Sunday, October 27, 2013


A feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people.

Okay, I will admit it. I had a real immature reaction when I started hearing of all of the problems with the roll out of The Affordable Health Care Act, aka: Obamacare.  It was: Ha-ha. (Pretend you see me at home pointing at the President on TV doing my best Nelson Muntz imitation.)

It has been all over the papers. The big moment in American history: Open Enrollment. It used to be big moments in American History were things like Landing on The Moon and Winning World War II. Thanks to The Obama Administration, now a big moment in American History is getting a quote from Cigna.

However, it didn’t quite work out that way. The website people had to go on to get a quote from The Health Exchanges had a technical computer issue called “a glitch”. According to highly placed White House Information Systems sources, the website’s “thingamajig” didn’t “jeehaw” with the “watchamacallit” and caused the system to go all “out of whack”.

As you might expect, this White House jumped into action. The President asked for the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. No that did not happen. Instead, Sebelius has been given the task of explaining what happened to Healthcare.Gov website when it is obvious that her knowledge of the internet is limited to Pinterest.

The President has promised that the website will be fixed and up and at ‘em by the end of Thanksgiving. Of course, he promised that you could keep your insurance if you liked it (didn’t happen) at the same price (didn’t happen) or you could get a better policy at a cheaper rate (fat chance).

For example, say you are a 54 year old humorist and you want to buy health insurance. You are a non-smoker and non-drinker. Your last medical issue was a sebaceous cyst that you somehow miraculously survived.  You eat a banana a day, unless they are mushy, because  they make you gag. You go to the gym at least five days a week.  What do you think your medical insurance would cost?

Nobody knows because the website doesn’t work. Anyway, Obamacare doesn’t want you to sign up, per se, they want your kids to sign up. So you know it is in trouble.

We were not bad parents to these kids. They got all of the Barneys and Power Rangers they wanted. We taught them not to judge people. They responded by becoming really good at texting and giving us President Obama. Thanks, guys.

What is funny is that this President made it a point to be The Information Super Highway President. He communicated by Twitter! Who can forget where they were when they got the tweet from Candidate Obama that he had selected Joe Biden as his running mate?  Both his campaigns were politico-techno models for the future. Hippie-Commie rag magazine Mother Jones asked Obama’s 2008 techie Clay Johnson why Candidate Obama used the internets so well and President Obama hasn’t, Johnson said, “The first person that you need in order to start a Web company would be a Web developer; the first person you need to start a government-contracting firm is an attorney.”
The problem with Obamacare is not a website. It is the product. It is a governmental version of New Coke. Coke spent a lot of time and money to tell us we needed and wanted a Pepsi product called “New Coke”. It didn’t work. This won’t either.

Ha. Ha.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What I Like

Once, when the world began, I heard these words: “Alan, this is Stephanie Pickel”.

Like my wife, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know Stephanie Pickel. She’s Stephanie Harkins now and lives on a farm in Maryland. She has raised three boys (she was from a family of three girls) and had a successful career in nursing. Now, and this is quite troublesome for me because she is very good, Stephanie has become a blogger.

Her blog is Front Porch Tales-Pursuing Purpose and Passion in the Mid-Life Maze. This is much better than my blog Humor Me-Hey Y’all Here’s Another Booger Joke.

I mention Stephanie’s blog because one of latest, “My Happy List” inspired this week’s posting. Because a lot of humor is negative in nature and I admit that my nature is as negative as it comes. We spend a lot of time in the Humor World talking about things we don’t like. I’m going to be a little different today, thanks to Stephanie. I’m going to discuss what I like.

I like the way my wife smiles at me. It gives me the feeling that she adores this stupid lump of flesh. She could have done a lot better than me-I’m just happy she didn’t.

I like that my son can do impressions. I don’t know what it is about impressions I like, but I like it when people do good ones (like Dana Carvey) and my son can do great impressions. He does an impression of Eric Cartman from the awful “South Park” that will cause you to bust a gut laughing.

I like jokes. I like the way jokes give you all of the information you need up front. “A man walks into a bar with a penguin..” that’s all you need to know about the man, the bar, and the penguin.

I like it when an old friend says, “I remember” about an incident from the past that you know you haven’t spoken to him about but he knows it was important to you.

I like making people laugh. There’s something about the moment when people validate that what you are saying is funny. Especially if it is something you thought up by yourself.

I like coffee. But I like my coffee like I like my jazz: smooth. This coffee that knocks you down and makes you spontaneously start sprouting body hair is not for me. There’s something about a smooth cup of coffee that relaxes me.

