The Cynic Tackles Everyday Life

Perfect Timing

Contractors finish building your new garage and leave only one nail behind, which you run over squarely with your front tire.

The best guarantee of a 50mph blizzard is the day after you put inflatable snowmen outside.

The likeliest days for your hot water tank to fail are Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Toilets know to fail the day you are babysitting for eight grandchildren.

Home computers delight in failing on April 14 just as you try to file your taxes.

Sundays, Christmas, Superbowl day and New Year’s Day increase the likelihood that you will  need medical attention. Emergency rooms on those days are manned mostly by the hospital’s cleaning crew.

Obstetricians, trauma doctors and emergency room personnel are the most likely hospital staff to be needed without advance warning and also the ones most sleep deprived.

Garage doors are prone to failing most often during driving thunderstorms.

Mid-January temperatures rise to 55 degrees two nights before you have planned a skating party on your pond.

The first day you wear new white shirt to a dinner invitation guarantees the main meal will be pasta with a heavy load of gooey red sauce.

Forsythia blooms open five hours before the temperature drops to 15 degrees.

.The best invitation to a long line of tailgaters behind you is when you are in the front car on an icy, snow-packed road.

Babies are pre-programmed to being born at 3 am far more often than they are at 3 pm.

The morning after making a haircut appointment, you wake up looking like an ad for L’oreal shampoo.

Your tooth quits aching one day after you make a dental appointment.

Some dentists learn their trade from jackhammer operators working at their dental schools.

The most likely day to break a front tooth is when you have a job interview that requires your photograph.

Lawn and Garden

Adding expensive landscaping to a home is the equivalent of sending out pheromones to every white-tailed deer in the neighborhood, at least in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

When you plant new grass and landscaping, you might as well put up a sign saying, “Welcome, moles.”

Meticulously spreading grass seed over carefully tilled soil invites a cloudburst to come along and grow weeds in the yard and grass in the road ditch. Time to get out the weed eater.

Yellow protrusions on dandelion heads are not petals; they are miniature ears that perceive lawn mower noise so the flowers can bend over just before the mower gets to them.

Canadian geese are nature’s reminder that the beautiful lake on your rural country land does not really belong to you, at least not for walking upon

Plant a maple tree and a future neighbor next door will have gutters clogged with spinners. Plant a weeping willow and he will need a dump truck to pick up the fallen branches. Plant an oak, and he will have small “golf balls” to walk on. Plant a sycamore, and shards of bark will kill his grass. Trees are a great way to get back at the low-life creep who plays loud rock music all weekend.

Robins are more patient than seed-eating birds. Robins stand and wait in yards for worms that have been near death all winter, whereas seed eaters watch for us suckers who fill birdfeeders.

Hummingbirds have a brain the size of a BB, but it’s large enough to know where their nectar comes from, so they flap at my window when their feeder needs filled. Weighing under an ounce, the birds become especially demanding when it is time to flawlessly make the trip from my back yard to Central America or Texas before our winter sets in and back to Ohio in spring. By contrast, my brain, like most humans, must weigh about three pounds. Why is it that I can easily get lost in my own community but no fast- food attendant has ever offered me a free meal through a window?

Squirrels inherently know that a beagle’s Invisible Fence lies right between his house and the nearest birdfeeder.


Cats should be the pets of choice for egotists. Cats have a way of bringing people’s high estimation of themselves down to realistic levels. Give a cat a treat and it will ignore you and slink off.

Dogs exacerbate the already inflated opinions megalomaniacs have of themselves. Dogs adore people who are kind and unselfish with food. Give a dog a treat and it will think you are the next Ghandhi or Mother Theresa.

You bury yourself under a warm comforter one winter night with sub-zero temperatures just before your dog slurps your face, signaling he needs to go out.

You adopt a rottweiler, and a stray cat is likely to show up in your yard.

Everyday Life

Length and formality of christenings/baptisms in churches are directly proportional to the thickness of the babies’ parents’ wallets.

A mother needs to have couple of children before learning that broccoli needs to be finely chopped and wrapped inside a pizza slice.

Acne is a genetically designed trick of the endocrine system to limit teen pregnancies.

Babies, toddlers and teenagers are a prime lesson to parents to remind the older generation about how little control it has over its own destiny.

If guests at a holiday gathering are prone to staying long beyond when you are exhausted, rearrange your serving table ahead of time. Put desserts on paper plates on a table perpendicular to your outside door and exit everyone out with goodies in hand.

A sure way to get drop-by guests is to start shampooing your carpet.

Taming of wolves so that they evolved into dogs happened when early humanoids discovered their love for each other was imperfect. (“Sorry – not interested in marriage. Going to get a puppy.”)

Aging Gracefully

Not an actual photo of Gretchen Reed.

Securing a new, much needed article in a logical place guarantees that same place will not be “logical” when you next look for it.

Finishing the writing of a long document on your computer, followed by five proof readings, guarantees you will see a myriad of mistakes as soon as you hit “print.”

Directions for your 50-year- old electric typewriter never get lost, but your income tax file does.

Bottles of pills and other medications used most frequently by senior citizens are purposely designed with microscopic directions and senior-proof lids.

Foods frequently purchased by older folks also come with lids impossible to open (prunes, applesauce, pudding, etc.)

Sod runways at rural airports are short when you want to land an airplane on them but very long when you go out to jog on them.

Over one’s long lifetime, the need to find a bathroom becomes far greater than the ability to actually walk to it.


Most teachers have strong preferences and prejudices concerning students’ first names, and no wonder, considering the confusion names can cause. More girls’ names tend to create issues than boys.’ As one obvious example from years ago, the name Deborah was extremely popular, so much so that variations thereof proliferated. The name could become Debra, Debora, Deb, Debbie, Debi, Debby or Debe. As a result of teenagers’ seeming need for constant variety, a girl might change the spelling to suit herself and seemed to expect a teacher of hers to intuitively know that last week she might have been Debbie, but this week she expects to be called Debora. When I was advisor to the RHS student newspaper, I learned to send a staff member to one place or the other to find out what name spelling some girls might be using that week.

Recently, there seems to be a proliferation of parents who think using unusual spellings for their children’s names is cool and creative. Thus, the little boy may no longer be Brandon but Brandyn. Once at RHS a boy’s legal first name was Bil, not William or Bill. The printer that set the type for the Log couldn’t believe it wasn’t our misprint, and every reference to Bil came back as the standard Bill. We had manicure scissors on hand and carefully cut the second “l” out of each reference. If you are a very young person accustomed only to the digital world, you now know where the term “cut and paste” came from.

One final mini story about names that was in Reader’s Digest’s “Humor in Uniform” column. A boy had been named only with letters that stood for nothing. His name was RB Jones. He enlisted in the military and filled out his application accordingly. It came back explaining that his full first and middle name were needed. He wrote back: R (only) B (only) Jones. Sure enough, the military sent back his name registered as Ronly Bonly Jones. Considering how difficult navigating society can be these days, parents should think carefully before saddling their children with names the kids will have to explain or spell out every time they need to use them.

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