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  • Rain.
  • Zippers.
  • Things that won’t fit in suitcases.
  • Politicians
  • Scotch tape.
  • The person in front of you at Starbucks who can’t decide between a mocha frappuccino and a cinnamon dolce latte.
  • A computer – because even though it seems like it knows when you’re having a bad day and chooses that exact moment to crash, it’s just a glorified toaster. (Why doesn’t somebody develop some kind of curse-recognition software to replace online help? – i.e. the way you say “Damn it!” determines what kind of help you get.)
  • Traffic.
  • Stop lights.
  • Delivery vehicles that double-park.
  • Tire jacks.
  • Bus drivers – aside from the fact that they’re encased in a sound-proof – and seemingly sight-proof – cocoon, they don’t care.
  • Maps.
  • Speed bumps.
  • Street signs.
  • Stairs (both the invisible one at the top of the landing and the non-existent one at the bottom).
  • Pants that won’t button.
  • Toys that get left in the driveway.
  • Rakes.
  • Pets (especially hamsters, who are too stupid to understand, dogs, who get their feelings hurt and cats, who get revenge).
  • TV remotes.
  • Automated telephone helplines – the only thing that happens is you get stuck in a loop where you say “Screw you!” and the computer says “I’m sorry, I don’t understand. Could you repeat that please?” and no matter how angry you are you can’t outlast the computer, so you’re the only one who suffers.
  • God (even if you sometimes feel justified).
  • People on TV.
  • Coaches, refs and players on Monday Night Football.
  • Little League Umpires.
  • The cable guy.
  • Anyone who messes up your order at the drive-thru.
  • Anyone in customer service.
  • Anyone with a name tag that says “Asst. Manager.”
  • Tour guides.
  • A fetus that won’t stop kicking in the middle of the night.
  • A spouse that won’t stop kicking in the middle of the night.
  • The Post Office.
  • The DMV.
  • Pre-schoolers – because if they don’t cry, they gasp and say “You said a bad word!” and then repeat it the next day at school.
  • Teachers – imagine having to tell your kid he or she has to repeat 3rd grade because the parent-teacher conference you had last week got really, really ugly?
  • The other cable guy who comes to fix the problem the first cable guy couldn’t fix
  • Anything you stub your toe on.
  • Congress – because unless you’re making a major campaign contribution or have a radio show that reaches 20 million people they can’t hear you.
  • Your boss.
  • Your spouse’s boss – because if you yell at your boss and get fired, you have only yourself to blame, but if you yell at your spouse’s boss and he or she gets fired, you not only have yourself to blame but your spouse has you to blame, too, and if you think it took a long time to be forgiven for, say, denting the car, imagine how long you’ll suffer for this!
  • Your parents.
  • Your irons, putter and sand wedge. (But not, oddly enough, your woods because swearing at them does actually seem to help.)
  • Bills.
  • Yourself.
  • Fate/providence/karma.
  • Life.

But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel good when you do.


It seems like there are two kinds of divorces: the ones where the split is amicable, or at least free from a restraining order, and the ones you get caught in the middle of – where the pain, hatred, contempt, frustration, mistrust and loathing go on long after the marriage ends.

Staying neutral can be a challenge for even the most savvy and diplomatic, but usually – eventually – you’re sucked in:

BITTER EX-HUSBAND: Can you believe my ex-wife! She’s such a selfish, spoiled, careless, mean, stupid, cow. Don’t you think?
YOU: Uh… I couldn’t say.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: Trust me, she is. I’m sure you’ve seen her act that way. You can admit it, she’s a heartless, bossy, mean-spirited, nitpicking, ego-centric, man-hating shrew.
YOU: I.. uh… I guess I haven’t really seen that side of her, but.. uh… I’m sure you know here better than I do.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: ‘course I know her: I was married to her. And trust me: she’s a first class bitc-
YOU: Hey! Will you look at the time? I really have to go.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: What’s your problem? You’re on her side, aren’t you?
YOU: I’m not on anyone’s side.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: My God, she’s turned you against me, too.
YOU: I barely even know her.
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: Yeah, right – you think she’s a saint and I’m an abusive, controlling, foul-mouthed jerk.
YOU: Uh…
BITTER EX-HUSBAND: That’s the exactly the same thing she’s done to our friends, that clueless therapist she dragged us to go see, her lawyer, the neighbors, even my kids. Well you know what? Screw you.

