Family travel is easy with the help of a licensed forklift operator

image Welcome to another installment of Post Traumatic Sunday, which are posts written during my first marriage. None have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. These posts aren’t about venting or vindictiveness; I was just someone dealing with an unhappy marriage in the best way I knew how: Through humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married to someone who constantly inspires me to laugh for the right reasons.

Now we can all laugh together…

* * * * * * * *

This morning, we left on a family vacation with our two children, four train tickets to Seattle, and approximately 700 pounds of luggage. This is a conservative estimate based on my wife’s meticulous packing strategy, which means bringing anything that doesn’t require the help of a licensed forklift operator. My wife says that we have a responsibility to our children to be prepared for all situations. Apparently, this includes any sudden shift in the Earth’s core temperature that would render our entire summer wardrobe useless. For example: Our daughter’s clothing options include both a full-length fleece parka AND two-piece bikini, with a choice of sandals, tennis shoes or mud boots. Continue reading

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Stressed out? You can probably sue someone for that

image Recently, a federal jury in Billings, Mont., awarded $1 million to a woman who said she suffered from post-traumatic stress after her Delta Airlines jet made an emergency landing in November of 2011. The case gained attention because it opens the floodgate for other post-traumatic stress lawsuits, which includes anyone who has ever ridden in a taxi in downtown New York.

Though I never suffered anything as severe as post-traumatic stress from my own NYC taxi experience, it was many weeks before I could free my mind from the terrifying image of the driver flipping the bird to other taxi drivers with both hands as he navigated through Madison Avenue traffic using only his knees. Even today, I’m sure that his back seat still has a perfect impression of my hands — in the form of a death grip — which he can use as a nice conversation piece. When you stop and think about it, most of us deal with potential traumatic stress situations on a daily basis without giving much thought to lawsuits.

Just this morning, for example, I filled the gas tank. Continue reading

Then there’s that time I was attacked by a wooden lion…

image It’s been nearly 40 years since my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Flunkem, wrote the following remark in red ink on my report card:

Unstructured time is a challenge for Ned.

After reading this, my mother looked at me and said, “Since when did filling your unstructured time become a challenge?”

And things haven’t really changed since then. I can honestly say, through sheer luck and determination, I have put myself in a position to have what I’m sure Mrs. Flunkem would consider entirely too much unstructured time. Fortunately for me, my wife disagrees with Mrs. Flunkem and encourages me to make the most of it.

How?

By saying things like, “Hey Honey! Look at that wooden lion over there!” Continue reading

Tax terms that can help cover your assets

image After clearing off the kitchen table and finding an outlet for the calculator, I sat down to do my taxes. As always, I made sure to have all the necessary documentation and forms — W4s, tax forms, bank statements, insurance reports, tax schedules and, most importantly, a full box of Kleenex.

As I sat staring at this year’s tax booklet, I noticed a special section of “Tax Terms,” which is an alphabetical listing of terms one may encounter during the tax preparation process. Each term is followed by a brief description meant to enlighten the truth-seeking taxpayer through “real-life” examples. For instance, the IRS uses “Jane” and “John” to illustrate the term “Ability to Pay.” In this scenario, Jane is filthy rich, with homes on both coasts that she visits by way of her own Lear jet.

By comparison, John earns what the IRS calls a “more modest salary,” which affords him a flashlight and a camper shell to live in.

(Read the rest at Long Awkward Pause!)

My chance to do stand-up, except sitting down

Featured Image -- 4096I had the privilege of being asked to participate in an online comedy event. Now it’s too late for them to change their minds! I hope you’ll stop in and heckle me by throwing popcorn at your monitor. The Comedy Show will feature Jess Clackum, Rich Green, Jean Marc Toledano and Me on Sunday, March 30, 12:01 a.m. (PST) only at thepublicblogger.com.

