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, April 30, 2017

Writing Huge Checks Is Taxing – But Patriotic

I gasped as I signed the final check on the morning of April 15th. I don’t have to tell you what the check is for, because it is one of the few days that is so distinctive that we use the actual date to mark the occasion.  It is in effect a national holiday.  We should think of April 15th as America’s birthday, even more so than July 4, because on this day the citizens in the land send the government gifts, pay their literal homage to this great country.  And this year I paid dearly, very dearly.

I was extraordinarily generous this year, by writing four (one fed, one state, two estimates) ginormous checks, involving many zeros.  I know it’s wrong to complain, since the reason I owe so much is because I had a prosperous year.  It’s wrong to complain, so, wrong …. BUT I WROTE BIG F#*%!N& CHECKS! BIG, BIG CHECKS!  BIG ONES!

You may contend that I should have prepared for this better, but preparing for this extraction of funds is as futile as preparing for a root canal, there is still going to be pain, lots of pain.  Planning for this is difficult because my taxes are complicated. Why are they complicated? Well, I’m not telling you and I’m not releasing my tax returns, because people named Donald just don’t have to do that and that’s the truth, pbbtttt.  

Regardless of my situation, sending the all this money to the government creates feelings of intense dread.  I sit there numb after sealing the final envelope, as my bank account cries out in anguish: “Stop, make it stop!  Please, I’m begging you!  You’re killing me, you’re killing me …….”.

Some people claim that paying your taxes is your patriotic duty.  In that case, I feel like Paul Revere, Patrick Henry and Nathan Hale all wrapped into one! Oh, I am sorry.  I just compared myself to real patriots, many who fought and died to found this great country and provide these freedoms I enjoy.  And what were they fighting against?  A corrupt and greedy government that taxed them excessively ….. Oh crap, - let’s just forget I ever brought this up. 

Isn’t it interesting that politicians advocating this patriotic tax paying are always the one’s “making money off of other people’s taxes”.  They are strongly sucking off of the public teat and they won’t budge.  They are addicted to taxes as strongly as junkies addicted to crack. They wail and scream if someone tries to reduce their stash. They are filthy rotten tax whores, that’s what they are.  And they keep sucking that teat, yeah they suck. They really suck.

Maybe it wouldn’t be as painful if so much tax money wasn’t wasted.  If my money was used for something important, maybe I would feel better.  I fantasized that maybe I bought one of those Tomahawk missiles (why do they call it a miss-ile if it’s supposed to hit something?) that were fired off recently?  Yeah, kick a$$!  Yes, boom, boom! But then afterwards there was just a was just a hole in the ground, ehh that doesn’t quite do it. My daughter suggested that maybe my check was so large that I actually paid for the “Mother of All Bombs”, also recently dropped.  Now we are getting closer, except it feels as if they extracted that bomb from my rear orifice.

The taxes are collected by something called the Internal Revenue Service, which has to be one of the worst misnomers of all time.  Your great government has external revenue and we also have internal revenue.  We are so glad that you had such a prosperous year Mr. Ake and that you will be sharing some of your goodies with us! Remember, sharing is caring and we are so glad you care! 

You can take the term “THE IRS” and eliminate the space in between and you get “THEIRS”, because it’s theirs, whatever they want, it’s theirs.  A better name for the agency would be the Tax Bastards, because that is truly what they are. It might even help people feel better if they actually wrote the check to the Tax Bastards.  Of course, since my tax return has not been approved yet, please understand that I am using this term in a very affectionate, endearing, kidding-type way. I love you guys, I really do.

I do employ a tax accountant to do my returns.  I have to, or I would begin my 1040 in February and finish up around Thanksgiving.  I have noticed something peculiar when my accountant Tom delivers the much-anticipated verdict concerning my return. He always has the same big goofy grin on his face, no matter if I owe a lot or I am due (a rare) refund.  I think he does this with everybody as a defense mechanism, so people don’t shoot the messenger.  I bet someone, somewhere, at some time, has literally shot their tax accountant after getting the bad news.  I have never wanted to do that, but I will confess I’ve been tempted some years to kick Tom square in nuts. But I don’t, because he smiling so broadly and it’s difficult to do this to someone who seems so happy.  And Tom knows this, oh does he know this.

Regardless, it is not a good idea to ever kick your accountant in the nuts, no matter how much money you may owe.  Because you could get audited by the Tax Bastards (love you guys) and you desperately need a guy like Tom there to fight with you.

I can imagine sitting in the IRS office for the audit, wondering why Tom is so late, when his assistant sashays in:

IRS Guy:  Is this your accountant?

Me: No, she’s Bambi his secretary.

