We could all be zombies

I think I’ve discovered the reason why I prefer lounging on the couch watching Netflix movies over mowing my half-dead yard: It’s due to a mind-controlling parasitic “do not mow this grass” fungus that has turned me into a lazy good-for-practically-nothing zombie.

That’s right. I said zombie.

(WARNING: This story contains really big scientific words that I’ve never used before. If you come to a word you’re unfamiliar with, do what I do and just substitute “watermelon” in its place. Nobody will know.)

From what I’ve recently read in the news, scientists have discovered a plethora (a whole heckofa lot) of parasites that have the ability to control the brains of its animal victims to help the spread of the parasites. For instance, the protozoan “Toxoplasma Gondii” makes rats love cat urine. When a cat pees, a rat infected with “Gondii” laps it up. The cat eats the rat. The cat lounges in sun with a full tummy. Cat pees. New rat slurps up pee. Cat eats rat. Oh, the cruelty of the “Toxoplasma Gondii” circle of life.

But if you think that cat pee stuff is bad, wait until you hear about the zombie ants. That’s right. I said zombie ants.

Using complete and utter mind control, the Ophiocordyceps Unilateralis fungus invades the – huh? No, I have no idea how to pronounce “ophiocordycps unilateralis.” As I was saying, the fungus with the big “watermelon” name invades little ants, sits dormant inside the little bug until it is in its last moments of life, then maneuvers its victim to bite the major vein of the underside of a leaf, thus allowing the fungi to release spores onto the leaf that will inevitably infect more ants – making more zombie ants.

How to Survive a Zombie Attack, by Acey Duecy
This is pretty scary stuff, isn’t it?

Now, if we extrapolate a wee bit, we can definitely conjecture that what happens to ant and rat brains could possibly happen in human brains. I’m not so sure that a fungus would ever cause me to like cat pee and bite the undersides of leaves, but there’s got to be a reason why I can’t stand yard work.

What if the ubiquitous chigger, upon biting down on the legs of an unsuspecting male humans, not only releases a chemical enzyme that causes almost uncontrollable itching, but the enzyme turns into a parasitic fungus that travels to the brain causing an irrational fear of mowing the yard – which is hearth and home to the chigger population.

Rational thinking would surmise that this is a simple act of self-preservation.

But what if, upon entering the family abode and declaring that no yard work will be done today, the female of the house – be it wife or mother-in-law – releases an invisible airborne intoxicant that seeps into the male blood stream and beguiles his brain into thinking that mowing the yard is better than anything his feeble little brain can think of – and you know what I’m talking about.

In my mind, the meeting between the chigger-induced fungi and the female-induced intoxicant sets up an epic battle over the reasoning power of the unsuspecting male brain, thus explaining why sometimes, when I’m out in the yard, I just walk around in a mindless stupor, not knowing where to begin, but praying that someone will come along and mow the yard for me while I sit on the porch drinking a big glass of sweet tea.

Boy, that was a long sentence. But no worries, I’m almost done.

This is science, folks. Proven, verified, established and confirmed science done by researchers who went to big-named expensive colleges because they could afford to, and studied such things as mind-controlling fungus so we little people can have just one more thing to worry about when we go to sleep at night.

Will a mind-controlling microorganism creep into my mouth while I sleep at night, causing me to crave brussel sprouts covered in ranch style dressing for breakfast?

Will I wake up with fungi growing in my ears, causing me to long for a vintage “Best of ABBA” CD?

Will I ingest a burly clump of bacteria hidden in a bowl of Jiffy Pop Popcorn that will give me an uncontrollable fear of females dressed in leather?

Oh, it’s a cold, cruel zombie world in which we live.

An open letter to all college-bound students

Dear new college freshmen:

Congratulations for successfully graduating from high school and taking it upon yourself to become one of our nation’s future leaders – which frankly we wish you would have done years ago because some of us are tired and ready to pass on the responsibility to others.

To help you through this very exciting time, I’ve decided to give you some Words of Wisdom that I wish I could say my great grandfather gave to me upon my departure to college, but I can’t because I’m making this all up as I go along. So, you can take it for what it’s worth – about 37 cents – or leave it right where you found it (probably on the bathroom floor).

