Posts Tagged ‘advice’

Time for comments from the readers

November 20, 2009

It’s been an exciting week here at the awkwardly named DavisW’s Blog. On Wednesday, I was honored by WordPress with a 24-hour placement on their front page, a distinction I want to believe is a recognition of quality but suspect is actually based on some algorithm that essentially said it was my random turn. I got almost 900 views that day, and have every reason to believe that as many as five or six of these people may have read beyond the first paragraph.

So the champagne flowed last night and now it’s the morning after, a Friday morning on which I’m supposed to be posting the weekly Website Review. However, after such a momentous occasion, it seems proper instead to remember the long-term followers of this blog, the hundred or so people that tune in on a daily basis without being prodded to do so by a gimmicky promotion on a second-tier hosting domain. (Plus, I’m lazy). So I’m responding to the request made by reader Phyllis DePriest and reprinting, completely out of context, some of the comments I’ve recently received. Hope you enjoy.

Your posts flow over me … and I will read over them again.

I used to have a site like this once, but I got so much spam I had to shut it. You seem to have a better spam filter! Well done!

Most of us, I mean some of us, haven’t had that many cars in our lives.

What was the most important thing you did or are doing right now, if you don’t mind me asking?

Somehow the part of me that eventually says something is indeed always my mouth. I feel so limited. But not because I think if I were more confident my ears would speak.

Not only are there aliens with giant eyeballs that Dick Cheney doesn’t have under control, but they are illogical.

Swallowing millions of Eurotards in fiery death? I’m all for that.

You are contributing to the decline and fall of American civilization. Drive thru? or Drive through?

I haven’t really been following much lately, to be honest.

In the local tire repair facility, I encountered tissue so thin that I could actually read a book through it. When I pointed this out to the manager he simply shrugged his shoulders in a “well, whatcha you gonna do?” manner.

Massaging the face actually helps abdominal bloating. Especially if they are forcing my mouth shut thus keeping me from eating and getting bloated in the first place.

I stayed at a massage/hostel place in Ecuador. All the staff walked around in outfits that made me feel like I was in a Bond villain’s lair.

If I heard someone calling from the ditch, I might drive a little further to get rid of my garbage.

I hear the freshly killed groundling tastes really good with a side order of fries and apple pie.

I was following you until we got to the pulp/less pulp/no pulp issue.

On the weight front I’m the annoying gangly person you see at McD’s who eats as much as you do, but never goes anywhere near your proportions.

Option 4 is too harsh, but what about sewing his mouth shut?

No one takes any interest when I have my hair shorn.

The goal is to shear off the coat in one piece, as much as possible, and to do it faster than the other shearer. If you nick the sheep’s skin in the process, you lose points. If you nick the sheep’s penis, you are disqualified. I thought that was fair.

Don’t we all love people who believe in meritocracy because they happen to be the benefactors of nepotism or just particularly fortunate, and people who are deliberately obtuse about it when you tell them that equal chances in capitalist society is a gurrdamn chimera?

In Britain, you’d get at least five years in prison for writing the above.

I actually have pictures of me and my best friend from high school kissing a llama.

Fire ants in Virginia Beach are storming playgrounds.

I remembered cameras have zoom lenses, and that’s just the kind of insight that’s got me where I am today — in a tiny flat with only three news channels in English.

I have had some interesting neighbors, perhaps chief among them was the Vietnamese family two doors down who kept ducks in a pen behind the house. How sweet! I thought. Until they started slaughtering them one day in broad daylight. There had to be some city ordinance against that.

It’s Penguin right? … a penguin with crayons!

When they test you for an allergy to fire ants, they have a lot of trouble extracting the venom from a creature that is practically microscopic. So they take a bunch of them and grind them up, and that’s what they inject into your skin.

In the “pandemic preparedness” seminar I attended today with a bunch of other adult professionals, we learned from the presenters that hand sanitizer has to be 60% alcohol to be effective, and also from one of the attendees that it is flammable and burns with really pretty colors.

Just because someone tells you something with a straight face, doesn’t make it true. Self motivation: “I CAN DO IT!” ; check out a book, cd, dvd at the library. There are a lot of con artists who love preying on the gullible.

The squatters have established their territory with no regard for the rightful property owner’s rights; the property owner does the only thing left as a course of action — strike, and hard. Shock and awe, in a way. Will the ants develop a nuclear-capable response? Do they have ballistic capabilities? Who knows what goes on in the bowels of those hives? Their research and development department could, right now, be working on the plans for invasion to the brick dwelling for the purpose of conquering and … well, more squatting. Of course, too much fiber from the apple core may delay their plans by inducing excessive gas and diarrhea in their colony, but that will eventually pass.

