Offtheshelf's blog

To Whom It May Concern

February 10, 2007


Genesis, Inc.

Attn: VP, Creation Division

1 Big Bang Avenue

Center of the Universe

Mind of God-on-the-Hudson, NY 101010


To Whom It May Concern:

With this letter I wish to point out some concerns I have with the current state of the universe as I see it.

First of all, there's just too much space and not enough stuff filling up the space. Because of all this extra space it takes many, many light years to travel between heavenly bodies, which makes getting together at the holidays nearly impossible. Can't something be done to eliminate a lot of the excess space and bring things closer together? Yes, yes, I know this is scheduled to happen when the universe begins to collapse, but that won't be for billions of years ... heck we just can't wait that long! We need to see more immediate results!

Second, space is just too darn cold, requiring one to always dress in many layers and wear gloves and a funny hat when leaving the house for even the simplest errand. Something should be done to warm things up. How about if we reposition the suns in such a way that there's always one close by? Ninety-three million miles seems just the right distance. This should be an easy fix as there are an infinite number of stars out there, and there are new ones being created all the time.

Third, rogue comets need to be found and destroyed. These unpredictable comets could easily strike a populated planet, causing mass extinction and really messing things up big time. Think of the lost tax revenue if everyone on a particular planet were suddenly snuffed out! And we all know what a tight budget the universe is on these days!

Fourth, evolution needs to be sped up. For instance, look at what's going on down on the planet Terra (a/k/a Earth ... the third planet from the sun Helios located in the Milky Way Galaxy). The current species ruling the planet has been around for a few million years. In recent centuries they have eliminated smallpox, harnessed nuclear power, created 8-track tape players, and traveled to their moon. Though they show promise, they still live with poverty, disease, racism, warfare, and chapped lips. A little Divine Intervention, and perhaps the watchful eye of an angel or two, could help them over the evolutionary hurdle and possibly save them all from total annihilation.

I thank you very much for your kind attention, and for whatever assistance you may be able to provide on the above matters. Give my best to all those in the Creation Division, and please pass along my regards to the Big Guy in the corner office.

Until next time...

Your Obedient Servant,

Jack Sheedy (Descendant of apelike creatures)

Nothing Accomplished

Today was one of those days that went nowhere fast. It was a rare day off from both the library and the mail route.  As the day went along I got nothing accomplished. Nothing!

I had great plans for today. I was going to do some writing. I was going to install some sheetrock in the basement room. I was going to do my taxes. Maybe do some ice skating. It was going to be a productive day. But instead, nothing got started and therefore nothing got accomplished.

Oh sure, I started a blog ... about infomercials ... it went something like this:

Channel surf these days during the early morning hours and you're bound to come upon an infomercial or two or three - whether it's to sell a collection of CDs, or to peddle the latest "get rich quick" plan, or even to entice you to buy the All New 2007 Chevy Silverado pickup truck (featuring former football player Howie Long and a supporting cast of manly men wearing work boots and tool belts). Strangely, with all the usual TV fare offered up to the viewing public these days - from "American Idle" to "Desperate Houseflies" - I find myself enjoying the infomercials more and more.

That's as far as I got.

I thought I might shut my eyes for a few minutes after noontime ... to clear my brain for an afternoon of activity ... and I fell asleep for the next two and a half hours! That's not like me at all -- to fall asleep, in the middle of the day, in the afternoon, with the sun out, fully clothed. Oh God, I must be getting old!

Went online later in the afternoon in search of a blog topic. Discovered that US war dead is now at 3,111 with some 23,400 wounded. Also, the Brits have lost 131 soldiers, Italy has lost 33, Poland 19, Ukraine 18, Bulgaria 13, and Spain 11. What did President Wilson call WWI? The "war to end all wars"? Well, here we are nearly one hundred years later still blowing each other up.

Speaking of Italy, at a dig site archaeologists unearthed two 5,000-year-old skeletons locked in an embrace. For 5,000 years these two have been in each other's arms - probably the longest sustained hug in the history of the planet - until archaeologists removed the bones and hauled them off for further study. Does science have no heart?! No sense of romance?! No passion?! And the week before Valentine's Day no less! We can only hope there's some 5,000-year-old curse that inflicts whomever disturbs the couple's tomb!

