NFL Rules Changes in Light of COVID

NFL Rules Changes in Light of COVID

For the upcoming NFL season, the Commissioner and team owners are leaving NOTHING to chance to protect players, coaches and staff – except for the minor suggestion from the CDC that the NFL shut down completely until a vaccine is available, which suggestion they duly ignored.

For the upcoming NFL season, the Commissioner and team owners are leaving NOTHING to chance to protect players, coaches and staff – except for the minor suggestion from the CDC that the NFL shut down completely
until a vaccine is available, which suggestion they duly ignored.

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore! This Coronavirus has gone too far! First it closed down the stores and I’ve been forced to shop on Etsy. Then the schools close and kids are climbing the walls. Next it’s “social distancing so I can’t even snuggle with my cats. I thought we’d hit rock bottom with “No Mask – No Entry.” I was wrong.

Every Autumn, the National Football League gears up for its regular season. But this year, there won’t be very much that’s “regular” about it. Starting with the elimination of all pre-season games, the NFL has decided to implement some unsettling, even draconian procedural changes to ensure the protection of players, coaches, and attractive female sideline reporters. Here are just a few changes you’ll be seeing this year, thanks to COVID:

Safe Social Distancing

Following the distancing guidelines of the CDC and the World Health Organization, all NFL players will be required to maintain at least six feet of separation at all times during practices and games. On the downside,  as a practical matter, all blocking and tackling will, of necessity, be prohibited.

On the upside, fans may witness some of the highest scoring games in NFL history. ESPN commentators contend that the record for most points racked up in a single season (606 by the 2013 Denver Broncos) is in jeopardy of being shattered. Some predict Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes alone could eclipse that lofty milestone by halftime in his team’s season opener.

Accidental Contact

Replacing the traditional penalty for unnecessary roughness will be a new yellow flag for unnecessary contact. If a player is caught making contact of any kind, even incidental, with any other player, this violation will result in a 15-yard penalty. In addition, both players will be required to remain in quarantine for 14 days. Some worry this could also have a chilling effect on high-fives and chest bumps after touchdowns.

Honor System for Tackling

Defensive players who feel they would, under normal circumstances, have been able to tackle an offensive player but for the social distancing policy, will be permitted to submit a written appeal to the referee within five minutes from the conclusion of the previous play. At that point, game officials will then have up to 15 additional minutes to review play footage from fifteen different angles to determine whether such a tackle would have been more likely than not. If the defender wins his challenge, the ball will be returned to the spot of the otherwise probable tackle – and the defender will be permitted to issue a profanity-laced tirade of smack talk about his opponent’s athletic failings and the ref’s incompetence (while maintaining a safe social distance).

Protective Field Shield

Borrowing an ingenious solution from grocery store checkout counters, the NFL has announced that as an added level of safety, officials will lower a giant 10-feet tall plexiglass screen onto the line of scrimmage before every play. This impenetrable partition, running the entire width of the field, will ensure no players run the risk of exposure to an opposing team player, not to mention virtually eliminating all offsides infractions.

Ball Replacement

After every play, footballs will be incinerated, replaced by a new ball delivered in a hermetically-sealed wrapper. For added safety, runners and wide receivers who come in contact with the pigskin will be required to report to the team’s medical tent until they have been cleared by a team physician with a negative COVID test result.

League officials have a backup plan if too many players get infected: Hamster Ball football. Healthcare experts claim it’s an ideal way to keep players safe. Some are skeptical, arguing it might cause increased difficulty throwing or catching the ball.

League officials have a backup plan if too many players get infected: Hamster Ball football. Healthcare experts claim it’s an ideal way to keep players safe. Some are skeptical, arguing it might cause increased difficulty throwing or catching the ball.

Hand Sanitization

Players will be required to wash their hands after each down. To facilitate this and avoid delay of game penalties, all players will be provided with fanny packs pre-loaded with Purell dispensers and hand wipes.

Facemasking Penalty

This penalty has been redefined for the upcoming 2020-21 season. Henceforth, players will receive a facemasking penalty if they are found standing in the huddle – or on the sidelines – or in the locker room – or on the team flight home – without wearing an N95-approved facemask. This will be a league-imposed sanction requiring players to continue wearing an N95 facemask until the following game.

