Twelve Teachers

Twelve Teachers

Top Row (L to R): My mom, my older brothers Bob and John Second Row: My sister Betsy, Bill Anderson, Steve Fisher Third Row: Dale Willman, Mark Gravel, Tim Fletcher Bottom Row: My elder daughter Rachel, my younger daughter Emily, and my wife and soulmate, Michele

Top Row (L to R): My mom, my older brothers Bob and John; Second Row: My sister Betsy, Bill Anderson, Steve Fisher; Third Row: Dale Willman, Mark Gravel, Tim Fletcher
Bottom Row: My elder daughter Rachel, my younger daughter Emily, and my wife and soulmate, Michele

Growing up, I had many dedicated teachers. A decades-belated thank you to Mrs. Perkins (4th grade), Mr. Nash (English), and General Verbeck (biology), and Mr. Vandenberg (Latin I, 2 and, thanks to my friend Steve Fisher, who knows what he did, Latin 3). My learning, however, did not end with my formal education. I have been blessed to have had many capable managers and mentors throughout my career. Thank you, Alan Horton, Jerry Parichy, Valerie Sanford, Chris Noble, and Cynthia Clay, to name a few.

As I look back over the past 65 years, I realize that some of the most impactful educators I’ve had have been family members and friends. There are twelve individuals who stand out as the most influential teachers in my life. This week’s column is about them.

My mom, Betty Clark (she remarried). At one month shy of turning 100 years old, she is, amazingly, still with us. A WW II veteran and mother of five, she endured a difficult marriage to a husband who suffered from serious, untreated mental illness and chronic anger management issues. She had the courage to leave this situation in an era when women did not seek divorce. Having not worked outside the home in 28 years, she set out to get a job and became a dietician at the VA. She reclaimed life by traveling to many countries, her favorite being Israel. Now in a nursing home, she rallies on, showing all around her that she still has a wit. She is always game for a good laugh – just check out her photo above, taken at age 97. People ask me, “Tim, why is it that you smile so much?” That’s simple. Thanks, mom.

Bob Jones. Our nine year age gap kept me from getting to know my oldest brother when I was young. But as I entered my career, we became re-acquainted by discussing career and life challenges. Bob became a “big brother” mentor to me and taught me the importance of understanding myself and my impact on others. From Bob, I learned to look for the positive in situations and people. As a result, throughout my career, I posted on my wall these words: “Catch them doing something right.”

John Jones. My second oldest brother, five years my senior, John was the All-American boy. Growing up, he was my role model. I wanted to be just like him. I still do. He is modest to a fault and has always been the rock of our family. When there was a crisis, John was the steady hand willing to intervene to calm the waters. Over time, I have come to appreciate how kind and caring a person John is – and funny. And he taught me to love sports and playing board games – I can’t forget about that!

Betsy Jones. I could write a book about my younger sister. She has been the editor of my blog these past 11 years. (I’ll be curious to see how she edits this description of her.) When we were little, because we were the two youngest, we became very close. She is the historian of my childhood, with a memory of details I had long forgotten. Nobody I know has endured more hardship and heartbreak than my sister. But every time she has been knocked down, she gets back up. Betsy is the most resilient person I have ever known – and one of funniest. She has an expanding universe of friends because like me, they see in her one of the most giving, selfless people you will ever find. [No edits. Thanks – Your editor] 

Bill Anderson. If you want to know why I sometimes (okay, usually) act like an 11-year-old, blame Bill. Bill is my oldest friend. We met in 4th grade because our dads were best friends. For the past five decades, Bill has reminded me of the importance of staying young at heart and not taking life too seriously. When we get together, we revert to high schoolers. Bill is a person of deep faith, and one of the most high-integrity people I have ever known. He has taught me, better than just about anyone else, the importance of working to maintain a close friendship, despite the physical distance between us most of our lives.

Steve Fisher. Some may ask where I developed my warped sense of humor. Look no further. Steve is the funniest person I have ever met. I launched this humor blog, in part, to honor him for teaching me how to make others laugh. We met in 7th grade and he has kept me howling with laughter ever since. Steve also taught me the meaning of courage. Ten years ago, he almost died from a devastating illness that left him with life-altering physical injuries. But through it all, he has demonstrated enormous courage and self-deprecating humor. Steve is my hero.