Sunset today found Venus and Mercury beaming in the western sky ... and my son arriving home from an afternoon of ice hockey with a broken stick. After dinner I shut my eyes again, just for a minute, and some twenty minutes later I awoke from yet another nap! Good God, what's happening to me.

Evening. A waning gibbous moon overhead (73% full according to Earth & Sky). The evening comes to a close. I put a big black "X" through the box representing February 7, 2007 on my calendar. A day during which nothing of any note was accomplished. A day I will never get back again. A day like so many others thrown atop the big celestial trash heap of similar 24-hour periods now passed and gone forever ... unless, of course, the universe begins contracting as astronomers suggest and time goes in reverse all the way back to the big bang. The big bang, now that will be something to see!

As I said earlier, today was one of those days that went nowhere fast. I got nothing accomplished. Nothing!

Jack Sheedy

Even Football Players Cry

 Introspective Blog Alert ... Introspective Blog Alert ... Introspective Blog Alert ...

Any writer that plumbs the depths, thus revealing his inner self, is like a medieval knight charging off into battle without his armor and without his weapon and without his noble steed (perhaps wearing only a loin cloth to keep the censors happy). It is truly a disrobing experience, this thing called writing.

So with that in mind, the subject of today's blog is "crying" and my ability these days to well up over anything from a beautiful piece of music to a memory of the past to even a sentimental TV commercial.

I don't know how I got to this mushy state. In my younger days I was always a rough-and- tumble kind of bloke. I played ice hockey (as evidenced by a small scar on my face and knees that crack when I bend them). I played football (as evidenced by a broken collarbone that didn't quite heal correctly and causes me some degree of discomfort on rainy days). And I got into a few fights in my day (as evidenced by the fact that one of my front teeth is a fake). Yet I don't recall crying over any of this. But something happened as I got older, to the point where certain things tend to tug at the heartstrings and cause me to get all misty eyed.

Oh sure, the loss of family members and friends - that's a given. The loss of a pet - another given. But soon I began to get emotional over simple things. Like anything Americana. Like anything nostalgic. When I heard Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring" for the first time, start to finish, awash in Americana themes, I found myself with tears streaming down my face. There must be something about Copland that strikes a nerve because his music to "Our Town" did the same thing to me.

Other music has a similar effect. Don't ask me why, but the opening credit music to the Star Trek Voyager TV series chokes me up. Come to think of it, there is something Coplandesque about it. See, I knew there was a logical explanation. The music to Dances With Wolves - the same thing. For some reason, the climatic music toward the end of the movie ET. The theme music to Jurassic Park. Hoagie Carmichael's "Stardust." Certain pieces of music by Vince Guaraldi. Certain pieces by George Winston. Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit." Any patriotic music done slightly out of key by a middle school orchestra.

Movies really get to me. There are obvious ones, like United 93 which had me at blubber stage from the point when my son put the DVD in the player. Field of Dreams, at the end when Kevin Costner's character plays catch with his dead dad ... oh, boy! The unlikely Christmas movie Prancer - the scene in which the widowed father (played by a gruff Sam Elliot) tears up while telling his eight year old daughter that he can't bear to send her away to live with her aunt even though he can't make ends meet in order to give her the life she deserves - Phew! - It gets me every Christmas season.

And there's something about the Waltons, especially the early years when Grampa and Grandma Walton were still alive and kicking, that just opens the floodgates. Besides the nostalgia factor, and the Americana themes, it is interesting to note that the music is rather Coplandesque - which means that during any given episode I'm being hit from all sides.

Places also cause me to well up. Visiting my childhood hometown of Braintree, Mass makes me weepy. The mountains of New Hampshire. Haigis Beach down in Dennisport. And Washington, DC. My first visit was back in the early 1990's during a business trip. I had a chance to visit all the sites - and I think I welled up at each one. I was able to keep a handle on my emotions until I got to the Lincoln Memorial, where I found it impossible to hold back. Something about that Abraham Lincoln ... and that darn Gettysburg Address!

But the most powerful bit of crying I've ever done, outside of crying for a deceased family member, was following 9/11. I held it together for a couple of days, and then at one point I wandered off to a quiet area of the house, upstairs, away from the kids as I didn't want them to become frightened, and I wept. Even today, whenever I see footage of that day, the plane hitting the second tower, the towers coming down, the Pentagon, the field in Pennsylvania, I find myself fighting back tears.