I have nothing bad to say about those who have passed on. They don’t bother me and they don’t walk on my lawn.

You’ve got living consecutively wrong! I’d rather spend a bit of the first part of my life sleeping and most of the last part. I’d like to be awake from 20 to 60 or so.

Mrs. Dark Side is demanding I insert a Frasier DVD.

You can only personally invade Iran if you’re Dr. Manhattan.

I have become immersed in Saudi Arabia.

You try to imagine what the person ahead of you is going to do with 8 cans of lima beans, one bag of celery, and one quart of 10W30 motor oil.

I got to laughing so hard while reading this that I now have to pee.

Wally-World gets paid to accept returns so they get their money either way. Consumer satisfaction? I don’t think so. The places are on the verge of being dangerous. I’ve was robbed while inside one of those places and none of the associates could even get an outside line to call the police.

Miley – we can only hope.

I know when I go the freezers are empty, forget to get milk there is none, oh yeah try to find some decent clothes for plus size people.

If you button your shirt starting at the bottom and ending at the top, you can save 10-15% of the overall time required (as compared with starting at the top button and ending at the bottom button).

You left out Camilla Parker-Bowles.

If only the body could be adapted to make full use of all food and liquid intake.

Shooting birds in the woods is fun because we could have meat for dinner.

I was attacked by a woodpecker. He/she drew a lot of blood from the top of my head. It was startling.

Such a waste of space. Same goes with the TV magazine – and the daily TV grid. (With only 1/4 of the channels listed that are available.)

I was so moved by this. Especially the part about the Ice Age.

Thongs and bicycle seats…a dangerous combination.

Reminds me of the time I reached for my socks.

If I can’t ride my own hamster to the Blessing then I’m not coming.

I may put a safety clip on my ashtray.

I have Restless Leg Syndrome too, and take a drug for it because it was diagnosed during a sleep study for apnea and they couldn’t get that fixed until my legs stopped moving.

Revisited: My life with cars (help me, Honda)

November 15, 2009

With all the attention recently given to the plight of the American auto industry, I thought I’d take this opportunity to use other people’s hardship for my own personal gain as a topic for a blog posting.

Not that I’d be caught dead driving an American car, because driving while lifeless can be very dangerous. Actually, my family and I have a long history with domestic auto producers. My grandfather worked for a Ford dealer in Pennsylvania. My father owned almost exclusively Ford products for most of my childhood, except for a failed and ultimately flaming experiment with a Renault. The two most memorable vehicles of my youth were a giant Mercury Monterey with a reverse angle rear window that rolled down at the touch – actually it was more of a 15-second jiggle – of a button, and an even gianter Galaxy 500, our first car with air conditioning.

And my first car was a “blue” Ford Falcon I inherited from my mother just before my junior year in college. I put blue in quotes because the paint job had become almost crystalline in the heat of the Miami sun. It ran reliably enough despite its stunningly ugly appearance, safely taking me the nearly 500 miles I’d routinely drive between Tallahassee and Miami. My most vivid memory of the Falcon was the day I parked it in front of my landlord’s office while I ran in to pay the rent, then emerged just in time to see it rolling downhill toward several parked cars. Not the best way to find out that adding transmission fluid twice a day was an inadequate alternative to actually getting the transmission fixed.

My next car was also a Detroit creation, the much-maligned Chevy Vega. This one really was blue, a “fastback” that seemed like one first-rate vehicle to a poor college student of the early ‘70s. Even though it was another automatic transmission, the gearshift was on the floor, which gave its sluggish drive a certain sex appeal (if only to me). We bought it from a neighbor in Miami, who convinced us it was a great deal, which it probably was since he used his front as a used-car salesman to hide what in retrospect were obvious organized-crime connections. I don’t know how many headless bodies were crammed into that hatchback before the Vega came into my hands, but I know they had a remarkably smooth ride to whatever paving project they ended up in.

The Vega had the distinction of transporting me from my dismal life as an eternally under-achieving college student in Florida to an honest career in a suburb of Charlotte. I drove it for about a year in my new hometown, until I became concerned the corrosive oxidation would metastasize from its body to mine. In my first independent transaction with a car dealer, I made the ghastly mistake of trading it in for a brown VW Rabbit. Not an American car, I know, but by the early ‘80s VW had picked up many bad influences from its U.S. counterparts, not the least of which was constant breakdown. I wasted a lot of money on fruitless repairs before taking it back to the dealer, who took pity on me and put me in my first brand-new car, a Datsun 210.

