I’ve Been Binge Watching Amazing Race Reruns So Hard I Came Around the Corner This Morning and Thought I Saw a Clue Box

I have been binge watching “The Amazing Race” reruns so hard that I came around the corner this morning and thought I spotted a clue box.

Turned out, it was a utility pipe.

This made me take a hard look at how I’ve been spending my free time.  It was obvious I needed to reconsider my priorities.  I needed to do some soul searching.  Well, I’ve now done that. As a result, I’ve concluded that I need to spend much MORE time watching The Amazing Race.  I should NEVER have mistaken that pipe for a clue box.  Those are the types of mistakes that can cost you a million dollars!

If you’ve never seen the show, The Amazing Race is where 11 couples race around the world developing a deep-seated hatred for each other.  The winning couple gets one million dollars.  What truly is “amazing” is that none of the contestants has actually killed one another (so far).  

In all seriousness, though, it’s a truly heartwarming show.  Along the way, the relationships really do grow in a variety of ways.   Their appreciation for each other grows.  Their respect for each other grows.  But most of all, their loathing for each other grows.  I’m not kidding.  Watch the show.  A few couples manage to hold it together, but most crack under the pressure.  And, oh yeah, the cameras are right there to catch every nasty whispered slight and every tear drop.

I have announced to many people over the years that if I were ever in the race, by the end of the first episode, America would hate me.  It is somewhat concerning to me that every single person I have said this to has immediately agreed with me.

On the other hand, becoming public enemy #1 is a small price to pay for a shot at winning a million dollars. And I am sure I would win the race, as long as I didn’t mistake a utility pipe for a clue box.

My Barber Cut My Hair So Short That People Are Now Thanking Me For My Service

My barber recently cut my hair so short that people are now thanking me for my service.  Unfortunately, I have never served in the military.  So, I always feel a tinge of guilt when I tell them I did it for God and country, and that even though I was wounded in action, I’d do it again.  Just kidding!  I would never say that!  I only tell them I did it for God and country.

The closest I ever got to serving in the military was being in the Webelos when I was ten.  Don’t scoff!  I faced plenty of danger as a Webelo.  In fact, I was once injured.  My mother pricked me sewing on a merit badge.

But I digress…  Back to my hair.

Let me put it this way, a naked mole-rat has more hair than I do.  An eggplant has more hair than I do.  A Brazilian-waxed butt cheek has MUCH more hair than I do.

My wife is always horrified when I come home with my hair this short.  I always have to brace myself for her reaction.  By the look on her face, you’d think I walked in with a swastika tattooed on my forehead.  She should really blame my parents.  They were children of the Great Depression.  I was raised to make sure I always got my money’s worth.  That includes haircuts.  I’m not going to let some shyster barber get the better of me by allowing him to simply trim my mop into an attractive hairstyle.  Hair grows about half an inch a month.  I’ll be damned if don’t get at least two or three months’ worth out of a cut.  It just makes good economic sense. 

Plus, the overwhelming appreciation I receive from my fellow citizens is so richly rewarding.  It almost makes me wish I actually enlisted.

Do Not Let This Dog into Your House

My daughter and her husband had to take a quick trip to Oklahoma (State Motto: “We eat steak three times a day.”)  This meant we had to immediately implement our version of the “Pony Express.”  In our case, the “Doggy Express.”  Milo the Dog lives in Portland.  I live 100 miles south in The People’s Republic of Eugene.  The Doggy-Express works like this: My son-in-law drives Milo halfway down, and I drive halfway up.  We meet in Salem.  It’s just like divorced parents exchanging their spoiled pride and joy.  The only real difference is that in our case, the spoiled kid has a leash around his neck.  That, and we have him run around the parking lot peeing on everything.  On second thought, I guess that could  apply to either situation.

After another smooth exchange everything seems fine.  I drive Milo back to my place in Eugene.  I take him on late night walk and think everything is fine for the night.  The problem begins at 3:30 a.m.

