My Trip to the Dentist

Dentist - drillI hate going to the dentist – the sound of a dentist’s drill carving up my tooth and that painful Novocain needle. And that’s what I’m about to endure today. I am going to dread this…..

12:15pm: I am sitting in the lobby of the dentist office, reading an issue of Lady’s Home Journal from May 2007, because it’s either that or a 2009 issue of Field & Stream – anything to distract my brain from the fact that shortly I’m going to be in serious emotional distress, contemplating the dentist’s drill boring through my mouth like a construction worker chiseling a concrete sidewalk.

12:21: Uh oh. It’s time. They just called me in. The hygienist’s name is Maria. She seems nice. Kind of cute, actually. But I know what’s in store after I walk through that door. The dentist will start wielding his evil-looking torture device, and I’ll be clutching the armrests so tightly I’ll leave permanent indentations.

12:25: Time for the Novocain. Did I mention I have a phobic fear of needles? The dentist is pulling one out of his quiver roughly the length of a knitting needle. Is it only me or did he just flash a sinister sneer behind his mask? I’ll bet he loves this part. My stomach is a ball of knots. My heart is racing.

12:26: Maria sees me closing my eyes and grimacing. She asks me if I would like them to use nitrous oxide (laughing gas). “What’s does it do?” I ask her. She explains that it may help me relax and take my mind off of the procedure. “Sure, why not?” I tell her.

12:29: Maria puts a mask on my face and tells me to breathe in and out through my nose. Nice try, but there’s no way this is going to help me relax. Just look at that needle – it must be as long as my 9-iron.

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  • Published On Nov. 29, 2015 by TEJ
  • How to Help Your Child With Their Science Fair Project

    middle school science project - ChildIf you have kids, then by the time they reach middle school, it’s a certainty they’ll turn to their parents for help with their science fair project. In our family, they naturally turned to me because they respected my enormous wealth of scientific knowledge [after all, I’ve watched more than two episodes of Nova] – and not at all because my wife has told them “I’ve driven you to 600 soccer practices and 125 piano lessons over the past three years. It’s time your father got off the couch for once. Go ask him!”

    Helping your child with his noble science fair project can be a wonderful bonding opportunity – parent and child working together to bring a complex endeavor from inception to completion. Remember, your role is merely to coach, not to take over the project. Use this chance to teach your child a life lesson in taking responsibility. Follow this simple seven-step roadmap, and before you know it, your little wunderkind might learn a lot more than just how many planets are in our solar system (I still say the answer is nine. Pluto rocks).

    Step 1: Help your child select a project that’s achievable.

    Kids are naturally competitive. They want to impress their teachers – and their parents. So don’t be surprised if your child’s concept for a project is overly ambitious. When he decides to build a nuclear particle accelerator using bicycle parts and silly putty, you may want to counsel him to scale back his plans to something more realistic – so he might actually complete his project during your lifetime. 

    Step 2: Remind your child of your role in this project.

    Okay, so you took your kid to the movie, The Martian, and now he’s decided he’s going to build a rocket ship that can travel to Mars and back. Did you skip over Step 1 above – the part about choosing a project he can actually achieve? As you get started, remind your little rocket builder that this is his project, not yours. Insist he take the lead. Gently reassure him that you’ll be there every step of the way if he gets stuck.

    Notice how he gets stuck as soon as he hands you the instruction sheet from his teacher, at which point he may say something like, “Dad, this looks really hard.” Don’t worry. This is an excellent opportunity to teach him the lessons of patience, self-reliance, taking a project from start to completion and going without texting for more than three minutes. 

    Step 3: Encourage your child when he gets stuck. Read More…

    • Not having kids we helped by judging science fairs. What a learning experience trying not to crush budding scientists, …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Nov. 16, 2015 by TEJ
  • Have You Heard About Dyzastra?

    DyzastraHave you been feeling sluggish lately? Why not try Dyzastra? (“Di-ZAH-Struh”)

    Do you have a spare tire around your middle that you’d like to get rid of? How about trying Dyzastra?

    Stomach pain, the common cold and restless leg syndrome are no match for Dyzastra.

    Do you have toenail fungus that just won’t go away? Maybe it’s time you tried Dyzastra. 

