Category Archives: Humor

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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Dr. Edwards, Paging Dr. Edwards!

Trust me. I'm a Doctor... sort of.

After careful consideration and deep soul searching, I have decided to quit my job and become a doctor.  No, I didn’t say go to medical school, don’t be silly.  I’m much too old for that.  I’ve just decided to become a doctor, as in start telling people I’m a doctor and begin practicing medicine.  I’m ready for the challenge the practice of medicine provides and, of course, the heavy burden of this serious responsibility.

I am not rushing headlong into my new profession.  My decision was the result of personal observations of medical doctors both concerning my occasional ailments, as well as those around me.  I have concluded, through such careful observation, that 99% of the time, the scientific diagnosis procedure involves the doctor asking a few simple questions and then pulling a Magic 8 Ball from his pocket and giving it a good shake.  This was underscored to me when my wife, after seeing three different doctors for a severe acid reflux problem, spending thousands of dollars and undergoing an unpleasant procedure where the last one, a specialist, stuck a stick with a camera on it down into her stomach for a good looksee, finally went to see a naturopath.  The naturopath took all of five nanoseconds to correctly diagnosis her as being lactose intolerant and charged her a buck ninety-five.  Now, before you think I’m unfairly judging my new colleagues and their medical protocols, I am not.  It is very difficult to meet and diagnosis the requisite 2,000 patients per hour to sustain a vacation home in Rancho Mirage and three weeks a year in Cancun.  The results I plan to get using my iPhone and a little game changer I like to call the “College of WebMD” will surely be more accurate.  I’m confident that I’ll be in the top 75% of my profession within the first week.

Because I don’t want to actually set up my own private practice (too much cumbersome paperwork), I plan to apply to a few group practices.  I figure I’ll start with family medicine.  Yes, this will take a resume, but understand that everyone in medicine including the office managers are all so overwhelmed that the odds of anyone actually checking the accuracy of my resume is less than one percent.  Given that, I’ve decided, what the heck, why not jazz it up?  So I’ve noted an undergraduate degree in Biology from M.I.T. (at least I hope they offer a Biology degree), and my medical degree from Harvard (yeah, go big or go home).  And I’m not completely sure what the difference is between a residency and a fellowship, but I think I have the order right, so I completed my residency at the Cleveland Clinic (which I am particularly proud of), and a fellowship at the Vanderbilt Medical Center.  See, in the unlikely event that someone questions me about my resume, I’ll slip in a comment about Vanderbilt, and the next thing you know we’ll be talking about Nashville and country music and about how Garth Brooks was discovered at the Bluebird Café.  Nyuck, Nyuck.  I know that many of you are wondering why I don’t play it safe and put down, for example, the Jamaican College of Medicine, where, if it even exists, record keeping might be a little loose.  Yeah, I thought of that, but if you’re going to be a fake doctor, at least take pride in your fake credentials.

Don’t worry, I have no plans to operate right away.  And I also have no plans on turning my back on keeping up with my profession by ignoring the primary source of medical advancements – the pharmaceutical representative.  I recognize that these clean cut and well-dress young people with their degrees in English Literature and two weeks of training in Hoboken, New Jersey, are the backbone of the medical profession.  I’ll be all ears when they call to tell me how to treat my patients.  After all, they always have clinical studies to support their advice.  Both the health of my patients and the health of Big Pharma are safe with me.  And if you happen to show up at my clinic, please keep your yap shut.  You have nothing to worry about, because, only as a backup precaution mind you, I’ll always keep a Magic 8 Ball in my pocket.

_______

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Don’t You Believe in Time Travel?

