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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
  • 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
  • Sears’ customer guarantee: Delivery between 1:45 – 3:45pm – No matter what!

    [Author’s note: I recently purchased a mattress from Sears. They were supposed to deliver it this past Thursday. But things did not quite go as planned. They sent me a customer feedback survey the following day. Below is the exact, unaltered response I sent back in my evaluation.] 

    Sears - delivery truckDear Sears Customer Service Team,

    Thank you for your very prompt email survey asking about my recent purchase experience. I am pleased to report my online ordering experience went off without a hitch. No wait, there was actually one very minor hitch which I probably shouldn’t even bother mentioning, but since you were kind enough to ask, would you mind if I share it with you?

    My fantastic customer experience started to go just slightly off track when it came to the DELIVERY of the mattress I purchased online. And for that, I take full responsibility. It was completely my fault to place my mattress order with Sears. Why I didn’t order it through Sleep Country USA is something I can’t explain.

    You see, my delivery was scheduled for this past Thursday. The evening before, I received an automated call from Sears Customer Service informing me that my mattress would be delivered between 1:45 pm and 3:45 pm. And that presented a problem, as I had an important appointment which required me to leave by 2:00.

    I immediately called your toll-free customer support number (1-800-PLZ-HOLD), and after waiting ten minutes, I reached a live person named Roger – at least I presume Roger was a live person. In retrospect, given that he kept spouting the same answer over and over, I’m wondering whether perhaps he was an automated phone bot with a highly developed user interface.

    I told Roger / your phone bot that a delivery window of 1:45 pm to 3:45 pm would not work for me and asked if Sears could change the delivery to 7am to 10am, to which he kindly responded, “Please hold.” No more than eight minutes later, he came back on the line helpfully to inform me that a delivery window of 7 to 10 am was not available. “However, we can deliver your mattress tomorrow between 1:45 and 3:45”, he shared. That time sounded eerily familiar, in part because that was the precise time window I had called about to inform your team would not work for me.

    I then asked whether it could be delivered between 10am and noon. This is when I suspected that Roger might be a highly advanced computer algorithm. Because after my second eight-minute wait on hold, he / it returned on the phone and repeated almost the identical message as before, informing me that a delivery window of 10 am to noon was not available, “However, we can deliver your mattress tomorrow between 1:45 and 3:45.”

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    • Oh no Tim! You have made me very edgy now! My friend has asked me to be available …
      Sue Thees
  • Published On Sep. 01, 2015 by TEJ
  • “Will you take $750 for that 2013 BMW?” – Helping my teenager buy her first car

    Car purchase - Emmy with carRecently I helped our younger teenage daughter, Emmy, purchase her first car. She had no idea how much used cars cost. I think she was hoping to afford a slightly used Lexus. What she got instead was a lesson in how much cars actually cost. Emmy hates it when I mention her by name in my blog, so I will just call her Miss Enthusiasm” – “M. E.” for short.

    When we started this process, like a lot of young people, Emmy’s, I mean M. E.’s concept of buying a car was rather simplistic: You buy a Japanese luxury car on Craigslist from someone you’ve never heard of named Vinny for a few hundred dollars. Your only ongoing expense is the gasoline fill-ups required four times a year. Period, the end. More esoteric concepts like collision & liability insurance, vehicle registration, tire rotations, oil changes and other routine maintenance were vague abstractions that she had never quite grasped – mainly because she invariably tuned out my relentless attempts to explain the substantial ongoing costs of vehicle ownership. I apologize, M.E., for intruding upon your much more fascinating texting conversations with Haley on more important topics like whazzup.

    When the time finally came for her to look for a car, I told M. E. I would contribute up to $3,000 towards the cost. Anything beyond that – including insurance was her responsibility. The only part I am sure she heard was the part of about me paying $3,000 – which is really all she needed to know, because she was pretty sure that figure would be enough to get her that brand new 2015 Lexus LS she saw on TV. I explained to her that cars cost a lot more than she imagined, so she reluctantly lowered her sights towards a used car – specifically the 2013 Lexus LS – ideally with the Bose surround-sound stereo system and the chrome wheel package. I could tell I was in for an exhausting couple of days.

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    • When it came time for me to get my license, my indulgent father said, "Oh, yeah? Pay the cost of …
      Drew Fisher
  • Published On Jul. 29, 2015 by TEJ
  • America is the greatest nation on earth – In your FACE, Denmark

    America is #1 - hey hey signOn July 4th, we will once again celebrate our independence from the tyranny of England. Those British monarchs can be so oppressive. If it were up to Queen Elizabeth, we’d all be forced to drink Earl Grey tea with every meal.

    Every year at this time, Americans proudly mark our independence with fireworks, burgers on the grill and binge drinking. And why shouldn’t we? Ours is the greatest nation in the solar system. I’m a patriotic American – something my wife will never understand because, sadly, she’s Canadian.