So, guys of the 21st century - it's okay to cry. Heck, even football players cry when they lose the big game. Or even when they win the big game. But this week, if you see me with watery eyes don't be too concerned. It just means I've been doing my taxes ... perhaps with some Aaron Copland playing in the background.

Jack Sheedy

The Popsicle Diet

Today I was working on a blog (which I may or may not post as it is rather serious and introspective and revealing and is frankly none of your darn business) when I became hungry for something. So I wandered into the kitchen to forage. What was I in the mood for? Hmmm. Peanuts? No. Popcorn? No. A spoonful of Fluff? No. Wait, I know! Popsicles!

Popsicles are probably nature's most perfect food item. Think about it. They're a snack on a stick that come in a variety of colors. They're cool on the lips, tasty, and satisfy like a drink. They come in great flavors like Orange, Cherry, and Grape. They're a good source of Vitamin C. And best of all, they're fat free!

Fat free! That made my ears perk up. Let's face it, I'm 44 years old - so I have to start watching what I eat lest I become something more than what I want to be. At 5 foot 10 inches tall, I should weigh a bit less than the 190 pounds I'm currently carrying around. I should be somewhere in the 180 range. So I began thinking. I began thinking about Popsicles. Hmmm ... Popsicles. Hmmm ... Popsicles. That's the ticket!

A Popsicle has 40 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of sodium, and provides 10% of the daily allowance of Vitamin C. A typical person is allowed 2,000 calories of food intake per day. That means I could eat 50 Popsicles on a daily basis, with no fat intake and yet while providing my body with 500% of the daily Vitamin C requirement. I'll be losing weight and probably never get a head cold again!

So, with an eye on weight loss and improved health I developed the following dietary menu:

Breakfast: 5 Orange Popsicles, 5 Grape Popsicles

Mid morning snack: 5 Cherry Popsicles

Lunch:  5 Orange Popsicles, 5 Grape Popsicles, 5 Cherry Popsicles

Mid afternoon snack: 5 Grape Popsicles

Dinner: 10 Orange Popsicles, 5 Cherry Popsicles

I figure if I can keep to this schedule for a couple of months I'll get down to the desired 180 pounds. The only problem, as I see it, is that I'll have to find freezer space for 350 Popsicles each week. And then, what to do with all those Popsicle sticks? Around 1,500 per month. I suppose I could build something out of them - perhaps napkin holders for my friends; I could give them out on birthdays and at Christmas. The more I think about this, the better the whole Popsicle idea becomes!

So tomorrow, it's off to the grocery store to buy Popsicles. If this diet works I could write a book, put out a DVD, appear on TV Infomercials, go on Oprah, and hobnob with all the stars. Popsicles are my ticket to fame and fortune!

I just need to do a little research to find out exactly what chemicals go into Yellow 6, Red 40, Red 3, and Blue 1 -- and what if any long-term effect those chemicals have had on laboratory mice.

Jack Sheedy

Future Shock ... With Pulp

When I was a youngster growing up in the wonderful 1970's (with its Vietnam War and recession and inflation and high interest rates and energy crisis and hostage crisis and Watergate and long gas lines and general overall feeling of malaise) I looked with anticipation toward the "future."

There we were back there in 1972/1973/1974. We had been to the moon a bunch of times. We had the Skylab space station in orbit. We had spacecraft headed for Mars. We had the animated Star Trek series on Saturday morning TV. Heck, we figured by the 21st century we'd all be living in space! The future was going to be great!!

Well, here we are in the "future" -- 2007. More than a half dozen years into the new century. The 21st century. Hmmm ... you know what? The "future" is not at all what I thought it would be.

In fact, the "future" is downright boring.

Somehow, we seem further away from the "future" now than we did way back in the 1970's. (Don't think too hard about the logic of that statement -- it will just tie your brain up in knots for hours.) For instance, we still have to shovel snow. We still have to vacuum our houses. We still have to digest food in order to survive. What happened to the little nutrient pills that were supposed to take the place of food? What happened to the domestic robots that were supposed to clean our houses? What happened to the heated driveways ... not to mention the whole notion of controlling the weather? It's the 21st century and we're still at the whim of Mother Nature. This just isn't right!

