The Birthday Purity Challenge

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“You’re half done,” my father noted to me on my 39th birthday.  It was not presented as a philosophical talking point like a glass half full/empty conundrum, but as an observation.

Now, as I approach 40, will my childlike inquisitiveness transition to old man irascibility?  If this is to be the case, I want to go into the back half of my life with a renewed body and mind so I can become obsessed with over manicured lawns and warehousing newspapers in case the library needs a replacement of a lost edition.  For one month, I will be giving up the following items so I can start the next decade anew:

  • Added Sugar
  • Alcohol

Glucose and socially acceptable levels of drinking are my biggest vises in four decades of living?  Mundanity and caution are more appropriate items to be deleted.  To retrospectively make myself seem cooler, I will be eliminating the following, albeit non-existent, actions/items from my life:

  • Using hard Drugs
  • Womanizing
  • Gambling
  • Smoking
  • McDonald’s
  • Speeding
  • Easy drugs
  • Caffeine
  • Medical physicals
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Playing video games

Now it feels like I’m creating a Facebook worthy vomit post to show everyone how I’ve seen the light as well as providing inspiration for others.

With all my ills and negative influences removed, it is time to do some good in the world.  I will become a self-appointed member of the following groups:

  • PETA (no dog fighting or buying a pet goldfish)
  • Greenpeace (no recreational whale hunting)
  • Diamond Development Initiative (no purchasing or using blood diamonds)

In times of introspection, one often arises to the conclusion he should plan for the future.  Here is a canned list of bucket list items procured from a series of Google searches:

  • Read a book from start to finish (Done-I read 1-2 books a month already)
  • Restore a bicycle (Done)
  • Run a marathon (Done-Did this in my 20’s)
  • Learn to blow glass (sorry, I refuse to learn a useless skill)
  • Go to Europe (Done-Don’t eighth graders do this for their spring break trip instead of DC?)
  • Build a coffee table from raw wood (Done)
  • Dominate spring break in Mexico (Done)
  • Create a blog with zero to few dedicated readers (Done)
  • Drive a 50-year-old car (Done)
  • Watch the running of the bulls—on TV (Done)
  • Own land (Done)
  • Beat a man in fisticuffs (Done—it was sanctioned match with a referee)
  • Shop at Walmart without feeling superior to the other customers in the store (Impossible)

The bucket list was a fairly useless exercise, but I do get a sense of accomplishment knowing I can die tomorrow having done all there is do in life.

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This month of purity has really started to take shape, but to further inspire others, I will add on a series of motivational quotes which sound great, but provide no value in becoming a better person.

  • “Money can’t buy happiness”—No, but it helps.
  • “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again” —Two words: Restraining order.
  • “Live everyday likes it’s your last”—What do you do when you wake up the next day?
  • “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” —Russian Roulette doesn’t have long term positive expected outcome
  • “Hold my beer”/”You gotta get drunk”
  • “Expect nothing and you will never be disappointed” —Is this motivation or a fact?

This life reorientation exercise provided no value to me and showed that periodically hitting the “Reset” button on life yields nothing more than hindsight depression while breeding anxiety of the future.

Thank you for reading and I apologize for wasting your time.

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The Real Problem with Today’s Youth: Travel Sports

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In every town, there is a high school quarterback doinking the head cheerleader underneath the bleachers exchanging a cornucopia of STDs and breeding deep-seated insecurities.  Shortly after graduation, our anti-hero will get a job laying brick while paying child support and falling behind on his retirement planning before succumbing to the effects of CTE.  She will end up in a greasy spoon diner with a two-pack-a-day smoking habit dodging the IRS for not reporting her tips and dealing with a lifetime of daddy issues.  It sucks to peak at 18.  As you log roll down the last three-quarters of your life, consider yourself lucky if you hit a tree and terminate early.

This terrible scenario can all be avoided if kids didn’t dedicate their formative years to travel sports.

Some Moronic Parents Believe Their Child Will Get Paid to Play

It is excellent parenting to want your child to excel at some activity other than iPad watching and telling their parents, “I’m bored.”  Unfortunately, many dads decide their kid is going to play a professional sport.

  • “Just give my son five years of pitching in the majors. Then he can go be an agent”,
  • “I’m not saying he’s going to leave college early to play in the NFL, but I’m not too concerned he failed his multiplication test yesterday.”
  • “I’ve got him playing b-ball up a couple of grades–get him use to playing against bigger players, because in the NBA…”

Your kid just wants play sports as a hobby when he is not hanging out with his buddies.  You, your child’s life advisor, should focus on what really matters:  producing a well-rounded adult who will not be living in your basement until he is thirty-five because Little Tommy’s pro sport career didn’t pan out as father predicted.

Do the Math:  Your Kid Ain’t Going Pro

Here’s a chart I put together.  If you don’t believe in probability, I’ll sum up the chart for you:  It is not going to happen for your kid.

League/Job               Players                     Median Salary     Avg. tenure      Lifetime earnings

Little League Players1 2,600,000 Players $0 N/A $0
Minor League Players2,2.5 7,700 Players $1,000/month *4 years4 $48,000
Major League Players3 750 $1,500,000/year 5.6 years5 $8,400,000
Dentist10 195,722 $190,840 **30 years $5,725,200
High School Teacher6 3,200,000 $58,030 **30 years $1,740,900 plus pension
Elevator Repairman7 20,700 $80,870 **30 years $2,426,100 plus pension

*4 years is the recommended time to see if you are pro material or a minor league lifer.

