Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hilarious Dating Quotes

Garry Shandling
"I'm dating a homeless woman. It was easier talking her into staying over."

Dave Attell
"I was on a date with this really hot model. Well, it wasn't really a date-date. We just ate dinner and saw a movie. Then the plane landed."

David Spade
"I'm a gentleman and I was always taught it's rude to talk about a woman's age or weight unless you are breaking up with her."

Joey Adams
"Never let a fool kiss you, or a kiss fool you."

Clark Gable
"It is an extra dividend when you like the girl you've fallen in love with.

Larry David
"Golf and dating don’t mix."

Matthew S. Field
"There should be a CarFax for single women. If you were interested in dating a woman, you could check her major accidents, hidden problems, whether she’s a lemon, and warranty information."

Alex Reed
"I hate first dates. I made the mistake of telling my date a lie about myself, and she caught me. I didn’t think she’d actually demand to see the bat cave."

Rodney Dangerfield
"I like to date schoolteachers. If you do something wrong, they make you do it over again."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Java Junkie: My 30-Day Trial of Elevate Coffee

A lot of folks around here are waking up to Elevate Brew Coffee.
(Image courtesy of Marie Molnar)
So, in the little town where I live, there’s been sort a groundswell for a healthy coffee called Elevate. I decided to check it out for myself. Wait, I think I’m getting ahead of myself a little.

Let me start again.

I meet a friend for coffee a few times a week. A little more than a month ago, my friend, who's a professional fitness athlete, told about an instant coffee she'd started to drink and suggested that I try it.

I said, “Instant coffee? Um, no thanks.”

After a few more days, my friend told me that this instant coffee, Elevate, was really changing her life. She told me about another mutual friend, a local business owner, had been drinking the coffee and lost a ton of weight.

I said, “Yeah, that’s great. Whatever.”

Finally, my friend gave me a couple of single serve packets so I could try it myself. So, I did. Frankly, the first time I drank a cup of Elevate, well, I felt . . . different. It was good feeling. It wasn’t so much the taste, but the way it made me feel.

During my single father journey, admittedly, I’ve become a java junkie. On a typical morning, I'd drink a half a pot of coffee, or about eight cups, at home. Then, have a couple of more cups at a café during the day. Ironically, I’d drink as much as a half-gallon of coffee a day, but I’d still crashed every afternoon. I had tried everything I've heard would eliminate the afternoon crash from Vitamin B to 5-Hour Energy and Red Bull, but nothing worked for me. Literally, there were days when traveling for business I’d have have to stop at a highway rest stop to catnap.

I’d drink as much as a half-gallon of coffee a day, but I’d still crashed every afternoon.

After drinking one cup of Elevate a day for a few days in a row, I noticed a couple of other effects from the coffee that gave me pause. I resolved to do a test, albeit not necessarily scientific. Using myself as the guinea pig, I resolved drink one cup of Elevate Brew Coffee each morning for a month and report my findings. My 30-Day Elevate Test ended on Saturday, March 4, 2018. These are the results.

Company marketing materials claim:

Drinking Elevate Brew Coffee will help you lose weight, feel great, and change the way your brain craves the wrong foods. We attach the root of your bad food eating habits in your brain while suppressing your appetite. Your body will reboot, burn more calories, and speed up your metabolism.

Included on the list of ingredients, Elevate’s “proprietary blend,” are caffeine anhydrase and other natural stimulants from a number of sources including dark roast coffee, espresso, cocoa, green tea, and green coffee extract. Another ingredient, chromium polynicotinate reportedly helps to improve the effectiveness of insulin to keep blood sugar at an optimal level and reduce carbohydrate cravings.  Other claims made by Elevate include more natural energy, more clarity and focus, elevated positive mood, memory booster, increase metabolism, curb hunger cravings, eliminate jitters, and lose weight naturally.

In spite of the “official” name, Elevate is not a “brew coffee.” No one will confuse the taste of Elevate with brewed coffee or a pour-over using good, fresh-ground beans. Frankly, Elevate’s a little bit bitter and has a hint of an herb flavor. It certainly isn’t any worse than Sanka, though, which I would occasional choke down during my college days when cramming. I drink my coffee black, but my friend who drinks it adds a little bit of non-dairy creamer to take the edge off.

