Follow us on Twitter or Facebook

Now available

Click image for amazon.com link

FAMILY GAMES FOR THE GREAT RECESSION

The bad times may be over, but the good times aren’t going to return any time soon.

For many of us, that’s troubling. But it can also be inspiring – especially when it comes to finding appropriate ways to spend quality time with family.

Kick The Can(didate)

Family members divide up into two groups: Democrats and Republicans. Democrats try to prevent Republicans from kicking the can, just like in the classic childhood game, but have to put on blinders and argue among themselves, making it very easy for a lone Republican to come out of nowhere and kick the can.

Alternately, family members don’t divide up into Democrats and Republicans at all, but just play as a single group of Democrats who work against each other to both kick the can and prevent the can from being kicked, turning the whole game into an ugly, shameless, ultimately un-winnable waste of time.

Liar’s Dice, The Wall Street Edition

In the traditional game, players roll a handful of dice and then try to lie about how many 1’s, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 5’s and 6’s they have. If one player doesn’t believe another, he or she says “liar.” If the accused is actually lying, he or she loses a die; if the accused is telling the truth, the accuser loses a die.

The game continues until there’s only one player left.

This version is played the exact same way, except that whenever a player lies and loses a die, he or she gets to replace it with one provided by the Treasury Department for as long as the government has adequate dice reserves, or can borrow dice from China.

Tea Party

The point of this game is to pretend to spontaneously gather around an imaginary table drinking imaginary tea from imaginary cups until the media believes it’s real, and then form a grassroots special interest group to force everybody to move to the right.

Duck Duck Goose

Each player pretends to be a homeowner and sits in a circle with the other homeowners. One player – representing a soon-to-reset adjustable rate mortgage, crushing equity line, further decline in housing prices, prolonged period of unemployment or other form of bad luck – walks around and taps each of them on the head, saying “Duck… Duck… Duck…”

This goes on for an inordinately long time, with all the anxious homeowners hoping the bad luck will just go away.

It doesn’t.

When bad luck finally says “goose,” the player he or she just tapped sits there quietly in a complete state of denial, then wanders off leaving an empty spot in the circle.

This goes on for an inordinately long time, too, until even the remaining homeowners are too depressed to continue.

What’s my party line?

Throw a blanket over your TV set and then randomly tune it to Fox News, CNN or MSNBC and see if you can tell what party’s talking points the supposedly non-partisan/independent/”fair and balanced” experts are secretly touting.

I Spy

Just like regular “I Spy,” only with the more apropos subjects: “I Spy, with my little eye, something that begins with F… a foreclosed house.” Or “I Spy, with my little eye, something that begins with O… a one-term president.”

The Telephony Game

Start with any of the promises Banks made when they needed to be bailed out – to take fewer risks, not put profits first, learn from their mistakes, help homeowners modify bad loans, etc. – and play the telephone game to see if any of these phrases end up making any sense at all.

Pin The Tail (Of Blame) On The Donkey

Much like ‘08s most popular game, “Pin The Tail on The Elephant,” this one substitutes a donkey and uses a much, much bigger tail.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Big, Bad Wolf

Players divide into three teams, and then each team builds a house.

The first uses straw, which represents a “no-doc” loan, the second uses wood, which represents a zero-down, adjustable-rate mortgage, and the third uses brick, which represents a 30-year fixed-mortgage with 20% down that will never, ever cause problems.

They then wait for the Big Bad Wolf to huff and puff and try to blow their houses down.

Obama Limbo

How low can President Obama’s approval rating go? Put on “The Limbo Song” and see.

Republican Hokey Pokey

You put your right foot in, and then instead of putting your left foot in, you put your right foot in even farther unless you want the Tea Baggers to knock you over.

Ghost in The Graveyard Shift

Similar to the classic childhood game, except when word gets out you’re playing, 10,000 people show up.

(To see family games from last year, click here.)

TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS? OH, PLEASE

As a parent, time is precious. So how do you make the most of it? Time management experts offer the following advice:

1. Prioritize.
2. Delegate/outsource.
3. Set time limits for tasks.
4. Establish routines and stick to them.
5. Don’t waste time waiting.

At first glance, these suggestions seem simple and straight-forward, but when you actually try to implement them you quickly realize they are better suited to some kind of parallel “self-help dimension” where the laws of time, space and sibling in-fighting don’t apply.

1. Prioritize.

In theory, yes. In practice – forget it.