I like music. I’m glad I grew up in “The Singer-Songwriter Era”. I like the way Jimmy Buffett said “Life is just a tire swing”. I like the way John Prine says “Eggs” (“Eaigs”). I like the way Dylan sounds on “Lay Lady Lay” and bleats “His clothes are dirty but his hands are clean. And you’re the best thing that he’s ever seen”.  I like the way Mark Knopfler plays the guitar. I like side one of an album called “The Blue Ridge Rangers”. It is John Fogerty of Credence Clearwater Revivial playing every dang instrument and singing the heck out of some country classics.

 I like that I had parents that took care of me.

I like that I have a job and that I get paid for it. My job has one huge perk: I can leave my work at work when I leave work. That and  I have about 100 weeks of PTO hours.

I like my iPhone. It still gets me that I’m carrying around a miniature computer in my pocket.

I like watching college football even though there are a thousand truck commercials (you need more torque!) and middle aged man pills commercials.

I like finding out something new about people I have known for a long time. Like Stephanie’s writing talent. You can read it here:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Out of Many, Dumb

You may have noticed that I have not written on politics lately. The reason is I wrote a lot about politics in 2011 and 2012. You may remember I was the one that told you that neither Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich or Donald Trump would become President. Did I win a Noble Prize for that? No! Are they making a movie about me like The Fifth Estate? Of course not! I don’t have goofy hair. (If they did make a movie about me it would be centered on the time I got stuck in my locker at East Cobb Junior High School in 1972. I’m pretty sure it was Nixon’s fault.)

I decided to branch out and discuss other topics. I hope you have enjoyed them. However, The Great Semi-Sort of Government Shut Down of 2013 compels me to respond, much like I did to the girl in high school who told me “People think you’re funny, I think you are sick” simply because I told a joke about Professor Backwards (he was a comedian in the 70’s that could take any word and pronounce it backwards and he died tragically in a mugging). The punch line of the joke (originally told by Chevy Chase) was, “No one responded to Professor Backwards’ cries of pleh”. My response to her statement, and these are my exact words, “Um”, because she sure was built.

                             The Late Great Professor Backwards

There are many culprits in The Great Semi-Sort of Government Shut Down.

One culprit is The Affordable Healthcare Act better known as Obamacare. This is a Democratic Party’s dream of combining the two things American like the least: Government and Health Insurance.  The President said, while campaigning in those glory years of 2008, that you would be able to keep your insurance (if you liked it), keep your doctor and pay the same rates that you pay now. The problem: None of that is anywhere close to reality. The response: Lots of whistling and looking up in the air.

It is interesting that the same group of people who had the Monsters of Technology working for the President’s re-election have now given us websites for the Health Care Exchanges that look like something from AOL in 1999. They have just had three years to get this up and running. Some have called for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to be fired. Will this happen? No, of course not. Democrats are never held responsible for anything. Drive off a bridge with a young campaign staffer and leave her for dead? No problem! You can become a lion of the party.

Another culprit is the Tea Party Wing of The Republican Party. This is the part of the Republican Party that likes to yell “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) at anyone that even has a mild disagreement with it. Here are some RINOs: George Will, Fox News, Paul Ryan, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Dwight Eisenhower, James Garfield, Teddy Roosevelt, Alf Landon, Thomas Dewey, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Abraham Lincoln.

                                Famous RINO: Abraham Lincoln

The newest star of The Tea Party is Ted Cruz. He is the junior senator from Texas that gave a four month filibuster on stating that Congress should defund Obamacare. No matter what you think of Obamacare, it  really is stupid to think that the Democrats would go along with an idea to defund it. Actually the filibuster should have been called “My Name is Ted Cruz and I’m Running for President Whooo Hoooo!” because that was its real purpose. To top everything off Cruz has a way of speaking which sounds like he is two seconds from telling you that drinking a wine cooler is a sin.

                     "You really shouldn't be having that for lunch"

The President has been his usual passive-aggressive self. He’ll talk to the Republicans but first they have to become Democrats. We don’t want the American people to feel pain, but it is okay  to rope off open air monuments and make Ranger Smith of Jellystone Park an agent of an American Gestapo.

 Ranger Smith with some of his bosses from The Office of Management and Budget

Where has our Fourth Estate been during all of this?  Just the usual: trying to place blame on the Republicans and not ask the Obama Administration anything close to uncomfortable. You know, just another day at the office.