Did Elevate deliver more energy for me? Absolutely. Whereas, I would drink eight cups of regular coffee a day, one Elevate each day immediately stopped my afternoon crash. Elevate’s claim that its coffee does not create “jitters” has been true for me. Finally, at the end of the day when it was time to sleep, wow, did I sleep well? Yes, I did. I slept the sleep of the innocent, although there is still some question about the state of my innocence.

At the end of the day when it was time to sleep, wow, did I sleep well? Yes. I slept the sleep of the innocent, although there is still some question about the state of my innocence.

One, rather irritating, consequence of drinking one cup of Elevate is the diuretic affect it had on me. For about the first two weeks, I had to empty my bladder on the hour, if not more frequently. Frankly and pardon the reference, I had to (urinate) like a race horse on Lasix. Because of the increase in urination frequency, I was often thirsty. I estimate I drank a gallon or more of water each day to remain hydrated. The good news? The diuretic influence of the coffee moderated to almost normal during the third week.

For me, the weight loss impact has been moderate. The first time I stepped on a scale was on Day 5 of my 30 Day Elevate Test. I’d lost four pounds. However, I’m certain that weight loss was water. On Day 7, I stepped on the same scale and I’d gained back two pounds. My net loss wast two. My weight did not change by as much as an ounce for almost three weeks. Then, on day 25 when I stepped on the scale, I dropped those two pounds again and I'm pretty sure that is real weight loss and not just water. So, my net loss is about four pounds, which is within the range of my regular weight fluctuation. My professional athlete friend lost exactly 5% of her body weight in roughly five weeks. The business owner whose body type is similar to mine has dropped 15 pounds.

And, yes, my craving for carbohydrates has declined precipitously. I had been in the habit of munching on nachos or chips ‘n’ salsa while watching a ball game in the evening before bed. Now, I rarely eat again after having dinner at around six o’clock each evening.

As far as the other claims about providing more clarity and focus, an elevated positive mood, and a boosted memory, I’m not sure Elevate has really done any of those things. I’m usually in a pretty good mood and I don’t think Elevate has had any impact.

Want to learn more? Click HERE.

One unintended consequence that has turned out to be a nice benefit, at least for me, is some money saving. During a typical month, I’d go through at least two pounds of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at home at a cost of $10 per bag. Then, I’d buy more coffee at a café on weekdays, or on at least 20 days during the month at $5 per day. In total, I spend about $120 each month on coffee. Now, I only want (need) one cup of Elevate each day to satisfy my coffee and caffeine appetite. Considering month’s supply of Elevate is $50, I saved about $70 this month. Now, rather than sipping coffee all morning and during the early afternoon, I drink lemon water instead.

Bottom line? While I’m not sure every one of Elevate’s claims were true for me, the benefits that have impacted me have been well worth the investment. I’ve had the energy to avoid “hitting the wall” in the afternoon. My food cravings have curtailed, but the jury is still out whether it will have a material impact on my body mass index. Anecdotally, I know a people who have lost weight while drinking Elevate. My biggest complaint, the diuretic aspect of Elevate, was distracting for a couple of weeks. However, that hadn’t been as much as an issue as the month progressed.

Snake oil?

I don’t think so. In fact, solely based on the fact that Elevate has eliminated my afternoon crash, I recommend it to people who experience a similar problem. If it also makes people get healthier by assisting weight loss and reducing the likelihood of diseases linked to obesity like heart disease, diabetes, and osteoarthritis, among others, well, that’s pretty good, too.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Favorite Son Saga: I Wouldn't Want To Be His Friend

TFS: Stylin', profilin', and always
ready with the one-linin'.
Both The Favorite Son (TFS) and I have a Spotify account. Because I tend to be unable to tolerate his mix of songs, it's my Spotify that is usually played on a blue tooth speaker at home or in the car.

One of the songs on my playlist is the Jim Carroll Band's People Who Died. It's a pretty groovin' tune, but it's also pretty depressing as Jim Carroll sings the list of people in his life who have, well, died. He even describes the method each of his friends met their demise:

G-Berg 'n' Georgie let the gimmicks go rotten,
So, they died of hepatitis in upper Manhattan.
Sly in Vietnam took a bullet to the head.
Bobby OD'd on Drano on the night that he was wed.
They were two more friends of mine.
Two more friends that died. I miss 'em. They died.

Recently, People Who Died came up in the Spotify queue on the car stereo as I drove TFS to the bus stop. We listened for a few seconds when TFS guilelessly commented, "I wouldn't want to be this guy's friend."