Oh sure, sure, we've all got personal computers in our homes linking us to a universe of information, making it seem like we're all living in some futuristic state. With the touch of a button I can conjure up any manner of factoid -- from in-depth information on every health issue know to modern medicine, to every line of dialogue from every Three Stooges episode ever made (even the Curly Joe episodes). Other than that, boring!

Even our clothing is boring. What happened to the one-piece Titanium jumpsuits we thought we'd all be wearing by the year 2001? What happened to the gravity boots? What happened to the thruster backpack units that were supposed to transport us from here to there? Instead, all we've got are baggy sweatpants and T-shirts emblazoned with foul words that I can't mention here on this blog. That's no way to boldly go into the future!

Let's face it, there's nothing of any great note happening here in the year 2007. No big goals for the human race to achieve. No grand ideals for the human race to aspire to. No action plan to work toward. Nothing but business as usual - the daily grind - here in the painfully dull "future." (And if that's not dull enough, we still have to pay income tax! This is nuts!)

So, with that said, I went out looking for something exciting to entertain my brain here in the hopelessly average "future." What is it that sets 2007 apart from, say, 1975? I searched and searched. We're at war, but then again we've been at war in the past so that's no different. The majority of us believe in God, but belief in God predates the 21st century so that's no different. We reproduce in order to perpetuate the species, but that's been going on for hundreds of years so no difference there. We still breathe oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide - that hasn't changed. It's still three strikes and you're out. It's still a pair of Jacks to open. It's still four quarts to a gallon. And it's still "i" before "e" except after "c." No change.

I searched and searched, and searched some more. Until finally I happened upon the one big difference ... orange juice.

That's right, orange juice. Have you examined orange juice lately? You can get it with "No Pulp" or "Pulp Free," which is how my kids like it. You can also get it with "Low Pulp" or "Some Pulp," which is how I like it (I like an orange juice I can sink my teeth into). You can get it with "Medium Pulp," whatever that might mean (perhaps chunks larger than a blueberry but smaller than a golf ball). You can also get your orange juice with "Much Pulp" (which I believe means with the rind still on it -- a bit too chewy for my taste).

Orange juice now comes in "Country Style," "Home Squeezed," with "Extra Vitamins," with "Low Acid," with Vitamins A, B1, C, D, E, and even Zinc (no Titanium, though). You can get a "Heart Wise" variety (for those with cholesterol issues) or "Orange Passion" flavor (with guava) or even mixed with tangerine. You can also have your orange juice with Calcium added (heck, who needs milk!). See all the different ways you can get your orange juice in the year 2007!!

Hmmmm ... I told you the future is boring.

Jack Sheedy

Rant & Rave

Al-Qaeda's Ayman al-Zawahri (a/k/a "Dr. Evil") recently released a new video in which he once again promised doom and destruction to the USA. In the past he has recorded similarly themed messages that have found an audience on Al Jazeera TV, on various terrorist websites, and at religious fundamentalist discotheques located throughout the Middle East.

What is not well known here in the West is that al-Zawahri has released a number of best selling music CDs as well, crooning fanatical favorites from his cave recording studio located deep in the hills of Pakistan. These songs, along with digitally restored tunes sung by some of the nuttiest world leaders you'll ever want to meet have been assembled into one convenient music collection entitled Rant & Rave - Music of the World's Madmen. And now, through this exclusive TV offer, you too can enjoy these wonderful songs in the comfort ... and in the relative safety ... of your own home!

Who can forget al-Zawahri's three chart-topping hits - "God Will Destroy You!" "God Will Crush You!" and "God Will Annihilate You!" - recorded with the ever-popular Jihad Dance Trio.

Listen as al-Zawahri teams up with Osama bin Laden for the classic duet, "Have You Seen My Camel?" Rant & Rave also includes Saddam Hussein's Top 40 ballad "I Gave My Heart to You ... Though I Gave My WMDs to Syria" and Ayatollah Khomeini's big 1980's hit "Hostage of Love." And where were you when you first heard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's upbeat Iranian rocker "Feel Like Making Nukes!"

