My Fourth of July Crackdown

Crackdown Final

By Jack Edwards

Last Friday marked the 238th anniversary of the founding of our great country. The 200th back in 1976 was a big one. The 250th should be a real barn-burner too. The 238th? It’s a number void of personality. It’s the numerical equivalent of vanilla ice cream. It’s the kind of strange anniversary number that if the founding fathers were still with us, wandering around in their swanky knickers and waving their quill pens, they might have decided to just stay home and watch a rerun of Hawaiian Five-O.

The majority of Americans celebrated the 238th in one way or another. Most used the traditional method of celebrating our freedom from tyranny, more specifically – attempting to burn down their neighborhood. In my town, unpatriotic people (probably demonic Communists who hate kittens) have been complaining about this noisy tradition. And at least one of them must have contributed heavily to the Mayor’s reelection campaign, because all of a sudden the local police started dispensing press releases like napkins at a pizzeria announcing that they were going to spend 75% of their annual budget enforcing a special fireworks crackdown (no pun intended). Mayor Grinch had struck a heavy blow at the very heart of our patriotic yearning to blow stuff up. (I’m not sure of the connection between the Fourth of July and the detonation of explosives. I’ve always assumed it’s an annual reminder to Great Britain that if they give us any more trouble, we will give them, as my mother often threatened, “something to really cry about.”

The new rules include:

  1. No fireworks that can leave the ground (though they may spin at a leisurely speed, but only in a clockwise direction).
  2. No fireworks that that can be heard from more than 6 ½ inches from the point of explosion.
  3. No “fire-related” fireworks.

And the city has set up (this is true), a hotline (although I don’t think they are aware of their pun) so law abiding residents can rat off their neighbors. Yes. In my city, you can celebrate your freedom by anonymously dropping the dime on your friends next door.

It will remain perfectly legal, however, to:

  1. Drink a twelve pack of Budweiser and wander aimless through a crowd of young children while waving a 500-degree-tipped sparkler.
  2. Set off a 12 mile string of firecrackers that causes people to use the neighbor-ratting hotline to summon emergency medical personnel.
  3. Literally, light your pants on fire.

As states go, mine has very strict fireworks laws. Conveniently, our neighboring states’ legislators are a bunch of pyros. But even the more powerful explosives that our neighboring states offer aren’t good enough for the fireworks aficionados in my neighborhood. These champions of freedom have apparently developed ties to rebel forces in Syria. I saw one guy down the street standing next to a barbeque with what appeared to be a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile.

And yes, if you care to ask, I too joined in the celebration. Don’t think for a moment that I lack the appropriate celebratory spirit that made our country the beacon of hope and freedom that shines throughout the world. I celebrated the 238th the old fashion way, the way our forefathers would have celebrated it – watching a rerun of Hawaii Five-O.

 

Five Secrets for Surviving a Garage Sale

Garage Sale

By Jack Edwards

Garage sale season is upon us. Time to clean out those closets and let total strangers pick through your castoff housewares, kitchenwares and underwears. However, as a veteran operator of several of these hillbilly storefronts, allow me to share Five Secrets for Surviving a Garage Sale.

The first, and by FAR the most important rule to remember when planning a garage sale is this:

1.  “Do not, under any circumstances, have a garage sale.”

I’m serious. Forget the whole idea. It’s insane. Short of being a pauper trying to scrape up enough money for granny’s lifesaving operation, don’t stoop to this sub-minimum wage endeavor. In fact, don’t even do it if you’re that desperate pauper. If you’re lucky, you’ll make enough for the paper gown they give granny at check-in. Life is too short to haggle over a slightly used Snicker doodle scented candle.

The whole notion of a garage sale is a mystery to me. I am unfamiliar with the customs of most other countries, especially ones ending with “istan.” And frankly, as I discover on a daily basis, I am also unfamiliar with more than a few of my own country’s. So I don’t know if garage sales are an American thing, or an everywhere thing, much less an “istan” thing. For example, I am wholly at a loss to tell you whether babushkas in Russia arrange their USSR memorabilia in front of their dachas for a weekend sale.

In the good ole US of A, spreading your tarnished kitchenware, dust covered sporting goods and broken electronics across your driveway is as American as apple pie, baseball and Snuggies (which, by the way, you’ll never find at a garage sale, because – trust me on this one – Snuggies are the greatest invention since the combustible engine).