As ugly as these conversations can be, at least they don’t require you to anything more than walk away. What can be worse is when you’re pressed into service:

BITTER EX-WIFE: Say, I’ve been meaning to ask you: you see my ex-husband when he picks up the kids, right?
YOU: Yeah, at the playground after school.
BITTER EX-WIFE:: Interesting.
YOU: Uh-oh.
BITTER EX-WIFE:: I say “interesting” because I’m hearing some things that are just a little troubling.
YOU: I’m sorry to hear that.
BITTER EX-WIFE: Not troubling because I still secretly want him back, or blame him for ruining my life and am looking for ways to exact revenge, but because I’m concerned the children might be exposed to something inappropriate.
YOU: Uh…
BITTER EX-WIFE: Have you ever seen him with a girl that’s much too young for him?
YOU: I can’t say.
BITTER EX-WIFE: If you did, would you let me know?
YOU: I don’t think it would be right for me to spy on your ex-husband.
BITTER EX-WIFE: Oh, heaven’s no – I’m not asking you to spy: just keep on eye on him and his whore for me. And if you can get video or a picture, that would be even better.

Fortunately, there is one benefit to being caught in the middle of this kind of animosity: it reminds you to treat your own spouse with a little more kindness and compassion, if for no other reason the last thing you want is to put your friends, neighbors or even acquaintances in the position of being the “you” in any of the exchanges above.


  1. Don’t make yourself at home.
  2. If you stay longer than invited, you will not be asked to come back.
  3. Ever.
  4. There is no maid.
  5. Seriously — NO MAID, which means whichever host you are related to, or knew first, will end up cleaning up after you (though probably not until after a long, ugly argument).
  6. If you bring a pet, make sure your pet is housebroken.
  7. On second thought, no pets.
  8. When we say “if you need anything, just ask,” we don’t expect you to take us up on it.
  9. But if you really do need something, we’d prefer if you would let us find it for you rather than snooping looking for it in our drawers, closets, cabinets, etc. yourself.
  10. Pottery Barn rules apply: you break it, you buy it.
  11. This rule applies to kids, too.
  12. If you forget your toothbrush, razor, underwear or prescription anti-depressants, please don’t borrow ours.
  13. Just because you walk around naked at home doesn’t mean you should do that here, if for no other reason than seeing you naked will forever change our impression of you, and probably not for the better.
  14. Please refrain from discussing politics, religion or anything else unless you are certain your views are in line with ours, or that we like to argue.
  15. You know that ugly piece of art we have on the wall in the living room? We don’t think it’s ugly.
  16. On a related note, you know the voice you use when you don’t want anyone to hear you? We can still hear you.
  17. Please keep in mind that we invited you, not members of your extended family.
  18. Flush.
  19. And knock.
  20. If you don’t think you can abide by these rules, stay home.
  21. Unless you are family.
  22. And then only come during the holidays, when we are more likely to be forgiving.
  23. And which only come once a year.


  • To go to the gym three days a week for two weeks, then once a week for the next three to five weeks, then three time a week for a week or two, then twice a week for one week before stopping entirely and resolving to resolve to go to the gym more next year.
  • To go on a diet until something happens to necessitate a massive intake of comfort food that will lead to the slow, steady return of the bad eating habits that become entrenched in 2009.
  • To talk about going on vacation someplace new and different, but then go to the same place as last year and the year before and the year before that because it’s easy and cheap and who needs the stress and uncertainty of a big trip anyway?
  • To buy a lot of books about getting organized, but never have time to read them, let alone utilize any of their tips and suggestions.
  • To spend more quality time with the kids, but only when its convenient and/or they’re not being needy, loud, destructive, insolent or pouty, which is probably never.
  • To be greener, but only in ways that don’t involve hardship, self-sacrifice or extra work because, let’s face it, the environment is important but there’s just too much going on right now.
  • To try to cope with the stress of modern life in a productive way, but eventually give up and just over-eat, drink an extra glass of wine or two each night, and take a variety of prescription medications.
  • To save more and spend less, unless there’s a really great sale.
  • To be anxious about the economy, health and well-being, work, family, marriage, saving for college and the future, but hopefully not all at once unless there’s a bottle of wine handy.
  • To come home after a difficult day at work and yell at the kids for no apparent reason, but then feel more guilty about it than normal.
  • To tell the kids again and again to “be careful” and then not be completely surprised when they aren’t and must be rushed to the emergency room for stitches and/or a cast.
  • To worry less about what other people think, unless those other people are the neighbors, selected co-workers or somebody we want to impress.
  • To find meaning and purpose in life, but then forget what it is thanks to chronic sleep deprivation, the never-ending demands of work and our household’s perpetual state of chaos.
  • To maintain a positive mental state, even though it still looks like we’re all screwed.


While it may seem helpful that every toy in the toy store is labeled with a “recommended for ages X to Y” or “suitable for ages X and up,” it’s not.

