Stephen Hawking, The Media, Lawsuits, and Junior Mints

I don’t know what it is, but sometimes the planets come into alignment, the Hand of God reaches out to nudge the Universe one way or another, a Vulcan mind meld is applied irresponsibly, or perhaps humanity reaches an apex in stupidity derived from the Butterfly Effect triggered by one of Grandpa’s SBD farts blamed on the dog.

This morning is one of those times. (Sorry, dog.)

In its ongoing desperate attempt to remain relevant and in a classic example of the inmates running the asylum of the Media, today’s Chicago Tribune runs an article with the headline “Illinois Suit  Challenges Junior Mints on Space in Packaging”.

The headline itself was enough to send me into convulsions, the result of which may be a headline tomorrow reading something like “Illinois Man Files Lawsuit After Suffering Coffee Burns to Groin Area After Reading Headline About Junior Mints Lawsuit”.  I’m still thinking about pursuing that.

Be that as it may, the gist of the article is that a lawsuit has been filed in a Chicago federal court by a woman claiming ‘there is nearly as much air as candy’ in a box of Junior Mints.

The article goes on in excruciating detail to explain the genesis of the suit (triggered by the purchase of a $1 Box of Junior Mints), the tortuous relationship between the Junior Mints contents and deceptive packaging, a discussion of the pros and cons of empty space left in product packaging (Examples:  We are told ‘the air cushion …protects potato chips from breaking in the bag’ versus in the case of the Junior Mints ‘that empty space can increase the chances that the candies will be damaged because they move around quite a bit inside the hard cardboard box’).

Next we are treated to a history of the litigation filed in various other jurisdictions, resultant court decisions, appeals filed, pending related litigation and so on which might or might not have a bearing on the Junior Mints lawsuit.

Also included is a discussion of the relationships of Junior Mints to the episode of Seinfeld which if you haven’t seen it you really should but which I won’t waste your time here explaining – all of which has absolutely nothing to do with the lawsuit filed but makes for some nostalgic reflection on the good old days when the most disturbing thing about Junior Mints wasn’t the contents of the box but the potential effects of accidentally dropping a Junior Mint into an opened wound during surgery.

(After spending the time reading the article it also occurred to me that if I were a subscriber to the paper version of the newspaper I might have thrown it onto floor laughing.  Having moved on to the online version,  I realized once again how much technology had changed my life.   Throwing my laptop onto the floor laughing would have been a stupid and costly thing to do.  Gotta love serendipity)

Anyway, a number of thoughts came to mind after reading the article.  The first was ‘How could such a thing be considered ‘News’, worth spending the time, mental effort and cost to include in a major metropolitan newspaper?’

I don’t have the answer to that one but assume the Media Gods in their infinite wisdom had once again decided for me that here was information critical to my understanding of the world and events which shape our time.  And thanks for that.

Then, I tried to picture how the conversation went between the litigant (i.e., the buyer of the $1 box of Junior Mints) and the Law Firm that decided to take this case to Court.

One possible (likely?) scenario:

PARTNER IN LAW FIRM:  “Good morning, Mrs. X, what can we do for you today?”

MRS. X:  “Well, I bought this $1 box of Junior Mints yesterday and I was OUTRAGED (see prior blog post re:  OUTRAGE) to find that the entire capacity of space available in the box wasn’t taken up by Junior Mints.  In fact, it looks to me like not only are there Junior Mints in here, there’s also AIR!!!”

PARTNER IN LAW FIRM:  “Hmmm.  How much money do you have?”

MRS. X:  “A lot.”

PARTNER IN LAW FIRM:  “Well, in that case, we’ll be glad to take it.  Your case, that is!(laughs professionally)”.

Finally, I wondered, “How would I, as maker and packager of  Junior Mints, defend myself against such a charge?”

Suddenly, I realized the answer was obvious.

If you’ve been wondering where Stephen Hawking comes into play here….wait for it….


And with that, your Honor, I rest my case.







Posted in Business, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s Outrageous!!!!….And One Other Thought

A few days ago something happened that annoyed me.

I forget what it was exactly but within minutes I realized my reaction to it was WAY inappropriate for the times.

In case you haven’t noticed,  if you bother to watch the Talking Heads or read the online/paper based Anointed Pundits ranting about (insert your topic here), no one seems to have any emotional response to ANYTHING anymore but OUTRAGE.