"You just can't find songs like these in stores. But thanks to this exclusive music offer, they're now part of my CD collection!" Bill M., Music Fan

"This is a great offer. Never before have there been so many wonderful hit songs from so many crazy fanatics ... all in one place!" Janice P., Another Music Fan

But wait! There's more! See if you remember this Top 10 classic from Libya's Muammar al-Gaddafi, the soulful "I Used to Be a Crazy Terrorist Dictator, But Now I Am Disarming." Or sing along with Idi Amin and the Gang to his energetic "Uganda Polka." And who can forget Kim Jong-il's timeless ballad "Meet Me in the DMZ." They just don't make music like that anymore!

Order now and we'll throw in a bonus CD, More Rant & Rave - Crazy Men of WWII, as our special gift to you. Included is the mournful Hitler ballad "It's Been a Long, Cold Russian Winter." Just try to keep the tears at bay while singing along to the heart wrenching Josef Stalin love song "It's Off to Siberia With You, My Love, My Love." And what CD collection is complete without Mussolini's comic romp "Do I Look Fat in These Pants?"

"This is an amazing collection ... "Hostage of Love" ... "Meet Me in the DMZ" ... "Do I Look Fat in These Pants?" ... All classics ... Rant & Rave could be the greatest music collection ever assembled." Tom W., Yet Another Music Fan (who used to date Janice P)

"These songs bring me right back to the days of my youth - the sock hop, the malt shoppe, the drive-in, the long gas lines, the depressing evening news, the terror, the ever present fear - boy, those were the days!" Pam D., Still Another Music Fan (who happens to be extremely jealous of Janice P because of her earlier relationship with Tom W)

To order, simply call the number at the bottom of your screen. And if you make your order in the next ten minutes you'll pay no shipping charges. That's right, no shipping!  Your CD collection will arrive in a burlap sack, delivered by a tall bearded man driving an unmarked white van. Just don't ask him any questions. And there's no need to pay him now. We'll simply hunt you down later!

Don't wait! Order Rant & Rave today! Operators are standing by on bugged phone lines, so call now!

Jack Sheedy

Life During Wartime

We are at war.

See the 3,000How do I know this? Because it seems that on a nightly basis I hear of the latest brave American to give his life over in Iraq. Last night it was three lives - two Marines killed in Anbar (ages 23 and 20) and a soldier killed in Nineveh (age 21). Yet here on the home front we feel hardly a ripple of what many military families around this country must feel every minute of every hour of every day.

For those of us without a family member or friend over in Iraq, or in Afghanistan, we feel no sense of sacrifice. We go about our daily lives as usual. Sometimes we forget. We forget that somewhere in some Mid-East place a young American serviceman is on patrol, wondering perhaps in the back of his mind if he will live to see tomorrow. Yet here we are, not missing a beat in our daily lives, working our jobs throughout the week, going out for dinner on Saturdays, watching football on Sundays, complaining about the high cost of gasoline, and sometimes not remembering that we are at war.

Granted, this is a strange war. It's largely an intangible war with unclear enemies. But what's not intangible are the now 3,061 US servicemen dead (according to an AP report), the more than 20,000 wounded, and a situation which is rapidly spiraling into a civil war - with Sunnis on one side, Shiites on the other, and Kurds somewhere out along the edges.

Things seemed different in our other wars. During WWII, Germany and Japan were the clear enemies - you could easily find them on the world map. On the home front there were blackouts, and tire drives, and metal drives, and rationing, and war bonds, and a star or two (or five in the case of the Fighting Sullivans) on most every front door, keeping the population firmly rooted to the sacrifices taking place overseas.

During the early part of my lifetime it was the Cold War that was being fought across ideological front lines. Though it was a somewhat intangible war -- made tangible by Korea and Vietnam and when missiles were discovered in Cuba -- it was somehow very real for each one of us. It seemed inevitable that one day the East and West would reach that point of no return and the missiles would fly. And we knew that hiding beneath our school desk was not going to save us.

Despite this daily fear of mutual annihilation, I prefer a Cold War fight to the one we're waging now. You knew who the enemy was (the Ruskies) and where they were located  (Moscow) and what we had to fear (their nukes). Today, I haven't a clue who the enemy is or in which cave they're hiding today or how they might be a threat.