In fact, in many ways it makes gift-giving much more complicated.

Let’s start with infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers: there isn’t a 21st Century parent who doesn’t believe the one running around his or her house isn’t clearly more developmentally advanced than most others.

Not convinced?

Just think about any conversation you’ve had with the parents since they became parents: doesn’t it always include at least one funny/touching anecdote about how their little angel accomplished something a merely “average” child wouldn’t be expected to do until he or she was much, much older?

Given this, it would seem logical to assume the child’s functional age would be much greater than the child’s actual age, to the point where, for example, a toy designed to help pre-schoolers improve small muscle control would be well-suited for their little toddler.

But no.

Because even if the kid is advanced, there’s no way he or she is that advanced, which means not only won’t the kid be able to use the toy (not for its intended purpose, anyway), the resulting failure, frustration and over-stimulation will lead to a massive meltdown the child’s parents will blame on you and the idiotic gift you bought that traumatized their offspring.

You might as well have given the child a dunce cap and the parents a t-shirt that read “We’re the proud parents of a moron.”

It doesn’t get any easier buying gifts for older kids, either.

Let’s say you have an 11-year-old nephew who loves to play video games. Having spent some time with him, you realize his favorite games are ultra-violent first-person shooters and elaborate, adult-oriented fantasy role-playing games.

So you buy him one.

And then come Christmas Day, when you call over to the house to say “Season’s Greetings,” you’re shocked when nobody will speak to you.

What happened?

The game you got was rated “M for Mature,” just like the dozen other “M for Mature” games he has in his room and plays regularly.

Except his parents didn’t realize this (either because they never set foot in his room because it’s too messy, or because they’re parents and they’re so overwhelmed with everyday demands they filter out everything that isn’t homework or a fight).

PARENTS: What did Uncle Scott get you?
KID: A video game, see?
PARENTS: I don’t think that’s appropriate – it says on the box it’s rated “M for Mature.”
KID: No, it’s fine – I have tons of other “M for Mature” games.
PARENTS: You do?

The result is your nephew hates you because you got all his games taken away and his parents hate you because you’re probably the one who corrupted him in the first place.

As if that’s not enough of an argument against age-appropriate guidelines, there’s also this problem: where do they come from?

Obviously not from parents, because if they did there would be some kind of board or council or non-profit organization responsible for determining them that would have splintered years ago into Liberal, Conservative and Centrist factions that parents would be pressured to support or denounce.

Guidelines clearly aren’t determined by toy manufacturers, either, as they would never open themselves up to such and easy-to-win lawsuit:

ATTORNEY REPRESENTING CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT: Did you or did you not state that this toy was appropriate for children ages 8 and up?
CEO: We did.
CEO: On the label.
ATTORNEY REPRESENTING CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT: But the four-year-olds I’m representing can’t read, can they?
CEO: No, they can’t. Which is why we agree to pay whatever settlement you want.

So who is responsible?

Unfortunately, the only group that’s left is the same group of child development experts who make up all the other guidelines for children — which might seem fine, except that for every parent who agrees with their advice (and quotes it freely, and condemns anyone who doesn’t believe it) there’s another parent who thinks everything they say is just stupid.

So unless you know exactly where the parents of the child you’re buying a gift for stand, you’re better off avoiding toys and their age-appropriate guidelines completely and doing what generations of non-parents have been doing for decades: giving U.S. Savings Bonds.


Don’t give clothes, either, unless you’re absolutely certain the parents will like them, otherwise they end up in a giant box in the back of the closet that’s not just a pain to get out whenever you come over, but becomes an enduring reminder of your bad taste and/or cluelessness when it comes to what kinds of clothes real kids wear.


  • Door dings.
  • Trash bins that are supposed to be animal-proof but aren’t.
  • Dropped calls.
  • FEDEX drivers who double-park.
  • Stores that post the wrong hours online.
  • Meter maids.
  • Parents who bring their kids to daycare when they’re sick.
  • Traffic.
  • Drivers who make phone calls instead of turning.
  • Construction delays.
  • Drivers who don’t wait their turn at 4-way stops.
  • Tele-marketers who claim they don’t have to heed the “Do Not Call” registry because you’re a customer of their subsidiaries’ off-shore cousin’s shell company.
  • SUVs parked in compact spaces.
  • Chatty baristas who don’t seem to care/realize there are now 37 people in line.
  • The drive-thru (especially McDonald’s).
  • Golf.
  • People who don’t pick up after their pets.
  • News promos that use the words “deadly,” “outbreak,” and “protect yourself” when all they’re actually talking about is the flu.
  • Parents who call before 8:30 am.
  • Activities that are canceled or postponed by e-mail a few hours before they’re supposed to start.
  • Radio stations that have 25 minutes of commercials every hour.
  • Things at the supermarket that are still on the shelves days, weeks or months after their expiration date.
  • Cable-company DVRs.
  • Apple Airport Extreme Wi-Fi.
  • Universal remotes.
  • Spellcheck.
  • When your kids hide your keys.
  • Saran Wrap.