I remember the old days.  Way back then, if someone said some shit to you that you didn’t like or maybe you read something online or saw something on the Tube to which you took exception, your reaction may have run the gamut of emotions from disappointment or mild annoyance to just plain annoyance (never quite sure what the differentiator was there – I just knew I could tell the difference), or you might have felt Slightly Pissed Off to Full Blown Pissed Off.  You may have even internally escalated things to the point of feeling Anger, or, if you’re the type that hears voices in your head, plain old unhealthy Rage

(Of course, in an alternate universe you may even just have ignored the whole thing but I don’t want to get off topic here.)

No, today’s standard, nay expected, reaction to things said, events that occur, gestures made , eyebrows furrowed, quizzical looks, differences of opinion – pretty much anything with which you disagree – is OUTRAGE.

Don’t like it that you were stopped by a cop for having a tail light or license plate missing AND were then found to have a pound of crystal meth in your trunk along with a decapitated body?  Well, if you’re 1/10th Inuit Indian on your father’s side, the media story will likely start with the headline, “Minority Person OUTRAGED Over Police Profiling.”

Don’t like waiting in line for your turn at the trough in the Men’s Room at Wrigley Field? Push your way through the even longer suffering line waiting in front of the Women’s Room, declare yourself Transgender, get into a fight with a patient WWW contender, get arrested and you get the headline, “LGBTQ (What’s with the Q?  Isn’t that redundant or does is stand for Questionable?)  Person OUTRAGED Over Denial of Access to Women’s Room’.

Got an annual income of a gazillion dollars, you own Ecuador, and find your Property Taxes have increased by $10,000?  Call a like minded individual who controls the media in your locale (or Mark Zuckerberg who apparently controls ALL media in ALL locales through Facebook – Russian subsidiaries included) and you get a headline, “Friend of Gabillionaire OUTRAGED Over Friend’s Property Tax Increase.”

Live in a ‘Geographically Disadvantaged Urban Boundary Owned by Absentee Owners and Populated by Poor Minorities With a 250% Increase in Gun Deaths’  and get capped by a cop while you’re reloading an Uzi which you just emptied at the cop and for some unknown reason you’re such a rotten shot you completely missed him/her?  Inevitably your headline will read “Father Pfleger (or whomever is your local defender of all that’s good and holy) OUTRAGED Over Unjustified Police Shooting of Future Assumed Rhodes Scholar”.

The examples cited of course incorporate some of today’s hot button issues and are in some respects perhaps a bit hyperbolic 🙂 ; however the term OUTRAGE is now being used to describe reactions to even the most mundane of situations considered as newsworthy and reported as such by today’s media.

If you don’t believe that,  simply take out a blank piece of paper and  for the next two weeks every time you hear or read about someone being OUTRAGED about something place a tick mark on it.   I’m betting you’ll find yourself AMAZED at the results, by which time you may find the media has discovered  people are becoming less OUTRAGED and more AMAZED!  Who knows?

Thank you for reading today’s diatribe.  I actually feel EMPOWERED having written it!

…..and now about that word EMPOWERED…..


Having been bombarded lately with the Saga of Stormy Daniels As Translated From the Old English I find it one of today’s extreme ironies that a woman who spent much of her adult life making money doing porn movies received what was undoubtedly her biggest payday – for actually keeping her mouth shut!

Think about it.



Posted in Contemporary Political Thoughts | 2 Comments

Potty Break

It was one of those steaming hot summer days in the suburbs.  The pavement shimmered in the heat and the local swimming pools overflowed from the impact of countless cannon balls and belly flops.

Looking forward to watching my son’s little league game that evening, I dressed in my lightest seersucker suit and spent the day in the comfort of air conditioned corporate servitude.

As five o’clock approached, the guys at the office began discussing plans for the evening, which almost invariably involved a stop at the local watering hole called Barry’s.

With the game starting at six thirty, I knew it would be a brief Barry’s stop for me but agreed to join them for a quick beer.

Now, the thing you need to understand about Barry’s was that each ‘quick beer’ was served in a frosty sixteen-ounce mug.  Aside from being a bargain price-wise, this had another benefit: namely that you theoretically could look your wife square in the eye and, flaming capillaries notwithstanding, swear truthfully that you had “stopped and had A beer”.  The fact that the low single digit beer count multiplied times the ounce factor could represent a couple of quarts of the stuff seemed irrelevant given the promise of wobbly integrity at home.

On this particular night even the walk to my car from the office and the few steps from the parking lot into Barry’s raised a sweat,.  With one eye on the clock, I ordered A beer, a second and then a third until it was time for me to leave for the baseball fields where my wife waited with increasing irritation as game time approached.

