Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Episode 59: Only in California

Let me just apologize in advance to those of you who live in California, not for the content of this column, but for the fact that you live in California. No one should be subjected to such absurdities as seem to proliferate in your state. I have noted the amusing warning labels and signs on products “known by the state of California” to cause one sort of heinous debilitating ailment or another, and I have wondered at how California seems to know so much more about the dangers of everything than any other state.

The latest bleeding edge research from California has uncovered a plot against the children of our fair nation by none other than that too-happy clown and his fast food at McDonald’s. Yes, that’s right, McDonalds, it would seem, is single-handedly making all America’s children fat, despite the best efforts of well-meaning parents who try their very valiantly to convince their children to choose someplace other than McDonalds to eat every day. Sure, McDonald’s has salads, but they don’t come with toys now do they? How in the world is a parent to combat such diabolical strategies as putting toys in Happy Meals?

Well, the grand and progressive city of San Francisco is not making parents deal with such viciousness alone. They are planning to ban Happy Meals in the coming year. Clearly they wanted to show the 41-year-old mother of two currently suing McDonald’s for having toys in Happy Meals, or making Happy Meals bad for kids, or tricking her into feeding her children fatty foods, or forcing her against her will to bend to the will of her children, or something like that, that she is not fighting the good fight alone. Whatever fight it is she is fighting, it is awful and I am sure she deserves millions of dollars to ease her pain at being an inept parent who cannot say no to the minors under her care…uh, I mean for the pain and suffering of watching her poor children balloon up because she is powerless against the siren song of Happy Meal toys.

The great thing is it is a class action lawsuit, which means maybe we can all get in on it. Have your kid’s used screaming and crying and pouting to force you to McDonald’s, and once there used said tactics again to force you to buy them Happy Meals because of the toys that come in said Happy Meals, and are your kids now fat because you find yourself at McDonald’s three times a day and you lack the will to fight against all the pervasive advertising? Well, sign yourself up for this class action suit and you too can make a few extra bucks, but don’t tell your kids or they will just make you spend it on something they want.

Seriously people, it is called parenting* and it is what you do when you become a parent, unless you are still mostly a child yourself, in which case you hope someone will just make laws to remove the chance of making poor choices so you don’t have to exercise any amount of will power of your own. If we don’t have to choose, we won’t learn how to choose, and if we don’t learn how to choose, we will choose poorly when we finally do have to choose.

* Parenting is known by the state of California to cause discomfort sometimes leading to anguish and should be avoided whenever possible. If you encounter parenting or suffer the symptoms of parenting, move to California where we leave the parenting to the state government so you can enjoy your childhood well into adulthood.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Episode 57: Hospitals and Cars

I noticed a new billboard for a hospital as I was texting and eating and singing along to the radio and yelling at all the other drivers who don’t know how to drive.

Does anyone else remember when billboards used to be the only real distraction on the highways? Driving used to be fun…because the radio didn’t really get louder than the road noise or the wind through the open windows, which had to be open because the AC didn’t really work, and eating was something you did around a table in a house with walls to which the telephones were attached. Ah the good old days.

Anyway, this billboard proclaimed that the hospital’s ER was “Always open.” Um, isn’t that pretty much like McDonalds putting up a big billboard saying, “We serve food?” (Without the question mark of course, but grammatical rules being what they are I have to include it within the quotes even though it is not actually part of the quote. Although, given the quality of fast food, it could actually also be presented as a valid question.)  Aren’t ERs supposed to be open all the time?

“Oh Timmy, I am sorry you got your leg gnawed off by a rabid honey badger that somehow hopped a boat from Australia, or from wherever it is rabid honey badgers come, but the ER is closed, so you are just going to have to writhe around there on the stoop until it opens again, and then you are number 5 in line after all the ambulances already waiting here.”

