Real men are always in control — of themselves, not others

image Anyone who reads my weekly newspaper column or blog posts knows I try to keep life in perspective through humor. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the reasons my children are still alive today. While I joke about that, for many years humor was also part of a coping mechanism from a childhood witnessing both verbal and physical abuse by the men in my family — specifically, my father and older brothers.

The good news is that each of them eventually turned themselves, their lives and the lives of the people they loved, around. It wasn’t until I became a father that I realized the impact that a childhood witnessing abuse had on me, and how some of those wounds — as both a witness and recipient — had never truly healed.

I know this because I occasionally saw reflections of my father and brothers in myself as I fought to avoid making the same mistakes with my own children; I also know this because I came to realize that as much as we want to tell ourselves we can choose not to take any baggage with us on our journey through life, ultimately it’s always somewhere waiting to be claimed. Continue reading

Symmetrics that will give you a Long Awkward Pause

It’s Saturday, which means I’m over at Long Awkward Pause commenting on this week’s collection of strange, awkward or just plain weird images known as Chris DeVoss’s family photo album The Saturday Six! This week’s subject: SYMMETRY (I used all caps just to keep everything lined up nicely…)


 BrainRants: Rum and coke! Somebody’s getting naked later, and it’s not you.

Omawarisan – Is the laptop plugged in to the glass? Symmetrical ice cubes produce cold fusion.

Ned: Given the graph paper and these ice cubes, I’d say SOMEONE has an unhealthy obsession with squares. Let me guess what was for breakfast… WAFFLES maybe?!?

List of X: Is that what they call “checking in on Foursquare”?

(Do you find symmetry strangely arousing? Then straighten those pencils and meet me for more over at LAP clicking HERE..!)

Don’t panic! That sound you heard was just my idea flopping

image Welcome to Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, that time each week when I gather the writing wisdom gained through 15 years as a columnist and share tips that Publisher’s Clearing House has called “A POTENTIAL WINNER!” and what Writer’s Monthly recently heralded as “Writing advice you can’t find anywhere else. And we’re making sure of it…”

But enough accolades!

Let’s be honest. Even a seasoned humor columnist sometimes has an idea that falls flat. And if last week’s NWOW idea had fallen any flatter the aftershocks would have been picked up by seismologists in China. As you might remember, last week I tried something different. Unfortunately, that’s an experience my wife would rather forget. However, you might also remember I tried something different with my Nickel’s Worth by attempting to make it an interactive post similar to a blog hop, with me posting part of a scene and then letting everyone else take a crack at finishing it — then sending me the link.

As of this morning I remain linkless.

And let me point out my being linkless has absolutely nothing to do with the other thing my wife asked me not to talk about. Continue reading

SPECIAL REPORT: Ebola virus may spread faster than Brad-Angelina sex tape

image To avoid creating widespread panic with that headline, let me begin by assuring everyone there’s NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT! You did not somehow miss a Brad and Angelina sex tape that was leaked onto the Internet. However, before giving a huge sigh of relief, there’s still that whole Ebola thing going on in Texas which, as I mentioned yesterday after finding a Ronald McDonald filtration mask wedged between my Sausage McMuffin and hash brown, prompted Long Awkward Pause to fly me to Dallas for a special report on the Ebola virus threat. For those who were following this story yesterday, you’ll be happy to know I ditched the monkey. Somewhere over New Mexico I think.

For the full report, join me at LAP by CLICKING HERE

Subtle signs the Ebola virus is spreading

As a journalist, I’m trained to recognize even the most subtle signs of trouble:

A reluctant glance.
A misspoken word.
A filtration mask in my McDonald’s food sack.

Do they still hand these out after 10:30 a.m.?

Do they still hand these out after 10:30 a.m.?

Aside from the mask being rendered useless by grease after being wedged between my Sausage McMuffin and hash brown, it also made me wonder if the American public isn’t being told the truth about the potential threat of Ebola spreading outside of Texas. Possibly even into parts of Canada. But not Mexico, where the drinking water has made residents immune to everything but tequila worms. Because of this, I have boarded a plane for Dallas to provide a special report tomorrow at Long Awkward Pause — which provided me with this Ebola detection system: Continue reading

Want a space house? It’s hard to make a down payment in zero gravity

image With mankind’s orbiting studio apartment the International Space Station offering an extra room, and spaceflight becoming more available to the general public, let’s face it; the Re/Max hot air balloon will be replaced by a space shuttle before we know it.

For sale: One-bedroom module. Quiet setting on outskirts of gravity belt. Comes with docking port. Pressurized for maximum comfort. Solor-powered utilities. Includes hot plate. Only two days from Earth. $1 billion obo.

As exciting as the prospect of living in space is, we should temper our enthusiasm with a level of caution. Just like buying a fixer-upper in the Ozark Mountains through someone on the Internet, purchasing a residence 230 miles above the earth can be risky.