Sudden Death Overtime

If two teams are tied at the end of regulation, overtime will be handled differently this season. In order to reduce the risk of extended player-to-player exposure, the league will direct the coaches from both teams to compete at midfield in a head-to-head X-Box match-up of Madden NFL 20. The first video team to score will be declared the winner of that day’s contest, with the winning coach permitted to select one X-Box game player from the opposing team for their fantasy football league.

Locker Room Sterilization Measures

Locker rooms are super spreader environments for germs and bacteria. Therefore, as a precaution, all locker rooms will be permanently sealed up. This year, players will take turns standing naked on the artificial turf, as teammates spray them down with a garden hose and disinfectant.

Determining the League Champion

This season, league officials have decided to forego the Super Bowl for the first time in its history. Taking its place, the league champion will be determined by which team has the greatest number of uninfected players remaining at the end of the 16-game season – that is, assuming any team makes it that far.

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

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

Other Masks We Need

Other Masks We Need

Now that it’s widely accepted that wearing masks can stop the spread of COVID, researchers are exploring new applications of mask technology. Take this DAD mask – designed to prevent the transmission of embarrassing comments from suburban dads who think they are way cooler than they are.

Now that it’s widely accepted that wearing masks can stop the spread of COVID, researchers are exploring new applications of mask technology. Take this DAD mask – designed to prevent the transmission of embarrassing comments from suburban dads who think they are way cooler than they are.

The widespread use of face masks has helped to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus around the world. Properly fitted N-95 and surgical masks catch microbes which people expel in a plume of air and droplets when we cough, sneeze, talk, or simply breathe. By wearing masks, we protect others from potentially dangerous infection.

The successful use of face masks against the pandemic has inspired scientists and public health professionals to look at further applications of mask technology to prevent the spread of other dangerous human expulsions across a wide array of personal interactions. Here are just a few of the exciting new applications currently under development.

Dad masks

These specially engineered masks have been designed to prevent the expulsion of embarrassing comments by fathers in the presence of their teenage children. In tests at the University of Maryland, these masks proved up to 75 percent effective in reducing the audibility of such cringe-worthy comments as, “So, what is this TikTok thing I’ve been hearing about? Is it a smart watch?” or “Hey, that band K-Pop is really awesome!” or “I finally learned the moves to the Macarena. Check this out.”

Wife masks

Infused with an amnesia agent, when properly worn by a nagging spouse, this mask causes total memory blockage of all of hubby’s flaws. No more tirades of “Get off the damn couch and do your chores!” or “Who cares about the Seahawks anyways?!”  The agent wears off within 30 minutes after wives return to normalcy. Comes with an optional extender that covers the eyes, making it nearly impossible to detect exasperated eye rolls. Potential side effects include increased anxiety about the wearer’s weight and an inability to decide which earrings to wear. 

Trump Shock masks

We wear masks not only to protect ourselves but also to protect others – in this case, misguided Trump fanatics. No longer will they have to endure the daily outbursts of shock and outrage by liberals over the latest inflammatory tweets by our not-so-esteemed President. With this mask, exclamations such as “Oh my God, did you hear what he said about Muslims!?” come out like “Ermgrd drdurrr wresrrd abr mrzms!?” thereby saving the feelings of white supremacists and the lives of liberals.

MAGA SUPPORTER mask – worn exactly how the 45th president recommends it be worn. (Not recommended for rational adults with the ability to think logically or spell complex words like “cat.”)

MAGA SUPPORTER mask – worn exactly how the 45th president recommends it be worn. (Not recommended for rational adults with the ability to think logically or spell complex words like “cat.”)

MAGA masks

Healthcare lab techs are developing a mask which will render MAGA believers invisible to normal adults. Still in early stages of R&D, it will feature a cloaking device activated the moment the MAGA mask wearer utters a moronic comment in support of his lord and master, thus sparing the rest of us having to look at the misguided sot. They are also working on an audio cloaking device, so you won’t have to listen to MAGA rants either, such as, “Trump’s the greatest president ever for blacks – better than Lincoln.” Not recommended for kids, as wearing it may make them harder to locate in a crowd. Mask comes with a safety disclaimer: “Please wear responsibly – which we realize may be an oxymoron.”

