Sunday, July 29, 2012

What are the odds of this?

Odds of:

calling a coin toss correctly: 1 in 2.

two blondes, each of whom own more sweaters than Macy’s, both showing up for dinner wearing lilac cardigans: 1 in 100.

a Connecticut supermarket cashier saying “thank you": 1 in 11,543.

two blondes, both of whom own more colored tops than The Gap and more sweaters than Macy’s, meeting for dinner wearing aqua tops and lilac cardigans: 1 in 13,664. winning a Pulitzer prize:
1 in 124,253.

two blondes, both of whom own more slacks than Bloomingdales, more tops than The Gap and more sweaters than Macy’s, meeting for dinner wearing white pants, aqua tops, and lilac cardigans: 1 in 264,035.

a dachshund that, after five years of training by the Dog Whisperer, is at least 95 percent housebroken: 1 in 649,740.

two blondes, both of whom own more individual pieces of jewelry than the royal families of Britain, Brunei, Spain and Sweden, more slacks than Bloomingdales, more tops than The Gap and more sweaters than Macy’s, meeting for dinner wearing identical bracelets from same designer, white pants, aqua tops and lilac cardigans: 1 in 2,238,536.

being killed by a frozen turd falling out of the lavatory of an airplane:
1 in 53,320,000.

two blondes meeting for dinner and discovering they are carrying identical Pucci handbags and wearing identical bracelets, white pants, turquoise t-shirts and lilac cardigans: 1 in 159,295,303.

a meteor landing on your house: 1 in 182,138,880,127,006.

those two, meeting for dinner in same restaurant exactly 124 weeks to the day after the above incident, and, once again, wearing five identical items of clothing and accessories, none of which they wore the first time: 1 in 652,253,200,539,231,502.

neither friend’s husband having cell phone with camera on him to record second incident: 100 percent.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sorry I haven't written but these are the dog days

My grand-dog, Topanga, enjoying the dog days of summer

I haven’t blogged for more than a week. I thought about it, I really did, but these are the dog days and I'm lazy. If I had blogged, I could have told you that my local supermarket is selling tomatoes from New Jersey for $4.95 a pound and that people with more money than sense are happily snapping them up. I could have said how sad it is we have a president who holds businesspeople in contempt. I could have written about why I don’t understand why the hell this country can’t keep guns out of the hands of loons like that nutcase who killed all those kids in Colorado. I could have told you how much I love Apple products. When my beloved six-year-old MacBook finally gave up the ghost the other night,  I left home at 8 pm, drove 15 miles to the Apple Store, and was home by 9 with a fully functioning new MacBook Pro that does everything but wipe my behind and there's probably an app for that somewhere. I could have written about how Mitt Romney is probably going to lose because the guy has the charisma of a deer tick. I could have said that my wife has been obsessed  -- obsessed --  with finding a dress for our son’s wedding in January and that she finally bought it today and it looks great. When I asked why she bought it so early (men usually wait until an hour before an event) she said there won’t be any dresses in January. (So ladies, load up.) I could have written about how sick I am of getting robo calls from that bitch Rachel at Cardmember Services who has called three times a week for two years. I could have told you all about the swanky wedding reception we attended last weekend that made Prince William and Kate Middleton’s look like trailer trash. Yeah, I could have written about a lot of things and I would have probably been too lazy to even indent my paragraphs. But I didn’t. It’s about to rain and I promised I’d grill some shrimp before the sky opens up. Here’s my recipe.

                                Tom’s Secret Shrimp Basting Sauce

Mix ½ stick melted butter with ½ cup honey. Add a coupla tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce. Nuke until bubbly. Brush on shrimp. Go to bank, procure second mortgage and serve with fresh-sliced New Jersey tomatoes.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A wake-up call from Callista Gingrich

We're snoozing happily Saturday morning when the phone rings.

Hello," an automated voice announces. "I'm Callista Gingrich."

Callista, wife of failed presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, is calling to hawk a new movie she produced, based on Newt's 2007 book, "Rediscovering God in America." I listen a minute or so before I hang up.

Two words for the Gingriches: Bite me.

If you two are so righteous, why did you allow your campaign to place robocalls to Jewish Florida voters claiming Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, purposely denied kosher food to Holocaust survivors in nursing homes? Think God approved of that?

How come you enlisted Newt's offspring from marriage #1 to attack his wife from marriage #2 who, just before the South Carolina primary, went on TV to claim wife #3 was a home wrecker? Jesus wept.

I'm not perfect either but then, I don't go around running for president, purporting to know what God wants for America.

