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, July 1, 2018

I’m So Mad I Could Dance

The summer beach season is upon us. However, there is an evil toxin lurking which threatens to ruin the experience of thousands of beach lovers from coast to coast.  No, this is not water pollution. Nor is this threat from air pollution. It is not even due to sight pollution caused by poor swimwear choices. Okay, that is bad, but the subject of this rant.

No, the tranquility of our beaches is being destroyed by people playing crappy music from their portable stereos at deafening levels. This practice perturbs me. It perturbs me so very, very much. And I do not visit the beach to get perturbed. I am there to relax, and thus be de-perturbed. If I wanted to be perturbed, I would not have left and gone on vacation. I would have stayed at work and gotten perturbed there. Because I do often get perturbed at work. So much so, that frequently I perturb my coworkers. My coworkers greatly enjoy it when I go on vacation, because then no one at work is perturbed and when I return, I am much less perturbed than when I left. Well, at least for a day or so. But the crappy music thing throws my whole universe out of order. The problem being that instead of getting perturbed at work, I am now perturbed at the beach, because I am being shaken by a boombox blaring out noise that I perceive was conceived in the depths of hades.

Lest you believe I am too persnickety, I will remind you that Rule #13 from Nichole Mischke’s Rules For My Son (one of those Facebook posting sensations) is: “If you need music on the beach, you’re missing the point.” And thus, many people this summer are indeed going to be missing that point. Missing it badly. Missing it entirely. In fact, they don’t even know a point exists that they are missing. They just crank up their crappy music even louder and this point is totally covered in cacophony. And they obviously have never heard of ear buds, which allow thousands of people to each listen to their own version of crappy music at the same time without perturbing me at all.

People who do this are a special type of stupid, combining an utter lack of musical taste with a caddy rudeness. These are the same type of morons who blast their car stereos at double the decibel rate of enjoyment. If it’s that loud outside the car, what do you think it sounds like from the inside? It’s not just dumb and dumber behind the wheel. It’s deaf and deafer. I image hearing-aid salespeople smile when one of these bass mongers drives by. You do not smile however, when rousted from sleep at 2 a.m. when your windows shake from the earthquake on wheels driving by your house. These jackasses may believe they are impressing people by the power of their car stereos, but instead they are displaying their lack of any other desirable trait and exposing their utter stupidity. There should be a law against being this dense and if it were legal to shoot people engaged in acts of such stupidity, a lot more people would own guns.

I don’t expect the beach to be silent. I don’t even mind when people play decent music at decent volumes, although I refer you back to Rule #13.  But the objectionable music I am referring to is magnificently crappy. It is something you might play to scare off coyotes. It certainly frightens little children. And apparently, crappy music must be played at terrific decibel levels because it always is.  Maybe they think if you play crappy music loudly enough, then at some point it will actually sound like good music. And yes, at certain high decibels, all music sounds the same – just a blaring mess. This is similar to the stupid guy at work whose ideas are ridiculous  but thinks he can win the argument by talking the loudest. (Okay, I’m going to repeat my exact point for the third time, but this time I’m going to shout it).

Now we all like some crappy songs. Of course, we don’t realize it because we really like the song and assume everyone else does. I’m a child of the 70’s, so I listened to and still enjoy a lot of crappy music. Back then, we thought that if we played it loud, danced to it wearing polyester bellbottoms, and hung a disco ball from the ceiling, that the music would be of high quality. But in reality, most of it was, and still is crappy. Personally, I love the song “Play That Funky Music White Boy”. However, it is a blatantly racist song, implying that Caucasians lack the ability to be funky. It offends me every time I hear it, but somehow, I am able to get over this and go on with life without complaining, tweeting or seeking a safe space.

But this song is crappy. If I blasted this tune out at the beach I would disturb people. But somehow, some way, through some special power, I realize that my pleasure would annoy others, thus I refrain. But again, the people booming this musical dung at the beach are utterly clueless.  They believe everyone else is enjoying their music just as much as they are because no one ever complains. Of course, I’m not going to complain.  Because they are not going to understand why I am upset. If they understood this, they wouldn’t be scaring off the seagulls with their stereo.