**Approximation

To further complicate matters, 27% of all MLB baseball players are foreign born, so that kid working on his curve in Chisholm, Minnesota has a world to beat out if he is going pro9.

Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones are not going to pick your boy up in a VW van on the way to a mystical field of dreams where ghosts shag fly balls and talk of banishment from baseball.  Shortly after your son arrives at this imaginary park, he will see a choking victim in the stands.  Your all-star transforms into a doctor and saves the little girl.  The perfect son.  A great movie, but it is only a movie.

Instead, expect to pay $5,000-$15,000 a year on travel baseball8.  You’re going to cough up league payments, staff a fieldhouse of personal coaches, buy home and away uniforms, pull your kid out of school on a semi-regular basis, hemorrhage tournament entry fees (plus buying tickets so you can watch your kid play), acquire a couple of $400 composite bats, spend nights in hotel rooms, and alternate your meals between Chili’s and Ponderosa.

You’re doing all this to give junior the best training to have an opportunity to earn below minimum wage in the minors.  Ten years of travel ball at 10 g’s a year is the same cost as a four year public college at the out-of-state rate or about half of the tuition of medical school12, 13.  A father entrenched in the travel programs will say, “It is worth it”.  Everyone on the outside sees travel sports as the Scientology of organized religion.

We are not raising Spartan soldiers, who by age seven were stripped from their mothers to train as elite warriors11.  Focusing on the nuances of throwing a breaking ball or learning effective bat control when laying down a bunt are hardly the skills needed to protect country, property and freedom from foreign aggressors in order to preserve our way of life.

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As a more reasonable option, house league ball will set you back about $100 a year while using team bats, letting your kid ride his bike to practices, allow dads to coach while concurrently investing in father/son time, maximize the child’s schooling, and eating home cooked meals coupled with sleeping in your own bed.

If your house league child decides to hang up the second-hand purchased cleats and pursue something more sensible than baseball like B.A.S.E. jumping or running an underground scorpion fighting ring, the reverberation of “but we’ve invested so much in your career” will never sound within the walls of your house.

No One Likes a Helicptoer Dad Seasoned With a Heaping Side of Affluenza.

Your spouse will want a divorce.  Team parents don’t like hearing you ramble on about how your son is superior to their kid.  Your co-workers would rather get trapped an elevator while two people discuss fantasy soccer than hang out with you at the coffee machine.  Worst of all, you are setting your child up to follow a path of chasing life situations with negative expected value.

Who Am I to Throw Shade On Your Dreams that Your Son Plays Pro Ball?

After getting on the varsity team my senior year, I realized that I was never going to play as much as I wanted, so I asked the coach to move me down to JV.  The coach agreed to move me, but not the three other varsity players who subsequently asked for the same transition.  My senior year of hockey was awesome.  We didn’t have any ego maniacal parents with inadequacy issues morphed into a tyrant-like hockey parenting making Vlad the Impaler look like Mr. Rogers.  The kids on the team were realistic, because they realized what was at stake:  Nothing.  No one was going to make a career out of a game.  The act of winning was fourth to having fun, staying off the streets, and saying “No to drugs”.

I chose to focus on my education and used sports as recreation.  As for how it turned out, well, I’m glad I didn’t end up in some farm system outside of Mobile, Alabama praying for a scout to notice my ability to be a pull hitter or my time in the 40 yard dash.  Meanwhile my pregnant wife is sucked into the downward spiral that the next phone call might be the invite to the “Big Show”.

I enjoy playing in the beer softball leagues.  I am a sub-average player but it’s OK, because by the time you’re in middle age, hopefully you realize team sports are more about the team and not the sport.

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Man versus Can

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To the CEO of the Manischewitz:

How am I supposed to eat your delicious sardines when I have to solve a jigsaw disguised as the pull open tab on your cans?  If I wanted a brainteaser I would stick with Sudoku or the metal puzzles at select chain restaurants.  Instead, I find myself battling with a can containing two ultra-sharp edges capable of eviscerating the radial index artery in my finger resulting in massive blood loss, the onset of sepsis, and an early grave for a dedicated Season’s customer.

I work out.  I can bench press my body weight, run nearly a 20 minute 5k and, in my mid-30’s, leaned down to 10% body fat.  However, opening your cans is an arduous task.  On more than one occasion, I have forced open the tab while losing complete control of the base of the can.  Oil sprayed all over my work desk and splattered on my heavily faded, medium-quality Gap shirt.

The oil that did not land on me oozed onto the tabletop.  Despite numerous attempts to wipe down the table, the lingering smell of dead fish repulsed my co-workers resulting in an onslaught of insults directed at your product and me.  I am used to the verbal abuse from them, but I took great offense when they attacked the healthy snack your company makes.  I attempted to defend the nutritional value of your sardines with their heart healthy proteins and fats.  My rebuttal was ignored as their complaining persisted until the next day when the overnight cleaning crew was able to use industrial strength chemicals to remove the remnants of the fish oil.