Maybe that billboard was actually written by an Eastern European mushy-brained kook. Over there the ERs may or may not be open at night and there may or may not actually be doctors there even if they are open. And if they are open and there are doctors there who feel like helping you and have the right equipment to do so, you are very likely to be paraded around naked in front of everyone else, which would be embarrassing if every other patient didn’t get the same privilege. Those crazy Europeans and their lack of privacy concerns; their doctors may not be as concerned about helping people in the middle of the night, or about making sure their patients are clothed, but they make some pretty nice cars, speaking of which, the British have a very entertaining car show called Top Gear. Those of you who like cars will likely find it more entertaining, but everyone can appreciate the ridiculous stunts and shenanigans the three hosts undertake.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Episode 54: I Just Saved $45.02

That’s right, I just saved $45.02! How, how could you too save $45.02? I am sure that question is picking at your brain like the woodpecker that insists on terrorizing a certain corner of my house with his rat-tat-tat-tatting all the time. Well, it is thanks to another brilliant mushy-brained kook strategy, of course.

You see, I had to spend $50 (on $95.02 worth of merchandise it would seem) in order to save that $45.02, but really that’s like I only spent about $5 right, what with my savings? Math has never been my strong suit, so I am a little fuzzy on that part. In any case, the lady manning the register (Now that’s an interesting complication to our fair language isn’t it? I guess she would have to be “womanning” the register. I guess to be politically correct she would have to “person” the register. I would have used “people,” but it would be tiny people indeed who could “people” a cash register. Maybe that is exactly how cash registers really work. Sure there is all this talk about computers and circuit boards and nanotechnology and all that, but what if all that stuff is really run by scads of tiny people? Just something to ponder, along with the thought that our language only makes sense until you try to use it.) was very happy to make sure I knew how much money I saved by spending money at that store.

What a great way to get people to save their money. How exciting! It makes me feel very fiscally responsible. I am going to try to save lots more money now that I know how to do it. In no time at all I am sure I can save up enough money to buy that motorcycle. All I have to do is buy more stuff on sale. That Dave Ramsey guy and all his “don’t buy that” attitude, what does he know? I have the receipts to prove how much money I saved…all I have to do now is find out where they are keeping it. I better keep all my receipts so I have documentation about my balance. I am sure they are honest, but one can never be too careful.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Episode 58: Records

Not surprisingly, the Guinness Book of World Records has its roots in beer and guns, which may explain all of the crazy things people do to get a Guinness World Record. What might be surprising is that the bear and guns were in Ireland instead of Wisconsin. In any case, as the story goes, some executive at the Guinness Brewery got into an argument at a shooting party about what was the fastest game bird. Back then (which is to say 1951) people were far more polite, so a bunch of guys with guns arguing about birds would not lead to a shootout like it would today. It was probably a good day for the birds, what with the hunters spending their time arguing and searching the library rather than shooting at birds, but it was not such a good day for the guy wondering what bird was the fastest. He could not find anything in his library, so he decided someone should write a book where people could find out what were the fastest, strongest, slowest, tallest, shortest, newest, oldest, hairiest, etc., creatures and things out there. So he did.

What started as a quest for the fastest game bird in Europe led to the fastest 100 meter hurdles sprint while wearing swim fins (22.35 seconds). What, why would someone want to run on land while wearing swim fins? The answer to that, of course, is the same reason someone would want to ride a bike 214 feet under water. If you want a world record, you can try to be faster or stronger than everyone else in the world (good luck on that one), or you can just try to do something so ridiculous no one else would want to do it. The latter seems to be the strategy most world record holders have employed.

