Thanksgiving Leads to Chaos…

One fool’s endless journey into the infernal regions of his own Christmas hell.

Chaos can lead to hate…An all-encompassing hate that drags me kicking and screaming all the way into Christmas. I know this all sounds a bit harsh and overly dramatic, and while I can’t speak for the thousands of us who deliver Christmas one package at a time, it’s true beyond anything you can write about in that cute, little Christmas poem you’re creating for your blog. And unless the Russians or some other cyber terrorists create a long-term solution to shutting down the Internet today,(about a month should do it comrades), this upcoming Cyber Monday will send the chaos into overdrive. And the hatred of Christmas that fuels the darker side of me will be in full bloom like poison ivy on a Boy Scout.

Chaos isn’t the only culprit in my trip to the darker side…frustration, anger, and disgust have their own roles as well. Rarely a morning in December goes by without at least part of that three-headed monster rearing its ugly head; frustration over a situation out of my control; anger at consumerism gone wild; disgust at retailers who have poisoned our world with Black Friday sales that now begin on Brown Thursday?; remember when it was just called Thanksgiving Thursday? And days that now grow dark at 5 P.M. making an already difficult task harder with the absence of daylight. You want even more chaos? Try adding some snow or ice to the roadways, I can promise frustration, anger, and disgust will be fighting it out to see who rides shotgun with me into my personal Dante’s 10th ring of Hell.

There is no doubt in my mind that retailers (and their associated e-commerce websites) combined with the pungent smell of their corporate profitability are responsible for a great deal of the ruination of the Christmas meaning. How many families can say they now spend the time after Thanksgiving eating desert, plowing through store circulars and clipping coupons for in-store only prices? All in the name of cross-referencing and updating their Excel spread sheet with the best door-buster price of the movie Deadpool at Wal-Mart, Kohls, Target or Toys ‘R’ Us. Retailers have trained us well. I suppose we should be happy the retailers let us have most of Thanksgiving dinner to ourselves; starting at 6 PM on Thanksgiving through the month of December, they own our asses.

So as we rush headlong,  financially out of control into Christmas and retail’s upcoming blitzkreig of endless multi-media advertisement and wallet-busting sales, keep one thing in mind; Hell’s coming. I’m coming. And your Christmas presents are coming with me!
Pungent

Germs, Your Dog, & The 5 Second Rule

Fun things you can do at home to test your level of tolerance to bacteria and their ever-present place in your home!

We all grew up under the same simple rule of food handling we know as the 5 second rule:

Drop a piece of food on the floor and it’s safe to eat if you pick it up within 5 seconds.

We’ve always applied that simple rule to food dropped on the kitchen floor, but can it be that cut and dry? To what degree you hold it to be true is up to you, regardless of what others may think of your questionable eating habits. Who of us hasn’t dropped a pretzel or a potato chip on the floor and simply picked it up, shaken off any loose hairs, and jammed it in our face without thinking twice about it? But what about other everyday food stuffs. Consider that piece of jelly toast now feeding and shielding the bacteria on your floor from harm. Do you just pick it up, clear it of any visible foreign objects, and then send it to your stomach to deal with any hitchhiking bacteria, or do you simply throw it away?

Before you continue with the experiment of your body to digest and protect your organs from being scorched by the bacteria colonizing your kitchen floor, there should be a set of control questions in place to aid imageyou in your potentially fatal decision to pick up and eat that slice of jelly toast, and it’s best to have those answers in place before you drop that piece of toast since 5 seconds doesn’t give you much time to conduct a potentially self-harming experiment. I’ve provided some sample questions based on my own kitchen floor. Feel free to use them or tailor them to fit your own potentially hazardous decisions:

  • How long was the toast on the floor? Use the scientific 1 Mississippi…2 Mississippi…method of counting since it’s more precise than just counting to 5.
  • Is the jelly toast for breakfast (the most important meal of the day), or just a snack meant to help fulfill some long denied eating disorder?
  • Is it the last piece of bread? The potential to make another slice could aid in protecting your body from infectious diseases.
  • Was this the last of the jelly? Choosing to eat this slice of toast from the floor could be akin to swallowing a Petrie dish full of germs.
  • What kind of spread is on the toast? Was it your everyday Welch’s grape jelly or the more coveted Smuckers strawberry preserves? The decision to throw away strawberry preserves should not be taken lightly. For those of you with a microscope it might be fun to drop a slice of each and then count the bacteria on a sample size piece of toast to see how many different strands of bacteria are present on each slice.
  • Do you have a dog and was he present when you dropped your toast? I just happen to own a dog, but you can use a cat or a ferret if those are the pets you own.
  • Did your dog come away with some of your potential meal and how offensive do you find it to share your meal with him? If your answer to this question is extremely offensive, then feel free to discontinue your control questions here.
  • Does your dog scoot in the eating area of the kitchen after enjoying his morning constitutional in the yard? Scooting is the action of your dog sitting up straight and dragging his hind quarters along the floor. If the answer is yes, feel free to discontinue your control questions here.
  • Does the amount of loose dog hair on the floor seem to make it hard to discern where the dog ends and the floor begins? If the answer is yes, feel free to discontinue your control questions here and grab a broom or your other sweeping tool of choice.
  • Is your health insurance policy paid and up to date? This last question can’t be stressed enough, and if the answer is no, you might want to discontinue the control questions, give any remaining jelly toast to the dog and go get a nice apple or other piece of fruit to eat.