Welcome to Your Time Machine

If you don’t believe in time travel, and surprisingly, many people don’t, then you haven’t flown commercially in the last thirty years.  The next time you’re standing at the ticket counter schlepping around for your picture ID and trying to convince the agent that your check-in luggage doesn’t contain a tomahawk missile, look carefully.  That dinosaur of a computer the ticket agent is hammering away at is actually one of Steve Jobs’ original Apple computers, complete with attractive off-gray plastic shell and cathode ray tube.  The agent isn’t typing those bazillion key strokes to find your reservation, she’s killing time waiting for the tube to warm up.   The airlines rely on this cutting edge 1980’s technology in order to achieve the near impossible.  That is, of course, to ensure that thousands of times per day without fail at least fifty percent of all flights are massively overbooked.   No easy task.

Few other industries that rely on a reservation system would dare try to provide this consistent level of service.  Imagine if you will the restaurant industry employing this strategy.  Say you go to Rigatonie’s Italian for a nice spaghetti dinner and are waiting for your table, then the manager steps up to the little hostess podium.  “Attention everyone!” he announces.  “Unfortunately, Rigatonie’s has overbooked its tables this evening.  We are asking for volunteers willing to reschedule their dinners to another sitting.  We have one scheduled five hours from now at 1:00 a.m.  Volunteers will receive one complementary non-seafood appetizer.  We cannot begin seating until we have sufficient volunteers.  Thank you.”  Who else gets away with this?  Nonetheless, God bless ‘em, the airlines manage to achieve their quota, day after day.

The journey back in time continues after boarding.  Fun fact: Thanks to exceptional cooperation between Boeing and Airbus, the same factory in Hoboken, New Jersey, continues to manufacture the same tried and true seatbelts originally designed for the 1957 Chevy Bel Air.  Extra Fun Fact:  Boeing even installed these loyal safeguards of the sky in every Space Shuttle.  Both Boeing and Airbus like to brag that every time a passenger lifts up on one of the seatbelt clips, a union worker in Hoboken earns his wings.

Time to use the onboard lavatory?  The journey continues.  It’s a flying toilet museum.  I am, of course, referring to the peaceful comfort of being able to place a paper seat protector down on the toilet and turn “into position” without the fear of hearing an auto-flush engage and seeing your paper shield flash from sight.  Note to helpful engineers:  Some technology has reached its zenith.  Disengage from pioneering further “advancements.”

Nothing takes us back in time so much, however, as the state-of-the-art scratchy “plug-in sound” quality.  You see, the real joy of having the airline industry lie to us about the danger of low frequency radio waves during flight is that we are able to transport ourselves to a pre-World War II entertainment experience.  It’s Jack Benny on the talkie all over again.

Here’s the nut.  The next time you hear someone mention time travel, don’t mock them and call them a science fiction dweeb.  Time travel is alive and well.  And, unfortunately, if the airlines get their way, we’ll be enjoying this portal to the past for decades to come.  So too our children, and yes, even our children’s children.

_______

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The Win, Win, Win Plan

Final Florida For Sale Sign

I dare to speak for most sensitive Americans when I say that I care deeply about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  But to be completely honest with you, I and my compatriots have absolutely no idea what the fight is about.  Sure, we know they each want the same piece of land, but that’s about it.  And if you asked one of us to find the Gaza Strip on a map, get comfortable.  We’d be frowning, making faces, and running our finger along that map like a rhesus monkey hunting for a tick.  We’d be too afraid to actually put our finger down on a particular spot for fear it might turn out to be Bangkok or maybe even New Jersey.

Frankly, it’s time for someone to stand up and take this Middle Eastern bull by the horns.   I propose that someone be me.  I am uniquely qualified.  I am neither Jewish nor Palestinian, so I don’t have a dog in the fight, and I’ve had a number of people comment on my fair-minded nature.  For example, several times in the past, folks have commented, “Wow, Jack, that’s surprisingly fair of you,” say as I chucked in an extra buck toward the tip after a group dinner.  But above all, I have a secret weapon.  I call it the Win, Win, Win plan.