I was still a very uneducated consumer – I bought the car in the hope that the “cool” setting on the dashboard fan was actually air-conditioning, which it wasn’t – yet I lucked into a reliable basic vehicle whose fanciest extras were FM radio and faux leather seats. I still remember the feel of those seats after driving through the afternoon heat to my second-shift job a half-hour from home. Open windows on the interstate and that “cool” setting provided little relief to the pit of my lower back, which was utterly sodden by the time I arrived.

Now that I was experienced with Japanese models, I bought a succession of sensible cars. First there was a red Honda Civic, then a white Honda Civic, then a grey Honda Civic and finally a silver Honda Civic. Not much imagination, I admit, but memories of that damn VW were slower to recede than the stench of a dead rabbit jammed in the under-carriage, and I wanted reliability above all else. I admit I was tempted more than once during that 20-some-year span to go all middle-aged in my car selection, maybe a Miata or a convertible or at least the Honda CRV, the company’s smaller SUV. But common sense (and the advice of my wife) always prevailed. The craziest I was ever able to get was the Honda Odyssey, a chick magnet of a minivan if ever there was one.

My only complaint with the succession of Civics was that there always seemed to be a slight problem in the same area, one I’ve found hard to describe to my mechanic. It’s sort of near the steering wheel, a bit to the left of the gearshift, maybe just above the accelerator pedal. I think it’s referred to as the vehicle operator, or “driver.” Aside from that incident with the wandering Falcon, I’d never had any accidents with my American cars, probably because I was so attuned to every detail of their operation that I actually paid attention while I was driving. With the Hondas I was able to do other things, like listen to the radio and go in reverse.

In my first accident, an oncoming driver tried to turn left in front of me and we had a major fender bender in which I actually sustained an injury, a sprained thumb. The next incident was on the interstate near the exit ramp on my way home from work. A line had backed up for some reason, and when the truck in front of me rear-ended the vehicle in front of him, bringing him to a sudden and, I might add, un-signalled stop, I naturally plowed into him. Some extensive front-end damage but nothing irreparable. Finally, I was backing out of a parking spot at the mall on a foggy day, trying to see over the monstrous SUVs that flanked me on either side, when another driver looking for a parking space backed into my rear side panel. In none of these three cases were the Hondas “totaled,” an extremely cool verb I’ve always wanted to use; they were only partialled. All were fixed and returned to service.

In the judgment of the moment, none of these episodes seemed even remotely to be my responsibility. All of them were largely caused by the inattention or carelessness of others while I was going about my business. I couldn’t have anticipated things were going wrong or changed to a direction that would have led to a more positive outcome. Simply put, none of the three failures were my fault.

Sounds like I could get a job as head of one of the Big 3 automakers.

Revisited: Change is in the air

October 10, 2009

Change is in the air. We see it in the seasons, we see it in the economy. We see it in the space refrigerator hurtling toward earth and threatening to extinguish all life, and we hear about it incessantly from the presidential candidates. Barack Obama calls for “change we can believe in” while John McCain insists on “change you can trust.” Even minor-party candidates have joined the bandwagon, with the United Two-Year-Olds candidate demanding “change my diaper now” and the leader of the Guys in the Next Cubicle Party asking “anybody have change for a twenty?”

In this atmosphere where basic transformations in the way we live our lives are ready to be considered on a wide-scale basis, I’d like to propose several ideas I’ve had knocking around in my head for a few years. These aren’t the conventional and admittedly important policies like energy and war that I’m talking about; these are even more fundamental topics that I feel have been long overlooked. While it’s probably too late for any of them to make it into a major-party platform – and I understand if the president-elect feels compelled to solve that whole end-of-capitalism thing first – I call on the new leader of the Free World to consider these issues.