I will continue with my list of Garage Sale Secrets in the spirit of the Greek philosopher Plato, who once said, “Wise is the man who listens to those who came before him, before putting price stickers on his used tunics.” So, we continue:

2.   “Beef up security.”

I suggest renting Seal Team 6. Position, at a minimum, one sniper on the roof. And if you actually have a garage, bolt the door and board up any exterior windows with tempered sheets of steel. Garage sale customers are like locusts, they arrive without notice and consume everything in their path. They’ll be hovering outside your garage knocking on the door at sunrise minus 30 minutes.

3.  “Just say no.”

Of course, the “Just say no” rule originated with Nancy Reagan; however, she adapted it to garage sale use after her husband left office. This was due to the 95% phenomenon. Let me explain. Garage sale customers fall into two categories: Type A – Bored but otherwise normal people too cheap to spring for a matinee movie ticket (5%), and Type B – People who look like they last combed their hair 12 years ago who leave their rusted-out Dodge Caravan (still running) parked blocking your driveway (95%). Type B people identify themselves by repeatedly picking up items and asking obnoxious questions. Example: Lady with most of her hair leaning starboard from sleeping the night before lifting a stack of plastic Hello Kitty cups, “What year were these made?” Suggested answer, “No.”

4.  “Periodically yell out ‘Everything is negotiable! No UNREASONABLE offer rejected!’”

The suggested interval to yell this is every 3 ½ minutes. Remember, you are going to haul all of your leftover treasures to Goodwill at the end of this extravaganza anyway. Save yourself the lower back pain.

5.  “Accept every offer.”

This is an exception to the “Just Say No” rule above, otherwise called the “Just say yes” rule. Whether it’s a quarter or a dollar, Goodwill and/or the dump don’t pay. If one of your valued customers has it in his hands and verbalize an interest in hauling it off in his rusty Caravan, make sure he leaves with it – even if you have to toss it through his open car window as he drives away.

Now that you have sadly wasted several precious minutes of your life reading secret rules 2 through 5, for your own peace of mind and general wellbeing, go back and read Rule 1 again. The lady at Goodwill is eagerly awaiting your stack of used underwear.

Attack of the Reverse Home Mortgage

Final Retirement

By Jack Edwards

It’s time for another edition of the always popular, News from the Neighborhood. This is where we wander out into the wild and untamed lands of upper-middleclass Suburbia to explore strange and exotic cultures and experience foreign “points of view,” such as the Fishman family, featured in our last edition that begins stringing Christmas lights on their multi-level ranch home in mid-July.

In this edition, we meet Bill and Jolene who live just down the street from me in the forest green Victorian. The couple is currently recovering from the shock that their retirement “nest egg” just developed a crack. They learned last week that Bill’s elderly parents had decided to take advantage of a Reverse Home Mortgage. The couple knew that Bill’s parents respected actor and Senator Fred Thompson. In fact, they have several of his movies recorded on VHS. As everyone knows, Fred Thompson has been touting the Reverse Home Mortgage program on television every five seconds, encouraging elderly Americans to use their home equity to enjoy their golden years.

“It hit us like a ton of bricks,” said Jolene. “We stopped by for Sunday dinner, and there they were. Brochures. Cruise lines, motorhomes, European tours.”

“I saw one for a timeshare in Puerto Vallarta,” added Bill in an exasperated tone. “Neither one of them can handle spicy Mexican food. They’ve lost their minds.”

“The sad thing is,” Jolene explained, “they were so content. They owned their home free and clear, and they always managed to make ends meet with Social Security.”

“That Craftsman home of theirs sits smack dab in the University District. It’s worth a mint. I can’t believe they fell victim to that shyster Thompson with his slick commercials and confident reassurance that they would never lose their home.”

“It’s devastating,” said Jolene. “Their Craftsman was the cornerstone of our retirement plan. Both of them have cardiac failure in their family histories. There’s almost no chance either will linger with a chronic illness that will eat away at their savings.”

“They’ll drop like rocks,” Bill agreed flatly.

“Surely you have a Plan B,” I asked.

“Well,” Bill began glancing over at his wife. “We do, but it’s a distance second choice to the Bonanza of living off the sale of that Craftsman.”

“Prison,” said Jolene.

“What?” I asked.

“Prison. I don’t know if you noticed, but the government has been spending a bundle on new prisons. And they come with full medical and dental.”