Zoom masks

The videoconferencing app Zoom has helped friends, family and business colleagues stay in touch during the pandemic while social distancing. However, it has also transformed mores of social propriety. Users have been recorded wearing no pants and proclaiming, “Thanks to this quarantine, I haven’t taken a shower in weeks.” While not actually preventing such divulging of TMI, wearing the Zoom mask acts as a reminder to think before exposing too much of yourself.

Small Children on Long Car Trip masks

While we love our kids, we don’t always love their incessant babbling and bickering on long road trips shouting, “I need to go – NOW!” and “Brittany keeps poking me! Mom, make her stop!” With this mask, these problems disappear completely. An ingenious filter inserted into the lining delivers a child-safe dosage of propofol – just  enough to knock out your little angel for eight whole hours. Kid-friendly designs include Buzz Lightyear, Elsa, and for teens, the popular Hannibal Lecter.

Soccer Player Furious for Getting a Yellow Card masks

The ALIEN FACEHUGGER mask. In addition to preventing the spread of the Coronavirus, it offers the added ability to prevent any intimate contact with the opposite sex.

The ALIEN FACEHUGGER mask. In addition to preventing the spread of the Coronavirus, it offers the added functionality of preventing any intimate contact with the opposite sex.

All too often, professional soccer players get ejected because they mouthed off at the referee after receiving a yellow card. Now they need never fear ejection. That’s because this mask is equipped with a built-in translation microchip that converts their obscenity-laced tirade into soft-spoken compliments. The next time Manchester United’s left midfielder gets yellow carded for tripping and shouts, “Hey, ref! Sod off, you bloody dim-witted arse! Get your fuckin’ eyes checked, you rat bastard”, what the referee hears instead is, “Mr. Ref, sir, you made the right call. I will mend my ways henceforth. Keep up the great job.” Available in Cockney, Scot, Italian and Bronx accents.

Comic-Con masks

Comic-Con is the biggest event of the year for people who have never dated. It’s where thousands of comic book fans converge to swap memorabilia and listen to celebrities tell them to please, for the love of God, get a life. This mask doesn’t really have a purpose – much like the Comic Con fanatics who wear them. But it comes in a variety of Superhero versions, including The Hulk, Captain America, and Ant Man (available only in XXXXXX Small).

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

This week’s post was written in collaboration with my longtime friend and fellow humor writer, Steve Fisher. Steve lives in Prague, Czech Republic, where he has been an actor and writer for the past 28 years. He has published three collections of his satirical stories which appeared from 2012-2016 as a regular column in the weekly Czech magazine Reflex under the banner “Američan v Praze” (“An American in Prague”).

 

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.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

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

Announcing a New, Politically Correct Name for the Washington Redskins

Announcing a New, Politically Correct Name for the Washington Redskins

This helmet has been at the center of a heated controversy for years. Many people feel the name “Redskins” is an offensive stereotype for millions of Native Americans. There have been many calls for a less offensive team name. One suggestion which I suspect might not get the nod: The “Washington Negroes.”

This helmet has been at the center of a heated controversy for years. Many people feel the name “Redskins” is an offensive stereotype for millions of Native Americans. There have been many calls for a less offensive team name. One suggestion which I suspect might not get the nod: The “Washington Negroes.”

Thanks in part to the Black Lives Matter protests, media attention has recently turned to the controversial name of the NFL football franchise in our nation’s capital: The Washington Redskins.

A tiny fringe group of a few million annoyingly sensitive Americans, including 35 Native American tribes and more than 50 organizations that represent various groups of Native Americans, seem to think the term “redskin” is an offensive stereotype that stirs images of primitive, angry, bloodthirsty savages screaming menacingly and wishing to annihilate their enemy – in other words, acting like typical Washington Redskins fans. And they are demanding that billionaire team owner Daniel Snyder change the team name to something less offensive – say, the Washington Camel Jockeys.

The list of suggested alternative names grows by the day. Some names that have been proposed include: The Washington Gryffindors, the Washington Slytherins, the Washington Hufflepuffs,… well, pretty much anything you can think of from Harry Potter. Also, the Washington Redhawks (which personally I would find highly offensive if I were a Chicago Blackhawks fan), the Washington Skins (not sure how our nation’s nudists would feel about this one) or the Washington Pigskins (which I would object to if I were a pot-bellied pig).