  • We need a wholesale revolution in the closures on our clothing. Have you ever considered how long it takes to button your shirt as you get ready for work each morning? I have – it’s 11.4 seconds. Multiply this out to include every day of your work life, and it comes to something like 100,000 seconds, which would be a significant number of hours wasted if I remembered how to do long division. We need to replace shirt buttons with zippers, which would take a fraction of the time to close. We also need to eliminate zippers on our pants and instead rely on elastic waistbands, which would also let us get rid of belts. Needless to say, pointless accessories like hats, neckties, undershirts, scarves, sashes and any kind of jewelry or other ornamentation can simply be eliminated. Actually, I’d prefer we all wear one-piece grey jumpsuits that could be mass-produced and selected for wear each day without having to waste time considering the type of fashion statement that a partly cloudy Tuesday in April demands. I’m not sure whether the new president could make this happen by executive decree or whether he’d have to get Congressional approval. I’d suggest it be done by decree and then just dare the Supreme Court to challenge it (I doubt they would, since their robes suggest they’re already sympathetic to the concept).
  • I’d like to see four buttons installed in our foreheads that would activate the following mental states: sleep, stimulation, euphoria and relaxation. This one might be a little harder to accomplish than the fashion edict, but I’m confident a crash program undertaken jointly by the medical, pharmaceutical and button-making industries could bring such an innovation to our brows by 2015. (Remember, the button-makers are going to be looking for something new to do anyway). Once installed, you’d able to press the appropriate knob – each labeled with raised lettering of “S” for sleep, a slightly bigger “S” for stimulation, “E” for euphoria and “R” for relaxation, so there’d be no confusion — and find yourself ready to enjoy whatever altered state you’d prefer. Those who felt self-conscious about having buttons on their heads could either come up with an appropriately cloaking hairstyle (see any emo rock band for ideas) or could order the buttons in flesh-colored tones.
  • Though we failed in the U.S. to successfully adopt the metric system of weights and measures, we can actually become a world leader in a related area by introducing metric time. While the natural rhythms of astronomy make it difficult to fiddle with concepts like day, month and year, there’s no reason we can’t monkey around with parts of the day. I propose that instead of dividing the day into 24 hours, we opt for “cent-hours” (pronounced like “centaurs”) of 36 minutes a piece, making for an even 100 units per day. You’d no longer have the question of a.m. versus p.m., never wonder exactly what quarter-past meant, and could greatly simplify scheduling throughout the entire day. “Meet me at 43,” you could say to a prospective lunch companion. “The doctor has an opening at 72,” the appointment desk could report. Think how much confusion this would eliminate, once we figured out what the new clocks would look like.
  • I’d like to see piping installed in each home that would allow us to receive more options than just water for our drinking needs. I’m a big fan of Pepsi, for example, and get tired of lugging those two-liter bottles home, not to mention the extreme pricing fluctuations that make oil futures seem stable by comparison. Why can’t I just turn on a tap and have my favorite Pepsi product dispensed over the sink?
  • Possibly related (and not just by all the new ductwork that would have to be laid), I would like to see plumbing built into bedding that would allow you to relieve yourself in the middle of the night without getting out of bed. I, for one, am ready for my first good night’s sleep since my thirties. It could be done in an appropriately sanitary way, with an access plug that could be periodically removed and sanitized. The piping would travel from the surface of the bed, through the mattress, under the floor and ultimately intersect with your municipal sewage system. And shame on any of you who imagined some kind of waterbed concept when you first pictured this set-up in your mind. That would be gross.
  • People need to stop holding their noses when they smell something bad. The odor that your olfactory system is detecting is actually thousands of tiny atoms of flatulence or Arby’s dollar-menu roast beef sandwiches or whatever floating through the air and into your body. Your nose contains sticky secretions as well as dozens of small hairs that capture these atoms and prevent them from going any further into your system. If you’re holding your nose and instead breathing through your mouth, you have literally no defense against these disgusting particles unless you’re a baleen whale that filters its food orally or else have hair growing inside your cheeks. (And no presidential signing statements that interpret this regulation to allow simply holding your breath and walking quickly to another part of the room).
  • Finally, I’d like to see the introduction of a 99-cent coin. I know the dollar coin has been an abject failure, regardless of whether the image of Susan B. Anthony, a dead president, Sacagawea or Jenny McCarthy has been minted into the face. But think about how often the price you’re asked to pay for a product or service ends in zero-zero, and compare that to all the sale prices you see that come in just under a dollar. If this coin succeeded, we could then try the nine-tenths-of-a-cent piece that could be used to pay for gasoline purchases.

As I said at the beginning, change is in the air, and we need to be sure our new president and Congress recognize that reform is as important in the area of everyday habits as it is in larger realms.

Revisited: The importance of hand-washing

September 19, 2009

I’m glad to notice that the fourth week of September has once again been declared National Clean Hands Week. This is not one of those cheesy designations by Congress; instead, the week of Sept. 20-26 was chosen by the Soap and Detergent Association (SDA) to “encourage a healthy home, workplace and office” with the purchase and use of the cleaning products and oleochemicals made by their trade association members.

I discovered the existence of the SDA with the aid of a framed document posted at my workplace, titled “A Checklist for Washing Hands”. As I’ve written before, my company is big into standard processes so it only makes sense that such a list would be posted in a position of prominence, in the men’s room. Because the document is dated February of 2002, I’m guessing this concern for our health and safety was some type of misdirected response to 9/11.