My plan requires that my fellow Americans exercise a certain degree of self-reflection.  We must first agree on a problem that’s been an elephant in our country’s living room for two hundred years.  That is, of course, the disharmonic outline of our lower “contiguous” states.   It is, how should I put this politely… unkempt.  We have an unsightly peninsula jutting off into the sea on the lower right corner.  This disharmonious land mass is more commonly referred to as Florida.  I’m sure other countries comment on it to each other behind our back.  It’s an odd appendage.  And to anyone with even the most basic understanding of Fung Shui, it is inarguably “out-of-balance.”  From a politic perspective alone, wouldn’t we be better off without it?  The savings in election recounts by itself would pay back 40 percent of the national debt.  And it’s a geographical eyesore – flat as a pancake, and only six inches above sea level.  Al Gore says his global warming program should have it underwater by the end of the year.  It’s high time for us to unload this albatross.  That’s where Israel and Palestine enter the picture.  You got it now.  We’re looking for a buyer.

Here’s the deal.  First, we need to find a couple of really effective time share brokers.  The kind who can really lay on the shellac.  The kind of guys who salivate at convincing granny to liquidate her 401K and slap it down for “four weeks in paradise…forever!”  Then we arrange for both the Israelis and the Palestinians to tour this slab of mud and swamp separately.  We’ll really lay down the baloney.  I’m talkin’ top notch, whirlwind tour.  The parties will, of course, be required to bring along their spouses to ensure that any contract they sign while still under the influence of their post-tour euphoria will be binding.  If they both want it, we’ll flip a coin.  If neither do, then I’ll suggest a coin toss.  Oh, sure, they’ll balk, but we’ll ask the United Nations to do a little arm twisting.  (We all know how persuasive the U.N can be.)  Hey, it’s a fifty-fifty chance their problems are solved and their arch enemies move to the other side of the planet.  Doesn’t get more tempting than that.

Granted, the idea is a little outside of the box, but compare it to what we’ve got now.  Yeah.  Bupkis.  We’re offering prime oceanfront real estate on three sides.  And if the negotiations get tough, we’ll throw in Disney World.  The Disney Corporation has always been public spirited; I’m sure they’ll go along with the idea.  People are getting tired of standing in line for their vacations anyway.

So there you have it.  The Win, Win, Win.  Now, about my commission….

_______

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https://buff.ly/2IqXxgn

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

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My Short Lived Life as a Vegan

Eat Meat

It all started when my friend, a normal friend, told me he stopped eating meat.  When I say normal friend, I mean normal person, as opposed to a few friends I have who are not normal.  (This should be sufficient explanation for those of you who are normal.  If you are confused or upset by this explanation, I hate to be the one to drop the 411, but you are probably not normal.  I say “probably” to spare your feelings.)  This friend, who I will refer to as “Chris,” because his name is Chris, told me that he had watched this movie called Forks Over Knives, and the movie convinced him to stop eating meat.  So, of course, I couldn’t believe it, and I told him that I couldn’t believe it, and that should have been the end of it.  Only it wasn’t.  Three weeks later, I realized that Forks Over Knives was on Netflix.  The real mystery is how this void in the entertainment universe emerged and swallowed up every other thing which might have caught my fancy.  It doesn’t take much to entertain me (e.g. I occasionally watch CSPAN.  Yeah…I know.), but alas, Forks Over Knives miraculously stood alone.

The movie is a documentary about these two skinny doctors who do a bunch of complicated studies using graphs and statistics, and this is the mind blowing part – even look at historical data.  They conclude with very serious faces that if you don’t become a vegan, you’re going to die immediately.  Possibly by the end of the movie.  I know this sounds crazy, but they’re very convincing, kind of like that guy at the fair who sells the slicer-dicer.  If the slicer-dicer guy used a bunch of graphs.