“Yeah, I know it sounds crazy,” added Bill, “but we’ve been looking around. We’d have to live apart, but several states allow conjugal visits. We’re looking into that. Of course, we’d like minimum security.”

“And a nice view,” said Jolene.

“We’re thinking bank robbery. That’d be a win-win. If we get away free and clear, we enjoy the loot. If we get caught, welcome Plan B,” Bill explained.

The couple paused and sat silently, reflecting on their sudden change in circumstance.

“That damned that Fred Thompson,” Bill shook his head.

“Damn him to hell,” added Jolene.

And with that, I slinked away to check on how the Fishmans were coming along with the lights.

World Famous Epidemic

World Famous Epidemic

By Jack Edwards

A realization recently struck me harder than a five pound ham to the side of the head.   A real whopper. Now, I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so you may have heretofore already been aware of this problem. An epidemic has spread across our country faster than California Chrome lost the Belmont. However, in the same spirit that John F. Kennedy urged our country to supersede those Russian Commies in space exploration and be the first nation to land a man on Marilyn Monroe, I call on our collective American “know how” to stop this plague. I am, of course, referring to businesses exclaiming that their clam chowder, or other consumable, is “World Famous.” Case in point is a business I will refer to as “Mo’s,” because the restaurant is called Mo’s, and because it claims that its clam chowder is “World Famous.” Really? Let’s survey a few folks in Grand Rapids about that. Apparently, the distinction is up for grabs. In a perfect world, with the noted exception of Idaho’s World Famous Potatoes, we shouldn’t being seeing many World Famous claims.

Not far behind the whole “World Famous” epidemic, is the abuse of the term “World’s Best.” No joke, there is a company called “World’s Best Cat Litter.” They even trademarked the name. In New York, there is a food truck named the “World’s Best Sandwich Truck,” which, in a sad and ironic twist of fate, has a Yelp rating of 3 ½ out of 5 stars. And there appears to be a real knife fight going on over who makes the World’s Best cheese. More specifically, some company called Beecher’s Cheeses claims to sell the “World’s Best Mac & Cheese.” Surely the Federal Trade Commission mandates that any company making such a bold claim first engage in a rigorous course of peer-reviewed studies and survey of imperial data. Well, either that, or some guy named Hal hocking cat litter suddenly yells, “Eureka! (He’s old school) I’ve got an idea; let’s say it’s the World’s Best! That’ll make’m beat a path to our door! Or litter box… whatever.” Rumor has it that a company in Lubbock, Texas, is considering giving the “World’s Best Cat Litter” company a run for its money using ITS newly trademarked brand: “The UNIVERSE’S Best Cat Litter!” And, yes, they will feature alien felines in slick Madison Avenue style ads in magazines such as, Cat Leisure, Cats Are My Sole Reason for Living, and Cats Are People Too. But I digress. Back to my main point.

Call me crazy, but I think these businesses are going in the wrong direction. When you’re visiting some Podunk city for the first time and see a pizza shop claiming to make the World’s Best pizza, the first thing that pop’s into your head isn’t the anticipation of sinking your teeth into the World’s Best pizza, it’s the sorrow that that it too, like New York’s World’s Best Sandwich Truck, likely claims a full 3 ½ stars on Yelp. So, here’s my idea. Now, mind you, I don’t have a degree in Marketing, but my brother-in-law, who I’ll refer to as “Tony,” because his name is Tony, does have one. My idea: Instead of being an also ran in the “World’s Best” race, do a one-eighty. Yeah, the “World’s Worst.” For example, Bob’s Burger Shack, featuring the “World’s Worst Fries.” Or, Mary’s Pie Shop, featuring the “World’s Worst Crust.” I’m going to run it by Tony the next time I see him.

In the meantime, I’ll get back to working on my “World’s Best, World Famous Jocularious.com Column, featuring the World’s Worst Grammar.”