Listen, I don't want to bring you all down. Normally what I write in this blog is some silly little bit about squirrels stealing my pumpkins, or backwards Christmas songs, or the joy of beef and cheese, or literary classics edited by tax accountants.

All I'm saying is ... in our daily travels let's not forget about the sacrifices being made by our young countrymen and women in uniform. In the case of last night's news, two Marines and an Army soldier.    


With that said ... to lighten the mood I've written a little song (think Tom Lehrer). I call it Bring Back the Old Cold Days (or Please Pass the SALT) and it goes something like this:

Remember the old Cold War? / The ideology that we were fighting for / Democracy, liberty, and apple pie

Communism was to blame / Dominoes an effect, not just a game / Our leaders told the truth, they never lied

Remember the old Commie folk? / Stalin, Khrushchev, and Brezhnev, what a joke! / They were always good for a laugh

But today the bad guys aren't as fun / They hide in caves, always on the run / They're not nearly as suave, not even by half



So, bring back the old Cold days / Bring back the old Soviet ways / Sputnik, Soyuz, and cosmonauts in orbit

So, bring back the old Cold nights / The USSR and MiGs in flight / The Iron Curtain, SALT II, and Olga Korbut


Terrorists are an elusive lot / They blow themselves up, and then what have you got / They don't fight by the rules, and that's not nice

In the Cold War we each had the bomb / We could blow up every dad and every mom/ To each day, Armageddon added a little spice



So, bring back the old Cold days / Bring back the old Soviet ways / Sputnik, Soyuz, and cosmonauts in orbit

So, bring back the old Cold nights / The USSR and MiGs in flight / The Iron Curtain, SALT II, and Olga Korbut

{Repeat Chorus ... Everyone!}

So, bring back the old Cold days / Bring back the old Soviet ways / Sputnik, Soyuz, and cosmonauts in orbit

So, bring back the old Cold nights / The USSR and MiGs in flight / The Iron Curtain, SALT II, and Olga Korbut

Jack Sheedy

If Accountants Edited the Classics

I often ponder on the strange, the weird, the bizarre, and the downright silly. So it happened yesterday that I considered: What would have been the result if tax accountants were hired to edit the literary classics? Don't bother to ask why. Just go along with it, after all, it is the beginning of tax season.

Perhaps this is how some of those classic books would have begun if tax accountants were involved in the editing process (edits shown in red).

melville_01{Moby Dick by Herman Melville}

"Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, I stopped by my accountant's office in New Bedford where he advised me to complete a Schedule E for Supplemental Income and Loss since I had recently entered into a real estate partnership with three other gentlemen - Messrs. Starbuck, Stubb, and Ahab."

{The Bostonians by Henry James}

henry_james2"'Olive will come down in about ten minutes; she told me to tell you that. About ten; exactly like Olive. Neither five nor fifteen, and yet not ten exactly, but either nine or eleven. I told Olive, if she ever wants to become a tax accountant she had better be more precise than that!"

{The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R Tolkien}

"This book is largely concerned with Hobbits, and from its pages a reader may discover much of their character and a little of their history. Meanwhile, the 2006 Form 1040 Instruction booklet has absolutely nothing at all to do with Hobbits, although it was written by people with pointed ears, funny looking feet, and who reside somewhere in Middle-Earth (a/k/a Washington, DC)."

mark_twain{Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain}

"You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. Me and Tom, we ain't paid no taxes in a bunch a years. We just bounce from town to town down the ol' Mississip without a care in the world. I reckon we ain't never gonna get caught by the ol' IRS 'cause we ain't got no social security numbers. We ain't never filed. Ain't never once!"

{The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne}

hawthornenat"A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak and studded with iron spikes. Alas, we were all being audited by the IRS."

{The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald}

"In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. He said, 'Son, always form a limited partnership, that way you lessen your personal liability should the IRS ever come calling. Here's the number of an accountant friend of mine. Give him a call. By the way, aren't you about due for a haircut?'"

dickenschas{A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens}

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, heck, it was April 15th and I still hadn't finished my taxes yet!"

{The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller}

millerarthur2"A small upper bedroom in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, Salem, Massachusetts, in the spring of the year 1692. There is a narrow window at the left. Through its leaded panes the morning light streams. A candle still burns near the bed, which is at the right.

