Ake's Pains debuted in the University of Akron Buchtelite in September of 1977. The school's reputation as an institute of higher learning has still not recovered. Ake's Pains returns after a brief 32 year hiatus. It's back, baby!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Royal Wedding Left Me Flat – A guy’s review

With all the buzz about the royal wedding I thought a review of the event by an average guy, for average guys, was needed.

Full Confession #1

I didn’t actually attend the event. I had hoped to score an invitation based on me being an author of two books. And in book one, I do defend Duchess Kate in her battle with the paparazzi. I imagined this might get me a seat next to Elton John.  “Hey Elton, big fan! Got all your albums!” But I gave up watching the mailbox for the invite a couple weeks ago. They must consider me a “commoner”, though most people  think of me as an “uncommoner”.  I guess I will never be royals. It don’t run in my blood. And I do crave a different type of buzz.

Of course, I was disappointed in not getting to attend the wedding. But not because I would miss the ceremony. No, my main interest was in the spectacular spread of free appetizers at this event. A royal wedding would be the pinnacle of free appetizers with delicacies prepared by some of the top chefs in Europe. I would probably not be able to pronounce any of the appetizer names, but there would be plenty and they would be delicious. The only bad thing is they would probably expect you to wash down these hors d’oeuvres with ridiculously old wine, which absolutely ruins the taste of the wienie-bacon rolls. Maybe I could have a gotten a Pepsi, but it is all a moot point now.

Full Confession #2

I didn’t watch the wedding on television. And it’s not because it was so early in the morning. (Why did they get married in the twilight hours anyway?). I would not have watched it even in prime time. If I did, I would have needed to surrender my man-card. Why?  Except for family, men care extremely little about other people’s weddings. Truth be told, we care very little about our own wedding. Getting through the ceremony being a necessary requirement to getting to the wedding night and the promise of some hot lovin’. Men will endure hardships such as yoga class, family reunions and furniture shopping if it leads to a steamy bedroom experience.

My Impressions

From watching the highlights of the wedding on television, there are a couple things which men do care about. The bride Meghan Markle is certified babelicious. But you would expect nothing less. When your standard pick-up line is “Hi there, I’m Prince (fill-in the blank)” and you follow it up with “Yes, I do have a bazillion dollars”, you may not get to choose any woman in the kingdom as in olden days, but you are going to attract the affection of most of the beautiful women in the entire free world.

Which is maybe why Prince Harry waited until age 33 to wed. He was either very selective or getting really tired.  And he selected a “commoner”! Of course, it’s more than just the Keebler Elves that find her “uncommonly good”.  She measures in at 37”-25”-34”, (the only stats from the event that men care about) which means she even looks like a Disney princess, except for that chunky waist.

However, the wedding dress was horrible, simply horrible. I saw long articles praising every piece and part of this “gorgeous” gown. Oh, the sleeves!  Oh the 16-foot veil! Women get into all the details of this dress like guys breakdown NFL defenses, and we all know which one is much more important.

This was a “Givenchy” designer dress, costing around $500,000 (take that commoners!) but it’s giv-en-chen me a major case of heartburn.  I don’t care who this guy is.  He can’t play safety in the NFL and he designed an awful, truly awful, dress for Meghan.

The reason this dress is so disgusting? – It flattened the brides chest. -- She’s bringing an ample 37-inches to the party and it’s being muffled. This is a crime, because you just bound up some of the royal jewels and held them hostage.
Correctly displaying the royal goblets

Now I’m not saying you needed to have a plunging neckline, as you might see at your cousin Nadine’s wedding. When she has ‘em propped up and shoved way out creating more jiggle than the jello buffet at Golden Corral.  That high “boat-neck” collar is fine and she’s so ample you don’t even need a push-up bra, however at age 36, she would need some support.  But to take a voluptuous 37” bust and convert it to a 32” flat-screen on a woman’s wedding date, when the world is watching should be a crime. It’s a travesty I say, a royal travesty.

Final Note

Megan is now the “the Duchess of Sussex”. Try saying that three times without smiling, Beavis. All in all, it looks like the Prince was very sus-sexful indeed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

This Old Woman Kicked My Grass

I’m distressed about my lawn – because my lawn is distressed. It’s in the most terrible shape at springtime that I can ever remember.  Of course, with my fading memory, it has probably been worse, I just can’t remember.

I don’t know why I am so concerned over the condition of my lawn.  It’s not as if I have nothing else to be worried about.  On the contrary, with a job, a new book, and just life in general, there is a sizeable list. And there are also many things to be happy about. I mean the Korean War might even be ending. And yet, every morning when I look out the window, I am filled with dread.

