I’m still on vacation, trying to survive the wilds of Yosemite National Park, which receives 5 million visitors per year and has all the modern amenities.
But today, April 30th, is Arbor Day, and I couldn’t resist pre-scheduling this post before decamping for the modern-day wilderness. It’s a famous poem penned in 1913, about the wonder and beauty of trees.
By the way, if you have trees in your yard, maybe you can relate to the sentiments of this poem. Trees are a lot of hard work, huh? You have to water the thirsty bastards. They shed leaves that require raking. Storms rip off branches, necessitating the use of chainsaws that can instantly slice through fingers and ankles. Wildfires torch them and then they, in turn, set your house ablaze. Or sometimes they just teeter over and crash right through the roof of your house.
Trees are dangerous, dirty, and cruel taskmasters. Humbug! Who needs them? Now that I’ve set the mood, here’s the famous poem:
by Joyce Killmore
I think that I shall never see, A plant as hideous as a tree.
A tree whose sucking mouth is prest, Against the foul Earth’s dirty breast.
A tree that stands in clods all day, The muck, the yuck, the slimy clay.
A tree that may in summer wear, Snakes and vultures in her hair.
Upon whose bosom crows have slain, A robin’s hatchlings, in the rain.
Poems are made by tools like me, But only a clod will plant a tree.
Note: My wife has recently shown an interest in reading my posts. I’m not sure if she’s serious, or if she’s just trying to flatter me. So I’m including “Easter eggs” in this post. These Easter eggs are little unrelated comments about her, interlarded hither and thither, designed to get her attention. If she mentions one to me, then I’ll know she actually read my post.
I want to discuss a serious, and very personal issue. Constipation. The older we get, the more costive our bowels become. So those of us in our dotage find ourselves doting on this gut-wrenching subject from morning ’til night. We cogitate over when our last movement occurred, and speculate over the date and time of the next. In fact at the Senior Citizens Center, we sometimes enter betting pools over the issue.
My wife has the strangest, but most beautiful, purple eyes.
Constipation is usually asymptomatic. It’s sneaky like that. Those of us with serious memory problems may not even be aware that we have this condition. What condition? I don’t know. Ummm . . .
Oh yes, slow bowels. I’ve learned to use memory aids to monitor my regularity, or lack thereof. My favorite memory aid is a calendar. At the end of each day, I mark my calendar with a big black “X.” But when I’m lucky enough to experience the excitement of evacuation, I mark that day with a big RED “X.” That’s because those are truly red letter days for me.
My wife doesn’t know this, but today I emptied our bank account. Tomorrow I’ll be in Brazil.
Constipation is usually painless, except at the exact time you recover from it. Then it rises to the level of childbirth pain. But there’s more to it than just physical pain. Irregular bowel movements can also cause a great deal of mental pain.
If I can get just one of my wives to read my posts, maybe the other four will also give it a try.
For instance, there’s the constant mental anxiety from wondering exactly how stuffed your body will become before something gives way and explodes. There’s also the shame that arises when you fail to live up to good toilet ethics. After all, when you tie up the facilities for hours, yet produce nothing, you begin to feel guilty, as if you’ve let society down. And if you’re one of those types that flushes a non-soiled toilet just to fool people into thinking you actually were productive, you become saddled with guilt over your dishonesty. Not to mention the shame over your water-wasting habits.
I won’t complain about my wife’s cooking, but I will say that my dog sits next to me at dinnertime for good reason.
Constipation preoccupies the minds of us old folks, and distracts us from vitally important issues. Instead of devoting our vast elderly experience and wisdom to saving the world, we expend our mental energy pondering the perplexities of peristalsis and borborygmus.
When my wife asked me what my favorite song was, I wanted to say, Silence is Golden, but couldn’t get in a word edgewise.
However constipation does have one redeeming factor. It has inspired the following poem, which is one of the most popular poems in the history of literature and bathroom stall epigrams:
Here I sit, Broken-hearted, Tried to shit, And only farted.