My Sleep Number Journey

Sleep Number

By Jack Edwards

My wife announced recently that our bed was hurting her back. She told me that she had visited a Sleep Number store, and that we should consider getting one. So I reluctantly accompanied her to check it out. Of course, it isn’t just a store, it’s a sleep laboratory that sells state of the art sleep systems to solve every sleep problem – real or imagined. After explaining that their beds were beautifully upholstered air mattresses, our sales rep told us that the key to this “technology” was determining how firm we should inflate our side of the bed. He had us lay down on their test bed. A big screen TV was mounted at the foot of the bed, so we could watch our number go up or down as he helped us calculate our “sleep numbers.” After concluding this process and then answering a series of other highly scientific sleep-related questions, our representative was able to determine that my Sleep Number was $8,000. Actually, he said mine was 35, and my wife’s was 60. I told the sales rep that I’d think about it, which he accurately took to mean that I was never coming back.

We went back home, and after climbing onto our current, non-scientific mattress, I announced I had determined my real Sleep Number, it was called “paid for.” My one-liner didn’t go over well in the room. (Tip to you young comedians: Always “read the room” before doing any edgy material).

I will confess, that prior to trading the Sleep Number company my youngest child for one of their beds, I was slightly suspicious of my wife’s claim that our current bed was hurting her back. About two years ago, she announced that the position of the gas pedal in her car was hurting her ankle. She visited a number of dealerships to determine whether any of their vehicles had gas pedals with a more appropriate, less “ankle injuring” placement. Surprisingly, it turned out that several premium models had engineered the placement of their gas pedals at the “perfect angle.” Problem solved.

Along with the bed, we decided to get a feature that lets us pretend we’re in the hospital. Both ends of the bed raise up. I thought for sure that I was going to love this feature, because I love to read in bed, and I could stop piling up all those pillows to let me sit up at the right angle. Well, the first night with the Sleep Number I realized that I had made a serious miscalculation. You see, when I read in bed, I like to keep a beverage on my nightstand. I read a lot of thrillers, and this can be very dehydrating. Only, big problem, when the back of my bed moves up, it lifts me forward and away from my nightstand. My nightstand is now conveniently located at a 45 degree angle behind me. It’s a circus contortion act to reach my glass.

My wife has also taken to raising my side of the bed at a slight angle to keep me from snoring, which I don’t do. And I am convinced that sleeping at this angle is preventing sufficient blood to travel to my brain at night and thus making me more stupid. In fact, I’ve started coming up with stupid ideas. Case in point, since using this bed, I have been considering starting a company that uses giraffes to clean out gutters.

When our bed first arrived, my wife told me that she asked Sleep Number to include a brand new feature. I got excited and thought I was getting some newfangled deep heat massage unit, but my short-lived excitement collided with reality. The new feature was a high-tech computer system that recorded how well we slept. I already knew how well I slept. But when the technicians arrived to install the contraption, they connected it to the internet. This, naturally, made me immediately suspicious that the NSA had found some dirt on Sleep Number’s CEO, and it was now ordering him to pipeline America’s sleeping patterns to them for God knows what nefarious constitutionally-offending purpose. I would be busy writing my representatives in Congress to complain, but I currently have new fish to fry. My wife told me yesterday that the knob on the front door of our house was hurting her wrist.

My Dream Cruise

Cruise Final

By Jack Edwards

Willpower and “grit” are the keys to success. Sadly, I am in embarrassingly short supply of either. But it’s not entirely my fault. My wife goes nuts when she catches me bringing any grit into the house. As for willpower, let’s just say that today was to be the first day of my new diet; however, theory didn’t meet reality, and I am currently in the process of polishing off my second bowl of M&Ms. (In my defense, guilt prevented me from filling the first bowl properly, which resulted in it emptying far too quickly, and thus the second “properly” filled bowl, which, may I add, is going down quite smoothly.)

My previous diet was a variation of the Atkins Diet, which I dubbed the “Fat-kins” Diet. The effectiveness of any diet is judged by whether it delivers clear and consistent results. And, boy, did it ever. I’ve never put on so much weight, in a clear and consistently manner.

All of this leads me to my current concern: Cruises. More precisely, that my wife wants us to take a cruise. We’ve taken three previous cruises, which I have enjoyed, but as many of you know, taking a cruise is a lot like being locked in a Golden Corral Buffet for a week. It’s an “all you can eat” breakfast, followed by an “all you can eat” lunch, anchored with an “all you can eat” million course dinner. And, of course, conveniently located snack bars to tide the gorged passengers over in between these healthful meals. Best of all, it’s ALL INCLUDED! That’s right, it’s FREE, if you ignore the fact that you actually paid for it. I once rolled my bloated body back to my cabin late one evening to lay down, and just as I was dozing off, my wife and kids marched into our “stateroom” to ask if I wanted to accompany them to the ship’s ice sculpture inspired midnight buffet. Yes, to confirm to the uninitiated, the feed trough is open 24/7. I estimate that the average cruise ship is riding 4-6 feet lower in the water when it docks at the end of the week.