What I would like to do when I hear that crappy music on the beach, is to run back to the hotel gift shop, purchase a European man-thong, and start dancing right in front of their boom box. I would be confronting bad music with bad dancing. I wouldn’t be busting a move as much as I would be busting all codes of decency. And it would be legal, well within my freedom – oh boy I feel free in this thong! – of expression – whoa express this – rights. I’m sure if I started 
Freedom of expression!
dancing, the crappy music would cease in under 60 seconds and they would not dare to play it again that day.

Of course, I don’t do this because I have a wife. Also, someone would probably post a video of my dance, which would go viral. It would be known as the “Overweight, middle-age guy in a thong, dancing to crappy music video”. I don’t need that much exposure, or overexposure. I don’t want to go to the convenience store and hear “Is that all for today, thong boy?” And Mildred, the store clerk, already has the hots for me. No need to further enflame those passions.

So I will hope the beach music will not be that crappy this summer. And if it is, perhaps it will not be that loud. I just do not want to be perturbed. Maybe this year I will bring my own ear buds, because you may not know this, but you can actually play music through your I-phone. Yes! I just discovered this the other day by accident. But for some reason the app refuses to load “Play That Funky Music White Boy” and I have no idea why.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Korean Peace May Happen Through Chicken Piece

As the U.S. begins to negotiate with North Korea about giving up their nukes, the big question is why Kim Jong Un is so eager to bargain now. Many people believe it is due to our policy of “maximum pressure” and show of military strength, but I don’t believe that. I think something wonderfully more basis is at work here. I’ll call it the “Foodie Theory”.

Just a few months ago, a delegation of North Koreans traveled to South Korea to watch the Olympics. North Koreans don’t travel abroad very often and this was the first time anyone in the group had been to South Korea.  This was a big deal, thus all those photos of Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Sol-song, watching the games.

Reportedly, there are several fast-food restaurants, including a KFC, located near the main Olympic arena. And it can be speculated that the North Koreans dined from these places several times while at the Olympics.  Now I don’t know the quality of the Korean KFC. I assume it uses the same recipe and is fairly tasty, but that the breasts are smaller, because uh, …. Well it is Korea, you know. But regardless, eating KFC and American-style burgers for the first time had to be a glorious treat for the North Koreans. Remember the thrill of going to Mc Donald’s as a child? Yeh, it feels like that.

Actually, it feels much better because Korean food is freakin’ horrible.  It is by far the worst of your Asian cuisines. Consider that there are many Japanese restaurants and even more Chinese buffets around. You never see a Korean buffet because there are not enough edible Korean dishes to create a buffet. And the few Korean restaurants around cater almost exclusively to Koreans.  And any grilling master in the U.S. will tell you Korean barbeque, while good, is not great.

Now I do have to admit, I’ve only tasted Korean food once when I foolishly tried the “Korean chicken” at the Chinese buffet. Yeeeech! And this is South Korean food, imagine how crappy the food is up north.

But to these isolated North Koreans, this American-style fast food was their first real experience with Western culture. Nothing says American capitalist pig like a Big Mac, okay maybe a Mc Rib does, but that’s beside the point. In America we are experts at rapidly processing foodstuffs into highly-seasoned, unhealthy globs, for which we pay exorbitant prices so it can make us fat and eventually kill us. Fast food is something that makes America great.

Now several members of the North Korean delegation were no doubt spies, who had no interest in the Olympics but were charged with bringing back useful information to the Grand Leader.

The debriefing probably went something like this:

Glorious Leader: What you find in Pyeongchang?

Spy #1: Good chicken, really good chicken.

Glorious Leader: Why so good?

Spy #2: They fry it in the United States, in Kentucky, and somehow, it’s still piping hot and delicious when it gets to Korea!

Glorious Leader: Who run this place?

Spy #3: It run by military. Under direction of a Colonel Sanders.

Glorious Leader: This is not a problem. We find recipe and make chicken here!

Spy #1: No can get recipe! Big military secret! Special blend of 11 herbs and spices.

Glorious Leader: Rats! Enough about the chicken! What else was there?

Spy #2: With chicken you get whipped potatoes, gravy, and fluffy biscuit.

