Author Archives: Wiseacre Dave

The New Pilot

ThisWeakSnoozePostImageA good pilot has many time-tested, well-known and celebrated traits. Among them are good judgment, situational awareness, aircraft systems knowledge, navigation, and keeping your wits in unexpected situations. Then there’s that other trait—the one of actually controlling the aircraft. “He’s a good stick and rudder man,” they say.

There have been many pilots with those skills and more.  Think of General Chuck Yeager, who was a P-51 fighter ace in World War II and who was the first to break the sound barrier; Yuri Gagarin, who was the first to orbit the Earth; Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to walk on the moon (and let’s not forget before that he was the first to manually land on it); and of course the Wright Brothers, who were the first in powered flight.  And recently, there’s “Sully” Sullenberger.  What kind of right stuff must you have to “dead-stick” tons of metal into a river with everyone onboard living to tell the tale?

When I was learning to fly at age 15, I remember a landing I made that is the dream of every pilot—that seamless transition from an elegant air-bound contraption to a clumsy thing on wheels rolling across the ground.  A “greaser” is a landing where the occupants are never aware of that transition.  Afterwards, my instructor said, “Well, that’s the best landing I’ve seen of anyone, anywhere at any time.”  That was cool.  Later, when I was 22 and dying to get the keys to the family plane, I was once again in control under the critical eye of my father, the owner in the seat behind the right-hand controls.  On approach his hands remained firmly in his lap, and he never spoke a word. A greaser.  “Well, I’ll be damned,” is all he said.  I got the keys the next day.

About eight years ago, I had moved to the right seat on a particular flight controlled by another pilot in the left seat.  This new pilot-in-training was nearing an airport.  I was nervously preparing to say, “Okay, there’s the airport; time to contact the tower; let’s slow down, descend and plan your approach.”  Before I could speak, the pilot did all of those things proficiently and in the correct order.  I sat there with my hands in my lap and observed a greaser.  A few years later that student got his wings, and today, June 29, 2016, at age 27, he got his “Airline Transport Pilot” rating, which qualifies him to fly the big, heavy metal full of passengers for SkyWest Airlines.

The next time you’re on one of those “small”, irritating, bumpy, twin-jet commuter airlines without snacks, and suddenly you wonder how you got back on the ground without even feeling it, you might consider thanking the pilot.  I taught him everything he knows. Truthfully, he’s zoomed past me in experience and capabilities, but I did teach the boy how to fly by his wits.  And maybe something about greasers. Congratulations, son.  And please stay out of the Hudson.

Algebra™ May Be Right For You

ThisWeakSnoozePostImage.png   You’re at a time in your Middle School life when you can’t afford to slow down. You’ve worked hard to get here, and now you want to enjoy the good things coming your way.

Sure, it’s been a struggle to master the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra™ for which every non-zero, single-variable, degree-n polynomial has exactly n roots. But if you’re experiencing the fear of unknowns and have lost touch with your roots, taking Algebra™ (algorithmic mathematicus) may be right for you.

Classroom studies prove that taking Algebra™ twice daily increases mathematical function, reduces quadratic uncertainty, decreases word problems, resolves irrational number fears, simplifies free radicals, helps reduce the negative effects of Negative Numbers™, and exponentially improves tolerance of exponents.

Possible Side Effects:

  • A small percentage, fraction, or decimal-equivalent of people taking Algebra™ may experience certain unwanted side effects such as graying square roots, reversion to pre- Algebra™, an increase in unknowns, and an intolerance to homework.
  • Taking Algebra™ may not be appropriate if you experience inequalities, have trouble finding smallest common denominators or combining like-terms, have difficulty solving one-step equations, and have a history of abusing the distributive property.
  • Do not let Algebra™ come into contact with parents or other adults.
  • Tell your teacher if you think you might be pregnant or have irresistible teenaged urges to engage in activities that may lead to pregnancy such as SnapChatting, InstaGramming, FaceTiming, WhatsApping, Sexting, Selfies, Simultaneous Equations, Twerking, and Parking.
  • Do not take Algebra™ if you experience frequent factoring or have difficulty eliminating variables associated with Pythagorea.
  • Stop taking Algebra™ if you experience negative numbers and have slopes lasting more than four hours.
  • Frequent use of Algebra™ may lead to a dependence on Geometry.

Ask your teacher about whether Algebra™ may be right for you. Algebra™ is covered by most lesson plans. You may be eligible for help in paying for Algebra™.

Don't let Middle School slow you down.  Call now for a free pamphlet describing the benefits of Algebra™, and we’ll send you, FREE, a selection of X, Y, and Z variables that you can use anywhere.


Published by     Ribbon-HumorPress-com-3rd   See the piece here.

photo credit: Quadratic Formula by klg via photopin (license)

The Whirly Gig*

It’s the holiday season and time to consider gift ideas! Again! Instead of giving him a subscription to Jelly-Of-The-Month-Club, why not send Cousin Eddie to a cultural event? Because the Monster Truck Rally is sold-out, you choose nosebleed seats to—a BALLET! And that means he’ll be attending The Nutcracker, a beloved (hated) family holiday tradition.