I’ve decided to make an offer to the cruise industry. In exchange for being the first cruise line to make the following modifications, I will immediately book a cruise with your company.

  1. As those of you who have ever taken a cruise know, when you first step onboard, the ship’s purser announces your name. Ironically, no one is really listening to this announcement except a handful of uniformed cruise line employees ordered to stand there and look thrilled that “The Smith Family of Omaha, Nebraska” as finally arrived. Well, here is my modification. Instead of announcing names, passengers step onto a nautical looking scale, and the purser announces their weight. This number is then entered into the ship’s operational database for the purposes below.
  2. Cruise lines already assign everyone a key card, but now, the key card will keep track to two things, first, the number of calories you burn during the day, and second, the number of calories you burn off using the many treadmills which will be stationed throughout the ship. Watching the kids play in the pool? Do it on the treadmill. Enjoying the Broadway style show? Do it on a treadmill. Your card cuts you off at the combined number of calories burned. You keep swiping your card in front of the cheesecake display, but the light continually shines red? Head for the nearest treadmill!
  3. All treadmills will be connected to the engine room to help power the ship. ATTENTION CRUISE LINES: I’m talking sustainable “green” energy. That means that Obama will happy “invest” hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the ships you have registered in Panama to be modified with this technology using “stimulus” money. (It’s called “stimulus” money because it stimulates votes). It’s a win-win.   In fact, I have no doubt that the first family would join me on the first cruise.

Of course, as a practical matter, if any cruise line does implement this idea, it means one thing: I will need to carefully prepare for the cruise by using grit and “will power.” I intend to stuff myself like a sumo wrestler immediately prior to boarding to give myself a little flexibility. I’ll be the first person in history to disembark weighing less than when I boarded.

My Trampoline Escapade

Trampoline

By Jack Edwards

Why is it that the same parents who won’t shut up about the critical importance of putting their kids in a booster seat until they are at least seven feet tall or weigh 235 pounds all have trampolines in their backyards? My youngest daughter started whining about getting a trampoline last summer. “I need one!” “I’m a dancer. It will improve my balance!” “Everybody has one! [Insert laundry list of names of her friends here – all of which end in “i”].

I gave her both barrels. NO, the idea was pure insanity. NO, not during my lifetime. I explained to her using my extra calm rational adult voice that getting a trampoline was akin begging to spend the rest of her life in one of those special wheelchairs – one that operates by blowing into the little straw. That all of her friends’ parents who had a trampoline were mindless idiots who failed to understand the dangers inherent in repeatedly launching one’s body into the air toward an uncertain landing. That the sooner she forgot the idea the better.

I arrived home the next day as my wife and daughter were just putting the finishing touches on their assembly of our family’s new trampoline.

Of course, becoming a quadriplegic is only the beginning of the fun. Here are additional benefits:

  1. Besides risking your own children’s safety and wellbeing, you can risk your kids’ friends’ lives as well. There’s absolutely no additional cost or obligation.
  2. Because there is nothing that kids love more than jumping on a trampoline together, you get to discover how much blunt force trauma a six-year-old skull can sustain while still only suffering from a “closed concussion,” as a result of their little melon heads smacking into one another at Mach speed.
  3. You get to experience the rush of adrenaline released at the moment your insurance agent tells you that your overpriced homeowner’s policy excludes trampoline coverage.

Naturally, your new deathtrap is practically wallpapered with official labels written by the manufacture’s crack legal team. The warnings inform you that using the device for its intended purpose will likely be the cause of the user’s painful demise. (Trampoline manufactures recruit their lawyers from tobacco companies, after the lawyers have grown bored of defending lung cancer lawsuits and seek the challenge and excitement that comes from defending against “nuisance” lawsuits from the parents of paralyzed youngsters).

I’d love to write about the joys of trampoline ownership further, but I don’t have time. I have to go blow the dust off those car booster seats in the garage. My youngest kid is only 14, and I’ve decided the safe and prudent thing to do is to make her use one until she’s at least 18.

