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 10, 2020

I Will Mock You With My Sock

I am wearing a sock on my face out in public.

Before now, it would be unconscionable for me even to imagine the circumstances that would lead to this bizarre behavior.

But it is true. I am repeatedly wearing a sock on my face out in public.

An outbreak of the bat-flu has infected the world, the culture, and our brains, resulting in the oddest of behaviors. Which, for me, consists of wearing a sock on my face out in public.

Of course, it is technically not influenza, but a coronavirus. However, I don’t want to waste my breath, in case I have the disease, on calling if some elongated, convoluted term.  So, I can name this malady in two syllables, can you do any better? Besides, most of the ailments we refer to as “the flu” are not really the flu, so it is the bat-flu to me.

Depending on your opinion, this is either just a cold germ, or everyone is going to die. Of course, this depends on if you believe everything you are being told. But no one really knows the truth, do they? Not even the experts. So, everything you read on both sides of this issue contains some truth, and some falsehoods and we poor saps are left to figure out which is which.  So, reality exists somewhere between the two extremes. Yes, it is a cold germ, but it is not the “common cold”. It is the most uncommon of colds. It is a bat-$h!+ crazy cold.

And it has driven us all batty. We are fearful and stressed. The disease has infected some people’s lungs, but it has infected everyone’s head. Then the government decided to lead us in a vast, real-life game of “Simon Says”. The government says do this …. the government says do this. Oh, you can’t do that … we didn’t say “The government says”.  By far, the most confusing part of the game involves wearing masks. With the experts/government saying that wearing masks are useless, then harmful, then possibly beneficial, to now, essential in protecting our species from extinction.

The current mandate sounds more like it came out of Leviticus than Simon Says. Ye shall wear a covering over thy nose or mouth, lest ye breathe in the plague, and then ye surely shall die.

I hadn’t obtained a mask up to that point, but I saw this interesting video on Facebook about how to make a mask out of a sock. My wife volunteered to do the conversion. When I gave her the sock to cut, she protested, saying it was supposed to be a new sock. Of course, I had pulled this orphan sock out of my sock drawer. Since it didn’t have a match, I considered this a win-win, being able to utilize an object that had no value. Besides that, what type of man has new socks laying around? I told her to cut away.

To my delight, it worked. Following those video instructions, produced a seemingly functional mask. There is only one issue. It smells. It smells like feet. I was expecting that a washed, clean sock from the sock drawer would smell ‘Downy fresh”. But my mask does not smell fresh at all. It smells like feet. And I never realized how bad my feet smell until now that I am wearing my old sock on my face. I assure you, I will never take off my shoes in the presence of others ever again, lest they surely die.

Now I realize this sock-mask is a farce. It won’t protect me from the bat-flu. It merely allows me to go out in public without receiving disdain from the pro-mask people. It gives the appearance that I care about elderly people and I don’t seek to them by spreading bat-flu germs like a mosquito-repentant fog machine.  However. it is a fake, a fa├žade. Very similar to drinking non-alcoholic beer or wearing clip-on ties. I appear to conform to society’s demands, but I’m
really not.  So, in effect, I am mocking you. I am wearing a useless sock on my face to conform to your requirements.

This is the ultimate version of acting cool and suave. Sticking a sock on my face has allowed me to mock the world.  I’m mocking due to my stocking!  It’s a mock-sock, people! It’s a mock-sock! And I could be underestimating its potential in blocking the virus. I mean, if that bat-flu germ comes close to the mask and gets a whiff of that foot odor, it very well may be repelled. It might even kill it! My sock-mask may be the ultimate solution to the crisis. Someone alert President Trump so he can spread the news! They just need to be able to duplicate my foot odor in the lab, which given my recent experience, may be challenging to do. Regardless of its potential, I do need to find some way to refresh this mask, lest ye be overcome by the rot of the foot fume, lest ye surely die.