    When it comes to being great, no country on earth is better than the U.S. of A. We’re NUMBER ONE! Look at the Olympics – God almost always backs the Americans – except in soccer – because he knows that Americans love God more than any other country.  Every time a U.S. athlete wins, the first thing he does is give thanks to God.  The Czech Republic (ranked the least religious nation on earth) never thanks God. And do you remember the last time they won a gold medal? Me neither. Because they hate God.

    Oh sure, I’ve read a few misleading statistics about how the USA ranks 12th in college graduates, 27th in life expectancy, 37th in healthcare, 47th in press freedom and 53rd in ability to locate Mexico on a map. (I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere west of France.) But most of those statistics came from CNN’s World Desk Editor Fareed Zakaria. And that sure doesn’t sound like an American name to me. He probably has an axe to grind about his visa status.

    I don’t care what statistics you want to throw in my face. It doesn’t change the fact that the USA is #1 in the world. Finland may rank first in education. And technically speaking, the Netherlands’ first place ranking in broadband access just nudges out our 23rd place finish. But in many other categories, the USA is Numero Uno. For example, America ranks …

    • 1st in guns per capita
    • 1st in cocaine seizures
    • 1st in obesity
    • 1st in percentage of the population that’s incarcerated
    • 2nd in carbon emissions – but we’re coming after you, China! So watch your back!

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    • Love this! Thanks Tim!
      Gail Palmquist
  • Published On Jun. 30, 2015 by TEJ
  • Mission Impossible: My brave escape from an Escape Room

    Escape Room - locked doorLast weekend I did something new and different. I tried a new adventure called an Escape Room. For the uninitiated, escape rooms are the latest fad activity in which they lock 8 to 14 people in a room. The group is given clues and puzzles to solve in order to make their escape. I’m a puzzle person.  Sounded like a fun outing.

    I invited thirteen of my closest, soon-to-be-ex-friends to join me. The theme of our escape room was Jules Verne’s classic novel, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Our mission: Find the key to escape before our submarine, the Nautilus, ran out of air.

    Being a natural-born leader, I assumed the part of legendary Captain Nemo and immediately took charge of this mission. I’m not sure precisely when the mutiny began. It might have been when I ordered my crew to report every five minutes with any new clues they had unearthed. Or maybe it was when I ordered them to swab the decks. Group morale is such a touchy thing.

    Turns out escaping from an escape room is an extremely difficult challenge. We had to solve a myriad of puzzles to unlock boxes, only to find inside even more enigmatic puzzles. As the Captain, I quickly came to two important realizations: 1) getting out of this escape room was going to require enormous brain power and concentration, and 2) I did not bring nearly enough money to bribe the staff to tell me what the clues meant.

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    • Adventures for sure. Too bad the participants didn't spend the next 30 minutes expelling the myths of their hopeful escape …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On May. 30, 2015 by TEJ
  • Fifty Shades of White

    50 shades of white - crayonsWhen I was first learning how to color in 1st grade, my art teacher taught us about red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black and white. Pretty much all the colors I’ve needed ever since. Then I got my first box of 64 Crayola crayons. It blew my mind. So many colors I had never imagined. One called Reddish Orange. Another one called Orangish Red. And Indian Red, which I could not in clear conscience draw with until they renamed it Native American Red.

    Recently I learned that Crayola has actually retired 34 colors – including Lemon Yellow, Teal Blue and Thistle. Did you know that for the rest of eternity there will never be anything drawn in either Burnt Umber or Magic Mint? And yet for reasons unfathomable to the normal brain, they continue to crank out that annoyingly wimpy color, Periwinkle.

    They’ve replaced the retired colors with nouveau-sounding ones like Asparagus, Bittersweet, Inch Worm and Tumbleweed. What the hell color is Inch Worm?

    It’s hard enough for my 8-color-palette brain to grasp the difference between Sage and Mint. More astonishingly, for all the colors in Crayola’s 64-color box, I’ve discovered there are literally hundreds of shades of white. When did that happen?

    My artist wife and I were discussing what color to paint her art studio. Apparently, it’s important that artist studios be painted in neutral tones like white – I have no idea why. I had suggested Bubble Gum Pink, but apparently that’s not quite neutral enough pour ma femme artiste. No, she insisted, it had to be a shade of white. A shade of white? Hmmm….

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    • There of course are "shades", then there are "tints" of the same colour. Try white balancing a landscape photo .... …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On May. 06, 2015 by TEJ
  • Welcome to

    Exciting news from, the world’s largest online match-making service. Since our launch in 1995, our goal has been to help men and women find their perfect someone. To date we have found matches for several million people – and successful matches for over 50 of them.