And it’s not my fault. I blame global warming and my incompetent lawn service.  Last August was hot and dry as usual, but there was little rain in September and the grass never revived.  And my lawn service is horrible.  The treatments consisted of some guy running wildly around my yard spraying some magic liquid all over it.  He looked disinterested and he finished the job much too quickly. It was so dissatisfying and unfulfilling for me.  I guess this is how a woman feels when, uh, well, you know.

The sad part is the lawn service has been terrible for years, I even wrote about this in my first book when I compared my lawn with the widow Cooper’s next door.  Last spring the fools did their first spray treatment the day before the last snow storm of the season. It didn’t take, putting my lawn at a disadvantage from the start. I don’t know why I didn’t fire them long ago.

Now part of the lawn problem is my fault. I put out an excessive amount sunflower seeds on the ground this winter to feed the many squirrels by my house. This patch of ground got smothered in shells and was predominately bare this spring. Even though the seeds did attract many wild turkeys to my yard, their fertilization attempts on this section of the yard proved to be futile. You may not be able to make turkey salad out of turkey sh!+, but at least they made an effort to help.

Still this obsession with having a good lawn is illogical. There is absolutely no reason for me to worry about it.  Am I going to be, like Bill Cosby, judged on my worst transgression?  Are people going to say: “Yes, he is a good author. But oh my gawd, have you seen the way he treats his lawn. He’s a monster.”

Should I really care what my neighbors think?  So I have the worst lawn on the block, and yes, some of my slacker neighbors don’t even pay for a lawn service. But there are only five houses on my street before my road ends.  So who am I trying to impress? Besides that, none of my neighbors have written one book, let alone two -- So there!

But the widow Cooper is laughing at my lawn.  Hers is vastly superior, the result of years of using an excellent lawn service. In addition, she has a grass professional, Jerry, mow her lawn.  His equipment does a much better job than my Cub Cadet.

And no matter what improvement I might make to my lawn; the widow Cooper would not be impressed due to an ugly occurrence which happened last September which I refer to as the “Oak Incident”. Of course, this starts off, as many things that I write about, with me intending to do something good and having the whole thing turn out bad.

There is a large “pin” oak tree in the widow Cooper’s front yard. Some of the branches pose a danger to my house if they would snap and others are now overshadowing one of my trees.  It was time to have those branches trimmed. Since the tree people were coming anyways, and there were dangerous branches overhanging the widow Cooper’s house, I proposed we have the entire tree trimmed at once. Because I was initiating this action, I offered to pay two-thirds (approximately $700) of the widow Cooper’s cost. It says right there in the Bible that you are supposed to help the widows and orphans and I was following that one to the letter.

We got an estimate, got an agreement from the widow Cooper’s son and made the appointment. My total involvement in this whole thing was only to write the check. A function I was well experienced in having raised two daughters.

The tree professionals arrived one morning. I talked to them briefly and they began to cut. I was a bit annoyed because I work from home and had an important report to finish before deadline. The power saws would be a distraction. But I am a professional at what I do, so I was prepared to labor through it.

About a half-hour later, there was a knock on the door.  The tree guy said there was a problem because the widow Cooper didn’t like the way they were trimming her oak. “You need to come out here and talk with her”, he said.   

I walked over to the property line. The widow Cooper was straddling her doorway and screeching up a storm about how the tree people were abusing her beloved pin oak. So apparently, the Widow Cooper knows more about tree trimming than the tree professionals, using professional equipment and professional techniques that were professionally servicing this tree.  Did I mention that these are professionals?

What happened next was undeniably my worst moment of 2017. In my defense, I was not supposed to be involved in the details of this project at all. And instead of working on my important report, I am wasting valuable time dealing with a crazy screech owl, shrieking at me despite my generosity.

There’s probably something in the Bible against yelling at widows and screaming for them to go inside and shut up.  I don’t have time to look it up, I’ll just accept it by faith.  While my behavior was atrocious, it did provide the tree crew, and the rest of the neighborhood with some splendid entertainment. The shouting match resolved nothing. So the tree guys continued cutting only the branches on my side of the property.

But that wasn’t acceptable to the widow Cooper, she was fizzed to the max and called the police. The police could do nothing because the tree people weren’t violating the law, they are professionals, remember.  But according to the tree guy, the widow Cooper referred to me as that “son of a b!+ch” over there, when screeching to the policeman.

“Son of a b!+ch”? 

Widda Cooper, are you kidding me?

“Son of a b!+ch”?