French for “whirligig”, a ballet is a story set to music, choreographed by anorexic retired ballerinas, and danced by little Whoville “Whos” who later audition for So You Think You Can Dance With The Stars, Idiot?!   The Nutcracker is based on a fairy tale set to music by the Russian Pyotr Ilyich (“Itchy”) Tchaikovsky, who also wrote the music for A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Home Alone 12, Bad Santa, and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Written in 1892, The Nutcracker was instantly popular until its debut later that year at Christmas, and has been thrilling (horrifying) the parents of young dance recital participants ever since.

The story opens at a Christmas party at the Stalebum home in a small 1950’s Indiana town. The Stalebum children Ralphie and CindyLoo Who (adopted) decorate the house and greet the guests. CindyLoo’s godfather, Dr. Droesselmeyer Griswold, arrives with gifts: a Red Ryder BB gun for Ralphie, an Italian leg lamp for Mr. Stalebum, and a little man toy nutcracker for CindyLoo. When the conflicted Ralphie decides he’d rather have the nutcracker, there’s a struggle and the toy is purloined and broken. Not to be outdone purloin-wise, Griswold quickly fixes the nutcracker for Cindyloo and staggers back to the eggnog bowl.

After the party ends, the Stalebums retire. A scampering mouse awakens CindyLoo who discovers her boy toy is missing. Off she goes to find it as giant rats attack her. Then, appearing as if from a fantasy scene out of some story dance, life-sized toy soldiers led by her valiant Nutcracker come to CindyLoo’s rescue. The Rat King attacks the Nutcracker, but CindyLoo distracts him with a present (iPhone) from under the tree and the Nutcracker wins the battle. Afterwards, the Nutcracker is transformed into a handsome prince (balding Jewish house painter from New York). He leads CindyLoo through the magical Land of Snow because he has the urge to gather a few chestnuts, but he soon discovers that CindyLoo is a tough nut to crack, metaphorically speaking.

In Act 2 the Nutcracker and CindyLoo go to the Land of Sweets where the Sugar Plum Fairy (stage name) honors CindyLoo with dances performed by the inhabitants of her kingdom. There is the Spanish Dance, (representing Chocolate and Nutella), an Arabian Dance for coffee (Decaf Sumatra, full-bodied, with a smooth mouthfeel and hints of camel hump fur), a Chinese Dance for tea (Panda Dung—yes, it’s a real tea), a Russian Dance (representing evil repression in the form of a shirtless Vladimir Putin), the Dance of Madam Ginger (also smooth mouthfeel) and her Clowns, the Waltz of the Flowers (Monkey Face Orchid, The Happy Alien, Hooker’s Lips. Go ahead, Google it), and the Dance of the Mirlitons (stuffed squash casserole often served at drunken Cajun Christmas parties). Then the Sugar Plum Fairy performs her dance solo to the tune of My Boyfriend’s Back.

To conclude the evening CindyLoo and her Nutcracker Cavalier perform a final dance together, the Pas de Deux (pass the dip). The dance has four parts: Andante Maestoso (slow, majestic barn dance), The Nutella (fast dance by the Nutcracker covered in chocolate hazelnut spread), the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (danced by CindyLoo, with a famous melody also made memorable for modern music lovers in Muppets Most Wanted and The Simpsons), and Boot Scootin’ Boogie, a traditional line dance with audience participation.

Finally, in a homographic epiphany CindyLoo realizes her Nutcracker Cavalier might not be so cavalier had she been more forthcoming with her chestnuts. Much to the Nutcracker’s dismay, the music ends with a climax for the TROMBONES! He briefly considers jumping off a bridge until an angel (Clarence Odbody) does his own special dance and they run away together. As for the audience, everyone leaves with new tunes in their heads as memorable as the theme to Gilligan’s Island.

So if you’re searching for the just right Christmas presence this holiday season, grab a hot cuppa Panda Dung and — I triple-dog-dare you — take someone to The Nutcracker. It’s a real ball-buster.

*Another edition in the irritating series "Play Synopses for Modern Readers Ignorant of the Classics".

Something Fractious About Sylvia

I’ve noticed something mathematically irritating about my mother-in-law Sylvia.

When I was born, she was 23 years old and I had lived exactly none of the time she had already lived.

10 years later when I was 10 she was 33, and I had already lived 3/10 of the time she had lived.

It only took another 5 years for my 15 years of age to equal 4/10 of Sylvia’s 38 years.

Then after only another 8 years I had become 23 to Sylvia’s 46, and I had lived 5/10 or exaclty one-half of her time.

Twelve years later I celebrated 35 and Sylvia had reached 58, about the age I am today and I am shocked to learn that I had reached 6/10 of her time spent here.

Now even if you don’t really understand fractions I can assure you that this is a disturbing trend because it appears that I’m aging faster than Sylvia.

Now move ahead 17 years to 2009 when I first met Sylvia.  I was all happy-go-lucky at age 52 and Sylvia was 75, and I had lived damn near 7/10 of her age!

I don’t think this is at all fair, and I can report that meeting Sylvia was therefore a disturbing milestone for me.

