Monday, April 9, 2018

STEPPING BACK

While in Denver last August I had a wonderful lunch with two good friends with whom I had worked for many years. We talked and bitched about everything. One subject that came up was that of personal technology - cell phones, Smartphones and so on. I confessed that I had tired of my Smartphone which beeped me incessantly with reminders, texts and alerts. In short, I felt as if I had become technology's slave, dancing to the tune of a tech device which I had come to loathe. In effect, my Smartphone had become my own personal albatross hanging around my neck. Almost on cue, my two friends pulled their phones out of their pockets and revealed two relics of the past - flip phones. They proceeded to tell me how, when they want to contact someone, they call and talk to them. And when they want information of any kind, they ask someone or "look it up". I was very taken by their well-reasoned albeit backward look at technology.

Thus, upon returning home, I made a beeline to the cell phone store to check out what they had to offer in simple flip phones. Truthfully, it wasn't much; the salesman declaring "nobody uses these any more". Despite his consternation, I selected the one remaining flip phone that they had and proudly proclaimed myself free of the annoyances of Smartphones.

I became quite a celebrity around town. People marveled at the last human on earth with a flip phone. I was happy to entertain them while proclaiming my technological freedom:

"Free at last, free at last..."

That changed last week.

I was in a rush to get to Seattle and needed directions quickly. Problem: no smart phone. I needed to check the ferry schedule. Problem: no smart phone. I needed to check traffic. Problem: no smart phone. Needed to get a Uber cab. Problem: no smart phone.

Much as I had done last August, when I returned from Seattle I made another beeline to the cell phone store and, with tail tucked firmly between my legs, I again embraced the technological albatross that I had discarded only 6 months ago.

If there's a lesson to be learned here it's that it's very difficult to turn back the clock and darn near impossible to halt progress.

"Ring, ring. Beep, beep. Chirp, chirp"

You'll have to excuse me. The albatross requires my undivided attention.


Readers, enjoy your day.

Friday, March 30, 2018

A STORY

A number of years ago in Denver I witnessed an incident that has haunted me for years. I was driving in a line of traffic with a bicyclist forward and in the bike lane to the right of my car. The driver in front of me suddenly made a right-hand turn, cutting off the cyclist. The cyclist was able to swerve and avoid the crash but, as a result of swerving and braking, ended up lying on the roadway.

What followed was a scene that I've never forgotten. The cyclist, with the determination of a Tour de France racer, made a right turn and chased after the car which had cut him off. He caught up to the car at the next stop light. He then quickly laid his bike down and proceeded to beat on the car with his portable air pump. After doing considerable damage to the right side door, he leaped onto the hood and jumped up and down repeatedly and feverishly, all the while cursing a long string of obscenities directed at the driver. Not surprisingly, the driver was mentally and physically paralyzed by this bizarre scene.

The final act of this drama came when the cyclist kicked in the front windshield of the car then got back on his bike and rode away. For these many years I have never understood the degree of rage that could lead a person to perform the wanton act of violence that I witnessed.

That all changed this week.

Two days ago, a good friend was killed by a motorist who cut him off in an eerily similar scenario to the Denver incident.

Now I understand.

Rest in peace, Marcus.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

PATENT APPLICATION

U.S. Patent and Copyright Office
Washington, D.C.  20001

To Whom it May Concern:

This letter represents my application for a patent and copyright for a new, innovative product. I came up with this original idea while killing rodents in my backyard today.

Some background information:

I have lived in numerous areas of these United States and, in each and every one of them, I have never seen nor experienced the effects of the rodent known as a mole (Scapanus townsendii). Here is a picture of this creature:


Here in Washington we are overrun with these miserable critters. They make numerous holes and destroy yards by the thousands. They are constant burrowers, digging as deep as 35 feet in their ever-constant search for grubs and worms to eat. You might notice that they have no eyes. Scientists say that they don't need eyes because they spend their whole lives below ground and thus, do not need them. Myself, I think that they lack eyes because they're so damned ugly - if a male and female mole saw how ugly each one was, they would never mate.