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What We Can Do RIGHT NOW To Prevent Another School Shooting

Well, let me start by saying that I am heartbroken for the Parkland, Florida parents of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who were senselessly murdered on Wednesday by the coward Nikolaus Cruz. I can hardly fathom the anguish a parent feels as he or she mourns and tries to make sense of the death of a child. The only consolation I can offer to the parents, families, and friends of the victims in the context of this incomprehensible tragedy is, “I’m so very sorry.”

A popular image on Facebook and Instagram recently.
Immediately after the Parkland, Florida massacre on Valentine’s Day, the hand-wringing, finger pointing, and politicization of the tragedy began in earnest. Social media has made every damned moron in the world a political spin doctor. Supporters of gun control point fingers at supporters of gun rights directing culpability to President Trump, the National Rifle Association (NRA), and Congress. Some claim gun rights supporters care more about guns than children. On the other hand, gun rights supporters assert that the anti-gunners would take away the rights of responsible citizens to own firearms for protection and sport and leave guns in the hands of only those who would do us harm including criminals, the mentally ill, and a hypothetically tyrannical government.

Social media has made every damned moron in the world a political spin doctor.

Reasonable people, and many unreasonable people as well, continue to debate meaning of Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Short of a Constitutional Convention, during which the efficacy and legitimacy of the United States Constitution would be debated and, perhaps, changed, the Second Amendment remains and continues to be debated in the context of gun laws in the United States.

Nathan G weighs in.
While that debate continues, little has changed and school shootings continue. Even as those opponents spar over the value of existing laws, Congress is frequently blamed for the snarl of new gun control legislation. It seems when it comes creating legislation, the more disputed an issue is, the less effective the compromise. The House passes a bill, the Senate changes it to satisfy enough senators to get a majority, and thereby dilutes the original intention. So, it is with our bicameral legislature.

Frankly, I don't think any sane person wants these sorts of tragedies to happen ever again. Considering the strong, opposing views relating to firearms and the current bearing of the United State Congress and Senate, however, what can realistically be achieved to keep our schools and our children safe?

Perhaps, an answer lies within our local school districts rather than with Congress.

A community elects a school board to represent the preferences of a community as they relate to how its children are educated. Board members are our neighbors and, often, our friends. Those elected board members establish education guidelines in the context of federal and state mandates and the collective bargaining agreement with the teacher’s union. While education is a school district’s principal charter, support services like administration, custodial services, student transportation and, yes, even security are within the purview of the school board. It turns out, a school board has many options at its disposal to help insure the security and safety of its students and employees.

An option that has been bandied is the use of armed security. “Some school districts are already moving in that direction. In September, a state board in Arkansas voted to allow 13 school districts to train their teachers and staff as armed guards, and at least seven states – including Ohio, Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Washington – have armed guards in schools.[i]” School districts in New Jersey “ . . . will now be allowed to hire a retired police officer under the age of 65 who has the training as a police officer, has had a career as a police officer. They will be able to hire them to be an officer in the school. He will be allowed to carry a gun as long as he continues with the requirements for the permit.[ii]” However, the use of armed guards is not permitted in many states and some school administrators may express concern about the vetting process for privately contracted armed guards.

Both sides of the debate have statistics to support their position.
Some school districts have created the position of “Student Resource Officer (SRO)” and have partnered with local police departments to fill those positions. The SRO is a law-enforcement officer employed by the municipality’s police department. The SRO’s job description involves student character education. The SRO may almost be an extension of the school guidance department as he or she forms constructive relationships with students. The SRO potentially identifies at-risk situations among students and follows up with the school or even a student’s family. An SRO may also act as a deterrent of drug use/dealing, cyber-bullying, and even technology threats. Of course, as a member of the local police department, an SRO carries a side-arm, which both may discourage a school shooting or stop an active shooter.

Both the option of a third-party armed guard and an SRO is an expense. For example, the annual cost of each SRO to a school district including salary, benefits, and mandatory pension contribution may be $125,000 or more. It would be up to the constituents in a district to approve a school budget which includes such positions.

Reasonable people, and many unreasonable people as well, continue to debate meaning of Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Another and, likely, less costly option is for a school district to develop a partnership with local law enforcement agencies. Such a partnership may require the leadership of a school district including a superintendent and board members to identify opportunities to develop that relationship. Perhaps, a superintendent of schools invites a police chief to attend and participate in or hold a non-voting position at school board meetings. A superintendent of schools may join and participate in a local chamber of commerce or attend Police Benevolent Association meetings to foster those professional relationships.

