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!

Monday, October 31, 2011

It’s Hard To Sit On This Fence

My next door neighbor Jose has two very large oak trees in his front yard.  In autumn, he waits for all the oak leaves to fall from the trees and then he hires a lawn service to clean his yard.

While this works great for Jose, it works badly for me.  My yard is downwind from his which means most of the oak leaves end up blowing into my yard.  You would think that the leaves would continue to travel through my yard into the street, but life isn’t fair and the leaves seem to stick like Velcro to my grass.  Unfortunately I don’t use a lawn service for my leaves.  I don’t use a blower, I don’t use a mower.  I use a contraption that consists of a long wooden handle with long metal prongs at the end.  It is commonly referred to as a “rake”.

But this year I had a great idea. A quick trip to the local hardware store and for less than $20 I had a short, white, garden fence.  I quickly installed the fence at the edge of my property and waited for the leaves to begin falling.

I watched in glee as those leaves smacked hard against my fence and then fell stunned back into Jose’s yard.  A few “high fliers” made it over, but my yard was basically leaf-free while his yard was feeling the “full brunt of autumn”.

I thought the fence was working very well until one day when I was confronted by an angry Jose.

“What is the idea with this fence?” he asked. “There are too many leaves in my yard and there is no place for them to go.”

“But those are your leaves”, I pleaded. “They are your problem and you should deal with them, not me.”

“The leaves should have the right to go wherever they want and they like your yard.  They are very happy there.  That is why they stay and do not come back”, he stated.

“When your leaves settle in my yard, I have added work and expense to tend to them.  That should not be my responsibility, it should be yours.” I protested.

“This is not right, said Jose. “You are a bigot because you do not like oak trees and do not want their leaves in your yard.”

“Not true” I said. I do not want maple leaves.  I do not want birch leaves.  I do not want any leaves that do not belong in my yard!

Jose shouted, “You are not being a good neighbor” and stormed back into his house.

I thought the issue was settled until Halloween evening when I heard a voice booming from a loud speaker from Jose’s yard.  I ran outside and I saw a very strange scene.  There was Jose’s son standing on his porch, dressed in a suit wearing a Ronald Reagan mask and speaking into a microphone.  Furthermore, there were chairs set up in the yard and all the neighbors had apparently been invited to attend this presentation. 

I thought this just some Halloween fun.  The kid was really doing a good job imitating Reagan; he was doing the head bob and everything.   He was reciting an actual Reagan speech and was really getting into it.  I had just realized this was Reagan’s  Brandenburg Gate speech delivered near the Berlin Wall in 1987, when suddenly he turned and looked right at me, and proclaimed:

“Mr. Ake, Tear down this wall!”

“It’s not a wall, it’s a fence”, I yelled.

But it was too late, all hell broke loose.  All the neighbors started arguing with each other.  Some thought it was wrong to put up the fence and contain the leaves.  Others said the fence was a great idea.  One guy thought I didn’t need the fence and that I should just buy a blower and blow all the leaves back into Jose’s yard.  I ran back into my house and peeked out my window until the commotion calmed down.

Who would have thought that a simple solution involving a fence could cause so much controversy?  

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Phoney Messages

The first one I noticed was in the yard of my next door neighbor.  It was a strange symbol, a code perhaps.  Definitely some sort of sign, but to whom?  I wondered if it was a message to alien beings.  This alarmed me because my neighbor’s house was up for sale.  Now I don’t have any reservations about living next door to a “person” of color, unless that color happens to be green.  And you can be darn sure that I paid close attention to potential buyers who viewed the house and if they flew a spaceship to get there.

I watched the skies for several weeks and thought all was fine, but then these weird symbols started popping up everywhere.  They were in front of more houses, they were in the stores.  And then I saw one in my newspaper.  That was too much.  But now I had captured one, so I sought to break the code.

I held it up to the mirror. I studied it under a magnifying glass.  I tried to connect the strange lines on it.  I even dug out my secret Dick Tracy decoding ring, but even it failed to break the code.  What was this strange thing and why were they multiplying so quickly?

I went on something called the Internet and using this neat website I found called google.com, I was able to determine that these strange black and white squares are called QR codes.  These codes contain secret messages that can only be read by people with “smart” phones.  Yes, they are called QR codes because if you don’t have a smart phone, q r screwed!

This just grates my innards.  It’s like we are back in junior high when all the cool kids whispered secret messages and wrote each other private notes that the uncool kids couldn’t have.  With all the talk of national unity we have now divided the country into smart phone people and dumb phone people.  Come on America, we’re better than that!

