Thursday, September 25, 2008

Walking to Stay in Shape

"You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking 5 miles a day when she was 60. She's 97 today and we don't know where the hell she is."

[attributed to Ellen DeGeneris]

Monday, September 22, 2008

Alligator shoes

This fella was on vacation down south in the deepest part of Louisiana, and he wanted to buy some alligator shoes. Trouble was, they cost way too much—least as far as he was concerned. He tried haggling some shoe sellers down, but nobody would budge on the price.

He thought they were all trying to cheat him, and finally said, “I don't care two hoots for your shoes—I'm going out and bag my own ‘gator.”

The shopkeeper responded, “All right then, mister. Suit yourself—you just better watch out for those two good ole boys who’re doing the same.”

So the fella went into the deepest part of the Bayou to hunt for a ‘gator. After a while, he saw two men—really big guys—standing very still next to the water holding spears. He thought these guys must be the two good ole boys he’s supposed to look out for.

Just then, he notices an alligator slowly moving through the water towards one of them. Even while the ‘gator got closer, the man remained absolutely still.

At the last moment, the man slammed his spear clean through the ‘gator’s neck, stopping him just as slick as you please. Then, he wrestled the dying gator up onto the shore, where several other dead ‘gators lay trussed up side by side.

Together, the two guys tied up the ‘gator and threw it over on its back. Whereupon, one of them exclaimed,

“Damn! This one don't have shoes on either!”

(The above was originally told by Roy Blount, Jr., a true Southern Gentleman, on NPR’s Wait, Wait … Don’t tell me.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008


[With apologies to Rudyard Kipling]

If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can overlook people taking things out on you, when
through no fault of yours something goes wrong,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can do all these things,
Then you're probably the family dog.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Handy Guide for Responding

that should be kept in the wallet of every husband, boyfriend, or significant other:

Dangerous: What's for dinner?
Safer: Can I help you with dinner?
Safest: Where would you like to go for dinner?

Dangerous: Are you going to wear that?
Safer: Gee, you look good in brown.
Safest: Wow! Look at you!

Dangerous: What are you so worked up about?
Safer: Could we be overreacting a bit?
Safest: (Just listen patiently, and keep your mouth shut.)

Dangerous: Should you be eating that?
Safer: You know, there are a lot of apples left.
Safest: Can I get you a glass of wine with that?

Dangerous: What did you do all day?
Safer: I hope you didn't over-do it today.
Safest: I've always loved you in that robe!

(The above has been attributed to Jody Davis, Indianapolis, Indiana)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Clapton Concert and the Sacred Brownies

A couple years ago I learned that Eric Clapton was coming to St. Paul. I hadn’t been to a rock concert in years, and thought it was about time I went back to an indelible source of inspiration. Promoting his tour on the Today Show, he told a self-deprecating joke about getting old, describing how a kid on the street in London recognized him recently and said, "Hey, you're Eric Clapton, aren't you?!" Clapton admitted that he was. The kid responded, "Wow, you're history!!"

I assumed there remained tucked away in our freezer some marijuana brownies that I’d been carrying with me from house to house for the past 34 years. They’d been baked in 1971 using some of a friend’s personal crop grown on an abandoned farm in an unused horse paddock rich with manure. When I started dental school in 1973 I figured I better quit using marijuana for good, so I did. But eating one of those potent brownies before a Grateful Dead concert had been a sacred rite, and I just couldn’t bring myself to throw the last two brownies out.

It’s the afternoon preceding the Eric Clapton concert, and I’m thinking, “What the hell—I could benefit from a little mind-altering experience at this [middle aged] point in my life.” So I spend an hour taking the freezer apart looking for the last two marijuana brownies. The problem with having (a) a large freezer and (b) a wife who’s a self proclaimed pack rat—in all things in life—is that it gets harder and harder to find things as time goes by. In the freezer, the older things are the more covered they get with frost and ice. You have to scrape things, chip away the ice to figure out what they are. (Do we really want to eat this? What the hell is it and how long has it been in here?!) But I had a job to do—find those brownies.

The woman I was married to at the time walks in the back door, and sees the entire contents of the freezer spread out on the kitchen counter(s).
“What are you doing?!”
“I’m trying to find the last of Arne’s marijuana brownies for the Clapton concert tonight.”
She gave me a look that said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Then she said, “OK, what did they look like?”—as if my describing their original appearance would help us to distinguish one frost covered lump from another.
Although I knew she’d seen brownies before, I calmly tried to describe them.

[I need to interject a little background material here—when you have dogs, they may occasionally get worms, intestinal parasites, from sources unknown. And for the Vet to make a microscopic assessment, they will require that you bring in a stool sample—it should be fresh, although freezing it prior to delivery to the Vet’s office is sometimes acceptable. You see where this is going, don’t you?]

