Happy Memorial Day (Even If You’re Confused)

Memorial Day, honoring the fallen, true heroes, humor, Modern PhilosopherHappy Memorial Day, Modern Philosophers!

According to several tweets I’ve read this morning, people aren’t exactly clear about why we celebrate this holiday.

While some folks are offended by their fellow Americans’ lack of information, I blame TV.  Because no one ever produced a claymation Memorial Day Special, entire generations grew up uneducated about the holiday.

How are we supposed to learn anything if we can’t be plopped down in front of the TV and left on our own to absorb important information?

According to Google, Memorial Day is “a day on which those who died in active military service are remembered“.

Veterans Day is the holiday that honors those who served in the military.

I hope that helps clear up the confusion.  I know it’s not the same as watching It’s Memorial Day, Charlie Brown, but just picture Linus saying those last two sentences to you while Snoopy dances behind him.

Major League Baseball is adding to the confusion.  All the teams are wearing uniforms with camouflage added to the design.  I’m watching the Yankees game on ESPN and they just ran a piece honoring baseball players who served in the military.

No mention of players who died serving their country.  Now the announcers are talking about the sacrifice players made to leave baseball behind to serve in World War II.

I’ve been watching the Yankees all weekend, and the cameras kept cutting to men and women in military uniform at the games.

Memorial Day, honoring the fallen, true heroes, humor, Modern PhilosopherAs far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing wrong with thanking veterans for their service on Memorial Day, but don’t forget the true heroes.  This is their holiday, and while they are not around to receive your thanks, they can still be in your thoughts and prayers.

As you can see from the opening photo of this post, the American flag is flying proudly at The House on the Hill today in honor of our fallen heroes.

I do not know anyone who gave his or her life in the service of this country, but I know that I might not have the freedoms I enjoy today if not for the sacrifices made by generations of total strangers.

The world might be a confusing place in which to live at the moment, and some holidays apparently are not as well defined than others, but one thing is perfectly clear: we owe so much to people we never met, who made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf.

So enjoy your Memorial Day however you want.  I went for a long run this morning, and now I’m writing and watching my beloved Yankees.

Maybe you plan to fire up the barbecue, go to a party, or spend the day with loved ones.

Memorial Day, honoring the fallen, true heroes, humor, Modern PhilosopherJust try to take some time today to think not only of those who we honor on this holiday, but also about those families who have an empty space at the table, or who will be spending the day at the cemetery because Memorial Day has affected them on a much more personal level.

True heroes don’t wear capes or have superpowers.  They are regular men and women who wear the uniforms of our Armed Forces.  Sometimes, they go out to protect us and don’t come home.

This is the official day on which we honor them, but they should always be in our thoughts.

Happy Memorial Day.

Be honest…were you clear on why we celebrate Memorial Day?

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Where The Devil Don’t Go

short story, The Devil, Pope Francis, Donald Trump, The Vatican, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, humor, Modern Philosopher“Guess where I got to go this week,” The Devil challenged excitedly as he burst into the living room as if shot out of a cannon.  “I’ll even give you a clue: it’s someplace I haven’t been allowed to set foot in for a couple of centuries.”

He was impeccably dressed as always in a suit that cost more than I currently had in my 401K.

“If people knew better, you wouldn’t be allowed to enter anyplace on this planet,” I countered.

“Lucky for me, people aren’t very smart,” Lucifer quipped.  “Now guess.”

I shrugged because I hadn’t a clue, but I knew I had to play along or this annoying game would continue for the entire afternoon.

“The White House,” I guessed.  “Steve Bannon and you are roomies, and you have bunk beds close enough to the President’s quarters to rush to Trump’s side whenever you hear him yelling out the nuclear launch codes in his sleep.”

“So hilarious,” The Prince of Darkness replied with mock laughter.  “You’re actually a lot closer than you realize, though.”

He sat down on his end of the couch, grabbed two bottles of Snapple from the cooler, and handed one to me.

“Well, are you going to tell me or what?” I asked after taking a sip of my iced tea.  “I’m waiting here with bated breath and whatnot.”