No citation for this meme found on Facebook.
Using those relationships as a foundation, school district leadership can brainstorm with law enforcement ways to improve safety and security at the schools. Some ideas that may come from the partnership include random visits, assemblies, or even linking police vehicles and/or police dispatch to school cameras. Such a partnership would probably not be difficult to develop. After all, not only is it in the police department’s best interest to prevent potential criminal activity in its jurisdiction, many police officers themselves have children in school.

Still another effective control is a monitored secure vestibule for school visitors. A secure vestibule for visitors when they enter a school can provide time to check identification and, for a potentially dangerous person, contain that person in that secure space and prevent him or her from entering the student area. Many school already employ a greeter, although a capital expenditure approval would have to be granted, again, by voters to construct or modify a building for the secure vestibule.

Other ways our school districts have to help insure the safety of students and faculty at our schools include:

• Eliminate building master keys in favor of key cards or biometric verification access issued only to background-checked, authorized school district staff;

• Use exterior surveillance cameras at automobile entrances for license plate verification and checks;

• Require regular parent and other non-faculty volunteers to complete background checks;

• Install contact alarms on all non-monitored doors.

Clearly, not all solutions that a school district can undertake are appropriate for all school districts. Moreover, these and other safety and security practices and tools are small pieces that create a much larger safety and security tapestry. Some of what may work in St. Louis, Missouri, for example, may not work in Brooklyn, New York. On the other hand, the same tools that work in Baltimore, Maryland may also work in San Antonio, Texas. Factors including finances, building limitations, and voter preferences will determine the protocols a school district will undertake.

Until a Constitutional Convention is convened to resolve, once and for all, what the Second Amendment of the Constitution means, we have a better chance to agree about ways to protect our children from gun violence within our own school districts than Congressional members from St. Louis, Missouri, Brooklyn, New York, Baltimore, Maryland, and San Antonio, Texas have on agreeing on gun legislation.

Of course, no solution will be completely effective. However, hand-wringing and special-interest social media debate is, clearly, accomplishing nothing. By proactively tailoring a safety and security plan to a school district and, more specifically, to each school that includes a combination of these and other tools and practices, we can reduce, possibly to nearly zero, the chance that another tragedy like the one in Parkland, or Sandy Hook, or Columbine, or . . . will ever happen again.

[i] “How Schools Are Working to Prevent School Shootings.” Allie Bidwell. U.S. News & World Report. January 15, 2014.
[ii] “NJ Schools Can Hire Retired Police Officers for Security.” Briana Vannozzi. NJTV News. December 2, 2016.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

My 91-Year Old Girlfriend

My 91-year old girlfriend.
A beautiful, twinkly-eyed, 91-year old woman walks past my house several times a week and makes my day every time I see her. I know she's 91-years old because, after giving me a wide grin every time I say, "Hello," to her, she responds in broken English, "I'm 91-years old."

After it snowed a few weeks ago and as I cleared the driveway and my car, she grabbed the ice scraper/brush out of my hand and dusted the snow from my jacket and arms. Today, she said to me, "You are lucky. You have a beautiful home."

I answered, "I know I am. Thank you." Then, she reminded me that she was 91-years old.

"I hope I look as good as you when I'm 91-years old," I said.

"You will! You will!" she answered without hesitation before she assuredly continued her journey.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Must-Watch Sleeper: Lucky Number Slevin

It's not often that I see a movie I hadn't already known and hadn't seen, but turns out to be really good. Lucky Number Slevin (2006) fits the bill. I DVR'd it from SundanceTV a while ago and just finished watching it last week.

Lucy Liu: terrific actor and could hardly be any more adorable.

Great performances. Atypical story. Fun twist. Talented cast including Josh Harnett who plays the anti-hero, Slevin, Morgan Freeman, Sir Ben Kingsley, Bruce Willis. Stanley Tucci, Danny Aiello, and Lucy Liu who was just absolutely adorable as Lindsey, Slevin's love interest. (I dare you not to fall in love with her character.)

Rotten Tomatoes compared Slevin unfavorably to Pulp Fiction and gave it only a 51% rating. I really hadn't considered the comparison until I read RT's review, although both Willis and Liu appeared in both films. I suppose there are a few similarities. Still, 87% of people who watched Slevin gave it a "thumbs up" according to RT.