The main reason I am wearing the sock-mask is as a courtesy to those people who remain frightened and believe everyone is going to die. Even though there is no law requiring a mask, I will consider the feelings of others. Just like I will refrain from farting when standing in line at the store. Even though there is no law against this, it is the neighborly thing to do. And I guess public farters could be charged with disturbing the peace or even assault with a deadly weapon. So, I will continue to wear my sock mask and not fart when I am out in public.

I just wish people would stop acting so bat-$h!+ crazy. My favorite take-out Chinese restaurant had to temporarily close because some people believe you can get the bat-flu from eating Chinese food. I assure you that is not the case, unless you order the sweet-and-sour bat, which may be how this whole thing started. 

But the strangest thing for me, the thing I will remember most about the bat-flu pandemic of 2020 is:

I am wearing a sock on my face out in public – even if it smells like feet.

My first attempt when I heard about the mask requirement 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Toilet Paper Therapy

If the current world situation wasn’t stressful enough, I am now dealing with a severe personal problem. I am constipated. But not just mildly constipated. No, I’m backed up like the L.A. freeway at rush hour with a three-car pile-up in the middle-lane. But I am not producing any pile-ups, no matter how often I try or how much force I apply. It is a biological log jam.

This predicament is not caused by a change in diet. My diet has adequate fiber, and I am drinking plenty of water. I even take something called Izo-Flush at bedtime, which is intended to provide some productive flushes the next morning. And yet, my bowels could get a job as a guard at Buckingham Palace because they ain’t moving.

I blame my constipation on the coronavirus. Now don’t worry, I don’t have the virus. That’s not even a symptom of the sickness. But the virus is definitely to blame. That’s because our calm, rational response to the calm, rational news reports that everyone, everywhere is going to die, was to rush to the store like a swarm of locusts and buy every roll of toilet paper in existence. And this would have been a splendid move if the virus needed a steady source of toilet paper to survive, but sadly this is not the case.

However, we do need to wipe this virus out, and now we have the resources to do so. We may ultimately die from this, but we will die with magnificently clean anuses.

“Did you know that Carl died due to the virus?”

“Yes, but I heard they didn’t even have to change his underwear for the funeral!”

This mass hoarding of toilet paper would have made sense if this virus gave you the hickory-sh!tz, but it does not. However, this weird fad was reported every day on the news. And it caused toilet paper panic and mass stockouts as a result. Photos and videos of empty shelves were everywhere.

And thus, this caused my constipation problem. You see, while my rational mind saw this toilet paper craziness as stupid and funny, my irrational mind started to panic and became alarmed. It was tricked into thinking I had no toilet paper and no means to get any. So, it sprang into action to protect me.  It came up with a plan to reduce my personal need for toilet paper. My brain sent a message down to my colon to shut down throughput, just like the car factories shut down their production lines due to the virus. And my sphincter has been placed on lockdown, just like many businesses. There is no production; there is no activity; everything has been put on hold.

Now don’t worry, the Ake household has plenty of toilet paper. It’s 3-ply and high quality, which I need due to my hemorrhoidal conditions. My wife was able to buy two large packages, which is equivalent to more than a 17-week supply. I believe this is a reasonable amount. The problem is, the person who bought a three-year supply also thinks this is a reasonable amount. And yet with this
abundant supply, my tissue is just sitting there, waiting on the roll, eagerly anticipating jumping into action – but no, again, there was no need for it today. Maybe tomorrow will be a browner day.

I’m getting desperate, so I am trying TP-therapy, where me and the TP create positive interactions in hopes my irrational mind will finally realize there is no danger present. Resulting in my colon unlocking my sphincter and unleashing what promises to be a huge event. After which, the remaining toilet paper inventory will be reduced to only a one-week supply.

The TP-therapy starts out with me holding and squeezing the package (ala Mr. Whipple), so my body becomes comfortable being around and trusting the paper. 

Now Don, tell the toilet paper how much you appreciate the rolls being here for you and what a good job it does, making you feel all clean and fresh.

And TP, tell Don that you desire to finish the job and how hurt you are about the lack of attention you’ve received the last few days.

The purpose of the therapy is to bring the subject and the TP closer emotionally so they can work together to complete the task in a satisfying, wonderful way.  It’s a beautiful thing when it all works out.