So anyway, about two thirds of the way through the movie, I say to myself, “Jack, in the unlikely event given your non-vegan ways that you live to see the end of this movie, you’re going to start eating a ‘plant-based diet.’”  See, that’s what they call it, a “plant-based diet.”  But it’s really a vegan diet.  I figure they just changed the name to appeal to more people and not sound like a bunch of crackpots, like when Philip Morris changed its name to Altria.  The long and the short is that I jumped into the deep end of the pool.  If it had parents, or came from something that had parents, it was off the menu.  Even stupid parents, like fish, which I always considered more like vegetables without roots.  Plus anything that was highly processed or contained refined sugar.  Unfortunately, I discovered that if you take all those things literally off the table, what you’ve got left is grass.  Nonetheless I put my head down and marched forward.  The whole time I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to get enough protein?’  According to some random website on my iPhone, I needed 56 grams of protein per day.   Was I supposed to eat tofu every day?  (My iPhone said that too much tofu was toxic).  One of the skinny guys on the show ramble on about how everything has protein in it, even potatoes.  Beans supposedly have a lot of protein.  But I did the math, I was going to have to eat like fifty pounds of beans a day.  I’d be creating enough gas to light a small municipality.  Nonetheless, I struggled forward, week after week.  I even spent a few days in Oklahoma visiting my daughter.  Oklahoma!  That state’s official motto is: “We eat red meat three times a day, and sometimes we even cook it.”  Do you have any idea what it’s like to order a veggie burger in Oklahoma?  I’m one of the few who’s lived to tell about it.  And that’s only because I confessed that I was visiting from a liberal commie part of the country and I would be leaving forthwith.

At week nine, I hit the vegan wall.  I wasn’t hungry, I was exhausted from trying to eat enough protein without swallowing a wheelbarrow of beans and quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) every day.  I majored in Language Arts Education in college not nutrition.  I just didn’t have the ganas (or desire, as Edward James Olmos would say).  I was unable to Stand and Deliver.  So I yanked the plug.  I wished the two old skinny guys the best, and went back to my previous diet, the one I now call Knives Over Forks.

_______

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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 –

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No Mud Balls on the Menu

No Mudballs on the Menu

It doesn’t take long once your oldest kid enters those joyful teenage years to realize that, for all practical purposes, you have unwittingly engineered a panhandler into your home.  Sure, the kid doesn’t carry a cardboard sign saying, “Anything Helps!  God Bless.”  (Frankly, most parents wish their kid would throw in a God Bless now and then).  Another difference being that many of them are deeply antisocial and struggle to interact in normal society – the teenagers I mean.  Other than that, they’re DNA twins.

At this stage, fathers begin reminiscing to their children about their first jobs.  Stories to inspire their children for the rough road ahead.  I was no different.  At every opportunity, I interjected a comment about one job or another, often to my little panhandlers chuckling in response.  They baahed like sheep, “Daaad!”  It was ancient history.