Words of Wisdom No. One – Don’t plan on coming home until after you’ve graduated and found a good-paying job, and then only to visit. The second you drove down the driveway, your parents turned your old bedroom into an office, bought a 52-inch flat screen plasma high definition TV, ordered the premium cable stations you always begged for, and changed the locks on all the doors. They have no intention of giving you a key.

Words of Wisdom No. Two – When you get to college, never admit (under pain of death) that you don’t know where you’re going. Just pick up those books, hold your head up high, and march straight ahead as if you own the place. If it works for presidents, it’ll work for you.

Words of Wisdom No. Three – If your friends find any faults in you (like eating potato salad with your fingers, or digging wax out of your ears with a sharp knife), remember to blame it all on your parents. Hey, they changed the locks and didn’t give you a key. They have it coming.

Words of Wisdom No. Four – Scholarships require that you keep a certain minimum grade point average in order to keep the money flowing into your account. Find out what that minimum grade point average is and shoot for keeping your grades just barely above it. That way, you get to keep your scholarship while still having a good time.

Words of Wisdom No. Five – Don’t use all your hard-earned money for gasoline. Either walk, ride a bike or beg rides from your friends. Begging is the most preferred option because then you’ll be able to save YOUR money for more important things like pizza and beer.

Words of Wisdom No. Six – Even though your parents have kicked you out of the house, they still want to communicate with you. Set up your email account to send automatic responses to their emails. Your parents will never catch on because deep down inside they’re scared of the computer and just barely know how to turn it on to use email. They relied on YOU to do all that computer stuff, and that should make you feel special (either that, or slightly used).

Words of Wisdom No. Seven – Even though you may still be mad at your parents for changing the locks, offer to take your Dad to Florida during Spring Break. It’s probably been a long time since he’s seen an almost-naked beach babe in real life, and your reward will be knowing he doesn’t have a chance with any of them.

WARNING: Before you head off to the beach, make your father promise to keep his shirt on.

And finally, Words of Wisdom No. Eight – If you are a female college student, don’t bring home a hairy biker dude and tell your father this is the man you’re going to marry. Your father has a shotgun hidden under his bed and he knows how to use it.

If you are a female college student, and your father IS a hairy biker dude, don’t bring home a computer nerd and tell your father this is the man you’re going to marry. Your father hasn’t figured out Windows yet and you’ll never see your computer nerd again.

For you college guys, any girl you bring home with the intentions of marrying will be fine with your parents. They’re just grateful that someone has the courage to put up with you.

Well, that’s about it. Hope you have a good time at college. Hope you find out who you’re meant to be. And about that lock thing – don’t take it personally. Your parents still love you, just in a new “He’s gone and we have the house all to ourselves” kind of way!

I'm With The Band -- # 18

Drum Major Mantra

Share and Share Alike

If you like any of my "I'm With The Band" or "2nd Period" cartoons, feel free to download them, email then to your friends, print them out and take them to work -- they are meant to be shared!

I draw cartoons just like these for my students at school. Sometimes I go to another teacher's room (when they're not there ;-)  ) and draw cartoons on THEIR boards. I draw them with dry-erase markers so they're easy to erase or leave up or whatever.

I like to think that maybe one of my cartoons will brighten up somebody's day. Maybe it will brighten up yours. Or not. I don't know.

Either way -- feel free to "steal" them and share them.


It's school bus time again

Hey! Are you listening to me? School is about to begin. That means school buses are going to be out on the road. Those big, yellow school buses carry our future leaders who will hopefully clean up the mess you and I have made of this planet. So be careful out there. We can’t afford to lose a one of them due to a senseless accident!

Besides, I’m driving one of those yellow school buses and having an accident would really ruin my day.

Yes, I’m proud to say that I’m a school bus driver. Not only that, but one of my riders gave me a certificate that says I’m the greatest bus driver in the world. She also gave me a tomato plant. The certificate is hanging up in my office. I ate the tomatoes.

