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Monday, August 30, 2010

Dear Employer

    In the August 26, 2010 edition of the New York Post it was reported that a study by the Department of Health found that among people aged 35 to 64, 89% of women and 93% of men ate fewer than the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  In analyzing the data I can only reach one conclusion which is that 11% of adult female New Yorkers and 7% of adult male New Yorkers are liars.  Would you like to know who eats 5 daily servings of vegetables?  A cow.  And that assumes that we count grass as a vegetable.  Maybe some gorillas eat 5 servings of bananas but I am quite certain that no human being actually sits down and eats fruits or vegetables 5 times a day.  It's just more "expert" crap.

    I have to admit though that for a period of time I really did try to live my life according to all the expert advice I knew about.  As a result, I had to send the following letter to my employer.

Dear employer,

    I know it has been quite some time since we have seen each other but I just wanted to drop you a line to let you know that I am really striving to achieve the self fulfilling and socially responsible life style that all of us in the 21st century should be working toward.

    Not too long ago I visited my doctor. He recommended that I change my diet to avoid fat, cholesterol, and all those artificial preservatives that they use in store bought food. So I’ve been getting up at 3:30 each morning to get to the pier by 4:30 to pick up the fresh catch of the day. Then it’s out to the farms to select organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

    I’m also following his advice to take a brisk 15 minute walk after each meal to supplement (not instead of) my daily 3 mile run and my 60 minute weight training to tone my upper body and to strengthen my abdominals. He says the latter is important to avoid back problems as I age.

    It’s hard enough to accomplish all the above and still get the recommended eight hours of sleep and by the way have you ever actually read the owners manual for your car? It says that before you operate your car you should check all the fluid levels, the air pressure in your tires, and walk around it to make sure that there is nothing behind you in the driveway. I actually started to come to work one day last week but my tire pressure gauge wasn’t working and I didn’t want to take the chance. I must tell you though that in the future it will be hard to get to work on time. I mean between the fresh fish, trips to the farms, checking my car, well I shouldn’t have to tell you how much time that all takes.

    I’ve also been spending a lot of time on my vacuum cleaner. I never realized how much time it could take to maintain a vacuum cleaner until I read the manual. Between filter changes, checking the belt, oiling the bearings, checking the electrical cord, etc. Can you believe that I used to just plug the thing in and vacuum!? Talk about voiding your warranty.  I won't bore you with the demands placed on me by some of my other appliances.

    Of course it’s getting close to the end of the summer now and I’ve been reading up on all the things you’re supposed to do to prepare for the colder weather. There are gutters to clean, trim that needs to be scraped and painted, windows to caulk, door weather stripping to replace, and of course I have to reseal my deck and driveway. I can’t believe how much time this all takes but I think when I get my next raise I’ll install vinyl siding and thermal windows. That should help.

    I’ve also been trying to spend quality time with my children like all the psychologists recommend. So I’ve started coaching a little league team and a soccer team. Its fun but all the practices, games, contacting parents and league meetings take up an awful lot of time. My wife has also become more demanding since she read someplace that the average happy couple engages in sex three times a week and of course we’re both striving to be better than average. It’s amazing how something that would have taken about 10 minutes a week years ago now takes damn near an hour and a half (HaHaHa).

    Anyway, as you can see I have been rather busy lately and I’m not sure when I’ll have enough time to come to work. I have been looking at my schedule and right now next Tuesday looks good. However, I heard about a storm coming and they say that if it hits only people who absolutely need to be on the road should be. But if the weather passes and my fluid levels are OK and if there are no foreign objects behind my car I should see you then. I’ll have to leave early though for my semi annual check up at the dentist. If I make it I’ll see you then but if not, tell everyone I said hello.

                                                                                                             Sincerely,
                                                                                                             Mark

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who's Responsible?

    We are most obviously in an economic mess right now with high unemployment, a huge national debt, no economic growth, and a housing crisis of unprecedented proportions.  Yet the current Obama administration seems to not want to take any responsibility for the situation and he himself as well as his supporters prefer to blame Bush.  I've heard so much from Obama and his supporters blaming George Bush for everything from high unemployment to genital herpes that I've wondered if any of our so called leaders is responsible for anything.  But then again, and to be objective, maybe they are correct.  So I have decided to attempt to figure out if we can or cannot determine who really is responsible.

    Now to be fair, it's kind of hard to blame Obama for everything.  After all, he did inherit from George W. Bush an economy that was wracked by a sub prime mortgage crisis, two wars, and a huge increase in our national debt.  But then again "W" inherited a rapidly declining economy and an uncertain international trading environment from Bill Clinton.  So maybe one could say that this is all Bill Clinton's fault.  But Clinton inherited a largely faltering economy from George H. W. Bush who was more concerned with world affairs than he was with domestic policies to the point that he even had to go back on his campaign promise of "no new taxes".