If Eskimos have a thousand words for snow, shouldn’t we have a thousand words for life’s little irritations?

For most of us, a day doesn’t go by that God, the universe, fate, karma, quantum physics or all-of-the-above don’t needle our emotional well-being, usually when we’re running late, just had an argument with our spouse or suddenly realized we forgot to get a babysitter for tomorrow night so we could go to dinner and a movie and finally get a break from all this crap.

It doesn’t help that these cosmic paper cuts never seem to be isolated one- offs, either, but instead come in sets, like celebrity deaths and unsolicited parenting suggestions from opinionated strangers – it’s not just the long line at Starbucks, it’s having them mess up your order twice and then spilling your extra-hot, half-caf hazelnut mocha down the front of your shirt as you pull out of the parking lot.

The impact of these little irritations – and they are little, even if we can’t figure out how not to sweat them – increases exponentially as the day progresses, to the point where we find ourselves cursing some 82-year-old women with a walker because she’s not crossing the street fast enough, or threatening to ground our kids for the rest of their natural lives if they EVER give the dog another peanut butter and jelly sandwich again, or contemplating divorce because our spouse forgot (again) to fill up the car when it got close to empty, leaving us in the position of having to coast down the hill to the Shell.

Psychologists say the only reason any of this stuff annoys us the way it does is because it reminds us that we’re not really in control (no matter how thoroughly we’ve managed to convince ourselves otherwise) and that ultimately mastering the moment isn’t nearly as important as just being in it, regardless of whether that moment is good, bad, satisfying, awful, rewarding, stressful, happy, sad, amusing, aggravating, etc.

But as nice as that sounds (in a zen-like, higher-consciousness kind of way), who has the time to learn how to do that? Or the energy? Or the patience?

If learning to live in the moment can’t be accomplished in one 30-minute session two times a week, in the car on the drive home from work, or during one of those rare moments when every kid in the house is quietly pre-occupied, then it just becomes one more thing we don’t have time to squeeze in but try to do anyway – or would try to do if we didn’t have to wait for the knucklehead in the car ahead of us to get off the phone and go.

Note: It’s easy to complain about life’s little irritations, but it’s also important to point out that we could probably eliminate entire categories of irritation if we really, really wanted to – just moving to a remote cabin in Montana and living off the land, for example, would instantly rid us of driving-, shopping-, neighbor-, school- and work-related annoyances (though it would probably more than make up for that by adding starvation-, bear attack-, hypothermia-, and isolation-related irritations, so maybe that’s not such a good trade-off. Plus, let’s not forget that Unabomber Ted Kaczynski moved to a remote cabin in Montana so he could get away from it all and look what happened to him).


Things we want but don’t need:

  1. More choices
  2. The complete season of anything
  3. Bigger HDTVs
  4. New neighbors (they don’t say “The devil you know…” for nothing)
  5. Sleep (though it might not feel that way today, the fact that our eyes are still open proves it)

Things we need but don’t have:

  1. Time
  2. Enough space in the hall closet
  3. Healthy, all-natural, organic snacks that don’t taste like crap
  4. Somebody to validate our decisions
  5. Perspective (which, like car keys and DVD cases, is easy to misplace and doesn’t usually turn up until we stop looking for it)

Things we have but don’t use:

  1. Offers from childless friends to baby-sit
  2. Half of whatever we got at our school’s last silent auction
  3. A fondue set
  4. Kid coupons for “15 minutes of quiet,” “a free back rub,” “breakfast in bed,” etc.
  5. Control over what we do with our life (even though it doesn’t always — or ever? — feel that way)


How much did you overeat on Thanksgiving?

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Everybody makes fun of Driver’s License photographs, but how good could anyone look after spending three hours and 19 minutes at a place like the DMV?

The walls are painted a government-approved shade of beige that seems to have been chosen for its ability to induce nausea. God only knows what kind of deadly germs and pathogens are breeding freely on the furniture (which looks like it was bought on the cheap at a Nixon Administration yard sale and then left in a basement storage room for three decades). And if you think tinnitus is irritating, it’s a lullaby compared to the hum given off by row after row of cheap fluorescent lights.

Still, that would all be tolerable if you could just take a number and wait by yourself.

But you can’t.

