Archives for posts with tag: humor

What makes a good retirement? Having money helps, of course. Research has shown that it’s much better than not having money. Seventy-eight percent of retired people with money say they wish they had 78 percent more money.

But money isn’t everything, although it’s a great help when you’re buying stuff. To have a successful, fulfilling retirement, you can’t just lie in bed all day, no matter how attractive that is and how good a mattress you have. Sometimes you’ll have to get up and go to the bathroom.

If you want to succeed at retirement, you have to work at it. Here’s how:

Learn a new skill. Learning new skills keeps an aging mind sharp. I, for instance, have taken up inter-cranial neurosurgery and it has kept my mind extremely sharp, except when I take the anesthesia myself by mistake. It also has done wonders for my manual dexterity and made me a little money on the side that I use to buy some really good tranquilizers to settle my nerves when I’ve made the wrong incision.

Learning a new skill keeps those neurons firing and even though that may give you the occasional migraine and cause the sprinklers to activate, research has shown it’s a good thing and improves cognitive skills. Remember to add a new skill every 3,500 miles or three months, whichever comes first.

Make new friends. Many of your old friends, of course, have died or worse, only want to talk about baseball. In retirement, you need new friends whose stories of buying Microsoft at 23 cents a share you don’t already know and who will not ask you if you have been able to figure out the new Medicare guidelines. Through these new friends, you can make new enemies, which will keep your blood boiling at a very healthy 98.6.

Give back to your community. Over the years, your community has given you a lot. Now’s the time to return the favor. So get out there and sweep some streets, frisk some dangerous-looking individuals who are just lurking around doing nothing. Direct traffic on the nearest 4-lane highway. Instead of pulling over when you hear an ambulance siren behind you, plow straight ahead, leading the ambulance to where it is going. They will thank you later.

Giving back will give you a sense of self-worth that you may be able to exchange for half a bitcoin.

Challenge yourself. Just because you’ve gotten older doesn’t mean you must shrink from mental or physical challenges. As the poet said, a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a step stool for?

Remember, you don’t have to climb Everest or swim the English Channel to prove you’ve still got it. Start small by seeing if you can change the channels on your TV set without using the remote. Build from there. Then confront your deepest fears and leap off that cliff. It would be good, it goes without saying, if you had a parachute with you, an experienced guide to hold your hand and it was a pretty small cliff.  Also make sure your insurance premiums have been paid.

Have a positive attitude about your future. Sometimes it’s difficult to think positively, particularly when you can’t find your car keys and you are driving 85 on the interstate. But think of all the good things that have happened in your life and how fortunate you are that you can remember some of them. Then think about all the things you still can do and will do, as long as your money holds out and you don’t break your hip while looking for your car keys.

Be engaged. Being engaged becomes even more important as we age. Just don’t tell your spouse about it.



The worst part is not that we don’t understand the specials recited by the waiter and have no idea if free-range is better than grain-fed. It’s not that we can’t read the small type on the menu, particularly the listing of $16 desserts. It’s that when we go out to a restaurant, we can’t hear a damn thing.

Sometime within the last 25 years or so, restaurant owners got together and decided that they would really prefer running New York City subway cars instead. They determined that what makes a restaurant attractive and inviting is the relentless roar of a Boeing 767 just beside your table.

Everywhere you go — fancy establishment with condescending servers or neighborhood hang-out, with condescending diners — there is now a continuous din. It’s made up of equal parts people talking, waiters yelling, dishes clanging, background music wailing and what appear to be explosive devices exploding. It begins at the door and envelopes every restaurant in a thick mist of screech.

It is possible that, perhaps, all this noise does make a place more enticing and gives it a certain vibe, sort of like the earthquake did for San Francisco. At least this may be true for some people. Yes, perhaps this works for young people, who are willing to put up with excessive noise because they have ears that have not been dulled by years of not listening to their children complain.

It doesn’t work for older people. When we go out to dinner, we want to be able to have intimate conversations about who we know is having surgery. We want to quietly discuss the issues of the day, like why are late-night TV talk shows always on so late?

A noisy restaurant is a problem because our hearing doesn’t function as well as it used to, which can be a bonus if we want to pretend we have no idea what you’re talking about when you’re talking about long-term-care insurance. But in a loud restaurant, it creates difficulties.

