Assorted stuff for a Monday

Remember all the nice things I had to say about trees in last Thursday’s post? I take it all back.

While they might be majestic, beautiful, life-giving and a great source of toothpicks, they are also incredibly irresponsible.

I spent the better part of three hours Saturday afternoon chasing fallen leaves around my yard with a leaf blower. I was trying to clean up the grounds in anticipation of last night’s trick-or-treaters, and I suppose I accomplished that. What is so painful, in addition to my right forearm, is the fact that I’ll have to do it all over again next weekend, and each subsequent weekend until at least Thanksgiving.

What other living creature can you think of that discards so much biomass so capriciously? Snakes may shed a thin sheath of skin, cats and dogs will drop small quantities of fur, even we humans have to cut our toenails every year or so. But no other organism simply drops so much stuff where it stands as a tree does in the autumn. There were leaves and twigs and small branches and acorns everywhere.

We praise these mighty giants for being such paragons of the environment, a key source of oxygen and all that. But nobody mentions the littering.


Speaking of dropping a limb, I’ve started a new weight-loss effort.

I signed up last week with the LiveStrong website to track my daily caloric intake as well as my workouts. You enter how much weight you want to lose per week, your age and current weight, how willing you are to pass out from malnutrition and other key data, and it comes back with a daily maximum of how many calories you should consume. You key in your food and physical activity throughout the day, and it keeps an online record of your efforts.

What I like best about it so far is how it allows you to add calories back onto your daily maximum every time you exercise. I’m permitted to consume 2,554 calories a day, but if I take a brisk walk or go for a jog around the neighborhood, I can eat more than that amount.

This has allowed me to calculate the exact distance I need to run each afternoon in order to qualify for one of those chocolate turnovers from Arby’s. I can think of no other diet that allows me to waste over 400 calories on a single portion of fast food junk, and still claim that I’m watching my figure.

I plan to walk to Chicago later this month so I can pig out at Thanksgiving.

I hope to write more about this effort in the coming weeks. I may even post a link to my own personal weight loss records on this blog, for those readers interested in following which days I have a granola bar for breakfast and which days I opt for cereal.


Some of you may remember the tale of the elderly woman who fell and couldn’t get up.

“I’ve fallen,” she told viewers of her classic 1980s TV commercial. “And I can’t get up.”

The story line followed the challenges that confront seniors who are living alone and suddenly find themselves sprawled on the floor. We never learned if this particular heroine was eventually rescued, or whether she lies to this day next to her kitchen table, her cat close by, unable to help but looking on and wondering if this is the new face of cat food.

The larger message, however, does live on: if you or a loved one have an accident while home alone, you’ll wish you had signed up for LifeAlert, a service that offers its clients an electronic necklace that can contact the proper authorities and tell them how clumsy you are.

Inexplicably, in this day of cellphones and global positioning satellites and an uncaring attitude toward the welfare of the nation’s elderly, LifeAlert is still in business. I saw one of their commercials just the other day, featuring a new generation of the fallen.

The new ads have been sexed up a bit for the twenty-first century audience. This time the aged woman is nude, having toppled to the floor of her shower stall. She struggles to the edge, crying out for help, but there’s no one there to hear her plea. Finally, she’s lucky enough to have her daughter walk in the front door and rescue her from a pruny fate.

If only she’d had a LifeAlert necklace, that daughter could’ve been a team of burly firemen, barely able to contain themselves.

The last ten seconds of the ad show a slide with the company’s now-famous catchphrase followed by a trademark symbol, which means I guess I have to pay them a royalty for mentioning it here. We also see a picture of former surgeon general C. Everett Koop, who apparently is some kind of deity for the nation’s elderly though, in this particular setting, he’s a compensated god.


No more descriptive surname can exist for a man than exists for Hugh Munn.

Munn retired in 2002 after 26 years as chief spokesperson for the South Carolina division of law enforcement. Since his retirement, he has served as a guest lecturer in journalism courses at the University of South Carolina and at Sam Houston State University. He is also a consultant for the U.S. Justice Department’s office of juvenile justice, and for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

And, among many other accomplishments achieved during a long career in police work and communications, Hugh Munn is a human.

Hugh Munn, human


I was in an unfamiliar restaurant the other day and found myself in need of a restroom. I located the room that had a “MEN” sign on the door and went in. As I looked about the facilities, I spotted something that threw me into a panic.


I thought I had been paying attention, but somehow I must have inadvertently wandered into the women’s room. Nobody else was in the small space as near as I could tell. The cubicle door was mostly closed but I could see no skirt-draped shoes peeking out underneath. Though there could’ve been some nice lady standing on the toilet hiding from the man who had invaded this sacred realm.

I moved quickly to get out. Just as I reached for the door handle, I spotted something that sent waves of relief over me.

A urinal!

It was a men’s room after all, just a more nicely appointed one than I’m used to seeing.


I know Friday was the last workday before Halloween. I still can’t get over the sight of a nun, dressed head to toe in the full black habit, driving a front-end loader in the warehouse at my work.

I know God’s plans for His children are cloaked in mystery. But for the life of me, I couldn’t comprehend how a divine scheme might involve moving a pallet of proxy statements from aisle J, level 3, compartment J3-17 across the warehouse floor and over to the loading dock.

Just another one of those unknowable mysteries, I guess.


Does anyone know if that’s Rob Corddry dressed as “583” in the TV commercial?


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2 Responses to “Assorted stuff for a Monday”

  1. fakename2 Says:

    I love Monday mornings with you, Davis. Have a pancake. It’s on me.
    I used to be a manager for an unnamed fast food restaurant, and we had to wear those Life Alert necklaces. You were supposed to wear them so they fell inside your shirt, so that no one knew you were wearing it, then if you were in danger, you were to surreptiously press the button. The flaw in this plan was that the people most likely to rob you were your own employees, who knew you were wearing it.

  2. Paul Dixon Says:

    Assorted Comments for a Monday:

    Trees: Ronald Reagan himself recognized the threatening nature of trees when he famously said, “Trees cause pollution.” Not to mention the truly scary ones that grabbed people in the Wizard of Oz.

    Diets: I’ve fought fat since I was nine years old. Some years I win, some years I lose. (Currently, I’m losing. The battle, not weight.) But I know with complete certainty that, the day before I die, they will finally invent the perfect miracle weight-loss drug.

    LifeAlert: The reason that this company is still a successful business in spite of the ubiquity of communications devices throughout our society is that, often, the intended user of LifeAlert can no longer distinguish a cell phone from a TV remote control. Sad, but true.

    Flowers in the men’s room: You must have been in a Thai restaurant, Davis. They’re the only culture cool enough to even attempt to beautify something as unlovely and utilitarian as a public men’s room.

    Front-end loader nuns: Trust me. Those nuns are a lot tougher than most people think.

    One final comment: I see from the time stamp that you uploaded this blog posting at 7:13 am today. My johnny-on-the-spot service provider, Bright House/Road Runner, chose to let me have it at 10:13 am, a wait of 3 hours. What’s up with THAT, Road Runner? Maybe you should have a nun deliver it while riding a Vespa motorbike. I’d send you a flower from the mens’ room if you did.

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