The fields on which the games were played were quite elaborate for little league.  None of the Chicago rock strewn sandlots on which I played ball as a kid, these were genuine first class baseball diamonds.  There were four of them, arranged in hub and spoke fashion, with each field having its own backstops, dugouts, bleachers and other spectator seating areas.

The parking lots servicing the fields were located several hundred feet away.  Hoping to reduce my sentence for having cut it so close in arriving just before ‘Play Ball’ was called, I jogged through the oppressive heat of the early evening to where my wife sat.

The jogging had two effects.  First, by the time I flopped into the chaise lounge next to my wife, my suit was soaked;  second, I felt a familiar pressure which I recognized resulted from my rapid departure from Barry’s without the required offering to the porcelain god and which I new would require relief soon.

I made small talk with my wife (“Hi, hon, stopped for a couple of beers at Barry’s”) as I glanced around to determine the whereabouts of the nearest rest room.  To my annoyance I realized that the only facility was a Porta-Potty located far off adjacent to the parking lot.  I knew that in order to keep the ‘Myth of the Single Digit Beer at Barry’s’ safe for future generations I would have to remain seated for at least the first couple of innings, so I hunkered down to tough it out.

The game started and I sat there in increasing discomfort until the third inning when I could stand it no more.  I excused myself and began the long walk to the facilities.  The closer I got, the faster I walked.  The faster I walked in the sweltering heat, the more I perspired.  By the time I made it to the portable bathroom even my socks were ringing wet.

I’m sure you know the type of comfort facility I’m talking about.  It was one of those free standing structures with the spring loaded door, the tiny window for ventilation and the lock latch located on the inside.  I opened the door and stepped in.

As I let go of the door the spring mechanism slammed it shut behind me with a bang.  Actually, it shut with a bang and another sound – sort of a ‘klunk’.  I registered the ‘klunk’ in the back of my mind as I frantically took care of business  which by this time had become my sole purpose in life.

As a flood of relief swept over me my mind wandered, and I realized how really unbearably hot and ripe were my surroundings.  My shirt was wringing wet, my suit was pitted out, sweat was poring from – well, from my pores – and my olfactory senses were in mega revulsion mode from the stench.

Having taken care of business as quickly as possible, I turned around, lifted the latch and pushed on the door.

It refused to budge.

I moved the latch up and down several times with no result, each time slamming my shoulder harder into the door.  As I did so the meaning of the mysterious ‘klunk’ became clear.  The locking mechanism had malfunctioned and I was now locked inside a human waste oven, the temperature of which was well over 100 degrees.

I normally consider myself to be pretty resourceful, however, a survey of my cell in hell offered no potential for escape.  I stood on my toes and peered out the tiny ventilation window, expecting to see salvation in the form of another soul responding to nature’s call walking towards me.   From my vantage point I could see clear across to the baseball diamonds and to my amazement there wasn’t a single person headed for the can.

Hoping that perhaps someone was within earshot in the parking lot I yelled, “Hey, can anybody hear me?  I need help.  I’m locked in the john!”  As I did so, the humor of the situation struck me and I waited for a response, already thinking up clever one liners I could toss out when rescued.  There was no response.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.

For the next few minutes I repeated my calls until it became obvious there would be no help coming soon. I returned to the tiny window and looked again in vain for help from the direction of the ball fields.

The next twenty minutes were a lifetime.  You’d have thought the kids on those ball diamonds were playing in the World Series, so intent were the parents and other fans on watching the games.  Surely, I said to myself, there must be someone who has to go to the bathroom eventually.

With each passing minute, the temperature and the stench rose in parallel.  I cursed my luck, I cursed my suit, the coat of  which was now doing double duty as a towel to wipe the sweat out of my eyes, and I pretty much cursed everything up to and including Abner Doubleday for inventing the damn game which had brought me to such a ridiculously low place.

Finally, returning to the ventilation window, with relief I saw the figure of a seven or eight year old boy coming towards me from the ball fields.  I let him approach to within twenty feet or so and hollered, “Hey kid, I’m locked in the john.  Help me get out, will you?”

I instantly realized my mistake.

The boy looked up, his eyes widened in terror. He screamed and fled as fast as his little legs would carry him – straight back to the ball fields.  I watched as he gesticulated to the crowd watching the games and pointed in my direction.

Like a scene out of Frankenstein the villagers rose up as one to slay the monster in the castle nee portable bathroom.  These were big villagers, too, and ten or so of the macho vigilantes ran towards me.  I swear I could almost see the lit torches.

Not wishing to take the chance that someone might decide to lynch the pervert in the potty or worse yet, tip the thing over, I began to yell frantically for help as soon as I thought they were in earshot.  Unfortunately, like the villagers, the nearer they approached the louder were their cries of rage and demand for retribution.