Newt, you're way, way, past your due date. The voters have spoken and rejected you soundly. Callista, lay off the hair spray and peroxide and, for God's sake, don't call me bright and early on Saturdays ever again.

Thank you.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Laughing at multiple sclerosis? Sure, why not?

This post is a shameless plug for a book by my friend, Carol Corsini Ervin. It's called The Lighter Side of MS: Life, Laughter, and Sucking It Up.
Carol, who worked at ABC News in New York for 30 years, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1988. That afternoon, she got teary-eyed when telling a friend. It was the last tear she shed for herself.

Her book is the story of how she has dealt with her illness  -- by finding the humor in it. As Carol explains it, with apologies to Leslie Gore, "It's my disease and I'll laugh if I want to."  If you have to use a cane, she reasons, why not name it Erica, after Erika Kane, the infamous All My Children bitch? If your legs give out suddenly, causing you to collapse into the arms of ABC anchorman Peter Jennings, who falls to the floor with you, you could cry with mortification. Or laugh about it. That's what Carol does.

Other than Miss America by Howard Stern, Carol's book is the only book that has ever made me laugh out loud. It is impossible not to when you turn the page and find a chapter that begins, "My first marriage isn't worth mentioning. But the wedding certainly is."

Not only is The Lighter Side entertaining, it's well written. That's rare these days.

The net net:  If you have MS, know someone who has MS, know someone who knows someone who has MS or, if you're simply looking for a summer read that will make you laugh out loud and forget whatever troubles you may think you have, which pale in comparison to MS, order The Lighter Side of MS today. It is available through or for $14.95. Can't wait? Order the Kindle edition for $9.95 and, five minutes from now, you'll be laughing.Trust me on this.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I am dabbing in Beulah Land

My Baptist grandma used to sing a hymn as she dusted. 

I'm living, on the mountain, underneath a cloudless sky
I'm drinking, at the fountain, that never shall run dry
Oh yes! I'm feasting, on the manna, from a bountiful supply
For I am dwelling... in Beulah Land! 

Well, I am not exactly dwelling in Beulah Land  but I'm dabbing in it. Not from a fountain, but from  a stick of Mitchum Power Gel Anti Perspirant that refuses to run dry. 

I bought it in December, have applied it every day since and, months past the time the container should have been tossed in the recycled bin, it still gushes a clear gel that gives me powerful protection every time I twist the knob. If you ask me, it's every bit as miraculous as the image of the Virgin Mary on the grilled cheese sandwich that sold on eBay for $28,000.

I am thinking about offering my Mitchum for sale on eBay, but wanted to give you, my loyal readers, the opportunity to buy it first. Opening bid: $500. Just think how much you can save, not to mention how clean and fresh you'll feel for eternity. 

Checks and money orders accepted.

PS: If, like me, you were raised in a country church and, now that you have read this post, can't quit humming Beulah Land, check out this video featuring a bizarrely upbeat rendition, lip-synched by worshippers so clean-cut they make the Lawrence Welk singers look like the Village People. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Death to Microsoft!

I don't like ... no, wait a sec.

I hate ...

Oh the hell with it. 

I DESPISE Microsoft.

I wish the whole goddam company would disappear. Poof! The world would be a better place for it.

Of all the companies that waste their customers' time  -- Comcast, Delta and Sprint come to mind --Microsoft wins hands down. Think about it.

How many dozens of hours have you spent trying to retrieve Word or Excel files that vanished into thin air? How many "error" messages have stopped you in your tracks, diverting your attention from the task at hand for hours as you try to figure out what the error might be? How many times have you waited on hold to speak to Microsoft customer service reps? How much have you had to shell out over the years to buy and renew anti-virus software because Microsoft Internet Explorer attracts viruses like a Fairbanks kindergarten class in the middle of winter?

I am a Mac guy. Apple gets it. Their products are intuitively simple. The company treats its customers like royalty. That's why Apple's stock has gone to the moon. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people use programs found only in Microsoft Office -- Word, Excel and/or PowerPoint. To communicate with those people, I have to use them, too. And for years, I did.

Until one day last year when Microsoft Word refused to allow me to save an important document. When I typed in the name I wanted to give it --it was something simple like "Presentation" -- the following message appeared:
This is not a valid file name. Try one or more of the following: 
   -Check the path to make sure it was typed correctly
   -Select a file from the list of files and folders

I can spell. I can type. That wasn't the problem, although I had no idea what "path" referred to. And I didn't understand the second message. Sure, I had other Word files but how could I save my document in one of those?