While thinking of ways to eradicate this nuisance, my mind drifted to a gift that I received as a child and still is sold to this day - The Ant Farm, pictured here:
As a kid, I treasured my Ant Farm and spent many hours watching these busy creatures working away at doing whatever ants do. This led to a lifetime of enjoying watching other people work while I sat on my ass.

Anyway, The Ant Farm made me think of something that we could do with moles that would help society observe, and thereby better understand these maligned animals. The idea is similar to The Ant Farm but on a much larger scale. My working name for this product is The Mole Farm. The product consists of two 8 x 10 foot pieces of reinforced glass with which a home owner replaces the drywall and studs in a room of their home. The space between the two panes of glass is then filled with dirt. The last part of this product is the mating pair of moles that are also sent via UPS to the homeowner once he/she has notified us that the Mole Farm is constructed in the home and filled with dirt. The two moles are introduced to the Farm via a small sliding glass door.

Then the fun begins.

Imagine the enjoyment of watching these furry critters burrowing away in The Mole Farm. As entertaining as The Ant Farm was, The Mole Farm will be a delight to all members of the family, to the exclusion of video games, TV, cell phones and Words With Friends.

We are estimating sales to at least 100 million U.S. homes which should partially eradicate moles from my backyard.

Further information about this product idea including mock-ups, artwork, advertising and product prototypes are currently in development and will be forthcoming.

Lastly, the building of our first Mole Farm prototype will be completed once I have run the idea past the wife. You will hear from me again pending her approval of the first Mole Farm in the wall of our current living room. I have no time frame on securing this approval.

In short, it may take a while.

************************


Readers, enjoy your day.





Wednesday, February 21, 2018

RUBIK'S CUBE

Does anyone remember the 1980's instrument of torture known as Rubik's Cube? It was invented by a Hungarian guy (guess his name!) who created a revolution in toys and games. His creation is a 3x3x3 cube with 54 individual mini-cubes in 6 different colors on its 9 faces. The trick is to scramble this 3-D puzzle and figure out a way to, well, unscramble it. This is no easy task and, to that end, numerous volumes of text have been dedicated to The Cube's solution...or I should say "solutions", as there are many.

Sometime in December of 2017, when establishing my goals for the current year, I decided that learning to solve Rubik's Cube was a noble task that I should undertake. Toward that end, I would solve The Cube by December of 2018.

Much as I learned how to properly unplug a toilet or stuff a pill down a dog's mouth, I went to that veritable fountain of knowledge known as YouTube for direction. Honestly, most of The Cube instructions on YouTube, while being deadly accurate, are done by experienced, high-speed "cubers" who rip through instructions at breakneck speed. Little do they know that their simple method is not-so-simple to the uninitiated. Thankfully there was one source of instruction which I found to be most enlightening. It was from a man named Noah Richardson who produces nicely done, well thought-out instructional Cube videos. His instructions, combined with several other sources, were instrumental in getting me through eight weeks of mental torture. At the end of that time period I was able to complete The Cube albeit with the occasional use of a cheat sheet.

The next goal was to be able to complete the entire solution without the use of supplemental aids. Said task was completed, believe it or not, in Mexico. Yes, while lying on a chaise lounge in 80 degree sunny weather, Piña Colada in hand, there I was - working by trial and lots of error through the elusive solving of The Cube. And, by some strange miracle, I had it nailed by the end of our 10-day vacation. Truthfully, there's nothing about solving The Cube that requires a degree from Cal Tech - just a lot of time, patience and many Piña Coladas.

For many cubers, the next goal after learning to complete the task is to work on improving one's time. As for me, I'm happy just to be able to finish it without a cheat sheet. And besides, what's the rush?

"José, another Piña Colada, por favor."

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

CHANNEL 858

Yesterday, in my never-ending search for something wholesome, educational and stimulating, I turned on the TV. Knowing that I was looking through a veritable pile of rubbish in search of a diamond, I flipped past the weight loss channels, the botox channels, religious offerings, the Hee Haw Marathon, Kardashian TV, a ridiculous one called "Is Your Colon Happy?", and lastly, news channels of questionable virtue. Starting at channel 2 and ending up in the 800's I found nothing that would suit my immediate entertainment needs. With sore fingers due to remote control fatigue I finally came upon something that, if not appealing, was certainly unique.