Being an Award-Winning School Bus Driver is not all glamour and paparazzi. Yes, there are perks that come with the job (like fresh vegetables, and sometimes cookies), but with the perks comes a certain amount of responsibility.

Bus drivers have to be friendly and ready to wipe up liquid motion sickness at a moment’s notice. Bus drivers have to be welcoming, but ready to give students the “evil eye” when they’re not following the rules. Bus drivers have to understand a little bit of child psychology, be able to work under pressure, and have the ability to tune out distractions while keeping their eyes and ears open for Little Johnny who loves to use his markers to color on things – especially other riders.

And bus drivers have to watch out for other drivers who aren’t paying attention to the flashing lights that scream, “Stop, you idiot! Don’t you understand the future governor of Texas is on this bus? Holy Cow and take some Smart Pills!”

Driving a school bus is not for everybody. You have to be practically superhuman but without the cape and spandex. Not only that, the job doesn’t have the greatest of reputations. The buses rarely have air conditioning, they’re slow, the engines are loud, the brakes squeal, the children sometimes get noisy and obnoxious, and dealing with a bunch of hot, sweaty kids on a hot, sweaty day is worse than having a root canal without medication.

Other than that, it’s not too bad – especially if you have a “Little Emma” onboard.

“Mr. Bus Driver, why are you whistling? Whistling isn’t allowed on the bus,” said Little Emma.

“Who says whistling isn’t allowed on the bus?” I said.

“I did,” said Little Emma.

“You did? So, you mean when I’m happy, I can’t whistle?”

“Well, I guess I can make an exception,” she said, “but just this once.”

There are a lot of Little Emmas on every bus. There are also a lot of Jefferys, Allens, Beckys, Dylans and Cynthias. They all have plans for the future. They all want to make something of themselves. They all want to live long, productive lives and make a difference in the world around them.

Not a one of them wants to die in a bus accident due to our lack of paying attention or being careful.

So do us both a favor. If you see me coming down the road in a big yellow school bus, be extra cautious because you know Emma’s onboard and she wants to get home to see her parents and to play with her dog.

If you’re running late and you have the feeling I’m about to turn on my flashing lights and stop, don’t careen around me like a NASCAR driver. That’s just one more thing I have to worry about.

And if you see my red lights flashing and my “Stop” sign extended so you can read it, then READ IT! Stop means stop! Little Emma’s getting off my bus and if you endanger her in any way, I ain’t gonna be happy.

You have been warned!

Making nothing out of something

Sometimes I write a poem
When I don’t have much to say
Like this one, this is all I got.

So don’t complain – I’ve had a rough week and haven’t had the energy to sit down and think of a funny story to write, and I know that’s not a good excuse (REAL writers come up with something whether they’re inspired or not), but sometimes “the funny” just won’t come and you have to take the day off and do something different, like go fishing, or sit around in your pajamas all day and do nothing because it’s Saturday, which is exactly what I plan on doing, so leave me alone, I’m doing the best I can, and if you have a problem with that, then you’ve got more problems than I do, and you should really go see somebody about it. Like a psychiatrist or something.

Au revoir, and have a nice day.

Quit Your Job The Steven Slater Way

Are you tired of your job and ready to chuck it in for something better?

Did the boss make you angry yesterday and now you're ready to blow off steam in his direction?

A typical nuclear bomb being tested
Was a customer so rude to you that your first thought was murder but you decided against it because of too many witnesses?

Then you need to quit your job the Steven Slater Way!

Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant who was having passenger problems, cussed out said passenger over the intercom, said he had "had enough," grabbed a beer and exited his plane down the emergency slide, and is now a folk hero.

So what are you waiting for? Go Steven Slater on somebody!

For a principal who tries to break up an argument between teachers and then gets cussed out in front of students -- "Get on intercom, cuss teacher, cuss administration, grab a carton of milk, pull firealarm, then go home and watch Oprah."

For a postmaster who gets hit in the head by an envelope thrown by a customer -- "Cuss out customer, send everybody's mail to Greenland, highjack a FedEx truck to Florida, spend the day at Disney World."