I need to actively clarify my passive writing advice

image Listen closely…

There it is again! Did you hear it that time? All the whistling and excited hollering? That’s the sound of people who have just realized it’s Friday! Now, keep listening as I remind them that, in addition to being the end of the work week, it’s also time for Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing!

* clears throat *

HEY, EVERYONE! It’s time for my NWOW!

* distant sound of baby crying *

See what I mean? Obviously, everyone is busy getting online! For those who might be visiting for the first time, I should explain that my Nickel’s Worth is when I open myself like an oyster and share pearls of writing wisdom gained from 15 years as a shucking columnist. It’s a weekly feature that has been called “…insightful,” “…thought provoking,” “…life changing,” and “…Suspected in several cases of food-borne illness.”

But enough with the accolades! Continue reading

Static in your marriage can lead to poor TV reception

image It’s time for another exciting edition of Post Traumatic Sunday, which are posts written during my first marriage. None have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. Please understand that this is not about venting or vindictiveness; I was simply someone dealing with an unhappy marriage in the best way I knew how: Through humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married (ridiculously so) and constantly inspired to laugh for the right reasons.

Now we can all laugh together…

* * * * * * * *

After getting the kids to bed last night, my wife and I settled onto the couch for some much-needed down time only to find that our television was having transmission problems — beginning with the remote. My wife is the only one in our family qualified to operate it. Being a male, the longer I fool with it the further I revert along the evolutionary scale, until I’m reduced to beating the remote on the coffee table like a chimp trying to open a Super Ball. Continue reading

Writers: Battle passive voice like a Jedi! (not counting Yoda)

image Don’t bother tapping your watches! It really IS time for Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing, a weekly feature written by a writer, for writers, that is occasionally mistaken as insightful. NWOW is when I utilize my 15 years as a newspaper columnist to offer writing advice that Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins has called “…a literary appetite suppressant,” and what Simon & Schuster recently credited with “The inspiration behind streamlining our rejection letters.”

But enough with the accolades!

This week, we will be talking about “passive voice.” To clarify, this is not when, after having too many margaritas at your favorite Mexican restaurant, someone tells you to stop showing everyone your flauta. Continue reading

A woman’s ability to remember is only equalled by… oh heck, I forget

image It’s time for this week’s edition of Post Traumatic Sunday, which are posts involving my ex-wife. None of them have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. Though none of these posts will be mean-spirited or vindictive, I was someone doing his best to deal with an unhappy marriage through humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married (my friends are sick of hearing about it, actually) and constantly inspired to laugh for the right reasons.

Now we can laugh together…

* * * * * * * *

Thanks to an exciting discovery published by the National Academy of Sciences, we’re one step closer to understanding an important, fundamental difference between men and women — which is that women have better memories, particularly when it comes to remembering why they’re mad at their husbands.

This earth-shattering discovery was made by psychology professors at Stony Brook University in New York, the same university that brought us groundbreaking data on the yawning habits of the domesticated yak. Continue reading

Celebrating a year of somewhat questionable writing advice

image Welcome to a special Anniversary Edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing! It was a year ago this week that the first edition of my weekly NWOW was completely overlooked heralded by Writer’s Digest as “A literary hazard cone…” and by Publisher’s Weekly as “Our measuring stick for excellent writing, if we were on the metric system.” As if that weren’t enough, I received a congratulatory email this morning from The Master of Horror® Stephen King:

I consider myself an expert on corpses, so you can believe me when I say your body of work speaks for itself.”

High praise indeed.

But enough accolades! It’s time to prepare yourself. Why? Because in just a few moments I will push the button on a special remote, releasing balloons and confetti on you! That’s right! While you were sleeping, special crews (most of which were licensed, bonded and documented citizens) were busy installing compartments of spring-loaded balloons and confetti in your ceiling! And you thought it was creepy rats! Haha! So count down with me as we prepare to release balloons and confetti on 3,432 folks, some of whom don’t read this blog regularly and will be totally freaked out! Continue reading