“I got inside the Vatican!” Satan bragged as a devilish grin swept across his handsome face.  “It’s built like a fortress to keep me out.   They have Swiss Guards and all sorts of special gadgets to detect evil, plus the Nuns are all witches who can sense my presence.”

short story, The Devil, Pope Francis, Donald Trump, The Vatican, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, humor, Modern PhilosopherHis revelation about the Nuns obviously threw me, but I’d have to circle back to that one.  At the moment, I had to know how the Hell the Devil managed to waltz into the Vatican undetected.

“How did you get in?” I asked in a state of semi-shock.  Lucifer had no place in the home of the Pope.

“President Trump,” Lucifer snickered.  “He didn’t realize it, but I slipped in with his entourage.  Just another handsome prick with slicked back hair, wearing an expensive suit, acting like he belonged, and pointing to the counterfeit White House ID around his neck.  I’m sure all the super sensitive security devices were shrieking out warnings and the eyes were rolling back in the Nuns’ heads, but as I suspected, Vatican security just wrote it off to Trump’s presence.”

“You piggy bagged your evil with Trump’s,” I whispered in awe.  “It’s brilliant.”

“I’m not exactly thrilled that Pope Francis is willing to accept that Trump’s evil is at the same level as mine,” The Prince of Darkness groaned, “but I’ll take it if it gives me a chance to wander around a place that’s been off limits to me for so long.”

“Is there anyplace on Earth that you go in your true form?” I asked as I tried to picture Satan, horns and all, walking down the corridors of the Vatican.

“Jut Klan meetings,” The Devil responded without hesitation.  “No one can tell it’s me under the sheets and hood, so why bother changing my look, you know?”

I looked at him absolutely dumbfounded as that was not the answer I was expecting.

Lucifer burst into laughter.  “I’m just messing with you, Austin.  I don’t go to Klan meetings.  I know those good ole boys are coming to me when they die, so there’s no need to check on them.  But to answer your question truthfully, I have been to known to venture out to one place as my true self.”

“If you’re waiting for me to guess, I’ve got nothing,” I admitted.

short story, The Devil, Pope Francis, Donald Trump, The Vatican, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, humor, Modern Philosopher“Sometimes, I’ll go au naturel to a New Jersey Devils game,” The Prince of Darkness told me with a smile.  “Especially during the playoffs.  Those fans are so intense, and many of them will paint their faces and put on fake horns to try to look like me, so I fit right in.  It’s pretty awesome.”

My Sunday guest was full of surprises.  I took a big gulp of my Snapple and wondered what it would be like to spend just one day in his cloven hoofs…

If you want to read more about my weekly visits from The Prince of Darkness, you should follow me on my blog and on Pinterest, where you can find the Sunday short stories pinned to their very own board.

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Bromancing The Scale

health, fitness, exercise, running, weight loss, humor, Modern PhilosopherMy Saturday posts are often about relationships, Modern Philosophers, but this one has nothing to do with dating.

It is, however, about repairing an important friendship that has been estranged for many years.  Of course, I’m talking about my relationship with my scale.

For years, my scale has spread lies about me and my weight, but it appears that it has finally decided to mend fences and speak the truth.  Because today, my friends, that lying, backstabbing, two-faced scale finally changed its tune and told me that I’ve lost 26 pounds since April 1.

And now all is forgiven.  I mean, I’d totally come across as the bad guy if I didn’t welcome the scale back with open arms after it made such a drastic change in the way it approaches our relationship.

The bromance is back on, Modern Philosophers!

Maybe it was wrong of me to blame my scale for the ridiculously high numbers it would display when I stood on it, but how was I to know it wasn’t lying?  It would never submit to a lie detector test, would never swear on the Bible that it was telling the truth, and I often heard it mumbling things behind my back about my weight in metrics.

This is America.  If you use the metric system here, I have to assume you are a spy.

I actually got so frustrated with my scale that I threw it out several months ago.  It was a fancy digital one I’d had since I was married, so it’s not like the technology was up to date.  Plus, I had a theory that my ex-wife had colluded with it to make it lie to me so that I was always insecure about my weight.