I wake up in the middle of the night and realize Milo is outside my bedroom door whining like a fire detector.  I ride it out for a few minutes, but finally crawl out of bed. 

Now, it is important here to set the stage.  My wife was away for the weekend, but before leaving, she reminded me of her long-standing directive that Milo was not allowed in our bedroom, and under absolutely NO circumstances, was he allowed on our bed.  So, I open the door and tell him to jump on the bed.  In my defense, I’m like the exhausted parent who will do anything to make the baby stop crying.  It’s Marshall Law, peace time rules simply do not apply.

Milo dutifully hops up.  I retreat back to bed, and immediately begin willing myself back to sleep.  But an unsettling feeling washes over me.  I feel a presence.  When I peek my eyes open, a large dark figure is sitting bolt upright staring at me.  Unsettling, to say the least. 

Concerned Milo needs to go to the bathroom, I once again drag myself out of bed, get dressed, and take him for a walk.  IT IS 3:30 IN THE MORING!  No signs of life are visible.  The world hangs in dark immoveable silence as Milo contentedly trots down the sidewalk.  It is immediately clear he does not need to relieve himself.

The trip ends with a whimper, not a bang.  Milo contentedly walks back to his bed in the living room, and I go back to salvage what is left of the night.

I am telling you this story for two reasons.  First, NEVER GET A DOG.  Second, I need a referral.  If you can take a moment to shoot me a message, I am looking for an experienced canine psychiatrist.  One who specializes in EXTREMELY spoiled dogs.

Lazy Cows Demand First Class Air Travel

CNN  ̶  “Your first source for bovine news”  ̶  reports that milk cows are buzzing over the skies of Switzerland thicker than flies over an open latrine. 

Okay, MAYBE I’m exaggerating, but apparently Swiss dairy farmers routinely airlift about 1,000 cows down from summer grazing pastures each year.  If a farmer thinks a cow is too sick, injured or pregnant to navigate the walk down the mountain, they arrange first class airfare. (Seriously, Google it!)

I am appalled by this for two reasons:

First, I don’t buy that all these cows are disabled.  Half the people I see pulling into handicap parking spaces practically hop out of their car and skip into the Dollar Store.  If humans have a 50% fake rate, why would the bovine rate be any better?  Do cows possess a greater sense of self-worth and dignity than humans?  Of course, they do!  We’re pathetic!  But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of lackadaisical, good-for-nothing cows.

Second, I’m concerned about safety.  I watched the CNN video of these cows being hitched up and sent shooting off into the heavens, and I didn’t see a single TSA agent screaming at it to take off its shoes OR remove its laptop from its briefcase.  The situation appeared to be ENTIRELY devoid of ANY preflight security screening.  For all we know, Al-Qaeda cows have already penetrated the Swiss dairy system.  Run the numbers, people!  At 1000 cows a year, if only ½ a percent of these “so-called” distressed milk cows are terrorists, that’s five improvised exploding cows per year.  And will these cows remain in Switzerland?  Who knows?  One could end up living RIGHT NEXT TO YOU!  Now, I have gotten your attention?

It’s high time that international authorities put a stop to this madness.  This luxurious first-class airfare for bovines must end. 

Or, heck, at least make them fly coach.

Who Are These People With No Shirt and No Shoes Who Get No Service?

I see the signs: “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service!”  But I’ve never seen “them.”  I’ve never seen all the shirtless guys who are not wearing shoes yet are clamoring for service.  They must duck for cover whenever I approach.  But they can’t be too shy.  Apparently, they’re brazen enough to go waltzing into stores barefooted.

It’s perplexing.

Is it just an “ambience” thing?  Are high-end restaurants under siege from shirtless, shoeless people demanding steak tartare?  

Do strip clubs ever put these signs up?  That would seem a little hypocritical.