If you’ve ever wondered what the people on “Cops” do when they’re not getting arrested, or what somebody who considers personal hygiene to be optional looks like, all you have to do is turn to either side of you and say “hello.”

Clearly, somebody has been peeing in the gene pool.

How else can you explain the toothless, tattooed biker chick/meth addict taking the motorcycle test who doesn’t see the problem with asking the proctor if he can give her a hint? Or the old lady renewing her license who insists she doesn’t need a vision test, but then can’t even find the line she’s supposed to stand behind to take it? Or the guy at the center of a booze-cloud you can smell from 20 feet away who gets upset because they won’t let him re-take his driver’s test right now?

As bad as it is to be near people like this, however, it’s a whole lot worse when you realize you’re no different than people like this – because when you get up to the window and the clerk says you need two additional pieces of ID, not one like you thought, you protest…

And say nobody told you…

And say you’ve been waiting all morning already…

And say that they should make an exception…

And say the rules are stupid…

And say they are stupid for enforcing them…

And say just about every idiotic thing you can think of, until you finally realize you are saying every idiotic thing you can think of.

At which point you go home, get another ID, and wait in line all over again.

And then they take your picture.



  • Even if you are the first person in line, first thing in the morning, you will end up waiting an hour and a half.
  • Anything that can be screwed up will be screwed up.
  • Just because you are half-blind, senile, psychotic or drunk doesn’t mean you can’t renew your license — though if you’re half-blind you’ll have to take the vision test.
  • The fact that you’re supposed to take a number when you walk in only confuses the people in front of you who never learned to count.
  • Instructions are in Albanian, Arabic, Bosnian, Cambodian, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Korean, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Somalian, Spanish, Turkish, Thai and Vietnamese, but stupidity seems to be the same in any language.
  • If your car gets stolen, it is likely the person who stole it is waiting in line in front of you.
  • Saying you “work at the DMV” is kind of misleading – a more accurate description would be to say you “do as little work as you possibly can so you don’t get fired from the DMV.”
  • No matter how fat you are, there will be a woman ahead of you who weighs at least 100 pounds more than you do. (This may be the one positive thing about the DMV.)
  • One couple waiting in line will get into a huge, screaming argument.
  • One couple waiting in line will dry hump each other until a DMV employee asks them to stop.
  • Somebody will video this couple and post it on Youtube.
  • If you think a set of instructions are so simple even a moron could follow them, the moron in line in front of you will prove you wrong, and require up to 25 minutes of redundant, repetitive picture-based explanation before he or she realizes you can’t just take the driver’s test and get a license, you must actually pass it first.
  • If you accidentally marked “A” even though you know the answer is “None of the above,” you still have to re-take the test.
  • If the fee is $25 and you only have $23, you are $2 short no matter how many times you say “Please” or “Couldn’t you just cut me a little slack?”
  • Even if there are 50 open seats, somebody will sit down right next to you.
  • The person who sits down next to you will make you consider leaving and coming back tomorrow, even if you have already waited two hours and are next in line.


If it’s the cleaning lady’s job to clean the house, why do we always pick up before she comes?

(Usually just before she comes, too, with one of the kids stalling her in the foyer as we scramble to de-clutter the upstairs.)

It would be one thing if we were motivated by conscience, believing it unfair to have her clean everything, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Are we worried she’ll realize we’re really just a family of slobs?

She can probably tell that already, thanks to dishes that occasionally end up under the bed and the collection of crumbs, coins and God-knows-what-it-is she regularly unearths from beneath the sofa cushions.

Do we think she’ll tell the H.O.A. how much more disgusting our house is than, say, the neighbor’s down the street?

(It is, but only because they have no kids.)

Or do we just not want anyone — even the cleaning lady — to find out how much of our lifestyle is an illusion, and that the only parts we have the energy to maintain week in, week out, are the ones that other people see?

(And if this is the case, is it a valid reason to switch to a cleaning service that relies on a small, anonymous army that moves too quickly for any one that’s a part of it to form any kind of impression of what a stye the house usually is?)


