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!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

It’s Not Too Late To Get The Flu

I remember reading an article on the flu season beginning in Northeast Ohio. It was expected this year would be “bad”.  It listed the symptoms of the flu: high fevers, body aches, congestion, coughing, and fatigue. It said sufferers were converging on emergency medical facilities and it was expected there would be some deaths.

This all confused me.  A fever? Take some aspirin.  Body aches? How bad could that be?  And why would you go to the emergency room if you already knew you had the flu? Are people that stupid?  And those deaths e are probably just extremely old people and the flu just pushes them over the edge. The article ended by saying “it’s not too late to get a flu shot”.  But I didn’t have to worry about all these terrible things because I had dutifully gotten my flu shot in October, just as I had for the past 24 years.

But Then Something Went Wrong

It started with a cough.  A minor, nuisance, cough upon waking.  I reasoned it was caused by sinus drainage during the night. But the cough persisted throughout the day.  I started running a mild fever that evening.  I sensed I could be getting sick, but the symptoms were rather weak.

The next morning the fever was higher, the cough more persistent and I had a bad headache.  I took some naproxen, naively expecting it to eliminate all my discomfort, like pointing a garden hose at an approaching forest fire.

Then in the afternoon, the body aches arrived.  These were not harmless muscle aches.  It felt like my whole torso had been placed in a vise and I was being crushed.  It hurt to breathe. Coughing resulted in such intense pain that I gasped.  If this had been a torture chamber, I would have quickly confessed to colluding with the Russians. Heck, if they promised to stop this agony, I would have gladly agreed to go collude with the Russians, especially if a hot secret agent named Natasha was involved.

The pain was so intense I did consider going to an emergency facility.  However, this is me, so you would expect there to be complicating factors.  It happened to be 4 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.  All the doctor’s offices were closed so the doctors could prepare for their exquisite New Year’s Eve parties (no doubt involving loads of shrimp). That meant everyone who had the flu today be descending upon the facility at the same time. I reasoned that the medical operation would be staffed by a skeleton crew, because who the heck wants to work on New Year’s Eve?   

I imagined the crowd to be so massive that cars would be lined up out on the street. I would probably get care sometime around January 3, unless I died first.  I sensed it would have been a waste of time but my dear friend Cheryl suggested that I should have gone and got some Tamiflu. According to the numerous amateur doctors on Facebook, Tamiflu is either a wonder drug or poison.  You decide.  (I went to high school with Tammy Flew.  I never thought she would be much of anything, but now they have named a drug after her.)

I decide to stay home and take some Ibuprofen for the severe body aches. Fortunately, it works and the body aches never return. So no, I did not collude with the Russians and I did not spend the night in a hot dalliance with Natasha. (Those leaked emails are forgeries, fake news!). 

The next morning, the flu hits me with its full sadistic strength. My fever is up to 101.7 degrees.  I stumble downstairs fully expecting to receive pity from my wife.  However, my wife was not in the living room, she had slept in the bottom-floor family room so she would not catch the germ.  But then I heard the cough.  I knew that cough.  It was the same cough I had been experiencing for two days.

I drag myself downstairs and ask “Are you sick?”.  She gives me a menacing glare.  She has a temperature of 101.8, so much for getting any pity.  Now technically, I am much sicker since my normal body temperature is 97.2.  But this is not something you want to argue when you have made your wife this ill. 

I know she is furious at me for giving her the flu. I had also infected her with a bad cold germ last year. But she had given me two nasty germs previous to that. So we are now even, right?  Alas, another argument I’m not going to win.

I labeled our house as the “Ake Infirmary” on Facebook and household duties were handled by whoever wasn’t sickest at the moment.  The most challenging being walking the dog in negative 15-degree wind-chills. The statistician in me hoped my high fever would cancel out the freezing temperatures, and in a way, it did.  When the arctic wind freezes your face, you do temporarily forget how lousy you feel.  I remember thinking “I hope the dog appreciates what I am doing for him.”  Then I realize that he’s my dog, and if the situation were reversed he would faithfully do anything to help me. Because of course, that’s what dogs do.

My wife even made our traditional sauerkraut and knockwurst dinner on January 2. (I tell people my wife always presents me with two large, juicy knockers to start off the new year).  She made the food, but I have no idea who she expected to eat it.  If I had eaten this, I’m sure I would have died.  Therefore, my wife prepared this meal either out of her strong love and devotion to me, or she was so furious at me for giving her the flu that she tried to kill me.  Fine line between love and hate.  I don’t really want to know which one it was.

Fortunately, my wife recovered much faster than did. (I took 6 days longer) When I posted on Facebook that my wife was better, but I was still sick, there was a bizarre reaction which will be the subject of my next blog post.

I now understand how people die from the flu.  There were a couple times when I wondered ….  It usually kills old people, but the new calendar indicates I am no longer a young man.  I was frightened when my subconscious reminded me that I needed to update my will.  I was concerned my subconscious was telling me I was going to die. Then I realized that it was actually good news.  If my subconscious was telling me about something I needed to do in the future, there would be a future. I was going to live! 