  • Largest pocket knife – 12 feet 8 inches tall when open (Is that really still a pocket knife?)
  • Tightest frying pan roll in 30 seconds – 17.46 centimeters (Some guy actually rolled up an aluminum frying pan with his bare hands the way the rest of us might roll up a newspaper, but probably with more grunting and straining. )
  • Longest distance pulled by a horse – full-body burn – 1551 feet 2 inches (Picture a guy on fire being pulled around by a horse. Before that, picture that same guy with a few of his friends drinking way too much Hungarian beer and daring each other to do ridiculous things and you might be close to how this idea was conceived.)
  • Heaviest weight pulled with eye sockets – 907 pounds (Uh, my guess is Hungarian beer was involved in this one too.)
  • Farthest milk squirting from eye – 9 feet 2 inches (I would say this involved Hungarian beer too, but I am leaning more towards something a little stronger in this case.)
So, if you want to get your name immortalized in the Guinness World Records, gather a group of your most creative and least responsible friends, drink a lot of Hungarian beer, and have a brainstorming session. Odds are pretty good what comes out of that session is likely to be something that will immortalize you in the hallowed halls of Guinness World Records. I mean, anyone can try to run really fast, but how many people will put on a tutu and lumber jack boots, and then try to run really fast backwards through four feet of slurry composed of lemon pudding, Dijon mustard, Tabasco sauce, and rotting fish heads while reciting the Bill of Rights? What would you rather watch?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Episode 18: Super Heroes and Flatulence

This weekend I learned my daughter has super hero-like hearing. It was very exciting until I figured out the horrible truth. As we were driving home from somewhere (somewhere very fun like the zoo or the park, not the dentist or something not fun like that) the kids were secured snuggly in their car seats trying to open and close the windows with their toes and singing along with something in the cd player (probably music).

Suddenly Ani stopped her banter abruptly to announce, “I hear smoke.”

Oh, I tried with all my auditory might, but all I could hear was traffic and the wind blowing past the partially open sunroof. I was so proud. My daughter, a super hero with a super human sense of hearing, which only seemed to be diminished by the sound of her parents’ voices asking her to do something she preferred not to do or not to do something she preferred to do. How would I try to cultivate her gift and at the same time protect her from thinking herself a freak of nature? How would I teach her to use her powers for good instead of evil? So many questions flapped around my brain like birds startled by a gigantic mangy dog running through their midst.

Then it happened. I smelled smoke. My world came crashing back down. Ani was no super hero. She did not have a super human sense of smell. She just thought her ears were for smelling.

Speaking of super heroes and the like, someone this week brought my attention to aardvarks (thanks John). Have you ever really noticed them? They live in Africa and you live in Indiana (or somewhere else that is not Indiana) so I assume you have not (unless the somewhere else you live happens to be Africa). They have no enamel on their teeth, so their teeth continually wear down and then grow back. Man, that surely would save on expenses at the dentist. They also have the ability to seal their nostrils, in case they are attacked by skunks or something. They really are very interesting hairless funny-looking termite-eating critters.

Since not all of us can do cool things like hear smoke, grow new teeth all the time, or seal our noses, here is some good news for us average folks. You use more than 70 muscles just to say a single word. That word is Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, but that is beside the point. Think of all the exercise telemarketers are getting. Don’t be mad next time they call you; they are just trying to get some exercise. Ask them about their lives, their grandmothers, their pets, their past criminal activities, anything to keep them talking. Think of their health, and don’t pay any attention to the nonsense about what they are selling.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Remembering the Great Depression

Okay, times are tough today, but we certainly have not yet reached the level of hardship endured during the Great Depression.

"Growing up during the Great Depression means a lot of change for Kit Kittredge...She has to start wearing dresses made from feed sacks to save money...But Kit is clever and resourceful, and she works hard to help her family make ends meet."

For instance, when her parents are overpowered by the seductive influences of mushy-brained kooks who convince them to buy her a $100 doll by which to remember their dire financial struggles during the Great Depression, she declines and instead makes one for herself. At least that is what should happen. Kit is an American Girl doll, and American Girl dolls are apparently made on the International Space Station, where labor is very pricy (even though all those astronauts are bored out of their minds floating around all day waiting for their replacements to come so they can stop inhaling their own urine when they miss the toilet.) In any case, I have it on good authority you can take your American Girl doll to an American Girl Palace and pay ridiculous amounts of money to have her hair done, to see a doctor, or to do other things an inanimate object is incapable of perceiving, let alone enjoying. Now, I can see this work for say a Britney Spears American Girl doll, but a Great Depression American Girl doll? Really? You should learn about how people lived during the Great Depression by buying over-priced dolls and treating them to doll spas? And who works at these little doll spas? I am not one to criticize people's work, because we all do what we have to so we can pay bills, but I am pretty sure making a living doing dolls' hair and working in a doll hospital makes about as much sense as...well, nothing I guess. I am actually at a loss here.