Spy #3: The chicken is so delicious, that we all licked our fingers after we ate.
Glorious Leader: It’s finger-licking good?


The Foodie Theory holds that immediately after the Olympics the North
Koreans started plotting on how they could obtain mass quantities of American fast food. Remember your first economics lesson on “Guns or Butter” that explained that a nation has to decide how much to spend on military versus consumer goods?  We’ll this may be a literal version of that: “Nuclear Bombs or Chicken”. And after tasting the colonel’s extra crispy with two sides, those nukes may have lost some of their flavor. So now the North Koreans may be willing to give up their nukes to gain access to Happy Meals.  This is so beautiful, I’m about to cry.

Lest, you think this is totally farfetched, one of the real negotiation requests of the North Koreans is they want to get a fast-food hamburger restaurant franchise in Pyongyang (I’m not making this up!). It would seem Kim Jong Un is a more a fan of burgers than chicken. If this happens, my money is on
Burger King (royalty) or Big Boy (resemblance to mascot).

If the current negotiations fail, the North Koreans lust for fast food still does provide a way to end the conflict. Remember the hot dog guns that used to shoot wieners into the stands at baseball games before the lawyers stopped the practice due to injury liabilities?  I propose we convert our grenade launchers so we can shoot burgers and chicken pieces across the DMZ to the North Korean troops.

In other words: We’ve got legs (chicken), we need to know how to use them.

We literally create a Big Mac attack.

In propelling this food over the border, we could claim this is humanitarian aid, not an act of war. We have done air-drops of food many times before. This would be a much more targeted strike however.

And it would work. After tasting a Big Mac, the North Korean soldiers would drop their weapons and quickly travel south shouting: “I surrender! I surrender! Yes, I want fries with that!”  Even though no tacos are involved, this would create a literal “Run for the Border”.

But let’s hope the current talks are successful and a lasting peace is established. And a brand-new world opens up, with fast-food restaurants covering all of North Korea. It would be a beautiful thing, children. A beautiful thing. I’m tearing up again …

I used to make fun of those KFC commercials touting their chicken as a way to bring families together at night around the dinner table.  I am laughing no more, as maybe it was KFC food that has brought the world family together at the negotiating table.

Now everybody sing:

Get a bucket of chicken
Finger lickin' good
Have a barrel of fun
Goodbye ho-hum
Say hello to your family (your world family America!)
Come on everyone
At Kentucky Fried Chicken
Have a barrel of fun

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Bears Don’t Do This In The Woods

My wife had brought home something unusual from the grocery store. I stared at it winsomely, as I cradled it in my hands. But I was not prepared for the glorious joy I was about to experience.


Ahhhhhhhhh …….


Ya Ya Yakka Moo Moo!

Oh baby, that feels oh so gooooooooooooooooood!

Who knew 3-ply toilet paper felt this wonderful?

They can’t really tell you in the television ads how good this stuff is because it would be oh so awkward. It is amusing how they try to use cartoon bears to sell toilet paper. Because bears do crap in the woods and the only thing there to wipe with is leaves and that proves to be  very uncomfortable to the human tush. However, according to my very extensive Internet research, bears don’t even wipe afterward. This means that whole advertisement is a fraud since these allegedly picky bears wouldn’t even use toilet paper if they had access to
Fake News!
it. This is a prime example of FAKE NEWS. So, does a bear crap in the woods? Yes. Does he wipe his butt afterward? No.  I certainly hope that settles the issue.

But, oh baby, baby! Does this 3-ply stuff rock! I don’t even know what to call this experience. Wipevana?  Paperpalooza? Tushtastic?  Yes, this puffy paper delivers, oh more appropriately, gets rid of, the goods. The brand names include words like: Velvety, Quilted (grandma made my toilet paper!), Bliss, Plush and my favorite name, Cashmere. Perhaps that last one is like wiping your butt with your sweater – but maybe don’t try that one at home.

Besides the comfort to your backside, 3-ply paper also improves your health. After I experienced this blissfulness for the first time, I ate lots of fiber the rest of the day to ensure I could repeat the process as soon as possible.