National Lampoon’s Vacation Meets The Bluebird Cafe

By Jack Edwards

Last summer, my family took a road trip similar to the one the Griswold’s took on National Lampoon’s Vacation. The only major difference was that despite our best efforts, we never managed to actually hoist a dead relative onto the roof of our car. When my older daughter realized that we were going to visit Nashville, she immediately had three heart attacks and a stroke, and demanded that we visit The Bluebird Café. I had never heard of The Bluebird Café, but my daughter, between the series of electroshock jolts the paramedics were applying to bring her back to life exclaimed with much enthusiast enthusiasm that this was where Taylor Swift was discovered. She said it verbally, not using her preferred method of communication – texting, but she still managed to say it in all caps, so it sounded like this: “THIS IS WHERE TAYLOR SWIFT WAS DISCOVERED!” Followed by a strange and unnatural shriek.

Understand that I never leave my office let alone my house, so virtually everything pertaining to pop culture is lost on me.

As my daughter’s sinus rhythm slowly returned to normal, she managed an emphatic grasp, “We HAVE to go!”

So, we go.

The Bluebird Café has every bit of the elegant curb appeal one would expect of a place called Mom’s Pie Shop. It’s a hole in the wall anchoring the butt end of dingy strip mall. We called ahead and a Bluebird representative told us to show up at least an hour early if we wanted to make sure we got a table. Not wanting to take any chances, my daughter suggested we pitch a tent and campout from the night before. We compromised at arriving 90 minutes early. We were second in line. Surprisingly, there were a varied list of activities to help us pass the time. These included popular pastimes such as, standing in line, looking around while standing in line, and my favorite, leaning against the wall while standing in line.   Every so often, someone who was obviously an important, “connected” Nashville “insider” arrived and was ushered immediately through the front door.

Then the big moment finally arrived. The front door opened and the swell of people waiting outside poured through like a monster tide. We dashed in and stepped up to claim the perfect table in the center of the room – not too close to the stage, not too far away. Perfect. And just then, as the swarm of patrons snatched the tables all around us, a guy who appeared to have some special Bluebird official authority grabbed a “Reserved” sign off a nearby table and slapped it down in the middle of “our” table. He gave us a look. The look didn’t say “sorry” as much as it said, “that’s the way it is, folks.” Understand that The Bluebird Café isn’t a particularly large venue. The entire room is just slightly smaller than the average postage stamp. My gut reaction was to argue with him, while, lucky, my daughter’s reaction was to immediately claim a table that wasn’t too far away. She employed a technique most often used in roller derby, where a woman slams her right shoulder into the solar plexus of her competitor. It was a surprisingly effective move, and after stepping over the victim’s body, I took a seat.

This is when a guy marched up to the front of the stage and gave us (well, everyone) “the talk.” It turns out that The Bluebird Café isn’t really a café, it is a “listening room.” Yeah, you heard me right – it’s a “listening room.” There is a no talking policy during the performances. And it’s strictly enforced. I felt like I was back in Mrs. Grumfielder’s 5th grade class. They made it crystal clear that any talking during the performances would be met with swift, and intentionally aggravated violence. At least that was the impression everyone got, because you could hear a pin drop following the warning, and the music hadn’t even started yet. The only noise was from our chairs rattling from our shaky intimidated legs.

But all the waiting, fear and intimidation was worth it. The music was excellent. It was a night to remember. I highly recommend it. And if you decide to visit, tell the door man the Griswold family sent you.

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The World’s Worst Gardener Reveals His Secrets to Success

Gardener (2)

By Jack Edwards

Achieving the pinnacle of success in any endeavor demands dedication and sacrifice. You have to keep your “eye on the ball,” or in my case, “eye on the squash.” And if I ever manage to actually grow a squash, even one the size of a golf ball, I’m definitely keeping my eye on it. Needless to say, the competition for World’s Worst Gardener is fierce. While the number of gardeners in the United States has diminished over the last few decades, it remains popular. The last US census determined the current number of gardeners stands at 13. I’m one of them, so there are apparently another 12.  I think they live just outside Akron. The census also found that 99.8% of the public grimaced at the thought of getting dirt under their nails and reported that in lieu of gardening, they shopped at Whole Foods 9-14 times per week. They gravitate toward the organic produce section. I’m not saying the vegetables there are expensive, but these people spend the bulk of their time pondering whether to buy a quarter pound of kohlrabi, or use that money instead to buy a vacation home in the Hamptons – one with a pool.