One time I pried open a can and strained a muscle in my forearm.  I have already explained how I am in excellent shape.  I can only imagine what levels of exhaustion and injury normal people, of average strength and aerobic condition, must endure when engaging your pull open tabs.  Although the directions for opening the can are clear and simple to read on the box, the act of opening a can is of a Herculean magnitude.

I appreciate the value of your sardines.  For less than the price of a pop and bag of chips, I can enjoy a natural food that is easy to carry to baseball games, winter campouts, and hikes in the forest.  I eat your pilchards five to six times a week.  If the Frenchman, Nicolas Albert, the originator of canning, could taste your product he would be impressed.  I feel his approval of your container would fall short of his eighteenth century expectations.

“Your best teacher is your last mistake” – Ralph Nader

Admit it.  Manischewitz screwed up.  It is OK.  There is still hope for your product’s container.  Prior to switching to the metal lid, you used a foil lid.  I implore you to bring back the foil lid.  It is easy to open and kid friendly.

Sincerely,

Power user

Enclosure:  a picture of my pantry with 100+ cans of sardines

My sardine stash

UPDATE 5/31/17:  Bonnie, from the Manischewitz company, responded on behalf of the CEO.  She came with the great news that my sardines are now packed in a foil lined can.  She also included 12 cans of their delicious sardines, numerous coupons for sardines, and a very nice letter thanking me for being a loyal customer.  

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So I Collect Art Now…

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I was the Belushi-esque frat kid who, in college, organized a cigarette-smoking contest followed by a Revenge of the Nerds inspired tricycle race. Everyone got a trophy. The only fine art I thought about was building the most robust beer can tower in the entire bar.

Now I am refined.

I sip off-the-menu cocktails, wear dry-cleaned clothes, and collect art. Here is how you can join the gentry.

Why Collect?

Whether any art collector admits it or not, they are in it for bragging rights and/or making money. No one does it for the beauty of hanging a one-off picture, or limited edition signed print, in their foyer entrance. Collecting is the subtle brag about how much cash a man can drop on a thing with no intrinsic value.

Art is the ultimate throwaway toy.

Art Collecting Etiquette

Sales people at galleries say “Buy art because you like it’. The gallery wants you to overlook the fact that you’re paying 5-1,000,000 times markup for $100 of materials and a couple hours of an artist’s time, so they use this line coupled with some white wine to push the sale. The reality is that thousands and thousands of fine art works are purchased and stored in dark, climate-controlled warehouses never to be seen until sold again.

The idea that you must like it is a bunch of hooey. Just buy it, and if you immediately have buyer’s remorse, ship it off to your nearest free port to defer the sales tax instead of hanging it next to your self-portrait in the smoking room.

When you walk into a gallery, how you carry yourself is very important. Initially, the sales people will appear snobbish, but they are usually on some type of commission and want to make the sale just as that used car dealer wants to get that 1999 Honda Civic off his lot. Don’t be afraid to be blunt and ask the receptionist, “How much is that picture?” as you point at it with your umbrella. Referring to it as a picture instead of a “piece” or “work” brings the salesman down to your level. It gives everyone in the room a quick reality check that you know the Matisse gouache (i.e. watercolor picture) they are selling is no different than the Crayola paintings you did of stick figures in your primary school art class.

If you go to an auction to pick up some art to replace the unframed “Dogs Playing Poker” poster you have taped to your wall, don’t expect to bump shoulders with art collecting celebrities. Steve Cohen, the trading genius or insider trading genius depending on who you ask, Steve Wynn, the king of Vegas, or Steve Guttman, the real estate developer turned art collector, will not be in the same room as you. Instead, the Steves will be far away bidding at the evening auction over a phone while you are at the online day auction clicking in your bids on some 1 of a 1,000 print made by some failed artist turned art teacher. If you weren’t bidding the opening price, the thing would have been burned never to be seen again.

How To Be A Big Swinging D*Ck Collector

The Steves don’t buy art because they think it looks unique or inspires them. They buy it so they can run around to all the other Steves at the next cocktail party and say, “You know who just picked up that Lichtenstein, “Masterpiece” for $165MM? I did. Look at how big my crank is!”

Its all ego and purchased pride. Unfortunately, for these guys, there can only be one most expensive painting which forces the Steves to outbid each other at the next auction to remain the alpha of the art collecting world.

Sunday comic OR more money than the mind can conceptualize?
Sunday comic OR more money than the mind can conceptualize?

How To Be A Big D*Ck Collector If You’re Not Hung Like Tommy Lee

Art pricing is extremely opaque. There is no true value for art in the sense of stocks or real estate. It is all demand-driven pricing.

Everyone thinks the big names of art, Picasso, Rembrandt, Dali, or Monet cost millions of dollars for a picture. However, you can dig up a cheap headliner picture for under $1,000. It will probably be a pencil sketch or print, but it is an authentic Pollack, Renoir, or Warhol. Now you have bragging rights.

Almost all artists have produced these budget buys. Buy that low cost signed picture and hang it next to your bathroom door. The next time a guest is at your home and asks, ‘Hey, where can I take a dump around here?’