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  • What do you do if you just don’t get it?
  • Does that mean you’re hopelessly out of touch?
  • Or that you have better things to do?
  • If you do sign up now, doesn’t that mean the whole thing is that much closer to being uncool? And that everybody under 25 is already moving on to something else?
  • What if you sign up and nobody wants to be your friend?
  • What if you sign up and nobody wants to be your friend except people you don’t want to be friends with?
  • If somebody invites you to be their friend but you have no idea who they are, should you still accept?
  • And if you don’t accept, should you explain why?
  • Will they hate you?
  • If somebody doesn’t accept your friend request, should you take it personally?
  • If you do take it personally even though you haven’t talked to the person in 10 or 15 years, is that strange?
  • What if your boss wants to be your friend?
  • Or your creepy neighbor?
  • Or the person who got drunk at the last neighborhood block party and tried to hit on you?
  • If you sign your parents up because you think they will get a kick out of it but then they start posting updates you find embarrassing, stupid or just a huge waste of time, will they cut you out of their will if you unfriend them?
  • If you run into somebody you’ve unfriended at the supermarket, do you have to ignore them?
  • Will they ignore you?
  • When you create your profile, should you make it public or private?
  • If it’s public, how much personal information should you share?
  • If it’s private, how much personal information is too much personal information?
  • Can you exaggerate?
  • Is everybody else exaggerating?
  • If you look at the photos of your friends from high school to see if they are fatter than you are before including your own photo, does that make you a shallow person?
  • If you look at the photos of your friends from high school to see if they are fatter than you are before photoshopping your own photo, does that make you a bad person?
  • If you don’t post very often, will your friends think you’re just too boring?
  • If you post all the time, will your friends think you’re just too bored?
  • What if your updates are stupid?
  • What if your updates are pointless?
  • What if your updates are way too long and personal?
  • What if nobody ever responds to your posts? Ever? Does that mean you’re a loser?
  • Or just offline?
  • What if you just don’t want to tell everyone what you’re doing?
  • If you are pissed off about something and/or drunk and you respond to a friend’s post with an update that’s mean-spirited or cruel, can you just send them an e-mail to say you’re sorry?
  • Or do you have to make the apology public, too?
  • Where does it all end?
  • If you reluctantly sign up for Facebook, how long before you then have to sign up for Twitter?
  • And if have no time for Facebook updates, how are you going to find time to tweet?
  • What is a tweet, anyway?
  • At what point does all this social networking become too much for anyone to keep up with?
  • Have we reached that point already?
  • And if we have, could somebody please go to Facebook or Twitter and say so?


Spending too much time online? Wondering if it’s time to connect with friends the old-fashioned way?

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  • More people are worried about H1N1 than will ever contract H1N1.
  • No matter how often you wash your hands, avoid public places and keep six feet from anyone who looks sick, somebody you know won’t, and that’s who you’ll catch it from.
  • The same health experts who remind us that H1N1 isn’t really that much worse than the regular seasonal flu remind us that the regular seasonal flu kills 36,000 every year, so we should still get vaccinated.
  • None of which matters since there’s no vaccine right now anyway.
  • That said, if you’re one of those people who won’t get the vaccine when it’s available because you think it will give you the flu, you won’t get the shot and you won’t get the flu.
  • If you’re one of those people who thinks that people who won’t get the shot because they think it will give them the flu are stupid, you’ll get the shot and you’ll get the flu, confirming their suspicions. (Though you won’t have contracted H1N1 from the vaccine, you’ll have gotten it from the person in front of you at the flu shot line.)
  • This is an actual recommendation for preventing the spread of H1N1: “If you do have swine flu, do your best to stay out of the emergency room, doctor’s office or urgent-care center.” So where are sick people supposed to go? (Besides — depending on their politics — their Congressperson’s office or the lobby of their health insurance provider.)
  • There is one benefit to H1N1: employers are actually encouraging employees to stay home if they’re not feeling well, which is particularly good to know given the fact that the symptoms of H1N1 are exactly the same as a bad hangover, and the holidays are coming up.
  • Given how freaked out people are about H1N1, you’d think you could get infected just by reading about it.
  • On the other hand, nobody has said you can’t.

The end.


What’s the most frightening thing about Halloween?

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PARENT: Did you decide what you want to be yet?
KID: A vampire.
PARENT: I don’t know if that’s such a good idea.
KID: Why?
PARENT: You’re not supposed to be anything anyone might find inappropriate.
KID: Seriously?
PARENT: That’s what it said in the paper.
KID: I guess I could be G.I.JOE.
PARENT: No, you can’t do that because your school has a zero-tolerance policy on weapons.
KID: What if I leave the plastic gun at home?
PARENT: You’d still get expelled for wearing a holster.
KID: How about I go as a hobo?
PARENT: That’s culturally insensitive.
KID: You were an Indian when you were a kid, what about that?
PARENT: That’s racially insensitive.
KID: A wrinkly old man?
PARENT: That’s ageist.
KID: The Devil?
PARENT: Too many people think Halloween glorifies Satanism, so that’s not a good idea either.
KID: How about I just throw a sheet over my head and go as a ghost?
KID: Why?
PARENT: Covering your face like that would be a safety issue.
KID: Then what should I be?
PARENT: How about a clown?
KID: No way – clowns are too scary.