Is that the best ya got?  C’mon you’re bringing it weak. Even some of my good friends call me that on occasion. Uh, well maybe that doesn’t reflect so well on me. That’s not good for my argument here. So maybe just forget that I said that. Okay?

But “son of a b!+ch”?  No, seriously Widda. You gotta up your insult game if you want to play on my court.

The tree people finished what they could, but they couldn’t trim the highest, most dangerous branches without getting access to the Widow Cooper’s property. They suggested having my attorney draft a letter holding her responsible for any future damage to my house resulting from her tree. I declined doing that fearing the letter could cause her to suffer fatal heart attack. They would probably read the letter at her funeral and everyone there would mumble, “Wow, her neighbor really was a son of a b!+ch.”

The good news is I really like my new lawn service.  The guy rides around on a little scooter dropping pellets all over the lawn.  It looks like he is doing more work and it takes longer, so I am more satisfied with his effort.

I even planted some grass seed in the part of the lawn I had harmed, and to my delight it actually grew. I bought the seed, I tilled the soil, I planted the seeds, I watered it, and now I have grass!  Just call me “Farmer Don”.  I just hope I didn’t get too bad of a farmer tan doing all that work.  All right, I expect
I grew this. Me!
that maybe, just maybe, the turkey sh!+ may have helped it along. Growing this grass was the highlight of my week.  I valued this accomplishment much more than anything I achieved at work or with my second book during that time. I was as proud as a second-grader who won the science fair.

And due to the improved lawn treatment, the spring rains, and perhaps the abundant turkey manure, my lawn is looking much better!  I am no longer distressed about it. Which frees me up to worry about the next irrational thing in my life.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

I Have Checked Out Of The Memory Motel

At one time my memory was exceptional. I could even remember details of some conversations I had for years. This ability was very beneficial in both my personal and business relationships.

But I still remember (ironic for the topic of this post) the day everything changed.  I was around 44 years-old and talking to a coworker about a possible change to one of our products. He made a suggestion and I said that wouldn’t work based on a conversation I had with one of our engineers a few weeks ago.  He asked me who had said that.

Who?  Who indeed. That conversation was very recent and there were only a few engineers working on the project, yet I could not remember who I had talked to. Drew a blank.  A big blank.  And so it began …..

And once your memory starts to fade, it keeps fading at a slow, steady, almost imperceptible pace. Until you forget something massively important that embarrasses you or costs you money, or both.  All your life you thought it was funny when “old” people couldn’t remember things. You are no longer laughing, are you?

Memory loss can be more consequential for middle-age people than it is for the elderly. When you are really old, you have fewer important details to remember and people helping you to do so. But middle-agers have important responsibilities both at home, and especially at work, where an active, vibrant memory is necessary. Except you don’t have a lively memory any more. You used to have it, but now it’s getting worn out and sporadic. And unlike your phone, you can’t upgrade your brain to the newest, freshest, model, Brain 2.0 for example.

Your mind is similar to a computer and you are losing ROM and RAM on a constant basis. For guys, it’s the second type of RAM you are losing. Your gigabytes are turning into megabytes and will soon be kilobytes. After that you will be wearing a bib and someone will be feeding you bites. And this whole aging process just bites. Bites big time.

Your long-term memory is fading and your short-term memory is sporadic and highly unreliable. It is interesting that the memories of years past are still buried deep inside your brain. But you can’t access them until an old friend says something to jar or jog your memory.

I will now attempt to describe how this short-term memory loss makes an impact on everyday life. This will a public service to my younger readers, a preview of what is coming down the road. (Spoiler Alert! It’s a horror film)

The Short List

When you were younger, your short-term memory functioned like a multi-cell spreadsheet.  You could fill in the many cells with all the things you needed to remember.  Over time the number of your cells, in this case brain cells, has decreased. Now your spreadsheet contains one cell.  You can only remember one item at a time.  How does this play out in real life? Two examples:

-         I needed to walk out to the street and get the newspaper, a distance of about 40 steps.  Half way there I realize that I needed to take a letter, located by the door, to the mailbox, located by the newspaper box. I walk back into the house, get the letter, and put it in mailbox. When I get back in the house, I realize I forgot to get the newspaper, which I then retrieve.  So, it ended up taking me two and a half trips to accomplish something that should only take one.

-         And this one-cell syndrome is responsible for the great game “Why the Heck Did I Come Into This Room?” You realize you need to clip a coupon from the magazine in the front room.  You enter “Coupon” in your one brain-cell spreadsheet.  Then replace that with “Front Room”. But when you get to the front room you are clueless as to why you are even there. You just stand there staring into space as if you are on some mind-altering drug. Your mind has been altered all right, but by age, not drugs.  Later that day, you see the magazine and realize that is why you entered the room hours earlier. But you still have to leaf through the magazine to remember why you needed it in the first place.