You know, because my ex didn’t want me to be happy, sane, or have the confidence to find someone else to love once she was gone.

I went old school and replaced that scale with one where the dial spun around to show you your weight in giant block numbers.  I figured that by returning to the technology of my youth, when I was ridiculous thin and could be blown over by a strong breeze, would ensure that my weight was lower and more pleasing to my fragile ego.

Turns out that scale would never give me the same reading twice.  I could get on it five times in a row, and each time, it would tell me I was a different weight.  And the swing would be like twenty pounds.

So I just stopped weighing myself.  And that was one of the major reasons why my weight ballooned so embarrassingly high over the winter.

health, fitness, exercise, running, weight loss, humor, Modern PhilosopherSince I wasn’t weighing myself regularly, I just assumed I’d put on the usual ten or so pounds of winter weight.  When I was asked to participate in the new fitness program at work, I decided to buy a new, much more accurate digital scale, so I could keep track of my progress.

Holy #$%^ was I surprised when I weighed myself on April 1!  I’d never been that huge, and I thought I was going to have a (strictly dramatic) heart attack.

That weigh in was a real eye opener, and the driving force behind my strict and intense adherence to my new exercise program.

Believe me, Modern Philosophers, when the shock of seeing that out of control number finally wore off, my first thought was that this new scale was continuing the work of its predecessors and lying to me, too.

Then I thought about how I cringed every time I looked at myself in the mirror, how I had absolutely no confidence when it came to talking to women, and how I’d needed to buy some Fat Boy clothes over the winter because my wardrobe no longer fit.

I knew I was a fat, out of shape mess, and even though the scale did lie, it was the absolute truth that I needed to get serious about losing weight and getting back into shape.

Today was the start of Week Nine of my Quest To Find My Hopelessly Lost Inner Skinny Dude.  I am running five days a week now and pushing myself to get in 15,000 steps a day, even though the program only requires 7,000 daily steps.

I started off my three day weekend with a five mile run this morning, and my fitness tracker tells me I’m at almost 19,000 steps for the day.

health, fitness, exercise, running, weight loss, humor, Modern PhilosopherAs you can see from these last two photos, which were both taken today, there is definitely less of me in the frame whenever I take a selfie now.

My self confidence is slowly returning, my heart has sent me several really sweet thank you notes, and I think I might need to make a run to the store this weekend to purchase some Fit Guy clothes.

Trust me, I still have a long way to go.  I set a goal to lose 75 pounds, so I’m only a third of the way there, but we all know the first 25 pounds are the hardest to lose.

Now that my scale and I are bromancing it, I expect much better numbers in the coming weeks.  The lower numbers it’s showing me are definitely inspiring me to run further, eat better, and keep believing in myself.

Life is too short to stay made at the scale forever.  I’m glad we finally buried the hatchet before I literally buried a hatchet through its display.

Hope you find a little inspiration in all my perspiration!

If you like what you read here, please feel free to share the post.  And don’t forget to follow me on my blog and on Pinterest.  Thanks!

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Pope Bathes In Holy Water For Days After Trump’s Visit

Pope Francis, Donald Trump, The Vatican, demonic possession, politics, humor, Modern PhilosopherPope Francis was so effected by President Trump’s recent visit to the Vatican that the Pontiff bathed in holy water for several days after the Orange Menace departed.

“The Holy Father wanted to ensure that he did not become possessed by whatever evil has taken over Mr. Trump’s body,” a Vatican spokesperson explained.  “While Pope Francis has faith that God will protect him from any demons, he decided he would rather be safe than sorry.”

According to Vatican historians, this is the first time that a Pope has felt the need to take such measures after hosting a world leader.

When asked how he felt about making history, President Trump responded, “I’ve always known that, like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, I would go down in history.  I’m very special.  No President has been more historic than me.  Sorry, Ben Franklin, but you’ve been replaced.  By me.  Donald Trump.”

Pope Francis contacted this Modern Philosopher by Skype to discuss his visit from the person recently voted by Vatican staffers as The World Leader Least Likely To Be Canonized.