Dale Willman. Dale and I met early in our modeling careers. Yes, we were models, for a one-off fashion shoot, hired by a  mutual friend, for reasons neither of us will ever understand. Shortly after we met, my father died quite unexpectedly. Dale responded in a way that sealed our lifelong friendship: he came to the funeral. He turned out to be an unexpected source of strength that I leaned on in my time of grief. A journalist, Dale has worked and taught all over the world, and instilled in me the value of broadening my worldview. Like me, Dale has a small teddy bear called Grumpy that he takes to exotic places, although only my Grumpy has been to the North Pole (get over it, Dale).

Mark Gravel. I worked in the newspaper industry for 9 years and there is only one person I keep in touch with from that era: Mark. In addition to possessing a wickedly sharp sense of humor (he has co-written several of my humor articles), Mark loves doing surprises and practical jokes. But even more importantly, Mark exudes a genuineness, a kindness, and a deep desire to put the needs of others before himself. In the dictionary under the word “Gentleman” there should be a picture of Mark, for he truly is just that – even if he is Canadian, like my wife.

Tim Fletcher. I have always admired Tim’s first name. But beyond that, my soft-spoken friend is a remarkable dad. We became friends while working at an internet startup, When I was struggling with trying to unlock the mysteries of parenting my then teenage daughters, Tim repeatedly provided an understanding ear and wise counsel to help me become a better dad. For several years, Tim has grappled with a serious illness. But through it all, he has accepted his physical limitations with positivity, grace, and a stubborn refusal to be blocked from pursuing a full life.

Rachel Jones. From a young age, my elder daughter has demonstrated a strong independent streak. I will always remember when at four years of age, as I tried to help her, she insisted, “I do it myself, Daddy.” She became extremely self-reliant and responsible far beyond her age. Her sense of determination and her work ethic astound me, be it on the soccer field or pursuing her passion of becoming a nurse. Now 26 and a cardiology nurse, Rachel has matured into a confident, hardworking adult. Most inspiring is her deeply caring heart, for her patients, her family, and her cats (not sure in which order). She teaches me all the time what it means to put the needs of others before one’s own.

Emily Jones. When she was a teenager, she and her sister taught me the importance of patience in parenting. At 4’11” tall, Em has always been the shortest person in any group photo. But she’s never let that stop her from pursuing the highest of goals in life, and with a passion. She is fearless and doesn’t let obstacles deter her from her dreams. Extremely smart and resourceful, in college she once asked me, “Dad, do you know anybody at Space X?” Of course, I didn’t. Two days later, using just LinkedIn, she corralled an interview. A week later, Space X hired her in their elite intern program. Over the years, she has amazed me with her giving heart, often surprising my wife and me with the most extraordinary gifts out of the blue (including my very cool Space X shirt.)

Michele Rushworth. When we said our wedding vows, I told her, “I want to grow old with you.” Those words ring just as true 33 years later. I am proud of everything she has achieved with her art. She has helped to push me outside my comfort zone to try new things (even fish). A voracious reader, she has educated me about other cultures, history, and science. It was Michele who suggested we pursue international adoption. She had the idea for us to move to an island I had never heard of. And whatever I learned about being a caring, patient parent, I learned in great part from my best friend’s example. Our daughters could not have asked for a better mom. It has been a privilege and a joy to be growing old – that is, older – with my wife, Michele.

I have had many truly wonderful friends throughout my life, including many people who space constraints simply don’t permit me to mention. As I get older, I’ve learned that true wealth is measured not by the size of one’s bank account but by the number of meaningful friendships we have in life. On this scale, I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams. I owe a debt of gratitude I’ll never be able to repay to these twelve funny, kind, extraordinary teachers, and to others not mentioned (due to witness protection constraints). Thank you all.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones

Trump’s Termination Interview

Trump’s Termination Interview

[Author’s note:] Since 2015, I have written over 25 articles about Donald Trump alone. Click here, then under Index of Topics, find Trump to peruse these posts. It is my deepest hope to no longer feel compelled to compose about this man. He has taken up far too much real estate in my brain for the past four years. – TEJ] 

Now that President Trump has lost the election, View from the Bleachers has gained exclusive access to the official transcript of his termination interview with his boss, the American People.