In any case, if you have an American Girl doll, or several American Girl dolls, I am not trying to criticize you. In fact, only someone with such a high degree of insight and economic foresight could appreciate the business opportunity I have. All you need to do is send me a check for $1000 to get started. For that low investment, I will send you loads of information about how you can make money convincing other people to give you money to learn how to convince other people to give them money to learn how to convince even more people to give even more money to convince other people to...It really is a no-fail way to make lots of money. So get started today!

For those of you wondering how it is I know anything at all about American Girl Dolls, let me tell you about aardwolves. Aardwolves you say? Yes, aardwolves. They are actually real, despite the tone of the column up to this point. They are part of the hyena family, which means they are quite unattractive even though they have hair, something they never fail to bring up when they encounter a silly little bald aardvark. Ah, so many funny little critters out there.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Episode 56: People Come From Michigan, in Cars

The other day we teetered perilously on the edge of the question with our four-year-old daughter. Wait, I mean The Question. You know, the dreaded question about the subject we obviously understand, what with the 3-foot tall evidence standing there waiting for some sort of answer. I thought we had just fallen off the edge when she asked, “Why do all parents have to have parents?”
I responded, “Well, how else would we get here?”

“We have a car.”

Now, I should have just left it at that, having so easily dodged the dreaded Where-do-babies-come-from bullet, but the communicator in me took over and I had to clarify what I was saying because I felt a disconnect. It was a happy accident that this turned out to be a very effective tactic for avoiding actually having to talk about the real question in question.

“No, I mean where would people come from?”


Well, how could I argue with that? Lots of people do actually come from Michigan. Tim Allen, Gillian Anderson, Lucille Ball, Bob Bell (a.k.a. Bozo the Clown), Rupert (of Survivor fame), Sonny Bono, Alice Cooper, Francis Ford Coppola, George Custer, Jeff Daniels, Eminem, Bob Eubanks, Gerald Ford, Henry Ford, Aretha Franklin, Jimmy Hoffa, Magic Johnson, James Earl Jones, Casey Kasem, Kid Rock, Charles Lindbergh, Malcolm X, Tim Meadows, Michael, Moore, John Locke (not the philosopher, the guy who played John Locke in Lost, which ended very badly if you ask me, but I suggest you do not ask me because I will very likely rant for a very long time about how badly it ended after such a good run), Larry Page (one of the founders of Google), Rosa Parks, Smokey Robinson Jr, Diana Ross, Steven Seagal, and lots of other people come from Michigan. Wow, that got a little crazy, but it is actually pretty interesting to see all the famous people who came from Michigan. Who knew? A few people come from Alaska too, but you wouldn’t know any of them.

I don’t come from Michigan, so I am not sure where she came up with that, but I am going to stick with it when she revisits this topic at some other point in her life. I think we all need to stick together on this though, because I cannot have other people telling her something different. So, if anyone asks you where babies come from, just say Michigan. You won’t be lying. I just gave you a list of people who were, I assume, babies at one time that did in fact come from Michigan. Also, tell her she is not even allowed to think about going anywhere near Michigan until she is married…and 35. I am working on my “you are very likely to die a horrible death if you even know how to get to Michigan” look so I can use it on any guy she meets between now and then.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Deadlines and Numbats

This week I got a request to explain the term deadlines. You may think this term really needs no explanation. It seems pretty obvious if you just look at the word. Dead means not alive and lines are places you stand if you have too much time on your hands and you need to waste some. So, deadlines are wastes of time that will take your life or make you want to take someone else’s life.

There, now that we have cleared that up…what, you still don’t understand? Okay, let me try again. Deadlines are arbitrary numbers derived from complicated equations, illegal substances (or large amounts of legal substances), Magic 8 Balls, and dice. The resulting numbers usually refer to dates that have already passed or will pass long before anyone remembers what the dates were for.