    But why should humans be the only ones supported in finding their soulmates? That’s why we are proud to announce our newest service:, the first online matchmaking service for cats. No longer will your favorite feline need to prowl the alley for a suitable mate. Check out some of our hottest kitties and subscribe your cat today. Who knows? Perhaps the kitten she’ll be smitten by is just a mouse click away.

    Catmatch - DustyDusty7045 – 11-year old female, Portland, OR

    Seeking male kitty for spooning on couch and cleaning fur 


    Relationship: Single – one owner.                    

    Body type: Furry, light shedder – mostly on my master’s pillow.

    Have kids? Yes, four, but they all disappeared at 8 weeks and I have no idea where they went.

    Litter box trained? Absolutely! (But sometimes I forget when I’m tired.)

    Favorite hobbies: Chasing red laser pointers, licking myself in my privates.       

    Favorite food: Ants, dust, rubber bands – pretty much anything I find on the kitchen floor. Oh, and my own vomit. But no one else’s – that would be gross! 

    More about me: If you like curling up on the bed for 18 – 20 hours a day, I may be just your girl. But don’t ask me to go outside. It looks terrifying out there.

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    • Ack!
  • Published On Apr. 08, 2015 by TEJ
  • Man Cave 2.0 – a wife-friendly version

    man cave - sports roomA successful marriage is all about compromise. In the interest of marital harmony, I learned early on that I needed to let my wife win a few negotiations now and then.

    In just a few weeks we will be moving to our dream house, by which I mean her dream house. Don’t get me wrong. I am sure I will love it, because that’s what she tells me. Of course, no guy’s dream house would be complete without a MAN CAVE.

    I had visions of the perfect man cave. I wanted to go beyond the ordinary items that every man includes in his private oasis – your know, basic things like a regulation-sized beer pong table, a dart board that curses in Spanish whenever a dart hits it, or a TV larger than the wall it is attached to. Those essentials are givens, of course.

    No, I was looking for something a little more exotic. Something that made a manly statement about me, Tim Jones, as a man! So I came up with my list of Tim’s Top 10 Must-Haves for His Man Cave:

    1. A jumbo-sized wall chart showing the proper operation of power tools – as demonstrated by hot girls in bikinis.
    2. A combination billiard / air hockey / foosball table that with the press of a button recedes into the floor.
    3. A Batman-style utility belt equipped with a potato chip dispenser, cheese-wiz canisters in six artificial flavors, and a holster for my burrito-firing bazooka.
    4. A beer tap in the shape of an elephant trunk – pull on left tusk for guacamole; right tusk for salsa.
    5. A bear rug – with grizzly in full roar – wearing a Seattle Seahawks helmet  (for a touch of class).
    6. A life-size wooden mermaid, salvaged from the prow of a pirate ship, just like the one that Blackbeard used to pry the cork from his rum by wedging the neck of the bottle in between her cleavage and twisting his wrist in a starboard direction.
    7. An oversized phone shaped like a football that makes a deafening crowd roar for thirty seconds whenever it rings.
    8. A giant aquarium – on the ceiling – that you can stare up at during commercial breaks in the game to watch manta rays swimming overhead.
    9. A wall-mounted animal head – anything with antlers. I’m thinking moose but am open to suggestions.
    10. A lava lamp. (I’ve always wanted one ever since 7th grade.)

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    • Tim, you are a man's man, and I mean that in a manly sort of way. Even your soft, …
      Seth Greenblatt
  • Published On Sep. 24, 2014 by TEJ
  • Loser for Hire

    Sports loser - TimI love playing sports. My friends love to play me in sports, too. For years I thought it was because they enjoyed my company. They later told me that I tend to get on their nerves. So why do they keep playing me? Answer: Because they love the thrill of victory, which they are assured of experiencing any time they play me – in any sport.

    Ya’ know that old expression “He’s a jack of all trades but a king of none”?  Well, I’m more like the three of clubs. You see, as much as I love sports, I’ve never really been that good at them.

    Case in point: I’ve played the same guy in tennis for 12 years. Let’s call him “Steve”, because, well, his name is Steve. In that 12 years, I can tell you the exact number of sets I have won against Steve. Exactly zero.

    I’ve been golfing with another friend for 15 years. I’ll just refer to him as “Kevin from Ballard” because I don’t feel it’s appropriate to reveal his last name here – but since I know you’re curious, it’s “Breecher.” I have never beaten Kevin Breecher in golf – ever. Every year he increases my handicap advantage. He now gives me 29 strokes. He still always wins. Last month, he offered to hit all his tee shots blindfolded. He won by five strokes.

    One thing my friends Steve and Kevin have in common – besides being annoying winners – is that they always feel better about themselves after trouncing me. It never gets old for them.

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    • As the loving wife of "Steve", I'll confess that Saturday afternoons after the "Tim and Steve tennis games" are a …
      Pam N
  • Published On Sep. 01, 2014 by TEJ