The American People: Good afternoon, Mr. President. Please take a seat. We feel badly about this, but, well, our country has decided to let you go. Your final day of employment will be January 20th.

Donald Trump: Why are we even having this meeting? I clearly won the election. Everybody knows that.

People: We’ve been through this many times. As we have repeatedly told you, you did not win. Mr. Biden did.

Trump: FAKE NEWS! Everybody knows the election was rigged. If you don’t count all the people who illegally voted by mail, I won in a landslide – the biggest in history.

People: Sir, you’re getting worked up again. Would you like a bucket of KFQ to calm your nerves? Maybe a kitten?

Trump: They stole the election from me! It’s so unfair. With help from that thug Hugo Chavez and his Venezuelan voting machines, and Cuba and China and Spain and – 

People: Spain? That’s a new one. FYI, Mr. Chavez died in 2013. Besides, all the states have certified that the voting was fair. In fact, even the Department of Homeland Security says it was the most secure election in our nation’s history.

Trump: Well, the folks at Homeland Security were in on it, too. They allowed anybody to vote, even Democrats and blacks. So unfair. It’s all a hoax. Just ask all my Q-Anon followers on Twitter.

People: Donald, you cannot keep cycling through this ad nauseum – and it IS nauseating. We see that you’ve already posted seven rage tweets since this interview began. You really need to find a healthier outlet. Have you considered adult coloring books? They can be very relaxing.

Trump: Adult? Sure, I’ll grab a few. And some of these Sharpies, and my Oval Office stapler, too.

People: Donald, stop stuffing your pockets! Technically, these items belong to us. Put them back.

Trump: All of this belongs to me, including this building. I won it fair and square in 2016 – without any help from Vlad.

People: Still fixated on 2016, are we? Perhaps we were not clear enough at the outset of this meeting. We are letting you go. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you – AND WE – can move on.

Trump: You can’t fire me. I’m the only person who gets to say, “YOU’RE FIRED!”

People: As to that, we have reviewed your job performance extensively. The data doesn’t justify keeping you on any longer. You’re simply not up to the job.  The nation’s unemployment numbers are surging, the deficit is skyrocketing, all our allies are furious with you, and the COVID pandemic is spiraling out of control.

Trump: You mean the China Flu. Blame China. Totally not my fault.

People: Plus, we’ve received numerous anonymous complaints from your employees. They describe you as utterly incompetent. And that’s the most positive comment we’ve read.

Trump: Total radical leftist propaganda. Everybody who works here loves me – even the ugly ones. They all tell me I’m the greatest, handsomest, most stable genius president in history.

People: Well, the feedback from your subordinates says otherwise. They say you’re racist, foul-tempered, misogynist, corrupt, narcissistic, lazy, unwilling to read, and impulsive. They go on to say you’re divisive, mean-spirited, vindictive with  no attention span – Donald, are you even listening? Stop playing with your Trump superhero action figure and focus.

Trump: Those people, they’re are all losers – just like soldiers. I should have fired all of them the moment I hired them.

People: Mr. President, it’s clear you simply haven’t taken this job seriously. Most days you simply stay in your bedroom watching TV until well past noon. Our records indicate you have averaged over 30 lies per day. No other president has ever lied as incessantly as you. Furthermore, you spent over 300 days just golfing. Far over par. No other modern president comes close.

Trump: So, you’re saying I’m a high achiever. Finally, we agree on something. Most of those golf outings were charity tournaments.

People: We fact-checked that. Those “charity tournaments” you played in were to raise money for Trump University.

Trump: A great institution. Way better than Harvard. The Ivy League schools are all overrated.

People: Donald, we’re getting off track. Are there any Presidential decisions you made for which you wish you could have, to use a golf metaphor, a Mulligan? A do-over?

Trump: Like you said – my decisions were all presidential. A perfect presidency. Oh, wait. Picking Pence for my VEEP was ill-advised. Stupid advisors. I should’ve gone with Kristi.

People: Kristi Noem, the Governor of South Dakota? Why?

Trump: First, she adores me. Second, have you seen her? She’s a 10. Smokin’ hot bod. I bet I could have gotten her into the sack.

People: Eew. Any other regrets? How about how you separated Mexican children from their parents and put them in cages? Don’t you have even the slightest pang of guilt around that debacle?