After spending two hours trying to figure out what to do, I cloned what I had typed, pasted it into my gmail account and emailed it to myself. I hadn't been able to save it in Word, but at least I was able to save it somewhere. I then did what any irrational person would do: I "uninstalled" Microsoft Office. And I've happily been using Google Documents ever since. It's a better program. It's simpler. It's free. What's not to like?

But ... for the last month or so I've been working on a lengthy, involved document I've created and saved, in pieces, on Google Docs, which stores it in something called "The Cloud." For some inexplicable reason, I decided today that, if the Cloud were to be vaporized, I'd be pissed, not to mention hysterical. So I went to Staples and purchased, for $124.99, a new copy of Microsoft Office For Mac 2011, which I spent a half hour installing.

I spent the next hour cutting and pasting my various files from Google Doc onto a new, master Microsoft Word document. And when I went to save it?  I got the "This is not a valid file name" message.

The next hour was spent searching the web, trying to determine if anyone else has ever experienced the same problem. Turns out, lots of people have. There is, I learned, a solution for the problem. If I had a Ph.D. in computer science from MIT, I might have understood it.

The box the product came in says I'm entitled to 90 days of free support. But it doesn't tell me how to get that support. Clearly, I can't comprehend the online gobbledegook, So I spent 10 more minutes looking for a phone number. Finally found it. The line is only open during business hours on weekdays. This is Saturday.

I've pissed away my entire evening and have nothing to show for it. Not surprising whenever a Microsoft product is involved.

So die, Microsoft, die. And may Bill Gates and every one of you nerdy bastards rot in hell.

Good evening, and you can be sure that, first thing Monday morning, I'll be on the line.

Wear your asbestos suits.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

If Boehner and Pelosi had been in charge on July 4, 1776

It is July 4, 1776. You are in Philadelphia, a delegate to the Continental Congress, and are waiting for your leaders to agree on the wording for a document you and your fellow delegates pledged to sign two days ago when you voted to declare your new nation's independence.

You look to the front of the room and see that your leaders, John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, are at it again. Boehner is insisting on inserting an anti-abortion provision into the document. Pelosi wants funding for birth control devices and is demanding that delegates sign the document without reading it.

At that moment, you realize you and your descendants will remain, forever, English subjects.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone. And come election day, November 6, remember what the signers of the Declaration advised us to do about the idiots who so spectacularly misrepresent us in Washington.

... That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundations on such principle and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

In other words, they said throw the bums out and start with a fresh slate.

That, after all, is the American way.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Reason #43 I love my grand-dog: She never calls me "grandpa"

The folks at the pound told him they were sure she was mostly beagle with, perhaps, a little Lab mixed in.

Boy, were they wrong.

Within three months, that tiny, fluffy ball of gold and white fur my son adopted from the pound had morphed into a creature roughly the size of a Shetland pony.

Meet my granddog, Topanga, who was adopted by our #2 son three years ago when he was still in grad school.

With her Rockette-long legs, deep chest, narrow waist, bushy tail, mastiff-sized head and soulful eyes that appear as though someone applied eyeliner around them, Topanga is so bizarre looking we had her DNA tested.

Turns out she is half Great Pyrenees (a cousin of the St. Bernard, which accounts for her size), 35 percent Italian greyhound (hence the skinny legs and slim waist) and 15 percent Jack Russell terrier (of which we see no evidence whatsoever.)

Ten years ago we purchased this "Beware of Dog" tile in the
Canary Islands. The dog looks just like Topanga.
What are the odds of that?
Our family has always had neurotic little dogs -- dachshunds, beagles and one terrier-mix -- so a dog the size of a Macy's Thanksgiving parade balloon is new territory for us.

It's rather pleasant actually. Unlike the hyperactive, yappy dogs to which we are accustomed, Topanga is sociable, well-behaved and extremely mellow.

Topanga is visiting for the week, snoring contentedly on the sofa as I write. She leaves cotton-ball size clumps of hair everywhere, drools like Niagara Falls and our elderly dachshund, Bonnie, emits a threatening "get away from me, bitch" growl every time she trots into the room.  It's ridiculous, because Topanga, if she were so inclined, could eat Bonnie and our other dachshund, Billy Ray, as easily as they eat Cesar single-bite treats. To her credit, she ignores her aunt.

As you have guessed by now, my wife and I are crazy about our grand-dog. 

And while friends who have human grandkids say grandparent-dom is the best thing since sliced bread, I'm perfectly content with my grand-dog for now.

I'll never have to take her to Disney World, never have to contribute to her college fund, and she'll never embarrass me by calling me "grandpa" in public.

Not that there's anything wrong with that title, but I'm not ready for it. At least not yet.