You reply, ‘Down the hall, second door on the left, just pass the Chagall. If you hit the poster of “Dogs Playing Poker”, you went too far’.

Instant credibility for your eye as a collector and your social status has risen beyond the Everyman dope with pictures of his family at a waterpark vacation and his bros at Spring Break Acapulco in 1993.

Dealing With The Haters

Now that you’re a big deal in the art world, you are going to have to deal with the ones that want to piss on your class-jumping hobby.

You’re going to hear these dumb comments many times over. Here’s how you handle them:

‘My first grader can draw that.’

“Umm, no he can’t. And even if he could, he didn’t do it first. That is why this picture is worth [10x what you paid for it] and your first grader will be grateful to make it to second grade within three years. Besides, the artist leads a high-risk lifestyle and after he kicks the bucket, his supply is capped and the value of this piece* will explode.”

*”Piece” word choice is used to abase the offending guest as well as illustrate your supreme knowledge of the art world.

‘You paid how much for that?!?!?!?’

“Clearly, you don’t understand art.”

Art collecting is an enjoyable hobby but make sure you do it for the right reasons: financial gain and grandstanding.

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How To Thrive at Your 20-Year High School Reunion

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  • Don’t wear your letterman jacket to your reunion.  It doesn’t fit anymore and you will look about as cool as that high school wrestler who wore it to the college bars after losing in the state finals.
  • People look a lot different.  20 years of food, drink, and bad life choices will drastically change relatively innocent people into middle-age adults with real problems.  For some reason, their smile and laugh allow you to see through the baggage taking you back to a happier time where the most important thing in your life was keeping the French-roll in your pants tight.
  • Leave your W2 at home.  No one cares.
  • You will not recognize half the people.  They don’t recognize you either.
  • Remember that quiet girl who was like Laney Boggs from She’s All That before she took her glasses off and became smoking hot?  Well she took her glasses off somewhere between the ages of 20-28.  Don’t start creeping on her now; you missed the low tick on that one.

    Another missed opportunity.
    Another missed opportunity.
  • Someone at the reunion still lives in a rocket ship bed in their parents’ basement.  You do not.  Next time you’re thinking about hooking up the hose to the exhaust pipe in the garage, remember this guy.
  • People will bring spouses.  The tagalong feels as awkward at this event as you did through your four years of high school.  Go talk to them; they are probably more interesting than the people who graduated in your class.
  • There will be at least one totally bald dude.  He was also the same guy who was shaving in seventh grade.
  • You learn that everyone, from the science club kids, to the tight-end on the football team, to the potheads sparking up behind the field house, to the honor roll dorks, to Magic card playing weirdos, to marching band members, to the Marlon Brando looking guy who drove a Triumph motorcycle, all hated high school as much as you did.  Take solace in this.
  • Don’t try to get your comeuppance by laying out the guy that picked on you a generation ago.  He really did turn into a nice guy and was about to apologize for ruining you during high school.  Instead, you punch him in the head before he can make peace.  It turns out he is a regional champion MMA fighter and puts you into a hammerlock.  You end up facing assault charges while going to the hospital handcuffed to the gurney.  History doesn’t change and neither do you.
  • You will have at least two conversations with people who have no clue who you are.   They are trying to make friends to get ahead of the 30-year reunion or back fill some void from high school.  After seven “So how are you’s?”, it is time to move on to a person that you actually talked to in high school.
  • If a girl offers you a ride home at the end of the night, take it.  Unlike high school where you had to wait until prom before you rounded second base.  You might actually get some action within the hour.
  • Gone are the one-upmanship games and shot-for-shot contests at the bar you experienced at the 10-year.  Most everyone has matured to the point where they really care about you and your life.  Pre-conceived judgments are passed over and real conversations happen.  Social cliques are disregarded and people are treated as equals.  That said, there will still be some toolbox who talks all night how he gave the keys of his leased Aston Martin to the valet and got the spot in front of the restaurant.
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Throw Pillows Are The Worst

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I hate throw pillows.  What is the purpose of a pillow that costs an exorbitant amount of money and time, you can’t sleep on them, they house dust mites, and no one, outside of the inhabitants of the bedroom, ever sees them?

Bigger Time Suck Than Facebook 

In the ten years I’ve dealt with decorative pillows, I have wasted approximately five hours of my life throwing them on the floor prior to going to sleep1.  My wife has wasted even more time.  Every morning she carefully puts each one on the bed as she rebuilds our sleep shrine.  When you add in time spent procuring the pillows from department stores, surfing online, as well as consulting others getting second opinions to ensure that they complement the bedding, curtains, and bath towels, the time lost becomes immeasurable.  When Jack Kevorkian’s apprentice pulls the plug on me in some nondescript hospice center, I’m sure I’ll say, “You know, I really wished I spent more time enjoying the beauty of decorative pillows.  Commence the flat-lining.”

The Pillow You Can’t Sleep On 

After flinging the pillow art off the bed, I uncover my trusty, run-of-the-mill K-Mart pillow and sleep.  In the morning my pillow is covered in drool and the dead soldiers from my receding hairline.  Apparently, decorative pillows are meant to be seen and serve no functional purpose.  Any attempt to sleep on the decorative pillow results in a lecture so painful I wish I could have just slept on the hardwood floor without any pillow.  The one-way conversation revolves around themes that I will douse the thing in saliva and snot while sleeping and ruin the pillow.  This confuses my pragmatic approach to life that things are meant to be used for what they were designed for.  Score another point for throw pillows in the “these things are beyond worthless” category.