Trump: Not my fault. If Nancy Pelosi and her gang of Congressional Communists had just let me build my wall in the first place, none of this would have happened. So, it’s totally Nancy’s fault – and Hillary’s. They are two NASTY women.

People: How about your handling of the Coronavirus pandemic? Over a quarter million people have died, even though you kept saying it would magically go away and that we were always turning the corner. 

Trump: Hey – I got through it fine. It was no biggie. If a quarter million morons can’t handle the common flu, that’s on them.  But Sleepy Joe totally dropped the ball. He did nothing these past 11 months to stop the spread.

People: He wasn’t the president, Donald.  You were! This is one of the many reasons why we decided to let you go.

Trump: Says who? I’ll decide when I go. Besides, I packed the Supreme Court with my justices. They owe me. So, I’m pretty sure I’m here to stay. “12 MORE YEARS. 12 MORE YEARS!”

People:  No. Like we said, your termination is effective January 20, 2021. On that date, you must evacuate the premises. President-Elect Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president. This is not up to you.

Trump preparing to board Marine One for the final time, after getting fired by the American People. The reasons given for his abrupt termination were many, but boiled down to this: “We (the American people) think you’d be happier selling condos, Donald.”

Trump preparing to board Marine One for the final time, after getting fired by the American People. The reasons given for his abrupt termination were many, but boiled down to this: “We (the American people) think you’d be happier selling condos, Donald.”

Trump: Fine. I’ll go. I’ll just put Jared and Ivanka in charge. They’ll do whatever I tell them to.

People: Donald, we don’t think you understand. We are evicting you – and your entire team, including Jared and Ivanka. You can move back to Mar-a-Lago. But you can’t stay here.

Trump: Well, in that case, I’m taking a few things with me. Because I was told that I get to keep them.

People: Uh, no, you cannot take that bust of Lincoln. Or the Resolute Desk. They belong to the people of the United States.

Trump: I carved my initials in the desk, so legally it’s mine now. And that lamp. And this toaster… and this set of steak knives…. and…

People: Oh, dear….. Security? Send a Secret Service detail to the Oval Office stat. We appear to have a bit of a problem.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Subscribe to my new View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones.

How to Create Your Own YouTube Channel in 386 Easy Steps

How to Create Your Own YouTube Channel in 386 Easy Steps

I recently launched my own YouTube channel. It will be a smashing success, just as soon as I convince Oprah to endorse it and Elon Musk to invest in it – or buy me out for $3 billion.

I recently launched my own YouTube channel. It will be a smashing success, just as soon as I convince Oprah to endorse it and Elon Musk to invest in it – or buy me out for $3 billion.

Recently I launched my very own YouTube channel. Why did I decide at the age of 65 to undertake such a daunting new challenge? Simple: I’m an idiot. To fully understand why I did this, I need to go back eleven years, to 2009. That’s when, on an otherwise uneventful August day, I did something unbelievably reckless: I listened to my wife.

She suggested I write a humor blog. Being an obedient husband, I did just that. 11 years, 450 articles and a few thousand frosted cinnamon pop tarts later, I’m still writing. I’d have been a millionaire by now, if only someone had offered me a million bucks – to stop writing. But no one did, so I’m still at it.

Not sure what my point was. Oh right, never listen to my wife. A few months ago, she had another brainstorm: “Hey, honey? Why don’t you start your own YouTube channel? Bring your favorite humor articles to life.” Being a slow learner, I did just that.

I spent sleepless nights pondering a name for my channel. I decided on – now this may surprise you – View from the Bleachers. Having perused the nearly 60 million YouTube channels out there, I noticed there is a serious shortage of juvenile humor content. I figured I’m just the person to fill this void.

This venture has made me a wiser man and I feel it incumbent upon me to share that wisdom. First, if you are even remotely toying with the notion of starting a YouTube channel, DON’T DO IT! If you are a glutton for nitpicking, critical feedback and flame comments from strangers who are easily offended about everything, then sure, go for it. However, to retain any shred of self-esteem, I recommend stamp collecting as a hobby instead.

If you’re still intent on pursuing your own YouTube channel, there are a few tidbits you need to attend to as you embark on your journey toward fame and fortune… and eventual disappointment and despair.