The checklist is prefaced by results from a survey conducted by the association which asserts that some 40% of American workers don’t wash their hands often or long enough (emphasis SDA’s). Consider that the SDA also claims that 58% of employers don’t encourage better cleanliness habits in their workers. “While most people employ good cleaning habits at home, they have less control in the workplace,” notes director of consumer affairs Nancy Bock, who holds a job apparently even worse than mine. I might think some less-than-positive things about my current employer but I sure can’t say they aren’t concerned about my cleanliness – I mean they posted the checklist in frame.

The list itself is in two parts: when to wash your hands and, of course, how. The “when” includes each time you use the restroom, before and after staff meetings if food is served (I assume that would also cover my company meetings, where bring your own pathetic sandwich is more the rule), after scanning newspapers in the breakroom, before and after a meet-and-greet activity (where you might have to touch grubby customers) and after disposing of freshly killed vermin. Actually, I added that last one myself. I guess it should go without saying, but if we’re going to have a checklist it needs to be thorough and allow no room for old-fashioned notions of common sense.

The “how” of hand-washing is stunning in its detail. You should wet hands with warm running water prior to reaching for soap, either in bar or liquid form; rub hands together to make a lather; wash the front and back of hands for 15 seconds or more; and rinse hands well under warm water. As Bock notes, “washing often, about eight times a day or more (emphasis both of ours) is the first step.” This seems to be bordering on the obsessive-compulsive to me, but of course I’m not selling soap.

I suppose I shouldn’t be mocking the sincere efforts of the Soap and Detergent Association. I really don’t want myself or my coworkers to end up like the little clip-art guy in the corner of the frame with a thermometer in his mouth and an ice bag on his head. Since 1926, under the leadership of a 25-member Board of Directors and over 40 committees, subcommittees, task forces and working groups, the SDA has been dedicated to advancing public understanding of the safety and benefits of cleaning products. I know lobbyists are currently under a bit of a cloud in the public eye, but I just can’t imagine these guys leaning on lawmakers for multi-million-dollar cleanser earmarks.

I decided to go to their website to learn more about the unceasing effort to keep the American public from being so disgusting. In addition to consumer education efforts like the one I encountered, the group is involved in research, government affairs and coordinating efforts with international associations. To encourage these missions, they sponsor two awards — the Glycerine Innovation Award, given in collaboration with the American Oil Chemists’ Society, and an award recognizing the best technical paper in the Journal of Surfactants and Detergents. I wonder if I might qualify for next year’s honor with this piece.

As I read on, I’m glad I took advantage of the immediacy of the web rather than relying on six-year-old messages on bathroom walls. Because it seems like things have only gone downhill since the 2002 report. The 2008 study reveals that only 85% of respondents say they always wash their hands after going to the bathroom, down from the previous 92%, and a mere 39% seldom or never wash their hands (emphasis necessary for everyone) after coughing or sneezing. A new feature of the study is an overall grade for the American public, who racks up a not-surprising “C-” for their hand hygiene habits. Once again, we’re excelling at mediocrity.

“Americans should prepare for the onslaught of cold and flu season,” warns Bock ominously. “Cleaning your hands regularly throughout the day can help keep you out of the emergency room.” On the good side, Bock has been promoted to SDA vice president of education since we last heard from her in 2002. I’m just glad to see she still has a job, considering the poor results of the study.

I guess she got credit for some of the additional features now available on the website. New this year are “tips on laundering flood-soiled fabrics,” which I guess is in response to recent natural catastrophes we’ve seen along the Gulf Coast. “As soon as the flood waters have receded, a new priority becomes how to clean up clothes and other fabrics that have been soaked by muddy flood water.” I’m sure that’d be my new priority as I maneuvered around the bloated corpses of cattle as I waded back to the shattered remnants of my life. In case I get some dead cow on my only remaining T-shirt, the SDA has me covered: “to help remove protein stains such as sewage and blood, add an enzyme presoak product to the prewash.” Any chance such a product is sold by your members? I sure hope so.

The SDA has also been busy bringing new demographic groups into the world of the clean and hygienic. They’ve established the “Scrub Club” for kids, which includes the Clean Hands Game and webisodes in which you can meet Gel-Mo, the gelatinous mascot of the S.C. And in an attempt to reach out to teenagers, a rap song was commissioned from the students at Sampson Smith Middle School. I’m sure some of the cred of the song is lost without the accompanying thumping bass-line, but if you can imagine the overwhelming rhythm, I can quote the lyrics:

“Yo stop touching that dirty can

Go to the sink and wash your hands,

If you want to go on a date,

Jump up and wash your hands for goodness sake.