    Dyzastra is perfect for just about anything that ails you. Thinning hair, chronic lower back pain, indigestion, arthritis, pinkeye? Dyzastra can help. And Dyzastra can do so much more.

    Dyzastra can lower blood pressure, reverse the effects of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and even improve your memory. Gingivitis, halitosis, constipation? They’re all things of the past, thanks to Dyzastra.

    If you’re suffering from asthma, eczema, sore throat, depression, or illusions of grandeur, ask yourself one question: “Why haven’t I tried Dyzastra?”

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    • Love your drug name. All the side effects made me giggle. Who cares about the side effects if you spend a …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Nov. 09, 2015 by TEJ
  • I love you daddy, but not enough to give you my Snickers bar

    Halloween - me and my girlsIt was a dark and stormy Halloween night. My two young daughters, Rachel and Emmy, could not wait to get started. Earlier that week I’d spent an evening helping them come up with their costumes. Emmy could not decide between a fairy princess or Barney the dinosaur or Hello Kitty. So naturally, the only solution was Barney the Hello Kitty dinosaur princess. Whatever makes you happy, my little angel, I mean, dinosaur kitty princess.

    Rachel’s outfit was easier. She insisted on being Harry Potter wearing an invisibility cloak. So I drew a lightning bolt on her forehead, put a sliver of duct tape on a pair of my black-framed glasses and found a blanket to which I affixed a big sign that read: INVISIBILITY CLOAK.  YOU CAN’T SEE ME!

    The girls kept asking, “Daddy, when can we go trick or treating?” To which I would respond, “It’s only Wednesday. Halloween is not for another three days. Be patient.” This went on every few hours until the big day, at which point, the incessant questioning accelerated to every 5 minutes.

    Finally it was time for the main event. They looked so cute – Emmy in her princess tiara, sparkly gloves and Cinderella flowing gown, with the matching kitty ears, whiskers and a long purple dinosaur tail. Meanwhile Rachel was almost completely hidden underneath her Mighty Morphin Power Rangers invisibility blanket. Of course, once we ventured out into the 42-degree drizzling weather, it was actually hard to make out their costumes beneath their winter coats and Thomas the Tank Engine galoshes.

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    • What a nice dad! When our girls would come back from trick or treating, I had them sort through …
      Pam N
  • Published On Oct. 27, 2015 by TEJ
  • The Secret to Decoding a Job Description

    decoding a job description - cartoonI don’t like to brag, but in the past year alone, I’ve submitted my resume to more than 500 employers, all of whom had one thing in common: they all shredded my resume after deciding that my stellar qualifications would make other employees look bad.  I have, in the process, unlocked the key to what head-hunters are really asking for in their job descriptions.

    The first step to getting an interview is knowing the critical skills employers are seeking. This is crucial so you can position your skills properly, by which I mean totally make things up. Don’t worry that you have no eJava, Javascript, or C++ programming experience when applying for that programmer position at Microsoft. That’s beside the point. Your job is to get in the door.

    Recruiters don’t actually want to make it easy for you to understand what the position requires. They insert into every job description a long list of trendy but vague buzz words designed specifically to obscure what the work really entails. This is done to enhance the interview experience, providing prospects with the opportunity to explain how they can perform a job that no one at the company actually understands.

    Now, thanks to me, you no longer have to play their devious game. With this simple job description decoder guide, you can peel back the flaky crust of ambiguous nouns and adjectives to bite into the chewy center of what they’re really looking for.

    When the job description says: “Must have excellent communication skills” …

    When decoded, what it really means is: You must be able to communicate only by means of TLA’s (Three-Letter Acronyms) and condense complex strategic marketing plans into email burps no longer than the 140-character count limit of Twitter.

    When the job description says: “Must possess an innate ability to work independently” …  Read More…

    • Sometime HR is out of sync with the manager trying to fill a position. A few years ago a …
      David Fallen
  • Published On Oct. 20, 2015 by TEJ
  • Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone call – using Skype

    Alexander Graham Bell - historic callOn March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made perhaps the most famous phone call in history, from his Boston laboratory, summoning his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, who was in the next room, with the following words: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” A phrase so short, the entirety of the message could have fit into a tweet.