The Shame of the Squash

Before you consider challenging me for my title, please take time to reflect on one of the challenges inherent in holding this position. I refer to this as “The Shame of the Squash.” Every year, approximately 20 minutes after the growing season begins, fellow office workers begin showing up with gunny sacks brimming with squash. At times, more than a metric ton of squash is piled up in the break room – signs propped next to it begging folks to take it. The proud gardeners ceaselessly yammer on about their backbreaking efforts to harvest the tsunami of squash spilling from their gardens, and their gardening prowess in general (Tomatoes are a popular bragging topic). I am relegated to sitting quietly, listening to their lightly veiled jabs at my agricultural insufficiencies. Little do these rubes know of the difficulty and extreme effort required to retain my title. For the benefit of those brown thumbs who wish to compete with me,  and for posterity, I will now, for the first time, reveal my Secrets to Success:

  1. The first sunny day in February, get really excited about planting a garden. Then, because it’s still technically what is commonly referred to as “The Middle of Winter,” Google, “When can I start planting my garden?” Google then tells you, for the millionth February in a row, that you have to wait until there is no further danger of a freeze. Google suggests that you either buy each of your little seedlings a tiny fur-lined jacket or hold off. Because you can’t afford a vacation home in the Hamptons, even one without a pool, and you’re afraid of PETA, you wait with much depressed frustration.
  2. In mid-July, suddenly remember that you forgot to plant your garden and do so immediately, with much fanfare and heaps of chicken manure, and whatever other manures that meet your fancy.
  3. Water your garden thoroughly at the time of planting. Soak it to the ratio of three parts water to one part dirt (think “dirt soup”). Then forget to water it again. Period. When you remember that you haven’t watered your garden for five weeks, remind yourself that plants have grown unattended for eons, and you’re sure nature will take its course. (Later, you will realized you got an F in this course).

That’s all I have for you. Good luck. I have to go keep an eye on my squash. I fear the 12 people in Akron are gaining on me.

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Check out these great books for gifts:

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

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Seven Rules for the College Playground –

https://buff.ly/2IqXxgn

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A Brief History of the Selfie

Final Vinnie (2)

By Jack Edwards

It strikes without warning. One moment a young man is, for example, standing on the precipice of the Grand Canyon. He gazes out over the awe-inspiring vista. Eons of history lie before him – thought provoking proof that the gentle force of water in unison with time can carve an almost unimaginably beautiful sculpture. More an experience than a view, a sight to make even the most strident atheist consider the existence of a universal creator. But, time for all that later. The young man has priorities. He pops out his cell phone and turns around to snap off several selfies. In a few of them, you can almost identify the backdrop behind his grinning face as one of world’s major wonders.

You might think that this self-absorbed behavior is a product of the current “me” generation. You would be RIGHT! But like your crabby high school English teacher, I am only able to award you partial credit. Any archaeologist worth his salt knows that cavemen invented the selfie. But it was slow to take off because: 1. Everybody’s selfie looked identical – a circle with two dots for eyes, and 2. Internet speeds were very slow back then, so they had to go and convince their caveman friends to actually walk over to their cave to admire it. If you ask any Ph.D. in Art History to take a moment from mopping the floor at Starbucks,  they’ll tell you that the “Father of the Selfie” was actually Vincent van Gogh. One of the greatest myths perpetuated on the western world is that van Gogh cut off his ear during a psychotic episode. No. He cut off his ear while accidently backing up into a threshing machine while attempting to sketch a quick selfie. His most celebrated selfie, of course, is titled “Self-Portrait Holding a Possum,” which launched the selfie renaissance of the Mid-19th Century.

The selfie craze has now hit critical mass. Even the staunchest libertarians now agree that federal legislation is needed. Bi-partisan support is building in Congress for a bill that would require everyone to obtain a “selfie license” before posting a selfie online. The goal is to reduce the following unfortunate occurrences:

  1. Duckface selfies (this is sooo 2013)
  2. Overly-smug selfies (often with the subject’s smirking mug framed by an exotic location)

and, of course,

3.  Naked selfies (although, admittedly, this would make a great name for a band – “Now, taking the stage, The Naked Selfies!)

So please, urge your representatives and senators to support this much needed legislation. Remember, the embarrassing selfie you save could be your own.

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