This virus is nasty. It dove into my chest and started ravaging my body like a madman.  It is not the B Phuket virus that I wrote about in 2015, although I B-Phuketed up really badly. I have been twice vaccinated against the B Phuket. 

But apparently, I was not protected against the flu I caught because somehow it was not included in this year’s vaccine.  The Center For Disease Control (CDC) never saw this strain coming. This year they whiffed. Whiffed as bad a rookie wailing away over a Corey Kluber sinker. You failed CDC! You failed so very, very, badly.

Now I am a professional forecaster so of course I do understand how difficult these things are to predict. BUT I DON’T CARE BECAUSE SOME DWEEB GUESSED WRONG AND EVEN THOUGH I GOT YOUR STUPID SHOT, I GOT THE #$@&ING FLU!

They will tell you this year’s flu vaccine is only 11% effective. This is a lie based on a guess of what happened earlier this year in Australia. Trust me, this year’s flu vaccine is 0% effective. 0%, none, nada, zippo. Z-freakin’-0.  But they can’t admit it is worthless because this would make them look inept and moronic, which of course they are.

Hello! You are the Center For Disease Control and you are not controlling this disease.  If you need to identify this strain, I have some excess bodily fluids I can send you, provided I can find some bio-waste bags at my local drugstore.  I will find out which strain I had next year when I’m sure it will be included in the new flu shot. The proverbial barn door being sufficiently shut.  

The most ridiculous thing is that medical professionals are still proclaiming: “But it’s not to late to get a flu shot.” Give it up people. just give it up. It may not be too late, but it won’t help you a bit. Z-freakin’-O. And that part about the vaccine offering partial protecting and reducing the symptoms? Not for this strain! Crapola, major crapola.  

Ironically, next October, I will dutifully get my flu shot for the 26th consecutive year. Why? Because anything that gives me any chance of avoiding repeating this awful experience, is well worth it. I just hope the stupid nerdlies at the CDC guess better next year.


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cougars, Clusters and Bad Velcro – 2017 In Review (Part 2)

Some more funny topics that didn’t warrant a full post in 2017

The Endorsement of the Year

The business networking site LinkedIn lets your connections (equivalent to Facebook friends) endorse you for various business skills.  They even send you an email when someone endorses you.  For example, 51 of my connections have endorsed me for “Marketing Strategy”.  It is odd that I have only 24 endorsements for “Forecasting”, which is the most important skill needed in my job. And it is incredible that only one person has endorsed me for blogging. Can you believe that? Uh, okay, let’s forget I even brought that up.

But imagine my delight when I opened my inbox one morning and saw this:

That’s right losers.  You may be glad to be endorsed by Phil in accounting, but I, Don Ake, have been endorsed by Jesus!  Jesus has endorsed me.  I immediately posted the news on Facebook and had a strong boost of confidence the rest of the day.  And you can be sure I put this on my resume -- the top of my resume.  I mean the rest of the resume is sort of irrelevant if Jesus has endorsed me.  Next time I’m in a job interview, competing with a Harvard MBA, I’ll just say: “Sure, you can pick the guy with the great degree. But I must point out that Jesus has endorsed me, and not him. So you can reject me, as long as you are not worried about fire, brimstone and declining profits – stuff like that”.

For the record, my Mexican colleague, Jesus Morales, believes I am skilled at “Competitive Analysis”.

A Most Difficult Job

I noticed this sign in the parking lot of a local company.

Wow!  This place is so messed up they need a Cluster Director to fix all the cluster-farks they produce.  How would you like to be in charge of fixing all the clusters produced by your co-workers?  It’s the equivalent of being the mop-boy at the supermarket.  “We’ve got a major cluster produced by marketing! Send it to our Cluster Director Ken.”  You can fix it, can’t you Ken?”  The sign may look stupid, but if the poor sap is responsible for fixing everyone else’s clusters, then he sure as heck deserves his own parking spot and a big salary too!

Performer of the Year

My wife and I were taking an after dinner walk when we stopped to listen to a singer, Chad, performing in the open-air (3 sides) bar/café under our hotel. He had good voice, was skilled on the acoustical guitar and covered a wide range of music.  I felt bad when we moved on because there were few people listening in the cafe, being this was the off-season.

When we finished our walk, I was delighted that I could hear Chad clearly from my nearby third-floor balcony as he neared the end of his set.  I could not see into the café, but I could tell by the comments, laughter and applause, there was now a small, older, but enthusiastic audience.   And they were enthusiastic because there were some drinks with dinner followed by some after-dinner drinks.  Oh yeah, they were sloshed. But that was fine because they didn’t have to drive home, they just had to make it back to their rooms without falling in the pool.  And they were really enjoying Chad.

Chad had finished all his staple material, so he opened it up for requests.
“Play thum Rod Stewarttttttt”, one of the ladies blurted out. Now Rod Stewart would not be my first choice in an acoustical setting, but without hesitation Chad broke into one of Stewart’s more obscure ballads.

Chad then asked for the next request.