    However, it wouldn't be fair to blame H. W. since he inherited an economy from Ronald Reagan that saw our national debt grow from $1 trillion dollars to $3 trillion dollars during the course of his presidency and he also presided over the stock market crash of 1987.  But look what Reagan stepped into.  He was handed unprecedented high interest rates, high unemployment and such dismal economic conditions that Jimmy Carter himself referred to it as an " economic malaise".  Jimmy Carter had a tough road though since from Gerald Ford he started with record setting inflation rates and high unemployment.

    So you might think that this is all the fault of Gerald Ford until you think about what he inherited from none other than Richard Nixon.  Under Nixon we had wage and price controls, oil prices quadrupled, and that's besides all the criminal stuff that went on.  But Nixon can't be blamed based on what Lyndon Johnson did before him.  Johnson tried to establish the "Great Society" and in doing so surpassed FDR in helping himself to money that didn't belong to him.  He spent our money on such programs as the War on Poverty, the neighborhood Youth Corps, VISTA, food stamps, Head Start, the Model Cities Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, he expanded the use of Medicare and Medicaid funds, and on and on and on.  With apologies to sailors, he spent our money like a drunken sailor.

    With respect, I am passing over our 35th President, John F. Kennedy.  Unfortunately, he was not in office long enough before his assassination to make either a positive or negative impact on our long term economic failure or success.  So in essence, poor Johnson inherited the results of the Eisenhower Administration whose claim to fame is three recessions that ran from 1953-1954, 1957-1958, and 1960 before Kennedy was elected.  Gee there's an accomplishment.  Then again, Eisenhower wasn't exactly left a booming economy by Harry Truman.  Truman spent much of his presidency engaged with post WWII and later Korean War foreign affairs and was vehemently opposed by congress in his attempts to further FDR's "New Deal" policies with something he referred to as the "Fair Deal".  And it goes without saying that Truman had a tough time given that his predecessor, FDR, had presided over the largest expansion of government involvement in the free market economy ever and whose policies led to a deep recession prior to his death in office.

    Of course FDR probably didn't have too many choices since Herbert Hoover left him in the throes of the Great Depression but many think that it was the laissez faire approach by Calvin Coolidge toward big business that encouraged the over speculation that ultimately led to the beginning of the Great Depression.  Warren G. Harding didn't do Coolidge any favors though with the Tea Pot Dome and other scandals.  And Woodrow Wilson before him was the jerk that started the system of federal income taxes.

    Now before these guys was a series of presidents including William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, William McKinley, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, and Grover Cleveland the first time who for years and years embroiled the country in one controversy after another concerning tariffs on foreign trade, battles between our agrarian culture and big business, inheritance taxes, progressive taxes, corporate taxes and all kinds of ways for the federal government to interfere in the economy.  Before them, Chester Arthur  vetoed a bill that would have restricted cheap "coolie" labor and even vetoed a safety and health bill that would have required minimum safety standards for incoming steamers carrying the aforementioned coolies.  Those were 25 or so very messy years.

    James Garfield didn't contribute much to our economic efforts since he was shot by Charles J. Guiteau and spent most of his six month presidency dying from the blood poisoning caused by the wound.  Before him, Rutherford B. Hayes presided over all kinds of general strikes including the "Great Railroad Strike" of 1887 and he refused to use troops to quell the domestic disturbances.

    All of which brings us to our 18th president Ulysses S. Grant.  In both the domestic and foreign realms, President Grant could claim a wide range of achievements. In the aftermath of the most serious fiscal problems the nation had ever faced, he pursued policies that stopped inflation, raised the nations credit, and reduced taxes and the national debt by over $300 million and $435 million respectively.   However his poor handling of the "Panic of 1873" led to a severe recession and basically wiped out any prior success.

    So there you have it.  It's not Obama.  It wasn't George Bush.  It was none other than this guy that started all this mess.   Everything was going good until he screwed things up.  That fat bastard.  I mean this asshole couldn't even give Lt. Colonel Custer half way decent military intelligence.  No wonder they gave him his own tomb in some remote location in the Bronx.  And now that I have clearly and indisputably demonstrated that the real culprit for today's economic crisis is in fact Ulysses S. Grant, and I'm sure we can all agree on that, maybe now we can stop focusing on who is responsible and instead focus on how to fix things.  Although I'd bet my next pay check that if you asked Ulysses about all this, he'd probably blame Andrew Johnson who was known as a drunken imbecile and a ludicrous bore.  Bastard.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Size Does Matter