    Little could the Scottish-born scientist know that less than 130 years later men and women the world over would be using an iteration of his primitive device to play Words with Friends when they should be working and teenagers would use it to type random letters like LOL to their best friend Meagan for no apparent reason.

    Bell was a pioneer of the greatest societal-changing bleeding-edge technology of his era. One can only imagine, then, what his very first phone call might have been like, had he had the advanced technology of Skype internet video calling available for this momentous occasion. The following is a dramatic reenactment of how many scholars believe the call might have gone.

    BELL: Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.

    WATSON: What?

    BELL: I said, Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.

    WATSON: I’m sorry, Mr. Bell. I can see your lips moving, but I’m not hearing anything. 

    BELL: Oh, dear. I can see you, Mr. Watson, but I cannot make out a word of which you speak.

    WATSON: What?

    BELL: I can see that you’re trying to impart a message, but alas, I am not able to detect the sounds emanating from your lips.

    WATSON: Still nothing. Sorry, sir. By George, I’ve an idea. Perhaps you’re muted. Might that be the problem?

    BELL: Oh, that’s much better, Watson. Can you hear me?

    WATSON: Yes, Mr. Bell. I hear you ju$% fi# $#(%$ $%!  Um, as I was say- [The audio drops suddenly.]  Like I … unable to #$&% …you’re … &$##(*!@

    BELL: What in the Lord’s name are you trying to impart, my dear Watson? I am hearing all sorts of ruckus, and I am barely able to comprehend a word you utter! Read More…

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  • Published On Oct. 06, 2015 by TEJ
  • TGIT – Thank God It’s Tuesday

    TGIT - whistleFor several years, every November and December, I experienced three-day work weeks thanks to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Due to the shortened workweeks, I had to be extremely focused, making efficient use of my limited time those weeks. I cut way back the amount of time devoted to watching adorable cat videos on YouTube.

    With only three days to get everything done, I dutifully avoided sending our my normal two dozen humor emails a day with links to things like hilarious parody music videos on the Twelve Days of Christmas. I discovered that I accomplished so much in these shortened work weeks that it got me to thinking: Imagine how much more efficient workers would all be if we all had a three-day work week. 

    There are many companies – and even a few cities (El Paso, TX, Melbourne, FL) and at least one state (Utah) that are currently experimenting with a four-day work week. Instead of five 8-hour days, their employees work four 10-hour days, and they really get a lot of things done in these ten-hour days…well, in the first 8 hours anyway. Polls of workers who have shifted to a four-day work schedule indicate that 85% prefer it to the previous five-day schedule and an overwhelming 99% prefer it to the seven-day 80-hour work week with no time off for Christmas.

    The advantages of a four-day work week are obvious:

    • Reduced commuting time and reduced energy consumption by eliminating one day of commuting travel per week
    • Improved energy efficiencies from reduced use of electricity and heating in offices and factories which are closed one more day each week
    • You can get drunk on Thursday night and don’t have to make up transparent excuses for not showing up to work on Friday, like “I can’t make it into work today, boss because my four-year old Nate is sick with the measles again… Yeah, I know it’s the 7th time this year. He has a really crappy immune system…”

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    • What a great idea. We've decided to do this at our conglomerate. Our Board of Directors was so enthusiastic about …
      Rey Carr
  • Published On Sep. 29, 2015 by TEJ

    American idiots - hangerAmerica is the greatest melting pot on earth, welcoming people of all backgrounds and beliefs. It does not matter if you’re black or white, Christian or Jew, tall or short, young or old, wealthy or poor. And all of these groups have something in common: None of them has any shortage of idiots.

    Based on my extensive research on the explosive growth of knuckleheads in our country, I’ve concluded that our great nation leads the world in idiots per capita. If you don’t believe we live in a nation of nitwits, how else can you explain some of the warning labels our manufacturers feel compelled to put on their products?

    For example, there is actually a warning label on an iPod shuffle that reads, and I quote: “Do not eat iPod Shuffle.” (Honest to God.)  I, for one, am so glad they added that warning because, I was just about to spread jam on mine and eat it with scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.

    In fairness, companies are only adding these product warning labels because they don’t want to get sued for millions in bogus liability lawsuits, as might happen if, say, a large gathering of people came together for an iPod Shuffle pot luck dinner party and failed to heed this important safety warning. God knows how many panicked trips to the emergency room this warning has helped to avoid over the last decade. I’m guessing zero (but I am just rounding).