“I am normally a very welcoming host, but I could not wait for that man and his entourage to be out of the Vatican,” The Pontiff told me as he made the sign of the cross.  “I was this close to pulling an Angels & Demons and vanishing into one of the numerous secret tunnels just to avoid them.”

When pressed for details on why he felt so uncomfortable around The Trump Circus, the Pope finally gave in and shared some juicy tidbits.

Pope Francis, Donald Trump, The Vatican, demonic possession, politics, humor, Modern Philosopher“His wife made me very uneasy,” he offered.  “Something in her eyes told me she was in terrible danger, but her  body language conveyed that she would destroy anyone who dared invade her personal space.”

“She kept trying to order drinks from me.  Apparently, anyone dressed in white is a servant to her.  While I consider myself God’s humble servant, I was not going to hustle up a cocktail for her just so she could better tolerate her husband.”

The Leader of the Catholic Church shared numerous stories about Donald Trump, but this one was my personal favorite…

“I kept trying to discuss the ways President Trump could change his policies to make the world a better place, but all he wanted to talk about was interior design.”  Pope Francis paused to let out an elongated, heavy sigh.  “He absolutely had to know who designed the Vatican because he wanted every Trump Hotel and Casino to look like it.  He was so determined that he offered me nuclear weapons to protect Vatican City from terrorist attacks if I would just give him my interior designer’s contact information.”

As it turns out, multiple baths of Holy Water were not the only measures taken by Pope Francis after Trump’s visit.

Multiple sources within the Vatican confirm that the Holy Father called in an exorcist to make sure that “the great orange evil” had not lingered.

Pope Francis, Donald Trump, The Vatican, demonic possession, politics, humor, Modern Philosopher“Yes, I did ask Monsignor Blatty to visit,” The Pontiff confirmed with an embarrassed chuckle.  “I kept waking up in a cold sweat with a sense that something evil had been watching me as I slept.  I know the difference between a nightmare and the presence of an evil that must not be allowed to gain a foothold in this realm.  Monsignor Blatty has assured me that I should have no trouble sleeping now.”

Has anyone made sure that Steve Bannon didn’t get left behind?  He could probably survive for ages in the Vatican’s tunnels and secret passages.

Don’t worry, Modern Philosophers.  Before I ended our Skype session, I asked Pope Francis to say a prayer for America.

And I convinced him to give me Monsignor Blatty’s phone number.  I have a feeling that  his services might be required at the White House if we are at all serious about making America great again…

Don’t forget to follow me on my blog and on Pinterest!

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The Dentist

going to the dentist, fear of dentists, poetry, humor, Modern PhilosopherO Dentist,

My Dentist,

The time has come

For our semi-annual

Get together.

Oh how I hate

Seeing you,

Even though,

By all accounts,

You seem to be

A very nice guy.

I’ll never forget

That time

I ran

Into you

At the grocery store.

My basket

Was packed

With sugary foods.

You looked at it

And smiled.

I told you

It was all

For my girlfriend.

(Sorry, Rachel!)

You didn’t judge.

Just told me

To make sure

To brush.

In spite of

That moment,

I still loathe

Going to

Your office.

Not because

I ever have

Cavities.

It’s just that

It freaks me out

To have fingers,

Other than

A girlfriend’s,

In my mouth.

And don’t even

Get me started

On your

Medeival

Torture devices.

I’m so afraid

That one of them

Will snap off

Between my teeth,

And forever remain

Trapped in my mouth.

Just know

That I respect you,

But the mere

Thought of you

Gives me

Nightmares.

I promise

To brush and floss

If you just keep

Your distance.

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The Jedi Lawn Trick

short story, The Devil, Star Wars, Jedi Mind Trick, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, humor, Modern Philosopher“If you were to wake up tomorrow morning to discover that you had suddenly and mysteriously been blessed with Jedi powers, what’s the first thing you would do?” The Devil asked as he put down the Sunday edition of the Bangor Daily News.

As always, he was impeccably dressed in a suit that cost more than my monthly mortgage payment.  While he waited for my reply, he fiddled with the silk handkerchief that peeked out of his jacket pocket.