Step One: What is Your Channel About?

First things first. You need to decide on your focus. What do you want to communicate? Is it teaching orangutans to sew a quilt from jungle leaves? Helping inept husbands create gourmet meals without torching the kitchen? Or perhaps something even more futile, like teaching teenage texters the importance of punctuation.

Step Two: Get Your Equipment

Now that you’ve crystalized your message to the world, it’s time to blow your savings on the rudimentary gear needed to produce your incredibly fascinating video series on the history of Paper Mache. You need: a high-def camera, large green screen background, quality lighting and stands, lavalier microphone (a must-have), tele-prompter device (to scroll the script), video editing software program, an agent to promote you, an accountant to launder your vast earnings in the Caymans, and an attorney in case you get sued for copyright infringement. 

This is my recording studio. I’ve taken over our guest room. Can you tell what’s missing? You guessed it: a cat. Also, any chance of success with such a cutting-edge set.

This is my recording studio. I’ve taken over our guest room. Can you tell what’s missing? You guessed it: a cat. Also, any chance of success with such a cutting-edge set.

Step Three: Ask Friends for Input

Accept that you’ll no doubt make several rookie mistakes, like not noticing that your cat was licking its privates in the background through the entire shoot. Invite your friends to give feedback on initial test videos – on what works and what doesn’t. They’ll have no trouble with the latter, offering helpful advice, like, “Slow it down, dude! I can’t understand a word – not that I’m really interested” and “The lighting is way too dim. I can’t see your face – but your bald spot shines through” and “Do you have the slightest idea what the hell you’re doing?”

Step Four: Find New Friends

You’ll soon learn that everyone’s a critic and nothing you create measures up to your friends’ high standards. The most encouraging suggestions I’ve received so far have been: “We can’t all be winners” and “I’m sure you can find a buyer on eBay for all that equipment you blew your money on.” Who needs friends like these? Best to say adios to these dream killers. There are scores of folks eager to friend you on Facebook. Just don’t discuss politics. Trust me.

Step Five: Find a Video Editor

Creating a humor video is 20% humor writing and 80% technical wizardry. I already had a ton of content from my eleven years of writing. All I had to do was read it with some flair, right? Wrong. There is recording (1 hour), editing a five-minute video (five hours), removing all my verbal stumbles (3 more hours on a good take), locating background images, choosing theme music, and honing my acting skills. When it was all done, I noticed I had forgotten to wear pants. I needed a lot of help (in more ways than one).

There are services that will connect you with independent video editors who can do everything you need for incredibly reasonable prices. I found a very capable video editor in Pakistan. Oh, to be sure, he doesn’t understand English, and I can’t speak a word of Urdu, and all my videos end up running in reverse order. But he charges a very fair rate. And he says if I ever make it to Pakistan, he’ll let me ride his camel.

There are literally thousands of videos like this one, promising to reveal the hidden secrets to make your YouTube channel a success. All you need are some web tools to improve your keyword selection, creative social media strategies, and Stephen Colbert to host all your videos.

There are literally thousands of videos like this one, promising to reveal the hidden secrets to make your YouTube channel a success. All you need are some web tools to improve your keyword selection, creative social
media strategies, and Stephen Colbert to host all your videos.

Step Six: Learn How to Maximize Traffic

What good is having your own YouTube channel if nobody knows it exists? That’s why you should google topics like “What was I thinking starting a YouTube channel?” There you’ll find helpful tutorials explaining the 5,000 critical tasks guaranteed to propel your channel to the top 25 million most watched.

You have to learn about keyword maximization, search engine optimization, meta tags, and much more. Thankfully, there are tons of free tools out there to help build traffic to your new channel, just as soon as you upgrade to their Pro version for only $15 / month, or better still, the Platinum package for just $49.95 / month.

There are about 379 more steps, give or take, to optimize your channel’s one-in-a-million chances of going viral. Personally, I suggest just doing all your YouTube videos in the nude – especially if you’re Scarlett Johansson. I’m confident your channel will be trending in no time.

As for me, I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to make my new YouTube channel a tremendous success – unless someone wants to offer me $500 today to walk away. No reasonable offer will be refused.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Subscribe to my new View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones.

Where Did My Day Go?