IRS Guy: Why isn’t your accountant here?

Me: Possibly because I kicked him in the nuts, sir.

IRS Guy: Bambi, how are you prepared to help Mr. Ake settle his dispute?

Bambi: Cash me ousside. Howbow Dah?

Moral of the story: Never kick your accountant in the nuts.

Well, I’ve complained more than enough for one post. I need to get back to work, so I can make more money, so I can pay more …… I’m such a patriot, such a patriot.          

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Working Naked From Home

Everybody is freaking out about so called “Fake News”, but there is an even more serious danger lurking on the Internet.  I will call these the Pure Bullsh*t Advice Article (PBAA).  This drivel consists of some phony know-it-all advising you about a wide variety of topics. The writer’s argument sounds logical, practical and believable to the unknowledgeable, but in reality, it is pure horse hockey.

Recently I came across two PBAAs giving advice on the proper way to dress in certain business situations, something I have considerable experience in.  Sadly, I’m sure there are some poor saps out there that are actually following the advice from these ridiculous articles.

The first one promotes the idea that you should always wear a suit and tie when flying for business purposes, especially on intercontinental flights.  The reason? The writer always does this and one time he was able to close an enormous business deal because someone commented on his fancy duds.
I doubt that this story is even true.  Even if it is, it was pure luck.  If the clothes didn’t initiate the conversation, something else would have.  While there are situations that dictate dressing up on a flight, an important meeting soon after you land for example, for the great majority of flights, there is absolutely no need for this.

The two most important things when being jammed into a tight metal tube with a hundred strangers for a few hours, are to be comfortable and to not stink. These far outweigh any slim chance of closing some magical business deal with a random stranger.  No thanks, I’ll just wear comfortable, respectable clothes and buy a lottery ticket.

Besides that, based on the photo of the guy in the article, this guy is a real d*ck.  I can recognize a d*ck because I have worked with many d*icks over my career.  They dress so fancy and are always bragging about their house, their car, their wife, their investments, their travels, etc.  If you tell an interesting the story, a d*ck will immediately jump in with “That’s nothing, …… and then tell some d*cklike story.  The laughable photo shows this d*ck with his colleagues d*ckhead and d*ckster, all suited up, yucking it up in the front row on the plane. 

I think the real reason this d*ck dresses up for flights is to “chase tail”. Most of the d*cks I’ve known like to chase tail and business trips provide prime opportunities.  Some women (now I’m not saying all women, because that would be sexist) are very attracted to men dressed to the nines.  If you dispute this statement or find it offensive, I will refer you to the ultimate authorities on this subject, ZZ Top, who once proclaimed “They come runnin’ just as fast as they can, ‘cause every girl crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man”.  

The other PBAA, but there are many articles on this subject, instructs people how to dress if they work from home.  The gist of most of these pieces is that you should dress like you would if you worked in an actual office and working in your pajamas is strictly verboten in all circumstances.

This is total hogwash and bullsh*t in its purest form.  These articles claim dressing up for work at home helps you maintain “professional perception” and boosts your productivity”!  

Now there have been numerous research studies (people seem obsessed with this subject) and all they all tend to conclude that office business clothes must be worn when working from home.  Why is this?  These “scientists” are extremely jealous of people who get to work from home. You see, the researchers work in laboratories and have to wear very uncomfortable lab coats, even in the summer, when the accountants won’t let you turn up the air conditioner and you sweat in your shorts all day and go home all stinky.  Yeah, these squinty, egg-headed nerds are very envious  of us work-from-home people, enjoying our comfy, casual work attire.  I can hear them yell as they finish their “scientific study”: “If I have to be this uncomfortable at my workplace, then everyone should suffer!”

Could be a productive worker? 
I will concede that “dressing up” will benefit a few work-from-home people.  The key word is few.  Every home worker must determine for themselves the best mix of comfort and productivity.  For me that means, sweat pants in the winter (no lounge pants) and canvas-type cargo shorts (no athletic shorts) in the summer.  Tennis shoes, (no slippers) but I often will work barefooted in the summer, with absolutely no impact on my productivity whatsoever, oh the audacity.   However, these are my personal standards. I will not judge anyone who can be productive working in their pajamas.  I will also not criticize someone who prefers to dress up, if they work better that way.  There are no universal rules.  That’s why all these articles and studies are rubbish.

Unfortunately, the shenanigans don’t stop there.  I found an article that gives recommendations on stylish, comfortable, clothes for work-at-home woman.  There are the cashmere sweatpants for $498 – “cashmere for comfort – the ribbing makes you look cool!”.  The Gucci sneakers for $695. The silk shirt for $153.  This article says these clothes have the powerful ability to make you feel internally professional and increase your productivity! 