Which means:

    1. Whatever the weather forecast is for next weekend still has a 50% chance of being wrong — 75% if it’s supposed to be a nice.
    2. All the good candy is already gone.
    3. If you are hoping to exchange the costume you told your child not to get because you knew he or she wouldn’t ultimately want to wear it, you are probably out of luck because all the good costumes are gone, too.


      Since educators are always looking for ways to make lessons more relevant to students, how about using more realistic scenarios in story problems?

      For example:

      1. Billy’s parent’s mortgage is $2200 per month. But since Billy’s Dad lost his job and Billy’s Mom had her hours cut, their monthly take-home pay is only $3200. After subtracting $1400 for food, $80 for cell phones, $440 for a car loan, $340 for cable, gas, electric, water and trash pick-up, and $700 in credit card interest payments, how much do they have left to pay their mortgage? And how long can they keep making this payment before the bank decides to just foreclose?
      2. If 10 people apply for 100 different jobs, what chance does any of them have of getting hired? And how many times do the other 90 have to be rejected before they just give up and stop looking?
      3. Alison’s Mom’s therapist wants her to start taking two anti-depressants. If anti-depressant X reduces anxiety and takes 3 weeks to start working and anti-depressant Y reduces depression and takes 1 week to start working, how long before Alison stops finding her mom sitting on the sofa in the dark at 2 am crying uncontrollably?
      4. Two men discover large masses growing out of the back of their spines. If one is 25 and the other is 85, which one will get the go-ahead from his insurance company for experimental treatment? Hint: keep in mind that most 25-year-olds don’t have health insurance, and while the 85-year-old gets Medicare, he lives in a swing state that’s been bombarded with so much health care propaganda he’s worried he’ll be euthanized by a Death Panel the second he steps foot in the hospital.
      5. Two men run for president. One wins handily by promising to change things. How long does the winner have to come through on that promise before his party gets crushed in the mid-terms and he follows in the footsteps of Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush and only lasts one term?

      As if homework wasn’t depressing enough…


      • Summer is no time to diet.
      • Sometimes you do have to turn the car around and go home.
      • Which sucks.
      • You should be allowed to speed when one of your kids just can’t hold it anymore and it’s 21 miles to the next rest stop.
      • Either that or kids should be able to pee by the side of the road without anyone giving their parents a nasty look.
      • The stuff you like doesn’t last; the stuff you hate lasts forever.
      • Even people who like heat don’t like 100 degree heat.
      • For most people, the idea of sleeping out under the stars is much more peaceful and relaxing than the reality sleeping out under the stars, especially when you drink too much and have to pee every hour and a half.
      • Sometimes you have to let your kids head off in the woods and get stung by a bee.
      • Even bad experiences have redeeming qualities, except for 15-hour car trips, which totally suck.
      • There’s a fine line between “burnt” and “well-done.”
      • (For most people, anyway.)
      • Even families who vowed not to watch TV all summer watched ABC’s “Wipeout.”
      • Steak + grill + friends & family = the perfect summer party.
      • Steak + grill + friends & family + lots of alcohol = 2nd degree burns, a video clip for Youtube, and a lot of things you can’t explain to your kids until they’re much, much older.
      • A beach is better than a video game, but only for a few days. After that, kids get bored and want to play Wii Resort.
      • A staycation is not the same as a vacation no matter what anybody says. (On the other hand, at least with a staycation you get to sleep in your own bed at night instead of some soiled, bedbug ridden mattress.)
      • Almost anything can be grilled, except spaghetti. And while this might seem obvious, to 4-year-olds it’s not.
      • It’s funny when kids ask “Are we there yet?”, but only the first half-dozen times. After that, it’s frustrating as Hell.
      • Time outs seem much crueler when the sun is shining and everybody is outside playing.
      • On the other hand, they are much more effective.
      • Fishing is over-rated.
      • If you’re taking a road trip and you want to know how often you’ll have to make a pit stop, add the ages of everyone in the car together, divide this by the total number of passengers, then multiply by 2.
      • Some camps are good. Some camps bad. But you won’t know which is which until after the point at which you can still get a refund.
      • Nothing tests a friendship like two families taking a vacation together.
      • And splitting expenses.
      • Sometimes it’s hard to believe that your parents and your kids’ grandparents are the same people.
      • A good way to tell if kids have too much free time is by how often they fight.
      • Another good way to tell if kids have too much free time is when they start looking forward to going back to school.
      • It’s sad when summer ends.
      • But given the way rules and routines get pushed aside when the sun shines late into the evening, there would be complete chaos if it didn’t.