A guy, who no doubt was chugging a large, strong, tropical concoction, loudly and proudly slurs out, “Plaa da Piano Man by Billy Joellllllllllll”!

Now Piano Man is a great song, by a great pianist, Billy Joel, but IT IS CALLED THE PIANO MAN BECAUSE THE SONG WAS WRITTEN TO BE PLAYED BY A MAN ON A PIANO – and definitely not on an acoustical guitar - you stupid, drunk, moron.

Now I have my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing out loud (I was close enough to be heard), wondering how Chad was going to politely deny his request.

But to my utter surprise, Chad replies, “Just give me a moment to download the lyrics”.

I’m astonished! Chad is going to give it a go.  I think this is a huge mistake and anticipate a train wreck.

But the next thing I hear is:

♫ It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday ♫

And then something truly remarkable happened.  Chad delivered an outstanding performance of Piano Man, on the acoustical guitar! Complete with the:

 La la, di da da da dum♫.  

I wanted to stand up and cheer!

Chad foolishly asked for a final request and one of the drinkers stupidly requested a song he had already played. (Gee, I wonder why that song was stuck in her head).  Chad concluded with a song of his choosing.

The show was over, but the entertainment was heating up as one of the “golden girls” put her cougar moves on young Chad as he was packing up.
She kept repeating:


Now the Rod Stewart request made sense.

Yes, she thinks he’s sexy

Yes, she wants his body

And now, she was letting him know.

Chad is darn lucky he didn’t try to play an acoustical version of that one!
I couldn’t see if Chad left alone, but I sense that he did.

Sing us song, you’re the acoustic guy
Sing us a song right here
Well we’re all in a mood for another drink
And they’re serving us plenty of cheer

They Fought The Hunger – And The Hunger Won

For several years the “Fight Hunger Bowl” was the college football bowl game played in San Francisco in December.  This year it was replaced by the “Frisco Bowl”, sponsored by DXL.  But DXL is a men’s clothing company that specializes in “double extra-large” attire (I may or may not be a customer).  So it would appear that even though they tried to fight hunger for numerous years, hunger has won.  Pass the chips and dip, please.

Worst Beach Game

I was lounging on the beach when a young couple (late-teens?) appeared about 30 feet in front of me.  The woman said to her boyfriend “I brought this game for us to play. This isn’t the ball that came with it, but it should work.” 

This statement caught my attention (but not the skimpy bikini she was wearing, I didn’t notice that at all) because this was a Velcro catch game, but instead of a Velcro ball, she had a solid plastic one.  I was now interested in how this game was literally going to play out.

The woman starts off by tossing the ball to the guy.  He catches the ball by trapping it against the Velcro mitt with his bare hand, realizing that it’s not going to stick.

The guy then tosses the ball back.  The woman enthusiastically swings the mitt at the ball --- and WHACK!  The plastic ball ricochets hard off the mitt and rolls down the beach.

Unbelievably, she repeated this effort two more times, with of course, similar results.  After the third failure, the woman yells out: “IT’S NOT WERRRRRKING!”

You may laugh at this woman’s lack of understanding of Velcro, but how many times in 2017 did you repeatedly try to force reality to match your perceptions instead of adjusting your perceptions to match reality?  When I find myself shouting “IT’S NOT WERRRRRKING!” in 2018, I’m going to think about this woman on the beach and try a new strategy.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Sammiches, Chicken and Garbage – 2017 In Review (Part 1)

Every year there are things that are humorous but don’t merit an entire  blog post. So to clear the deck for 2018 and have some more chuckles in 2017, here are some leftovers!

A Monumental Event

My fans have been waiting for this a long time, some women have even been demanded it from me.  Some said it would never happen, others claimed it could not be done.  But during my summer vacation this year, I, Don Ake, made my wife a sammich!

I know you are stunned, but it is true.  I figured no one would believe me, so I took a photo of my remarkable creation.  The pic is not to impress anyone, nor make me look super amazing. No, not at all. You know I would never do that.
But the photo shown here is proof for all you doubters and haters out there.

My wife was surprised and impressed when she returned from the beach to find her sammich.  She was also pleased that it was edible and that I did not make a mess.  Served with a side of chips, it made for a tasty lunch.  I have notified the Food Channel of my abilities, but no response as of yet.

It’s Just A Sammich – Nothing More

In August, I took a local client to lunch at a place called “Grinders”.  They serve delicious submarine sandwiches, grinder being another, somewhat archaic term, for that type of sandwich.  However, when submitting your expense report to your home office located in another state, it may not be clear what the term “entertained client at Grinders” actually means.

There could be questions such as:

What type of grinding was involved in this so-called entertainment?

Was there any bumping going on along with this grinding?

Did any of the ladies working there remove any clothing as part of this entertainment?

Were there any cash tips involved that may or may not be included on your expense report under “Miscellaneous” expenses?