Washing your hands is good for you

But if you don’t you’ll get the flu.”

Thanks to the SDA, sounds like we can look forward to a bright and shiny future.

Advice seekers: You need get a life

August 16, 2009

“You Want My Advice?” is a weekend summer rerun feature of I look at questions of ethics, propriety, faith, technology, geopolitics, health, etc., and offer completely inappropriate, irresponsible and possibly even life-threatening advice. 

In today’s final installment, we hear from the reader who finally drove me over the edge.

Q. Out of the blue, I’ve been contacted by an ex. We had a brief relationship several years ago, which represents part of my past that I’d rather forget. He is emotionally unstable, so I can’t just tell him to leave me alone, even nicely. I’m afraid he might harm me. I’ve been responding to his phone calls and e-mails (which all have a general message of “I think of you often and I miss you”). I’m also a widow and a parent of two children. I lost my husband almost four years ago. I have been trying to date, but it seems harder now than it ever was before. Many men hear of my situation and run the other way. Some are so insecure they can’t handle the fact that I was married before. I think it is a little unreasonable for them to expect me to never mention my late husband in conversation. In high school, I dated this wonderful guy for two years. We came to a halt after we graduated, but kept in touch. I made a series of really bad decisions with him and find myself regretting them constantly. We talk regularly now, about things such as moving in with each other and getting married. I am currently in a relationship where the person has put an expiration date on it. He says “I love you” a lot but he also becomes distant and cold toward me. My ex-boyfriend has cerebral palsy. I have loved him for more than a year, regardless of his condition. He broke up with me because he didn’t think he could love someone if he didn’t love himself. I have an on-again, off-again relationship with this other guy for more than five years. We are “off” now but I can’t stop thinking about him. It was my decision to end the relationship because I felt I was wasting my time. We get along well, but he lies and cheats. But the love I feel for him never changes. I can’t help but wonder if he is really my soul mate.

Can you offer a suggestion for how I might deal with my situation? – Troubled in Love

A. No. In fact, I’m sick and tired of all you whiny, needy social misfits constantly beating a path to my website with your pathetic problems. You need to take control of your own lives and figure out your own solutions, rather than relying on all-knowing super-beings like myself to give you the answers.

I’ve been writing this advice column twice a week for ten weeks now, and I don’t see that the world has become a better place as a result. I’ve answered questions about invasive squirrels, proper shoe color, organ donation etiquette, satellite TV, the creation of God and gender-neutral names. Every answer has been as appropriate as can be, and yet no one ever writes back to offer their thanks. The most feedback I’ve ever received was that one time a guy was looking for a cure for halitosis and I told him to drink pesticide and he died and they wrote about it in the paper.

This marks my final advice column. I’m not going to be dragged down to the level of you lonely losers any longer. If you need suggestions about how to live your lives, you better hope that one of the following works, because it’s the last you’re getting from me:

  • Try rotating the tires on your car. If that doesn’t make the noise go away, remove the tires completely.
  • A shampoo with conditioner may be what you need. Just be sure to use it on your hair.
  • I also read that article about a donated kidney being removed through the vagina, but I still wouldn’t recommend dental work being done through your ear.
  • If you’ll limit your caffeine intake, I bet the vibrations will stop.
  • Tell your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend that you hate them and never want to see them again.
  • Try a non-allergenic carpeting or else stop eating off the floor.
  • You need to lose some weight, get a haircut and give up your dreams of moving to Japan.
  • The sim cards in virtually all cell phones will usually provide your minimum daily requirement of minerals and vitamins.
  • Before you think about remodeling your kitchen, might I suggest you remodel your face.
  • God is not sitting on His Golden Throne in heaven worried about which casserole you bring to the church supper. He thinks congregants would be just as happy with one of those KFC Famous Bowls.

Advice for the lonely atheist

August 15, 2009

“You Want My Advice?” is a weekend summer rerun feature of I look at questions of ethics, propriety, faith, technology, geopolitics, health, etc., and offer completely inappropriate, irresponsible and possibly even life-threatening advice. Today, we hear from a reader who’s looking for some advice on their love life.

Q: I feel like I’ve missed out on life. I grew up in a conservative Christian home where “gosh” and “heck” were bad words. I was homeschooled then went to a Christian university. After years of dealing with the crap, I became an atheist and am still going strong. After spending my whole life in the evangelical world, I have no idea how to function in the real world. I’ve never kissed a girl, had a girlfriend, or had sex. The only women I know are Christians. I’ve read stories about people hooking up in bars, but I have no idea what I’m supposed to do or how to meet people. – Awkward Agnostic

A. I’m sorry to hear how much trouble you’ve had with what is obviously a difficult transition. Changing from one lifestyle to another that’s so completely different can be very troublesome to your psyche. You need to be patient as this important transition proceeds.

