Boys were going to need to come up with some new songs.

Eventually, this whole “coming ice age” hysteria passed into media lore.  (This really happened – all you whippersnappers under 50 can pull out your iPhones and Wikipedia it if you don’t believe me.)  In the end, we didn’t move into a new ice age; we moved into something far more frightening – the disco age.

This is why I am a global warming agnostic.  To make matters worse, the “established scientific community” recently did a cagey change-up.  Now, instead of calling it global warming, they’re calling it “climate change.”  Suspicious?  You tell me.  Talk about making every hail storm, drought or hurricane proof of your theory.

Let me be clear, I desperately want to believe in global warming (climate change – whatever).  I want to hang with the cool kids.  I want to snicker and roll my eyes with the others at the Neanderthal on the elevator who has the audacity to question the wisdom of the established scientific community.  In short, I want to be wearing the twenty-first century version of bell bottoms.

But I can’t.  I can’t because Mr. Schermerhorn told me we’d all be living in igloos by now.  And, the little dope that I was, I believed him.  We all did.  It scared the hell out of us.  I have enough personal insecurities as it is.  I don’t need to be the “fool me twice, shame on me” guy.

It doesn’t help my skepticism that we have all these 24/7 news channels that need something to talk about.  And weather always makes a compelling story.  That’s why television stations love to send their pretty blondes to the beach whenever they’re expecting the annual “storm of the century.”  Add a worldwide cataclysmic twist to a story like that and you’re in Neilsen heaven.  Back in the day, we just had old worn-out Walter Cronkite, and when you subtracted commercials, we only gave him 20 minutes a night.  And remember, he and the other two television journalists working then had their hands full playing musical chairs with Richard Nixon.  They didn’t have time to hype the ice age thing.  They simply didn’t have time during their stingy 20 minute allotment to make it hip.

Mr. Schermerhorn, if you’re out there, thank you for that heart-stopping alert back in 1973.  I’m sure you meant well, and I appreciated the warning.

_______

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Attack of the Flying Chihuahua

Incoming Chihuahua!

I recently had the opportunity to speak to one of my U.S. senators.  This big shot friend of mine gave the senator a “donation.”  Enough to fill a wheelbarrow, if the wheelbarrow was as big as your house.  My friend is an oil guy.  He wears a cowboy hat too big for his head (but he’s too rich to mention this to).  And he’s the kind of guy who likes to give people a wide toothy grin and a big thumbs up anytime the situation remotely allows it.  My friend made his money the old fashioned way.  He flunked out of a second tier college, and then stumbled around drunk for a few years until his grandfather died and left him a boatload.  Anyway, he gave a bunch of money to this senator, and the next thing you know, this senator’s aide is calling my friend to set up a meeting.  Only one thing, my friend is a busy guy, and this is what led him to make the critical mistake of asking me to go instead.  He figured I was good with words and could convey his position on an “important energy issue.” Like I said, big mistake.  Almost as big as his hat.  You see he wanted me to talk about “fracking.”  Now I know all you old timers at the VFW think I’m talking about something else.  No, not that.  The fracking I’m talking about is where trained engineers shoot high pressure water or radioactive waste or something down into the earth, and then pray to God the whole place doesn’t blow to smithereens.  Then oil shoots out of the ground and makes them absurdly rich (the One Percenters the Occupy folks are always taking time out of their busy days to complain about).  You may have seen this if you ever watched the beginning of a Beverly Hillbillies episode.  I’m pretty sure it was Jed who started the whole fracking thing.

Suffice it to say, the environmentalists are all beside themselves about this and are having about one billion heart attacks a day.  In the meantime, the politicians are hiding in corners counting votes (and my friend’s money).

So, anyway, I roll into this coffee meeting at some random Starbucks.  And I failed to mention that my oil friend gives the senator absolutely no notice he’s sending me instead.  The disappointment in the senator’s eyes is almost too painful for me to bear.  So the senator recovers and jump starts the conversation by leaning forward with a deeply sincere expression (a little too close for my comfort) and asks me to pass along his gratitude to my associate.  I swear he actually used the word “associate.”  I told him that my friend was extremely disappointment to miss the meeting, but an emergency had come up (which was a bold-faced lie, but it felt right at the moment).  The senator asked me about any concerns that he should be aware of (he probably meant of my friend, but in fairness to me, he wasn’t explicit).  I dove in.

“Yes, there is,” I said.  He leaned in and widened his eyes.  (It felt quite conspiratorial.)  “You fly quite a bit, don’t you senator?”

“Almost every week.”

“So airline safety is important to you?”

“Why, of course.”

“Have you been noticing what’s going on with the therapy animals lately?”

“What?”

“Therapy animals – dogs – they’re everywhere now.  Got’em for everything, even anxiety.  Well, they’re flying on planes with us now.”

“And…?” the senator’s face squinched up puzzled.

“Ever wonder what kind of damage a wiener dog could do incoming in at a couple hundred miles an hour?  Yeah, I know people are already holding babies on their laps, but that horse left the barn a long time ago.”

“So…?”

“Pet seatbelts.  Strap’em down.  Heck, strap the babies down too.  Harness them to their owners or parents, whatever.  Legislation would shoot through Congress.  Promote it as an infant/companion animal safety measure.  Do it before some nervous nelly’s Chihuahua slams into your head on an aborted take-off.”  I paused for effect.  “It’s time, senator.  It’s time.”

When my friend asked me later how it went, I nodded and said, “Mission accomplished.”  He gave me a wide toothy grin and a really big thumbs up.

_______

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Also-

Check out these great books:

The Lawyer’s Song: Navigating the legal wilderness at –

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Seven Rules for the College Playground –

https://buff.ly/2IqXxgn

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

https://buff.ly/2roFIov

A three minute vacation for your brain.