None of these names has generated much support, so naturally, as one of the nation’s leading brand marketers, I have offered to come up with several much better ones. Tell me what you think: The Washington Lobbyists, or how about the Washington Gridlocks? Or maybe just the Washington Swamp? I thought about the Washington Senators – but then I realized I was too late. The Senators had already been bought.

Or how about simply going 180 degrees in the opposite direction of the offensive Redskinned image and calling the team the Washington Palefaces, in honor of our nation’s 234 million proud Caucasian Americans? Still not working for you? Okay, I was saving my best name for last. It’s brilliant, if I do say so myself. Are you ready? Here goes: The Washington Redskins!

My solution to the problem: Don’t change the name. Change the graphic. How could anybody possibly take offense at an image of one of our nation’s most popular agricultural staples, the noble REDSKIN potato! Brilliant, eh? Problem solved.

My solution to the problem: Don’t change the name. Change the graphic. How could anybody possibly take offense at an image of one of our nation’s most popular agricultural staples, the noble REDSKIN potato! Brilliant, eh? Problem solved.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking – doesn’t that sound vaguely close to the name the team currently goes by? But I’m not talking about some emotionally charged racial profiling of our nation’s oppressed Native American population. Not in the least! No, I’m talking about proudly honoring one of our nation’s great agricultural staples from America’s patriotic heartland: The Redskin Potato. Think about it. The team won’t have to invest millions of dollars researching a name change. All they have to do is slap a new logo on the team helmet. See my proposed new logo at right.

Admit it. Who doesn’t love a redskin potato? They go fantastic with roast beef and perhaps just a light sprinkling of cheddar cheese to bring out the flavor. This could totally bring our divided nation back together. After all, I’m fairly sure the Native Americans served redskin potatoes to the Pilgrims back at the very first Thanksgiving. Or was it maize? Doesn’t matter. My point is, this will finally solve all the long-festering problems of race relations between whites and Native Americans over the past 400 years, and all of our Native Americans’ difficulties will magically disappear. No need to thank me, my fellow Native Americans.

And just think of all the fun sports announcers will have with the new brand:

“The Redskins’ offense has stalled. With fourth and long, they’ll have to punt again. Looks like their game plan for today’s contest against the Colts was half-baked.” 

“Ooh, that hit by the Chargers’ safety flattened the Redskins quarterback. Talk about one mashed potato, eh, Brad?” 

“In the second half tonight the Redskins have SPUDDERED. By the fourth quarter, it appeared most of their players were totally fried, wouldn’t you agree, Brad?” 

“Looks like the Redskins nose tackle may have been hurt on the play. I guess that would make him a potato chip, eh, Brad?” 

“What in the hell are you talking about, Fred?” 

“I mean he’s injured – you might say, chipped. Get it? Potato chip?” 

“Shut up, Fred. Just shut the fuck up. Oh, shit. Are we still on the air?” 

The young rookie players could be called tater tots. If a player has a great game, I could see the newspaper headline the next day: “Redskin Quarterback is Hot Potato in Come-From-Behind Victory.”  See what I mean? The sound bite possibilities are endless.

If my redskin potato graphic doesn’t fly, here is my backup proposal. Who doesn’t love Hello Kitty? I know my girls sure did – back when they were five. Go, Kitties! MEOW!! What a purrfect new logo, am I right?

If my redskin potato graphic doesn’t fly, here is my backup proposal. Who doesn’t love Hello Kitty? I know my girls sure did – back when they were five. Go, Kitties! MEOW!! What a purrfect new logo, am I right?

I came up with a great new tag line to boost fan support for the team: “Support your NEW Washington Redskins. This Spud’s for You.”  I can’t imagine any Fortune 500 company possibly being upset over such a fun tag line, can you?

I’m confident that if the Redskins team owner thinks about my idea, he will quickly adopt it – and hopefully give me a modest 5% of all future ticket sales. And once and for all, this sordid Redskin naming controversy will vanish quicker than the Redskins’ chances of making the playoffs.

In the unlikely event Mr. Snyder stuns the world and refuses to adopt my solution, I even came up with a backup plan: The Washington Kittens. Check out the new helmet logo at right. I’m confident this move would bring young girls out to the stadium in droves, especially on Stuffed Animal Day. What can I say? I’m an idea machine.