Have you thought about asking God for help? Many people trying to survive in today’s hectic world think they can find easy answers to the trouble they’re having. The answers ARE easy, if you look in the right place, and by “right place,” I mean with those who have found the one true religion of Christianity.

Wait. I just reread your question. Sorry for not paying closer attention – I’m trying to balance one girlfriend on Twitter, another on Facebook, and my wife trying to get through to my cell. Pray to Jesus that you should be so lucky some day.

Yes, meeting women in bars is definitely the way to go. Hooking up in these establishments is not necessarily a requirement, but I’m guessing from your background that you’re going to want to have your potential mates as smashed as possible. Once you help them stagger out of the bar, into your car, and into your bedroom, don’t let them become unconscious because this would be considered “taking advantage,” which is something you should do only when you’ve reached a more advanced state. Also, don’t take it the wrong way if they cry out “Oh, God” or “Holy Jesus” during lovemaking.

I hear that meeting women on the Internet is also a very good idea. You can either use the popular social networking sites or a legitimate “matchmaking” service like eHarmony or Just realize that most of the women you meet on line are actually going to be middle-aged men, and ugly ones at that.

One more thing: I don’t like your language when you talk about “dealing with the c**p.” Nobody, be they believers or non-believers, want to hear that kind of filth. Clean up your language, mister, and I think you’ll soon find yourself cleaning up with the ladies as well.

Advice gone squirrelly

August 9, 2009

“You Want My Advice?” is a weekend summer rerun feature of I look at questions of ethics, propriety, faith, technology, geopolitics, health, etc., and offer completely inappropriate, irresponsible and possibly even life-threatening advice. Today, we hear from a reader who’s having some problems protecting his hearth and home.

Q. A squirrel is trying to get in a bay of the roof just behind the side trim on my dormer. He has gotten in previously by chewing on the fascia trim board. I finally got him out and nailed some lightweight metal to cover the holes. He made short work of those metal patches, so the next time I got him out I covered the entire fascia with galvanized steel. He keeps scratching on the metal. How long will it take him to get in, one way or another? – Despiser of All Things Wild

A. The squirrel is one of nature’s most persistent creatures, so I’m guessing it won’t take long at all. In fact, in the time it took you to send me this correspondence, I’d be willing to bet you’re already up to your knees in acorns.

Just kidding. Actually, I bet the galvanized steel will work for a while, though most biologists now predict that squirrels will be developing blow-torch technology in the next two to three years that will enable them to burn through all metals except reinforced titanium. Some pest control experts are suggesting a “reverse psychology” strategy that will use the animals’ ingenuity against them. This philosophy involves you moving out of your house and into your yard, which will then encourage the furry-tailed scamps to try to break out of your house instead of into it.

I might also suggest the use of humane traps which would allow you to capture the squirrels and return them to your nearest nature preserve. If you don’t have a preserve in your area, I’ll soon be posting some excellent squirrel recipes printed in the outdoors section of our local paper, including the compassionate and delicious fried squirrel and the hearty smothered squirrel.

Just what you wanted: advice on hydrology

August 8, 2009

“You Want My Advice?” is a weekend summer rerun feature of I look at questions of ethics, propriety, faith, technology, geopolitics, health, etc., and offer completely inappropriate, irresponsible and possibly even life-threatening advice. Today, we hear from a reader with a really stupid, really boring science question.

Q. With talk of rising seas, what could happen to the rivers that flow into the oceans? Will they reverse flow? Will rising seas back up into freshwater lakes? And what happens to our groundwater should saltwater flow backward into it? – Getting Thirsty Just Thinking About It

A. Finally … a hydrology question. Our readers have been waiting forever.

Though I’m an expert in many fields (taxidermy, thoracic surgery, the Dave Clark Five, the Ming Dynasty), this is one area where I’m a bit of an amateur. I’ve never studied the subject formally but rather have approached it as an all-consuming hobby, primarily through my quest to drown as many fire ants with boiling hot water as I can. (It’s fun to put a stick in the middle and watch a few lucky creatures survive, only to realize later their world has been wiped out.) So let’s see what the professionals have to say on the subject.

Hydrology has been a subject of investigation and engineering for millennia. For example, in about 4000 B.C. the Nile was dammed to improve agricultural productivity of previously barren lands. Aqueducts were built by the Greeks and Romans, while the history of China shows they built irrigation and flood control works. The ancient Sinhalese used hydrology to build complex irrigation works in Sri Lanka, and are also known for invention of the valve pit which allowed construction of large reservoirs which still function.