Now in the interest of providing the ultimate in customer service to my clients, I would have endured a bawdier environment. But this was not the case.  It was just sammiches, excellent sammiches at that.  The waitresses were fully clothed the entire time. And this being an establishment that caters to an older crowd, you would never want them to remove any clothing. In fact, if they tried, I would have tipped them generously to refrain.  I will admit to sticking one of the grinders in my mouth, and that’s all.

The Worst Dinner of the Year

While dining at a local restaurant, my wife ordered the 3-piece chicken dinner.  There are basic expectations here. It will be chicken and there will be three pieces.  My wife was served two pieces of chicken and a rock-hard, baked? – probably under-microwaved, potato.  The waitress successfully delivered the third piece of chicken upon request. However, the baked potato had to be sent back a second time for additional microwaving.  Of course, this blatant incompetency was entirely my fault because I selected the restaurant.  I think the staff could use some additional training.  Question #1 on the final test: How many pieces of chicken are in the 3-piece chicken dinner?

Runner Up: A bar-and-grill where one of my groups meet, serves chicken tenders which have a greenish tint.  The chicken tastes okay, it just looks funny.  I will never order it. Why?

I do not like green chick and fries
I do not like them, with the guys
I do not like them in the bar
I do not like them in my car ….

The Biggest Cojones of the Year

In September, a major credit reporting service announced that in May, that would be four months earlier, massive amounts of highly-sensitive, financial data they are allowed to collect on you and 143 million other people, had been hacked.

Now your personal data may or may not have been hacked, since they never sent out a letter informing you for sure.  However, a week after their announcement, this same company was advertising a protection service that stops digital pirates from doing evil things with your stolen data, such as maybe draining all your bank accounts. The ads warn: You are in great danger if these hackers have all your personal financial data.   

Of course, this danger is why you should have guarded my data much better than you did.  But by your gross incompetence, you did create 143 million potential new customers for your swell protective services.  I will not be one of them.  This takes cojones, big cojones. And if I ever meet the person responsible for this breech, I will kick him square in the cojones.

Worst Brown Out of the Year

My neighborhood was suffering cable outages and the technician traced the problem to the line extension in my bedroom.  He asked me how much I watched that TV and I explained “I only watch it when I poop”.  So my desire to watch TV when I poop was shorting out, or more like browning-out, the entire neighborhood system.  We decided to solve the problem by using the Internet. So now I am streaming video while I am streaming other things.

Worst Customer Service of the Year

My trash removal provider changed our pickup day from Tuesday to Friday.  I was not happy with this move because it meant my trash would be picked up on the last day of the week.  As someone whose last name begins with the letter “A” I am used to being at the front of the line, not the back.  I expect to be treated with the respect I deserve, even by my trash company.

Everything was fine until one week when the trash in our neighborhood was not picked up on Friday.  I don’t know if they accidentally skipped us, ran out of time for the week, or whatever.  Regardless, they should have picked up the trash as soon as possible, even if that had to incur additional costs.

When I messaged them through their website, I was informed my garbage would be picked up on Monday.  However, when my wife called their office early Monday morning to confirm, she was told the trash would be picked up on Tuesday.  But it wasn’t picked up Monday, nor was it picked up Tuesday.  A call to them late Tuesday resulted in a commitment for Wednesday, which of course did not happen. The neighbors were enraged! The neighborhood
raccoons? Joyful.

The good news is the trash was finally, and triumphantly for the neighborhood, picked up on Thursday, only six days late.  And then the garbage truck came back on Friday for the regular pick-up, but strangely there was very little trash to collect.  Customer service of this level takes a special type of stupid and most of the neighbors have switched to a new provider who dutifully picks up our trash every Wednesday without fail.

Tommy Timothy Tobias Trout
Would not haul my garbage out
He’d tell us fibs and tell us lies
While coons were happy and so were flies
And though the neighbors would scream and shout
He simply would not haul my garbage out …..

 (Part 2 next week)

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Story of the Christmas Goose – A Touching Tale

Disclaimer: This is a true story and I decided a year ago it would be my next Christmas blog.  It should not in any way be seen as a social commentary about more serious issues currently in the news.  However, if you are offended, please do not feel obligated to buy me a Christmas present this year, and we will call it “even”.

Christmas is coming
The goose is getting fat

It’s that special time of year again. Gather ‘round, children. And this year, I do mean all you adult-children (better send the youngin’s into the other room when you read this one). Your Uncle Don has another heartwarming Christmas tale from days of yore, that will make the season bright.  It’s a touching, a very touching, story indeed.

Some years ago, when your Uncle Don was younger and thinner, he got himself an invitation to a combination surprise birthday/Christmas party for his coworker John.  What could be better than that, children? Two parties in one. A chance to celebrate John’s birthday along with the Baby Jesus’ at the same time. 

And this was going to be a big shindig, children, as a group of John’s coworkers were invited, as well as friends from his neighborhood. Now John lived many miles north of the office, so this party would be a coming together of the prosperous yuppies of the south and the well-to-do preppies of the north.

Uncle Don and his wife made the hour-long trek over the interstate and through the highway to John’s house on a cold Saturday night.  The scene was so Christmassy, children, with the snow on the ground reflecting the festive lights on the house. A large picture window was lit up and decorated with a beautiful garland.