Where Did My Day Go?

Every day it’s the same. I start out with optimistic plans of getting everything done and feeling good about my productivity. And every day ends with me asking the same question: What happened? How did everything go so so wildly off the rails?

Every day it’s the same. I start out with optimistic plans of getting everything done and feeling good about my productivity. And every day ends with me asking the same question: What happened? How did everything go so so wildly off the rails?

When I was in my forties, I routinely worked 55-hour weeks (commuting an hour each way), taxied my kids to soccer practices and dance recitals, mowed the yard, paid the bills, and worked out five nights a week (some things are sacred). I knew exactly where my day had to go, and I made sure it went there. Missions accomplished.

But now, at 65, I feel my days slipping away. Not from some morbid fixation on death, or from my compromised knees. Rather, each day flies by and I’ve done squat. I don’t get it. I’m semi-retired, working maybe 15 hours a week. The commute to my downstairs home office averages 60 seconds – longer if there’s a pileup of cats on the stairwell. Our kids are grown and drive themselves to practices and parties. So, what’s my problem?

To help keep myself on track, I developed the following daily regimen.

6:30am: Rise, shine, shower, shave, brush teeth, dress.

7:00am: Chug protein kale shake (while holding nose).

7:30am: Power through email, deleting all junk emails requesting political campaign donations (average 298 per day). Pay bills, perhaps.

8:00am: Work. Stay focused to finish by noon. Max 15 minute break.

Noon: Join wife for quinoa and chicken. Try to eat it.

12:30pm: Intense workout on elliptical and weights to enhance 2-pack.

1:30pm: Get some fresh air on brisk two-mile walk. Try not to get lost this time.

2:30: Read a book to broaden mind, such as on Paleolithic artforms. TV verboten.

5:00: Cook healthy dinner of legumes, tilapia, salad. Try to feel full without dessert.

This is how I see my day beginning: working on my core, followed by 45 minutes on the elliptical, energizing me to work productively. The reality is that I’m lucky if I have energy to put on gym clothes before running out of steam and watching a rerun of The Office. At least I’m thinking about the office.

This is how I see my day beginning: working on my core, followed by 45 minutes on the elliptical, energizing me to work productively. The reality is that I’m lucky if I have energy to put on gym clothes before running out of steam and watching a rerun of The Office. At least I’m thinking about the office.

6:00pm: Feed cats, scoop litterbox. Tidy up house. Resist urge to shove laundry under bed.

7:00pm: Chill with cats, Buddy and Zippy. Watch intellectually stimulating film with Michele.

9:00pm: Check Facebook feed (only once daily!)

10:00pm: Brush teeth, floss, bedtime. Reflect on accomplishments of the day.

Care to guess how many times I’ve adhered to this schedule (in reality, not just in my dreams)?  Yup! Right down there with the number of successful Titanic oceanic crossings. I don’t know why, but every single solitary day I deviate widely from this plan – through no fault of my own, I’m sure. To get to the bottom of this conundrum, I decided to log each minute of my day. Surely such a study would reveal who or what keeps derailing me.

Reality (bites):

6:30am: Hit snooze button. 6:30 is an ungodly time to get up. I can barely open one eye, let alone rise and shine. Roll over. Sleep another hour.

7:30am: Shuffle downstairs in PJs. Trip over cats. Forget to shave, shower, or brush teeth. Log onto computer to check email and Facebook feed. Congratulate Norman on his 75th birthday. (Personally, I thought he would have kicked the bucket years ago.)

8:30am: Scarf bowl of Apple Jacks. Must be healthy cuz’ it has the word “apple” right in the name. Turn on CNN for latest news. Something about President Trump’s plans to prosecute every Democratic governor and mayor for treason. IOW,  another normal news day.

9:30am: Start workday (90 minutes behind schedule). Plan to make up time by punting laundry for yet another day.

9:35am: Come across YouTube video about a cat that has learned how to snowboard. Hilarious. Post it to Facebook and Instagram.

9:40am: Resume working.

9:50am: Receive SOS from neighbor to borrow pressure washer. Meet them at my garage. Engage in lively discussion about Trump’s plans to build another border wall – around the White House.

10:20am: Return to work.