For a DFW air traffic controller who is rudely talked to by an incoming pilot -- "Cuss out pilot, vector pilot to anywhere out of his fuel range, put all aircraft in a holding pattern, grab a bottle of rum and head to Six Flags, ride The Mini Mine Train until you throw up on all the little kids."

For a doctor who gets cussed at and pushed by an angry patient -- "Cuss out patient, tell him he's having a heart attack, shock him with a defibrillator, cuss out nurses for trying to stop you, grab a bottle of vicodin with extra hydrocodone, watch the pretty colors from the back seat of your BMW."

It's the Steven Slater Way! It's retro revenge! It's what you would have done in high school! It's how all the "cool kids" are handling their problems these days!

So get to it! Put on your "Steven Slater" and go for the meltdown!

It's Purely Disgusting!

Positron emission tomography image of a human brain
Welcome to another exciting episode of “Journey Into The Realm of the Purely Disgusting But You’ll Watch Anyway Because Secretly You Enjoy Watching Stuff That’s Purely Disgusting.” Sponsored in part by National GeeHowNauseating Magazine, your window into the world around you.

(Cue Theme Music – which sounds an awful lot like the Jacques Cousteau theme, but couldn’t be because we didn’t pay any royalties to use it. Besides, we don’t even know what royalties are.)

On today’s episode, we’ll take you where no human being has ever wanted to go before – (trumpet fanfare) – into the mind of a typical North American student during his final hours of summer break before heading back to school. And here’s your host now – Mr. Adventure Guy!

Howdy, and welcome to our show. Today we’re going to travel into the mind of Little Johnny, a typical student on his last hours of summer break. And how are we going to get in there, you ask? Through his nose, of course.

Yessirree! It looks like Little Johnny is suffering from summer allergies, so we’ll just fly around the hanging mucous, past the post-nasal drip, up through the nasal cavity, and right into – there it is, so hold on tight, it’s going to be a rough landing – right into Little Johnny’s frontal lobe.

(Cue suspenseful music, but make sure it’s not too loud. Our ratings will skyrocket if the audience gets a little queasy hearing the disgusting “squishy” parts.)

Now, as you can see we’re deep inside Little Johnny’s frontal lobe. And to understand just exactly what’s happening in his little brain, we’re going to hack into his Main Neural Network and unobtrusively observe what’s going on – which used to be unconstitutional but is now protected under the Patriot Act.

(Static. Lots of static. Slowly adjust the squelch. Turn past the Spanish station. Okay, it’s coming in clear now!)

“Only a few more days of freedom and my parents want me to make sure I have everything ready for school. What are they thinking of? I want to play video games to get my mind off of having to go back. Don’t they know I’m worried about my shoes and my lunch box? Yeah, I think they’re cool, but what if the other guys don’t? I’ll be labeled as a loser and end up on some street corner selling uncool shoes and lunch boxes for a living.

“I hope I get Mrs. Blanchard for homeroom – she’s nice. And I hope my best friend Axel is in there. But if Bobby bothers me again this year, I swear I’m going to serve him a knuckle sandwich. And if I get sent to alternative school, and the other students teach me how to break into safes, and I get caught robbing a video store with a water gun, and get sent to prison for life – well, it’ll be worth it knowing Bobby has to gum his food until the day he dies.

Rocky Road Ice Cream
“Oh, there are just too many things to think about — so I’m not going to think about any of them. Instead, I’m going to have me a big bowl of Rocky Road ice cream. I hope it won’t make me too fat. Am I too fat? Because I know what the others will say if I come back to school looking like a 2-ton tractor trailer with ‘Wide Load’ on the back. They’ll look at me as if I’m naked, and ... wait a minute, didn’t I have a dream about that once?

“And what about...”

Okay folks, we’re going to cut the transmission here because Little Johnny is overloading our system. And besides, I can’t take anymore of his streaming insecurities – it just brings back too many bad memories.

So, if you only learned one thing from today’s show it should be this: Listening in on your children’s thoughts will cause your brain to explode. Don’t do it. Instead, take them to McDonald’s – or Sonic, or whatever – and tell them you understand what they’re going through. And if you have no clue what they’re going through — fake it! And enjoy the company.