The Name Game

-         It is almost impossible to remember new people’s names when introduced. Your brain has trouble storing the information because you only have that one-cell available.  And if you are introduced to three people at one time, you’re so screwed because your brain gets totally overwhelmed.

-         You run into someone at the mall you haven’t seen for years but have no idea who they are.  You strike up a conversation and hope they have forgotten your name also. I feel so guilty when the conversation starts out “Don! It’s so great to see you!”  Uh, it’s great to see you too, Dude!

-         Even when you remember a name, it’s hard to retain it.  Last year, I ran into a guy I had not seen in 25 years. I remembered his name, but he did not remember mine.  He told me his number was in the book and I should call him sometime for lunch.  By the time I got home, I had totally forgotten his name and it took me four days of trying before I was able to remember it – and yes, I then wrote it down.

Important Dates

-         Used to be you would receive an important bill and enter the date and where you put in into your multi-celled spreadsheet.  Before it was due you always found the bill and paid it. Those days are long gone.  Now I have a special container for all my bills – except I forget to check it regularly.  Last year I was almost late paying an important tax invoice because I hadn’t checked the container for three weeks, and of course I had forgotten all about the bill!

-         Now the calendar function on the computer is a godsend for people my age, provided you remember to actually enter the events into it.  And sometimes it can nearly give you a heart attack when a reminder appears on the screen for a long-forgotten event that is starting in ten minutes!  I have even heard of instances where some guys (but not me) have forgotten their wife’s birthday (definitely not talking about me) but are reminded by a Facebook birthday notification. Is that funny or what? But this never, ever, happened to me.  It was other guys I heard that one from. And it is funny, so funny. Ha Ha!

Locating Items

A few weeks ago, I’m frantically searching for my phone as my wife and I are getting ready to leave for an event. 

Wife: What are you looking for?

Me: My phone. It was here just a moment ago, but now it’s gone!

Wife: Uh, look in your hand.

Now she did miss a great opportunity. She could have dialed my number and then recorded how high I jumped.

-         Then there is a case of “Don’s Magical Pants”.  Last year, two new pairs of jeans magically appeared in my closet.  I have no idea how they got there.  I don’t remember ordering them, receiving them in the mail, trying them on, putting them in the wash, or hanging them in the back of the closet.  And they are great jeans because they are my first jeans ever that contain lycra, which means they really hug my butt.  I would say shape my butt, however, at my age my butt only comes in one shape, LARGE.

-         You have those items which you store in a “special place”. You could remember where you put stuff when you were younger, but now this is similar to a squirrel burying nuts. There is an item I bought three years ago that I still cannot locate!

Memory Erasers

If you are away from the office for any period of time, this serves as a memory eraser causing you to be totally unaware of what you were working on when you return.  Two examples:

-         Unless you write a “to do” list Friday afternoon, you can return to work Monday morning thinking you have a light work day when in fact you have a ton of work to get finished. And always, always!, check your computer calendar first thing Monday morning, or you can totally forget about the important meeting that day.  Not that I have ever, ever, done that. I heard about this one from other people. Not me, others.

-         One time I worked feverishly on this important report, sending it off just hours before leaving on an extremely relaxing beach vacation. Soon after I returned, we were reviewing my report in a big meeting when my boss says:

“Don, the analysis on page 7 is brilliant. Please explain to everybody how you got to that conclusion.”

I hurriedly find page 7 and start reading.  I think to myself:  Wow, this analysis is good! I wonder who did it?  Oh no, …. So, I quickly go  into my memory bank to find information about the report. But the mental folder has been wiped clean except for one file. I quickly open it, but all I hear in my head is:

Aruba, Jamaica, oh I want to take you to
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go ...*

Me: I used the Kokomo method, sir.

Boss: The Kokomo method?

Me: Yes, it’s a very granular analysis. You run the numbers fast and then you take it slow. That’s how you really know, drill down with Kokomo.

Just Write Some Notes!

When you start to forget things, people suggest writing notes. This still works well when you can still remember most stuff and the notes are few.  But as the memory fade continues, you need to write more notes and this system has some drawbacks. Here is a photo of my personal desk. I assure you that although I did spread out some of the note piles, I did not add one
piece of paper for the pic. Unfortunately, I think the picture is a valid representation of what the inside my brain looks like.

You Are Not Intelligent - Just Old

There was a study done last year that concluded forgetfulness is a sign of intelligence.  That might be true when you are younger, but if you are late middle-age, forgetfulness is a sign you are old. Understand? You are not intelligent, you are just old. So quit posting this meme on Facebook.