Can the 5 second rule also be applied to items other than food? To surfaces other than the kitchen floor? To other rooms in the house? The scientific answer to these questions lies not with the Environmental Protecrion Agency, or the Centers for Disease Control, or the American Medical Association (although I’m sure they know), but in your own house and with your own thirst for the knowledge of what the hell you’re eating or putting next to your skin.

Fot more scientific fun you can do at home, try these fun experiments (NOT RECOMMENDED, SERIOUSLY YOU COULD GET REAL SICK):

  • Drop the last slice of pizza or ice cream sandwich on your dog’s bedding; count to 5 Mississippi and then see if you have the chops to eat it.
  • Accidentally knock your open stick of deodorant into the toilet, again count to 5 Mississippi, and then roll it on. The results of your experiment should include the amount of time it took to get back into the shower and the cost of a new stick of deodorant.
  • For a period of one week use one iPad only in the bathrooms in your house and a different one for the other rooms. Complete the experiment by using the ultra-violet light emitted by your Star Wars light saber to detect and count the bacteria on each.
  • For a period of one week, in your bathroom, count the amount of hair around your shower, the toilet, and your sink. Your results should include how many, the average length in each area, color (if necessary), and what it is you think doing this proves, because I can’t think of anything.

Now you’re dropping science!
Scorched

Who Are You To Tell Me I Can’t Complain?

A look back at the week by a conscientious objector to two crappy candidates, and a look forward to a potential 2020 run for the big house.

With the general elections in the books, the country can now rejoice in the knowledge that our Sunday afternoon football games will no longer suffer the endless intrusions of political commercials. Hillary did this…Donald did that…and here in Pennsylvania, Pat Toomey and Katie McGinty will no longer poison our minds with their constant bitching and backstabbing during their contentious Senate race. From here on out, it will be up to NFL officials to ruin a good game with their constant throwing of flags. Come to think of it, they’re really not flags, more like little yellow hankies. Maybe if we required them to call them hankies, they wouldn’t throw so many. After all, flags are to be revered and respected, hankies are something you blow your nose into, which conveniently is also the universal gesture you make when something stinks. As in that call…

Now, hopefully you’re still here and will allow me to vent my spleen about the results of this week. Did you know the spleen was the organ associated with ill humor and melancholy; don’t know why, I’m 56 years old and wouldn’t know what my spleen looks like if you breaded it, fried it in oil and served it to me with my favorite vegetable. Anywho, that stuff earlier about the NFL officials was just the tip of my  proverbial iceberg of complaints. My family and the two or three friends I have know that sometimes I tend to be a little cranky. Really, it’s true. But there’s something I hear constantly now, especially after Donald Trump’s improbable win over Hillary and it’s this…

…”If you didn’t vote, then you’ve got no right to complain about what happens to you.” Well now, ain’t that special. And pure bullshit. It seems some of you Constitution experts have forgotten just how this place works, not to mention the rights afforded citizens with the very First Ammendment to our Constitution…

Congress (nor my fellow citizens*) shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

*I put in this part.

Nowhere in that ammendment does the phrase “as long as you vote” exist. Putting our constitutional rights aside, how you vote, who you vote for, and if you vote, can also come down simply to your moral compass. And with Hillary and Donald, moral compass played a big part in how and who people voted for this year; or whether they chose to vote or abstain based on their own set of morals. And your fellow citizens certainly have no right to tell you which direction your moral compass should pointing. I have a friend (he would be 1 of the 3) and co-worker who is a Consevative/Tea Party/Dem hating Green Eggs & Ham guy (you know who you are), but he was kind enough to not look down on me in that Sean Hannity kind of way, but to understand and take pity on me and my reason for abstention. Questions for discussion: How does a fiscally responsible conservative vote for a guy who sits in a gold chair?, has filed bankruptcy no less than four times?, who so misunderstood the financial climate and downward spiral of Atlantic City and its casinos?, how could he have so overestimated the weight of his last name and his ability to secure bank loans for construction, forcing him to use high interest rate junk bonds to finance his erection…

of the Taj Mahal Casino?