Well, that’s it for today. Join us next time when we show you how to make a quilt with ear wax and belly button lint, all on “Journey Into The Realm of the Purely Disgusting But You’ll Watch Anyway Because Secretly You Enjoy Watching Stuff That’s Purely Disgusting.” I’m your host Mr. Adventure Guy, and that’s a wrap!

(Cue Theme Music. Roll credits.)

Summer Break is Almost Through

I'm a teacher, which means I get a couple of months off in the summer. Sometimes I spend my time wisely, but more often than not, the summer flies by and I have nothing to show for it.

That's when I sit down and try to come to terms with the fact that:

Summer Break is Almost Through

By Tracy Farr

Summer break is almost through.
And still there’s much I want to do
Before I head back to my 9 to 5.
I have a list, I’ll mark them off
As each one’s done. Now please, don’t scoff,
But here it is, I hope I will survive…


Mow the yard, feed the goats,
Fix the roof, buy a boat,
Sail across the ocean to Japan.
Fly a kite, grill a steak,
Go jet-skiing on the lake,
Lie out in the sun and get a tan.

Paint the house, fix a drip,
Maybe even skinny dip.
On second thought, it’s probably best I don’t.
Walk a mile, maybe two,
Buy a house in Kathmandu
Or serenade my neighbors on trombone.

Juggle balls, eat a snake,
Learn to golf and not forsake
My banjo ‘cause I really like to play it.
Mashed Potato, Bunny Hop
Do the Tango, Cha-Cha-Cha,
Maybe learn to Moonwalk, or just fake it.

But like I said…

Summer break is almost through,
And oh, there’s so much left to do
Before I head back to my 9 to 5.
My list is long, I'll give you that,
But now it's time to swing the bat
And get it done, my friend. It's do or die!

The cat and the art of manipulation

You may love cats, but I despise them – especially mine. She comes into my bedroom early in the morning, cries her pathetic cat cries until I get up and open the front door for her, then she’s off to hunt mice or whatnot without so much as a thank you, which makes me despise her even more.

But maybe it’s not the cat I despise. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I can’t stand the thought of being manipulated by a furry creature that licks itself, coughs up hairballs, then sleeps the day away like there’s no work to be done.

Maybe I despise the cat because it has no work to do. Or maybe I despise the act of manipulation.

We see it all the time: TV companies build bigger sets in the hopes of enticing us to buy one. Car manufacturers offer “killer deals” in the hopes of clearing their lots of unsold cars. Women manipulate their men into doing the dishes or painting the walls peach. And daughters manipulate their fathers into giving them money so they can buy vampire posters to put on the wall, freaking out the grandparents when they come to visit.

Men, of course, don’t know how to manipulate others. We are ignorant of such devices. To even give thought to the act is foreign to our minds.

Men are straight forward. We say what we’re thinking. If we want another cookie, we’ll ask for another cookie without a hint of subterfuge. If we crave another bowl of ice cream, we won’t revert to coercion or exploitation to get one – we’ll fix it ourselves. Yes, there is “man” in manipulation, but the concept is as foreign to us as is wearing pantyhose beneath our business suits – well, at least for most of us.

Manipulation is everywhere, and we see systemic examples of it every time we shop at a mall or grocery store.

For example: Company A is in the business of selling socket wrenches. They position their wares in artistic arrangements to attract attention. You, walking by, can’t remember the last time you used the socket wrenches you have, so you choose to purchase a new set, just in case you’ve lost your old set. Besides, can a person really have too many socket wrenches?

Another example: You’re in the grocery store buying chips and salsa. Before you get to the register, you come upon the display of Jiffy Pop Popcorn strategically placed and arranged to make you forget about chips and salsa, or for that matter, life in general. Now, the only thing on your mind is “Laverne and Shirley,” The Fonz, and the good old days before microwave ovens and strip malls. You leave the chips and salsa behind and walk out the door with a shopping cart full of Jiffy Pop.