A few years ago I had a very unusual experience, which my readers may find hard to believe. I was sick with a cold. A very bad cold. Probably the worst I’ve ever had. Yes, this was a real William Henry Harrison magnitude rhinovirus, and I felt like I was going to die.
I got out of bed to do something, and the last thing I remember was shuffling down the hallway, stifling a sneeze, while chasing a Kleenex. Suddenly I was hovering above my body, which I could see lying on the hallway floor.
Apparently I had passed out . . . or worse. I could see everything going on. For instance, I saw my wife step over my body several times, on her way in and out of the bathroom. And I saw my dogs licking my fingers and nibbling on my ears.
Then a bright white light approached me. Brighter and whiter than anything I’d seen since that time I bleached my briefs. “Are you God?” I asked the bright light.
It spoke to me in a kind of telepathic way. “Yeah, yeah, if that’s what you want.”
“Am, am I dead?”
“No, you’re playing blackjack in Vegas. What the fuck?! What do you think it looks like?”
You can’t live in denial in the afterlife. You have to face facts.
Next thing you know, this bright light is playing a movie for me. It’s a movie of the history of my life. Hey, if I had known some being was lurking around me with a camera, I would have lived differently. But it was too late. Now my life was flashing before my eyes.
I saw all the times I had been good and nice and kind to people. But I also saw all the times I’d been a self-centered royal asshole. There was the time I kicked the dog. There were restaurant scenes where I failed to leave a tip. And there was that string of bank robberies.
But the being of light was non-judgmental. He said that the purpose of life was to learn lessons. That was a new one on me. I’d always thought that the purpose of life was to endure the torture of hard labor for several decades, then retire and leach off of society for as long as my fragile heart could hold out.
God showed me heaven next. And it was beautiful. The streets were paved with tacos. There were shredded beef burritos hanging from trees, everywhere. Football season lasted all year. And some of my relatives were there. Not the perverts, thank goodness.
I saw a heartwarming sight. There was my Dad and Grandpa sitting on the softest couch you can imagine, with their feet propped up, drinking beers, passing gas, and watching football on TV. My Dad looked over at me and said, “You made it, son. Grab a beer and sit down with us.”
“You know I don’t drink,” I told my Dad. “Alcohol is poison.” He furrowed his brow like he always did when I told him that. Then I took a step forward.
Suddenly I heard a loud, booming voice thunder, “Ha ha! You have to go back!” Next thing you know I was sucked back into my body like a bug through a vacuum cleaner.
My wife walked over and kicked me a few times. “Would you get up and stop playing around,” she said. “I need you to empty the trash. It’s overflowing. You haven’t emptied it once since you got sick.”
I nearly gave her a piece of my mind. But then I remembered that celestial camera, heaven, and year-long football. It was time for me to turn over a new leaf.
Just before my wife turned 40, she told me not to buy her a birthday gift. She said she’d be too depressed to enjoy it. Fool that I am, I thought she meant it. So when her birthday arrived, I caught all kinds of hell when all I got her was a card. I made it up by driving her to a jewelry store that day and buying her a silver chain. I got off the hook.
When her 50th birthday approached I grilled her hard.
“Do you, or do you not, want a gift?”
“I guess. Yeah.”
“What kind of gift?”
“I don’t know. Surprise me.”
“I can’t read minds.”
“I don’t know what I want! And I don’t like thinking about turning 50! Can we change the subject?”
Well at least I had a green light to get her a gift. Now I had to rack my brain to figure out what she’d like.
We went on a road trip a few months before the dreaded day. We stopped at a motel, and the clerk told us that if we had AARP we could get a 5% discount. Did we really look that old? But my wife mentioned how nice that clerk was to try to get us a discount. Light bulb moment. Yes that’s right, I thought, she really loves a bargain. She loves discounts.
Later, I did some research. I made phone calls. Bingo! Here was a gift she’d really love. What a genius I am! Yes, that’s what I really thought. Genius.
The day arrived. The big number 50. That morning I set her gift out, wrapped in pretty paper in front of the TV. She was still sleepy, and seemed a bit depressed. But she was also curious about the thin, flat object wrapped in a bow. After her birthday kiss, she opened it. And then she knitted her brows. It was a copy of AARP magazine.