There’s a bar two doors down from my office in downtown Eugene with one of these signs, but they’ve put a twist on it –

In their defense, we do have a fair number of “disenfranchised” folks hanging around on that corner.  It might just be me, but when I hear someone use the term, “no dice,” I picture a seventies guy with a wide-open polyester shirt and enough exposed chest hair to choke a house cat. 

A pizza place down the street decided to put their own spin on it.  Here’s the sign in Sizzle Pie’s window —

I’ve been in Sizzle Pie.  I’ve seen their customer base.  Heck, I AM their customer base.  Trust me on this Mr. Sizzle Pie manager, people without shirts are the least of your problems.

I recently conducted a survey of downtown Eugene businesses (this is code for: I got bored and took a stroll).  At a bare minimum, 95% of businesses (as calculated by their lack of No Shirt / No shoes signs, welcome customers without shirts or shoes.  Some appeared to actually encourage it, like a body waxing place a couple of blocks away.  (The whole process is FAR more efficient if the customer arrives without a shirt.)  They should have a sign that says, “Shirt? Shoes? No Service.”

This makes me wonder whether, in a jail somewhere, some old, grizzled convict has ever turned to the inmate next to him and asked, “What are you in for?” And the guy answered, “No shirt, no shoes, but sadly, asked for service.”

News Reporters Hit With Deep Sense of Grief as Hurricane Henri Fails to Devastate East Coast

Fighting back tears, reporters from all major networks bravely maintained their composure as the reality hit them that Hurricane Henri would not decimate the east coast.

“It felt like a kick to the stomach,” one MSNBC reporter confessed.  “One minute we’re on seventh heaven, thinking, WOW, this is it!  Our ratings are going to shoot through the roof.  The next minute, Henri is downgraded to a tropical storm.  A tropical storm!  Has a tropical storm EVER won anyone an Emmy?!”

Dr. Victor Ratnaster, Dean of Harvard’s elite School of Psychiatry, said that ethical constraints prevented him from actually diagnosing any particular news reporter, but he agreed to comment “generally speaking.”

“As you know,” he said thoughtfully, gazing up toward the ceiling of his oak paneled office while rubbing his goatee, there are five stages of grief:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.”

“Well,” he continued, with a dramatic pause, “Most of the reporters I’ve seen appear to have completely leapfrogged over the first three stages and landed smackdab into deep-seated depression.  I just hope they can pull out in time to cover the next ‘once in a century’ hurricane story next week.”

Asked if he had any advice for these downtrodden reporters, Dr. Ratnaster offered this piece of hope: “Look, folks, don’t let yourselves to get too down.  There’s bound to be an earthquake soon in some third world country that kills hundreds or even thousands!  Or, maybe a group of school children might get trapped in a cave again!  Just keep waking up each day with a spring in your step, and the hope that the next catastrophe strikes before your next news cycle!”

Meanwhile, today’s reality is that Hurricane Henri has turned out to be limper than a stalk of celery in July. 

However, maybe, just maybe, with any luck, the next Big One is just around the corner.

I’m Afraid This 10 Pounds I Just Put On In Vegas, Isn’t Staying In Vegas

For the record, my wife and I didn’t go to Vegas to drink and gamble, we went to celebrate her friend’s 50th birthday.  That said, I did drink and gamble. 

From the beginning, I was doomed to having a more difficult time slipping back into that coach seat for my return trip.  Vegas is like a cruise ship.  Food is EVERYWHERE!  Vegas should just get it over with and change its name to the S.S. Las Vegas.

The actual birthday event, and I kid you not, was held at an ALL YOU CAN EAT restaurant.  Not at an “All you CARE to eat” restaurant; those restaurants are located in Santa Monica.  Toward the end of the meal, I was surrounded by a sea of people groaning in pain, and this was BEFORE it was time for cake.  The birthday cake turned out to be a mountain of cupcakes just slightly taller than Mount Everest.  And the frosting on each one was taller than the cake itself.  I wasn’t hungry by that point, but I was facing an awkward social dilemma.  I was raised to always politely accept a host’s dessert, even if only a very small serving.  So, I had eight of them.  Okay, I just had one.  (One too many!)