During a real estate symposium held last week in Washington D.C., agents stressed that there are a lot of things to consider when looking for a little spot in the solar system to call your own. Consumer activist Ralph Nader further emphasized that notion in his newly released consumer handbook, Don’t Get Hosed By Your Space House. Continue reading

Daily Life facts worth a Long Awkward Pause

As with each Saturday, I’ve made the long drive from my home in Oregon to the office of Long Awkward Pause at an undisclosed location. In fact, they won’t even tell ME where it’s at, which means I’ll keep driving until I eventually become desperate enough to ask a gas station attendant once I reach Omaha, Neb. In the meantime — and before I run out of gas — here’s this week’s Saturday Six!

1. The Toothpaste Conundrum


BrainRants: Sooo… stop brushing.  Problem solved.  You also stop wasting money on buying dinners and drinks in the distant hope of getting lucky.

Omawarisan – Pretty similar to my gas tank. 100 miles from the first 1/4 tank. 100 miles from the second 1/4. 100 miles from the last 1/2.

Ned: That’s because each of my kids immediately squeezes the tube in the middle as hard as they can the moment they open it, then move on to another tube like locust. I’m the only one using the last 10 percent for the next four months.

(To brush up on more Daily Life Facts, join me over at Long Awkward Pause by taking This Exit…)

This week’s writing advice would’ve gotten me punched by Eddie Rabbitt

image Welcome to this week’s edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, when I take the collective wisdom gained from 15 years as a newspaper columnist and pass it on to you, much like the porcelain cat you will be receiving from aunt Gertrude’s will; in both cases, try to accept the bequeathing graciously even though everyone else got one of her Ferraris.

My NWOW is a weekly feature Car & Driver magazine has called “Writing tips that hit on all literary cylinders, at least for a lawn mower…” and what Modern Art Monthly touted as “Unequivocally the porcelain cat of writing tips…”

But enough accolades!

This week’s NWOW is an experiment of sorts because it’s interactive. And not just because there’s a good chance I could’ve gotten 1) Sued by Eddie Rabbitt, 2) Hit in the face with a guitar by Eddie Rabbitt, 3) Attacked in the parking lot after work by a disgruntled rabbit named Eddie or 4) All of the above. Even though Eddie Rabbitt died in 1998, I promise all of this will make sense in a moment. At least in the context of this blog and my life in general. Continue reading

If the jeans fit, wear them (At least until your legs go numb)

(Today’s post is unusual because, for the first time, this one actually comes as a request. To put into perspective just how unusual this is, think of drinking a beet frappuccino, then requesting another one. Then again, most people aren’t Carrie Rubin at The Write Transition where, in addition to her terrific perspective on life and writing, she also offers a “very tasty” beet frappuccino recipe…)

image I have a favorite pair of jeans I refuse to give up, and which, over the last few years, my wife has attempted to eradicate on six different occasions. She hates these jeans because, according to her, they are “ripped, frayed and embarrassing.” Particularly when I forget to change them before going out somewhere in public, such as our front yard. Her attempts to get rid of my jeans have escalated from them being “lost,” to an incident last week in which she claimed my jeans “spontaneously combusted,” forcing her to put out the flames with the nearest extinguishing device: A meat cleaver.

She later apologized for hacking my jeans, telling me she reacted instinctively to a dangerous situation. I told her I understood and that, instinctively, I planned to continue wearing my newly perforated jeans, at least until the remaining threads give way to the force of gravity and I am suddenly de-pantsed.

Probably while raking the yard. Continue reading

Even Shakespeare can’t help make ‘CSI: Ashland’ easier to swallow

image As you might’ve noticed, police dramas involving any type of forensic investigation are extremely popular. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this type of crime show because you only watch “reality-based shows” like Amish Mafia, it’s when old-fashioned detective work — in combination with high-tech science — is conducted by really attractive people who would otherwise be getting into water balloon fights at the Playboy Mansion. This formula has proven so popular that every major network now carries at least one of these shows (Not counting The WB, which cancelled its plans for CSI: Pennsylvania after test audiences complained that watching Quaker detectives chase villains in pony carts was “really boring.”)

In spite of this, talks are continuing about a new spin-off from the CSI franchise that would take place in Ashland, Ore., which, in real life, is home to the world’s only forensic crime lab dedicated exclusively to cases involving wildlife.

For example: When a squirrel’s death is deemed “accidental” after attempting to retrieve a loose walnut from Interstate 5 during the city’s annual Shakespeare Festival, it takes a highly-trained forensic detective to unravel the ugly truth.

“Hmmm. Judging from this buzzard feather I found near the scene of the crime, I think the victim was PUSHED in front of that Volvo!” Continue reading