I explained that I had the brownies double-bagged in a small Tupperware container, which I’d (foolishly) neglected to label.

“Oh that! I threw that out—I thought it was just old frozen dog poo.”

I am speechless. The sacred brownies from 1971 have been mistaken for frozen dog poo, and have been thrown away. Not only are they gone, they were discarded in the most base and profane way.

Not wanting to start a fight, I managed, “Oh, that’s too bad.” (The price we sometimes pay for domestic peace.) I tried to console myself: “Well, looks like the Universe didn’t want me to get stoned one last time for this concert." Anyway, these days it probably would have been a migraine trigger for me.

So we went to the concert with our consciousness unaltered. Funny, walking into the St. Paul Excel Energy Center (what a name for a civic arena—corporations rule!) there was marijuana smoke everywhere. The crowd was a mix of young and old, biker types, aging flower children, younger students and a few almost conservative-looking types, women and girls, men and boys.

Walking through the crowd I could almost remember what it felt like to be 20. Just being alive is good; your body is light and moving feels as effortless as Eric Clapton’s guitar sounds. Our bleacher seats (@$150, not cheap!) were too small and close together to move in them; I got cramps in my legs from sitting for 2 1/2 hours. We sat next to a couple our age, and during intermission shared stories about the music back then. We all remembered being told by our parents, “That’s not music; it’s noise.”

I wondered how Eric Clapton must feel about singing the song, Cocaine (J.J. Cale), what with his now being a recovering addict. I guess if Cocaine (the song) is popular and makes money then he’s still going to play it:

Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm! Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
"If you wanna hang out, you’ve gotta take her out, Cocaine!"
Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
“If you wanna get down, get down on the ground, Cocaine!”
Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
"She don’t lie, She don’t lie, She don’t lie, ...Cocaine!"

I was listening to the song, and as I was looking down (binoculars are great fun at concerts) from our bleacher seats I noticed how many old guys like me there were in the audience with male pattern baldness. (I’ll admit, it bothers me a little—but what can I do about it?) Anyway, as Clapton was playing Cocaine I thought of some alternate lyrics:

Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm! Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
"If your head’s lookin' bare, where you had a lotta hair, Rogaine!"
Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
"If you know you're getting old, and your scalp is feelin' cold, Rogaine!"
Ba da-da-dah, b’Dumm!
"It’s alright, It’s alright, It’s alright, ... Rogaine!"

OK, OK, I know it's a bit silly--I don't care. I feel better when I make fun of things that bother me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nursery rhyme, Newfoundland dog

My best friend growing up was a Newfie, and thus one of my favorite nursery rhymes was the following:

I am the noble Newfoundland,

My voice is loud and deep.

I keep a watch all through the night,

While little children sleep.

[Even so, such virtues are of course shared by many breeds--and 'mutts'--as all dog lovers reading this will know.]

Keywords: dogs, Newfoundland, children

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Talking Dog

While reading the paper one day, a man saw an ad, “For sale: talking dog”. Although skeptical by nature, his curiosity got the better of him. He called the phone number in the ad, and made an appointment to see the dog.

When he arrived at the address the seller answered the door, assuring him that the dog really did talk—he could see for himself. The man was brought through the house and into the back yard, where he saw a rather ordinary-looking dog sitting under a tree.

He approached the dog, and spoke out loud to him, “So I hear you can talk—is this true?”

The dog looked up, and replied, “Yup; it’s true. I really can talk.”

“My God!” said the man.

“How long have you been able to talk—when did you realize you had this ability?!” said the man, who could hardly believe his eyes and ears. There could be no doubt; this dog was actually conversing with him.

“Oh, I’ve known since I was a puppy. I was different that the others in my litter, you know. It caused some problems at first.”

Since the man had never had such a conversation with a dog before, he wasn’t sure what to ask the dog next.

He thought for a moment, and asked, “So then, how about if you just tell me about your life; what have you been doing with your skill as a talking dog?”

The dog took his time with his story, as he related his experiences when he was first recruited by the CIA and the State Department to act as a snitch or spy when left among foreign diplomats to eavesdrop on their conversations. He would then report back to his handler as to what they’d been saying. The dog said he was fluent in five languages in addition to English.

After his career with the CIA, he was sent to act as a stud in breeding programs for search and rescue dogs and for military dogs. He was assigned to mate with the brightest and most beautifully conditioned female dogs in the country. This, he explained, was a full time job and that all that mating was exhausting. And so, he said, after a year or so he just got tired of it, and ran away to find his current owner.