I had so many great jokes I wanted to include in this post.  Some of my greatest writing ever.  But unfortunately, I forgot all those witty quips.  It’s a good thing too, because they were so funny they would have literally made your pee your pants. But most importantly, the last thing I want to say is, uh yeah, okay ……. Well, let's just end it here.

* Lyrics by the Beach Boys

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Where Are My Fancy-Smancy Socks?

Stephen Hawking the so-called brilliant astrophysicist passed away recently.  I say “so-called” because I believe the guy was vastly overrated. He was a theoretical physicist, which meant he used all his extraordinary brain power coming up with these complex theories on the universe that no one could understand. 

I mean he spent a lot of time just staring into black holes. So he was similar to, no better than a, well a –

(Okay, just insert your best offensive joke right here.  Just make sure it does not include the word “gynecologist”.)

The point is, he spent his time on very impractical things. Theories on black holes and the origins of the universe don’t improve my life in any tangible way. I, however, choose to focus my brain power on much more practical matters, such as:

Now this is also one of the great mysteries of the universe, but it occurs very
Staring into a black hole!
frequently under our own roofs. I had the occasion to ponder this question recently when my wife cleaned out her “sock refuge” basket and presented me with 14 orphaned socks.

It saddened me to look through the pile.  In included some great socks, a few I remembered from long ago and had only worn a couple times. How did these poor socks get orphaned and where, oh where, are their mates?

Now you may think this lost sock problem is insignificant, but you would be wrong, so wrong!  A study in England found that we lose 1.3 socks a month or 15 in a year. Which calculates out to 1,264 socks in our lifetime or $2,500. That doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but when you come to the end of your life and your funds are running out, that could be the difference between eating dog food versus a ham sammich. All because you couldn’t keep track of your socks!

The pile of orphans
I was relieved to see those statistics because I estimate I lost my 14 socks over about a two-year period, which puts my separation rate much below average. Still, I felt an obligation to match those socks up with their lost partners. This caused me to do something extremely uncomfortable for a man. I reorganized my sock drawer. Yes, you read that correct. I actually spent time going through my hosiery. Now I know this is not a manly thing to do, and it does pain me to admit it publicly. But I will argue that I should be able to retain my “Man Card” on the basis that the action was necessary to complete this very important project.

I found seven orphans in my sock drawer and I was able to match up all seven with the orphans from the basket.  Hallelujah!  14 lost socks had been redeemed.  I started singing:

Reunited, and it feels so good
Reunited 'cause we understood
There's one perfect fit
And, sugar, this one is it
We both are so excited 'cause we're reunited, hey, hey

Now I do admit to owning too many pairs of those patterned, fancy-smancy socks. This is because my friend Jeff told me about Roger, who was the first man at his company to begin wearing fancy-smancy socks.  All the guys snickered behind Roger’s back at his gaudy hosiery, but even though Roger was an arrogant, disgusting, sunavabeech, he quickly rose through the ranks to become CEO.  In basketball it “must have been the shoes” but in the corporate world, it’s all about the socks, fancy-smancy socks.

I have worn fancy-smancy socks ever since. This discount store I shop at sells $3 socks for only $1. Only $1!  So I buy three pair.  Except that I don’t really need any, therefore I end up spending $3 I don’t need to, in order to save $6.  That’s shopper’s math right there.

My fanciest-smanciest pair of socks is shown here. Now I did not buy these. They were
given to me to wear at my daughter’s wedding. I know posting this pic also threatens my “Man Card”, but the photo was taken on Easter when the church has ordained people to wear bonnets, pastels and all other gay apparel.

But where do the lost socks go? That study in England attempted to answer this, but its findings were lame. I decided to make like Stephen Hawking and peer into the black hole inside my dryer, but it was just too darn dark to see anything. I guess I’m just not as smart as Hawking. He must have had great night vision.

Now in the Church of Wayward Socks, the devil is static cling. I’m thinking the socks just get stuck to other clothing.  But if this was so, you would see people at the store all the time with socks stuck to their clothes.  One time my friend Lynn went to the store with a pair of panties stuck on her back. She claims it was an accident, I believe it was an advertisement.

I have two ideas to help mankind deal with this scourge. The first is to create a website, Sock-Match.com, where single socks create a profile to find their perfect match. But of course, there would still be some disappointments:

Marcy says: I’m a purple argyle. I’m never going to find my match, my sole-mate.

Yolanda says: He lied in his profile!  He claimed he was lavender, but he was aqua!  Aqua! We clashed right from the start, boo hoo!