Take, say, the tasks of treating an injury versus giving a toddler a bath. Typically, bleeding kids come first, unless they’re bleeding because they did the thing you told them not to do five times, in which case the toddler would get the bath. If the bleeding kid is bleeding on furniture, however, then the furniture needs immediate attention.

On the other hand, if there’s only a little bleeding and it’s not on any furniture, then that might not be as important as preventing the toddler from trying to bathe himself.

2. Delegate/outsource.

Which means what? Parents are supposed to ship their kids off to India to get help with their homework?

3. Set time limits for tasks.

Okay. But what is the appropriate time limit for a temper tantrum? And if getting everybody ready in the morning takes 15 minutes longer than whatever amount of time you set aside – whether it’s 40 minutes or two hours – how are you supposed to limit that? Or if you make reservations for that one night out a year you get a leisurely three hours to eat, what happens when the babysitter is 20 minutes late and the restaurant gives up your table?

4. Establish routines and stick to them.

Most parents already do this, but it doesn’t seem to help. For example, a typical morning routine would be telling the kids to get up, get in the shower, get dressed, get some breakfast and get in the car, then repeating this three or four times over the course of 20 minutes before threatening them with some kind of bodily harm if they don’t do all of the above RIGHT THIS MINUTE!

This is followed by the nagging suspicion that something that was supposed to have been done last night wasn’t, and the sudden realization that this “something” was making lunches for all the kids.

Oops.

As there is now not nearly enough time left to do everything and still get off on time, vows that “This will never happen again!” must be shouted so that all in the house can hear, spouses must be silently cursed for not helping, and God must be asked “Why me? What have I done to deserve this?”

5. Don’t waste time waiting.

Clearly this was not written by anyone living in a small house with kids. How else is a parent supposed to get into the bathroom?

From “Why Chicken Nuggets are Better Than Prozac.”

HOW TO EXPLAIN THE ECONOMIC CRISIS TO YOUR KIDS

KID: Are you sick?
PARENT: No.
KID: Then why do you look like you’re gonna throw-up?
PARENT: The President is talking about the economic crisis again.
KID: What’s an economic crisis?
PARENT: Well… Basically, it’s when everybody in the country suddenly realizes they’re fucked.
KID: GASP! You said a bad word.
PARENT: I’m sorry.
KID: You’re not supposed to say bad words.
PARENT: You’re right. Even with a situation as bad as this, I shouldn’t swear.
KID: Why is the situation so bad, anyway?
PARENT: The cost of living is going up. Real wages are going down. People’s houses are worth less than they owe on them. Nobody can get credit any more. We can’t seem to find a way to use less energy. And now the experts are saying the very foundation upon which our entire economy is based is cracked at best, and may actually be broken beyond repair.
KID: Wow. We are fucked.
PARENT: Now you said a bad word.
KID: Sorry. Do I have to wash my mouth out with soap now?
PARENT: No, but only because we can’t afford any.

MY BARISTA, MY FRIEND?

On most days, even when I get up too early, I’m already running late. So that by the time I get showered, get dressed, get the kids ready, get in the car, get the kids to school and get to Starbucks, I have used up what little energy I began the day with and what I really want is my venti extra-shot Americano.

Now.

IIn the old days, this was easy because vain, arrogant, intimidating baristas would glare so angrily at anyone who ordered wrong – a “vanilla sugar-free grande triple latte” instead of a “triple grande sugar-free vanilla latte,” for example – the poor soul would have no choice but to take his or her drink and slink away in shame, silently vowing to avoid such humiliation tomorrow by going somewhere else and leaving Starbucks to the caffeine addicts.

Baristaphobia = shorter lines.

But now that McDonald’s has McLattes, Dunkin’ Donuts touts the dunkin’ as much as the donuts, and break rooms everywhere include at least one vending machine that can automatically make any one of a dozen coffee-drinks, Starbucks seems to have realized they have to do more than just serve coffee if they want to make money, they have to serve customers.

Who can blame them? It worked for Burger King back in the ‘70s, so why not?

(Except instead of “Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us,” it might be:
“Make it no foam
or sugar free
whatever you want
we’ll serve with glee
our growth has slowed
so we can’t be
snobs anymore.”)

Obviously, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being nice, but the result of this customer-friendly attitude is that all the people who used to stay away from Starbucks because they were afraid of being yelled at are now standing in line right in front of me, asking what the difference between a “misto” and a “macchiato” is or trying to decide if they’d like to try a breakfast sandwich.

Worse, the baristas are not just being polite to them, they’re being chatty, too. Which means that in addition to wanting to know exactly how they can make the customer’s drink exactly the way they’d like it made, they want to know how their day is, what kind of plans they have, how their family is, etc.