If you get a chance, watch it. If you like it, think fondly of me. I think you will . . . like it, that is.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Richer, Thinner, & Healthier WITHOUT New Year's Resolutions

I’ve never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. Frankly, I’ve really tried to live and make decisions consistently during the entire year. Still, there is no better time than the present to, well, make a clean start . . . even if it happens to be the start of a new year.

Here are a few ideas for anyone from the most die-hard New Year’s Resolutionary to just a guy who wants to make his personal, professional, and/or financial life a little better:

Clean-Up Junk eMail
Let’s face it, email isn’t what it used to be. With the proliferation of Snapchat, Kik, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and about a million other social media applications, it seems that the greatest beneficiaries of my Gmail account are advertisers. A few weeks ago, I found an email from Chuck E. Cheese. We haven't been to Chuck E. Cheese in at least five years.

Even if I automatically delete marketing emails, checking 20 boxes to delete 20 junk emails still takes time. Take a few minutes and “unsubscribe” to all of the email no longer relevant to you. It’ll save you a little bit of time every day and I’ll bet you can find a better use for that time.

Chuck E. Cheese isn't so relevant now my children are teenagers and young adults.

Compare Insurance
In my experience, insurance companies offer a sort of promotional rate to get you in the door. Also, in my experience and in spite of what All State and Farmer's wants you to believe, there’s not terribly much difference between most top-rated insurance carriers. Take the declarations from your home, automobile, umbrella, flood, boat, motorcycle, or whatever policy you have, bring them to one or two other brokers, and find out how much money you can save by switching to a new carrier. Bear in mind, those unwritten introductory rates may have a shelf life, so you may be back at it in a year or two.

Coffee, tea, or . . . get big results from small improvements
So, there are 23 calories in one packet of sugar. I don’t know anyone who drinks coffee with sugar who uses fewer than two packets. Among those people who drink coffee with sugar, a lot of them drink at least two cups of coffee. Do the math. Two cups. Two sugars each. 92 calories every day to have sweet coffee. So, a person who has two coffees a day with two sugars in each coffee consumes 33,580 empty calories a year. Considering the average person gains one pound for every 3,500 unused calories, having sugar in one’s coffee yields an additional 9.6 pounds per year.

How would you like to be 9.6 pounds lighter on you feet? Don’t sweeten your coffee or use a zero-calorie substitute. Make the decision easy. Stop buying sugar.

Clean-Up App Subscriptions
Once upon a time, when your son or daughter was younger, maybe
you had a subscription to a phone app to filter content or restrict usage on you child’s phone. Now, your child is older and you don’t need the app anymore, but Apple still charges your credit card 99¢ a month. Three years ago, perhaps you were dating. You downloaded Tinder or Bumble or whatever, and upgraded to the premium service for $2.99 a month. Now that you’ve found a romantic partner and are now dating exclusively, but the service auto-renews and you’re still getting dinged for the fee. No, it’s not going to break the bank, but if you have two or three obsolete apps and you’re still being charged, you can save yourself a few or a few hundred bucks a year by taking the time to terminating the subscriptions.

It’s a lot easier to make these sort of habit changes permanent of you simply “flip the switch.” Out of sight, out of mind. Check back with me in a year and let me know how much richer, thinner, and healthier you are.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Best of The Single Father's Guide Original Memes:Volume III

Here are a new batch of original memes created by the author of The Single Father's Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball. A little explanation is included, as well. Enjoy.

That's actually me while creating the actual recipes for The Single Father's Guide to Life, Cooking, and Baseball. All right, I know the caption is campy.

I'm sort of introspective sometimes and wondered whether there was a reason that I was able to completely love a person while being unable to commit to that person. It was a question that occupied my mind for a long time. Cognitive dissonance was one answer. This was another.

This is a real life story. Oblivious and misunderstanding a situation, as I often do, I hurt the feelings of a person for whom I care a great deal. I've apologized every way I know, but like Will Munny, I'm unforgiven. This poem was part of my apology.

Al Franken's political problems aside, This was a "Jack Handy, Deep Thoughts" moment for me. Why else would a bunch of guys from England travel to the Middle East on horseback during the Middle Ages?

I'm pretty sure that I've recycled this one, but it's such sage truth. I felt I had to include it.

My Second Beautiful Daughter is a first year undergraduate. When she called me during the first few weeks of classes and wanted to talk, this is the advice I gave her.

I neither took the picture nor spoke the words. All I did was put them together. The picture and quote are so completely apropos, I had to include it here.