However, this sensation was so gratifying that I started to feel guilty. I mean the Puritans would have never used this. And let’s face it, well maybe not face it, the product is inherently and atrociously wasteful. You are using 3 plies, when 2 plies are sufficient. That’s 50% more paper, 50%! I’ve been wiping with 2-ply my entire life with no complaints. But now I am using an extra sheet to do the job. Therefore using 3-ply is enormously environmentally irresponsible! You are not going green, if you wipe with 3-ply after going brown – even if you happened to actually go green.

Velvety goodness 
And then what about the poor people stuck with using cheap 1-ply, rough paper? Some of it probably contains chunks of wood, it’s so coarse. How can I cavalierly stick 3-ply up my butt without feeling any remorse?  And what about people in the third-world countries? Do I not care? Am I an elitist? Is using this product a result of literally white-fluffy privilege?

So yes, I was feeling soooo guilty about using the 3-ply toilet tissue. Until of course, nature called and ....

Yabba dabba do do!

Hacha hacha mama!

Whoopity whippity weeeee!

Ahhhhhh, the thrill of it!

However, this guilt was overwhelming and when I feel this remorseful about my behavior, there is only one responsible course of action. --- I must go to any degree, I must construct any argument, I must twist logic like a pretzel, to completely justify my actions. 

I give money every month to a poor African kid. Surely, they use some of that money to buy toilet paper. So I have earned the right to use 3-ply, correct? Maybe. But my best justification for going to the 3-ply is that my anus is in training. Yes, it’s almost time for a colonoscopy, so I need to get my anus ready for the big day. I need my anus in top condition and ready to perform at the highest level.

Now if you’re now expecting the same lame jokes about the colonoscopy prep and procedure that have been done thousands of times by hundreds of comics, then you are reading the wrong blog. There is absolutely nothing funny about you paying to get a probe shoved up your a$$.

You know there is something weird about to happen when everyone is overly interested and excited about looking up your butthole. All these people are way too happy and cheerful. Whenever this happens, you know something bad is about to happen to you.

Your doctor: “Well Don, it looks like your due for a colonoscopy!” (Big Smile)

The clinic scheduler (on the phone): “Fantastic! We have you all scheduled for Tuesday morning, the 14th!” (and you know she is smiling)

The clinic receptionist: “Welcome, Mr. Ake! We’re all ready for you!" (Huge smile)

The clinic doctor: “There’s nothing to worry about, har, har! We use lots of lube here!” (Big, goofy smile)

This is one procedure where I don’t even care if the nurse is hot. I just want her to be gentle and to have not broken up with her boyfriend last night (Men! I would just like to take that TV controller and shove it right up his ...) And even though the nurse and I are going to share an intimate experience, I don’t expect her to call me in the morning to see how I’m doing. It’s best that when I leave the clinic that we both pretend this never happened and go on with our lives.

I do think that if everyone is going to pretend to be so giddy about looking up your anus, that just like a baseball player coming to bat, you should be able to choose a walk-up song. As they wheel me into the exam room, my “roll-up” song would be “I’m Sexy and I Know It” and I would be rapidly pistol pointing at the nurses, the receptionist and anyone else in my path.

Doc, look in my body
Doc, look in my body
Doc, look in my body
I wipe clean

I know normal people have many fears about the procedure, but I am not “normal people”. My biggest fear is that my colonoscopy video would be “leaked” and posted on the Internet. The video would go viral and would lead to a reality television show starring my anus. The pilot would get picked up by truTV and millions of viewers would tune in every week for The Don’s Anus Show. The show would end up being much more popular than my book and I would be relegated to answering questions from the press such as: “What’s it like having a famous anus?”  
“This week on the Don’s Anus Show: Don gets the Nitro Burrito at Chipotle – Spoiler Alert! This is not going to end well.”

Even with this risk, it is important to get the colonoscopy because it saved my friend Mark’s life. But just like everything else, preparation is important. I must make sure my hemorrhoids are cool, calm and literally collected, before they are brutally traumatized in a most irritating manner. And the best way to do this is to pamper them with the softest, lushest, 3-ply toilet tissue I can find.

Yes, I am now a 3-ply guy, and I am not ashamed. 

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