There were over 40 people in attendance, fairly evenly split between work folk and neighbors.  We all gathered together in the living room to surprise John, sing “Happy Birthday”, and shower him with gifts and well-wishes.  Your Uncle Don even cracked a couple funny jokes, as he is known to do.  The party had gotten off to a wonderful start, children, just a wonderful start.

Then something disturbing happened, children.  After the birthday portion of the party ended. People filled their plates with goodies and broke off into numerous groups to share the joyfulness of the seaon.  But there was segregation. And you know segregation is a bad, bad thing, especially at Christmastime. The northern yuppies were in their groups and the southern yuppies were clustered in theirs.  There was lots of Kris-Kring-a-ling, but no intermingling, going on, children.

Then a mericle happened children, another one of Uncle Don’s Christmas mericles. Uncle Don and his wife were in a group of people enjoying the Christmas merriment, when Uncle Don looked down at his plate and saw it was empty!  Fortunately, Uncle Don was standing in the kitchen and there were plenty of free appetizers nearby, so he excused himself from the conversation and went to reload.

Uncle Don had almost reached the food, when Chad, one of the neighbors (the northerners), made a reference to a joke Uncle Don had told earlier and motioned for him to join their conversation!  The south would now be socializing with the north. It was a great Christmas moment, children, not unlike something you would see in a Hallmark special.

Chad was over in a far corner of the kitchen, near the sink. To Chad’s left was his wife Marla and to his right was another neighbor, Cindy, who was short, thin and reasonably attractive.  Uncle Don greeted everyone and we began a pleasant holiday conversation. We was coming together children, we was coming together.

Chad and Uncle Don were doing all the laughing and talking, the ladies were just listening. That is why Uncle Don didn’t notice Cindy moving closer to his left side. And then while Chad was talking, Cindy slyly reached behind Uncle Don and squeezed his left buttock. Oh my, children! I Uncle Don had received a big Christmas goose, but it wasn’t cooked and sitting on the dinner table. A
holiday goose was on the loose!

Your Uncle Don thought maybe he had just imagined the goose or, perhaps it was a mistake. He looked down at Cindy and was greeted with a wry, saucy smile.  Although she had a drink in her left hand, her eyes were crystal clear.  No, there definitely was a gooser in the kitchen.

At that moment it was important for Uncle Don to respond quickly and calmly to this wild goose or the party and even Christmas itself was in jeopardy.  Uncle Don did not smile back at her, even politely. Any hint of encouragement and she may have started dry-humping his leg like a horny Chihuahua right there in front of everyone. Uncle Don didn’t know if he was dealing with a Christmas nymph or a Christmas nympho. But he also didn’t want to appear shocked or repulsed.  If that was the response Cindy desired, the goose could turn into a gaggle.

Instead, Uncle Don gave her his best “James Bond” stare. A confident expression, showing little emotion, as if this was no big deal because his   buns got squeezed all the time. Most importantly, Uncle Don needed to throw her off track and think about her next move because there was another potential problem.

Uncle Don’s wife was standing only about 15 feet away, directly behind him.  He slowly and cautiously looked over his left shoulder.  His wife was facing the opposite direction so she was oblivious to the goose.  Everything in that group of people looked fine. It appeared no one had seen it or alerted her by saying: “That cute chick just grabbed Don’s @$$, you better get over there.” All was still calm, all was still bright.

This was most fortunate. If Uncle Don’s wife would had caught the goose, there could have been a bah-humbug hubbub. His wife often moved around 50-pound bags of material on her job.  It would not have been difficult for her to hoist up that little chicky-mama, carry her to the front room, and toss her right through that big ‘ol picture window.
Now that would have been a spectacular Christmas lighting display, children. With glass shattering everywhere, shimmering in the many colors of the holiday lights. Poor Cindy would have landed face-down in the yard creating an awesome snow angel, well maybe it would have been more like snow fallen-angel.

It would have been a spectacular end to this Christmas party, children, and people would have talked about it for years. And yeah, it would have kinda “hot”. But Uncle Don did not want anything like that to happen to embarrass his friend John and ruin his party. Besides, that picture window looked very expensive and Uncle Don’s December budget was already tighter than his backside, being Christmas and all.  Because of this disastrous possibility, Uncle Don needed to ensure there were no more geese in that kitchen.

Like a Civil War General who was under attack, Uncle Don moved swiftly to guard his flanks, specifically his left flank, which had been exposed and gotten pinched. He moved to his right and turned slightly so his buns were now temporarily out of reach.  He had successfully employed his rear guard.  The conversation continued, but it is extremely difficult to concentrate when your butt can get grabbed at any moment.

Uncle Don waited for a break, said his goodbyes (got the same sassy look from Cindy), loaded up his plate, and returned to his prior group chit-chat. No one was the wiser. However, like a good General, Uncle Don kept his rear-guard employed, backside always pointed at the wall, for the rest of the evening.  And he made sure he knew where the wild gooser was at all times.