There it was.

On channel 858 in the music section of the DirecTV guide.

Christmas music. Not just seasonal Christmas music, but Christmas music played 365 days of the year, 24/7.

Yes, folks, you'll be glad to know that you can tune in to DirecTV channel 858 and enjoy the madcap adventures of Frosty the Snowman in the middle of the summer. Honestly, that may not be such a bad thing. Someone living in Phoenix on July 15th peering at a thermometer reading 117 degrees may welcome the sounds of "hippity-hop-hop, hippity-hop-hop, look at Frosty go".

To that I say bravo to the good folks at DirecTV for bringing much needed cool thoughts to those in need during the sometimes brutally hot summer.

As for me, I'll skip back to another more sensible offering.

Now, what was the number of that "Hee Haw Marathon" channel?

Readers, enjoy your day.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A RUMOR

You heard it here first: LeBron James will join the Bolshoi Ballet when he retires from basketball.

Ridiculous? Certainly.

While Mr. James is certainly one of the greatest basketball players of all time, the thought of his performing for the Bolshoi is beyond the realm of realistic possibilities. But there are those who may argue differently, citing his rhythmic movements on the basketball court matching well with the graceful movements of a ballet dancer. Others may cite LeBron James' hard work and dedication; in other words, if he says he will do it (by gosh) he will do it! After all, if he can be a great athlete, he can certainly be a great ballet dancer. And his appeal! People would flock to see this famous star performing for the Bolshoi.

The possibilities are endless, say those who are less skeptical than I.

While I have the utmost respect for LeBron James, in a nutshell, he is not well-suited to be a member of the Bolshoi Ballet.

Similar to Mr. James' joining the Bolshoi, there is a veritable gaggle of popular culture, non-political celebrities rumored to be lining up at the gates of the White House hoping to be elected to the Presidency in 2020. The rumored list includes, but is not limited to, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Tom Hanks, Mark Cuban, Oprah Winfrey and (maybe) one or more of the Kardashian sisters.

Did I leave anyone out? Probably.

Out of all these names, dear readers, I ask you to pick out the one that you feel will be the most successful.

As for me, I've made up my mind. I feel strongly that LeBron James would achieve greater success in the Bolshoi Ballet than any of the others would as U.S. President.

AFTERWORD: Truthfully, LeBron James has no intention of joining the Bolshoi Ballet. (At least at this point in time.)

Readers, enjoy your day.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

PROBLEMS

Aging baby boomers like myself are constantly bombarded with ads on TV, radio and direct mail regarding problems that we're "supposed" to be experiencing. Among these is Shingles. Admittedly, Shingles (it rhymes with Pringles) can be a miserable condition. That said, I've checked out getting the shot that will prevent the onset of this uncomfortable condition. My curiosity about said inoculation was driven by the always credible Terry Bradshaw's TV ads. Designed to scare the crap out of you, pictures of Shingles sufferers are shown in graphic detail and in full color. Do these scare ads work? I can't speak for others but, because of the sales pitch of Mr. Bradshaw, I ran to my local pharmacy to get more information about the shot. Truthfully, I was only interested in the cost, which I discovered is a whopping $300.

Now I know the meaning of "Shingles sufferers"... they're broke after getting the shot.

But I'm not here to bore both of my readers with tales of personal health care financial suffering. I'd rather bore you with something that really bugs me.

There is considerable advertising directed at men my age regarding "problems in the bedroom". Tune to any golf match, there they are. Tune to any men's do-it-yourself shows, there they are. Even re-runs of Andy Griffith are not immune to the onslaught of ads about this highly personal problem.

Stepping outside of my usual mind-my-own-business demeanor, I did a survey of my male friends.

The findings were astonishing. I was unable to find a single case of bedroom problems among men my age and even among much older men. In short, we have no need for the products that are being sold to address "bedroom problems".

To the advertisers I say "take your sales pitch elsewhere".

The truth is that men my age have no bedroom problems - we sleep just fine.

Readers, enjoy your day.