But the constipation is not the only hardship I am facing. This social distancing thing is a real pain. However, this is not a new concept for me. Back in high school, the attractive, popular girls practiced social distancing from me for four years – treated me like I was a virus or something.  And now, I can’t even go into a restaurant and have someone make me a sammich. I can’t go to a networking function and scarf free appetizers. And they shut down my favorite cappuccino place. I have to drink cappuccino. I can’t live without it, so I am forced to brew cappuccino in my Keurig. Fortunately, the warehouse club had k-cups on sale, so I stocked up! Got me 3,000 k-cups stacked in the garage.                                              
I think that’s a reasonable amount, right?

The turkeys also wish my constipation will end soon. Because now that I am not, uh, indisposed, in the morning, I can chase them away from the squirrel food more frequently.  Hey, these are tough times for all of us, turkeys.

So I sit here, contemplating this difficult situation. Hoping, praying, that it ends soon. We just need to wait this whole thing out, and when it ends, get everything back to normal as quickly as possible. But man, this hard-plastic seat is really uncomfortable.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

I Demand the Constitutional Right to Wear Chinos

The big impeachment trial is ending, which featured lots of horrible behavior. It was all a big $h!+ - slinging contest, in which each side insisted that the other’s $h!+ smelled much worse than theirs. At the end, everyone ended up covered in $h!+ and nothing got done except that a bunch of our tax money got wasted, but we’re used to that.

While most of these political hi-jinks were boring and inconsequential, it was an opinion column written by a well-known commentator that pushed me over the edge. I am thoroughly and totally enraged! This guy is upset because one of the senators had the utter brazenness to wear chinos at the Friday wrap-up session. And not just any chinos, they were “cotton chinos”! They were made completely of cotton. Oh, the audacity! Oh, the depravity! Oh, the utter bastardization of our democracy.

Our republic is now in danger because of chinos. Chinos – that’s what this ultra-elitist hack is upset about. Not anything else about this sorry spectacle. Chinos – that’s what’s destroying this country. And this infuriates me. I will defend the right of all men, and even some women, to proudly sport chinos when the situation demands it. And this impeachment trial surely qualifies.

If I’m sitting listening to hours on end of mind-numbing, repetitious gunk, I need to be as comfortable as possible. I do not want my ever-expanding thighs to get chafed, and chinos won’t cause any abrasion because they are so soft and comfy. Besides, if I can’t shift around in my seat, my hemorrhoids are in danger of becoming inflamed. So chinos provide me the mobility I need and permits me to man-spread without rubbing certain body parts raw. Yes, I can spread it – spread it wide.

While those chinos guard my nether-regions, they defend the tenants of democracy as well. Because if you ask me to vote on a penalty for someone when my thighs are scraped and my hemorrhoids burning, I am likely to vote to have them executed, even if that is not an option and they belong to my own political party.  Yeah, what can prevent this? One word – Chinos. The soft, calming comfort of chinos!

This writer of course is probably some ivy-league geeker who around his gated suburban abode in $300 slacks, $150 loafers, and an exquisite cashmere sweater. He probably doesn’t even own a pair of chinos.  This goof-head is also upset because three other senators were chewing gum doing the proceedings. “Ooh, ooh, teacher, Joni’s chewing gum in class!” He’s mad about chewing gum and chinos? What type of freakazoid, geekazoid, are you? He is some Washington elitist who doesn’t understand Midwestern values, and, in my case, Midwestern thighs.

If chinos would have existed in colonial times, I’m sure the 11th amendment in the Bill of Rights would have given us all the right to wear chinos whenever we darn well wanted, even during congressional meetings. That’s what made the founder fathers great. They were willing to sit in long meetings in uncomfortable clothes to create this nation. They literally sacrificed their thighs for their country.