My mini lectures featured three jobs of my youth.  The first was carpet shampooing.  Not normal carpet shampooing, like driving a van to somebody’s house and cleaning some old lady’s living room while she shuffles around and fusses and you do ten minutes of work.  Then she offers you a piece of rhubarb pie.  Not hardly.  No, my shampooing job at the ripe old age of way the hell too young, was shampooing dormitory carpets at a local state university.  This is in the summer, so the buildings are empty.  Floor after floor, building after building.  Conservatively, a billion square feet of carpet.  The good news was that this was before state institutions were required to pay the federal minimum wage.  So I was raking in like 18 cents an hour.  At least I received training my first day.  Some old guy who moonlighted as Father Time pointed his boney finger at this honking machine that I had absolutely no idea how to operate and said, “There it is.  Soap’s in the closet.”  It wasn’t until late that first morning that I realized the shampoo was supposed to be diluted at a ratio of one cup per gallon of water.  Until then, I didn’t know that water played any part of the equation.  Yeah – pure shampoo concentrate.  I must have burned through ten gallons by the time the light went off in my head.  Thirty years later, the place probably still smells like shampoo.  (This is why you don’t save money hiring untrained labor.)  My second job was advertised with a very specific description: “Manual Labor Needed.”  Perfect, I thought, I can do manual labor, anything’s better than subminimum wage shampooing.  The screening process was intensive.  I was hired about one nanosecond after I called the number and said the first half of my name.  I was told to show up at a house in a suburban neighborhood.  Once there, our boss, a guy who announced that we would get paid in cash at the end of the day, directed me and three other young laborers to the backyard.  We walked around to the back and then stood in awe.  The boss never explained how a mud ball pile the sized of Mount Everest got there, only that we needed to move it to a truck out front.  At first we tried using shovels to pick up the balls and put them in a wheelbarrow, but it didn’t work.  They were too sticky.  We were left with no choice other than to actually grab these basketball sized mud balls and set them in the wheelbarrow one by one.  We looked like creatures from the black lagoon by the end of the day.  So, at that early point in my life, I’m thinking, this is it.  I’ve hit the bottom of the mud ball barrel.  But I’ve always been one to reach for the gold ring.  And unfortunately, I managed to grab it.  The local school district was remodeling a building.  In retrospect, a chiropractor must have been on the school board and actively engaged in the planning.  Our task was clearly designed to exact an almost intolerable amount of pain from us “construction assistants.” I use this term loosely because those of us who were fodder for this particular cannon weren’t helping to construct anything.  We were actually cogs in what I have ever since referred to as the Human Conveyer Belt of Rubble.  Numerous brick walls were demolished in the building’s basement, thus leaving piles of old brick with abrasive angles of 100 year old mortar still attached to them.  It was reminiscent of the mud ball job, only with stairs and without a wheelbarrow.  We piled bricks into two five gallon buckets and then hauled them up to ground level.  I’m not sure what was worse, climbing up with the crushing weight of a bucket in each hand, or walking back down for another load, which created just slightly more mental anguish than waterboarding.  You may have seen this type of activity if you are a fan of films depicting mid-fifteenth century China.

With my children well versed in the mental, physical and financial challenges of entry level teen jobs, I stood back and waited to see how my oldest child fared.  What indignities would arrive at her doorstep?  And then it happened.  Her first job.  The horror of it.  All I could do was shake my head.  No shampoo, no mud balls and certainly no Human Conveyer Belt of Rubble.   Much to my crushing expectations, she landed a job as a hostess at an upscale restaurant.  Not only was it devoid of cancer causing chemical agents, dirt and debris, it was required to be so.  It was inspected by the government to ensure it.  And she was earning well above minimum wage.  There was only one thing I could do.  When she came home after her first shift, a grin on her face no less, there I was standing just inside the front door holding my sign:  “Anything Helps!  God Bless.”

_______

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Support the Endangered Sauce Act!

The sadness of sauceless fries

I’d like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to an emerging crisis.  A crisis that looms even larger and more ominous than our country’s staggering deficit or our precarious interests in the Middle East, one stands firmly at the forefront:  the puzzling disappearance of fry sauce.  I realize I may have just lost 90% of my audience, but it is a sacrifice I, as a patriotic American, am prepared to make.  I now continue with my core audience, the enthusiastic 10% who have just simultaneously high-fived the air and grunted an unintelligible sound.  My comrades who take their fries seriously and appreciate the intense carnal pleasure that a little mayonnaise and ketchup concoction can provide. Sure, a few diehard burger joints have hung on, but fry sauce is simply not as available as it used to be.  Not only in fast food restaurants, but in most restaurants – diners even.  And don’t get me started with fancy restaurants that call their french fries “pommes frites.”  Ask for sauce in one of those grand establishments and the snooty waiter looks at you like you’ve coughed up a hair ball.  Fry sauce used to be everywhere.  You couldn’t come within half a block of a burger joint without some pimply faced kid pushing fry sauce on you like a dope dealer pedaling smack.  That heavenly pink concoction made of mayo, ketchup, a dash of Tobasco, and something that gave it texture – perhaps asbestos.  Recently, rather than continue to sit back and complain (mainly to myself), about this travesty, I threw on my tweed jacket and popped in my meerschaum pipe.  “Step aside,” Sherlock I said admiring myself in the mirror, Jack Edwards is here, and it’s time to do some digging.