But my best idea to determine where these socks go is to use modern tracking technology. All they have to do is put tracking sensors into every sock and then record where the lost socks end up. If they ever conduct a study like this, I will be first in line to sign up. And I will be sure to wear some fancy-smancy socks to the interview to make sure I am chosen!

*Lyrics by Peaches & Herb   

Monday, March 26, 2018

Turkeys Gone Wild – In My Backyard!

2018 has been a difficult year for me.  I had to suffer through a nasty case of influenza.  I had to grieve for a beloved pet. And now I have a severe wild turkey problem.  No, I’m not an alcoholic – the other issues did not drive me to drink.  Yes, I mean a conflict with actual wild turkeys.

As you can see from this photo, a wild turkey is on my deck, peering into my

house, and he is not happy. This would not be unusual if I lived in the country, but I live in the preppie suburbs. However, there are wooded areas nearby, including next to the back of my property, so some of my neighbors are not preppies, but varmints.   

But why is this turkey on my deck and what is he upset about?  Well, of course I will explain, but let me state up front that I am totally innocent of any wrong doing because ….

I Blame The Squirrels

I have fed the squirrels during the winter for many years.  Some of my friends think I’m nuts (hey, hey) for doing this. But my father’s love for animals, spawned by growing up in the woods of Pennsylvania, was at least partially passed down to his son.  We have five bird feeders that the squirrels can’t access, the main bird feeder being protected by a baffle. We also have two squirrel feeding stations, a bowl on the deck and a converted plastic bird bath. I provide the two stations so the squirrels won’t fight so much over the food.

However, this year there are a bumper crop of young squirrels.  There must have been an excessive amount of unbridled squirrel sex taking place in that woods.  Call it fifty shades of gray squirrels.  Often there are several hungry squirrels arriving at the same time.  So, in addition to the feeders I started scattering a significant amount of sunflower seeds on the ground.

Now I know it is expensive to buy all this seed, but I work at home so watching the squirrels and birds serves as entertainment and a stress reducer.  And by
We are the squirrels - We are the people
providing more food, I greatly reduced the number of squirrel fights.  One time, there were eleven squirrels by the feeders, all having breakfast in peace. And it was a diverse group of gray, brown and black squirrels. If squirrels awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, I would be sure to win it. 

The Turkeys Arrive

A few years ago, I thought it was really neat when I spotted a couple of wild turkeys in my yard. The next year there were a few more, and last year there was a large rafter roaming the neighborhood.  Yes, a rafter.  That is the Associated Press’ approved term for a group of turkeys. 

(I know you may disagree with this term.  There are many names used for a group of turkeys, depending on where you live.  Somehow the U.S. Bureau of Standards never established an official turkey group name, so now people actually spend time arguing about this on the Internet. But if you don’t like the term rafter, please don’t contact me.  Call the Associated Press at 1-877-836-9477 and be sure to tell them you are calling to argue about turkey names. I’m sure they will tell you where to go.)

I was even amused last year when a few of the turkeys stopped by to munch on some seeds by the bird feeder.  However, this year the entire rafter of 13
turkeys or so, was frequently devouring all the seeds I had
Lunch Time!
put out for the 
squirrels. They even fly up on the deck rail and clean out the seeds in the bowl.

This is an outrage! How dare the turkeys eat the squirrel food! This is totally unacceptable! And filling five bird feeders and feeding a bunch of hungry squirrels is already very expensive. I had reach my limit, so I started aggressively chasing the turkeys away from the feeder and out of my yard.

Since I was battling against wild turkeys, I began to study their behavior.  I tried to figure them out. Who was going to prevail in this conflict? Turkeys are supposed to be very intelligent animals, but surely, I am much smarter, right?

I noticed that the more I chased the turkeys away, the more they seemed to want my food. Of course, this torqued me off.  I attributed this to the “Garden of Eden” effect.  I was keeper of the forbidden fruit and that just made the turkeys want it more. I naturally assumed that the turkeys were evil, because like humans they apparently had a sinful nature.  When I chased the turkeys away from the feeder, they would scamper to the back of my property and then stop and stare at me.  They weren’t really afraid of me, and often they would soon return to devour more seeds.

In response, one Saturday I began chasing the turkeys all the way to the back of my property and into the woods. I recorded a video of it with me yelling “Go turkeys!  Get away turkeys!”  It was a hit on Facebook, but incredibly did not go viral.  The video clearly proved I was smarter and superior to those stupid birds.