10:55am: Consider shaving. Get distracted by unusual bird outside window. Ponder its species. Check bird book. Looks like a black-bellied plover or maybe a Pacific golden plover. While away 20 minutes researching the answer. Yeah, I knew it. Definitely a black-bellied plover.

11:25am: Back to work. Focus, Tim. Focus!

11:40am: Turn on Amazon Echo. “Alexa, play music by Elton John.”  Internal debate over whether the Rolling Stones would be better background music for working.

11:55am: Observe how cute Zippy looks lying in that tiny box. Decide he needs pats because he’s been such a good boy. He hasn’t peed on the carpet by my desk all morning.

Noon: Lunch. Michele’s already eaten. I’m too tired to grill chicken. Looks like it’s another PB&J lunch day. There’s protein in Skippy peanut butter, right?

12:30am: Return to my desk. Stare at computer.

12:35pm: Receive Snapchat from daughter Rachel describing her next trip abroad. Daydream about Costa Rica.

1:05: Wonder if they have Cable in Costa Rica – which reminds me – did I pay the cable bill? Check bank account. Paid!  Phew. Notice $50 charge for Wonder Waffles. What the heck?!

1:15pm: Take quick peek at Facebook. There’s a breaking WA Post story: Trump plans to purchase the Falklands and rename them the Trumplands. Think silently to self, “Perhaps he’ll move there when he loses.”

1:30pm: Take a brisk walk to mailbox. Exhausted, decide it’s time for a nap.

When in my 30’s and 40’s, I was full of energy and focused on powering efficiently through my daily To-Do list. Nowadays, it’s an accomplishment just to create a To-Do List, let alone do anything on it.

When in my 30’s and 40’s, I was full of energy and focused on powering efficiently through my daily To-Do list. Nowadays, it’s an accomplishment just to create a To-Do List, let alone do anything on it.

2:30pm:  Contemplate working out – which would require getting dressed and tying sneakers. Too much of a hassle. Maybe tomorrow.

2:35pm: Think about work. Guilt paralyzes me.

3:00pm. Call it a day. Collapse onto couch and pat Buddy. He’s feeling ignored. Nod off again.

4:00pm: Snack time. Fleeting thoughts of fresh fruit. Opt for Cookie Dough ice cream instead. Begin diet tomorrow.

4:10pm: Gaze at book on coffee table about Paleolithic artforms. Reach for remote instead. Catch the latest breaking news story from CNN: Trump has decided to replace Mike Pence as his VP with the My Pillow Guy. Think to self, “I did NOT see that coming.”

6:10pm: Catch glimpse of clock and realize I’ve been glued to CNN for two hours. A recipe for stress. Time for a dinner of comfort food. Surprise Michele with a pepperoni & sausage pizza delivery. With a large Mountain Dew.

7:00pm: Get cozy on couch with Michele, Buddy and Zippy. “Watch” action thriller flick while texting buddy Steve about Seahawks game. Apologize to wife for not being fully present with her.

9:00pm: Time for bed. Wait! Did I feed the cats? Probably not. Guess that’ll have to wait till tomorrow.

Where did my day go?

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones.

The New Rules of Texting

The New Rules of Texting

When it comes to texting, it’s a brave new world. No one under the age of 30 uses punctuation anymore. And why type in coherent sentences, when a confused face, a unicorn, and a wine glass emoji say it all?

When it comes to texting, it’s a brave new world. No one under the age of 30 uses punctuation anymore. And why type in coherent sentences, when a confused face, a unicorn, and a wine glass emoji say it all?

I feel bad. Earlier today, I did something very hurtful – and to my own daughter, no less. I sent her a terribly insensitive text. What was the hostile, insulting thing I wrote? “Hope you’re doing well. Would love to see you sometime soon.”

I feel sick about what I’ve done. As my daughter explained it, I was bullying her and being demanding – both clearly conveyed by my use of a period at the end of each sentence. You read correctly. The  period(.) also telegraphed anger and that I wished to end this text exchange.

How rude of me! After all, my daughter has a lot on her plate with work and grad school. After apologizing profusely and asking if she could ever find it in her heart to forgive me for my heartless affront, I asked her to enlighten me about any other texting rules that perhaps I had been routinely violating without knowing it.