Speaking of deadlines, someone this week told me I should check out numbats, since they differ from wombats by only two letters. Who new there were so many ‘mbat animals out there. Anyway, they come from Australia too. They look like a mish-mash of a squirrel, a kangaroo, a mouse, an anteater, and a zebra and their tongues can stretch out to half the length of their bodies.

In any case, they are slow movers, probably because their bodies cannot figure out what they are actually supposed to be, which brings me back to deadlines. I bet they don’t actually have any. Maybe we should take some lessons from these little marsupials; slow down to eat the termites every now and again. Sure it’s gross, but it must be relaxing, because you don’t see numbats running helter skelter.

I would like to leave you with an important bit of information you may need if you enjoy the rigors of passive activities and get paid for them.

"Passive activity income does not include the following: Income for an activity that is not a passive activity."
--IRS form 8583, Passive Activity Loss Limitation

I am not sure exactly what passive activity is, but I bet it has something to do with the exercise pills that trick your body into thinking you are exercising while you are sitting on the couch watching Lost and wondering when in the world you are ever going to get any answers about what in the world is going on, and how many cans of Wild Cherry Pepsi you can drink before you actually have to get up and do something about it (the unbearable pressure in your bladder that feels much worse when you stand up and try to hobble to the bathroom without wetting yourself along the way). Such is the life of the passive activist.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Episode 53: Time Management Skills

Programming wonks at UC Berkeley recently had to figure out how to deal with “deformable objects.” These are apparently related somehow to welterweight boxing on the USA television network, at least that’s what came up when I clicked the hyperlinked phrase in the hopes of getting some sort of definition.

That brings me to an important point about the windowless basement-dwelling mushy-brained kooks responsible for the brain scrambling new Internet advertising technique where random words are hyperlinked to equally random advertisements for predictably random products. For instance, you may wonder what the phrase “deformable objects” means. Well, what good luck that the article you are reading makes that phrase a hyperlink, which presumably takes you to a definition, explanation, or some sort of words or pictures in some way related to “deformable objects.” At least, that is what you would think before you clicked that hyperlink and landed on some advertisement to watch a couple guys beat each other’s brains in, or out, on some TV network desperate for viewers since the Internet made it pretty much irrelevant. Anyway, the important point is this: should we really be wasting food, water, clothing and such on windowless basement-dwelling mushy-brained kooks who devote their lives to injecting every moment of our living lives with random useless brain-dissolving messages?

In any case, they needed to figure out how to deal with objects that lack a predictable shape so they could get a robot to pick up and fold towels piled at random. To the joy of towel-folding people everywhere, the robot was successful! The only minor glitch in the revolutionary accomplishment is that it takes 25 minutes per towel. At this rate, the robot is only fast enough to replace toddler workers, but we really don’t want to give them any extra time because they just use that time to destroy things.

That brings me to an important point about time management. If you decide it is a good idea to participate in the Marathon des Sables, you lack proper time management skills. No one with proper time management spends 6 days on a 150-mile race across the Sahara Desert when they have other options, like sitting in front of a computer for 6 minutes reading about people with no time management skills who trek across 150 miles of Moroccan desert on foot while carrying all necessary supplies in backpacks and front packs and any other sort of packs they can strap to their appendages. What do they carry in these packs? Well, looking at the gear required for the two activities referenced above may help illustrate which is the better use of one’s time.

Gear for Running Desert Foot Race
  • Backpack or equivalent (best suited to each participant)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Torch with spare batteries
  • 10 safety pins
  • Compass with 1 degree; or 2 degree; precision
  • Lighter
  • Whistle
  • Knife with metal blade
  • Tropical Disinfectant
  • Anti-Venom pump (insect poison remover)
  • Signaling mirror
  • One aluminum survival sheet
Gear for Reading About Desert Foot Race
  • Comfortable chair
  • Computer
  • Snacks and beverages
As you can see…ANTI-VENOM PUMP! ARE YOU KIDDING? WHY WOULD YOU RUN A RACE IN WHICH YOU HAVE TO CARRY AN ANTI-VENOM PUMP!?...your time is much better used doing anything other than running a foot race in the desert, but good time management doesn’t get you any good bragging rights.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Exercise in a Pill

For those of you not privy to the latest research techniques, let me enlighten you. Researchers have very boring jobs. They spend all day in labs putting drops of this into vials of that, looking at very small things through very large microscopes, drinking lots of coffee, eating lots of candy, and doing other boring researchy-type stuff. To pass the time, they like to run completely illogical and unnecessary tests and mix things that really have no business being mixed. Lots of very important and unimportant things have been discovered and invented this way.