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

PS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, post a COMMENT, give it a LIKE and SHARE it on Facebook. You just might win a new car. Probably not. In fact, forget I ever mentioned it.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

I Think I Need a Haircut

I Think I Need a Haircut

With the Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been doing my best to shelter in place. I sure wish I could get a haircut, though. It’s starting to get a tad out of control.

With the Coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been doing my best to shelter in place. I sure wish I could get a haircut, though. It’s starting to get a tad out of control.

Throughout my life, I’ve never had what you would call “long hair.” I’ve always sported that clean-cut, All-American look – the kind when I was young that endeared me to any dad and got me a free pass to date his “little girl.”

Why, you ask, as a child of the 60s, was I not a long-haired-hippy-freak? For starters, I attended an all-boys military school that had a strict dress code. “A cadet’s locks shall not exceed two inches nor touch the top of his ears”, lest he incur the wrath of the Headmaster and receive two demerits for hating America and disrespecting God.

You’ve probably guessed that my parents were of the conservative bent, who believed that any teenage lad with long hair was either plotting to bomb an Army recruitment center or become a ganja-fueled roadie for Bob Marley and the Wailers, both equally unacceptable.

Don’t get me wrong. Despite my restrictive, cloistered upbringing, when I got to college, I tried shaking things up with my appearance. Like the time I bought a pair lavender corduroy striped bell-bottoms. (What were you thinking, Tim?) I was thinking it would be groovy to sew a large Smiley Face patch on the pant leg. (Seriously, dude, have you no sense of fashion?) The answer would be a resounding “No” – not then or even now, according to my wife.

During graduate school, I finally broke out of my squeaky clean Pat Boone persona by growing a beard. Just my luck, it came out white and orange. I resembled a walking creamsicle. Speaking of ice cream (my favorite dinner time staple) donning a beard made eating a deeply unpleasant culinary experience. Dribbles of Rocky Road would drip off my whiskers or get encrusted in the tangle of my mustache. Something had to go – and it wasn’t going to be my Rocky Road! After only two months, I was squeaky-clean-shaven once again – much to my father’s approval.

The bottom line is, I can’t pull off long hair (or a beard, for that matter). Now that I’m in my sixties, if I go for three days without shaving or grooming (trying for the trendy grunge style), I look like I woke up from a bad bender – which sucks because I don’t even drink

And now I find myself, like everybody else, stuck in the middle of a pandemic with orders to shelter in place. It’s been over three months since my state’s governor first issued a mandate to stay at home as much as possible. Oh, sure, conditions in my area have been slightly loosened in recent weeks. We can now go to the hardware store, so long as we wear a mask, maintain a safe social distance, and are completely encased in bubble wrap.

I don’t mean to sound like my problems are worse than anyone else’s. After all, I have Amazon Prime and Netflix, so, technically I could hole up in my man cave, eating frozen pizza for several more years. But it sure would be nice to get a trim. It’s been five months since my last one. If I have to wait much longer, my daughter will start braiding my hair and I’ll qualify to be the backup drummer for Metallica. I know I shouldn’t complain. After all, my three older brothers went bald decades ago – a fact I enjoy pointing out whenever we get together.

Even my cats are tired of my shaggy, messy guise, unless they suspect a mouse is hiding within. I lack the cool factor to pull it off. That’s why, back in March, thinking ahead, I bought a Nose / Hair Trimmer on eBay.

This is me circa 1977, with the longest hair I’ve ever had – until now. Man, I was such a radical back then.

This is me circa 1977, with the longest hair I’ve ever had – until now. Man, I was such a radical back then.

It finally arrived this week, after a mere three-month wait. I missed the fine print that stated it was being shipped from China, via Pony Express. Unfortunately, what I thought was a Nose AND Hair Trimmer turned out to be a Nose Hair Trimmer. So, every day, my mane continues to look increasingly like an Old English Sheep Dog. On the plus side, my nasal follicles have never been more perfectly coiffed.