Now Uncle Don knows what some of you children are thinkin’ and you are being naughty. Yes, you are having naughty, naughty thoughts. And let me remind you that Santa does reward naughty children.  You are thinkin’ that Uncle Don must have been a flirtin’ with that woman to attract that Christmas goose.  I can assure you that there was no flirtin’, none. Because Cindy didn’t say anything. She was the kind of women who talked with her hands, whose actions spoke louder than any words could. Maybe it was just Uncle Don’s magnetic personality that attracted her hand to his cheek, but there was no flirtin’, none.

Monday morning John stopped by Uncle Don’s office and asked if he had a good time at the party.

“It was great”, he said.  But Uncle Don couldn’t hide the big smirk on his face.

“What?” demanded John.

He motioned for John to come closer and said quietly, “Your neighbor Cindy pinched my butt”.

John was embarrassed and began to profusely apologize.  Uncle Don assured him everything was fine.  John said she had also goosed one of his neighbors. “I think she was drunk”, he said.  He then asked Uncle Don if he had told his wife.

Sometimes coworkers ask you the dumbest questions ever, children. Just stupid ones.  What was Uncle Don supposed to say? “Hey, you know that short, cute brunette at the party? Well, she grabbed my @$$.”  It was already a long, cold, ride back, why make it any longer or colder. I also have a big picture window at my house and – well, why risk it?

I didn’t challenge John’s assumption about whether Cindy was drunk.  I still thought she knew exactly what she was doing.  A couple years later, John and Uncle Don were reminiscing about that party and he told Uncle Don that Cindy had recently divorced.  That didn’t surprise Uncle Don a bit, children.  A woman with hands that active is sure to feel someone or something that elicits a response.  No doubt she had been reaching around some guy, grabbing his butt cheeks with both hands, while enthusiastically pulling him towards her – if you get my drift, children.  And I so much hope you do, because Uncle Don doesn’t want to have to draw you a picture.

Isn’t that the most touching Christmas story you have ever heard, children?  I know I was touched by it.  Really, really, touched by it. It is literally a touching tale, because she was touching, my tail.

So I would suggest this Christmas, and especially at all work functions and holiday parties, that you keep your hands to yourself and ask permission before taking any actions under that mistletoe.  What happens under the mistletoe, stays under the mistletoe, unless your dorky friend takes a pic and posts it.  Then it goes everywhere.  When it comes to Christmas, children, the goose belongs roasted on the table, and not served on the buns.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Middle-Age-Man-Rage Strikes Again

Recently a dispute between two men in their 50’s made the news.  This conflict involving next-door-neighbors in an upscale, gated community resulted in one of the men receiving six broken ribs, including three displaced (serious) fractures.  The reason for the fight is still unknown, but speculation is it may have been over grass clippings, or some other trivial matter.

This incident only made the news because one of the subjects is a U.S. Senator, but I believe fights such as this, involving middle-age men, happen all over the world on a daily basis. Why are these guys so angry that they are crackin’ ribs over inconsequential matters? It’s all the result of something I’ll call   Middle-Age-Man-Rage.

But what causes Middle-Age-Man-Rage? To understand this, we must track a man’s progression through  his age periods.  The capability of a man to mature is dependent how his ability to manage and control his testosterone.  This is much harder than it sounds and if you follow the news, you know some guys never quite figure it out.

Young guys (age 18-30) are filling up with testosterone and are trying to establish their territory and develop their image.  They will eagerly resort to fisticuffs (or unfortunately, gunfire) if either of these is threatened.  They will fight over almost anything, especially women, with little regard for the consequences.

Men (age 31-49), let’s call them Trayfers, start to show more maturity as their testosterone amount levels out and they learn to manage it. By this time, their territory and image has been reasonably established.  They have a better perspective on life and realize that most women are not worth fighting for. 

Whoa! Time out!  This statement is not a put down to you ladies!  Reread the sentence. Even though you are worth competing for, wooing and courting, actual physical confrontations become rare after men reach a certain age. So please calm down.  And I did say “most”.  Yes, there are some women literally worthy fighting for.  If I were single when I was in my 30’s, I would have readily put up my dukes for the likes of Marie Osmond or Shania Twain.  Fortunately, (for the other guy) I was never given this opportunity.

Now, you must remember the general description for Trayfers does not apply to men with very high levels of testosterone. These guys will continue to aggressively acquire more image and territory at any cost.  They will antagonistically pursue power, money and hoochie. These bass-turds often become CEOs and bosses, not because they are any better or any smarter, but because they just desire it more and eliminate the competition.

But sometime during your 50s, an extremely dreadful change begins.  Your testosterone levels steadily decrease resulting in various deleterious changes to your body.  In addition, you suffer a pronounced loss of influence.  Your “territory” and image (among other things) actually begins to shrink.  The results are devastating to the male ego and psyche.  For example:

-         Young women begin calling you “Sir”, not as a sign of respect, but because you are old.  It is code for: “I know you find me beautiful and I know you find me desirous, but you are way too old for me.”