Truly Is An Art Piece

Even if I were allowed to fall asleep on these pillows, how would I rest comfortably on one with an infinite number of large ruffles, oversized plastic buttons, and a fabric so rough that it makes 80-grit sandpaper seem like a bag of goose down?

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You can pick up this gem at Ethan Allen for only $139.  When I think of a medieval torture device, I think of this.

Michael Breus Ph.D recommends “If you have a plain-old, inexpensive polyester pillow, you should be replacing it every six months” 2.  Somehow throw pillows are exempt from this rule because we have had the same decorative pillows around our house since nearly the turn of the century.  They spend half their life lying in the corner of a room collecting dust mites and other allergens.  During the day, they are transferred to the bed where they deposit all their floor collections to the bedding.  Real pillows become a harbinger for asthma and upper-respiratory infections.  Might as well pack a little ebola and meningitis in the kids’ lunches and send them off to school too just ensure that everyone gets full exposure to all forms of communicable diseases.

These Things Had To Be Invented By Swingers

Who goes into your bedroom anyway?  Unless you’re swinging with the pink flamingo in your front yard, no respectable human walks into your house and says “let’s see the throw pillows”.  Instead, you give them the ho-hum tour of the professional grade Viking Stone, the wet bar in the basement with some super dark, microbrew ale on tap, and the lithograph Picasso near the butler pantry.  No host exclaims, “you must check out my fifteen-year old decorative pillows.”  Throw pillows as decoration make about as much sense as painting a mural on the airducts in the walls for your HVAC system.

I’m sure there is a greater purpose for these pillows and I’m missing it, but until I figure it out, I’ll keep on dealing with the annoyance.

If you have 2 mins, watch me go through my nightly pillow ritual,

If you are a millennial with ADHD, just watch this GIF.

Image result for along came polly pillow gif

15 seconds x 365 days x 10 years = 5 hours

2 https://greatist.com/grow/when-buy-new-pillow

3https://www.ethanallen.com/en_US/shop-decor-pillows-throws-pillows/wildflower-pillow/065562.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=pla|us|nb|cmp|0_500&utm_content=shopping_nb&gclid=CjwKCAjw7MDPBRAFEiwAppdF9MrkIKwDlHjzXK2-SJJ2lOfwWVMpvawtTHmPubbNqGG0tFQkXcYgHBoC3GoQAvD_BwE

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Destination: Hangover 4– Stuck on an Airplane

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A million inside jokes are packed into this airplane story.  If you weren’t on the best bachelor of Sept 13-17, you probably want to tune in for the next installment of Skiing In Jeans.

I boarded the plane and sat across the aisle from my buddy Homer.  Dropping in next to me was a seemingly nice couple who immediately started telling me they were going aboard to blast red stag deer and mount them in a lion hunting scene in their basement.

“Thisssss is your captain sssspkeaing…” a major speech impediment ripped through the intercom.  I am sure the pilot was a very nice man who would be great to hang out with at a pub after landing, but while in flight, I hoped his ability to fly was better than his anchorman voice.

“Here look at this,” the husband said as he pulled out his phone to show me a limp giraffe immediately after the kill.  “I was in a helicopter.  You see, it’s not much of a fair fight, you know, man versus beast.”  I gathered that much after he said “helicopter”.

I glanced over at Benedict who was a row behind me, he was flipping through a book of Bauhaus architecture and talking nonstop about his European adventure.  The old lady next to him felt like I did sitting next to Ted Nugent.  Benedict rambled on and on about straight lines, boring windows and how the root of all great architecture starts with a box of Hungry Jack instant mashed potatoes.

“So what do you?” I pondered trying to get Papa John off the topic of killing for sport.  Sitting in the economy minus section was taking a toll on my knees.

“I.T., but I really like to hunt, let me show you some pictures…” he continued the conversation as if I didn’t already listen the entire ascent discussing hunting Babar.

The drink cart barreled down the aisle causing at least three elbow fractures.  One of the stewardesses looked like a less strung-out Lindsey Lohan.  Dave, ten rows up from me, pulled out his W2 and laid down his rap.  She was mildly amused, but moved on to a ten-gallon hat wearing Texan who looked like an oilman.

SPOILER ALERT:  On this trip of 15 dudes, I, the married guy, am the only one to get some.  A plump, middle-age, beyond drunk woman kissed me on the forehead.  Then she wandered off to suck face with someone more age and physically appropriate for her.  I felt betrayed.

“Here are 400 African shelduck we got last January; only a couple got away,” he said with the same sense of accomplishment as a cardiologist who performed a life-saving surgery on an infant.  In his excitement of reenacting a kill shot, he knocked his wine all over my Z. Cavaricci’s.  He apologized out of obligation.

“How many men did you lose out there?” I asked in a sardonic tone.

“Huh?  One guy got the squirts for a couple days,” he replied, “look at the angle we had these birds coming over the crest—they didn’t see us until it was too late.”  If I stroked out from one of the many blood clots forming in my body, I would consider it a blessing.