One such thing is exercise in a pill. Yes, they have engineered a pill that fools your body into thinking it has just run a marathon, or at least walked up a flight of stairs. It changes your muscles into slow-twitch fat-burning machines without the headache of actual physical activity. Well, that is what it does on mice anyway. On people, it may be just as likely to make you lose your hair, start growing hair in your ears, or turn your eyeballs inside out.

I am hoping eventually I will be able to take pills that make me feel like I am doing all sorts of exciting and productive things, without leaving the comfort of my easy chair. In any case, I will leave you with a great recipe I like to use on occasion.

1 body aging faster than the mind to which it is attached
1 month or more of sedentary living
1 great idea
30 to 40 minutes of intense strength training (I really recommend lots of squats and such for best results)

Mix however you would like. Wait approximately two days. (This may vary depending on the body you use. You will know it is ready when you feel muscle pain, joint pain, skin pain, ligament pain, fingernail pain, hair follicle pain, inner ear pain, nose hair pain, and several other major and minor pains, not the least of which are statements along the lines of, “maybe you should start slower next time.” This should effectively reduce the body’s mobility to that of a 634-year-old. If it doesn’t work, just repeat in another couple of months. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mushy-Brained Kooks

This week, I decided to write an advice column, so here is my advice for the week:

Settlers of Catan: you should play it.

Pursuit of Happyness: you might want to watch it.

Princess Bride: if you don’t like it, you are a communist and not right in the head.

Chipotle: you should eat it, or rather the food made there.

Drug ads in magazines: you should read them. They are a hoot.

I saw a list of possible side effects for an insomnia drug the other day. One of them was drowsiness. Is it just me, or does it seem a bit worrisome that we now have to warn people things might actually do what they were designed to do? Has it become so common for people to use things for things for which they (the things) were not designed and then sue the makers of said things for not telling them (the people) not to do such things (ridiculously irrational acts of complete and utter incompetence)?

Product labels are another source of great fun. My shampoo bottle this morning greeted me with “hey good-looking.” Ah, how nice it is be complimented by my shampoo. Without that, I might go through the entire day thinking I was horribly unattractive. Although I should think better marketing for a shampoo bottle might be something like “hey nappy bed head, you need a good shampooing, and I am just the shampoo you need.” If the shampoo already thinks I am good-looking, what motivation do I have to wash my hair, thereby risking my pre-existing good looks? In fact, I might see that bottle and decide I don’t even need to take a shower. Of course, all of this supposes I depend on shampoo bottles to determine my self worth, in which case I would be certifiably insane.

There are really only two logical conclusions to these observations:

1) Consumers are mushy-brained kooks.
2) Product labels are written by mushy-brained kooks.

I am leaning toward number 2.

Well, I’d love to stay and chat more about it, but I am off to try melting down my watch in the microwave. Timex never said I shouldn’t do that.

Episode 5 (Uninvention Update/Creamer Tops)

UPDATE – More support for my campaign for the univention of cars:
I am convinced designers and engineers only study so they can use their knowledge of building and arranging things to push people ever closer to the crumbling edge of sanity. It took me half an hour to figure out how to make my rather average-sized hand fit into the space required to gain admittance to the burned out headlight on my car. Now I am no expert, but it seems to me it might make sense to design a car in such a way as to allow an adult human being, typically the type of being one might find using a car, to change the headlights of said car without introducing his toddlers to a whole new category of language absent from Baby Einstein videos or giving his wife the distinct impression the car has begun jumping up and down on him in a violent attempt to stop him from ever attempting such foolishness again. – END OF UPDATE.