When you get home, the “good woman” asks, “Where’s the money you were supposed to get for selling the cow?” And your response is, “I traded the cow for this shopping cart full of Jiffy Pop. It’s magic Jiffy Pop, made at a time when life was simpler, our needs fewer. The aroma of buttered popcorn and the sound of popping kernels will make us happier than we’ve ever been, even though it sometimes gets stuck in your gums and is the devil to get out.”

In other words, you lie. Not because you have an overwhelming urge to manipulate a fellow human being who just so happens to be your spouse, but because you went out for chips and salsa, and now she’s talking about “selling the cow,” and you’ve never even owned a cow – maybe a couple of goats, but never a cow – and you’re hoping the Jiffy Pop will elicit the same kind of response in her as it did in you (because she’s obviously crazy), but in the end it doesn’t because you’re a man, unused to manipulating others, and that, as they say, is that.

Most men think long and hard about getting rid of their cats, but don’t because cats rely on us to open doors for them, fill their dishes with cat treats, and empty their litter boxes. Manipulation? Probably. But then again, maybe we’re just well trained.

Dad Life

And then there are times that I say to myself, "Now why didn't I come up with that?"

Hope you enjoy, "Dad Life."

Judge issues injunction against New York's illegal Dougs law

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth story in a series concerning America’s illegal Doug problem.

A U.S. District judge put the brakes on New York’s recently passed law making it illegal for illegal Canadian immigrants named Doug to live and work in New York illegally.

The judge, who wished to remain anonymous, issued a temporary injunction against the law, stating that states cannot usurp federal immigration laws with their own.

“To allow New York to push through their own version of immigration law, which, in my opinion, is totally unconstitutional and is discriminatory to Dougs everywhere, whether they be in this country legally or not, is unconscionable,” said the judge. “I know the state of New York will appeal this injunction, but in the end, I believe the federal government will win.”

The ruling, which was anxiously awaited in the U.S. and beyond, delays the provisions of the law which allows police officers to check a person’s immigration status based on whether or not the person looks like an illegal Doug from Canada. The ruling also barred enforcement of parts of the law which requires all Dougs to carry papers proving they are in the country legally.

“This is a great day for Dougs everywhere,” said Doug from Minnesota. “Yes, this country has an illegal Doug problem, but there are other ways to handle the problem than to round these Dougs up and ship them back to Canada. What are we going to do, separate husbands from their wives and fathers from their children?”

Proponents of the law say they will fight against the injunction, even if they have to take it to the Supreme Court.

“Our federal government is not doing jack crap about our illegal Doug problem,” said a New York lawmaker who wished to remain anonymous. “We, the good people of New York, and all the other good people of all the other northern states that border Canada, we are the ones who are having to deal with the federal government’s ineptitude at handling the illegal Doug trade. We’re tired of this problem, we’re going to do something about it, and if some illegal Doug has his rights violated, well too bad, so sad. This is America. If they want rights, they can go back to Canada.”

The illicit Doug trade began to boom two decades ago when American parents stopped naming their children "Doug" or "Douglas." The Canadian underworld saw its chance to profit from this and built Doug farms where pregnant girls are paid money to name their new boy babies "Doug." Once the Dougs mature, they are smuggled across the border to find jobs in retail, thus taking jobs away from Americans.

Most of the Dougs are white males with curly blonde hair who end up working at coffee bars, donut shops and sporting goods stores. A few even find employment at car dealerships and insurance companies. On the street they're known as DGs, Home-Dougs, or Doogie Howsers.

According to informants, violence among the mighty Doug cartels has escalated in recent months, but so far has stayed on the Canadian side of the border.

27 July 2010 -- Illegal Doug problem growing along U.S.-Canadian border
30 July 2010 -- New York may pass law concerning illegal Dougs
3 Aug 2010  -- New York passes tough illegal Doug law

There's a strange woman in my house

My daughter used to be five years old and play with Barbie Dolls. I know this for certain because I remember the birthday, and I remember telling her, "No! Barbie likes Ken, not G.I. Joe."

"But Daddy, Barbie and G.I. Joe are in a relationship."

"Excuse me? G.I. Joe does not DO relationships. He kills people."

But she's not five anymore. She's going on 13 and I don't know when it happened. I must have been asleep for the last eight years. She had pony posters on her wall when I closed my eyes, and now that I'm awake, her walls are covered with vampires.