So, I will stand up for the God-given, constitutionally driven, right to don chinos whenever and wherever I choose. Give me liberty – to wear chinos – or give me death. I’m sure Patrick Henry would have backed me up on this if he had even gotten to experience the oh so great feeling of those chinos.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

A Much-Needed Sabbatical

I began writing Ake’s Pain in May 2011. I have posted over 249 essays which I have compiled into three books. (Book 3 expected release is March 2020).

And I need a break. Over the last year, sometimes I have become a little bored of my own writing. Which means, of course, maybe you too – well just a little.  So, I am taking a much-need sabbatical from the humor blog. I’m not sure how long it may last. If a topic suddenly appears that I just have to write about, I suppose I might post. Other than that, I’ll give my funny bone a well-deserved rest.

But writers gotta write, right?  So, I will be introducing a new blog: Deep, Heavy, Stuff. It will deal with the difficult issues in life from my perspective, sharing the wisdom I have gathered to this point in life. As Ake’s Pains helped you by bringing humor into your life and making you laugh, my goal for Deep, Heavy, Stuff is to help you deal with and figure out some of those tough, confusing issues of life. I want the blog to be as if we sitting at a booth having coffee talking about those issues you struggle with, but nobody talks about.  Just a deep, heavy discussion.

If you want to be included on the mailing list for this blog, please e-mail me at vefather@gmail.com

Thanks for your support!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Heading Off A Cat-astrophe

Here are my most enchanting memories of last year, which never made it into a blog post.  Now there could be hundreds of these moments.  However with my fading memory, I can only remember two.

The Cats Invade

We watched my daughter’s two cats, Dede and Buddy, while she prepared her house for sale. I liked having the cats in the house. I work from home and enjoyed their company – on most days.

Generally, they were not a distraction and stayed out of trouble. They are not bad cats; however, they are cats, nonetheless. Occasionally they would jump on my desk while I was working, but never at the same time. If I didn’t spend enough attention on him, Buddy would plop down on my computer keyboard. “Try typing now, you so-called industry expert!”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
One day, Dede’s tail did 
Buddy helping me finish a report
suddenly appear on-screen during an internal video call, but otherwise, no big deal.

But Cats are a lot like women when it comes to logic. They are unpredictable and tend to do things for which there is no logical explanation randomly.

And You’re Live

Every couple of months, I get to be a guest on the Road Dog Trucking channel during Mark Willis’ show on SiriusXM radio as part of my work in the trucking industry. It is very enjoyable to be interviewed for an hour on national radio.

My session was just about to start when Buddy appears out of nowhere and jumps on the desk. I never thought about shutting the office door because it is mid-afternoon, and I have not seen the cats the entire day. Why he waited for just this moment to jump on the desk is one of those random cat actions.

This is distracting, but I can easily handle this. Buddy just wants his head scratched, and as long as he doesn’t hit the keyboard, which has a needed spreadsheet up, I am fine. I can quickly rub his ears and set him back on the floor.

“We go live in 10 seconds”, the radio producer tells me.

And then without warning, Dede also jumps up on the desk. Now I have a huge problem, a cat-astrophe waiting to happen. Never, ever, before that critical moment, have both cats been on my desk at the same time. Complicating things, although the cats live together, they don’t really like each other, they tolerate each other. But the one thing that really sets them off and usually leads to a literal catfight, is when one cat invades the other’s territory. 

For example, let’s say one cat has jumped up on a desk and the other cat decides to jump up on the desk too.

I am in full panic mode trying to manage these cats, knowing I am going live on national radio in a few seconds. I am supposed to be a trucking industry expert, but two seconds before going live on national radio, I am literally herding cats. I put my arm between the cats just as I hear Mark say:

“Our special guest today is Don Ake! How have you been?”

This was kind of a surreal experience in that I started talking to Mark, but my full attention was on the cats and the huge furry fight that could spill over into my lap any second. I was talking, but I really wasn’t aware of what I was saying. But I soon realized I had to refocus on the radio show before I said something stupid or unintelligible such as: “I believe the key issue in trucking today is the coughing up of hairballs on the road.”