Yet another challenge awaited me at the Paris Casino sports bar.  I took a seat at the bar to donate money to a charitable organization called, “Feed America’s Casino Moguls.”  And what do I find sitting smackdab four feet in front of me?  A pina colada machine the size of a city bus.  It just sat there churning the creamy confection.  Look folks, I’m only mortal. 

I had three of them. 

Okay, I just had one.  It turns out that the recipe for pina coladas at the Paris Casino is a complex mixture of exotic ingredients.  Because I have a discerning palate, I’ll take a guess at the ingredient list: ten parts sugar to ten parts rum.  One sip would kill a hummingbird, or at least put him in the hospital.

As my loyal readers know, I have a staunch policy to blame others for my mistakes.  In this case, I’m going to blame Covid for my weight gain.  Here’s why –

During this visit, the mask mandate was in full force in Vegas.  If you are not “actively eating or drinking,” somebody’s carping at you to pull your mask up. 

Needless to say, I don’t like wearing a mask.  So, as a result, and per Dr. Fauci’s recommendations, I kept eating.  And eating.  And eating. 

Let’s put it this way.  My weight gain happened in Vegas, but sadly, it didn’t stay in Vegas.

How Loving My Wife Might Land Me in Jail

My wife and I got hooked on beachcombing for rocks by our friend, who for the purposes of this column, I will refer to as, “Katy,” because her name is Katy.

Katy is to rock collecting as an F-350 Ford pickup is to gasoline – She can’t get enough.   Her appetite for rocks is NEVER quenched.  I have personally witnessed this woman single-handedly drag a rock the size of a Buick Skylark off a beach, UP A CLIFF, and into the trunk of her car. 

Here’s the problem.  Some people, and I’m speaking about people in general, not just my wife.  (Although I’m really just talking about my wife), are quite comfortable asking their spouses to carry the rocks they find.   

And, sadly, because I have adopted the “happy wife, happy life” philosophy, I have agreed to do so.  I am, for all practical purposes, my wife’s beach rock Sherpa.

But Hallelujah!  This has come to an end!

You see, we live in Oregon, and I recently discovered that Oregon has laws governing beachcombing!  (Yeah, I know!)

Here are a couple of laws that caught my attention:

Oregon law allows for the collecting of –

“Agates and other non-living items such as shells, stones, and fossils loose on the ground, in small quantities, defined as no more than a one-gallon volume container per person per day; up to three gallons per person per calendar year.”

Now, I don’t want to rat out my wife, but between you and me (let’s keep this on the “down-low”), I think my wife is stretching the boundaries of her three-gallon limit.  If the FBI subpoenaed me to testify, she’d be going away for 5 to 10. 

Oregon law also sets a limit on the amount of sand and coble.  (Didn’t we stop using coble in the Middle Ages?)  Oregon law enforcement officials should be relieved to hear that the only sand I take home from the beach is what get caught between my toes, and, of course, my butt cheeks.

But HERE is the law that has me rejoicing:

“Each person collecting must use an individual container and may not combine collections in the same container with another person.”

You read that right!  Everybody’s got to keep their own rocks in their own container!  Or they go to jail, that’s what!

Thank you, overly bureaucratic and marginally communistic government of Oregon, for lifting this heavy burden off my shoulders – Literally! 

The only thing I’m concerned about is that when I tell my wife I can’t carry her rocks in my bag or I’ll go to jail, she’ll fire back that old retort:

“Suck it up, Buttercup!”

If You Thought Race Walking Could Not Suffer Any More Humiliation, Guess Again

The decision shocked sports fans.  In a surprise move, the Olympic Committee just announced it will terminate the event that spectators most eagerly wait every four years to ridicule – Race Walking.