All of which has nothing to do with your question, especially that part about whatever the hell a “valve pit” is. I predict that when the seas rise that rivers will indeed reverse their flow and the seas will back up into freshwater lakes, just as you’ve postulated. Our groundwater will be rendered too saline to drink, which doesn’t bother me because I only drink Pepsi anyway.

It’s basically just an end-of-the-world scenario, and nothing to worry your little head about.

Advice with an alcohol/medicine mix

August 2, 2009

“You Want My Advice?” is a weekend summer rerun feature of I look at questions of ethics, propriety, faith, technology, geopolitics, health, etc., and offer completely inappropriate, irresponsible and possibly even life-threatening advice. Today, we hear from a reader with a possible new-product idea.

Q. I am a registered nurse three days a week at a hospital and a bartender one day a week at a country club. I am about to launch an all-natural premium margarita mix and want to include on the label that it is endorsed by a nurse – me. Ethical? — An Entrepre-Nurse

A. Sure, why not? It should be fairly obvious to potential buyers that the mix is not intended to be used in a medicinal way and, while I don’t necessarily think the “AS ENDORSED BY A NURSE” tagline is going to be driving buyers to your product, I don’t think it’s unethical. The only potential for misinterpretation might come at the hands of dumb college frat boys who think they’ll be able to binge drink without any ill effects.

I admire your ambition in trying to bring something like this to market, and wondered if you have thought at all about the reverse synergy of capitalizing on your medical connections to make something that would appeal to the country-club set. You could do a line of pre-mixed drinks that were infused with various medicines you have access to at the hospital. Maybe a “Vodka Collins with Ritalin” for those wanting to focus in on improving their tennis forehand, or a “Cosmopolitan with Ortho Tri-Cyclen Patch” for the desperate housewives on the nineteenth hole concerned about their birth control. You could even do something as simple as a band-aid or aspirin, put it into hospital-style packaging, and charge $25 a piece like they do on the insurance claims. Or you could do a line of congealed, room-temperature entrees and casseroles and sell them as Hospital Cafeteria Healthy Meals.

By the way, I also think it’s ethical that you cut me in for a percentage of the profits if any of these ideas work out.

Medication advice for the elderly

August 1, 2009

“You Want My Advice?” is a weekend summer rerun feature of I look at questions of ethics, propriety, faith, technology, geopolitics, health, etc., and offer completely inappropriate, irresponsible and possibly even life-threatening advice. Today, we hear from an elderly reader wondering about his medications.

Q. I’m an 83-year-old man and am medicated pretty well. I walk sometimes but otherwise get little exercise. Recently, I started having bad cramps at night and my legs are getting weak. Please advise me. – Old Man

A. You’ve come to the right place. I’m a 55-year-old man and am also “medicated pretty well,” if you know what I mean.

Have you ever tried Simvostat, sometimes known as “Simmies” or “Vo-vo”? It’s a drug designed to lower your cholesterol but, man, I gotta tell you, that stuff sends me totally flying. If you’re at all into mad hallucinations, this is for you. After I dose myself (don’t take with grapefruit), I’ll just lay back and stare at the clouds. Sometimes they form themselves into the Face of God and speak to me, while other times all I can see are flying monkeys and these transluscent fish that just laugh and laugh. It’s so cool, AND it’s gotten my cholesterol down to 135.

Another high I can recommend is Lorzepam, often called “Zeps” or “Lordy Lorzy” on the streets. This is ostensibly a sleep medication, but if you can manage to keep yourself awake, the effect is similar to surgical anesthesia. You’re just drifting, drifting – it feels like your brain is buzzing. If you do fall asleep, beware that side effects may include amnesia with no memory for the event, such as sleep-driving, sleep-eating and sleep-robbing-convenience-stores.

The last medication that I would “highly” recommend is something called Flomax. This is frequently prescribed to men of a certain age who may have trouble “going” or else find themselves going “all the time.” Flomax itself isn’t in generic form yet, so you might also ask for pharmaceutical equivalents such as Peezalot, WeeBegone or Pissanpiss. Besides fixing your prostate, this stuff makes your face literally vibrate and gives you incredible incentive to get things done (mostly things involving urinals). If you need to stay up late to study for a test or prepare a presentation for work, this is the junk you want.

As for bad cramps and leg weakness, I think you’ll forget all about these problems – not to mention the names of close family members – if you try any of the above-recommended drugs. Have fun, dude.