That’s why, in noisy eating places, older people have conversations something like this:

“What did he say the special was? Did he say chimichurri or Jimmy’s special curry?”

“I think he said spiced pork belly.”

“No, I don’t think it’s smelly. It’s just the atmosphere.”


“Thanks, but I don’t want to share an appetizer.”

“My sister’s fine. How’s your steak?”


“Do you know where the bathroom is?”

“I don’t think there is a barroom here.”

“Did you say that’s George Clooney over there?”

“You’re right — if you said the cauliflower tastes just a bit off. Needs more nutmeg.”

“Nuts? No, I prefer the shrimp salad.”


“No, I don’t remember if you turned the oven off before we left. Wasn’t that your job?”

“It’s not your water glass. It’s my water glass.”

“Could you pass the bread, please?”


“The bread. Could you pass it, please?”

“No, the bathroom is in the back.”

“I think I once passed a kidney stone, too.”


“Do you want to taste a bit of my salmon satay?

“Sure, I’ll pass the bread.”



“You can say that again.”


If we want to stay healthy, exercising isn’t enough. We also have to watch what we eat and drink. No more diets full of Doritos, cheap beer and other essential nutrients.

We have to start eating foods that help us ward off cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, arthritis and memory … yes, right, lapses. There are foods that can boost our immune system, prevent cancer and help us deal with tennis elbow even if we’ve never played tennis and get our cardio exercise from Words With Friends.

These are called superfoods. We have given them this name because Doritos was already taken. Here’s the list of what they are and what they can do for you.

Blueberries: They are rich in antioxydants, which will help fight off any oxydants that try to robo call you at home after 9 p.m. Blueberries also boast flavonoids, which may help prevent heart attacks by scaring them off with such a scary word.

Dark chocolate: Consuming a small amount of dark chocolate — at least 70 percent or dark enough when it melts to ruin your new white shirt or blouse — can boost memory if you can remember where you’ve hidden the chocolate so your partner can’t find it.

Asparagus: This is a vegetable high in lycopene, which has been found to protect the spleen, pancreas and other weird internal organs against libel suits filed by jilted email correspondents. It also can help reduce the risk of seeing your life being made into a Lifetime TV movie of the week.

Apples: Full of soluble fiber, apples help reduce cholesterol. That’s the bad cholesterol, obviously. Probably. Or maybe they increase the good cholesterol. Or it’s possible they make the bad cholesterol into the good cholesterol by dissolving some of it in those little snack boxes of apple sauce.

Broccoli: Broccoli is high in vitamins such as A, C, B9, B52, C3PO and R2D2. That means your eyes, red blood cells, bones and tissues all benefit from this vegetable as long as they don’t have to eat it.

Butternut squash: This is a vegetable that brims with beta-carotene, which is important for crossword puzzle clues, as long as the missing word is more than seven letters and begins with a B. In addition, it also offers a healthy amount of potassium, which helps you find emory boards during those physically stressful moments when you have a hangnail.

Fava beans: Low in fat, low in sodium and low in flavor, these beans have plenty of manganese and iron, which is what probably makes them taste so awful. Their inability to be easily digested will help keep your weight down.

Coffee: This beverage is full of folate, thiamin and riboflavin, also known as the three stooges of nutrition. The National Institutes of Health has found that people who drink two cups a day of coffee were 32 percent more likely to need the restroom when the time came to split the check, thus greatly helping their financial health.

Red wine: A glass a day of red wine can help protect against those pompous chardonnay drinkers who want to talk to you about their recent river cruise down the Loire Valley.

Echo and Alexa, Siri and Cortana, the Vitamix and the Spiralizer. Bluetooth and Blu-ray. Fitbits and Kindles, Fire and Roku, Glipsies and Shmaltzers. (It’s possible I may have made those last two up, although, to be honest, I’m not quite sure.)

In recent years, obviously, there has been an avalanche of new technological devices and services, all of which apparently do things we didn’t know needed doing. I now have a watch, for instance, that tells me my heart rate, how many miles I’ve run, how many laps I’ve swum, how many steps I’ve taken, how many calories I’ve expended, how many hours I’m sleeping — or not sleeping — and whether I should be doing some laundry.