Quickly the mob surrounded the facility as I stood tip toe to the window, talking a mile a minute about how I had been locked in the thing for half an hour, how I was losing weight in the putrid steam bath, and, “Honest guys, I didn’t say anything evil to that nice little kid”.

Finally, a guy who resembled a Bulgarian wrestler looked up at me and said, “Buddy, we’d better find that door locked.”  He didn’t need to finish that statement and for one terrifying instant it occurred to me that perhaps I should have tried to open the door at least one more time.  I heard the latch being worked from the outside and to my tremendous relief heard the words, “Damn, the door really is jammed,”  and,  “Wow, that poor s.o.b. in there really got the shaft!.”

When the door was finally pried open I stepped out and stood limply in front of  the crowd of my would be executioners who were now staggering around convulsed in laughter.

I sloshed back to where my wife sat watching the game that by now was in the seventh inning.  She barely glanced at me as I sat down.

After a couple of minutes wet reflection on the absurdity of my experience I managed to convince myself that she should somehow share in the blame.   As I told her what had happened she began to chuckle.  The more I told her the harder she laughed and the more indignant I became.  By the time I finished the epic she was doubled over and all I could manage was a lame complaint to the effect that “I could have died in that thing and you never even would have noticed I was missing!”

I knew I was looking for sympathy in the wrong place as, wiping the tears from her eyes she smiled sweetly and said, “Don’t be silly, they clean those things out at least a couple of times a week.”

I think those are the kinds of things that have kept us together all these years.

Posted in Humer, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Controversy Over Cursive

I’ve lived in the Great State of Illinois all my life.

I use the modifier ‘Great’ for the purpose of distinguishing Illinois from other States known as ‘Not Great’or worse yet ‘Insignificant’ (e.g., Rhode Island).  I also use it because that’s what Politicians here call it, and as everyone knows Illinois Politicians are renowned for their intelligence, honesty, and most importantly their ability to consume and digest prison food.

Our State was created in 1818 becoming the 21st State of the Union.  The State Seal contains the official motto ‘Ego Expendas Pecuniam Tuam’ which translates to ‘I will spend your money.’

When not spending our money or avoiding creating a balanced budget through a loophole in the State Constitutional requirement to create a balanced budget which as written says words to the effect that a balanced budget must be created annually except during years in which it is not necessary to create a balanced budget, our Politicians grapple with many other issues critical to effective governance.

The Illinois Legislature regularly tackles such urgent issues as establishing Official State Birds, Official State Invasive Fish Species, Official State Losing Professional Football Teams and I’m sure eventually will get around to naming an Official State Ear Wax Removal System.

In the meantime, the big issue now being debated here is whether our School System should require students to learn to write in cursive.

From my personal research cursive as a form of written expression was created way back in 1626 when Peter Minuit, appointed director-general of New Netherland by the Geoctroyeerde Westindische Compagnie (the Dutch West India Company), purchased Manhattan from the Lenape, or Delaware Indians, for $24-worth of trade goods, or so the story goes.

Suspecting the Delaware Indians just might be able to read printed words, the Dutch cleverly used the new cursive script to confuse them and suck them signing into that $24 ‘deal’.  Evidence of this may be seen on the original contract on which the Chief of the Lenape, an Indian named Bob, marked an ‘X’ on the signature line of the contract.

Bob just as easily could have made his mark as an ‘F’ or ‘M’ or some other printed letter but used an ‘X’ presumably to impress the Dutch with his knowledge of the whole printed alphabet – or at least the first twenty four letters.

Flash forward to the present and the Legislature debating whether or not to require Schools to teach students to write in cursive.

To quote from a Chicago Tribune article, “The lawmaker pushing the idea says being taught the fancy script (emphasis added) can improve student’s learning abilities and help them read handwritten notes from their grandparents.”

Opposition in the Legislature claims that “such a requirement would put another burden on schools already struggling to meet other goals with limited time and money”.

As a grandparent this issue concerns me on a number of levels.

On the one hand, I understand the Legislature’s desire to cut back on frivolous spending on ‘fancy’ and otherwise unnecessary learning experiences.  This has been a concerted effort for many years as reflected in our State’s student population’s overall test results which clearly demonstrate the success of the elimination of other useless skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.

We simply can’t afford to teach fancy skills that might negatively impact critical life knowledge in such areas as climatic impact on biodiversity of the sturgeon population in the Caspian Sea due to the Rusted Container Ship Recycling industry there.