“I’d probably get up and pee,” I replied after a moment’s thought.  “I’ve always got to go when I first wake up, and I don’t think having Jedi powers would suddenly change that.  Although, now that I think about it, you never see the Jedi use the toilet in any of the Star Wars flicks.”

Lucifer predictably rolled his eyes and glanced down at the paper as if considering to abandon this conversation and go back to reading in silence.  But he searched his feelings and decided to give this obnoxious joker another chance.

“Let me be more specific,” he insisted.  “If you were to discover you had Jedi powers, what is the first way you would use them?”

“Now that is the perfect question for a Modern Philosopher and Star Wars geek on a slow moving Sunday,” I praised him.  “Of course, if I’m going to get the Deep Thoughts flowing, I am going to require a Snapple.”

I reached into the cooler and pulled out two bottles of lemon iced tea.  After handing one to my guest, I popped the top off of the remaining one and took a long sip.

The Prince of Darkness drummed his fingers impatiently on his leg.  “A long time ago, in a galaxy not at all far away, I asked what I thought for a fairly simple question…”

Rey, Daisy Ridley, short story, The Devil, Star Wars, Jedi Mind Trick, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, humor, Modern Philosopher“I’d track down Rey, introduce myself as a fellow Jedi in training, tell her I wanted to join her in fighting the First Order, and then once we became really close, I’d ask her out.  Or maybe I’d just cut to the chase and propose to her.”

“You really are a hopeless romantic, aren’t you?” Satan asked in a way that wasn’t meant to be mistaken for a compliment.

“I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I don’t think there’s any other way I could get Daisy Ridley to go out with me,” I explained with the enthusiasm of someone slightly obsessed with an attractive celebrity.  “But if I had Jedi powers, I’m no longer some creepy fan asking out a total stranger.  Now I’m the only person on Earth who is actually a Jedi.”

“So then why are you asking out the character she plays, rather than Daisy herself?”  The Devil asked, ironically playing Devil’s advocate.

“Because as much as I’m crushing on Daisy, actresses can be very high maintenance,” I answered without hesitation.  “Rey, on the other hand, is a kick ass, no nonsense, light saber wielding beauty from another world who can take care of herself.  That’s much more of a turn on.”

Lucifer took a very long sip of his Snapple as he regretted ever opening this particular line of questioning.

short story, The Devil, Star Wars, Jedi Mind Trick, Sundays With Satan Short Story Series, humor, Modern Philosopher“How would you use your Jedi powers other than to get into a fictional character’s pants?” he rephrased his earlier question.”

I had an answer all cued up for him, though.

“I’d go full Jedi on the lawn,” I told him confidently.  “I’d use the Force to propel the mower across the lawn while I sat on the porch and read a book.”

“So you wouldn’t use your light saber to cut down every blade of grass and show the lawn the true power of the Force?” The Prince of Darkness asked with a chuckle.

“Hell no!” I exclaimed.  “That would require even more effort than using the actual lawn mower.  I’m looking to cut myself out of the equation entirely.  Except, of course, for the use of my mind, which never rests.”

“I’m going to go back to reading the paper now,” Satan stated with disappointment.

“I’m sorry if my answers didn’t intrigue you, but if I were one with the Force, I know that’s what the Force would want me to do,” I defended my choices like a true Jedi.

And with that, silence returned to The House on the Hill…

If you were suddenly blessed with Jedi powers, what’s the first thing you would do with them?

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50 Days of Fitness

fitness, running, health, exercise, weight loss, self improvement, humor, Modern PhilosopherTo celebrate Day 50 of my new fitness program, Modern Philosophers, I went for a five mile run to make sure I’d rack up 50 active minutes on my fitness tracker.

Yes, I do know how to party like a rock star, just as long as the rock star in question is overweight, doesn’t really enjoy running, but is determined to get back into shape.

Truth be told, the run felt good.  I rambled further down the road than usual, exploring strange new lands (and finding them to be exactly like the lands with which I was already so well acquainted), and pushing myself harder because if I’m going to run I might as well give it my all.

As I’ve detailed in previous posts, I started this new fitness program on April 1 when I was asked to participate in a new wellness pilot program at work.  They gave me a Virgin Pulse (great name for an indie band, right?) fitness tracker and told me to see how I liked  logging in every day, uploading my steps, and trying to meet the goals of the program.