Fortunately, the cats moved to opposite sides of the desk. Buddy was disappointed I wasn’t paying any attention to him and jumped off the far end of the desk. As soon as he left the room, I grabbed Dede and sat her on the floor. Cat crisis averted. Thousands of truckers were spared hearing a live catfight on the radio; such an awful distraction could have led to several dangerous accidents on the road.

As soon as I stopped hyper-ventilating, I went on the have a great show with Mark. All in a day’s work! Sometimes I just love working from home.

And the second one ....

Wait Your Turn, Old Lady, Wait Your Turn

I was standing in a long line, waiting to check out at a deep-discount store. There was only one line open since the back-up cashiers were busy stock shelves. Finally, the announcement was made over the loudspeaker that another cashier was needed.

Now, by that time, I was third in line. Which means I would be first in line when the second cashier was ready. The store layout makes it impractical for the second person in line to back up and move over to the new line. As I waited for the second cashier to get ready, I noticed the old lady behind me very subtly angling her cart towards the second register.

I know she was elderly because I had been standing in front of her for what now seemed like hours, hearing her rambling on about the cost of rugs and what a great deal she was getting on those in her cart. I casually glance back and notice her cart is full of merchandise, while I only have five items in my basket.

The second cashier turns her light on, looks directly at me, and says
“I will take the next person.”

With that, the old lady pushes fast and hard on her cart to be first in line at the second register. But she doesn’t move an inch. She now resets and pushes even harder the second time, but the result is the same. The cart doesn’t budge!

How could this be? Why isn’t her cart barreling toward the cashier at warp speed? Well, it appears that somebody, maybe a large middle-aged guy, perhaps with a shaved-head, had firmly, but subtlety grabbed the front of her cart, impeding her progress and thwarting her plan.

When she quit pushing the second time, I quickly slipped around her cart to the second cashier and set my products on the counter. The old woman was so stunned she never moved her cart, meaning not only wasn’t she first in the new line, she was in third place in the first one.

Then the bitchin’ started about the mean man who had grabbed her cart. The cashier glanced up at me and said softly, “But you were next in line.”
I double finger-gunned her and replied, “And that’s why you're ringing me up now, darlin’.”

I had to walk past the old woman as I left the store, and she again started bitchin’ at me. Now, who do think possesses the bigger month? Get that weak stuff out of here, old woman. Either bring it strong or don’t bring it at all. It was her second big mistake of the day but probably made a good story at the bridge club.

I know I could have just left her cut in line, but it is the principle that counts. And perhaps I provided a public service, teaching her the lesson of taking your proper turn. Maybe next time she won’t rudely shove her cart in front of someone. Alright, so we all know that’s not going to happen, but at least I tried.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Counting All Angels – That was one big hark!

The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing

So many of our favorite Christmas carols make reference to the angels singing in announcing the birth of Christ. The basis for this is Luke 2:13-14

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
This event was so magnanimous and spectacular that a multitude, great company, or legion (depending on the translation) of angels were dispatched to Earth to sing praise to God. But just how many angels were there in this choir? 

Now Don, why would you even ask that question? No one knows how many angels there were and it’s impossible to even estimate!

But these are the type of questions my hyper-active mind generates. And once the question enters my brain, it demands that I try to answer it.

Furthermore, it’s what I do in my job. I forecast things that are difficult to forecast and I make estimates about things that are hard to figure out. So I am going to try to do this seemingly impossible task. And I assure you that when my coworkers read this, they will laugh out loud, because they have to deal with my lunacy regarding stuff like this all the time.

The question is: How many angels appeared to the shepherds, singing praises to God, at Christ’s birth?

Surprisingly, the answer to this question may be zero.  You see Luke 2:13-14 doesn’t actually say the angels sang, it says they were praising. However, we have always assumed the angels were singing those praises because in our culture we praise God through song. So, all the Christmas carol reference singing angels.

Now if the angels weren’t singing, they were at least chanting. It had to be scripted praise for the large group, or choir, of angels to be understood by the shepherds. I know this because years ago, I had to drive through a group of striking workers at our factory who all yelled different insults as my car passed by.  It was comical because it all sounded like static and I couldn’t hear any actual words. And that’s the literal purpose of cheerleaders, right?  To coordinate the cheers so the players get the message.