I of course, do not have a smart phone.  I don’t like having a phone that is smarter than I am.  A few years ago I did have what was considered a smart phone at the time.  It was more like a “smart-ass” phone.  The phone had a mind of its own.  It would do things like go into “sleep mode” when I was expecting an important call.  I think it was demon possessed.  I have never, ever, hated an object more in my life.  And now you are telling me I have to get smart phone to be able to read all these neeto QR messages.

However, I am now considering upgrading to a smart phone next year.  This very much concerns my daughter Cassandra since she would be responsible for teaching me how to use it.  I understand that smart phones can do wonderful things by using something called “apps”.  But for me to effectively use a smart phone I’m going to need an app that can know what I need to do before I even know what I want to do.  A super app that allows me to magically master my smart phone.  No, there’s no app for that.  And Steve Jobs is dead.

Until I am able to get a smarter phone and learn how to use it, I will not be able to read the great stuff that QR codes provide.  Although it wouldn’t surprise me at all that when you scan the “secret” code, you get a message that says, “Isn’t it so cool that you can read this special message, but those losers with dumb phones can’t?”

Well I am not going take this without a fight.  As Jackie Chiles from Seinfeld used to say: “This is an outrageous, egregious, preposterous!”  This is phone intelligence discrimination of the worst kind.  People should not be able to read the messages just because they have a smarter phone. Because this is a discrimination case, I am bringing a big gun to the fight.  That’s right, I’ve put in a call to the. Rev. Al Sharpton.  He didn’t answer so I left a message on his phone.  I just hope it wasn’t on his smart phone.  He hasn’t called back.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gentlemen Prefer Brains?

A few years ago Zogby International did a survey of 2,900 adult males and asked them what body part was most important on “the perfect woman”.  The respondents selected “heart” as their favorite body part with “brain” coming in a very close second. That’s right; men look for kindness and intelligence in their perfect woman ahead of those other superficial characteristics!  Legs finished sixth, behind teeth.  Buttocks were tied with eyes for seventh and breasts were way back in tenth, just below hair. (I am not making this up!)

This survey may not be valid in determining what men really look for in a perfect woman, but it was very effective in demonstrating something women already know.  Men lie.  And on this survey, the men were lying big time.  Brains?  Men like big brains? ZZ Top never sang “She’s Got Brains” and Sir Mix-A-Lot never rapped “I like big brains and I can not lie”.

Saying men prefer brains is not only a lie, it is the very opposite of the truth. Brainy women are not desirable to many men.  I know this should not be the case, but that’s just how it is.  Now you may think men are intimidated by smart women or it is a male ego thing that a man doesn’t want his woman to be smarter than he is, but I think it is more practical than that.

It all goes back to the fact that men lie.  And if men lie, then don’t want a woman that is so smart that they will always catch them in the lies.  The smarter the wife, the better your lies have to be and the more likely you will get caught lying.  If men can’t effectively lie to their wives, they will always be getting yelled at and they won’t be able to have any fun.  And these things are not good for a long-term relationship.

But while men lie about what they want in a woman, I believe women really don’t know what they want in a man.  They know it when they find it, but I don’t think they can express it.  It is more of a reaction that may even be based on such factors as body odor as several scientific studies have indicated.  (And Old Spice wants you to totally mask it!)

Several surveys have shown that most women say they want a man with “a sense of humor”.  And as a guy with a “very large” sense of humor, a humor stud as it were, I can tell you that is pure bull.  This answer sounds better than “I don’t know” but it is also false. 

And just like the men’s “brain” answer, women really don’t want a man with an enhanced sense of humor. 


-          At a family gathering the guy might say something that he thinks is funny, but it is very insulting to the woman’s grandmother who then doesn’t smile again the rest of the day.  Women don’t want that.

-          After a hot sexual interlude, the guy cracks a joke about the experience that totally “ruins the mood”.  Women don’t want that.

-          The man makes what he thinks is a witty comment about his wife in public that other people think is hilariously funny.  After they get home, the man finds out that the comment was not very funny at all.  Women don’t want that.

-          The man jokes at dinner with the hot, young, waitress.  She finds him very funny so he keeps cracking jokes.  She laughs so hard that her, that her, that her “brains” start bouncing up and down.  Women really don’t want that.

(One can only wonder how a man can be so witty, yet be so insensitive.  What a cad this guy is!)

So men lie about what they want in a relationship and women don’t really know.  This may explain why lasting relationships are so difficult to find.  My advice would be this:  If you are man and find a woman who is crazy about you, you might want to disregard some of her physical “deficiencies” and perhaps shower less.

If you are a woman and you find a guy who appreciates your intelligence and is not intimidated by your brain, latch on to him and don’t let him go.  Also, let him get away with a lie once and a while.