However, more relevant to me and as recognized by the Illinois League of Pro Cursive Lawmakers is the potential of my grandchildren being unable to read the little yellow stickies I leave for them in the bathroom when they come to visit reminding them (in cursive) to ‘LEAVE THE TOILET SEAT DOWN’.

This is a lesson which my grandchildren MUST learn if they are ever to establish a successful relationship with their future husband(s), wife(s), same sex individual(s), transgender person(s) or the odd goat(s) they may choose as life partners.

Believe me, life is not worth living being awakened by the primal scream of one’s partner using the facilities in the dark hours of the morning preceded by a muffled splashing sound.  This is minimally a guarantee that cold cereal is on the line for breakfast – or worse.

A more important concern is that my grandchildren may someday find themselves sitting across from some grizzled old Danish guy holding a contract written in cursive in one hand and $24 worth of beads in the other negotiating the sale of their house!

Finally, having used cursive all my life, as a grandparent I’ve discovered I no longer remember how to print.  (This is among a number of other things I seem to have forgotten lately but that’s another story.)

Thus, as I age further with my eyesight and hearing failing and my speech becoming less intelligible due to tooth loss or increasing phlegm balls interrupting my elocution,  my only fallback position in communicating with my grandchildren will be written cursive which they will be unable to decipher unless the Illinois State Legislature finds the money to teach them the fancy script.

Somehow I have to believe learning cursive remains an essential life skill.  At least until the letter ‘X’ suffices to convey the sum of all human written expression.



Posted in Contemporary Political Thoughts, Humer, Retirement Thoughts | Leave a comment

Trump & Obamacare Replacement – NADA!

Just feel like I have to put down my opinion on the premiere issue of today, Friday, March 25, 2017 – namely, the House vote on replacement of Obamacare.

To put it bluntly, I hope the bill on the table today stays right where it is – on the table.  Or better yet, is voted down by the House. Or maybe it just falls off the table and into the trash can.

Like every other thinking American I’ve had enough of Donald Trump’s ego, stupidity, arrogance, crudeness – sorry, I’ve run out of negative descriptors – as evidenced since the election.

While I didn’t vote for the Buffoon in Chief (nor Empress Pants Suit either, for that matter) I DID and still do support much of the Republican Party’s platform, including such things as enforcement of immigration laws, tax reform, reduced Federal regulations/bureaucracy, a return to America First trade policy, incentives for reduced outsourcing, and even repeal/replacement of Obamacare – the subject of today’s rant.

First off, it’s clear that Obamacare is a seriously flawed program; passed in an authoritarian manner with no bipartisan support and proven unsustainable from a financial standpoint.  In other words, it needs to go.

But it can’t be replaced with a new program slammed together, not properly vetted or understood (again) by Legislators, pushed forward once again with absolutely no bipartisan support, sold as a fiscally sound solution in the face of those FACTS that seem to annoy Trump so much which point in the opposite direction.

It needs to be replaced with a solution that provides a well rationalized program, discussed and debated in the light of day with ALL of Congress having at least some skin in the game at the end of the day.

I don’t think any of the above is too much to demand of our elected representatives.

What I CANNOT stand for is watching a petulant school boy demanding what he wants just because he wants it, willing to bargain away any or even all of the current bill’s provisions simply to enable him to claim a WIN.  That isn’t right.  It isn’t even right politics – the latter phrase itself being an oxymoron.

I sincerely hope the Bill fails and Trump is forced to accept a humiliating defeat.  Not that that result would have any lasting beneficial impact on him.  He simply will shrug it off and move onto the next issue where he thinks he can WIN.  That’s the essence of the guy. Right or wrong is immaterial.  Winning is everything to him.  We know the type.  He’s the Bobby Knight of politics.  Knight, former and disgraced head of the University of Indiana’s basketball program recently said of the Administrators who fired him, “I hope they’re all dead.”

That’s Trump.  He’d  just as soon walk over the bodies left in his destructive path rather than call the Medics to tend the wounded.

On a positive note, I hope, hope, hope, the GOP’s refusal to bow to Trump and coalesce around his demands portends the re (? ) emergence of this Country’s balance of power and that both Dems and Repubs ‘get it’ that they’d better hold firmly to the reins of their power and act responsibly during the next three and a half years to offset the demonstrated unbalanced personality of our now ‘Bobble Head of State’.

I had hoped Trump would somehow rise to meet the serious responsibility of the Office to which he was elected.  It didn’t take long for him to reveal to all that underneath that smirking, bloviating, lying egotist we were all afraid he would be was in fact a smirking, bloviating, lying egotist.  (Hey, guess you never really can run out of negative descriptors when it comes to Trump!).