However, the next morning I was startled because my back yard was literally full of turkeys. The regular rafter was there, but there were two additional rafters. I guess you could say there were turkeys to the rafters.  There were freakin’ turkeys everywhere!  If Alfred Hitchcock had made a Thanksgiving horror movie, I’m sure this is what it would look like. I counted 36 turkeys, but may have missed a couple. Now I have no proof of this since I didn’t get a picture.  My family wonders if I was seeing too many wild turkeys or drinking too much Wild Turkey. (You be the judge). This also means there had been a lot of wild turkey sex going on in the brush. This is a case of “Turkeys Gone Wild”.  I’m telling you, those woods are wanton.

I reasoned that these, wild, evil turkeys had gotten peeved at me for chasing them into the woods the day before and had called in the other neighborhood turkeys as a show of force.  Turkey shock-and-awe, as it were.  Well, that didn’t work, cause I’m too tough for that. I open the deck door and ran all 36 turkeys away – and then maybe, just maybe, I flexed because it felt so good.

Then It Got Turkey-Real

Later that afternoon, my wife was leisurely reading the Sunday paper when she heard a thump on the deck door.  She thought a bird had flown into it as they often do.  But then she heard several more thumps in succession and assumed someone was knocking on the door. And “somebody” was!  It was literally two “Peeping Toms”, standing at the door, intently staring in at our kitchen.  My wife shooed them away and was upset at the turkeys, and of course at me for “causing” this problem. Let’s just say she was equally upset with all turkeys involved with this situation. (The photo at the beginning of the post is from a subsequent “knocking” incident) But I have to admit, those turkeys are very smart!

But then I figured out this whole turkey situation. I got inside the turkeys’ heads and started thinking like a turkey – I know, not that difficult for me. 

I had started putting out much less seed for the squirrels since the turkeys were eating so much of it. That day, the turkeys had eaten all the available food but were still hungry.  So the two alpha-turkeys decided to knock on the door to let me know the rafter wanted more food. (Hellooooo, can we get some service here!  What type of a diner are you running?)

This changed my whole perception of the turkeys.  They believed I was a good guy because I was feeding them. (Why else was I putting out this food?).  When I shooed them off without hurting them, they thought it was a game (First this guy puts out the food – then he pretends he doesn’t want us to eat it and chases us around! What a gobble!)  And the massive number of turkeys in my yard that morning was not a show of force, but of affection. (Guys, you got to see this this. There’s this goofy human who puts out food for us and then play games with us!) The turkeys like me, they really like me!

The turkeys are not evil. They are good!  Good, really good, turkeys. They like that I am feeding them and enjoy playing games with me!  Now my instincts, passed down from the woods of Pennsylvania, would be to bond with the turkeys and nurture a relationship with them.  However, I don’t live in the woods. I live in the preppie suburbs. So, I will not bond with the turkeys. I will also stay married. Fortunately, spring is here so the animal feeding will end soon and the turkey problem will cease.

And the turkeys were not the only backyard problem this winter. I also had to take drastic measures to prevent deer from emptying my main bird feeder every night. They eat directly from the feeder by dragging their tongues across
The Shroud of Ake
the feeder troughs. I have been able to prevent this by employing “The Shroud of Ake” (trash bag attached with a rubber band) on the feeder every evening.  I have hopes this shroud will become as popular as the one from Turin.

And I’m not sure I should even call this a “bird” feeder anymore since over the years the animals eating its seeds on the ground have included: rabbits, groundhogs, skunks, possums, foxes, raccoons, ducks, geese and feral cats.  And oh, yeah – turkeys. Lots of turkeys. Too many turkeys.  

Get my new book here: http://www.donake.net/

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Man-Flu Controversy Erupts

(My new book Will There Be Free Appetizers? is now available!)

Back in January I blogged about my experience with the nasty influenza strain that sickened many people across the country this season.  My intense symptoms began on a Sunday, unfortunately I was contagious on Saturday and infected my wife, who fell ill on Monday. 

Therefore, we had two very sick people in one household, my wife downstairs and me upstairs, trying to get through this awful malady.   I began posting “Reports from the Ake Infirmary” on Facebook as an amusing way to update friends and family on our conditions.  Through friends’ responses to these posts I learned just how nasty this flu was, with some people being hospitalized and others stuck at home for three or four weeks.  Most people who got this nasty flu strain were down for at least five days.

By Wednesday, I was worried about my wife. She would need a doctor’s note if she missed one more day of work and neither of us was in any shape to drive.  But then something wonderful happened! We caught a break. Thursday morning my wife felt much better and went back to work.  She was ill for only three days, an exceptional recovery for this virus.