                               The American Press Hard at Work

Just when it sounds like Congress and The President are making progress, Cruz will say something stupid. Or Harry Reid. Or the President.  It is really a contest to see who can say the dumbest thing, and so far it is a tie.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cancer In The Rear View Mirror, Part Two

The children are out of the house-in college, most likely, but they are gone. No more interruptions when Mom and Dad are about to, as the kids say, “get busy”.  He holds her in his arms and plants a kiss on her fulsome and compliant lips. “If one were to grade this kiss on a scale of One to Ten”, he thinks to himself, “this is definitely an Eleven if not a Twelve”.  She looks up into his eyes and moans, “I am so hot”. He responds, “I know baby, you are hot”. She says, “NO, YOU DOPE, I AM BURNING UP BECAUSE OF A TAMOXIFEN FUELED HOT FLASH!” as she bolts from his arms and runs into the kitchen to try to climb into the refrigerator.   (**This has never happened to us. At least some of it. Okay, Lori's never tried to "climb" into the refrigerator. However, she has stuck her head inside of the freezer.)

After my wife finished her radiation treatment, she went to see an Oncologist. Here is my opinion about Oncologists: you better listen to what they say because they are not joking. All cancer is extremely complicated and Oncologists deal with it every day, so I would listen to them. Call me crazy-listening to a doctor.

The Good News was Lori did not require chemotherapy. This meant that she would not have to go through the pain of chemotherapy and lose her hair. My wife has a special relationship with her hair. It has been a constant topic of conversation in our marriage. I was glad we didn’t have to go and select a wig. I probably would have suggested an Afro wig.

The Oncologist explained that Lori’s tumor was estrogen fed. This meant Lori would have to be prescribed an estrogen inhibitor. This is when we met our good friend, Tamoxifen.

Lori has to take Tamoxifen for five years. Like all medicine, Tamoxifen has side effects. The most notable being Hot Flashes.

These are not the run of the mill Hot Flashes. These are the Mother of All Hot Flashes. One minute, Lori and I are talking about some non-hair related subject, like our cat, and  it is really pleasant and suddenly Lori looks like she just ran a marathon. Then when the Hot Flash ended, she felt like just ran a marathon. Sometimes, this would occur a couple of times an hour.  

Of course, I was my usual supportive self: “At least you’re not in hospice, dying”.  (For some reason that didn’t make her feel better.)  Finally, Lori went back to the Oncologist to see if there was anything that could be done for her Hot Flashes.

It turns out that the Oncologist was familiar with Tamoxifen Hot Flashes and prescribed the GREATEST MEDICINE EVER INVENTED: Effexor.

Effexor (Venalfaxine) is “a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor”. This is fancy science talk for “Drug Handed Down From The Right Hand Of God”.  It is a drug primarily used for Depression-the real kind, not the “My Fantasy Football Team Blows” depression.

Somebody (and whoever it was you need a couple of Nobel Prizes) discovered it could be given to women who have Hot Flashes and let me tell you-it works. Effexor hasn’t taken away every Hot Flash. She’s not having  the multiple Hot Flashes an hour and that was a major big deal.

It also did something else for which I am eternally grateful. Like all men, I am mentally challenged, big time. I don’t mean to be or act stupid, it just happens. There are have been times in our marriage, and I’m not giving out any deep dark secrets, that I have been grass and Lori has been a Lawn Mower, if you know what I mean. 100% of the time I’ve deserved it. I either said something I shouldn’t have (trying to be funny), did something I shouldn’t have (trying to be funny) or forgot to do something I should have (because I was thinking about something funny). Sometimes my good sense of humor has really gotten me into big trouble.

However, since Lori has been on Effexor to help her with the Tamoxifen, the Lawn Mower Lori times have been few and far between. One time, I was supposed to let her drive my car to her work. It is a small SUV and she was going to use it to transport some items for a corporate meeting at the airport. Of course, I kissed her goodbye, hopped into the car and drove to my office. As soon as I sat down I thought, “Oh Rat Fink”(or something like that, remember I'm a Baptist).  Just then my phone rang-Lori’s number. I braced myself for a chewing out that I deserved.

Instead, Lori was very pleasant and nice about it. She understood that I have a small brain and can only hold a certain amount of information.  She just calmly told me that I would have to pay for my sin by driving to Buckhead (in Atlanta, there’s an area of town called Buckhead, for no known reason, and it is a pain to get in and out of) and pick up the materials.

Effexor is a wonder drug. I wonder why we just don’t just hand it out to people.