And when I finally get to the front of the line, they want to know that about me, too.

Except at 7:43 in the morning, after having been up all night with a vomiting toddler and a dog who wants me to get up every couple of hours and go to the window to look at the neighbor’s cat, I don’t want to be friendly to anyone – not my kids, not my spouse, not my neighbors and certainly not my barista.

Unfortunately, as much as I want to respond to the question “How’s your day going so far?” by saying “It would be a lot better if I didn’t have to wait in line for 25 minutes to get a cup of coffee,” I don’t.

Because whether it’s crack cocaine or caffeine, addicts like me will do anything to get their fix – even smile and pretend to be friendly.

(And while there are still any number of alternatives to Starbucks, places where the lines are short and somber, and the baristas still act like divas, they’re a few blocks out of the way, and the only thing worse than waiting a few extra minutes in line is waiting a few extra minutes in traffic.)

REALISTIC NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

  • 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.

LITTLE IRRITATIONS: THE PAPER CUTS OF EVERYDAY LIFE

  • 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).

SCENES FROM MARRIAGE, NO. 5

HUSBAND: Hey.
WIFE: Back already?
HUSBAND: Yeah, traffic wasn’t too bad.
WIFE: Did you get eggs?
HUSBAND: Yup.
WIFE: Toilet paper?
HUSBAND: I knew there was something I forgot.
WIFE: That’s okay, I’ll just get it when I take the kids to piano.
HUSBAND: Or I can get it when I take ‘em to karate?
WIFE: Or I can… er… uh… I was gonna say I can get it when I take ‘em to swimming, but I have to stop at the drug store.
HUSBAND: If you do, will you pick me up some shaving cream?
WIFE: Sure, but I thought you used an electric… Hey! When did you grow a beard?
HUSBAND: June.
WIFE: Really?
HUSBAND: Yeah, when we were finally getting around to making our New Year’s Resolutions. You said “I’m gonna change my hair color to red!”
WIFE: I did.
HUSBAND: And I said “I’m gonna grow a beard.” Wait. You did?
WIFE: Like it?
HUSBAND: How could I have missed something like that?
BOTH: We’ve got to make time for each other.
WIFE: Let’s check our schedules. December is bad. How’s January look for you?
HUSBAND: Crazy. February?
WIFE: No, we’ll be getting ready for Spring Break. April?
HUSBAND: How about Thursday the 8th?
WIFE: Monday the 12th would be better.
HUSBAND: How about 7:00 to 8:15?
WIFE: AM or PM?

BUT THAT’S NOT FAIR!

Our legal system guarantees the accused a fair and speedy trial, proof of guilt “beyond reasonable doubt” and punishment that isn’t “cruel or unusual.” Fortunately, these same rights don’t extend to children — something every parent who’s ever come home stressed, worried, angry or anxious about something else and just exploded at their kids can take comfort in.

(As if parenting wasn’t hard enough, just imagine what it would be like if you had to be fair and reasonable every minute of every day.)

In light of that, a short, incomplete list of crimes, punishments and the real reason behind them:

Crime: Cheetos
Punishment: brown rice, tofu and vegetables for dinner every night for the rest of the month
Real reason: mom started a new diet, has somehow gained 3.5 pounds

Crime: putting hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place just before dad lands on it
Punishment: game over, everybody sent to bed
Real reason: one of dad’s fraternity brothers just made the Forbes 400

Crime: putting hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place just before dad lands on it
Punishment: game over, everybody sent to bed, dad sits in living room drink- ing whiskey
Real reason: one of dad’s brothers just made the Forbes 400

Crime: acting like a 4-year-old
Punishment: no more Chuck E. Cheese’s, ever
Real reason: as if an hour at Chuck E. Cheese’s wasn’t bad enough, you’ve now been there for three

Crime: one sibling violates another’s personal space by “not touching”
Punishment: turn car around, go home
Real reason: dad just got the taxes back from the accountant, who said “child care” wasn’t deductible

Crime: answering the phone
Punishment: fined $50
Real reason: it’s fundraising season and charities are exempt from the “Do Not Call” registry

Crime: leaving a single cookie crumb on the kitchen counter
Punishment: helping clean the entire house from top to bottom, including the back yard
Real reason: mother-in-law coming, will mentally perform “white glove test” the second she arrives

Crime: getting out dad’s “Stripes” DVD
Punishment: no TV for the rest of the week
Real reason: it’s not really a “Stripes” DVD (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

Crime: missing the toilet
Punishment: a good talking-to
Real reason: mom and dad spent the day cleaning up somebody else’s mess at work, just can’t handle doing it at home right now

Crime: not finishing food
Punishment: 20-minute lecture on how food costs a lot of money that we can’t afford to be wasting right now
Real reason: employment figures released, stocks plunged, housing market dropped even lower, etc.