Desperation set in as I noticed the big game hunter was only a fraction of the way through his photo album.  I motioned a fraternity distress signal in an attempt for Homer to save me from death by lecture, but he was bartering See’s candies piece by piece for miniatures of Courvoisier.  With his attention diverted, I looked elsewhere for help.  Too bad there wasn’t a friend upgrade option when I was buying my fraternal bond in college.

Near the exit rows, Andre finished the handle of peach schnapps that he smuggled onto the flight.  As we flew over Greenland, I realized the plane was going to suffer for him not bringing a second bottle onboard.  Already his rants about Range Rovers not being a value play and how he doesn’t need life insurance because he bets on himself caused the passengers to cringe.  The beast became more agitated when he grabbed the latest issue of Tech Crunch only to see the “dumbest guy from our [internationally acclaimed university]” on the cover.  This sent him into a rage that would make Amanda Bynes seem suitable for release from the sanitarium.

Bachelor Party Outbound
Bachelor Party Outbound

“What we have here is a black rhino.  There are about 5,000 left.  There was 5,001,” he let out a belly laugh that would make Satan jealous.  I wondered why the airport didn’t sell P.E.T.A hats, or if they did, why didn’t I buy one before boarding the flight?

I excused myself to use the bathroom, free up blood clots, and escape the talk of bloodshed.  Near the back of the plane, Jacko fidgeted like a pre-teen with ADD.  His inability to connect to FaceTime caused him to break out in a sweat while shaking on the verge of seizure.  His dilated eyes glared through me.  I moved down the aisle choosing the vacuum powdered toilet over dealing with a screen junkie.

As I sat back down next to Walter Palmer, the cameo scene of Pamela Anderson from the new Baywatch movie was frozen on Joel’s TV screen in front of me.  I wondered if he was joining the solo-mile high club, if the twenty-nine Xanax he took before takeoff finally kicked in and put him to sleep, or maybe the never-ending talk of blowing up warthogs knocked him out.

The meal service started.  Ernest Hemmingway attempted to steal my dinner wine before retreating to his reheated vegetarian meal.

Here’s to you Thomas.  Enjoy bumping uglies for the first time in your near half of century of life.  She is lucky girl to be hitched to you and your untamed mane of Fabio-looking hair.  Just don’t let her see the “Natalie” tattoo on your right calf.

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Things that Piss Me Off

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Stupid Things People Say:

  • “It is what it is.”  This phrase adds zero value to every conversation other than sucking down oxygen that others may need to make a valid counterpoint.  Apparently, even adults feel the need to earn participation awards just like children.
  • “It’s always in the last place you look.”  Yes, it is.  You are not going to keep looking after you found whatever your senile mind misplaced.  This saying was probably created by an old woman who lost things ad nauseam and need a rebuttal to all their friends and neighbors who say she should be put in a home.

Auto Related:

  • Not moving your car because you found a great parking spot-Following this logic, you will never move your car ever again.  Just keep paying insurance, monthly payments, and other carry costs until you call Victory Auto Wreckers.  Face facts here:  You are living in a place that you can’t afford and are subleasing the parking to pay the gas bill.
  • People who yell at drivers in other cars–the other guy can’t hear you and if he could he wouldn’t care.
  • Honking in traffic-I’m not talking about honking to let the semi know that he is about to back into a three-year old.  I’m ranting about the guy who is at a standstill in rush hour traffic blasting his horn.  We all know traffic sucks, but we don’t need you to remind us that we are stuck in a traffic jam.

Movies

I clap after watching movies in a theater because it annoys and embarrasses my wife.  That said, no one else should ever clap after watching a movie.  Unless you are at the premier of a movie where the director, lead actor, and supporting cast are present, do not try to start a slow clap at an AMC 45 in the middle of Idaho.  All you are doing is cheering for the high school kid who pressed ‘Play’ on the projector as well as delaying your own start in the post-movie race to the bathroom.

Self-Indulgent Go Fund Me’s

Yes, it sucks that you can’t afford to buy that three carat diamond ring for your fiancé or that your kid is not good enough to play on the house league lacrosse team and needs to “play up” on a travel league.  Whatever you do, please do not start a Go Fund Me Page for your inconsequential shortcomings.  There are many worth charitable causes that are tax-deductible and provide benefits for mankind rather than your egomaniacal motives.

Indecision

Indecisive People- You know them.  I know them.  This is how a typical conversation goes (in this case a husband and wife):

Person Normal:  “We’ve done the research.  Are we ready to buy the new Ford Escape today?”
Person Indecisive: “I think we should wait.”
Person Normal:  “Why?”
Person Indecisive:  “Just to make sure.”
Person Normal:  “Is Consumer Reports coming out with a new report on the Ford Escape?  Is Ford going to have a better rebate next month?  Does the Escape have some type of exploding transmission resulting in massive recalls and deaths to all that continue to drive the vehicle?”
Person Indecisive:  “Oh no, none of that.  I think we just wait.”
Person Normal:  “For what then?  We did the research, we just need to sign the papers, drive off in our new Escape, and smell the new car smell.”
Person Indecisive:  “Why don’t we just wait and see?”
Person Normal: “So we just wait?”
Person Indecisive:  “Yes.  I’m glad we made this decision.”