The US media reacted in contradicting fashion.  The New York Times published the photograph above to document the dignity and grace of this embattled sport.  The evil Fox News took out the long knives.  Here is how it began its article announcing the decision:

“If you’ve ever witnessed a person with a full bladder beeline his or her way to a bathroom 50 feet away, you’re familiar with the Olympic sport of race walking.”

This a true quote.  I swear I didn’t make it up.  Here is proof I didn’t make it up: I’m just not that funny.

No longer will fans sit in rapt attention as they bear witness to dozens of elite competitors from around world, well… walking.  But walking VERY FAST!

I know what you’re thinking: Why couldn’t the Olympic Committee just cancel the Trampoline event?  It only started in 2000.  Race walking has been around since 1932!  Think of all the lives we’d save!  All those kids watching the Olympic Trampoline event and then running to their backyards to jump on their Walmart trampolines and breaking their necks? It would cut the number of quadriplegics in half!

Of course, everyone is now asking the same question: How will this affect merchandise sales?  The jerseys?  The jackets?  The caps?  The combined impact of the Olympic Committee’s decision to retailers around the world will result in the loss of literally DOZENS of sales. 

Okay, I’ll stop being such a jerk about this for a moment and speak to you from the heart. I’m an older man.  I’ve got a bladder the size of a walnut.  Who more than I should appreciate the lightning quick speed of someone who can zip from his hurriedly parked car to a highway rest stop urinal?  With every passing year, my race walking has improved dramatically. I might have actually qualified for this event at the next Olympics. 

What I’m really trying to say, is that the Olympic Committee’s decision to terminate this event has dashed any hope I had of finally “bringing home the gold.”  Well, unless I go ahead and buy that Walmart trampoline.

The First Rule of Self-Installing Laminate Flooring: Do Not Self-Install Laminate Flooring!

The last thing I want to do is decimate the entire DYI home improvement industry.  So, I feel compelled to clarify the title of this column.  It should read, “Do not self-install laminate flooring UNLESS you a licensed professional contractor with decades of experience specializing in installing laminate flooring.”  There, I feel better now.

Unfortunately, I decided to self-install my laminate flooring.  Here are a few tips I learned as a result of this enormous mistake –

Tip #1: Installing flooring is a young man’s game.  If you’re older than 16, forget it.  There is one exception to this rule: If you are under 25, exercise three to four times a day and regularly compete in triathlons, go for it.

Tip #2: I am probably being too kind to myself here, but I’ll throw out this number – I’m roughly 20 pounds overweight.  So, each time I climb up off the floor, it’s like someone put a 10-pound bag of sugar on each of my shoulders before I stand up.  (The good news is that during the installation process, you’ll only have to climb up off the floor about one million times.)

Tip #3: Buy a pair of the best knee pads you can find.  If a division of the Rolex company makes knee pads, take out a bank loan and buy a pair.  If they cost $10,000, they’re a bargain.  I’m not kidding.  Kneel down on a hard floor without knee pads and scoot around for thirty seconds.  You’ll be reeling in pain. 

Tip #4: Give up now.  Do not consider, even for another moment, continuing down this tragic path.  Heed my words!  I’m speaking to you from the future!

Sadly, no one gave ME this golden advice. The good news is that I only had to spend eight days crawling around on my knees. The added good news is that I only shaved 10 to 12 years off my life. On the bright side, I do get the self-satisfaction of admiring all the mistakes I made along the way. Mistakes that shine up like beacons to me from every vantage point in the house.

If you do proceed with your ill-conceived plan, and you manage to navigate the painful path to self-installing your new laminate flooring, yet another daunting challenge awaits – Self-installing the floor trim.

I’m speaking from the heart here, people.  Let me pass along the first step to self-installing your floor trim: 

Do NOT self-install your floor trim!