    Now here is a topic that probably will be familiar to the women out there but I think that it will surprise most men.  A couple of weeks ago my wife and one of her female cousins were discussing women's dress sizes.  I heard my wife say that when she was in high school she wore a size 12 and that now she wears a size 6.  Now for the men out there let me explain that the statement she made has absolutely nothing to do with her actual size.  And just so you get an appreciation for the numbers, my wife and her cousin both have Jennifer Aniston-like bodies.  I mean these two women have shapes that any 18 year old girl would be thrilled to have and I'm not saying that just to score points (although that would be nice).  I'm just trying to describe how little the size number actually means.  It would be as if when you were 20 years old you wore a size 10 shoe and now you wear a size 6 because the manufacturers have decided to change the way that sizes are measured.

    In fact, in the last few days I have learned that some clothing manufacturers really have created the size zero, size double zero, and extra extra small jean sizes.  I have also learned that a woman who might have a size 10 dress in her closet from 10 years ago can also have a size 2 from today but both dresses are the same size.  So why is this?  Apparently it is called "vanity sizing" meaning that women feel much better being a size 2 than they do being a size 12 so manufacturers have simply changed the labels.  And there is no consistency or standards  between manufacturers.

    The concept of changing size labels kind of flies in the face of efforts that have been undertaken by, for example, Mayor Bloomberg in New york City, where it is now the law that certain "Food Service Suppliers" (FES's) must now post on menus and displays how many calories are contained in each meal.  This is because New Yorkers now carry around calculators to determine how many calories they consume each day.  I suppose as a result there are many New Yorkers who now order a double quarter pounder with bacon and extra mayonnaise but ask to hold the cheese.  But here's a great thing!!  They no longer need to worry.  If they want to consume 3,000 calories each day instead of 2,000 calories and remain the same size they can simply buy their clothing from a different manufacturer.

    So I've been thinking of other measurements that we should change and while we're on the topic of women, let's start with bra sizes.  Since we can make a 5'-2", 150 pound woman a size zero, let's make the minimum bra size a 34C.  That would not only be great for the self esteem of the women but it will also have a synergistic effect on their boyfriends or husbands.  I can hear the discussion now, "Yo dude, my girl wears size zero jeans and has a set of 34C's that you wouldn't believe"!!  No one will know that she is actually anorexic.

    Then there are shoes.  I have learned that women do not want to be known as having big feet.  None of them want to buy a pair of size 9 shoes.  So let's throw away all of those heel to toe machines and recalibrate them so that the maximum size will be a 7.  And those one size fits all night shirts and sweat shirts, they will now be called petite.

    As for the men, they have the opposite concern when it comes to shoe sizes.  No man wants to have small feet because of a certain alleged correlation that I won't get into here.  So from now on the smallest men's shoe will be a size 11.  In addition, waist sizes will no longer be measured in inches.  Instead they will be measured in meters.  That way instead of growing from your boyish 32  pant size to a 40 middle age size you will merely go from a .8 to a 1.0 which is hardly even significant.  And here's something I honestly don't know anything about but when you go to a regular pharmacy or convenience store the smallest condom you will be able to purchase will be labelled size XXXXL.  If you need larger you will be required to go to a Big and Tall store.  I can imagine the conversations.  "Yo man, I went to the Big and Tall store to buy my monthly gross of rubbers (12 dozen).  I hate going to that place.  The traffic sucks.  I wish I could fit into the XXXXL ones".

    And here's a few things for both genders.  We're going to outlaw bathroom scales that measure your weight in pounds.  Instead, scales will weigh us in kilograms.  That way instead of tipping the scale at 180 you will tip it at 80.  The smallest size diamond you will ever own will be 2 carats.  The range for IQ charts will be changed to start at 150.  EZ Widers will become EZ Ultra widers and foot long hot dogs will now measure 6".  There will also be no such thing as beginner courses for anything.  No more beginner ballroom dancing classes or beginner guitar lessons.  Everything will begin at the advanced level.  That will make everyone feel better.

    The one unit of measure we will never mess with however is the tad.  The tad is the basis of life, the best unit of measure that has ever been invented having whatever units are convenient at the time.  The tad can be used to express units of time, distance, volume, weight, or anything else.  "I am going to be a tad late", "Can you move the painting a tad to the left", "I weigh a tad over 180".  (Although with my new system it will be a tad over 80).  How cool is that!!  Although we have now changed the unit for weight the tad remains a constant.  The tad can never be replaced.

    So here's the bottom line.  It's not about losing weight, gaining weight, being in better condition, dancing or computer abilities or about anything else.  It's all about how good we feel.  Isn't that right?