"At the time of these events Parris was in his middle forties. In history he cut a villainous path, and there is very little good to be said for him. Furthermore, he often cheated on his taxes by grossly misstating his income and inventing deductions, such as: cost for purchasing Devil Bags to keep away witches, $200; cost for purchasing garlic to protect family members from witches, $100; cost for purchasing matches to burn witches, $75."

joycejames{Ulysses by James Joyce}

"Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mild morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:

"-Intaxo estimato forgete Dei (which is Latin for "Darn, I forgot to file my first quarter estimated tax!")"

And just a few others:

bronteemily{Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte}

"I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. I swear, every year he goofs up my 1099 form!"

{Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte}

"There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning in search of the IRS office."

harperlee{To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee}

"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. Fortunately my father, Atticus, was able to show the medical expenses as a deduction on Schedule A."

Jack Sheedy

Apply Directly to Forehead

Well, the supplement Blogitor 2000 I've been using to improve my focus on blog writing has not been working (see my earlier entry). My latest attempt at a blog eventually morphed into a shopping list ... oh yeah, we need some milk, better write that down before I forget ... one gallon of skim milk. An earlier blog attempt on the space-time continuum put me into a deep sleep, which is usually not a good sign (i.e. see my Revisiting the Ring der Nibelung blog from September).

So this morning, first thing, I headed out for my daily swim at Cold Storage Beach, figuring a couple of laps might trigger a thought or two. Boy, they don't call it Cold Storage for nothing. Brrrr! Anyway, nothing of note came to me ... except a small case of hypothermia.

Out on the mail route today I almost had a thought, although I quickly discovered it's not a good idea to be driving a mail truck while looking at the mail and while eyeballing mailboxes and while trying to formulate a blog all at the same time. Something's gotta give, and very soon you find yourself driving up on somebody's front lawn ... which is always embarrassing.

So I decided to try a new direction. I saw an ad on TV last night promoting a new product - BlogOn. Perhaps you've seen the ad, too. The ad tells you to "Apply directly to forehead ... Apply directly to forehead ... Apply directly to forehead ... Apply directly to forehead ... Apply directly to forehead." It never tells you, though, exactly what will happen if and when you do, in fact, apply BlogOn directly to your forehead. But I must admit, whenever I hear somebody tell me to do something six or eight times in a row, and so emphatically, I just can't seem to help myself. So, after work I ran right down to the corner druggist and purchased some BlogOn. The package came without any instruction on how to use it, whether it should be taken orally or ... or taken otherwise ... but just in the nick of time I remembered the TV ad! "Apply directly to forehead ... Apply directly to forehead." Perhaps they really mean it - perhaps they honestly want us to apply this medicine directly to forehead. It only makes sense, after all that's where all my best thoughts come from ... well, some of them at least.

After dinner I applied BlogOn directly to my forehead. At first I felt a little tingling. Then I was visited by a sudden rush of random thought: energy = mass times the speed of light squared; the rational value of pi = 3.14159265...7; the largest finite number is infinity minus one; Route 3 merging into one lane just before the Sagamore Bridge will cause a 3.2-mile backup on any given Saturday morning during the month of July.

Then I began to clearly remember things from out of my past, such as answers to calculus exams I took during my freshman year of college, license plate numbers of cars I passed on my last trip out to Indiana, all the Vice Presidents in reverse order from Cheney to Adams, where I lost my car keys back in 1980 after that J. Geils concert at the Coliseum, etc.

Finally I got the germ of a blog idea. It began to grow, slowly, slowly, so I applied some more BlogOn directly to my forehead. The idea began to take shape, sprouting, developing, evolving, and then ... and then ... and then it was gone.

Oh well, I'll try another swim tomorrow morning. If that doesn't work, then I'll simply blog my shopping list. Oh yeah, that reminds me ... toothpaste, we need toothpaste.

Jack Sheedy

Always Read the Fine Print

Well, here we are 1/24th of the way through 2007. Just 23/24ths of the year left to go until 2008. Then before we know it, it'll be 2009, and next 2010. Wow, 2010 already! Imagine that! 2010! Boy, where has the time gone?

Which leads me to wonder ... what would you call this year? Oh sure, I know it's 2007. But is the year pronounced "Two thousand and seven" or "Twenty-o-seven"? Some people say "Two thousand and seven" while others refer to it as "Twenty-o-seven." I prefer "Twenty-o-seven," but sometimes I catch myself saying "Two thousand and seven." It's tricky business, this new century.

For instance, back in the 20th century we referred to 1907 as "Nineteen-o-seven" and 1967 as "Nineteen sixty-seven," not as "One thousand, nine hundred and seven" or as "One thousand, nine hundred and sixty-seven." And how would we refer to this decade? For instance, the 1960's were known as the "60's," the 1970's as the "70's." What do we call the years from 2000 to 2009? The "zeros"? The "single digits"? The "o-somethings"? And what of the years from 2010 to 2019? Would we call them "the teens"? (Although that wouldn't quite work for 2010 thru 2012.) Or perhaps the "double digits"? It's all very confusing.

diet2_02Let me try to explain further ... now ... um... oh boy, this isn't going well. This blog is about as dull as a blog can get. Dull, dull, dull. I'll tell ya, it's difficult to come up with fresh blog material every three or four days. Material that's timely, on topic, witty, and spelled corectly.

Fortunately, today I picked up a blog dietary supplement called Blogitor 2000 (the clinical name is witticism hydrochloride adverbia). It comes in 25mg tablets. My doctor says it will help to improve my focus, enabling me to come up with relevant blog topics and pinpoint verbiage. The only problem is the side effects, which I noticed in the fine print that accompanied the supplement. It reads as follows:

Blogitor 2000 is only to be used by patients who are currently writing a blog or plan to write a blog within the next 48 hours. It should not be used with any other literary medicines or supplements, such as those taken to aid in writing a novel, a novella, a collection of short stories, poetry, or in writing advertising copy meant to promote financial products, soft drinks, or fast food. Those with high blood pressure, low blood pressure, high cholesterol, low cholesterol, a high fever, a low fever, those over six feet tall or under six feet tall, and all those between the ages of 35 and 45 should avoid using this supplement unless they really, really, really feel it's necessary.

Blogitor 2000 is not for everybody, including men, women, old men, old women, dogs, cats, squirrels, farm animals, laboratory animals, former telephone operators, astronauts, librarians, anyone with a middle name that starts with W, officers of the Salvation Army, opera singers, anyone born after 1899, circus performers, members of the clergy, and people who have dropped out of society and are currently living in the back woods of Maine. It's also not for those with liver problems, stomach problems, intestinal problems, lung problems, heart problems, ears-nose-and-throat problems, and anyone with really ugly toenails (you know, those yellow toenails that curl up in unnatural ways - gross!). It's also not for any women or men who are pregnant or who may become pregnant, or who were once pregnant, or who know someone that was, is, or may one day become pregnant.

If you're taking Blogitor 2000, tell everyone you know because at any moment you could slip into a sudden coma and only fast action will save your life. Other side effects could include nose bleeds, vomiting (including extreme Exorcist-like projectile vomiting), muscle pain, a deep sense of emptiness, an even deeper sense of emptiness, a painful void in the pit of your stomach though you know not why, an intense aching throughout your body (not unlike what Mel Gibson's character went through toward the end of Braveheart), and terribly painful constipation, followed by profoundly embarrassing diarrhea that will no doubt catch you completely by surprise and when you least expect it (normally when you are nowhere near a toilet). But the most common side effect is a severe case of flatulence like you never dreamed possible, leaving you completely drained, pitifully devastated, and utterly embarrassed beyond belief (take our word for it, it's really, really bad). Oh yeah, and there's heartburn - terrible heartburn, stomach cramps, gas, and spiking headaches that will leave you wishing you'd never been born. These side effects tend to go away after a week or two.

So the next time you're staring at a blank computer screen in search of a blog idea, reach for Blogitor 2000 - the #1 prescribed blog supplement in the USA. The side effects may be painful and embarrassing, but heck, you've got a blog to write!

Blogitor 2000 - not FDA approved. Phonylketonurics: Contains phonylalanine, which tends to cause laboratory mice to glow in the most beautiful shade of green, with just a hint of blue ... it's truly stunning.

Jack Sheedy