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Friday, April 24, 2015
  • For the longest time, I wrestled with the idea of owning an iPad. I had a smart phone, which fit neatly in my pocket, and I had a computer that fit neatly in my basement. I didn't see the point of owning another gadget, especially since I was still unskilled in the two electronic devices I already had. Then came the answer to my prayers: iPad For Seniors, For Dummies. It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

    The Dummies series includes more than 260 publications. I own Living Vegan for Dummies and Backyard BBQ for Dummies (I go through phases). Years ago, I wanted to learn how to throw my voice but was disappointed to find there was no Ventriloquism for Dummies available.

    Nancy Muir, the author of this new iPad book, has published more than 100 articles on technology and is a leading software consultant. I assume she is about 11 years old, because no one my age could know that much about computers.

     
  • Mary Ellen and I are attending an alumni dinner at George Washington University in DC where I attended college. My wife booked the airfare, but she asked me to make the hotel reservations.

    I think those discount websites like Expedia, Priceline, and Travelocity are more trouble than they're worth. I usually call the hotel directly, but Mary Ellen claims there are better rates online. I decided to try my hand at it, and opted for Kayak just so I could tell friends I went Kayaking, which sounds macho and is much easier to say than Expedia . . . ing.

    I wanted to stay at the University Inn, a historic hotel right on campus. I clicked on it and was pleasantly surprised at the cost. Yes, I had finally used one of these travel sites to score a really good price. Notification quickly arrived confirming three nights. I proudly showed Mary Ellen the email. She examined it carefully. "Dick, didn't we want a hotel near campus?"

    "Of course. Look at the map. Aren't we close?"

    "Let's see. I'd say about 2,300 miles. Nice booking. Well, at least we're in Washington."

     
  • When I show up to see my CPA at tax time, Clare clears her desk so I can spread out all my shoeboxes filled with receipts. First, she asks how much income I had last year. That's when I say: "It's always about money with you people, isn't it?"

    When I walked in this week, she said, "Well, if it isn't Brian Williams!" I was flattered, and not surprised that she mistook me for the dashing NBC reporter, but my ego was soon deflated when she explained the reference. "I saw your column in the paper, the one where you claim that you never procrastinate. You even boasted you completed your 2014 taxes in January." Then she directed the tip of her well-sharpened number two pencil at the huge stack of papers I had piled on her desk. I got the point. I must have turned red because Clare jotted down something on her legal pad. Any reference to being in the red has to be carefully documented.

     
  • Everybody throws the word "bet" around. "Mary Ellen, I bet we're going to be late again." Or, "Dick, I bet that burger has 50 grams of fat."

    Marriage itself is a gamble. And I like a good wager every once in a while, but I'm also very cheap, so that's a problem. When Mary Ellen and I are on vacation, I spend a lot of time in the casino...eating the free eggrolls and watching people pull the lever on the nickel slot machine. I like the action. 
  • A pooch named Miss P is now America's top dog. For the second time, a beagle has won the Westminster Dog Show. Tails and tongues are wagging. For me, this news is incredibly wonderful. Here's why.

    Twenty-five years ago this month, before heading out to do my morning TV show, I found a stray beagle on my front doorstep. You might already know the story. Barney was sweet and loving but he was destructive and disobedient. "You can keep him," said my wife, "but you'll have to take him to work with you during the day."

    So, I did. Not just that day, but for the next 12 years, and almost 2,500 TV shows. When he died in 2004, I received 3,000 letters and emails. The front page of the Indianapolis Star headlined it this way: WISH-TV's Little Bandit Dies at 14.

     
  • Spring is just around the corner and I am already a wreck about what a lousy-looking lawn we are going to have again this year. I've tried everything in the past. Even watering. I don't understand why a dandelion can grow between two slabs of concrete, but I can't get grass to grow anywhere in my front yard. Dandelions should never have been referred to as weeds. That's where the problem started. 
  • I am not a procrastinator. Quite the opposite. I pay bills before they are due. I've already filed my 2014 income tax return. I kiss my wife goodnight in the morning.

    The daily to-do list that I complete each night should list errands and chores that need to be done the next day, but I can't put any of those things on my little yellow notepad because I completed all those tasks two weeks ago.

    Sometimes I imagine what would happen if the day I graduated from high school, I had been given a giant to-do list with everything on it that I needed to accomplish by the time I went to my 50th class reunion...which will be in October, back in New York. The Creator of that list (literally, The Creator,) already knows what I will do in my life-everything. Now, what if I were told I have to get this all done in 50 years. Here are few things that I would have to get started on . . .

     
  • Comedian Zach Galifianakis has never been able to do it. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has failed every time. So has country singer Brad Paisley. Stephen Colbert hasn't ever been a winner. In fact, the chances of success are about 5,000 to one. But Rachel Loveman of Indianapolis has taken the prize.

    No, this wasn't a drawing. Actually, it was a drawing-of a matador dancing with a bull in the arena. Rachel's task: Write a funny caption for that New Yorkercartoon. What is the bull saying? 
  • In order for Mary Ellen and me to remain happily married for more than three decades, certain adjustments have had to be made. We've had some difficult moments over the years, but right now we are better adjusted than we have ever been.

    Our toaster setting, for example, has been a source of some heated discussion. Mary Ellen sets the dial so low that we should call the device our Hamilton Beach warmer. What pops up is not toast. You could get the same result if you just rested a few bread slices on the windowsill. She says my toast is too burnt, which is silly, but it's hard to argue with her when I'm fanning our smoke alarm with a wet dishcloth.

    "Why can't you put it back to the dark setting when you are done?" I asked her. 
  • What makes great one-liners? They are often wonderful insights, plays on words, or mis-directions in thinking. Below are just a few of my favorites that I collected during the year 2014. Some are far older than that, but they were new to me and made me smile. I hope they do the same for you. Think of it as a belated Christmas gift. Next week you have to read my jokes

    (Note: when I know whose line it is, I give proper credit. But using other people's jokes is not unheard of. After all, that's how I got this column written.)

    I told people I wanted to be a comic when I grew up. They laughed at me. They're not laughing now. (Bob Monkhouse)

     

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