Mysteries of the Winter Olympics

I grew up in Tampa, Florida, where if the temperature dipped below 76 degrees, the entire city moved to an evacuation shelter in Miami. Anything performed on ice or snow — or more clothes than a loin cloth — was pretty foreign to me. We didn’t ski or ice skate or launch ourselves off ice ramps. If we could get an ice cube in our tea before it melted, that was a winter sport.

It’s much the same today, which is maybe why the Winter Olympics is so fascinating to me. I find myself hooked, staring at the screen, marveling at these sports I’ve never tried, or didn’t even knew existed. There are so many mysteries. For instance:

• In any sport I’ve ever watched — or for that matter, anything that has ever moved — I’ve rooted for a massive crash. Cars. Poker games. Anything involving pom-poms. But in winter sports, I sit in fetal position peeking through my arms screaming, “Please Lord, don’t let that guy wipeout!” Winter crashes are terrifying, horrid and cataclysmic. On slick ice with no friction to stop them, they could go on forever, jumping barricades and shooting through town like a cartoon catastrophe. I get spasms in parts of my body I didn’t even know existed and can’t look at ice cubes for weeks.

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Ideas for Amazon’s grocery store of tomorrow

Amazon opened something truly revolutionary the other day: A grocery store in Seattle without a single checkout line. Lined with cameras and sensors, you walk into the Amazon Go store, scan an app, pickup what you want and leave. No lines. No loud calls over an intercom for Herb to do a price check on aisle 8 for your corn remover. No trying to pretend that the tabloid story about Prince Harry being a space alien doesn’t actually interest you.

Personally, I love the idea of a store like this. I hate checkout lines. But this only solves a couple of my biggest annoyances. So, in hopes that a bright Amazon engineer might read this, here are a couple of things that should also be incorporated into a high-tech grocery store of tomorrow:

• We need sliding floors. Let me explain: This would come in handy in situations where someone has decided to park their cart right in the middle of the aisle so they can read the ingredients on a box of crackers. First off, who reads ingredients on a box of crackers!?! Any way you look at it, they’re bad for you! But to the point, I’m so polite that I hate asking someone to move. So, I stand there for 20 minutes while saying in the softest voice, “Uh, excuse me … Um, pardon me, but I can’t get through …” Sliding floors, though, could use sensors to spot this and gently “slide” that person out of the way. Presto!

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Never trust your smart-phone

It read like a horror movie: “How smart-phones hijack our minds.” That was the headline of a piece in the Wall Street Journal — an article that immediately got my attention, and caused me to curse my phone: “Aha! It was YOU who caused me to eat all those candy corn pumpkins!!! I TOLD my daughter I had nothing to do with it!”

The article gave some pretty shocking statistics: We pull our phones out 80 times a day … our phones are actually making us less focused and sloppier … their mere presence makes us dumber and we’re willingly letting these devices “commandeer our brains” … if there is anything resembling candy corn in the house, they will force us to eat it. Stuff like that.

Truth is, if aliens wanted to invade Earth, all they need to do is buy a bunch of iPhones and pass them out for a free on a street corner. “Keys to the planet for a free smartphone? Eh … sounds like a fairly good deal! Does it come with unlimited data?”

We are willingly letting ourselves get hijacked.

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If I were a rich man … with no passion for fishing

I guess “horrified” isn’t the right word, but I would definitely say “dumbfounded” comes close to capturing it. It was an article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “How the Rich Fish.” Its subhead read, “In their quest for the best fishing, avid anglers are spending $200,000 to $750,000 to create and stock personal streams with computer-controlled conditions.”

Yes, my friends, there is no end to the excess!

First off, if you’re that rich, you can certainly afford to get some robots to do the fishing for you, and even dress them up in funny party hats and animal costumes. But you sure don’t need to go wading into the water yourself. Go eat ice cream instead.

The story spotlighted a retired energy executive who had created 2 acres of man-made streams and ponds at his Wyoming home. He said his two passions in life were “playing golf and fly fishing.”

Second off, if you have enough money to dig computer-controlled fish ponds, you can certainly afford to go out and buy yourself better passions!

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Running to a ridiculously longer life

Sometimes a news article comes along that is just what you need, at just the right time.

Like this one from The New York Times: “An hour of running may add 7 hours to your life,” the headline practically screamed.

“Seven extra hours for every hour I run?!?” I thought. “Shoot, I’ve already banked enough to live to 307! I’m practically immortal!!! I can start drinking beer for breakfast and eating pretzels dipped in bacon fat, just like I’ve always dreamed!”

As some of you may recall, I recently wrote how I had fallen into a running rut after completing a marathon last fall. And in that column I advised, more or less, to swear off advice columns that promise to help you wake up early or get back into super-fancy exercise regimes. They were failing me as I tried to break my funk and re-engage my lost love for running.

But I want to amend that: Skip advice columns, BUT … in their place, read only the headlines of stories on health studies that make grandiose and overly-general claims. (The key here is ONLY read the headlines, never the full story. Life is best when you gloss over the facts and skip the fine print.)

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The news you should REALLY be reading

You need a break. Between all of the stories on Senate confirmation hearings, immigration bans, street protests, political squabbles and whether President Trump owns bath robes (seriously folks, this was a topic of conversation!), you just need to know there’s something else happening in the world that isn’t fused with politics.

It’s overload, no matter what side you’re on. The new presidency has managed to suck all the oxygen out of the air. And we need a break, America!

So I’m here to bring you some of the OTHER news you may have missed. Maybe it will brighten your day, give you a new perspective on life or help catch you up on some of the most important information you’re not getting:

• A new coffee shop has opened in Brooklyn, NY, serving the country’s most expensive cup of coffee. Price? $18. The actual cost of the cup of coffee isn’t that much. Rather, what you’re paying for is the chance to hang around with a bunch of Brooklyn hipsters willing to shell out major bucks to drink something that tastes like tar no matter how expensive it is.

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