This is part of a worrisome trend. Devices never used to be multi-taskers. A scissors cut, it didn’t play music. A stapler stapled, it didn’t send messages. A refrigerator cooled things, it didn’t give you directions.

Devices, which were not called “devices” in the past, but, more accurately, “things,” used to be simple single-taskers. They knew how to focus on their task and not get distracted by frequently checking their phones.

And so you didn’t need 97-page online manuals to figure out how to use the scissors, unless, of course, you’re a lefty, like me, and it’s always a right-handed scissors.  (You righties, with your sense of innate, unexamined privilege, have no idea what it’s like to live in a world dominated by right-handed measuring cups.)

With old things, you didn’t need a series of unintelligible diagrams to decipher where in the refrigerator you should put the vegetables and where you should put the fruits, unless of course you were confused about the status of the tomato, which is truly a fruit parading around as a non-conforming vegetable.

But today, as we are awash in this new generation of technology, many of us from a previous generation — by that I mean me — are floundering, still unable to figure out how to create a PDF or even what those letters stand for (Private Dance Floor maybe? Precious Diamond Factory?).

We had been sold a bill of goods and told that all this new technology was designed, among other things, to help us communicate better. Which is why we frequently hear from a robotic voice that our call is important to somebody, although it’s not nearly as important to them as it is to us because, frankly, they’re a machine and have all the time in the world and don’t have to go to the bathroom and we do.

We had been told the technology was designed to streamline our existence, and I guess it does, as long as we don’t have to set it up, install it, connect it, upgrade it, post to it, link to it or understand it. But we do.

And to do all that, we do need my watch’s 97-page online manual. Unfortunately, the only words I actually understood in the manual are the heading on the first page: “Getting Started.” That’s where I stopped.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the town

not a hashtag was liked, even Twitter was down.

The stockings were hung for the retina display

in hopes no ‘net trolls would take them away.

The children were nestled, all snug and secure,

while Big Data strip-mined their free FICO score.


Alexa kept all our new devices humming

while Amazon’s Echo said, of course, it’s coming.

The USB ports were all fully employed

as we began charging our Motorola Droid.

Our old search engine was completely optimized

even though we’ve no idea what that signified.


Our Fitbit was running and Netflix were streaming,

young children everywhere were pleasantly dreaming

of toys and gifts that would become a new meme,

of toys and gifts that’d be the crème de la cream.


Sure, we should have been using an iPhone X,

but paying a whole grand? For those fancy specs?

We weren’t concerned about an Equifax breach —

we had our proxy firewall within easy reach.


We livestreamed and crowdsourced to Kickstart our night

and logged on to Squarespace to set up our site.

We ran Kaspersky and cleaned the plasma screen,

we signed on to Skype to transmit the whole scene.

We downloaded a number of total killer apps —

our mobile devices never suffered a lapse.

We chatted on whatsapp to find out what’s up;

with our VPN firewall, no need for backup.


We scanned news on Reddit and opened Spotify.

We didn’t even log off when the server went awry.

We still had Google Plus and even Google Chrome.

And of course there was Foursquare we could call home.

Our Instagram pix were almost all ready

while our 4G LTE was amazingly steady.

We took 50 selfies and saved them to Pinterest.

We uploaded to Dropbox the ones that were the best.

We checked our Facebook page and scanned the Huff Post,

we raised our Tumblrs and made a hearty toast.

We pinged and snapchatted all through the long night

to make sure our terminology was exactly right.


Then on the back deck, beside the satellite dish,

there came a loud sound and we knew something was amiss.

Was it a drone or a sneaky photobomb

or an IPO launch by a unicorn dotcom?

So I went to my Roku to check out the clatter,

to see if something was wrong with my data.

When what to my pixel-ated eyes should appear,

but a mixed-media sleigh and eight remote-controlled reindeer.

I knew in an instant after checking my OS,

that Santa was here, and in some distress.

And then in a twinkling I saw from my futon,

that poor old St. Nick didn’t have his red suit on.


His eyes were all watery, his emoji a frown.

He said, with a grimace, his WiFi was down.

There will be no gifts tonight, he added apace —

“I have no spreadsheets, nor my database!”