She says she's growing up. Well, I want a second opinion, and then I want a cure.

This whole "growing up" thing hit me hard the other day. She usually runs around in shorts and flip flops, but on that day, she came out modeling a dress. My first reaction was:

"Holy cow! She's got boobs. And cleavage. Where did THAT come from? Certainly not from MY side of the family. Please, somebody shoot me now. I'm not ready for this."

Like I said, that was my FIRST reaction. My second reaction was:

"Holy cow! She's got boobs and stuff. And now I can't ogle babes in bikinis because I'll remember that THEY have fathers, and those fathers are somewhere thinking, 'Holy cow! She's got boobs! Lock her up until she's 40!'"

My little girl can NOT be growing up.

Oh, please God! Make it stop!

I always use my time wisely

It's so frustrating to see people wasting time doing insignificant things when what they should be doing is focusing on ways to make their "product" so good that they can't be ignored.

Grandfather Clock Face Waters building EXPLORE 4-8-08 2828
("Product" can refer to art, music, pole vaulting, etc.)

These people do a lot of silly things that have nothing to do with their main goal, but they talk themselves into believing they ARE important, thus preventing them from doing what they really know they should be doing.

I, of course, have no such problem.

My goal is to produce a website that is like a three-ringed circus of humor (you never know what to expect, something's always climbing out of the clown car) with an ever-changing "Side Show" that keeps you coming back for more. But to accomplish that, I have to remain focused on my goals. I can't waste time on trivial things. I must always think about the means to the end. And that's why, when I sit down to write a new story, I always follow the same routine:

1. Check stats (must know who is visiting, from where, at what time. "Dang, only two so far? Will check back later.")

2. Scan through RSS reader to find articles I might want to comment on, or just read in order to become better at this internet thing. Follow links to other sites which might provide me with ideas of my own.

3. Hmmmm. I really should think of a new story for my website. Will get it done, but must check stats again.

4. Check stats again. "Drats! No change."

5. Check email for fan mail, posted comments, or asundry other items. Respond, or don't, depending on how much I need to get done writing-wise.

6. Hmmmm. I haven't thought of a story yet, but it will come.

7. Check Facebook. Add friends, update status, comment on others' status in the hopes they'll follow the link to my website, which will help stats.

8. Speaking of...Check stats. Hey, I got one more!

9. Back to Facebook. Look around and see who I "might" want to add as a friend. Hide people who are annoying. Hey, someone commented on something I said. Oh, wait a minute...someone commented about something somebody ELSE said, but since I also made a comment, I get everybody's comment on what that other person said, and it has nothing to do with me.

10. Check Twitter account. Update status. Comment on statuses I think are worthy of commenting on, retweet those that are funny, check and see if anybody has commented or retweeted MY comments, then do a search to see what is being said about banjos or vuvuzelas.

11. Check stats. You never know what can happen over the length of a few minutes. I may have gotten a hundred hits because of something I said. I may have....Hmmmmm. Nope. Still the same.

12. Feeling a bit hungry. Need some chips and salsa.

13. Stats again? No, I think I'll play a hand of Hearts on the computer while I'm munching down.

14. Damn. Lost at Hearts. Must try again, and this time I'll focus more.

15. That's right. I'm the Hearts master! But since the machine won once, and I won once, we MUST break the tie. Win or lose, I'll get to my story after I'm done.

16. Yeah, baby! Hearts Champion of the Universe!

17. Time to get to writing my next, best story -- right after I check my stats.

No sir! Not one wasted moment!

New York passes tough illegal Doug law

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third story in a series concerning America’s illegal Doug problem.

Hot Doug's
New York lawmakers on Monday passed a landmark piece of legislation making it illegal for illegal Canadian immigrants named Doug to live and work in New York illegally.

“This is an auspicious day for New York as well as the country,” said a lawmaker who wished to remain anonymous. “We have been living with the illegal Doug trade in our state for far too long, and now we have the teeth to do something about it.”

The federal government, stating that federal immigration law trumps state law, has already filed an appeal with a U.S. Appeals Circuit Judge.

