Here’s a number that might scare you: $17,746,662,973. That’s almost 18 trillion dollars, give or take a few hundred billion. That’s the current estimate of our national debt according to the OMB (Office of Management and Budget).
Here’s a slightly smaller but equally frightening number: $1 million. That’s the amount our nation’s debt is expanding – per minute. The clock is ticking. Economic experts estimate that our national debt will increase by another $10 trillion in the next decade. And I thought I was bad about managing my money. I look like Ebenezer Scrooge compared to Uncle Sam.
Depressed? Don’t be. Because I have a brilliant solution to our nation’s debt crisis. And it doesn’t involve painful tax hikes, closing down your favorite park or eliminating daily delivery of your mail.
As many of you know, I (often imagine that I) am a highly sought-after, award-winning, Harvard-educated economist. I won’t drone on about my many notable achievements in the fields of econometrics or applied macro-economic asset price modeling theory (because I have no idea what those words mean). Suffice to say, I took both Econ-201 and Econ-202 Pass-Fail in my second year of college.
I have successfully balanced my personal checkbook 8 of the past 12 months. And I have completely paid off our family’s credit card debt on all but 5 of our 17 credit cards. I saved $4,000 by the time I was 18 years old by doing summer jobs, and I didn’t blow it all until late spring of my freshman year of college (hey, I needed a new stereo system). So when I say I have a solution for the nation’s debt crisis, I think my credentials speak for themselves.
A 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:
- A jumbo-sized wall chart showing the proper operation of power tools – as demonstrated by hot girls in bikinis.
- A combination billiard / air hockey / foosball table that with the press of a button recedes into the floor.
- 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.
- A beer tap in the shape of an elephant trunk – pull on left tusk for guacamole; right tusk for salsa.
- A bear rug – with grizzly in full roar – wearing a Seattle Seahawks helmet (for a touch of class).
- 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.
- An oversized phone shaped like a football that makes a deafening crowd roar for thirty seconds whenever it rings.
- A giant aquarium – on the ceiling – that you can stare up at during commercial breaks in the game to watch manta rays swimming overhead.
- A wall-mounted animal head – anything with antlers. I’m thinking moose but am open to suggestions.
- A lava lamp. (I’ve always wanted one ever since 7th grade.)
I love my kids. That’s why, when they were young, I made a point to lie to them every chance I could. As any experienced parent knows, you need to lie to your young, impressionable children to help prepare them for their lives as adults – and to help you forge a trusting relationship with them.
Parents who care about their young children start lying to them early in their formative development – ideally while their offspring are still in the womb. Don’t wait until they’re in middle school. By then your chronic pattern of honest communication will likely have caused irreparable damage.
There are many reasons we adults lie to each other: to get out of cleaning the garage despite your wife’s nagging about it for the past three months; to deny that you scarfed down the last piece of your wife’s birthday cake; or maybe to hide the fact that you were really golfing when I, er, I mean you, told the wife you were helping a buddy move. Of course, there are also bad reasons for lying, but at the moment, they escape me.
But when it comes to children, caring parents know that lying is a way to avoid crushing their kids’ self-esteem. It’s not your job to destroy your child’s hopes and dreams by dispelling the myths of their childhood. That’s their future therapist’s responsibility. Your job is to keep telling your kids whatever you need to, to get them to behave, brush their teeth and maybe, just maybe, not kill the family cat, Bonkers.
I’ve lived in Seattle for over twenty years and I still love it here. It’s known by various nick names: Jet City (because of all the Boeing jets built here) and The Emerald City (because of all the greenery). Personally, I prefer Drip City because it’s more accurate, thanks to all the rain and the fact that at last count there were at least 1,542 Starbucks locations in downtown Seattle alone.
For many people in the eastern two-thirds of the country, Seattle is this mysterious, faraway place they only know about from Sleepless in Seattle. But there is so much more to this city than a spunky Meg Ryan (although let’s not understate Meg’s importance).
Let me debunk a few myths about my adopted city:
- Myth: It rains here all the time. That is simply not true. The weather here is gloriously sunny and mild with zero humidity – if you happen to be here in August. Otherwise, yeah, it does rain a fair bit.
- Myth: The sun vanishes for nine months of the year, from October through June. Again, utter hyperbole. There are many winters where you may see the sun for long stretches of time – usually during the second week of August.
- Myth: It is so damp here that the roofs of most houses are covered in thick moss. Actually, it’s more like a light dusting. And this also goes for the dusting of moss you’ll typically find on our lawns, driveways, patio furniture, and any toddler who has been left out in the backyard for more than 45 minutes.
I 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.
I have a confession to make. While technically speaking, I was raised in a Presbyterian household, I am sure that my parents secretly must have been practicing Catholics. Because for my entire adult life, no matter how hard I tried, I never felt my efforts were good enough. I’ve always felt guilty. Especially when it comes to parenting.
When our two girls were toddlers, I mainly swung between three emotional states: totally overwhelmed, utterly exhausted and constantly feeling guilty. That guilt was usually caused by my feeling so overwhelmed and exhausted. When I became so sleep-deprived that I simply had to take a nap, I felt guilty for napping. I mean, a good dad would surely tough it out and watch a Sponge Bob video with the kids – for the 475th time. What kind of dad was I! For shame.