OBSERVATIONS ON THE DMV

  • 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.

DIRTY SECRETS

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?)

10 SIGNS YOU'RE STRESSED-OUT

  1. The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is look for somebody to blame.
  2. No matter what anyone says, you completely disagree.
  3. There are no accidents or innocent mistakes: everything everybody does to you is “on purpose.”
  4. You yell at your spouse for breathing too loudly.
  5. You yell at the dog for laying around the house all day doing nothing.
  6. You yell at your kids for almost anything, and then you feel so bad about you break down and cry.
  7. Even though you’re not hungry, you stand at the fridge eating (usually whatever you can reach, instead of something you might enjoy).
  8. You stop going to Starbucks because you can’t take the pressure.
  9. Everything you say ends with a threat.
  10. You find yourself staring at a stranger whose face is locked in a permanent scowl for two or three minutes before you realize you’re standing in front of a mirror.

TOO DEPRESSED TO PLAY WITH YOUR KIDS?

Don’t let the credit crisis, the housing slump, gas prices, global warming, the cost of groceries, layoffs or the generally sad state of world affairs stop you from enjoying quality time with your kids.

Instead, let these troubles inspire you with the following games:

Mortgage, Mortgage, Who’s Got The Mortgage?

Kids sit in a circle with their fists closed, pretending to hold a button, which in this case represents a mortgage. As you go around the circle, everybody says “Mortgage, mortgage, who’s got the mortgage?” and then whoever’s turn it is says “Billy has the mortgage.” Billy must then open his fist to show everybody if he has the button/mortgage or not. The joke, of course, is that he doesn’t. In fact, nobody does, because credit is still so tight nobody can get one.

Stock Market Limbo

How low can it go? There’s one way to find out: put on “The Limbo Song” and see if you can make it under without collapsing.

Time Travelers

Take an imaginary trip to the future without leaving home. Just unplug the air conditioner, shut off the water main, and set the thermostat as high as it will go. The first person to pass out from heat stroke loses, the last one standing gets a half-glass of dirty water and a chance to play “An Inconvenient Truth: The Home Edition.”

The Crumbling Infrastructure Game

Just like “London Bridge is Falling Down,” only substitute something local.

U.N. Election Monitor

Help ensure the spread of democracy with this variation on “Kick The Can.” Select one U.N. Election Monitor, then divide everyone else up into two groups: voters and henchmen. While you turn your back and pretend every- thing is going really, really well, “voters” try to run up and kick the can before “henchmen” stop them.

Magic 81/4 – Ball

Buy? Sell? Forget your broker’s “opinion” and just ask the Magic 81/4 – Ball. It couldn’t be any worse.

Filibusted

Pretend you’re Congress and you’re trying to do something to re-ignite the economy, only you get so bogged down in partisanship you just stand around calling each other names.

The Coupon Game

What kid doesn’t like to cut things out? Here, you put yours to work helping you find enough coupons to make up the difference between what you make and what you spend. (While technically not a game, it would probably be helpful. Plus, you can give your kids bonus points if they find any coupons that are good for discounted liquor or anti-depressants.)

Chinese Toy Russian Roulette

Toxic? Non-toxic? Line up the toys and use a home lead-test to find out.

THE ABC'S OF UNEMPLOYMENT

A is for “anxious,”
or why you’re awake.
cause B is for “boss”
with a decision to make.

C is for “cut-backs.”
Oh, when will they end?
Is D for “Depression,”
where no one can spend?

E is “economy,”
ours seems to be toast.
F is “You’re fired!”
the phrase you fear most.

G is for “Google,”
where you search for a job.
Joining H as in “horde,”
the great job-seeking mob.

I is not you,
but the “infinite” masses,
who flood all the “J-O-B” boards,
’til they’re slow like molasses.

401K was your net,
but it’s taken a hit,
meaning L is for “loss,”
why you don’t have shit.

M is for “Me!?!?!?!
I’m supposed to be blessed!

But N is for “No!”
You’re as screwed as the rest.

O is for “out of,”
what your luck seems to be.
And P? That’s “percent”
unemployed: 9.3.

Q is the “question:”
“What do we do now?”
“How do we “Recover”
from a financial KA-POW!