It’s all too bad.  Really too bad.  HUGELY too bad.




Posted in Presidential Election, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hey, lets BINGE! … (or not)

In retirement I frequently have a lot of time on my hands to do whatever I wish.  The rest of the time I do something else but I don’t remember what it was.   I recently and quite accidentally got into some serious ‘binging’. (Pronounced ‘bin-jing’,  not to be confused with the Thai worm dish of the same name.)

First let’s define ‘binging’.  This means you sit your butt in front of  the biggest Screen you have and view every episode of a ‘Series’ available from start to finish using every moment of free time until the Series Finale.  Sounds severe.  Life is difficult.

A few years ago I had my first experience with what I would call ‘Minor League Binging’ when I bought a Kindle device which connected to my home WiFi network and on which I installed Netflix.

In searching the offerings on Netflix I discovered a World War II era BBC Series which interested me called ‘Foyle’s War’ which extended over approximately five ‘normal’ TV Seasons (one Season equals one calendar year) and included roughly ten or eleven shows per Season.

I liked the series and found myself watching one or two episodes per night in bed before dropping off to sleep.  It took a while to watch them all.  From 1939 – 1945 as I recall.

So far so good.

Next I found two other series I’d heard about but hadn’t seen.  These were House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.

I had one season of House of Cards to catch up on which I did using my Foyle’s War protocol (a couple of episodes per night until I ‘caught up’ to the current Season).  This series is produced by Netflix and released for viewing in the U.S. as a complete Season.  Ergo, once released it’s possible to view all episodes (without commercials) for the newly released Season.

Once again, really a Minor League binge experience.

Orange is the New Black is produced and released in a manner similar to House of Cards so I watched full Seasons on a per episode basis much like House of Cards.  The only difference was I discovered ‘Orange’ immediately following release of its first Season and therefore didn’t have to play catch up.

Still in the Minor Leagues.

And then I discovered ‘Breaking Bad’.

I vaguely remembered seeing ads for this AMC Series on Network TV but it never seemed to interest me.  Likewise, it seemed to me the Series was ‘old’ in the sense that I remembered those ads appearing for what seemed like a long time – as in years? Hmm….Duhh…

At this point I suddenly found myself in the Major League of binging.  (It’s now called the Binging Major League (BML)- all rights reserved.)

One early Monday morning with time on my hands I watched the Pilot episode of this show and immediately I was hooked.  It’s a crime drama which has been called ‘the best ever produced’ by some people who really know. I’m good with that.

The Pilot episode intrigued me and that first Monday I watched at least six episodes (at one hour per episode).  By the third day of that week  after spending eighteen hours of viewing on my laptop I finally looked at how much more viewing I’d have to do to complete the whole series.  To my amazement I discovered the series played SEVEN YEARS with 12-13 episodes per year.

By then I was committed to watching the whole thing through the end as quickly as possible.

In all I watched sixty two episodes in a period lasting from Monday through the following Sunday, and although I was spellbound and really couldn’t resist NOT watching ‘just one more episode’ I realized I was spending up to twelve hours a day watching THE SHOW.

By the end of the marathon I’d learned a number of things about binging which I offer as cautionary lessons to those who may find themselves drafted into the Binging Major League (BML) – all rights reserved. (Note:  Don’t be upset if you’re drafted in a later round in this one.)

Lesson One – People Could Think You’re an Asshole

To begin with, I quickly found myself isolated from virtually all human contact, save the absolute necessity of at least acknowledging the existence of my spouse, usually in the form of a grunting noise as she passed by throughout the day, making tsk-tsk noises as she came and went. (Note to self:  Jewel/OSCO – flowers.)

I spent my time sitting in my easy chair with a pair of headphones on, stirring only when nature called (actually more of a scream) and stopping for meals when I felt faint.

In the end I found that in seven days I’d lost every friend I ever had. I even pissed off the telemarketing guys.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Lesson Two – You Probably ARE an Asshole

This will become more apparent as you grow older.

Lesson Three – Binging Ages You

 Face it.  In the end you only get so many calories to burn.  And when you’re binging you feel the burn, baby.  All of that motivation, dedication – the feeling that for once you control your own destiny.  Sure, it’s a huge natural high but it takes its toll on you physically.  (Ref:  Need Ref:  Pls sbmt Ref.)

So anyway, at the end you’ll probably be tired.

Lesson Four – If You Watched Every Episode of Breaking Bad You Now Possess the Knowledge to Open Your Own Meth Lab

Don’t try it.