Santa couldn’t do it? There would be such a lack.

Were we the victims of the latest Russian hack?


Could we find a way through this terrible mess?

Could we find a way without our GPS?

We thought of creating a new avatar

or getting FedEx from a self-driving car

— or maybe just getting a drink at the bar.

The whole scene had become incredibly eerie,

at this point we couldn’t even count on our Siri.


Then we heard from someone who used to read Wired,

from someone who was no longer high-tech inspired.

Santa, we were told, could do it by hand.

He wasn’t a slave of a high-frequency band.

He didn’t need the Cloud or to send a new text.

He didn’t need high-def or whatever comes next.

All he’d need was a big sack and a big hearty laugh.

He wouldn’t need 10 megagigs — not even half.


His eyes, how they twinkled, his smile gleamed so brightly!

His bandwidth was solid, his GIFs were quite sprightly.

He sprang to his sleigh, the reindeer came near.

He blasted Sirius XM while still in first gear.

I heard him exclaim as he cruised out of sight,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good byte.”

You are concerned, understandably, about the recent massive data breach at Equifax and at other sites where your personal information, including your locker number at the gym, may have been exposed. What should you do?

Check your credit report. Does it say that you’ve requested a mortgage to buy a condo on the beach in Kiev? Ha! There is no beach in Kiev. It’s inland. Instead, try for a small, rustic but tasteful dacha in the Kiev suburbs.

Does your credit report also say you have opened accounts at several Swiss banks and purchased the nation of Liechtenstein? This probably means your personal data is being used in ways that are not in your interest. Given your druthers, you would have purchased Luxembourg.

Set up fraud alerts. If your personal data and thus identity has been stolen, it would be nice to get a ping on your phone every time some hacker is making believe he is you and is getting invited to better cocktail parties.

Consider a credit freeze. This is easy to do. Take all your credit cards and hide them in the freezer of your fridge, just under the boneless chicken breasts and the organic whole grain frozen waffles. That way, no one will be able to find them and if they do, you still have the chicken breasts.

Change your passwords. This would first require remembering all your passwords or at least finding that torn sheet of paper where you wrote them all down last December, during the last massive data breach. Then, you would have to remember your user name before you could access your account before you could change your password.

Even more embarrassing, you may have to click on both the “Forgot your password?” button and the “Forgot your user name?” button. IT people hiding in the ether will roll their eyes and snigger at you. All in all, it might be better to let the hackers just have your social security number.

Consider two-factor authentication. Some web sites offer additional security features, like putting their hands in your pockets to check for wrappers of old Peppermint Patties and determining if they were yours or someone else’s.

They also require two-factor authentication for you to access your accounts. That means when you enter your password, you will receive a message (usually a text, but sometimes a kiss on the cheek) with a one-time code that you must enter within 90 seconds of receiving it before you can log in.

The 90 seconds goes by pretty quickly, so there is a lot of pressure here, and this is also so complicated that most everyone gives up before authenticating the second factor, thus preserving the integrity of your account, mainly from you.

Change your hairstyle. If your identifying data has been stolen, you’re going to need a disguise. Instead of parting what remains of your hair on the left, consider growing bangs.

Change your identity. Become a hacker. Apparently it’s a growth industry.

Thank you for your purchase. Please complete the following survey and be entered for a chance to win another survey.

How often do you make a purchase like this?

a) Once a week.

b) Once a month.

c) Never on Sundays.

 d) When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie.


What was the main factor in your purchase?

a) Cost.

b) Quality.

c) Flavor.

d) Absence of cat dander.

Was the availability of convenient parking important to your purchase?

a) Very much.

b) Very little.

c) Not so much.

d) Not so little.

Please rate your overall satisfaction with your purchase.

a) Highly satisfied.

b) Moderately satisfied.

c) Would prefer to have bought an outdated package of cocktail weenies imported from Ukraine.

d) I hope you rot in hell.

How were you treated by our sales representative?

a) I was greeted warmly and offered a glass of hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick.

b) I waited hours for my cinnamon stick, which turned out not to be cinnamon but star anise.

c) I was ignored from the time I walked in until the time I found my own cinnamon stick.

d) We immediately saw eye-to-eye and decided right there on the spot to vacation together in Aruba. Nuptials are planned for April 25: Save the date.