I knew she’d be a little confused, but I had an explanation at the ready. “My sweet dear, for your 50th birthday I have bought you a membership to AARP! You can’t be a member until you’re 50 years old. But now you qualify, and now you’re a member. And now you can always get that 5% AARP discount!”
“What does AARP stand for?”
“American Association of Retired Persons.”
“You mean it’s like a club for old people?”
“Well, um, not that you’re old, I mean, you’re at the youngest qualifying age, and you’re not retired, because you’re too young for that, but, but just think . . . the 5% discount!”
“You fucking asshole! Are you fucking with me?!” She slammed the magazine down and ran back to the bedroom, huffing and crying.
Mea culpa. Word of warning, guys. Learn from a man who was almost divorced. Never, ever, give your wife the gift of AARP for her birthday.
I decided I wanted to become more proficient with my camera. So I hired a professional photographer to give me some one-on-one training. His name is Jay Pegger. Jay took me out into the field so he could give me some pointers on how to shoot.
We came upon a beautiful Joshua tree that Jay thought would make an excellent photographic subject. So he told me to frame up a picture.
Jay: Frame up a picture. But before you do, you’re going to want to increase your focal ratio. (I creased my forehead) You know, your f/stop.
Oh, that seemed easy. I already knew the control for adjusting f/stop. So I made the tweak as instructed.
Jay: Before you shoot, let me check your adjustment.
He took the camera.
Jay: What the f___? I thought you knew how to adjust f/stop!
Me: I do. You told me to increase it, so I took it up to f/22. That’s as high as it can go. It was at f/11.
Jay: No, no, when you increase f/stop, that means you decrease the number.
Me: Come again? You mean more is less?
Jay: No, not at all. And I thought you told me you’d studied all this. I didn’t realize you were such an amateur! Listen carefully. F/stop gets bigger the smaller the number, because it’s a ratio of the size of the diaphragm that controls the size of the aperture. More f/stop means more light.
Me: Before I got fixed, I always stopped my f-ing if I knew she wasn’t wearing a diaphragm. I know what that aperture can do to a man.
Jay: That’s not funny. I’ve heard all those stupid jokes many times before. That’s why I try to limit my students to more advanced photographers. Now listen! Wrong diaphragm, wrong aperture. There’s a diaphragm in the lens of your camera.
Me: So tell me, Jay, what does the “f” stand for, in f/stop?
Jay: Focal! Focal! Got it?! Focal!!
Me: I rest my case.
Jay: Oh, Jesus! Look . . . just remember, you increase f/stop by reducing the number. But if it will make things easier, let’s just talk about aperture. Now, increase the aperture in your camera.
I took the camera back and fiddled with the controls. This would be easier if I wasn’t already at the highest f/stop. Or was that the lowest f/stop?
Me: Hey Jay, I’m already at f/22. How can I possibly increase the aperture any further?
Jay swiped the camera out of my hands.
Jay: Listen! You increase aperture by increasing f/stop! You increase f/stop by reducing the number! This isn’t brain surgery!!
Me: Alright, alright! I just wanted to make sure, that’s all. I suspected it all along. Just checking, that’s all.
I didn’t really suspect that, but I didn’t like Jay being mad at me. It hurts my feelings to pay someone by the hour to yell at me. I took the camera back, and reduced the f/stop number down to f/8.
Me: I’m at f/8. Is that good, or do you want me to reduce the f/stop further?
Jay: Reduce?! Reduce?! No damnit! I want you to INCREASE the f/stop further!!! INCREASE it to f/6!
His temper-tantrum was leaving me feeling panicked. And when I feel panicked I have a hard time thinking straight. With shaky fingers, I fiddled with the controls.
Me: Okay, okay, calm down. There, no, wait. Oh goshdarnit! I increased the f/stop to f/10!
Jay: Goshdarnit?! GodDAMNit!! Don’t you fucking listen?! It’s motherfucking impossible to increase an f/stop from f/8 to f/10! Motherfucking impossible! Understand?!!