But wait, there’s more. As a citizen, I’ve met most of the lofty expectations of We the People, which grants me the right to not only free speech , hell I can even begin my own 2020 campaign for the White House, thereby allowing me to pollute the landscape with signs heralding my candidacy. As a precursor to my potential 2020 run, and to save both the liberal and the conservative media time, I can at this time state that:

I pay my fair share of taxes (guess I’m just stupid); I make payment for the goods and services I purchase to the persons and businesses I purchase them from, at the agreed upon price and without the relief of bankruptcy to discharge those debts (can el-presidente elect say that?); I’ve committed no crimes (felonies) recently; unlike our elected officials I provide my employer a good day’s work for a good day’s pay (although we both might disagree on exactly what we provide each other); and I respect the rights of my neighbors to throw loud all-night pool parties to which I am not invited; I respect the rights of my neighbors dogs to do their numbers 1 & 2 in my yard (actually I really hate that one and once in the White House there will be no more of that); I’m not stingy giving out Halloween candy (I have the best chocolates); I drive responsibly but irritatingly slow; I give money to my church whenever I’m there; I donate freely to my favorite charities like St. Jude Children’s Hospital & Research Center as well as the Variety Club; last year I personally worked to raise almost $12,000 in support of the great work they do at St. Jude (I’m also back at it again this year); my wife and I have raised and educated two responsible citizens of this country; and even though I’ve not been called recently, I would be more than happy to serve on a jury that allows me to throw any of my current neighbors in the hoosegow, especially the ones with the loud pool parties and the dogs who seem to be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome whenever they walk by my house. (Once in the White House, they can then beg me for forgiveness and a Presidential Pardon. It won’t be anywhere near that easy.)

So my fellow Americans, I reserve the right to complain about our leaders, their policies, and their erections, regardless of my voting history and whether I chose to put them there or not (just our leaders and policies, once in office my first job will be to make sure our leaders are never permitted to have erections of any kind). Our Constitution and Country guarantee me those rights, and I will exercise them until they pull this iPad from my cold dead hands.

Lofty

Swapping Votes? That’s Really A Thing?

It’s finally here. Let’s just hope the outcome tomorrow doesn’t lead to a civil war.

When it comes to the rules of politics and voting in this country, I’ll admit, you won’t find many more clueless than I am. I don’t argue the 2nd Ammendment all that well, and I definitely can’t tell you how to fix the Affordable Healthcare Act. But this week I learned just how out of touch I am when I started reading about vote swapping and how that’s been going on since 2000. 

The concept is somewhat easy to understand, and now with the proliferation of social media sites like Facebook and the development of apps that can match you with a vote trading partner, it may actually someday, in some battleground state, make a difference. The idea of vote swapping emerged during the Bush-Gore Presidential Election of 2000, in where else, Florida. Democratic leaders in the state pleaded with followers of consumer advocate and third party candidate Ralph Nader to not waste their votes on Nader. As the election day got closer, websites promising Gore support in Florida in exchange for Nader votes in traditionally strong Democrat voting states started to pop up. 

Other than the obvious “make your vote count” argument, another part of these vote swapping agreements is in securing federal funding in future elections for a third party like the Green or Libertarian parties. The major party candidate gets a battleground state vote from a third party voter, and the third party candidate gets a vote in a state in which they wouldn’t have counted on one and which has no effect on the outcome of the election other than to help push the third party vote total to the 5% required nationally for the future funding. I can understand how this whole vote swapping process sounds irksome and a bit smarmy, especially to Donald Trump and his supporters who believe his arguments of a rigged election, the thing to remember is there are no guarantees the swap will be acted upon by both parties once they hit the voting booth. The swap is nothing more than an exchange of ideas and preferences on who and how the country should be run. It is not a contract and there has been no exchange of money or services (supposedly) between the individuals. And the opportunity exists for both candidates to take strategic advantage of the process. I’m guessing dating websites like eHarmony and Match.com might want to avoid offering future vote swapping services however for all of the obvious legal and social pitfalls.