Therefore, those angels had to be singing or chanting in unison. And while
there are some Gregorian monks who would argue for the latter, I think we can assume the angels were singing if we interpret the word “saying” in Luke as “communicating”. And such a large choir, would have had to practice these praises in advance.

How I estimate something difficult, is to determine a higher number, that the estimate can’t exceed, and a base number that the estimate should exceed. Then I make assumptions to determine a number somewhere in between.  

The High Number

Scholars debate about how many total angels exist. The Bible implies that the number is huge. If we interpret the term myriad of angels literally (Revelation 5:11), there are at least 100 million angels (10,000 times 10,000). It is unlikely that God would have sent all 100 million to Earth at the same time. Now if it were me, I would be tempted to “send the house”, but I’m not God, and everyone should at this point thank God for this. However, the upper limit to our question is 100,000,000 angels. 

The Low Number

The record number of people in an earthly choir (signing the same song in one place) is 121,440 set in India in 2011. Let’s assume that angelic choir has to be greater than anything that can be accomplished on Earth. Taking into account future efforts to break this record, I will set the minimum at 200,000 angels.

The Range

Therefore, at this point in the analysis, the range is between 200,000 and 100,000,000. 

The Assumptions

In order to narrow the range, I have to make some assumptions. And these assumptions are difficult because they deal with God, angels, and an incredible event occurring a long time ago.

Assumption #1

God did not send all the angels to Earth because they all could not have been seen by the shepherds. This is an excess of angels. Yes, this was a big event but all the angels were not needed to accomplish the task. We know from the Bible there are different types and ranks of angels.  Let’s say the trip to Bethlehem was a reward for the top 1% of the angels. Yes, just like a Mary Kay bonus. That reduces the number down to 1,000,000 angels.

Assumption #2

Could one million angels hanging up in the sky be visible to shepherds on the ground? The number of angels needed to completely fill the sight line of shepherds on the ground can be calculated using equations containing things called “parabolas”, but I’m not a mathematician, so I won’t attempt this. You would have to make assumptions about the size of an angel, but my guess is that it took fewer than 1 million angels (1,000 rows of 1,000) to fill the sky.

Assumption #3

The decibel level of the singing angels can’t be high enough to wake the people in Bethlehem city. The announcement of Christ’s birth was only intended for the shepherds. This supposedly is because they were the lowest in that society, and Jesus came to Earth for all men. Hey, the only job requirement of a shepherd is that you must be smarter than a sheep. Oh, and you are working third-shift. Yes, you are on the bottom rung of that city and yet you are worthy of hearing this good news first.

It may have been a silent night up to that point, but hundreds of thousands of signing angels make some noise. The praises didn’t alert the townspeople and more importantly, it didn’t wake the baby.

So, let’s assume the angels sang softly, and they were positioned facing away from the town to reduce the noise factor. But again, the more angels, the more decibels. This also argues for a total number under one million.

The Call:

The assumptions get the total to between 200,000 and 1,000,000. The space and volume assumptions probably push the total under 1 million. So, I will put my estimate at 500,000 angels. As it estimated, let it be said.

So this Christmas, when “with the angelic host you proclaim, that Christ is born in Bethlehem” – know that your harking about a huge number of angels.  

And when you step outside tonight, image the sky filled with half a million angels, all singing praises to God. Wow, I wonder what the angels sound like when they sing ….. probably better than the best Dolby system ever created by man. Oh, what a spectacular night it was!

Merry Christmas to All! And a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Somebody Got My Goat Last Christmas – And This Year Too

By far, the best Christmas gift I gave last year was a goat. That’s right - I gave someone a live goat! And it was such a good gift that I’m giving more goats away this year. This may seem strange given my disdain for goats and especially goat yoga. Goats are wily, frisky creatures, and not to be trusted. Now if you are on my Christmas list, fear not (said the angel of the Lord) because you will not be getting a goat, but someone will.