Today, 5 years after I met Sylvia, it’s 2014, I am 57, and Sylvia celebrates her 80th year.  The math tells me that I’ve firmly passed 7/10 of her age and I can say that I’ve gotten over it, and I’m now okay with her having lived so long.

And 23 years from now when I find myself at the age Sylvia is today, and when she has become 103, my only consolation will be that I still will not have reached 8/10 of her age!

All of this proves why we don’t live forever: we’d all be the same age, and then birthdays (and math) wouldn’t be any fun at all.

Happy birthday to Sylvia on October 18, and for both our sakes I hope our ages never meet.

You Can’t Control Blue

It’s that time of year when we teach our youth the critical lessons needed for success in life:

1) adults make the rules

2) adults are nuts

Yes, it’s a new season of little league baseball! And it’s not the game we played as kids.

After a long winter practicing team chants, inventing new insults, reliving last summer’s great plays, and playing pitch and catch at the neighbors, the adults return to their own houses to prepare 10 year-olds for the hard life of baseball and the hardball of life.

Teams are assembled, uniforms are purchased, and beer and sunflower seeds are stockpiled. Treat-Mom schedules are emailed and immediately lost. Team names are chosen to convey the power, the influence, and the ruthless nature of the sport and to intimidate opponents and entertain the fans. Common monikers are Yankees, Cardinals, Swamp People, Dynasty Ducks, Magic Mikes, Congressional Oversighters, Middleclass Income Gappers, Mortgage Derivative Regulators, and Common Monikers.

A great metaphor for life, baseball has many pertinent lessons expressed as pithy sayings like “GOOD EYE!” This one is used when a pitcher throws a fastball which careens off the batter’s ankle resulting in shouts at the pitcher from angry Dads, the third base coach sarcastically yelling “GOOD EYE!”, and many tears shed when the umpire detects that the ricocheting ball somehow got past his own crotch guard. A parent then yells, “WALK IT OFF, BLUE!” and everyone laughs at the apt, yet oddly ironic, conventional nickname for the home plate umpire.

Today’s season-opener is between the Dirtbags and the visiting Turdbuckets. After the first throw, chants begin immediately:

You can’t CATCH

You can’t PITCH

Yo’ Mamma is a lousy…COOK!

This irritates a team mother who complains to the local league officer who admonishes Blue to quit taunting the batter.

Every little league game is a ruthless and fun battle between umpires, opposing teams, parents, coaches, fans, and frequently the concession stand attendee. These battles are often fraught with innings, idiots, and idioms:

  • GOOD SWING! Encouragement for a batter with no chance of hitting a ball. Ever.
  • BIG STICK. A successful team Dad who is very popular.
  • PLAY DEEP. Team Dad expanding his horizons and anticipating opportunity.
  • FIRST BASE. Opposing-teams parents exchanging greetings.
  • SECOND BASE. Opposing-teams parents exchanging phone numbers.
  • THIRD BASE. Opposing-teams parents sharing Fierce Grape Gatorade, unconcerned about cross-contaminating fluids.
  • OK, YOU’VE SEEN IT; NOW GIVE IT A RIDE! Player encouraged to hit the ball hard. (Also used by some team parents during off-season “strategy sessions”. (See HOME RUN and SCREWBALL).
  • SWITCH-HITTER. Mom who alternates coaching girls and boys teams.
  • PLAYING FOR OTHER TEAM. Curious Dad wanders onto adjacent ballfield to see if that game is more fun.

At many games you can hear those expressions used in polite adult conversation near the restrooms:



“Good swing!”


“Big stick!”


Wanna play deep sometime?”

“Sorry. I play for the other team.”

Back at the game, four innings elapse with these stats: three Dirtbags homeruns, seven Turdbuckets RBIs, and one black eye when the left fielder is hit in the ear by a wild pitch, and a team Dad punches the first base coach who neglects to contest Blue’s strike call.

In the game’s best play, the Dirtbags’ shortstop, “Long” O. Verdue, fields a “skupper”, which takes a nasty “philben” near second base. Meanwhile, the Turdbuckets player on first base starts running but neglects to tag-up on First first. This results in a technical “infield fly” ruling by Blue who was still adjusting his own infield fly from the earlier incident. The third base coach, way off base himself due to untreated bi-polar disorder, sadistically “waves-on” the hitter who rounds second base. A massive collision happens between Third and Home involving Blue, the runner, and two Dirtbags parents who were “playing the field” near the foul line. A brief timeout is called to sort-out the carnage, five runs are awarded to the Turdbuckets, and the offending parents are ejected from the game for “taking one for the team” behind the bleachers.

When the infield dust clears, the treats are distributed, the post-game critiques are delivered, and the Ump has iced his groin, everyone looks forward to the next matchup. A Turdbuckets Mom taunts a team Dad, “You can’t control Blue; you can only control YOU!”, and in true game spirit fists fly while the kids amusedly watch the enfolding “sportsmanship lesson”, munch Ding Dongs, and discuss the alarming increase in Major League steroid use.

It’s a whole new ballgame, folks!