I stood there tremulous. My eyes darted around for any weapon I might use to defend myself. There was a stick about 10 yards away.
Me: Jay, Jay, I’m sorry. I’m just a little nervous. It would help if you’d stop yelling at me.
Jay’s pupils visibly dilated, as if there were out-of-control f/stops whirring about in his eye sockets. But after a long minute they receded. He actually started to calm down.
Jay: You’re right. I’m sorry. But this whole f/stop issue really bugs me. Every new photography student seems to have a learning curve when it comes to f/stop. And wanna know something? I’m sick of it! It really isn’t that hard to get. But I’ll try to be a little more patient.
Me: Thank you, Jay. Now, could you tell me why you wanted me to increase the aperture?
Jay: Oh, well that’s to reduce your depth of field. We want the Joshua tree to be in focus, with the background being slightly out-of-focus. It makes for a striking effect.
Me: So you increase aperture to reduce your depth of field?
Jay: Yeah, yeah, that’s right. (Breathing more deeply and calmly) Now just go ahead and increase your aperture, and let’s take this picture.
I fiddled with the camera’s controls.
Me: Jay, do you think f/22 would give me a big enough aperture? I mean, when I look through the viewfinder the depth of field doesn’t seem to have gone down much.
I’ve given up on my grammar checker. It puts annoying, squiggly lines beneath my sentences, which distract me from being able to read and understand what I’ve written. So I went online, looking for better grammar checking software.
After much searching I finally found something affordable. It’s a program called, “You Well Write.” I believe the low, $15.00 price was due to the fact that it was produced in China, by slave labor. Thanks, Uyghurs!
After the quick download, I was eager to learn how to operate this exciting new auditor of my written word. And just reading the Help file opened my eyes to highly sophisticated usages of the English language. Here’s an excerpt:
“Welcome too You Well Write! You soon no sorry this product you purchase. It many times used in China country years on. Corporations all that products America for made always this product use when manuals they write. It’s style familiar to you must be. How times many you purchase from our country product with manual? Reading hard it is, no? But now not. Now familiarize we you with language structure better so now you not just able understand manual but write you such manual you to.
“Guarantee we, or back money give we if no complain. You find better then no product ever. Help file read you, than program start you too use. Their no time now like it is for learn. So its now time start for you.”
I’m very excited about this new program. How nice it will be to learn the language structure used in every manual that comes with products made in China. And not only that, but I’ll be able to write like these Chinese pros, also.
Their is nothing better then that, and already its as if I be learning much of new thing’s.
Pictured above is me committing a common error. When I try to input channel 55, my finger sometimes lingers too long on the “5” button, resulting in channel 555. But there is no channel 555. I know that, but my TV doesn’t. So now I have to wait about ten seconds for my TV to search for a non-existent channel, then give me the “No Signal” screen.
Isn’t it about time that television manufacturers redesign their *#@!ing TV remotes? Inputting the correct channel is a bitch, with those sticky, teeny-tiny buttons. I’m tired of messing up, then missing the first part of a show while trying to get the remote to cooperate.
I’m no electronic engineer. But really, would it be that hard to design a TV remote with an “Undo” or “Backspace” button? Let’s say you try to input channel 7. But you’re not quite nimble enough and accidentally input channel 777777777777777777777777777777777777. Rather than having to wait ten seconds for the TV to search for something that everyone and God knows ain’t there, wouldn’t it be nice to hit an “Undo” button and start all over?
And what about those buttons anyway? Why do they repeat numbers so easily? Couldn’t that be fixed too?
While the engineers are busy with my redesign ideas, here’s another request: Make the buttons a bit larger. I’m not asking for much real estate here. Just make the buttons approximate the size of the average man’s fingertip. Ladies have an advantage here, because their fingertips tend to be closer to the size of those buttons. But this can be a real problem for men when we’re trying to switch around to different ball games, with a drink in one hand and a thumb fumbling over the remote with the other.