Last November, I got a catalog from ChildFund International listing all the “real
gifts” available to give to poor families in Africa. On the cover was a photo of a happy African kid holding a goat. The catalog explained that goats provide wholesome milk, cheese, yogurt (now the cheese and yogurt don’t come directly out of the goat.) and “so much more”. Families can even sell the excess dairy products (that goat is going to be busy) for much-needed income. And since goats breed easily (those frisky beasts!), you could end up with a whole herd if you set the mood right.

It said thousands of lives have been transformed -- yes transformed -- by the gift of goats! These are transformational goats with spiritual powers!  Of course, it is understood that the “so much more” the goats may provide is they can be eaten if the family is starving. The reality is, that cute kid on the cover of the brochure could be smiling because he is famished and might sink his teeth into the goat, seconds after the photo is taken. But I encourage you to following my example and give a goat this year! (Click: Give a goat right here!)

I know this is a gimmick, and usually, I am impervious to all gimmicks from charitable organizations. I believe this is due from when I worked in the mailing operations of what was, at one time, one of the largest televangelist organizations in the world. Soon after I started, I asked what was in the boxes in the corner. A coworker said it was leftover anointing oil from Reverend Ron’s last campaign. If viewers sent in $100 or more, they got a small plastic vial of Reverend Ron’s anointing oil. They were instructed to rub the oil on their forehead, and their lives would be transformed. Hey! --Just like the goats, although it is much more difficult to rub a goat on your forehead.

One day on my break, I took one of the vials and rubbed some anointing oil on my arm, I couldn’t put it on my forehead without it being detected now, could I? It was just vegetable oil, perhaps snake oil, nothing more. Of course, it had been blessed by the Reverend Ron, and that motivated people to send him $100 or more, for maybe an eighth of an ounce of cooking oil. And I’m not saying that the oil didn’t work, because faith is a powerful and mysterious force. However, if the Internet had existed then, I’m sure someone would have posted instructions on how to anoint yourself for $1 by using some Wesson, and you would still have enough left over to make some delicious french fries for supper!

But even though the goats are a gimmick, I trust ChildFund International to deliver the goods, well, in this case, deliver the goats. I have sponsored a poor African kid (PAK) through them for a couple of years. My official reason for the sponsorship is that it is important to help those less fortunate than you, and there is no one less fortunate than a PAK. However, I worry that my giving to a PAK is just a covert way to justify my purchases of lattes.

 A new coffeehouse recently opened up near my house. I stop in maybe once a week or so. I am very disappointed they do not serve cappuccino, but they do brew a delightful double mocha latte for $4.45 a cup. Now there is no way I can justify paying $4.45 for coffee. You can probably feed a family in Kenya for like a year on that. But Kenya is very far away, and the coffee shop with its blinking light is right in front of me, so the double mocha latte wins. And as I slurp down this chocolaty goodness I think: I know this is wrong, but I gave money to that PAK, so I’m still a great person.

So, for some reason, ChildFund International got me with that goat gimmick. You might say they really got my goat. I gave two goats last year and it felt so good I’m doing it again this year. If you would like to give a goat, (they are $99 each) go to www.childfund.org. And I do believe it is important to give out of your abundance to the less fortunate if you are able.

And like most everyone, I do most of my giving at Christmastime. Despite all the commercialized hype, Christmas forces us by its original pureness to live better than we normally do. That’s why we do more good deeds and are more charitable to the less fortunate at this time. So, this holy day reminds us of two things: 1. We know how to do good. 2. We are not able to be this good the rest of the year.  Which seems like a cruel trick to me. I’m sorry, being this good the entire year has to be impossible. You just show me someone, anyone, who has ever been able to do this and I, I, -- Oh, well played God, well played indeed.

Therefore, it would appear that the more we try to distort and pervert Christmas, the more the true meaning becomes clear. And that in itself is a miracle. Please consider giving someone a goat this Christmas. It's much better than buying yourself or someone a huge expensive pickup truck or luxury SUV like in those awful, cheesy "It's the Season!" commercials.  (Click: Give a goat!)