-         At work, you are no longer a rising star, but a fading light.  You may find yourself reporting to a younger, empty-headed, butthole boss, who is the new golden boy.  You may discover you are the oldest one in the room, however your great wisdom gained through experience is deemed inferior to the swell new ideas from the Millennials.

-         Your children are now adults and don’t listen to you at all anymore.  Your daughter even values the financial advice of her dope-smoking, community-activist husband, more than yours.

-         Your wife doesn’t listen to you because she’s heard it all before, numerous times. You are just a broken record in an MP3 world.

-         Your female friends start complaining about someone making creepy comments on their Facebook feed. You wonder who this creep is, but then you can’t understand why you just got unfriended.

All this stuff really super fizzes off the ageing male and sends him into Middle-Age-Man-Rage.  He becomes a raging lunatic who feels he is in danger of becoming irrelevant.

In response, he begins to behave oddly to prove he is still significance and has a manly presence. He wants to show that he’s still got it.  He buys a red sports car, wears a toupee, sloshes on the aftershave, dresses age-inappropriately, marries a trophy-wife and wears lots of bling, etc.  This bling thing is the weirdest of all.  One gold chain is borderline silly, but more than one is laughable.  And to strut around shaking your gold bracelet like it is a chick-lure, is ludicrous.

The middle-age guy is trying to hold on to his territory so he tries to expand his sphere of influence any way he can.  This may include cigar smoking, dominating the air space, and manspreading, which is defined as “men sitting in public transport with legs wide apart, thereby covering more than one seat”. (Wikipedia)

Now on this manspreading thing, I will admit that it exists, but I try to give older guys the benefit of the doubt. There may be some things spreading out and expanding which you cannot see.  My philosophy is: “Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his prostate”. Uh, er, well you get the idea.

You have people treating you differently, you are losing your territory, you are losing your influence and you are physically breaking down as more hair is growing on your back than is growing on your head. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! You’re even too old to even transform into the Incredible Hulk, instead your
Middle-Age-Man-Rage can only change you into the Incredible Bulk. Middle-age guys are walking around with a lot of frustration and any little grievance can set them off.

This results in more fights involving guys in their 50’s over stupid, meaningless issues. They will even pick fights with 30-somethings thinking they will kick their @$$ in order to teach them a lesson.  And when they were in their 30’s they could indeed kick their @$$.  But now they are middle-aged and they are no longer the kicker, they often become the kick-ee.  But they try anyway, all due to Middle-Age-Man-Rage.

As their influence and control wanes, middle age guys cling on to anything they can still control. This is why their lawn greatly increases in importance as they age. You will defend your land like a Viking.  While a grumpy old man (very low testosterone) can only shake his fist and yell at people to get off his lawn, a middle-age guy, filled with Middle-Age-Man-Rage will physically fight to protect it!

That’s why it wouldn’t surprise me that the fight involving the Senator and his neighbor was about yard maintenance.  It has to be something trivial, because both parties are too embarrassed to fess up.  And yet, due to Middle-Age-Man-Rage, the result is life-threatening injuries and a 4th-degree assault charge.  Yes, Middle-Age-Man-Rage is real, and painful for all involved. Including and maybe especially, their wives.

Middle-Age-Man-Rage is a dangerous thing. So please be kind to us middle-aged guys. We all already super-fizzed off, no need to aggravate us more. 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It’s Killing Me To Try Uber

All fathers have that “Rule #1”, the rule which is repeated countless times with strong and serious emphasis.  For mine it was: Never get in a car with a stranger! If you do, he will kill you and you will end up dead.  “Rule #2” was: Never take candy from a stranger because he will use the candy to lure you into his car. Then he will kill you and you will end up dead.

To make sure this rule was fully understood, it would frequently proclaimed and reinforced by examples.

Newscaster: They just found little Timmy Tucker’s dead body in the woods.

My Dad: You see that!  Timmy got into a stranger’s car and ended up dead. The killer probably gave him some candy. 

The message was clear and it was burned into my brain: NEVER GET INTO A CAR WITH A STRANGER

Now in most cases these rules are never needed – but one day when I was around ten years old, I was playing with my friend Johnny in his front yard.  It was the 60s and I was permitted to roam free in my city block, which contained about 20 houses.  We were distracted from our activity by a group of neighborhood kids, noisily gathered around a brown car parked at the corner of the block.  Johnny and I ran over to see what all the commotion was about.

The other kids who were eagerly munching on something, encouraged me to peer into the car. A short, dark-haired man with a mustache smiled at me, extended his hand and said, “Hey kid, here’s some candy.”

Well, chalk one up for a wise father’s instruction.  Without saying a word, I spun around and made a  mad dash for home.  I assure you I have never run harder in my entire life, with my arms flailing, feet barely touching the ground. In my mind, I was literally running for my life.  I can still remember the jaunt, including reaching the safety of my garage, heart pounding, sides heaving, too winded to climb the stairs up to the house.

