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  • 12/8/2018 Last week, I continued my tradition of lampooning the annual Hammacher Schlemmer Christmas gift catalog. This week, I’ve looked back on some 300 items and pick my favorites from the past 15 years. Some are still available in the current collection…still more are in garage sales.
  • 12/1/2018 Our recent move has been very stressful. Not the financing, the inspections, or the packing and unpacking—those were easy. I have spent a lot of sleepless nights worrying about whether I’d receive my Christmas edition of the Hammacher Schlemmer gift catalog. The Post Office doesn’t always forward bulk mail, but fortunately someone changed my name to RESIDENT and it came right on time. Here are a few of my favorite gifts from this year’s HS holiday publication...
  • 11/24/2018 “You need to go to the doctor and have your hearing tested,” said my wife. “I’ve told you that a hundred times.” 
    “I only remembered 60,” but maybe I didn’t hear the other 40 suggestions. She claims I have been in complete denial about this for several years.
    I decided to take a hearing test online. Participating in any test or medical questionnaire on the Web is always a mistake.  Recently, I was not feeling well so I entered my symptoms:  headache, fatigue, and dizziness. In seconds, I was provided 23 reasons I should be dead.
    At one hearing test site, I was instructed to wear headphones and sit in a quiet room—which was easy enough. All the rooms in my house are very quiet, even the laundry room when I am doing the wash. Hmmm, that is a little peculiar, isn’t it?
  • 11/17/2018 A neuroscientist at the University of California was posting photos of everything he ate on his Facebook page. The expression “feed your face,” took on a new meaning. This professor claimed that revealing your food choices to the world will motivate you to eat better.
    Dr. Garcia included daytime snacks, late-night raids of the fridge, and even the doughnuts he had stuffed in his glove compartment. He had uploaded 9,000 pictures onto his Mac, which included a few dozen Big Macs, I might add. 
    I’m not sure this is a totally new idea. Unlike the good doctor, I’ve been uploading meals and then downloading them onto my dress shirts for more than 60 years. It is not uncommon for people to ask me about certain food choices I have posted on my clothing for all my friends to see…
    “Looks delicious, Dick. Wasn’t that the special at the Olive Garden last week?”
  • 11/10/2018 We are blessed with a beautiful forest behind our new home. The problem is that the trees need a bit of trimming, and that means I need to get out the chainsaw, a device I am only familiar with because of R-rated movies.
    I had a chainsaw at our old house but found it to be a very inefficient tool.  I took it back to the dealer and I told him it took me hours to cut down one little limb. “Let me give it a try,” said the clerk, and then he pulled the cord.
    VAROOM!
    “Geez, what’s that loud noise?” I asked him. “It never did that before.”
  • 11/3/2018 I just read on AOL that coffee first thing in the morning is bad for you. Hard to believe, isn’t it?  No, not the coffee part, the fact that I still have AOL. Apparently, you mess with your internal clock when you drink java on an empty stomach. Coffee decreases your cortisol levels (which keeps you alert). So a lot of times that morning cup of coffee can backfire and make you feel sleepier and grumpier. Has no one noticed this in 400 years?
    Here’s another piece of medical advice. A woman who keeps quiet during an argument with her husband is four times more likely to die from heart disease. This study was originally published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, a publication I don’t read—but that’s okay because I’m sure my cardiologist saw it in USA Today.
  • 10/27/2018 While I was visiting family on the East Coast, my sister took me to a bagel shop knowing that the treats in this classic tiny New York City fixture would soon be throwing a party for my mouth (to quote the great Mel Brooks). When I stepped inside the deli it was clear that I was witnessing a phenomenon I had never encountered before. People weren’t eating traditional bagels—those rings of hockey-puck-shaped dough that have been boiled and then baked to a perfect brownish sheen. Instead they were eating something called a flagel, also known as a Shmagel.  Shmagel/flagel, whatever. They looked delicious.
    So, what are they? Well, they are bagels that have been shmooshed (in Yiddish you would never say something as boring as “flattened”) into the size of 45 rpm records before being baked. One flagel or shmagel (a combination of the words either flattened and bagel or smashed and bagel) might not always fill up your stomach, but it pretty much fills up your plate.
  • 10/20/2018 Mary Ellen and I decided today to make a reservation somewhere for New Year’s Eve. I usually wait a bit longer to make this important decision. Last year I waited until Dec. 31. That may seem like last minute, but I did leave a voice message first thing that morning.
    I called one restaurant and they were still planning the menu. The manager said: “Please call back after November 1, but don’t wait too long. Some loser called last year on New Year’s Eve morning.”
    Just for fun, the other night my wife and I sat down and tried to see if we could remember what we did every New Year’s Eve since we were married in 1980.  We went backwards from 2017 and we were doing surprisingly well until we hit 2000.
  • 10/13/2018 Last week I looked back on our longtime handyman who became a good friend. When he passed in 2005 of cancer, I wrote this:
    I once told Steve he was the greatest handyman east of the Mississippi. Steve said he could easily be the best handyman west of the Mississippi, also. I think he considered moving to Utah just to prove his point.
    Steve’s approach to fixing things was methodical. He would analyze the problem, list the options, mull over the alternatives, formulate a plan, and fix the broken item.
    Here’s how I would approach the issue: analyze the problem, list the options, mull over the alternatives, formulate a plan, and call Steve. As you can see, our approaches were almost identical.
  • 10/6/2018 We have a great fix-it guy. His name is Randy. If your name is Randy, there is some kind of unwritten law that you must become a handyman. Handy Randy has a lot to live up to. Our last handyman died 13 years ago this month.  It’s taken us that long to find a replacement for Steve. And a replacement for the missing hallway floor tile, and the bathroom faucet handle, and the bulb for the refrigerator.
    Here’s a memory of Steve from 2005.
    When Steve comes over, we sit and chat about his kids and his grandkids. Then he gets around to his infirmities and then his wife's cousins who are overstaying their visit. Then what's new at the temple. And finally, how things are going at his regular job—which, interestingly, is just talking to people on the phone about their problems. And he's not a therapist: he's an acoustical engineer.
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