So far, so good, Modern Philosophers!

Today is Day 50, and after uploading my steps from this morning’s run, I reached the 16,000 point plateau on the site.  That seems to be the last point goal the website offers, so I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do for the next 40 days.

Aside from kicking even more ass, of course.

The site keeps a running total of steps for the week, but not since Day 1.  However, since I always achieve my personal goal of at least 10,000 steps a day (the goal set by the program is 7,000 steps a day), I know I’ve taken at least half a million steps since April 1.

fitness, running, health, exercise, weight loss, self improvement, humor, Modern PhilosopherThat’s like 10 marathons, Modern Philosophers.

I took the photo on the left after my very first run on April 1.  Perhaps you can read body language well enough to deduce that I wasn’t too thrilled to be out running again.

I was very fat, extremely out of shape, there was snow on the ground, and I felt like the biggest April fool.

But I set my mind to getting back into shape, and I have made quite a bit of progress to this point.

Today was my thirtieth run in fifty days.  I’ve maintained a schedule of running every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Last week, I thought I’d liven up things a little by tossing in a short run on Wednesday.  Now I’m going to see if I can keep up a fifth day.

Even on my so called days off, I still made sure I went for long walks to accumulate at least 10,000 steps.  That means getting up early to walk before work, and then walking on my lunch break and after dinner.

It was my dear old Dad who told me it was good to be active after eating to help digest the food.  That’s why I go for a walk after every meal.

And it seems to be working.  I’ve lost 22 lbs so far.

That’s about a third of the way to the goal I’ve set for myself, but my goal seems a hell of a lot more realistic now that I’ve lost so much weight already.

fitness, running, health, exercise, weight loss, self improvement, humor, Modern PhilosopherAfter my shower, I put on a pair of shorts that are one size smaller than my current Fat Boy wardrobe size.  Not only did the shorts fit, but they were also so loose that I’ve had to put on a belt to keep them from falling down (sorry, ladies, but no free shows today!).

I optimistically kept my Thinner Guy clothes from before this massive weight gain, but I’ve hesitated to try on a smaller pair of work pants or jeans.  Perhaps next week I will finally get up the courage to do so based on what’s going on with these shorts.

This photo is from after today’s run.

Notice the smile.  The thinner face.  Something has changed over the last fifty days.

And it’s not just running and walking that’s led to this transformation.  I really have my diet under control.  I’ve been preparing healthy meals, eating lots of salad, drinking oceans of water, and making sure there are healthy snacks around for when I get a craving.

I have not had any ice cream, nor do I stop at the grocery store after a hard day’s work to pick up comfort food in hopes of making my day better.  I only dream about Chinese food now, and there are a lot more chickens in Maine with wings since I’ve gone on this diet.

Some people have been worried that I’ve been doing too much, too quickly, but I’m losing about three pounds a week.  There’s nothing crazy about that.  I’m eating healthy.  Exercising regularly.  Keeping hydrated.  Getting lots of sleep.  All is well.

When I throw myself into something, be it exercising, writing, or building a time machine, I commit to it one hundred percent.

Right now, getting myself healthy is my main goal.  I’m seeing results, so that’s going to excite me and make me want to keep at it.

fitness, running, health, exercise, weight loss, self improvement, humor, Modern PhilosopherLosing weight and being able to run five miles without needing to be rushed to a hospital is great for my self confidence.  I’ve been thinking about trying to date again, knowing that the women can run from me if they want, but I now have the stamina to catch them.

Of course, that last line was a joke (even if it is totally true), so don’t freak out on me.  I’m still gun shy about dating, but as my confidence increases, I will at least try to ask someone out.

One last photo.  Me smiling because I’ve survived the first 50 days and know better things are ahead!

So that about wraps up this post.  It’s several hours later, I’ve gone for a few more walks, and had a good dinner.  I hope that those of you who are a little wary of jumping back into a regular exercise routine find some inspiration from all my perspiration.

You only live once (unless, of course, you come back as a zombie!) so take care of yourself.

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