After hearing such an account of his career as a talking dog, the man was flabbergasted, but also deeply impressed with the dog. He definitely wanted to buy this dog.

He turned to the owner and said, “This is an amazing animal. I don’t know whether I can afford him—how much are you asking?”

The owner replied, “You can have him for $30.”

“What?! I don’t understand—why so little for such an amazing dog?!!”

The owner responded sheepishly, “Well, I really oughta’ tell ya. He lies a lot.”

[The above story has appeared in several forms, and has not been attributed to any particular author to my knowledge. I have shamelessly taken poetic license in making my own changes to it.]

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Irish definition of a True Gentleman

The Irish like to make a distinction with regard to this definition. "A True Gentleman takes the dishes out of the kitchen sink before he pees in it."

I reserve the right to tell Irish jokes, seeing as how I'm one-quarter Irish. So, what is 'Irish humor' anyway? Silly, violent, proud to be stupid?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Buttered Cats and Aerodynamics

If you drop a buttered piece of bread, it will fall on the floor, butter-side down.

If a cat is dropped from a window or other high place, it will land on its feet.

But what if you tie a buttered piece of bread--butter-side up--to a cat's back, and then toss them both out the window?

Will the cat land on its feet? Or will the butter go splat on the ground?

Consider that (a) the laws of Butterology demand that the butter must hit the ground, and (b) that the equally strict laws of Feline Aerodynamics demand that the cat cannot land on its back.

Since nature would have no way to resolve this paradox, it just can't happen--the buttered cat construct simply does not fall!

Yes, this is indeed the secret of anti-gravity!

A buttered cat will, when released, quickly move to a height where the forces of cat-twisting and butter repulsion are in equilibrium.

This equilibrium point can be modified by scraping off some of the butter, to provide lift, or by restricting movement of the cat's limbs [using say, duct tape?--ouch!] to allow descent.

Most of the civilized species of the Universe already use this principle to drive their starships while traveling within a planetary system.

The loud humming heard by most sighters of UFOs is in fact the purring of several hundred cats.

There is one obvious danger, of course. If the cats manage to eat the bread off their backs they will instantly plummet.

Naturally, the cats will land on their feet, but this usually doesn't do them much good.

Since right after they make their graceful landing several tons of red-hot starship and pissed off aliens crash down on top of them.

Woman overheard considering how dogs and men are the same

• Both take up too much space on the bed.
• Both have irrational fears about vacuum cleaning.
• Neither tells you what's bothering them.
• The smaller ones tend to be more nervous.
• Neither does any dishes.
• Both fart shamelessly.
• Both mark their territory.
• Both like dominance games.
• Both have an inordinate fascination with women's crotches.
• Neither of them notices when you get your hair cut.
• Neither understands what you see in cats.

(Source: originally attributed to FL Saucy)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Protecting Yourself from Bears in the Woods

Due to the rising frequency of human/grizzly bear conflicts last summer, the Alaska Department of Fish, Game, and Wildlife has been advising hikers to take extra precautions and to keep alert of bears while in the field. The Department has posted the following notice in Alaska's State Parks:

"We advise that hikers wear noisy little bells on their clothing to avoid surprising any bears. We also advise hikers to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a grizzly bear. Watch out for fresh signs of bear activity. Hikers should be able to recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear feces.

Black bear feces are smaller and contain berries and bits of squirrel fur.

Grizzly bear feces smells like pepper spray and has little bells in it."

Keywords: conflicts, precautions, pepper spray, grizzly bears, little bells

Monday, September 8, 2008

The church gossip

Fiona was the church gossip and self-appointed police of the parish's moral integrity. Several members disapproved of her attitude, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.

She blundered, however when she accused George, a new member of being a low-life after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town’s only bar one afternoon.

She scolded George in the presence of several others that anyone who saw it there would know exactly what he was doing, and that he ought to be ashamed of himself.

George was a man of few words. He just looked at her for a moment, then turned and walked away. He didn't explain, defend, or deny.

Later that evening, George quietly parked his pickup in front of Fiona's house ...walked home ...and left it there all night.

Various Political Systems Explained In "2 Cow" Terms

Fascism: You have 2 cows. The government takes them and sells you the milk.
Socialism: You have 2 cows. You keep one and give one to your neighbor.
Communism: You have 2 cows. The government takes them both and provides you with milk.
Nazism: You have 2 cows. The government takes them and shoots you.
Bureaucracy: You have 2 cows. The government takes them both, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk and then
pours it down the drain.
Capitalism: You have 2 cows. You sell one and buy a bull.
Corporate: You have 2 cows. Get rid of one; force the other to produce the milk of 4 cows and then act surprised when it
drops dead.