Thankfully, our governor announced this week that Phase Two has begun. This means hair salons can resume business. The place I usually go to has an app by which you can check in remotely and it tells you what time to show up. After three hours, they even called me to tell me I was third in line for a haircut. So, I headed over to my local hair styling establishment and announced my arrival. The receptionist could not find me in their system. It turns out my reservation somehow got re-routed to a sister salon located in Oregon. Did I mention I live in Washington state? I figured I’d probably be late for my appointment.

“When can you get me in today?”, I asked my local salon. That elicited a hearty laugh from the receptionist. “Oh, there’s no way we could possibly get you in today. Try back next week.” Since then, every time I have checked, the wait time has been four hours or longer. I guess I’ll have to continue doing my Rod Stewart circa 1973 impression a little while longer.

In the meantime, I need to find my nose hair trimmer. I think my nostrils are due for another trim.

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.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Zoom for Seniors

Zoom for Seniors

Dear Senior Citizen, Welcome to the exciting world of Zoom. If you’ve never had a Zoom video call, don’t worry. It’s easier than beating Betty Smith at BINGO, even when she plays with 10 boards.

Dear Senior Citizen, Welcome to the exciting world of Zoom. If you’ve never had a Zoom video call, don’t worry. It’s easier than beating Betty Smith at BINGO, even when she plays with 10 boards.

Welcome to today’s lesson: Zoom for Seniors. If you’re 65+ and would like to learn how to turn your computer into a videophone, this will be an exciting adventure. However, if you thought you had signed up for Zoomba for Seniors, you’re in the wrong class. And it’s spelled Zumba. You might want to consider our Spelling for Seniors class, as well.

What exactly is Zoom? If you ask my 24-year-old tech-savvy daughter, she’ll tell you it’s a video-telephony and online chat service using a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform for teleconferencing, telecommuting and social relations. My daughter is a geek. In case her explanation is a tad too technical, let me simplify: with Zoom, you can see and talk to your friends on your computer.

Everybody’s doing Zoom, even Zumba fans. This is thanks in large part to the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent shelter in place mandates. If you’re not familiar with the “Coronavirus,” may I suggest our introductory lecture series, What’s Been Happening Since You Crawled Under a Rock. Employers use Zoom to conduct team meetings, professors to deliver classes to their students, and the rest of us to complain to our friends that there’s nothing to do – all without wearing pants.

Zoom is surprisingly easy to use. Let’s first talk about system requirements. I’m not talking about your digestive system, though you could talk to your doctor via Zoom about your acid reflux. I’m talking about required devices: a smart phone, an iPad, or a computer with a web cam. No, a web cam is not for detecting spiders in your house, though I can envision a market for that. A common question I hear from seniors is, “How do I attach my rotary phone’s twisty cord to my Zenith TV’s rabbit ears?”

I now realize there should be some pre-requisites for this course, such as a rudimentary knowledge of life and technology in the 21st century. In short, no, you can’t use a rotary phone. You need one that can connect to the Internet. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “Internet,” how exactly did you find the website for this class?

If you are still using a phone like this and planning to place a Zoom call, let me just say, you’re adorable. However, may I suggest upgrading to a phone that was not in use when Ozzie and Harriet were still the rage on TV.

If you are still using a phone like this and planning to place a Zoom call, let me just say, you’re adorable. However, may I suggest upgrading to a phone that was not in use when Ozzie and Harriet were still the rage on TV.

Next, you will need a Zoom meeting invitation. Anticipating your next question, no, it won’t be delivered by the USPS or UPS or even the USPCA. It will come in an email. The invite will give you a link that you simply click on to join the video call at the appointed time.

What’s so great about Zoom? For starters, you can actually see the person you’re talking to! And the call is free – even if the other person is across the country, across the world, or in your garage, borrowing your power tools without asking. That’s because you are talking over the Internet. I know, it’s almost as amazing as the Ronco Pocket Fisherman you bought your wife for her birthday in 1984.

Another cool aspect is that several people can be on the call at the same time! So if you and your Elks cronies – all 67 of them – want to have a virtual hangout, you can with Zoom. That is, assuming you all have email and a Wi-Fi or broadband connection. Clueless about the terms “Wi-Fi” and “broadband”? Might I suggest you switch to a bird watching class instead?

Zoom has some handy features including “chat,” which lets you type messages to other people on the call. But remember when you type a chat message to Charlie about how Archie cheats at golf, Archie will be able to read your message, too – unless he left his glasses in your garage when he borrowed your power tools.