    The more research I’ve done on warning labels, the more I’ve become convinced that half the people in this country probably should not be allowed to use electrical appliances of any kind – or vote – or date my daughters. Here is a tiny sampling of actual warning labels for the American consumer (I swear I am not making any of this up):

    On an iron: Caution: Do not iron while wearing article of clothing. I will remind my wife the next time she irons my dress shirt that she needs to do it in the nude – because I worry about her safety.  (Why is my wife doing my ironing?  That’s a blog for another day). Read More…

    • While shopping for Christmas stocking stuffers, I ran across a section of cheap, small electronic toys. The one I …
      David Fallen
  • Published On Sep. 22, 2015 by TEJ
  • My Weekly Business Report – Retirement Edition

    weekly report - retirement - on the beachUntil this past July, for the previous four decades, I had always worked in business. I was routinely required to submit reports on my progress: Sales forecasts, pipeline analyses, business plans – you name the report, I made it up, er, I mean…. um …

    My point is this: Just because I’ve recently retired and moved to an island home near an idyllic beach doesn’t mean I plan to stop submitting regular progress reports. Quite the contrary. I’m happy to report that I’ve continued this practice into retirement. The focus of those reports, however, has shifted slightly.

    Here is my business report for the past week.

    Sea Shell Inventory Forecast:

    My collection of sea shells grew by an impressive 11% this past month, due in part to two unscheduled beach-combing field inspections. While sightings of scallop shells were up 14% year-over-year, unfortunately, the projected production of intact sand dollars is expected to be down 18 to 20% compared to the previous quarter, in part due to increased foreign competition (tourists from Japan) which is anticipated to grab significant market share. I plan to diversify my portfolio of shells by investing (my time) in conch shells, tibias and spiny oyster shells. I’m optimistic we will experience a net gain next quarter if beach market conditions continue on their downward tidal trend.

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    • I am glad you are taking retirement seriously! Keep up the hard work! Lynn
  • Published On Sep. 14, 2015 by TEJ
  • What we WISH we could say to our kids

    what we wish we could say - child with paintYears ago, I had this reckless notion that something was missing in my life which could only be filled by having kids. So we started a family – and got so much more: eight years of Raffi songs, 800 trips to sports practices (and the occasional trip to the ER), $6,000 in orthodontia bills, and a child-proofed house, every square inch of which perpetually resembled a FEMA disaster zone.

    Don’t get me wrong – I love our daughters more than anything in the world – with the possible exception of bacon. But it didn’t take long to discover that despite the significant gap between my toddlers and me in earning potential, overall intelligence, and ability not to drool on everything with which I came into contact, I simply was no match for my kids. They routinely wore me out – usually by the time they dumped a bowl of Raisin Bran on each other – a daily 7am ritual.

    As a parent of two boisterous young girls, I quickly came to two conclusions: First, the interior of the VCR makes an ideal place to hide daddy’s slice of apple pie; and second, being a parent was going to require Herculean levels of patience. Being a good parent means having the maturity to resist saying the first thing that pops into your prefrontal cortex when your eight-year-old microwaves your cell phone. You need to suppress the urge to blurt out, “Jesus Christ! What the hell were you thinking, spraying the cat with the purple paint, you little twerp?” Such an outburst could permanently damage your precious angel’s delicate self-esteem – much like my angel permanently damaged our precious leather couch with a stick figure etching of her daddy.

    Shortly after our girls acquired rudimentary speech, I learned a valuable lesson: Never use foul language in front of young children. When my eldest was barely three, I caught her wielding my $500 Titleist driver into the trunk of our cherry tree, “just like George Washington, Daddy!” While she hadn’t yet mastered conjugating a sentence, she had, to my surprise, absolutely no difficulty reciting back to mommy the entirety of my panicked outburst – verbatim: “Mommy, Daddy said, ‘Holy shit. Look what you’ve done to my club!’ What does ‘shit’ mean, Mommy?”

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    • There really were rewards for all your 20 years of restraint ... viola 2 well adjusted young women who thankfully …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Sep. 07, 2015 by TEJ