When my dad got home from work, I recounted the incident, fully expecting to receive the fatherly praise that all children crave. He asked me if I could identify the guy in the car.  I could.  It was Ray, a friend, though maybe just an acquittance, of my father. He had been over to our house a couple of times.
“If it was Ray, it was okay”, claimed dad. I was stunned.  My father was a literal genius, but this is by far the stupidest thing he ever said to me.

It was definitely “not okay”.  Ray was either a pervert/creeper or he was just plain stupid.  Who sits in his car handing out candy to children whose parents are warning them about this exact activity?  But I had encountered a guy trying to lure me into his car with candy and I had lived, all because I had dutifully followed this rule:


So when I first heard about Uber, I laughed. This has to be the dumbest idea ever.  This company is going to bankrupt fast because no one in their right mind will ever get into a car with a stranger. Because if they do, the stranger will kill them and they will end up dead. They will probably find the body in the woods.

But then Uber became very popular. This growth was fueled mainly by those crazy Millennials who were never taught not to get into a car with a stranger because they never got to stray over ten feet away from adult supervision.  You better hire some more coroners, I thought.  Because soon the woods are going to be stacked up with victims killed by Uber drivers.

I still vowed that I would never use Uber because I would have to get into a car with a stranger and he could kill me and I would end up dead.  I thought people who use Uber were just careless idiots who don’t know any better, and they were going to get their fool selves killed!

However, Uber became so popular that thousands of people, even business travelers, started using it.  People who were paying my travel costs started presenting my options as: You can take a cab (said in a monotone voice) or you can use ♫Uber♫ !!!!

They would prefer I take Uber for the main reason everyone takes Uber – to save money versus a cab fare.  But isn’t money just a form of “adult candy”?  So when you use Uber, you are just getting into a car with a stranger because he offered you candy. Case closed!

And if these business colleagues think I will risk my life so they can save a few measly bucks, they can stick it.  I would gladly pay the difference out of my own pocket because it would save my life!

If I worked at a big corporation, I could just imagine:

Boss: It’s too bad about what happened to Don. I can’t believe they found his body in the woods.

Accounting Geek: Yeah, but he used Uber, so we saved 20 bucks!

Boss: Great! And don’t forget to post that new listing on Monster.com.

But then something disturbing happened.  I needed to get from the airport to the beach on an upcoming mini-vacation. My regular ride wasn’t available and a taxi is oh so expensive. So, the best option available was, was, maybe, possibly, Uu, Uu, ber.  However, this would require me to get into a car with a stranger and as you know, I had extreme reluctance to do that.

I did some research and learned that every Uber driver has a rating based on customer evaluations, using a five-star scale.  This was encouraging since I reasoned that killing a person and dumping their body it the woods could significantly lower the rating for that driver.

In addition, before you agree to the ride, you get to see your prospective driver’s name on your iPhone.  So I could reject anyone named Hannibal, Chucky, Freddy, Jason, and perhaps even Ray. With my luck, my first time the app would say: “Your driver is Charles Manson” – Yes, we kept his work-release job secret because we didn’t want to alarm anyone.

An advertisement for Uber declares: “Every Driver Has A Story” and claims even triathletes and chess grandmasters drive for Uber.  I just hoped my driver’s story was not “A Nightmare On Elm Street”.
Is Freddy an Uber driver? 

I installed the app, but was still nervous.  So I did what any strong, macho man would do in this situation. I brought my wife along, which at my age is the teenage equivalent of bringing your mom.  But I did this because my wife is excellent at keeping her calm in stressful situations.  Besides that, it would be much more difficult for an Uber driver to kill two people versus one.

To add to the drama, we would be summoning the ride late at night on the day after Halloween. My hope was that all the Freddy Kruegers of the world had quenched their bloodthirsts the night before and were exhausted at home cleaning off their knives.  Let me assure you, if it had been Halloween night, I would have paid for the cab.

Our plane landed and I was shaking slightly when I hit enter and ordered the ride.  The driver (who fortunately was not Charles Manson) arrived, but wouldn’t you know it, he was a foreigner! A FOREIGNER!!!!!!!   We really, really need to do something to secure those borders!  Okay, he was Frenchman. A young, handsome Frenchman named Frederic.   I think my wife wanted to give him five stars before he even pulled away from the curb.

When Frederic found out this was my first Uber, he asked if I had any questions.  Of course I only had one question: Are you going to kill us?  I decide not to actually ask this since it would be rude if he wasn’t planning on killing us and if not, why even plant the idea in his head.

And although Frederic was a foreigner, his “story” was purely American.  He does Uber at night to help pay off his large student loan debt.

But incredibly, Frederic was very pleasant to ride with and never even mentioned anything about killing us.  We got to hotel promptly and even saved $20!!!!  I think I will use the money to buy candy.  I gave Frederic a 5-star rating, although my wife was disappointed I couldn’t award him 6.

I felt some guilt disobeying my father’s command, but I really enjoyed the Uber experience. Our return Uber trip was terrific also! Those people who are afraid to try Uber are just stubborn, old-fashioned, fools who don’t want to embrace modern technology and such.  And sometimes, even those crazy Millennials know what they’re talking about.