Some pointers about using Zoom. First, you want to adjust your camera so the other person can see you. As interesting as your ceiling may be – or your boxer shorts – most people prefer looking at your face – and by your face, I mean your entire face, not the top of your receding hairline.

Second, be sure the microphones are ON, unless you all are versed in lip-reading.

Third, know how and when to turn OFF your video. Just as you can see your grandkids or your buddies or your boss on Zoom, they too can see you. So, if you feel the need to pick your nose or get up to grab a beer, wearing nothing below the waist but a pair of black socks and Crocs, consider pausing the video first.

Which brings me to Zoom etiquette. Newbies tend to talk over each other, especially if there are a bunch of you on the call. It’s best to wait until the other person has stopped talking before you begin your diatribe on the demise of the nation at the hands of our youth (your grandkids excepted). Also, you might want to shave. The grunge look doesn’t work for seniors.

For the adventurous Senior, try a group Zoom call. Together you can discuss fascinating topics like, “Anyone having trouble with their dentures?” and “Whatever happened to Carl? He was here a minute ago.”

For the adventurous Senior, try a group Zoom call. Together you can discuss fascinating topics like, “Anyone having trouble with their dentures?” and “Whatever happened to Carl? He was here a minute ago.”

Don’t worry if your first Zoom experience is a bit bumpy. That’s normal. It’s daunting to figure out any new technology, like Zoom or a plasma TV or your 10 ft. inflatable snow globe. That’s why I recommend recruiting your seven-year-old grandson. He can ensure your maiden voyage goes smoothly, helping you log into the session, testing your audio, and reminding you to put on pants.

Finally, just remember, if you’re struggling to navigate a Zoom call with your old pal Benny, you’re not alone. He’s every bit the technology rookie that you are. Benny too is confused why he can’t hear you and wondering whose forehead he’s seeing on his computer screen (um, that would actually be Benny’s). He’ll get the hang of it, and you will too – before the next century, or your money back.

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.

Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020

Staying Safe is as Simple as Washing and Wiping

Staying Safe is as Simple as Washing and Wiping

The most important thing you can do to stay safe from Covid-19 is wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Don’t forget to do under your fingernails. You’ll know you’re done when your hands start to bleed.

The most important thing you can do to stay safe from Covid-19 is wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Don’t forget to do under your fingernails. You’ll know you’re done when your hands start to bleed.

I come bearing good news: According to Harvard scientists (and Harvard scientists are never wrong), the Coronavirus pandemic should largely subside by the end of next year, or possibly early 2022. Plus, a 63% effective vaccine is less than 18 months away.

Okay, maybe not so good news. But on the positive side, the Seattle Mariners will likely finally end 15 consecutive losing seasons since Major League Baseball plans to cancel the current season.

The Coronavirus is affecting our lives in countless ways. Schools are cancelled, people are working from home, and “My Corona” is the #1 song on the pop charts.

If you’re like most of us, you’re probably anxious about proper Social Distancing in the midst of this plague – unless you’re a complete idiot – or the Governor of Georgia (but I repeat myself). Exactly how far apart should people be? Six feet? Ten? My daughter says it’s roughly the distance I can throw a baseball, so 15 feet. Some experts recommend at least one zip code of separation, just to be on the safe side, and wearing an extra layer of bubble wrap whenever you leave the house.

Then there’s the mandate to wear a mask. But where? At the grocery store? Walking your cat around the block? What about in your backyard? Or while doing yoga in your bedroom, naked? And what constitutes an adequate mask, or for that matter, “naked?”

Let me ease your mind. Nobody is telling you to shelter in place 24/7 (with the exception of mayors, governors, and those annoying Harvard scientists). You needn’t be sequestered in your man cave for the next six months, binging on The Real Housewives of New Jersey (although, I must admit, Season 3 exceeded my expectations). Furthermore, you’re free to wear a bandana, dark glasses, and a hoodie when out in public (just use caution when entering a bank). And for God’s sake: DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE! (Admit it. You just scratched your nose, didn’t you? You’re hopeless.)

When shopping, only buy the absolutely necessities – like 12 cases of Nutella. If someone has nabbed them first, don your surgical gloves, shove that shopper to the ground, grab the jars, and run. Piece of cake (that’s in aisle 3).