One of the benefits of working from home is that you can spend less money on clothes.  To spend $1300 on one outfit that no one else will see, makes you look externally ridiculous and decreases your bank account.  And, oh, better not spill any grape juice on those cashmere sweats.

To prove how bogus these articles and scientific studies are, I did a little study of my own.  I decided to work completely naked for one day to prove I could still be productive without any clothing at all.  Hey, if I can work fine with naked feet, then I can go full monty, right? Centerfolds and porn stars work fine like this, so why can’t I?

My Naked Productivity Study

I log on my computer and begin the day.  I start working but get distracted by the feeling of my butt cheeks nestled against my leather chair.  Mmmm, ooooh, that feels sooooo goooood, sublime even. Ohhh baby  --- Whoa, snap back, let’s get going on that spreadsheet!

Mid-morning, I realize I have the curtains closed and the dark room is stifling my creativity. No one can see me while I’m seated, so I decide I can walk over and open the curtains ……  Oh, no!  Hello, neighbor Sue, out there walking her dachshund. Well, I got to see neighbor Sue’s wiener dog and she got to see my ……. I hope neighbor Sue doesn’t call the authorities because explaining the situation would really put a crimp in my productivity.

A few minutes later, my dog needs to be walked, guess I really didn’t think this one through.  I throw on my robe and sneak him out in the backyard.  But the dog doesn’t want to do anything in the backyard, even though the world is his bathroom, he prefers the front yard.  It’s rather uncomfortable outside because it’s a bit nippy, especially with that gusty wind.  The dog finds his spot and then … Whoa, holy Marilyn Monroe!  Sure hope the widow Cooper next door didn’t see that.  She’s been feeling rather poorly lately and a shock like that could push her over the edge!  Would hate to have people whispering and pointing at the funeral, “That’s the guy, the tall, bald one.” 

I put on a nice corporate business shirt for the big video meeting after lunch.  The boss is rolling out a big, important, corporate initiative.  At the end of his presentation he declares, “We need total buy-in on this. So I want everybody here and those patched in remotely, to all stand up in a show of solidarity!”.

“Ake! You’re not standing!”

“I’m standing in spirit, sir. I’m standing in spirit.”

After that unfortunate event, I run downstairs to grab a cup of coffee when the doorbell rings, but I don’t have time to go get my robe.

I crack the door slightly, stick my head around the corner, and see a nicely dressed man and woman.

“Good afternoon!  We are Jeneeva Watchneses and we need to talk to you about your spiritual condition.”

Me: I’m sorry, I can’t talk …

Woman: (trying to peak around the door - you naughty girl) Are you naked, sir?

Man: Is your wife at home?

Me: No

Man: Then who are you in there naked with in the middle of the afternoon?

Me: No one, I’m just working, really, I’m working.

Woman: I think someone as sinful as you needs to read every one of our tracts, twice!

Man: Here you go. (throws the literature through the slot) Make sure you read all these carefully and we will stop back next week to talk with you, when you are not “working”.

Alright, I learned that working in the nude is not a good idea and does hurt your productivity. I also learned you should never fart while sitting naked in a leather chair.  Regardless, I still believe that you are most productive, when you are comfortable (but not too comfortable) and people should not follow the fashion advice of these misguided know-it-alls.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I’m Scoring Every Night In This Bed

Recently I purchased a Sleep Number Bed.  I know these things are darn expensive, but I am not trying to impress you with this revelation.  I do not spend money on things to flaunt my status, however I can drop some serious coin on things which are important to me.  Because sleep is important and I spend over six hours a night on a mattress, I figured the cost was justifiable.

We should have replaced our old mattress years ago, but when you have two kids in college you tend to delay some purchases. By the time I wrote the final tuition check, we had become accustom to sleeping on our aging mattress.  It was almost like the mattress intentionally conformed to our bodies in order to extend its useful life and avoid the scrap heap.  But one night I felt a spring pushing against my ribs and it was time.

The Sleep Number Bed is basically a high-tech, adjustable air mattress. You can adjust the firmness on each side of the bed to your individual preference.  The company claims the mattress “contours to you for proper spinal alignment” and most restful sleep.

Now I really enjoy the bed and I am sleeping better, especially with no springs poking my ribs.  However, the most unique aspect of the Sleep Number mattress is the SleepIQ ® app (I am not making this up, see photos).  The app tracks and rates how well you sleep each night.  It records how long you sleep, how long it took you to fall asleep and when you are restless.  It also tracks the number and duration of your bathroom trips.  And it does this individually for each side of the bed. 