First stop, the nearest fast food restaurant.  For legal reasons, its name will be withheld.  Instead, I will use the code name “McRonalds.”  (That should keep my lawyer off my back.  Just saved myself $500 skipping that little telephone conference Q&A.  Nyuck, Nyuck.)  Anyway, the manager of that fine establishment agreed to an interview on the condition of anonymity.  I will therefore, in keeping with the highest of journalistic ethics, refer to him by a code name as well, Yum Yum.

Yum Yum:  “Look, rush hour’s coming, and I’m going to be flinging burgers out the drive through faster than your precious fry sauce shoots through a goose.  So let’s keep this snappy.”

Me: “Two words: fry sauce.  Give me the skinny.”  (I cringe as these words leave my mouth, because indeed there is nothing skinny about Yum Yum).

YY:  “Look Fonzi, fry sauce started going belly-up in the late sixties.  It struggled on life support through the seventies.  People wanted ketchup, the hard stuff.  Straight up.”

My journalistic antennas shot to attention.  Plain ketchup?  Fry sauce died for lack of demand?  I felt like a senator holding a hearing in 1972 listening to the CEO of a major tobacco company testify that there wasn’t any evidence that (cough cough) cigarettes caused cancer.  Somebody was trying to dupe somebody, and that somebody was me.  (I may have thrown in too many “somebodies” here, but you get the point.)  This guy was feeding me a pile of used cattle feed.

Me: “Who’s kidding who here, Yum Yum?”  (Except I used his really name, Brian – whoops).  “Ninety-nine percent of all french fry eaters love fry sauce!”  (Based on my made up and biased research – the final one percent being in a coma and eating their french fries through a feeding tube.)  “They didn’t just stop eating it.  You and yours pulled the switcheroo.  ‘Hey, folks, guess what, you have the choice of ketchup, or hey you can have ketchup.’  Give it up Yum Yum, this is about the almighty dollar, isn’t it?”

Bri… Yum Yum:  “Okay buddy, you want the truth?  Yeah.  It is about the money.  That burger revolution in the seventies?  The one putting all those crazy ideas into the heads of customers?  Have it your way?  A one-dollar burger they could have made to order?  ‘Extra pickles,’ or say, ‘extra onions’.  I once had a guy ask for his tomato slice extra thin.  Yeah, I was there on the front line.  Heard it with my own eyes!  ‘Tomato slice extra thin.’  I’ve got cars backed up to the street, and this guy wants his tomato slice extra thin.  Well, you don’t get “have it your way” and fry sauce.  You know how long it takes to whip up, package and store fry sauce?  Thank goodness the majority of us agreed: It’s ketchup and ketchup only.  An antitrust violation?  An anticompetitive monopolistic maneuver?  Complain to your congressperson.  Otherwise, welcome to the real world.”

I’m not really sure what happed after that.  I came to in an alley tilted against a dumpster with mayo smeared on one cheek and ketchup on the other (and I wish I were talking about my face).  But alas, the truth was out.

So a call to arms, my brethren!  We gather at the Lincoln Memorial next week, and march united across the mall to the Capital.  If not us, who?  If not now, well, you get the point.  And based on the size of many of our representative’s bellies, I am confident that we will find an attentive audience.  A swift, bipartisan solution is at hand!

_______

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Don’t Fight “Therapy” Dogs, Join Them!