      NEIGHBOR: Did you get my invitation?
      NEIGHBOR: To be my friend.
      NEIGHBOR’S TEENAGE SON: I don’t understand.
      NEIGHBOR: On Facebook.
      NEIGHBOR’S TEENAGE SON: You have a Facebook page?
      NEIGHBOR: Sure. It’s becoming so popular, I thought it was time.
      NEIGHBOR’S TEENAGE SON: Seriously?
      NEIGHBOR: You might not realize this, but I’m pretty hip when it comes to technology – I had one of the first Atari game consoles… I got a PC before there was even Windows… and my first cell phone was the size of a… Hey! Where are you going?
      NEIGHBOR’S TEENAGE SON: To my room.
      NEIGHBOR: Why?
      NEIGHBOR’S TEENAGE SON: To cancel my Facebook account.
      NEIGHBOR: But if you cancel your Facebook account, who’s gonna be my friend?


      Now that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has announced her resignation, what will she do next?

      Some possibilities, whether you love her or hate her:

      • Publish a tell-all memoir finally admiting that all the rumors that surfaced about her during the campaign were true, and that even she thought John McCain was too old to be president (but was okay with it because it meant that when the stress of the job finally got to him she could take over)
      • “Late Night with Sarah Palin” — David Letterman once gave Tom Snyder a show, so why not? Besides, Dave’s a professional comedian and what could be a bigger joke than to pass his show on to her?
      • Join forces with John McCain for “Mavericks” motivational speaking tour before being sued by Mark Cuban for trademark infringement
      • Pose nude for Playboy, but then defend her actions by saying that because naked bodies come from God there’s nothing sinful about showing them
      • Become a personal shopper at Neiman Marcus
      • Sign lucrative endorsement deal with Lenscrafters to promote line of glasses
      • Sign lucrative endorsement deal with Mattel to promote line of Caribou Barbie Dolls
      • Sign lucrative endorsement deal with Democratic Party to promote the Republican Party, because they finally realize the only way to destroy the GOP completely is from within
      • Move back to Wasilla, become full-time hockey mom
      • Take her ability to tireless promote lost causes and become new C.E.O. of G.M.
      • …or Chrysler
      • …or for that matter, the Republican Party
      • Sign deal with the producers of “Jon and Kate plus 8” to create yet another cable TV show about a large, dysfunctional family
      • Print 500,000 posters of herself holding a rifle and wearing a camouflage hunting outfit and then crisscross the country autographing it for $5 a shot at gun shows, NRA meetings and country fairs
      • Open a day care
      • Move back to Wasilla, run for mayor again but lose, fade into obscurity
      • Become the 45th President of The United States


      They say: We don’t eat anything that’s not organic.
      They mean: …except McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell or anyone else who gives a toy with a meal.

      They say: I never spank my kids.
      They mean: …unless they talk back, won’t listen, embarrass me in public or just piss me off.

      They say: I only let my kids watch educational programming.
      They mean: Cinemax is educational, right?

      They say: My kids brush and floss their teeth every night without being told.
      They mean: I think my kids brush and floss their teeth every night without being told, but I’m not really sure because I fall asleep on the sofa at 7:30.

      They say: I never lie to my kids.
      They mean: …unless I have to.

      They say: My kids are really good eaters.
      They mean: …as long as they get food they like, otherwise, just forget it.

      They say: My kids are responsible.
      They mean: …for leading all the other kids in the neighborhood astray.



      POLLSTER: I’m sorry to be the one to say this, Mr. President, but we have a problem.
      PRESIDENT OBAMA: What is it now?
      POLLSTER: It’s your wife.
      PRESIDENT OBAMA: Michelle?
      POLLSTER: Yes.
      PRESIDENT OBAMA: No way! Michelle is great. Michelle is awesome. I love Michelle. Michelle is the best thing that ever happened to me.
      POLLSTER: Yes, of course she is.
      PRESIDENT OBAMA: Then what’s the problem?
      POLLSTER: You’re making other husbands look bad.
      PRESIDENT OBAMA: Because I take my wife on dates? Or say nice things about her in public? Or treat her with the respect and admiration she deserves?
      POLLSTER: Yes.
      PRESIDENT OBAMA: What’s wrong with that?
      POLLSTER: Nobody else does it.
      PRESIDENT OBAMA: Then maybe they should? In fact, maybe we should add that to our list of priorities?
      POLLSTER: Yes, Mr. President, but before we do I should point out that polls suggest we might want to focus on the economy, education, national healthcare, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Afghanistan, first.
      PRESIDENT OBAMA: Because people think they’re more important?
      POLLSTER: Because people think they’re easier.