It occurs to me that some of the above may sound, shall we say, perhaps – spontaneous. I’ll have to think about that.

In the meantime, I’d recommend you substitute the urge to binge with something less stressful and time consuming.  Life is short after all, and as Mom said, “Too much of anything is not good for you.”  (That Mom.  Damn, she knew every cliche in the book.)

Consider watching reruns of Jeopardy – in moderation of course.  Particularly those which you’ve already seen.  Knowing in advance who wins is a great stress reliever.  Plus which, knowing all of the answers in advance will boost your self esteem.  Just don’t get too big a head.  After all, too much of anything is not good for you.  (I found that cliche book!!!)



Posted in Retirement Thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Recipe for Disaster

I’ve found that in retirement one has considerable time to think about many things.

Some of these are really important, like whether or not a colonoscopy is affordable in this year’s budget.

(Note:  See previous Post referencing this Procedure.  Comment on this mildly annoying topic is included again to provide a coherent theme from Post to Post, but mostly to really irritate my wife. Thought I’d get that out of the way early here. :-)).

Mostly however,  these things are of the more mundane variety; things that in the usual hub bub of working and parenting life one might find irritating but which are usually ignored or glossed over in order to maintain harmonious family/personal/business relationships or,  for those with serious OCD,  to simply avoid going insane.

Last week, something in that category (mundane) happened that rocked my world, or at least as much as my laid back world is rock-able these days, and which as you will read has occupied much of my waking time for days now and is the subject of today’s commentary.

My wife and I were at my son and daughter in law’s house babysitting for our grand daughters.   The plan was for my wife to make dinner for the family when the kids came home from work.

Come to think of it, there really wasn’t much of a plan involved at all.  Sort of a 1) Get Food, 2) Cook Food, 3) Eat Food kind of thing.  But all things considered, without such a plan,  omission of any of those tasks or execution of any task out of sequence would render the whole process of making dinner impossible, or even, given that pork was involved, potentially life threatening.  So planning is helpful.  I learned that during my career as a Project Manager.

MY participation in the plan of course was to participate in task 3) Eat Food.

We brought food for dinner with us, thus completing the  1) Get Food task.  However, somewhere between our arrival and the start of 2) Cook Food  I began to have hunger pangs which eventually led me to the kitchen in search of something, anything really, to tide me over until supper. Not wishing to eat too much before dinner and in doing so jeopardizing my ability to successfully participate in 3) Eat Food I decided to make a couple of slices of buttered toast.

I tossed the bread into the toaster and turned to the refrigerator to get the butter.

Opening the door I shuddered as I beheld a site which brought back terrible memories from my childhood, adolescence, mature (?) adult years and even today in my dotage.

There in the butter dish lay a small, basically useless little chunk of butter.  You know what I’m talking about. It’s that quarter inch rectangular shaped cube left over after the previous butter user has finished buttering something and rather than using that last little chunk decides to escape responsibility for REPLACING THE BUTTER.

But that isn’t what disturbed me most.  I’ll even admit here that once or twice in my life I’ve left that little useless chunk in the butter dish myself.  (Hmm…I just realized it’s true. Confession really IS good for the soul.  At least I feel better after admitting to doing that. Or maybe it’s just that last Cheeto I’m munching on as I write.  Whatever.)

No, it was the fact that there in the butter dish was also a new stick of butter STILL IN ITS PAPER WRAPPER !!!

Since I was an infant, or at least since I was old enough to open the refrigerator door to reach for the butter which was likely some time after infancy, I’ve found it to be an Immutable Fact of Life that any time it’s necessary to replace butter on the butter dish two things will result:

  1.  The useless little chunk of left over butter will NEVER be removed from the butter dish
  2. The NEW butter stick will be placed on the butter dish UNOPENED and in the
    process will not only hang over the end of the butter dish but will also, as a result
    of the butter dish containing residual scrapes of butter from the previously
    opened stick of butter (now reduced to that useless little chunk) have on the bottom part of the wrapper traces of butter.

And the end result?  The guy (perhaps girl, but more often I think this happens to guys since this has happened to me so often) who needs the butter to put on the bread now toasting will have to unwrap the new butter stick in order to get to the butter.

Lets get one thing straight at this point.  From long, tedious, frustrating experience we all know it’s virtually impossible to effectively use that little left over butter chunk as a spread onto newly toasted toast.

Why?  Well, primarily because its shape renders it unsliceable (new word?) via butter knife into portions which can be spread onto the hot toast which will melt into an acceptable spread.  When attempted, the knife will slide off the little chunk, in the process knocking off a tiny sliver of useless butter. In a frequently experienced worst case scenario the knife will slide off the leftover butter chunk, launching it out of the butter dish onto the floor.