I immediately posted on Facebook that even though I was still very ill, my wife was all better and had returned to work. I thought this was very positive, uplifting news. Just great news. Really, really, positive, great news.  But of course, I was wrong.  Because sometimes when men are communicating with women, they think they are saying something good, but it turns out they are really saying something bad.  My post got a lot of women hot, but not in a good way.  I had somehow touched a sensitive area.  No guys, not that area! A bad area, a very bad area, indeed.

So because I was still be sick, my Facebook feed immediately started to blow up with comments from women such as these:

“That’s because you are male. Sorry, did I just write that out loud?”

“We all thought it. You just said it!”

“What Valerie said (referring to first comment) … sorry Ake-man but it’s the truth! Lol”

“Hmm, imagine that. The female is bouncing back – the male is still not feeling good (wink emoji)”

“We have to. Our men milk a splinter, so a cold knocks them out for six”

“ “Milk a splinter” is the best line I’ve heard in ages!”

Usually when I say something that I feel is positive but is somehow misconstrued by a female, I hack off only my wife. But this comment generated estrogen-fueled rage throughout the country.  I knew somehow I had hit a nerve, a strong nerve, that I had no clue even existed.  Apparently, this is a big deal to women because they were ravaging me despite the following:

1.   These women have an overall positive opinion of me.  I mean they are still my Facebook friends regardless of some of the outrageous things I post. They like me.  And some are close friends, including one from back in high school where we may or may not have engaged in .. ah, well, let’s not go there.

2.   I am happen to be extremely ill at the time of this mock-fest.  The women showed no restraint in “kicking a guy (big emphasis on guy) while he was down”.

At first, I was offended by this but then realized that most women must be super-annoyed at this occurrence. But as a male, this issue breaks down this way:

Women are upset that after suffering from a cold or flu virus they regain their health, and feel much better, faster than men do.

The female response to this statement – Heck, yeah! Whiny man-child!

The male response: What????????????????

This is of course a prime example of “Female Logic”.  Female Logic is a highly complex way of thinking using the mysterious component known as estrogen.  While this logic is considered obviously correct by its formulators, it is totally baffling to the entire male population. Conversely, testosterone-driven “Man Logic” is sometimes not comprehensible to anyone, and is responsible for all the wars ever fought throughout history.

However, there is scientific evidence indicating cold and flu viruses have a more profound impact on men than women, allowing women to suffer less and recover faster.  And I wholeheartedly agree with all scientific studies which confirm my existing beliefs or support my views.  All research which contradicts me is flawed, biased and in a word “wacko”.

Several studies have found that men have more symptoms and higher fevers when confronted with viruses.  And I believe, even though I am not a doctor, I have found the true reason.  A doctor from the University of Kansas said “The female hormone estrogen slows down how fast a virus multiplies”.  Well of course it does!

The virus be like, “Hey, you want to multiply?” 

The female body be like, “Not right now. I have a headache and I’m not in the mood. Go away!”

Where the male body be like, “Multiply!!!!! Let’s get it on!”

And there are probably good, biological and evolutionary reasons for this, which I won’t go into because I would be labeled as a sexist, misogynist, pig-monster. As well as names I would have to look up and I don’t have time for that.

So Ladies, you must admit that if you are all independently observing this phenomenon, and scientific studies back this up, then men do actually get sicker, and so we are all good right?  I sense, no we are not, for one important reason.

Women claim that men excessively whine and complain when they are ill (milk a splinter).  Of course, I have no idea what they are talking about.  I myself suffer in silence and fight off my maladies stoically and machismo-fally like a real man.  

Okay, okay. I do realize that my wife did join into the Facebook banter detailed above with this comment:

“That’s what happens when you give it to your wife (uh, she means the flu). Now I have to deal with his complaining”.

I really don’t know what she is talking about, and may I point out that many people lie on Facebook.  For the record, I was sick for nine days, six days longer than my wife.  And I wasn’t milking no splinters. I may have complained once or twice but only because I was delirious. Yeah, delirious – that’s the

So guys, I would highly recommend that we stop whining and moaning so much when we are ill.  We are not getting any sympathy from our women by complaining.  We are merely torqueing them off.  Which means when we are feeling better and able to resume certain conjugal activities, your urges may be blunted by estrogen-generated resistance.

However, I must remind you ladies it is unproductive to get overly perturbed that you have a biological advantage which allows you to better deal with viruses.  If you disagree, may I point out that it is probably in the same category of biological advantage that enables women to outlive men by a significant number of years (27 in my mother’s case).  And don’t worry, a man, no matter how much of a whiner, has never been able to complain that his wife has outlived him.