This app is truly incredible.  It even measures your heart rate and breathing rate while you are in the bed.  Using all these metrics, it calculates a SleepIQ® score for you each night.  The app even gives you advice on how to improve your score, for example:

Research suggests eating a healthy diet that includes a variety of foods can lead to more normal sleep patterns affecting your SleepIQ® score.

Welllll-doggies!  We don’t just have a bed – we got ourselves a “smart” bed.  I thought the Sleep Number Bed with this app was the greatest thing I had ever seen, until of course, my wild mind realized something extremely disturbing.

If the bed is this “smart”, then it would surely know when two people are occupying the same area of the mattress. Maybe, uh, one person is positioned right on top of the other, for some unknown reason.  It would also be able to sense when unusually strong pressure was being applied to the mattress during some undefined activity. It would be able to measure the duration of that activity, the frequency of that activity, the intensity of that activity, the position of the participants and even the quality of that activity, by measuring breathing and heart rates. It could even tell when and how many times the breathing and heart rate reached a, uh, reached a, reached …. a peak.  It could even produce a graph the entire “encounter”!

So, it would be possible to develop an app (one probably exists) to measure all of this and provide you a “score” for each “session”  I would call it ScrewIQ and the score provided would be an F-number. If your F-numbers aren’t high enough, the app could send you tips to improve your performance. For example:

Women respond well to non-sexual touch. Try giving her a backrub beforehand to improve your F-score.

The implications of this are troubling, however.  You and your partner would be generating more metrics than pro baseball players.  There would be more data on you than Masters and Johnson ever had.  There would be increased pressure on the guy to perform, knowing each time it was being monitored and scored.  Heck, it would be as if some chick in a lab coat was standing in your bedroom with a stopwatch. Wait, no, of course not a stopwatch. Maybe a shot clock, yes, in this case, a literal shot clock. Wait no, no, not a 30-second shot clock.  A timer, with a full 60 minutes on it. Yes, that would cover it, well, most days at least.

If this app became popular, it could change discussions about “bedroom activity” forever.  When women get together to talk about their guys, they would have actual proof of their complaints:

Woman #1:  Roger has not been very satisfying lately , look, a 37 F-score. And my graph is so flat!

Woman #2: That’s dreadful. Maybe you should try your landscaper.

Likewise, guys would not be able to brag so much if they couldn’t produce any proof.  It’s Monday evening in the health club locker room and the muscled neanderthals are bragging about their weekend conquests. Proudly, the pencil-necked accountant whips out his phone and sticks it in their faces:

“Hit an 87 F-score Saturday night. As you can see by the chart, I rang the bell three times, fellas”.

And like any app, it would have multiple uses.  You are sitting in a business meeting, when suddenly an alarm blasts out from your coworker Roger’s phone:

Roger: Oh crap!

You:  What’s wrong?

Roger: My bed alarm just went off.  My wife is doing the pool guy again.  Wait, what day is it?

You: Uh, Wednesday

Roger:  Wednesday? Oh no! It’s not the pool guy, it’s the landscaper! She’s in bed with the landscaper!

You: You have a landscaper?

Roger: Yes, I have some wild bushes that need attention.
You: Indeed, you do.

Roger: Sorry, they just blew past an 82 F-score. I have to get home right now!

Even more frightening, this data is transmitted over the Internet, which means it is vulnerable to foreign hackers, who could monitor your love life in real time.

Hacker #1:  Oh rook! She doin’ it again! Fif time dis week! She so rorny!

Hacker #2:  And dey no stop! She love you long time!

And your data could be sold to companies selling all sorts of aids, pills, devices and apparel.  I am concerned about this potential loss of privacy, very concerned.

Now I know what you are thinking. Don is just being his crazy, imaginative goofy, self.  He is just imagining weird things that could never, ever happen.  But noooooooooooooooo!  You are wrong!

While I was putting this post together, I saw the following headline on a website:

Vibrator Maker Ordered to Pay Out $5 Million for Tracking Users’ Sexual Activity

A Canadian company that sold a “smart” vibrator was caught secretly tracking customer usage through a smartphone app and then got sued.  This is not fake news and I am not making this up.

I do know my friend Carol (I have several friends named Carol and I don’t want the other Carols to be embarrassed, so we will refer to her as THAT Carol) was not a customer of this company.  If they had been tracking her activity, she would have received an award for “Customer of The Year” (prize includes a year’s supply of batteries).

Just knowing big brother, foreign hackers, and possibly everyone in the world could be tracking my bedroom activity has created so much performance anxiety that uh, err, eh. Let’s just say the missus and I have had to adapt to this most unfortunate situation.  On a related note, we will soon need to buy a new couch.  However, I can assure you, it will not be a “smart” couch.