S is the “stimulus,”
which didn’t do squat,
T is the “Treasury,”
and the Main Street they forgot.

U is the “upside.”
But what could it be?
Making friends at unemployment?
Watching too much “TV?”

W‘s for the “worry”
that’s become all-consuming.
And X is “Rx’s”
The anti-depressant biz? Booming.

In the end there’s just Y,
your unspoken plea,
repeated each night,
in the absense of “Zzzz


MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

With companies closing divisions, merging, going into bankruptcy and getting bought, etc. the landscape of American business is changing. So what does the future hold?

Some possibilities:

  • If Bank of America merged with American Standard, the new company could be called Bank of American Standard, where you could flush your savings goodbye
  • Exxon Mobile could buy Larry Flynt Industries and become XXXon Mobile, and while that might seem odd at first, since oil company profits are every bit as obscene as pornography, why not?
  • Goldman Sachs could buy Baer Sterns from JP Morgan Chase , merge it with Bank of New York to create the aptly named Sachs of B.S., which would explain why they went from needing billions in bailout money from the government to making billions in profit so quickly
  • If MGM bought GM, the name would stay the same — MGM — but if you bought two DVDs you’d get a free minivan
  • Since cars have pretty much become computers on wheels, BMW could buy IBM and become BMI, and hopefully it would give a pretty good indication of the health and fitness of the auto industry as a whole
  • Chrysler could merge its namesake brand with Saturn and recently-funded Tesla to become ChryST. (though the chances it would come back from the dead if it ended up in bankruptcy would be zero)
  • Looking to expand its research division, Apple could buy M.I.T. and become Apple Π
  • Nokia, Palm and Go Phone could all merge to become Pa-Noki-Go, and then when they lied to you about how much your cellphone bill would be their nose would grow
  • If T.G.I.Friday’s., Applebees, Outback Steakhouse and Claim Jumper merged, all the restaurants would keep their names but the parent company would single-handedly be responsible for 50% of America’s obesity epidemic (with the merger of KFC, Taco Bell, Burger King and McDonald’s taking care of the other 50%)
  • To more accurately communicate their current lending practices, Japan’s Norinchukin Bank could merge with Credit Suisse First Boston to become NO Credit
  • Or as a way of reflecting the (probably temporary) humility banks are feeling these days, JP Morgan Chase could buy up what’s left of all the other banks and then call themselves Chastened (though probably not for long)
  • Given the fact that it probably has nothing better to do with its billions in cash reserves, Microsoft could buy Mr. Softee and become Mr. Microsoftee, where you would get a free cone with every copy of Windows
  • If McDonald’s won the espresso wars and bought Starbucks, it’s hard to say if they would change the name of their McCafes to McStarbucks or not, but God help you if you ever used the drive-thru
  • General Electric, America’s #1 company, could combine with the TaTa Group, India’s #1 company, to become General TaTa, and then also get a featured role in the next Bond movie as the ultimate global villain
  • If Target merged with Kohl’s, J.C. Penny and Sears, it would still be called Target, but only because that’s how Wal-Mart would see it
  • If the Federal Reserve Board, The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and the FDIC merged, they would have some impossibly long name, but Republicans, Capitalists and everybody on Wall Street would just call the new government body the Big DIC.
  • While it wouldn’t require a merger, Toys R Us should change its name to Toys R Uh… Let Me Ask Somebody Else to reflect its employees knowledge of the products they sell
  • If Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Linkedin all combined, it wouldn’t even matter what the company would be called because everybody under 35 would start using something else and everybody over 35 would realize they have better things to do than tweet.

STAY HOME OR GO IN TO WORK?

Are you throwing up? YES stay home
NO
Is your boss out for the day? YES stay home
NO
Can you get your work done tomorrow? YES stay home
NO
Can you get it done this week? YES stay home
NO
Has it been more than a week
since your last sick day?
YES stay home
NO
Is there something you could
watch on TV instead?
YES stay home
NO
Is there anything else
you’d rather be doing?
YES stay home
NO
go in

OVERTIME VS. THE BLACK DEATH

According to expert John De Graff, medieval peasants got more days off from work than we do. Depressing, certainly, and perhaps a sign that our collective priorities need to be reexamined, but it’s important to keep in mind that medieval peasants also had a life expectancy of 30, which means they didn’t really get to enjoy too many of those days off before they died a slow, painful death from starvation, the Black Death, drinking the local water or making the mistake of getting a blood-letting from the local M.D.

Plus, they could be tortured or killed if they displeased the boss.