Phone usage

  • Pulling out your phone because someone else does.
  • People who record video that is unnecessary to record.
    • Fireworks shows-You’re really going to rewatch your 2014 July 4th firework show you recorded from your buddy Ron’s backyard? Spolier alert:  They have fireworks every July 4th.
    • Professional sports-If ESPN’s 37 cameras ever fail to capture Corey Seager’s throw to first base and they need your shaky iPhone 5 video for Sportscenter, the world has much bigger issues than calling on you to provide a 38th
    • Anytime someone is in danger. It is not the time to try and get on TMZ as you watch a man die from getting crushed by a manure truck. Turn that camera into a phone and call 9-1-1.

Image result for manure back to the future gif

Special Mention

  • Using door knobs as a towel rack, bag holder, closet bar, or hat rack.
  • Humming or singing indiscernible songs while doing mundane tasks—Your life is not a musical. You don’t need a live soundtrack playing while you do dull tasks like screwing in a light bulb or filling up a bike tire with air.
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My Next Big Project – – Uber Bang

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I run this slick blog with over 100 employees waiting to please their CEO, but if I were really a tech guru, I would have created a ride-share program combined with a dating service called Uber Bang.

This is a trillion dollar idea.
This is a trillion dollar idea.

The idea is simple:  You need a ride.  You are single.  You pull up Uber Bang on your phone.  Next thing you know, you have another notch in the bedpost and you arrive at your destination.  Safety, for the ride and the bang, is our number one concern.

Uber Bang understands that people don’t like to bang with people less attractive than themselves, so at Uber Bang we have a rating system that allows users to rate themselves on the standard 1-10 scale.  Our proprietary rating system takes a guy’s self-rating and lowers it by two ticks.  We raise a woman’s self-rank by three ticks.  The logic is simple.  Guys tend to have lower standards of the girls they will bang, and men also tend to overstate their attractiveness.  Let’s take a look at how this works in the real world:

Jared gets off his shift at Farm and Fleet and needs to get to the other side of town to meet up with his buddies to catch the fall Hokkaido Bank Curling Classic.  Meanwhile, in the middle of town, Rachel just dumped her loser, unemployed boyfriend and is looking to cleanse her palate with a random dude before meeting up with her parents at Ronakor Sushi, the hottest, new raw fish place in town.  Jared pulls up Uber Bang and rates himself a ‘9’ as well as typing in his destination at Yatty’s, a Canadian sports themed bar.  Rachel, feeling a bit depressed because she is approaching thirty and realizes that she may have to join a convent, dials in her attractiveness at a ‘4’ along her destination.

Uber Bang summons a driver as well as notifying Rachel and Jared that they have both a ride and a bang coming their way.  Harold, an available Uber Bang driver, checks the prophylactic supply as well as Tic Tac count before heading off to pick up Jared.

Jared is waiting on the corner when the bright orange Uber Bang van stops in front of him.  Harold looks over Jared to confirm that he is at least a ‘7’ before tossing him a smoking robe.  Rachel is anxious as she awaits the Uber Bang van.  She tosses her hair, checks her makeup, and gives herself a pep talk involving the need to get a new penis in her to flush out any memory of her ex.  As the Uber Bang van pulls up, Jared gives Rachel a wink.  She is somewhat repulsed by this overt attempt at romance, but realizing that dinner starts in twenty minutes, she jumps into the back of the van.  Since Rachel requested the Uber Bang Platnium Ride, Harold turns on the disco ball and puts some Barry White on the sound system.

Jared is grateful that Rachel doesn’t look like his sister and Rachel is happy that Jared looks like a poor-man’s Zac Efron.  Jared tries to make small talk with Rachel, but she is concerned about being late to dinner, so she mounts Jared while Harold navigates through the streets.

Rachel’s stop is first, so she jumps out of the van as Harold tosses her a smoke.  Jared raises his hand in a feeble attempt to say “bye” as Rachel ignores him.  Jared tries ordering the live-action souvenir picture to his phone for five bucks, but Rachel elects to pay up for the veto option and the photo is destroyed.

Uber Bang cares about its customers so it depends heavily on its review system.  Here is how those turned out:

Rachel’s reviews:

Jared:  4/5.  “When Jared started crying, it got a little weird, but we got through it.  Girls, be warned he wears tighty whities, but he’s got solid pelvic motion.  I hope he doesn’t think it is more than a one-off bang.  I don’t need another stalker.”

Harold 2/5.  “I understand that I’m banging in the back of a van doing 30 mph, but I don’t need the driver going all voyeuristic on me.”

Jared’s reviews:

Rachel:  5/5.  “This is the best first date ever!  She kept calling me Jamal instead of Jared but I was balls deep so I didn’t correct her.”

Harold:  4/5.  “The scented candles are a nice touch.  I feel like I’m stuck in limbo between an off-the-strip Vegas titty bar and Mexican all-inclusive in need of serious renovation.”

Harold’s reviews:

Jared: 5/5.  “Jared’s crying just wasn’t right.  That was a first”

Rachel:  5/5.  “Rachel claims she never used Uber Bang before, but all the girls say that.”