Therapy Animal Sign

I’d like to draw your attention to an emerging crisis.  A crisis that looms even larger and more ominous than our country’s staggering deficit or our precarious interests in the Middle East.  I am, of course, speaking about the proliferation of therapy companion animals.  In less time than it took us to move from cell phones the size of bricks to the size of Kit Kat bars, therapy animals have swept over this country like locusts.  The ancestor of these “therapy companions,” which now enjoy equal space in our grocery stores, theatres and airliners is, of course, the gallant “seeing-eye dog.”  That loyal animal which escorts its master safely down sidewalks and across perilous streets.  From such humble and practical beginnings, we now have an animal for every conceivable illness, malady or syndrome known to WebMD.  I spotted a wiener dog the other day wearing one of those little red vests that said Anxiety Therapy Companion.  Not twenty-four hours later, I see a mom and three kids marching into a dance performance with a golden retriever wearing a vest that read: Autism Therapy Companion.  It didn’t seem to be aware that it had a job to do.  It wasn’t standing alert or, as far as I could tell (albeit I’m no expert) doing anything special.  It seemed to lay down on its side as often as it got the chance.  Perhaps to my untrained eye, I’m missing the nuance of his assistance.

Recently, it came to my attention that a group of concerned citizens has formed a nonprofit group to raise and train therapy dogs for overweight children.  They assign the dogs to the children by weight, both the child’s and the dog’s.  The chubbier the child, the chubbier the dog.  The concept, as I understand it, is that by being around a dog that is more robust than the child, the child feels thinner, and thus better about him or herself.  The society providing this assistance is using labradors, because, as anyone who has spent any time around a lab will tell you, those things will eat ten meals a day if you let them.  The program has been hailed largely (no pun intended) as a success, but there have been challenges.  In a few instances, children have, how shall I put this, “outpaced” their dogs in girth.  The animals had to be returned to the association’s kennel for “retooling” (i.e. placed on a strict regimen of high-fat liver flavored doggy shakes and other tasty caloric snacks). 

I put a call into the White House to alert First Lady Michelle Obama about this program, and to my pleasant surprise, she called me back.  As many of you know, the First Lady launched a campaign to battle childhood obesity and promote a healthy diet.  After explaining the program to her, Michelle (as I now call her), told me that she was concerned that this cutting edge therapy program might actually be enabling these children to continue to live an unhealthful lifestyle.  Michelle inquired whether these companion therapy animals might better be trained to, for example, throw themselves between their chubby masters, as, say, they were reaching for a piece of chocolate cake.  I replied to Michelle that might be pretty dangerous for the animals, but that I would see what I could do to communicate her thoughts to the association. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I am pro companion therapy animal.  I even decided to borrow my neighbor’s weimaraner, Gus, a dog bred over centuries to fulfill its essential role of being photographed wearing human clothing – in short, an animal harboring little to no remaining dignity, to act as my therapy companion.  (My family is not able to have a pet, as my wife is allergic to having hair on the couch, that and muddy footprints). 

As I have settled into middle age, I have found myself often plagued with the discomfort of gas buildup and bloating, especially after enjoying a large Mexican meal.  So I thought, perhaps an anti-acid therapy companion might help.  You know, calm me, and aid in settling the digestive juices. Truth be told, Gus is getting up there in years, eleven on his last birthday.  Which, of course, in human years is 385.  So he’s a little slow off the dime.  And they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but, he already has most of the necessary skills.  He walks as slowly as I do, doesn’t pull on the leash, and he collapses at my feet the moment I give him the chance.  As I was hesitant to invest any actual money into my new endeavor, I was challenged to come up with a suitable, but necessary “official vest” for him (So I could take him anywhere I wanted, places where others might ignorantly consider his presence inappropriate).  The only thing red I could find in the house was a kitchen apron my sister-in-law gave my wife for Christmas last year, with “Kiss the Chef” printed across the front.  However, by folding it in half and flipping it upside down, I was able to loop the neck stringy thing over Gus’s head and tie the back strings under his belly.  An artful black marker job later announcing Gus’s status as an Anti-acid Therapy Animal, and I was in business.  I even embellished a bit by printing in smaller letters “Please Don’t Pet Me, I’m Working!” beneath his title, for official effect.  If you see Gus and me out and about, please stop and say hello (but don’t mention anything about his “vest”).  

_______

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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