Oh, I’m aware of a few do’s and don’ts. I know you shouldn’t type out novels (but I do it anyway – partly just to annoy my kids). I also learned that the use of ALL CAPS is considered SHOUTING and is frowned upon. BUT I DON’T CARE!! That said, after my daughter stopped reading my 200-word soliloquy about all the things I’m grateful for as her dad, she texted back: TEXTING PROTOCOLS HAVE EVOLVED DAD  GET WITH THE PROGRAM

According to my daughter, and the newly abridged millennial version of Elements of Style, when it comes to texting etiquette, I’m stuck in the Pleistocene Era. Who knew that nowadays it’s “bad form” to use any punctuation when texting? Here I thought I was with the times texting my kids rather than telephoning, when actually I’ve been driving them crazy with my constant barrage of commas, apostrophes, and in-your-face use of question marks.

Apparently, not only is a period interpreted as a command, but also as a blow off. And exclamation marks?! Tread carefully there. Did you know that using a single exclamation mark means you’re being sarcastic? Me neither! I mean me neither. However, two exclamation marks is fine. But stop at two. Because three !!!’s is over-the-top irritating. It means you’re being a drama queen, so take it down a notch, sister!!

The use of capital letters is also something to avoid at all costs, especially if the word is normally meant to be capitalized. Never text “New York” when “new york” (or better still, “ny”) will suffice. Evidently, proper grammar and syntax are indicators you’re a total nerd who is just not woke enough for today’s under-30 crowd.

Let me give an example. Normally, I might be inclined to text my daughter, “Hi, Rachel. Did you have a good day at work? I can’t wait to see you when you come to Camano Island. Call me soon, if you have a chance, okay? Love you!” First of all, the period clearly showed I was ordering her to come home. Then the derisive single exclamation mark made a mockery of my love for her. And all those capitals!! The correctly written text would have looked like this: “hi rachel did you have a good day at work i cant wait to see you when you come to camano island call me soon if you have a chance okay love you”

Better still, eliminate all those time-wasting vowels: “hi rchl dd u hv a gd dy at wrk cnt wt 2 c u whn u cme 2 cmn islnd cll me sn k lv u”

That’s better. But if you really want to be respectful of your kids’ communication preferences, you should eliminate those pesky adjectives, adverbs, and nouns – young people can’t be bothered to read complete thoughts. That’s so 1990’s. They are way too busy checking out Instagram or Tinder to wade through your meandering message.

Young people today are extremely busy. They don’t have time to make eye contact, let alone call their parents. If you really need to get their attention, send a text – but keep it to under eight words, please. They don’t have all day.

Young people today are extremely busy. They don’t have time to make eye contact, let alone call their parents. If you really need to get their attention, send a text – but keep it to under eight words, please. They don’t have all day.

Technically, if you truly want to adhere to the official guidelines of texting civility in this brave new world we live in, bail on the notion of sending your child a text in the first place. After all, you texted her a mere two weeks ago. Back off!! You’re starting to crowd her, dude.

In summary, when texting one of your under-age-30 offspring, remember these helpful DON’T’s:

DON’T drone on and on. Get to the point.

DON’T SHOUT at them with angry periods and in-your-face ALL CAPS.

Wherever possible, DON’T use words when texting. I’m sure there’s a four-emoji chain that can clearly communicate, “I won’t be able to make it to your place before 7pm because I’m stuck in traffic, so could you order us a veggie pizza?”

DON’T expect them to spellcheck their texts. So what if your college graduate’s text auto-corrected to change “I’m putting up my prius for sale” to “I’m putting up my penis for sale.” You should know what he meant.

DON’T text your kids too frequently. Once a month seems slightly excessive but within the margins of millennial social norms.

DON’T force them to wade through yet another adjective-laden tome about your recent home remodeling project. They won’t be spending any time at home when they come to visit you at Christmas anyway, so why are you telling them this stuff?

Most important of all, DON’T expect a reply – EVER. Your kids have far more important things to do than to keep in touch with their parents.

Be patient. Just wait till they turn forty and have self-absorbed teenagers of their own. Then they’ll be texting you night and day (begging for your parenting advice). And their kids will mock them as so passé. After all, fifteen years from now, who’d be caught texting? That’s so 2020.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

Subscribe to my new View from the Bleachers YouTube Channel and request notifications to see my latest videos.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones.