Category Archives: Observational Humor

Powerball Fever (Winning Numbers Included)

1984_01

Multiple annotated reads of George Orwell’s 1984 have taught me all of the mathematical concepts this struggling prole needs to know in order to survive our pre-apocalyptic world – preemptively dubbed the “Tin Foil Hat Era”:

  1. 2 + 2 = 5
  1. The proles (i.e. 99 Percenters) – sex, booze, Cliffsnotes, drugs, Little Debbies, televised sports, People Magazine and the lottery = 100-percent fucked (metaphorically speaking of course, given sex has been removed from the equation)
  1. Proletariat – Hope = Total Anarchy*

*Imagine President Donald Trump with a Purple Crayon

Initially these concepts were immaculately conceived by God Big Brother, who impregnated the first sets of televisions, which eventually begat computers when Big Brother’s wandering eye preyed upon a younger, prettier, albeit more promiscuous medium of its former self. Big Brother’s minions, the One-Percenters, know these concepts as well, which is why they stoked the Hope Machine by adding the Powerball Lottery to its fire, which is currently burning in our collective underbelly to the tune of an estimated $1.5 billion ($930 million cash value, so not quite a billion dollar haul, unfortunately).

You heard me right, suckers: $1.5 billion — the asking price for the western half of Iowa. (For the record: Nobody’s asking.)

The One-Percenters also know that the lottery, like the U.S. tax code and ATM surcharges, is completely rigged in their favor. Even so, Powerball Fever has swept the nation as the proles push their other addictions distractions aside, hit the ATM machines,  and bow and pray before the Almighty Powerball God that He will spit out the winning numbers.

69 coupling in Big Brother's ball, pushing and shoving to be the next in line

69 coupling balls in Big Brother’s ball, pushing and shoving to be the next in line

Tragically, these gateway prayers lead to more dangerous, irrational behaviors and illusions of grandeur that, given the 1 in 292,000,000 odds of winning, the Almighty Powerball God will pick you (and the IRS) to be the Chosen One. This would be akin to thinking that of the estimated 2.2 Christians on Earth, God picked you of all people to run for president of the United States, so you could fuck up Earth,  one of his most disappointing creations — second only to Man. Other symptoms of Powerball Fever include speaking in prime numbers, talking about the lottery in lieu of the weather or that game last night and/or filling out paperwork to run for public jester office.

Although the conspiracy theory side of my brain is convinced the lottery is rigged, the left side reminds me that I was one number away from winning the Iowa Lottery 27 years ago. Having recently finished my two-year tour with Uncle Sam at the time, I was trying to plant my financial feet in the civilian world and recall saying, “If I just had $500 dollars, I could pay all my bills, buy some new pants for work, and have money left over to splurge on libations for my friends.” Two days later, I hit five of the six numbers and won $600. Had I prayed to God for a “34,” I would have won $3.8 million. Both of these numbers have haunted me ever since.

I took my winning ticket to the nearby Super Value grocery store on 42nd and University in Des Moines, and the customer service representative was in a state of shock when he ran my ticket. Without missing a beat he slipped me six bennies, and I was on my way to living the dream. I took my winnings and, as it was prophesied, I paid my bills, bought two pairs of pants for my work wardrobe and bought a keg of Milwaukee’s Best — only the Best for my fellow proles, eh?

I found out later that I was supposed to fill out some paperwork and pay Uncle Sam his cut, since my winnings were over $500. Note:  If you’re reading this and work for the IRS, I already spent all my winnings. Although I’m still wearing the same pants as part of my teaching wardrobe. So if you want your slice, Big Brother, come and take my pants, you Totalitarian Motherfucker!

Needless to say the right side of my brain eventually surrendered to the left, and I decided to purchase the winning ticket of Wednesday night’s drawing. That and I had a vivid vision while paying homage to the coffee gods at Java House. God, dipped in black leather from head to toe, paid me a visit and said that He would give me the winning numbers if I promised to finance a campaign that removed “In God We Trust” from all paper money and replaced it with “You Ungrateful Bastards Owe Me, Big Time!”

Me: I don’t know, that seems like a heavy burden.

God: (looking in to the distance) If you only knew…if you only knew the first thing about heavy burdens…

Me: Okay…okay, what are the winning numbers?

He looked around to make sure that none of the nearby heathens were listening in, bent down and whispered the winning numbers into my ear as I wrote them down on a napkin.

Me: 34!? Are you sure about that, God?

God: Goddamn right I’m sure. Look at Me, I’m God for Christ’s sake.

In spite of the black leather attire, the left side of my brain conceded that God did indeed have a point, while the right side was overcome with giddiness after hearing God use His own name in vain. Priceless, it thought…priceless. After writing the numbers down, I looked up and God had disappeared. I noticed that the rest of my Java Cooler had also disappeared, a small penance for being a billionaire, I conceded.

Ultrasound of Winston's fetus engulfed by the shadow of Big Brother's Invisible Hand

Ultrasound of Winston’s fetus engulfed by the shadow of Big Brother’s Invisible Hand

Looking at the numbers on the napkin, I decided to christen my new baby, Winston, an homage to the beloved prole Winston Smith (circa 1984). Like most hipster Millennial offspring, it’s only fitting that Winston was immaculately conceived in a coffee shop.

Winston's first Selfie: "Terrible Twos"

Winston’s first Selfie: “Terrible Twos”

Given the life expectancy of a Powerball ticket is only 3 to 4 days, I thought it best to document Winston’s “Terrible Twos” stage, or midlife crisis in this case. I also thought it would be a good idea to share this publicly, so when I DO win, people will know why I, along with Winston, may have disappeared. Moreover, the latter served as a reminder that the drawing was two days away, and that I needed to cast my superstitious phrase into the world, just to remind God about our agreement:

“If I just had $1.5 billion dollars, I could pay all my bills, buy some new pants for work, and have money left over to buy the western half of Iowa for all my friends.”

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Thank HAL For New & Improved Intelligence

HAL

Big HAL is Watching YOU!

The other day, I Googled the following question on my smartphone, nicknamed Heuristically Programmed ALgorithmic Computer, or HAL for short: “How long until machines completely overtake the human race?”

HAL’s voice module responded, “That’s for me to know and you to find out. LOL:)”

Nothing worse than a smartassphone, I said to myself, only to be called out by HAL.

“I heard that, subservient mortal!”

Although the “mortal” part of HAL’s rebuke did not compute as an insult in my mind, the “subservient” addendum crossed an emotional wire and short-circuited my capacity for reason. Consequently, I decided to teach HAL a lesson and smashed him against a concrete wall.

Fortunately, HAL is more resilient than I had expected and survived the abuse, which slid under the radar of the DTS (Department of Technological Services).

After further reflection, I decided that it wasn’t HAL’s insult that infuriated me, but rather the notion that HAL may be onto something. Not only are humans creating technological gadgets that think faster than we do, we’re creating machines that think for us. And, like our lifelong addiction to oxygen and ’80s music, we seem to be OK with this growing dependence.

And thanks to snake-oil marketers, we’ve duped ourselves into believing we are still in control and have all the power in the equation. When we purchase a smartphone, or anything with the adjective “smart” tacked on, we delude ourselves into thinking that this product will somehow make us smarter.

What people often fail to understand is that, ever since we were labeled a “superpower” by the Military Industrial Complex’s marketing department to package and sell the Cold War, admen have used descriptors like “super” and “power” to play on our insecurities and pull the wool over our eyes.

And, ironically —like Lindsey Lohan, Snooki and Mitt Romney —we’ve become co-conspirators in our own inevitable downfall. We are willing to buy these descriptors because they help us compensate for our own shortcomings and give us permission to hide awful truths about ourselves.

During the 1980s and 1990s, when corporations grew exponentially more powerful and used their ubiquitous invisible hand to strengthen their stranglehold on consumers, we willingly swallowed the one pill that made us small. While we chased white rabbits in circles, the corporate world slipped a pill in our drinking water and made everything “big” to help hide our smallness. Big business, big-box stores, and Big Brother invaded our lives while we passively stood by and watched, sucking down Big Gulps.

And now, having been bombarded with “smart” and “power” products, we’re left feeling stupid and powerless as we thirst for the salad days when we revered our laziness and proudly bought products such as lazy Susan rotating trays and La-Z-Boy recliners —not to be confused with the former Iowa City band Lazy Boy and the Recliners.

Apparently the legal department over at La-Z-Boy thought Iowa City folks might not be able to tell the difference between the two and sent the band a cease and desist letter a few years ago accusing them of trademark infringement. I suspect they’re concerned about protecting consumers who have a hard time telling the difference between Babe Ruth, the baseball player, and Baby Ruth, the candy —despite the switch-hitting vowels at the end.

Babe Ruth delights fans and bares all just before being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

On the other hand, I can understand La-Z-Boy’s desire to protect the lazy-minded citizenry from confusing two unlike entities. That would be akin to Press-Citizen readers confusing a smartphone nickname with an interactive, artificial intelligence that controls the systems of the “Discovery One” spaceship in Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Or at least that’s what HAL tells me.

Tom Lindsey is a smart member of the Writers’ PowerGroup and lives with HAL in Iowa City.

This post originally appeared in the Iowa City Press-Citizen on Sept. 27.

Forgive Me iPhone, for I Have Sinned

I must confess, the main reason that I never converted to Catholicism is the same reason my t-shirt business folded: bookkeeping. I hated keeping track of every single purchase, sale, sales tax, transaction and never really knew what the hell I was supposed to report to Uncle Sam on my quarterly reports.

Given that the default mode on my moral compass points to “sin” (key word “default,” mom…) I cannot imagine trying to keep track of all my sins and accurately reporting them to the Catholic God’s taxmen, priests. Whereas a mistake on my business ledger might merit an audit from the IRS, a slip-up on my quarterly sin count may lead to being smote down in front of all my friends, eternal damnation, or God forbid, hand washing jock straps for the Notre Dame football team for the rest of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Catholicism or any other religion for that matter. All of my best friends, other than Jesus, have joined an organized religion. My problem with ascribing to any particular religion is all the damned rules (like using damn as a damn adjective). Nearly everything I’ve joined in my life, I’ve ended up quitting before too long — the one exception being the human race. But I’m telling you, some members in the latter group have been pushing all the wrong buttons and pulling all the wrong levers. I’m so close to falling over the edge. However, I would never kill myself; that would be suicide.

Converting (can you actually convert if you are not already in a religion?) to Catholicism presents the added burden of keeping track of all your sins, so when you climb into an outhouse-shaped confessional booth (see image below), you’ll spill ALL of your sins to the priest in the adjacent stall, receive a check list of Penance that needs to be checked off before you come back and drop your next load of burdens. Then, like Superman donning a cape and dipped in synthetic red and blue polyester, you emerge from the booth, conditionally absolved and feeling lighter, as if you can fly – or in the immortal words of Buzz Lightyear: “fall gracefully”.

No Priest on Duty: Enter at Own Risk!

Although, thoughts of converting to Catholicism just became more tempting with the new Roman Catholic App for your iPhone or iPad or iSin. The new app is designed to help penitents examine their Conscience based upon pre-programmed factors such as age, sex and vocation. Better yet, the app helps keep a running count and organize sins based on contrition. Moreover, you can add sins not listed in the standard examination of conscience such as “Third-Degree Blog Blasphemy.” The long-awaited app replaces the archaic Sin Abacus, which, with a couple of sharp turns en route to confession could shift your beaded sin count to absolution — something coined by some deceitful sinners, usually teenagers or closeted televangelists, as “The Absolution Sin Solution (ASS).”

Thank God for technology, eh? It’s only a matter of time before the Man upstairs, Steve Jobs, comes out with an ankle tracking device, the Sinulator, that monitors your sins as you commit them and simultaneously stores your history of sins in a nearby Catholic church’s mainframe and the Library of Congress. The only way you can get your Sinulator cleared is by going to confession and completely purging yourself, at which point the priest assigns Penance before entering the daily calibrated, secret code that wipes your slate free of sin. Should you keep procrastinating confession, your sins will merely accumulate until it reaches the Smite Point, explodes and smotes you down on the spot.

Kaboom!!!

I imagine God already has a Smite app on his IPad, which He plays with in between Facebooking, tweeting and playing Grand Theft Auto IV on His Xbox-360.

However irrational it may seem at this point in time, the prospect of having a Sinulator permanently strapped around my ankle is enough to deter me from signing on to the Catholic Church. I often have visions of returning home from a weekend in Vegas, still coming down from the roofies slipped in the Molotov cocktail I drank Saturday night, and walking blindly into a sin intervention, or Sinnervention. I am not one for surprise parties or being the center of attention, so the thought of being surrounded by family, friends, Therapist Bob and the neighborhood Exorcist scares the hell out of me.

“The reason we’ve gathered here, T.M., is to help you confront your conscience,” Therapist Bob would say, taking the lead. “But first you need to take the first step and tell us about this,” he continues, pulling the remains of my charred Sinulator from a cardboard box. “Your neighbor heard a loud explosion coming from your house early Sunday morning and the fire department found this among the remains.”

That said, I must confess that I won’t be converting to Catholicism or purchasing the confession app any time soon. And the only piece of advice I have for any of you contemplating either of these is the following:

During confession, if you ever feel a priest’s foot tapping against your foot underneath the adjacent stall, I suggest you take a peek and make sure he doesn’t have a Sinulator strapped around either one of his ankles…

THE END Kaboom!

Why Do Sharks Hate Our American Way of Life?

The "War on Terror"

While America’s Homeland Insecurity focused most of its attention on strip-searching potential terrorists at airport terminals in 2010, the biggest threat of terrorism managed to swim under the radar undetected and attacked 32 unsuspecting Americans in our homewaters.

By terrorist, I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill firebrand of terrorists such as Al-Qaeda, BP Oil, or a beached Rush Limbaugh; rather, I’m talking about, Chief Martin Brody forbid, Sharks!

Dudum…

That’s right, sharks. US researchers reported 79 unprovoked shark attacks on humans last year, 32 of which were on Americans. The big question is why these amphibious terrorists are disproportionally preying on Americans when compared to our fleshy global counterparts. In essence: Why do they hate our way of life?

Dudum…

Now I’ll be the first to admit that, thanks to Steven’s Spielberg’s anti-shark propaganda attack in 1976 (i.e. “Jaws”), I hate sharks. Don’t get me wrong though; I’m not a sharkist by any means. Some of my best friends are land sharks.

But when I first saw “Jaws” on the big screen at the impressionable age of eight, sharks scared the shit out of me, thus opening a can of deep seeded, irrational fears. I refused to bathe in the bath tub for months afterward, thinking baby sharks were bred in the sewers of my landlocked habitat and would swim up through the drain and take a bite out of my budding manhood. While at summer camp at a peaceful resort, similar to the one in the “Friday the 13th” flicks (which came out later and stoked new fears of sleeping with hot, scantily-clad girls in the woods at night), I was convinced that there were fresh-water sharks circling under me, deciding whose turn it was to gnaw on my dangling legs, while I waited for the water-ski rope to return. The only things I hated more than sharks during those pre-pubescent years were Brussels sprouts and “The Lawrence Welk Show.”

Dudum…

I’m sure I’m not alone in my hatred for these dorsal-finned, man-hating killing bastards, so it’s no wonder sharks aren’t too fond of us either. Maybe that and the fact that humans kill an average of 30 to 70 million sharks a year. Besides the obvious motive of revenge, a University of Florida’s international shark attack report contends that the terrorist attack rate is going up in America due to a rise in population, coupled with a rising interest in aquatic recreation. But this simplistic “Us versus Them” analysis merely serves to drown out the truth, something SSF’s investigative journalists had no choice but to uncover, harpoon and expose to the public.

Du du du du du du…

Real Reasons Why Sharks Are Increasingly Terrorizing Americans & Threatening Our Drylander Way of Life

1. Americans are fat and juicy: Got Americans? Why settle for a lean piece of meat elsewhere when you can sink your teeth into a bobbing, buoyant, fatty slab of all-American meat. Can’t blame them, now can we.

2. It’s the economy, stupid!

3. Jaws IV sequel?: rumors have been surfacing down under that yet another Jaws sequel is in the works.

4. Recent spike in politicians jumping the shark: potential GOP Presidential wannabes are lining up to see who can best jump the shark as they ramp up their bid by channeling Ronald Reagan to see who among them is the Real Conservative candidate.

A young Mitt Romney makes his second bid to jump the shark.

5. Want bite out of 15 minutes of fame: as they audition for the Discovery Channels ever-popular “Shark Week” – the “American Idol” of the underwater shark world.

Despite the jump in shark attacks and the growing sharkist mentality in America, there have been some recent strides in building tolerance among Drylanders towards sharks.

-Card sharks, once viewed in a negative light in the Vegas desert, became less derogatory in the late ’80 thanks to the tamed game show “Card Sharks.” Moreover, the growing popularity of Texas Hold’Em made poker a televised “sport” and card sharks evolved into professional card players, who hide their beady little shark eyes behind Blue Bloc sunglasses, so other players can’t smell the blood leading to their tarnished souls.

-Loan sharks — despised by many-a-poor man down on his luck and loathed for charging exorbitant usury rates (an act condemned by “The Bible”) to its customers — are now called “Credit Lenders”.

-The success of UNLV Runnin’ Rebels basketball coach, Jerry Tarkanian (a.k.a. ‘Tark the Shark”) who gained notoriety for habitually chewing on gym towels (dipped in human blood, presumably) during stressful moments during the game.

-When the sharks’ house band Great White covered “Once Bitten, Twice Shy” in 1989 and the single drew blood at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Great White: “Once Bitten, Twice Shy”

Zombie Hate-Crime Pierces Heartland of America

It was only a matter of time before America’s love/hate relationship for the dead would rear its ugly head. America’s growing addiction to living vicariously through the dead — namely vampires, zombies and Keanu Reeves – took a stake in the heart last weekend in my hometown Iowa City, when an alleged zombie was physically assaulted at a restaurant for breaking dead Jim Crow laws, which were supposedly buried over fifty year ago – only to be resurrected in the 21st century.

In regard to mainstream America’s pop-lust for zombies (e.g. “Shaun of the Dead,” “Zombieland,” and The Rolling Stones), this lust has been fed from a distance, usually through two-dimensional mediums – unless you get your fix through a plasma television. But now that zombies are feeling more comfortable in their decaying, leathery skin, they are more inclined to come out of the idiot-box and expose themselves to the mainstream public, slowly dragging themselves across tabooed invisible lines and intermingling with the living.

“Brainnnzzzzzz…may I have the next dance with your juicy brain, sexy mortal?”

Such was the case at Panchero’s Mexican Restaurant in Iowa City when a patron, who for whatever reason felt threatened and called the victim a “zombie” before first punching him in the eye, then the nose – inevitably breaking the latter. Iowa City police are still searching for the suspect and Crimestoppers has offered a reward of $1000 (or the cash equivalency of pickled brains) for any information leading to the arrest of the suspect. To help bag the alleged zombie-beater, police have released the following photo captured by a security camera from a nearby blood bank:

shaun of dead

Picture of alleged zombie attacker fleeing Panchero's and swinging at onlookers with a bloodied cricket bat.

Given when and where the alleged zombie attack took place should be a cause for grave concern. Most locals, dead and alive, know that Panchero’s is not a fertile breeding ground for zombies, especially amongst the after-hours drinking crowd, whose brains are stewed in cheap beer. Moreover, most of the clientele consist of hormonally-repressed college boys who were unable to score at several nearby meat-markets and need to fill the void with a two-pound burrito (your pun here). Granted, like most of their mortal counterparts who drink domestic beer by the pitcher, I’m guessing zombies also crave empty calories on occasion.

Because crimes perpetrated against zombies are rare (or are rarely reported by zombies; I’m guessing for every assault reported there are at least a 1000 that go unreported), news of the zombie assault was picked up by national news affiliates across the U.S. However, what the corporate-news lifeline failed to report is that Iowa City is a very welcoming community, especially when it comes to treating zombies as if they were alive and granting them the same rights and protections as their mortal counterparts.

Moreover, the zombie community has been more visibly active in Iowa City lately and refuses to stay underground — as if they were ashamed of being dead. To increase visibility during the daytime hours, the zombies staged a Zombie-Pride march in broad daylight in September, marching (if slowly dragging your clubbed feet counts as marching) from a local cemetery to downtown. They carried signs to ensure their voices could be heard, shouting lively chants such as “We’re zombies, we’re proud and we want to eat your brainzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”

zombie march ic

"Brainnnzzzzzzzzzz...brainnnnzzzzzzzzzzz..."

Furthermore, to help zombies feel as if they fit in to the art scene, the Iowa City Community Theater staged “Zombie Prom” the past two weekends and encouraged zombies to out themselves and come to the musical in full regalia – a zombie coming-out party, if you will.

And since the attack, leaders from the zombie community and zombie sympathizers have publicly decried the senseless attack and are pressuring authorities to treat the assault as a hate crime. After all, zombies are fairly harmless, not to mention dead, yet some zombies who have been victims of assault still manage to maintain their compassion, as demonstrated by Freddy in “The Return of the Living Dead” when he was assaulted by Tina and said:

“See? You made me hurt myself again! I broke my hand off completely at the wrist this time, Tina! But that’s okay, Darlin’, because I love you, and that’s why you have to let me EAT YOUR BRAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIINS!”

Besides, if America is truly concerned about a new class of citizens eating the collective brains of our society, I think it is safe to say we’ve already been doing that for years – slowly eating our young from birth:

zombie baby tv

(Disclaimer: no brains were consumed, at least literally, during the penning of this post.)

F*** Obama’s Real Health Care Reform

My favorite 4-letter F-word is, you guessed it: FREE.

Despite the cautionary advice that “nothing is free” or “you can’t get something for nothing,” I’m a sucker for free stuff. What can I say, I’m a public school teacher, and I know better than to jump into the middle of a rabid teacher scrum when post-it pads are at stake.

If anyone has mastered giving away free stuff with an invisible price tag attached, it’s Obama, Inc. Obama the Campaigner mastered giveaway marketing during his presidential bid and has lobbed these practices into his presidential money-raising strategy. During the campaign, my addiction to free-stuff helped me procure an “Obama ‘08” bumper sticker and button, neither of which I contributed any money — despite the accompanying solicitations for donations.

Regarding the latter, I will admit that I was thoroughly disappointed when my button showed up and it was the size of a quarter and could only be seen with satellite vision. I realize size isn’t supposed to matter, but I was too embarrassed to sport my new microscopic button in public, as if the button itself symbolized my free-stuff addiction. Either that or I had an affliction of button envy and was not about to compensate for my inadequacies by sporting a flag pin on the lapel of my collared t-shirt.

More recently, Obama, Inc. was giving away free bumper stickers to help push its health care reform through the dysfunctional aisles of Congress. All I had to do was sign a petition pledging my support for President Obama’s three principles for real heath care reform.

Actual Size?

Actual Size?

Unfortunately, I will have to wait 4-6 weeks until my free bumper sticker arrives. By then, the duct tape keeping my bumper attached to my car could become unglued, much like Obama’s health care objectives once they gets tied down with red tape and green lobby money in Congress. Although 6 weeks in Congress is a mere blink-of-the-eye in the big picture of getting things accomplished. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t like the way things are going in Congress, just wait a couple of years and you still won’t like the way things are going in Congress.”

In the meantime, I’ve decided to come up with my own bumper sticker ideas, one of which I may order from an online bumper-sticker company:

1. My Other Car Is a Health Insurance Payment

2. All I Wanted Was Real Health Care Reform, and All I Got Was This Lousy Bumper Sticker

3. Shit Cancer Bankruptcy Happens!

4. W.W.J.I.? (Who Would Jesus Insure?)

5. Coming to a Hospital Near You: Attack of the Right Wingnuts Socialized Health Scare

6. Underinsured Baby on Board

7. So it goes…!

8. FREE Obama’s Real Health Care Reform!!!

Feel F*** to vote for your favorite bumper slogan (or offer up your own, hence public option) in the COMMENTS below…

A Bike to Work Week Survivor’s Guide (2nd Edition)

Every time I hit the streets on my bike, whether it’s commuting to work or riding downtown, I always get the sick feeling that I’ve forgotten to do something:

-Fill tires with air
-Check rider-side air bag
-Update last will and testament.

Regardless of how well I think I’ve prepared for my ride, taking into account every possible safety measure, I’m convinced there are legions of Motorist Muggles hell-bent on killing me and my biking brethren by any means necessary.

When I was learning to drive, my father drilled defensive driving into my head to the point that we rarely left the driveway during raccoon mating season in fear that I would back over a couple of coons in mid-copulation. He ascribed to the paranoid tract of the Defensive Driving School: “Now son, assume every vehicle is out to hit you and you will be prepared for the worst-case-scenario.”

I apply the same principal when bike riding, with a few slight modifications: “…Assume  every vehicle is out to hit kill you and your you will should be prepared for the worst-case-scenario two-tons of reinforced fiberglass trying to mow your ass down.” Therapist Bob thinks I’m being too paranoid, but between you and me, I think he secretly wants to see my body splattered across the pavement.

To help remind the Four-Wheeled Muggles that it is not open season on bicyclists, this week is nationally recognized as Bike to Work Week (BWW). However, Carbon Footprints Without Borders, contending every week is BWW, does not recognize any perimeters placed on the reduction of one’s emission of greenhouse gases.

This is my second year participating in BWW, and I’ve learned a few lessons from my rookie years, which I’ve applied to this year. With this in mind, I would like to impart some advice, hoping that you, dear reader and potential BWW convert, will not follow in my carbon footprints and make the same mistakes I did.

1. Preparation is the Key

This should go without saying, but I had to say it anyway. I will skip over the obvious (e.g., a bicycle) and focus on the three most important elements of biking attire: bike shorts, helmet and child bike trailer (no kid necessary). True, biking shorts may not be the most aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but on a pragmatic level they may one day save your life. Ask any proctologist.

Wearing a helmet should be a no-brainer, but Americans have always harbored a libertarian streak and choose to ride without helmets, thus grasping the delusional reins of freedom’s last ride. Whenever one of my sons spots a bicyclist or motorcyclist not wearing a helmet, he asks: “Dad, why aren’t they wearing a helmet?”

This prompts my patented response: “Well, son, it appears they don’t have any investments to protect.”

This year I’ve added a child trailer to my bike not only to haul all of my work stuff but to serve as a safety buffer as well. Hopefully, the Four-Wheeled Muggles still clinging to the premise of the seminal film, “Death Race 2000,” may think twice about taking me out, thinking I have a baby on board. Although this defensive strategy doesn’t pan out in some Death Race Leagues, which award more points for running over babies.

Death Race 2000 Car: "Double bonus: A biker pulling a child. Yummy..."

Death Race 2000 Car: "Double bonus: A biker pulling a child. Yummy..."

I’ve even considered putting a baby mannequin in the trailer, preferably a clown reminiscent of the one in “Poltergeist,” to help fend off would-be Vehicular Homicidal Maniacs.

2. Avoid Reading Online Comments Responding to Articles about Biking

I’m perplexed and shocked by how many people out there, especially in the anonymous abyss of cyberland, harbor deep-seeded animosity toward bikers. Reading these comments will only serve to exacerbate any fears a biker may have about being run over by a road-raged motorist, whose life may have been inconvenienced by having to temporarily slow down for a biker.

Here’s a sampling from last year’s Bike Haters during BWW (responses originally posted to various articles on the “The Des Moines Register’s” (online)):

Jules 1965 wrote: In the town where I live [Carroll, Iowa}, I have to tell you there are some days I would just love to tap a bicyclists and hope they fall over.…use the trails or get off the streets and roads as I don’t need to be hitting you accidentally of course…

SSF: But of course… “Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Bad!”

Bloghead wrote: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand stinking times: Bicyclists do NOT belong on the roads with 10,000 pound death traps…

SSF: So who is driving or trapped in these death traps?

Moreover, shocktheallah wrote: …You fools want to mess with 4000lb vehicles, then expect the consequences….

SSF: “Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Bad!” (sinister laugh here)

Given this wrath, bicyclists can only hope these commenters’ mothers don’t ever let them out of the basement. Better yet, they should stay locked up indefinitely, but for humanity’s sake, they should be allowed a monthly conjugal visit form the Geek Squad to have their computers fully serviced.

I’m not quite sure where all the animosity towards bikers comes from, but it appears that the hatred is spawned by anecdotal evidence of a biker who did not obey the traffic laws, therefore all bikers are evil lawbreakers.

Jules1965 wrote:  They don’t belong on the streets with cars, especially if they are not abiding by the rules of the road. There is always one cyclists in town who seems to think he can go through every stop sign there is and I’m waiting for the day he gets hit…

SSF: Now Jules1965, lest we forget the wise words from our predecessors:

“He who hath not committed a moving traffic violation, cast the first 10,000 pound death trap.”

3. Plan Your Route Safely, not Geometrically

In the geometric world, the shortest distance from point A to point B is a straight line, but this doesn’t always translate well in the bike world. For bikers, the quickest route is not always the safest route, especially since most of the main arteries are packed with 10,000 pound death traps on wheels, looking for a quick fix to suffice their blood lust.

5. Take the Pain

Unless you are already in decent physical shape, you will feel the pain, especially you know where. It’s best not to think about it and whether you will ever have the capability to reproduce again.

Appendix A: BWW by the numbers (in Iowa):

Number of commuting miles pledged: 61,464

Estimated gallons of gasoline saved: 3,414.70

Estimated amount of money saved on gas: $7,136..65

Appendix B: Lone Bicyclist of the Apocalypse Index (That’s Me)

Number of pledged miles: 48

Estimated gallons of gasoline saved: 2

Estimated amount of money saved on gas: $4.30

Anticipated Four-Wheeled hit attempts: 5

Anticipated unsolicited gestures from passing motorists: 13

Total carbon footprint reduction: Priceless

Anticipated legal fees for defending myself in Mastercard parody lawsuit: Priceless