You think Uber Bang is just my dumb idea?  Think again hotshot.  It was endorsed by Urban Dictionary.  Check it out here:  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Uber+Bang&utm_source=search-action

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Walt’s Juggernaut Defeated Me

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I surrender.  Next time my family needs a vacation, we will be at the local Holiday Inn using day passes for their pool while I ignite five grand in cash in the lobby fireplace.  Any disappoint I feel from burning through the seed money for my kids’ college education will be more than offset by knowing that another magical Disney adventure has been postponed indefinitely.  Why do I have such despise for the happiest place on earth?  Allow me to recount my experience.

Upon entering Disney World on our first day, my daughter spiked a 101 fever.  After hooking up the IV bag to the stroller so she could mainline Motrin, we pressed on.  Damn the influenza.  We didn’t travel 2,000 miles to sit in a hotel room.  After resolving the fever situation, my son stood in front of the most magical castle in the world and whined that he wanted to go to the hotel pool because it had a waterfall.  I explained we had only been in the park for five minutes and that Disney had Splash Mountain, a waterfall you could ride.  His complaints persisted.

The park had not officially opened and my children were irritating me to the point where I questioned more pleasant situations such as being stranded at a North Korean airport, running out of oxygen in a sinking submarine, or undergoing anesthesia awareness during a major surgery.  Yes, things could be better, and my optimism for the rest of the trip was starting to fade.

Being unfamiliar with the race to the rides after Mickey and his crew do their welcoming ceremony in front of the castle, we were nearly trampled like Who fans as seasoned Disney ticket holders surged when the gates opened.  Joy turned to urgency, which transformed to panic, as parents rushed their children to move faster to be the first on the Seven Dwarfs’ Ride.  Like refugees, fleeing their homeland for safer grounds, strollers were abandoned, crying children were left for security to be claimed later, and the practice of “women and children first” was disregarded.  The rest of the day oscillated between chasing down Fastpass windows and suppressing my children’s vocalization of them hating on the Magic Kingdom, their family, waiting in line, and their legs hurting from walking.

I was not alone in my struggle.  A random father told me “I want to get separated from my family.  Then I’ll be happy.”  Arguments, from what seemed like normally sane couples, erupted as we navigated the park.  If I were to make one suggestion to the corporation, I would urge Disney to offer divorce kiosks throughout the park advertising “Get Divorced Here in Under 10 Minutes!”  That business would be a boon to the bottom line.  My marriage, approaching ten years of wedded bliss, has been through a lot, but nothing as trying as the asphalt labyrinth where an oversize rodent is king.

Mickey Hell
Worst Idea Ever

After two days of chicken nugget lunches, we took a day off.  We stayed back at the hotel.  The children laughed and swam in the pool.  One of them voluntarily took a nap.  My wife and I enjoyed a conversation without passive-aggressive undertones or an assumption of self-destructive behavior on the other’s part.  We ordered pizza; compared to Walt’s prices, it felt like it was free.  The kids went to bed at a normal hour.  Life was good, until we realized we still had one more day of pixie dust and Dumbo rides ahead of us.  We debated eating the cost of the tickets and driving over an hour each way to the ocean, but Disney’s invisible hand beckoned us.

On our third day, we were like downtrodden, weary soldiers going to battle long after the adrenaline had exhausted our systems.  In the parking lot, we traversed to the yellow line to await our tram when a vision appeared before me.  With a banging body dressed in butt-hugging Adidas warm-up pants and a white tank, a woman with red dyed hair broke the monotony of the vacation spawned from the underworld.  I expected to see a vixen of this caliber flaunting her goods at the Spearmint Club in Las Vegas, not in the humid state where retirees go to die.  I enjoyed the respite while ignoring my children open-hand slapping each other as they yelled insults in the key of excrement.  I tuned out my wife’s nagging that we didn’t bring enough cash for the twenty fold marked-up light saber souvenirs.

The tram pulled up with the driver blaring, “You are in the Simba lot, remember this or be lost in our sea of 15,000 parked cars.”  I hustled the stroller and our backpacks onto the tram when a voice exacerbated the drudge of my Disney week, “Simba?  You guys hear that? Let’s do it guys!”

I begged for it not to be my Ariel inspired stripper.  My head rotated to find my fantasy destroyed as she led her family of six in an acapella version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.  Even the dad got into the rolling baseline of the tune.  I don’t know what was worse:   that the family prepared their whole life for this performance or that I used to identify with that idyllic clan only days prior.  I downgraded the woman, who I previously wanted to slather in dollar bills, to just another customer of the forced family fun machine.

My wife made eye contact with me as she mouthed, “It’s their first day”.  Her deadpan comment united us again on a deeper level.  It was the first time on Disney property when we connected in a meaningful way.  Then reality set in that we still had to endure a final day in happy prison.

UPDATE (4/12/17):  After Disney received this letter, I was contacted by a Jessica, a Disney rep, who was very attentive and discussed with me the finer points of my letter.  She offered me 5, 3-day Disney tickets, free of charge, that do not expire until 2037.  Initially I refused, but she insisted I take them in case I changed my mind about returning.  Please keep in mind that Disney really does care about making its customers happy.  

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