“What, did illegal Dougs think they could cross into our country, take our jobs, marry our women, and not get away with it?” said the lawmaker. “We will round them up, lock them up, and kick their sorry butts right back to Canada. And if they want to return, they can do it legally.”

Opponents to the new law say they plan to march to the state capital in Albany in protest.

“This sets up an ugly precedent in how we treat immigrants, legal or not,” said Doug of northern New York. “You’ll see police officers stopping people just because they look like a Doug, and that’s just not right. What will we do then? Put them in concentration camps like we did the Japanese during World War II? This is crazy, and unconstitutional, and I and others like me plan to fight against it.”

27 July 2010 -- Illegal Doug problem growing along U.S.-Canadian border
30 July 2010 -- New York may pass law concerning illegal Dougs

5 Tips On Surviving Marriage

Sadie and Reese are friends of mine who recently got married. I took their wedding pictures. While at the wedding, I thought about giving them advice on how to sustain a long and happy marriage, but reconsidered, thinking it might be inappropriate to give them my counsel as they exchanged rings or ate wedding cake.

But now that the ceremony is over, Sadie and Reese, I hereby and forthwith give you my Five Tips on Surviving Marriage:

1. Reese: It is YOUR job to mow the yard. Yes, you may be tempted to let her push the lawnmower or ride the tractor around the yard after you’ve come home from a hard day at work, and we (and by we, I mean your man brothers), we may look at you with admiration for conning your wife into doing it for you – but it’s a trap. Let her mow the yard once, and she’ll use it against you until she lays you in your grave. And maybe even longer.

“What do you mean you don’t have time to pick up the milk,” she’ll say. “Don’t you remember how I mowed the yard for you three years ago, without any help? And you don’t have time to pick up a lousy carton of milk? My mother warned me this would happen.”

Sadie: It is your job to mow the yard as often as possible, thus giving you tremendous amounts of leverage against him. If he beats you to the lawnmower, at least bring him a glass of iced tea while he’s mowing. You can use that as leverage, too.

2. Reese: Two phrases you must get used to saying are, “Yes, dear,” and “No, it was my fault.” Don’t be ashamed to utter them in places private or public. We’ve all been there. We feel your pain.

Sadie: When he does say “Yes, dear,” or “No, it was my fault,” don’t forget to pat him on the head, thus reconfirming who’s boss. A cookie every now and then helps cement the relationship.

3. Reese: There are no more “Nights Out With The Boys.” Oh, she’ll tell you to go ahead and have a good time, but she doesn’t mean it. Women say a LOT of things they don’t mean. You must learn how to tell when a woman means something and when she doesn’t. But don’t look at us (your man brothers) for help. We’re still trying to figure out the same thing.

Sadie: Let your husband spend only one night out with the boys, then when he returns, grill him until he tells you exactly what “the boys” did. Make him account for every second. It will keep him on his toes. Womenfolk have been performing mini “Spanish Inquisitions” for eons. No need for you to break with tradition. (FYI – Waterboarding is not considered torture when performed inside the safety of your own home.)

4. Reese: Before you were married, you were very intelligent. You could drive with no problem, balance a checkbook with ease, and make decisions without consulting a single living soul. Sorry, dude, but we neglected to tell you that the price of marriage comes with relinquishing half your brain – if you’re lucky. Some wives take it all.

Sadie: Soon after the honeymoon, you will notice that your husband is missing quite a few IQ points. You’ll ask yourself how in the world he was ever able to survive without you. But don’t be too rough on him at first. Give him time to adjust. If you don’t see improvements in about, say, three days, then drop the hammer on him.

5. Reese: “Until death do you part” doesn’t mean until next Tuesday. Live it. Breathe it. Hold on to it. Be thankful that somebody, ANYBODY, had pity upon you to marry you and not let you become the male equivalent of an old maid.

Sadie: “Until death do you part” just means that if it takes longer than three days for him to shape up, you have every right to “make some changes.”

Sadie and Reese, thanks for letting me be a part of your wedding, and I hope you live a long and fruitful life. If you need any more advice from me, you know where to reach me!