Please rate your satisfaction with the service you encountered.

a) Highly satisfied.

b) Satisfied.

c) Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.

d) Neither conscious nor unconscious, mostly just in a cinnamon-induced coma for the duration.

How often do you use the product?

a) Very often

b) Often.

c) Mainly during transcontinental solar eclipses.

d) Only when held up at gunpoint.

If you could change one thing about your purchase experience, what would it be?

a) I would have stayed home and watched reruns of “Friends,” except for the episode where Ross and Rachel get drunk in Las Vegas.

b) Instead of the F-150 extended cab diesel hybrid, I would have bought a new food processor.

c) I wouldn’t have tried to pay in nickels.

d) Although Aruba is quite nice, I think we should have chosen the Cayman Islands for the snorkeling.

Have you visited or contacted us before?

a) Yes.

b) No.

c) Was on hold for 32 minutes trying to leave a voicemail. Does that count?

d) Yes, but used another identity since mine had been stolen on the Internet because, despite warnings, I use the same password for all my accounts.

Would you recommend us to friends and acquaintances?

a) What makes you think I have friends?

b) How much would be in it for me?

c) If I did, could I get the senior discount next time?

d) No, but I would recommend you to that creep who rear-ended me in the Whole Foods parking lot and then just drove off.

I used to have a watch that told me the time. I now have a watch that tells me my heart rate, how many miles I’ve run, how many laps I’ve swum, how many steps I’ve taken, how many calories I’ve expended, how many hours I’m sleeping — or not sleeping — and whether I should be doing some laundry.

This is part of a worrisome trend. Devices never used to be multi-taskers. A scissors cut, it didn’t play music. A stapler stapled, it didn’t send messages. A refrigerator cooled things, it didn’t give you directions.

Devices used to be simple single-taskers. And consequently you didn’t need 97-page online manuals to figure out how to use the scissors, unless, of course, you’re a lefty, like me, and it’s a right-handed scissors.  You didn’t need a series of diagrams to decipher where in the refrigerator to put the vegetables and where to put the fruits, unless you were confused about the status of the tomato, which is truly a fruit parading around as a non-conforming vegetable.

Whatever device they are explaining, the 97-page online manuals all have something in common: they are, of course, incomprehensible. Take the one for my new watch, for instance.

When you use the watch, the manual begins, you start from the clock screen, which is the screen with numbers that tell you what time it is. The larger number is the hour, while the smaller number is the minutes, unless you are in reverse mode, which means you are wearing the watch on the wrong wrist.

The very small number, in the right corner just above the call letters for your nearest FM radio station, is the number for the seconds.

The hour number, you will notice, is shown slightly dimmed and the minutes are shown brighter while the seconds are show in Sanskrit, so you can see the precise time more clearly and not think this is the middle of the night in New Delhi and you should be sleeping. The clock screen also shows the date and the month, so you don’t think you are sleeping in December, when it gets dark early.

You can use the buttons alongside the clock screen to go to other screens on your watch. To open the tracking screen, press down, which opens the settings menu, then press right, which opens the activities menu, then press left, which opens the luncheon menu. If you would just prefer to have a salad, press up.

While wearing the watch, remember that the GPS receiver should always face upwards. To find which direction is upwards, press down. Wait until the compass icon is visible, then stop looking down at your watch because you’re about to get dizzy and may develop a headache.

Whatever option you choose, remember that your watch will remember what you highlighted. Which is more than we can say for you.

Welcome to campus, new college students! And please put down your phones and stop snapchatting for just a moment and try to pay attention.

In this Move-In Guide, we have all the answers to all your questions as you begin this important new chapter in your lives and begin to worry about how you will ever pay off your student loans. So let’s take a look at some of those questions you might have.

Why is my dorm room on the other side of the interstate from the main campus, seven stories up on the top floor, at the end of the last corridor and 2.3 miles away from the suite bathroom?

Congratulations on winning the dorm lottery! And by the way, considering everything, we don’t recommend your scheduling any 8 a.m. classes.

            Can I change my assigned roommate?