I don’t know how many of these swap contracts were agreed upon for tomorrow’s election, or if they would even have any bearing on the results of the election, but with two candidates who are held in contempt by so many Americans, the potential is there for voters to want to make their vote count more than ever. It’s your choice.

image

Irksome

Santa And the e-Commerce Mutants

A Christmas story of endurance, exhaustion, dedication, and the hope that just maybe somebody will appreciate these over-worked mutants enough to share a plate of holiday cookies.

We were never seen as superheroes like Iron Man or Thor or Captain America even. And we weren’t anti-heroes like Magneto and Wolverine, at least not until November and December. Most of the year the public tolerated our existence, a necessary evil in a consumer driven society. But in those final months of the year, when a certain sled driving, long white beard growing, red suit and hat wearing, overweight, elderly gentleman relished us more than the children of the country would ever know, we became the most tracked people on the Internet, even more than the jolly fat man himself. And possibly the most vilified mutants the world would ever know if we failed in our endeavors.

The jolly fat man asks us to do unspeakable things to compensate for his inadequecies, to work longer hours and more days than even that band of miniature, miserable little toy makers he keeps hidden away up north. We are his e-commerce face, his face to the Internet shopping public, his face to people who couldn’t wait until December 24th for their gifts. The face the shopping public would hate the rest of the year if little Jimmy didn’t get the latest, hottest toy available on-line and delivered on-time. We often grew sick and tired of Santa and his persona, his tricked-out sleigh (compensating for something he is), those vile beasts he calls reindeer (actually caribou), and it showed in our public faces, in our contempt for the mutant beings that him and these 2 months would turn us into. There’s a reason why Santa’s always smiling and it’s because we deflected any of the potential criticism about his so-called world class distribution system. 

Did you ever wonder how white beard does it? How he could fit all that stuff into one tiny sleigh? How he could get a pack of flying reindeer (caribou) to circle the world in one night? What happens when there’s no fireplace? Tim Allen aside, I don’t know about the fireplace trick, but the answer to the first three questions is…he doesn’t. He has lots of help from the mutants who cover large land areas such as the continental United States. Sure, he takes a lot of the small boxes and bags and poses for the publicity photos, but the backbone of his Yuletide network begins with those elves and their old-fashioned little toys, ( why he feels compelled to keep them around is a mystery; how many kids really want a little wooden train or airplane?), and ends on the backs of us, his merry-making mutants. Oh, and Amazon. And of course, loving moms and dads everywhere who relish the idea of him to kids not quite ready to do the math on the possibility of his existence.

I’ll bet you’re asking, what could send a mutant into a rage that would scare even Wolverine or Deadpool? It’s not just one thing, it’s everything. An unappreciative pot-bellied boss who gets all the credit, which yes I’ll admit, that’s a pretty common thing; a buying public (say this next part with all the disdain you can muster) who starts buying in early November and doesn’t stop until the last of the after-Christmas sales; drivers who lack the skills to drive in the snow, yet jump in the car at the first sign of snow; homeowners who insist on decorating every inch of their home, especially the house number and mailbox; daylight savings time and the ensuing lack of daylight; those high-beam lights people shine on their front doors to show off a Christmas wreath and are absolutely blinding if you look at them; all the hard to see electric cords and tie downs used to inflate and hold in place those cheesy Christmas yard decorations  that can easily take a mutant down to the ground; and the most asked questions of the season,”What’s this?”, “Who’s it for?”, “Where’s it coming from?”, “Will you hide it in the garage under that green moldy tarp for me?“, and “Can you come back later, I don’t want my kids to see you, or see you bringing it up to the house?”. 

And then there’s the worse insult a mutant endures. The fire truck Santa Clause. For weeks we freaks work tirelessly delivering Santa’s e-commerce packages, and on the Saturday before Christmas these wannabe Santas show up, driving their trucks down neighborhood streets, working their sirens, and tossing those awful candy canes to any kid who comes running. And they do come running, often ignoring the mutant walking up the driveway with a box containing something they really want. It makes a mutant want to climb up on that fire truck and rip that phony…

…thank the pretend Santa for his courage and service…he is a volunteer fireman after all. And when one of his also-phony elves, who by the way is not wearing the requisite green jacket, red stockings, brown shoes, and hat with a feather in it worn by the union boys up north, offers me a candy cane while blowing cigarette smoke in my face, this mutant has had enough,”No, I don’t want one of your candy canes, what I want you to do is move your truck to the side so I can continue with my 14 hour day!”

So this year, as you’re busy spreading your holiday cheer; please give Santa’s e-commerce mutants a happy thought; because we deliver the Christmas you so relish, and all that stuff you bought.

HO-HO-HO! It’s not just his laugh…it’s item number two on Santa’s after Christmas list of things to do.

Relish