When shopping, only buy the absolutely necessities – like 12 cases of Nutella. If someone has nabbed them first, don your surgical gloves, shove that shopper to the ground, grab the jars, and run. Piece of cake (that’s in aisle 3).

I offer you a solution to this madness. Simply do what I do: Wash and Wipe.

The Coronavirus germ can hang around for an exhaustingly long time, perhaps even weeks – much like my freeloading brother-in-law, Ralph.

You can try to wait out the contagion, scarfing down tubs of Chunky Monkey, slowly giving up on all your hopes and dreams. Or you can neutralize that pesky peril by washing and wiping.

The general rule of thumb is this: Wash your hands any time you touch something potentially infectious, like a shopping cart or a doorknob or a tiger. (Dobermans, however, are perfectly safe.) Better yet, wipe down the shopping cart, doorknob, and tiger before you touch them.

Let me explain how this works. Imagine it’s time for your monthly Costco run. You decide it would be fun to take the kids, but you’re running late for the special early bird Senior shopping hours. So instead of giving 6-year-old Sarah and 4-year-old Tony their baths, you teach them how to sponge themselves with Lysol wipes.

Everyone is buckled in when you realize you forgot to wash the seats. You improvise by spraying the interior with the garden hose, explaining to your giggling cherubs that it’s raining inside. You arrive at Costco and find the parking lot already swarming with vehicles beating you to an open space and your chance of getting the last remaining toilet paper just got flushed down the toilet. So, you hunt for a spot in the overflow area four football fields away. Sarah jumps out and climbs into a shopping cart, dragging Tony in after. “STOP!” you scream, but it’s too late. You take one of the fourteen jars of sanitizing wipes you keep in the trunk and wash the urchins and the entire cart.

Inside this mega-store, Sarah plays fetch with Tony, throwing him boxes of Cocoa Puffs and paper towels and everything else she can get her hands on. You intercept the paper towels, praising Sarah for the good find, and you load up with enough peanut butter, cereal, paper towels, dental floss, and Purell to last through the next nuclear winter.

Back at Scooby Doo lot N, you finally locate your car and immediately start wiping down the bags, as well as the kids, before piling all into the car. You use another jar of towelettes to disinfectant the steering wheel, dashboard, and every surface your hooligans touched while fighting in the back seat.

Finally home, you send S & T to wash their mitts raw. You unload the groceries, including the 60” flat screen TV you bought on impulse (your wife will eventually forgive you) and restock the pantry. Mission accomplished? Um, not quite. Ask yourself: Who else might have pawed these containers of peanut butter, cereal, and dental floss? Perhaps a band of Coronavirus-positive terrorists infiltrated Costco and spat on everything – and now, their infected germs are in your house.

What’s more, all the tainted groceries are nestled in with other items in your cupboards. Breathing deeply, you remove every bag and box, and the shelves and cabinet doors, and give them all a meticulous scrub. Don’t forget the counter. I bet you grabbed the wipes after you touched the contaminated stuff. Rooky mistake. Use another wipe to clean the wipes.

This man is risking serious infection. Oh, no, not from holding the TV remote. He’s watching one of Trump’s daily press briefings. Highly toxic. Be safe and turn off your TV whenever the President is talking.

This man is risking serious infection. Oh, no, not from holding the TV remote. He’s watching one of Trump’s daily press briefings. Highly toxic. Be safe and turn off your TV whenever the President is talking.

Remember how you told Sarah and Tony to wash their hands until they bled? Were you aware they first played hide ‘n seek? Since it’s impossible to know precisely which chairs, tables, and pets they touched, waste no time in cordoning off those rooms and animals before further harm is done.

To be prudent, I recommend setting a controlled blaze to the affected rooms and rebuilding that wing of the house using state-of-the-art sterile hospital cleanroom construction materials. Or perhaps just sell your home now before the market tanks.

Finally, wash your hands every 30 minutes. A timer will help. (You can scale back to once an hour during your REM sleep cycle.)

That’s it. Easy-peasy. Follow these simple steps and you’ll sleep rest easy, assuming you remembered to wipe down your phone, remote, keyboard, gerbil, outlets, and well, you get the idea. You’ll be fine. Just DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE!

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

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Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020