I am normally a harsh critic of most anything that has or has not been invented, discovered, or conceived, but I have come across something in which I can find no fault.

As I readied myself for the inevitable splatter of half and half that always results from trying to pull the little pull tab freshness seal contraption off a new carton of creamer for my morning coffee, I encountered a surprise. The seal was broken already. Only after cursing the store for selling an already-opened carton of creamy goodness, did I realize what had actually happened.

When I read the label, which I seldom do, in the knowledge such things are usually covered in half-truths and outright lies about the product, I saw the cap had been designed to open the seal as the cap was turned to remove it (the cap).

What an absolutely marvelous idea! My coffee tasted better, the sun shone brighter, my kids were happier, and the world lost its usual dimness, at least until I got in my car and remembered all those greedy little twits (whoever they are) flying their private jets to remote tropical islands to play golf, smoke Cuban cigars, and try to devise ways to convince us they need to raise the price of gas again and it is unrealistic to expect automakers to come up with a car that can get better than 3.2 miles per gallon by the year 3024.

Ah well, in those brief moments of bliss made possible by the geniuses at the creamery I realized there are people out there using that grey matter between their ears for useful things…like making morning coffee more enjoyable. The only downside is you have to wait for a new carton to experience the joy again. Now I just have to figure out how to explain to my wife why there are 47 open cartons of creamer in our fridge.

Episode 3 (Things that Should be Uninvented)

Cars – I am adding cars to my list of things that should be outlawed or uninvented (I may have already added it, but since I keep the list only in my head, I am never really sure what is on it).

I should probably start by explaining the list. It is a list of things that should be outlawed or uninvented. From what I can recall today, the current list includes phones and computers.

In any case, last night in the garage, we discovered a little puddle of what appeared to be coolant…both cars have now had extensive work done on the cooling systems and I am not sure what else is left to go wrong in there, but apparently there is something.

The real problem is my car expertise does not extend much past the programmable driver settings dealybobber. If cars can’t be outlawed, they should all be required to have that feature so you can return the seats, mirrors, and steering wheel to their proper settings after the dealership folks mess them all up just to drive the car into the shop. Those settings take days to get just right. Where was I? Ah yes, the result of the “real problem” is I have this unshakeable feeling I am getting snookered every time I take my car in, and I have no way of knowing. The mechanics tell what is wrong using words I have never heard before and I am too manly to ask what they mean, so I just nod and hand over the money...the money for vacation, the money for a motorcycle, the money for the kids’ education, the lunch money, the spare change…until the mechanics tire of making up words.

It’s the same thing at the doctor’s office, but the words sound much scarier.

Episode 1

This is the first episode (that’s right, episode) of this little experiment, so I think it would be appropriate to lay out a vision. After all, we must have a purpose, a goal, something measureable by which to track our success. (We won’t worry about failing because failure is for people who are unable to redefine success).

Well, they don’t give me enough time on this to come up with a good vision statement, so we are going to have to settle for an attainable, but challenging, goal.

Here it is: I will turn this thing in on time each week, if I can. There, I should be able to keep that in sight at all times.

Your goal, yes you need to have one too if this is going to be fair, is to read it each week. That’s not so hard is it?

Now we can all feel good about accomplishing something every week. Moreover, if you don’t read it, you may miss important and exciting information, like if you email me I will send you a free Bugatti Veyron. That is not actually true, but it could have been, so keep that in mind as you plan your weekly reading schedule.

Come back next week to hear about current events, child rearing, balloon-riding skydivers, ridiculous warning labels, potty-training mishaps, bad inventions, good music, Nim Chimpsky...

What? I only have a few words left? But you said I could say whatever I wanted in here. How can I give something useful to everyone if I don’t have the space I need? Right, well, you might have told me that earlier, before I wasted all that time with useless banter…
Anyway, we will discuss all sorts of timely and relevant topics. However, the most important thing we will do is m

[My apologies for having to cut this week’s column short, but we must stick to the rules about word count in this world of limited resources. – The Editor]