I felt guilty about my job in a dot-com start-up where for years I routinely worked 75-hour weeks. For some periods, I was essentially an absentee parent until the weekend arrived. And on those rare occasions when I was able to leave work before 6pm, I felt guilty because all the other managers (who were all 15 years younger, single and child-free) would still be there well past 8pm.
I felt guilty that my wife unfairly bore the burden of most of the household chores, not to mention the 4am feedings and diaper-changes. And by the time I finally got around to pulling my share of changing our girls’ diapers, I felt guilty that it took me so long to pitch in. I suspect that on some level our girls probably resented the delay in my efforts, too, especially because they were seven and six years old by that time.
When Orville Wright first took flight over the beaches of Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903, he couldn’t have imagined that a century later, millions of people the world over would be getting into shouting matches with ticket agents, security screeners and baggage handlers over the nearly universal frustration caused by his invention. Thanks for the 12-inch gash in the side of my Louis Vuitton suitcase, Orville.
Singapore, New Delhi, and Buenos Aires are just a few of the famous world cities I will probably never get to visit because I refuse to put up with the headaches required to fly there. Also because, like most Americans, I’m not sure exactly where those cities are on a map. (I think New Delhi might be in Belgium.)
But sometimes air travel is unavoidable. If you simply must book a flight, here are a few helpful tips to reduce your stress level. These just might help you resist your urge to strangle the Delta Airlines ticket agent in Concourse C.
Booking your flight – Choosing the right airline
The first rule of air travel is simple: Don’t fly if you can possibly avoid it. But if you absolutely must fly, for example, to attend a family reunion, I recommend Qantas, the official airline of Australia. The last time Qantas had a fatality was in 1951. Of course, if your family reunion is in say, Chicago, you may need to make a couple connections through Sydney, Tokyo and New York. But you will arrive there safely, albeit two days later than the rest of your family, who opted for the nonstop on United.
BLACKSBURG, VA – A newly released longitudinal study reveals potentially upsetting news for millions of white Americans. The shocking conclusions: Black Americans are getting happier – much happier.
The study by the University of Pennsylvania, tracking the “happiness gap” between black and white Americans since the 1970s, reports that the gap has dramatically narrowed in recent years to the slimmest margin since the study’s beginnings. Fortunately for white Americans, they are, on average, still happier than their black counterparts – but not by much.
Even more alarming is the study’s finding that while blacks’ happiness has progressively improved over the past four decades, whites’ happiness has steadily declined. A spokesman for the National Association for the Advancement of Non-Colored People (NAANCP) argues that there can only be one conclusion to draw from this study: that over the past forty years, blacks have been deliberately and systematically stealing happiness away from whites, without even asking permission or giving so much as a thank you kindly, leaving millions of white Americans outraged and nervous about their futures.
The study’s researchers claim there are other plausible theories for why blacks are getting happier: higher income levels, increased educational opportunities, a significant decline in lynchings, and dramatic strides in career advancement, all of which have fueled greater optimism about their future. In fact, in most states, blacks rarely have to fear getting arrested simply for sitting next to a white person at a Denny’s (with the notable exception of Mississippi and parts of Arkansas). “Why are black people in such a hurry to have more happiness?” asked NAANCP spokesman, Ferry White. “They stopped being slaves a long time ago. What more do they want, anyway?”
Great news, everybody. ESPN just announced it’s now broadcasting coverage of cricket. No, I’m not talking about televising small insects chewing through leaves – although granted, for many people, that might represent a more appealing TV-viewing option. I’m talking about the sport of cricket. If you’re someone who finds bowling on TV too exciting, or if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to enter into a self-induced coma, cricket could be just your ticket.
I’m not exactly sure why ESPN decided to start covering cricket. Perhaps ESPN’s International-Sports-Nobody-Gives-a-Rat’s-Ass-About Channel wasn’t able to get the programming rights for Equestrian Dressage. Or perhaps it came down to making a difficult choice between televising cricket versus broadcasting five hours of dead air.
Cricket is a sport that has been around for centuries. According to legend, it was first played during the early Pleistocene Era, in a match pitting the Leicester Clubbers against the always feisty Sussex Wooly Mammoths. The point is, it’s a very old game. Cricket is a lot like baseball – just slower-paced and without gloves or bases or David Ortiz Bobble Head Night or any coherent explanation for what is going on out there. Like baseball, it has a pitcher (which they call a bowler) and a batter (called a batsman). And like baseball, the main objective for most fans watching the game is to get as drunk as possible in order to keep their mind off the fact that the game in front of them is mind-numbingly dull.
It seems every week there is a new study about yet another popular food staple that has been linked to cancer or heart disease. It’s all very confusing. First experts tell you that grape juice is a heart-healthy beverage. Then other experts claim that it’s bad for you (containing as much sugar as soft drinks).
As one of the nation’s leading nutrition experts, I have compiled a comprehensive list of unhealthy foods. Avoid these foods and you should be able to lead a long and healthy life – assuming, of course, you don’t live in Afghanistan, Somalia or Detroit, in which case all bets are off.
FOODS TO AVOID
Cake, cookies, candy and ice cream. When I first discovered that these foods were considered unhealthy, it came as quite a blow. For years I had considered these to be the four basic food groups. But apparently no longer. They are all high in sugar, carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fat. Avoid these at all costs – unless you prefer to be happy.