If humans can land a spacecraft on a speeding comet, I’m sure they can make a better TV remote. And think of how much cumulative time would be saved, across the country, if everyone had better functioning TV remotes. Why, that time could be used for interacting with other family members, or working on our tax returns. Yes, consider how much more our country could collect in taxes if they’d only fix the dad-blamed TV remote.
Write to your congressional representative. Or have a heart-to-heart with any inventors you know. Together, it’s at least remotely possible we can start a national movement that will eliminate, once and for all, the dreaded “No Signal” screen.
I’m afraid this blog might get out of hand, with all the smartasses that comment here. I think we need a code. So the following is a new page I’m adding to my blog:
CODE OF THE SMARTASS
Just read the cheeky comments on this blog, and you’ll realize that those who follow me tend to be smartasses. It’s fun being a smartass, and everyone is invited to join in on all the good times. But please keep in mind that we follow a code. It’s called the Code of the Smartass:
Code of the Smartass
We’re smartasses, and proud of it. But smartasses can refer to each other by a variety of names, including: smart aleck (whatever an aleck is), smarty, smarty-pants, wise-ass, wise guy, wiseacre, wisenheimer, witling, brat, cheeky boy (or girl), malapert, rascal, saucebox, and troll. However none of these other names detract from the fact that we are all just smartasses.
Smartasses are not easily offended. But that doesn’t stop us from working hard at it.
Smartasses don’t take life too seriously. Nothing is sacred, including being a smartass.
Smartasses don’t care about convention, tradition, perdition, or any of the other shins.
Smartasses respect all religions, creeds, political beliefs, and cultures. Because without these things, there would be little left to make fun of.
Smartasses appreciate and respect wisdom. After all, wisdom is the fictile clay for creating wisecracks.
Smartasses are troublemakers, and also get into trouble a lot. We accept this as the risk one takes when acting like a smartass. We take full responsibility for the consequences of our smartassery, unless there’s a patsy nearby who we can conveniently blame.
Smartasses do not organize well. Such an organization would fall apart from internal ridicule. The only thing that keeps smartasses together is our love for smartassery.
Smartasses aren’t known for being profound or thought-provoking. But we’re commonly thought to be profane and provoking.
Even though we strive to be smartasses, sometimes we fall short and are dumbasses instead. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pick ourselves up off of our dumbasses and keep striving to be the best smartasses in the whole world.
Smartasses chase unicorns, because unicorns are unique, novel, new, different, strange, weird, and thus, interesting. And that’s all smartasses really want. Relief from boredom. Otherwise we wouldn’t be such smartasses.
One of my blogging buddies turned me into a duck, in one of her posts. That was a few months ago. But I have a long memory, and don’t forget these things easily. Recently, she transformed me back to my anthropic form. That’s good, but it’s not enough.
I told her she should have turned me into a Prince Charming. Or a handsome prince. Or whatever the hell happens in those fairy tales, when ducks and frogs and such, become human. This would have made up for turning me into a duck.
But instead of transforming me into Prince Charming, she wrote a story that depicted me as a bumbling, daydreaming factory worker who trips over a hole and gets knocked out. While in a coma, he dreams he is a prince who suffers all manner of bodily injury.
I’ll admit the story is entertaining, but I am not amused. And I have concluded that she has failed to redeem herself. I won’t reveal her name, but her initials are C.S. (which stand for Carolyn Shelton). You can find her blog, and the infamous story, at joyroses13.
It has come to my attention that C.S. will be turning 50 very soon. Yes, soon she will transform into an old lady, and there’s nothing she can do about it. I’m sure she’d like to forget this upcoming climacteric in her life, but how can I allow that to happen after all the things she’s done to me?
Therefore, I have posted a countdown calendar in my sidebar. Just glance over to the right and you will see it, plain as the bump on a concussed prince’s head, counting down the days until the big birthday. As you can surmise, it won’t be long before C.S. is no longer a young, smartass whippersnapper.
No, she will soon just be a plain old smartass.
To chase, you have to follow.
7.8 billion potential followers. Join now before it gets too crowded!