When this happens the useless butter chunk gets tossed into the garbage (NOT the recyclables, BTW) and the floor must be wiped clean.

Regardless of whether the launch occurs or not, after having attempted unsuccessfully for the millionth time (after all, no one LIKES to waste food) to slice the chunk into usable slices, it inevitably gets tossed in the non-recyclable garbage, which the previous butter user should have done in the first place.

The next step is the unwrapping of the new stick of butter. This process presents its own set of challenges to the ‘needer’ (also a new word?) of the butter.

First let’s talk about how the butter is wrapped.

The wrapper is made of a waxy type of paper which in itself is not a bad thing except that when you add the traces of butter left over from the previous occupant of the butter dish (see Immutable Fact of Life cited above), you get waxed butter wrapping paper with the viscosity and handling characteristics of an oiled eel.

It has often occurred that in lifting the wrapped, oiled eel feeling stick of butter out of the tray, the stick slips out of the hand and falls to the floor.  Once again, floor cleaning is necessary albeit without the involvement at this point of the non-recyclable garbage.

Then there’s the matter of removing the wrapper.  Maybe it’s just me (I doubt it) but instinctively I start the process by trying to loosen the TOP, or long, section of waxed butter wrapping paper from the enclosed butter.

Hah!  Try to do that without ripping the waxy butter paper.  Ain’t gonna happen.

Of course once the waxy cover is ripped you usually get butter on your fingers which, in tandem with the eel thing creates an infinitely greater likelihood of additional launch(es) of the new butter stick as unwrapping proceeds.

After realizing the futility of trying to unwrap the new stick from the top side, one must turn to the wrapped ends of the stick seeking an alternative way in.

Which end you choose doesn’t seem to make much difference (feel free to provide feedback if your experience indicates otherwise); however, whichever end is chosen, at least three distinct motions are required to uncover the end of the butter, each of which results in additional butter on the fingers.  (Ergo, the origin of the term ‘butter fingers’).

After both ends are unwrapped the final step is to hold the top part of the wrapper (likely previously ripped) and shake the wrapper until the now unwrapped stick of butter either falls into the butter dish or once again hits floor.

And now comes the final insult.  By the time you’ve done all of the above the freakin’ toast popped up around fifteen minutes ago and all you’ve done makes no difference cuz you end up with cold butter AND cold toast.  A non-starter all around with the exception that you’ve probably got a very clean floor near the base of your refrigerator – if that helps

So, to finish my story about what happened at my son’s house, we left off at the point where I’d turned to the refrigerator to get the damn butter out.  When I finally accomplished this, of course I found the new stick of butter too cold to easily slice into sections which would readily melt onto the now frigid bread.

I rapidly concluded the solution to this dilemma would be to soften the butter.  And what better way to do this than to put the butter dish with the now unwrapped butter into the microwave oven.

This I proceeded to do, first setting the cook time to five seconds and pressing the ‘Start’ function on the microwave Key Pad.

After the five seconds the oven beeped and I removed the butter to test its firmness.  The five seconds clearly was not enough time as the butter still felt cold to the touch.

I returned the dish/butter to the microwave and set the cook time for twenty seconds  and again pressed ‘Start’..

Somewhere around the ten second mark it occurred to me that perhaps I’d been too pessimistic in my estimate of butter softening cook time and looked at the Key Pad to locate the ‘Stop’ function.  This being my son’s microwave I wasn’t entirely familiar with the Key Pad layout and as the seconds ticked by I frantically scanned the Key Pad for the location of the ‘Stop’ function, having completely forgotten about the alternative way of stopping the butter cooking by opening the door to the microwave.

Finally, twenty seconds was up, the oven beeped and I opened the door to see the results of my effort.

To my astonishment I discovered that not only was the butter well softened, turning it into a remarkable facsimile of the wreck of the Titanic (see illustrations below), but that a good deal of it had melted into the butter dish itself which, while removing it from the oven, dripped onto my son’s oven and onto the floor, once again involving floor cleaning but now with the added task of stove top cleaning.



At this point I held the dripping butter dish over the now ossified toast, poured the melted butter onto the toast and spread it out, thus successfully and after only twenty minutes or so, completing my snack.

I hope the above will be of help to you in once and for all assigning full responsibility for comprehensively replacing butter in butter dishes in your household.  I feel confident that once the ramifications of leaving that chunk of used butter in the butter dish and putting a new stick of unwrapped butter are fully understood, your life will be greatly simplified. Or maybe a little.



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