Yes, if it turns out your assigned roommate really spends all day watching reruns of The Bachelorette and buffing his AK-47, you can request a new roommate by filling out the “I want to change my roommate Form RQ47.” Be aware, though, you may end up replacing the roommate who always called you “Dude” with a roommate who now always calls you “Bro.”

What do I need for my dorm room?

You should first bring sheets that will fit an irregularly shaped bed that is actually four feet longer than it is wide and is perfect for your new roommate, Gumby. Also, do not forget to bring a shower tote bucket, where you can carefully place all your toiletries and cover them with soap scum.

To make the dorm room feel more like home, consider decorating it in ratty old T-shirts left on the floor and multi-colored sticky notes stuck to the T-shirts.

Are there items I shouldn’t bring to my dorm room?

Yes. No halogen lamps, candles, incense or squirrels.

Where can I do my laundry?

Laundry? You’re a college student — who does laundry?

How do I pick a meal plan?

We offer multiple kinds of meal plans, including the 42-pizzas-a-week plan, as well as meal plans that are non-gluten or, for the more adventurous, all-gluten. You also can choose from vegan, vegetarian, ovo-lacto vegetarian and pollovegetarian. If you have to ask what a pollovegetarian is, you’re not one.

Can I bring a bike to campus?

Of course you can. We encourage all students to use alternative transportation methods to get around campus because there are only seven parking spots on campus. Three of those belong to a professor emeritus. Note that when you are on your bike going down a hill at 35 miles an hour you should probably stop trying to watch the last episode of Game of Thrones on your iPad, particularly if a professor emeritus is in the crosswalk.

And remember, you can register your bike for free, so when it gets stolen next week during your first class, you’ll have a receipt that you will always have to remember it by.

OK, when can I move in?

Your move-in time is determined by the dorm you’ve been assigned, the first letter of your last name and your astrological sign. If you’re Taurus, you’re in big trouble.

Vacation season isn’t over yet. You still have time to pack for a trip. Remember, packing is an art, a skill, a challenge. The challenge, of course, is to arrive at your destination with underwear.

To meet that challenge, here are a number of packing tips developed by experienced travelers who have never been stuck in the middle seat between two crying 1-year-olds.

First, choose your suitcase carefully. (We assume here that you’d rather not check your bag since that would mean an increased possibility of it ending up in Beijing when you are going to Grand Rapids.)

Understand that the bigger your suitcase, the likelier you can’t get someone else to lift it for you into the overhead bins. Also, if it’s too large, you will feel required to fill up all the extra hidden pockets, thus bringing scuba diving equipment with you to the mountains.

The choice between hard-sided or soft-sided, wheelie or non-wheelie, is, of course, a deeply personal one, dependent on your religious background and whether you believe hard-sided, non-wheelie is truly the work of the devil.

Once you have chosen a suitcase, remember the goal is to fill every inch of available space. That means putting socks inside shoes, then putting toothpaste inside the socks. Jam that rain jacket into the sleeve of those pajamas. Fold your flip-flops and stuff them into your dental floss dispenser.

Limit what you pack. First, take everything out of the closet that you are considering taking with you and lay the items on the bed. If you can’t see the bed, you need to pare down a little. If you can’t see the floor, you need to re-schedule the trip.

Put heavy, bulky items in first, at the bottom of the suitcase. If you only have heavy, bulky items, you can ignore this tip, but why are you traveling with cannonballs?

Try rolling your items. This will maximize space and minimize wrinkles but can be difficult to do with the handmade Guatemalan pottery flower vase you are bringing as a birthday gift for Aunt Sophie.

If rolling doesn’t work, try the bundling technique. Carefully wrap each article of clothing around a central core, with underwear and T-shirts at the center, and large tailored items like blazers and dresses as the outer layer. While this technique is utterly useless, unraveling the bundle does make a fun getting-to-know-you game if you meet anybody interesting at the hotel.

You also could use packing cubes. These are smaller bags that you put inside larger bags that you put inside enormous bags that you try to fit into your suitcase, just as soon as you have taken out several of the cannonballs.

Then there’s my method: Take anything you want. Jam it all into the suitcase until it screams for mercy. Don’t worry about wrinkles because where you’re going, no one knows you. Sit on the bag until you can close it. Pull the zipper tight until you can lock it or it breaks.

Hope that the airline loses your bag.