aggregation aggregation aggregation, Becoming a Parent, Evergreen Content, Holidays, Parent of Twins, Pop Culture, Wacky World Wednesday

It’s time to separate Trick-O-Treat from Halloween

Two years ago,  I wrote about my well documented desire to move Halloween to a potentially better weather day in October.  I’ve argued that it is time to embrace the practicality of celebrating this holiday on a day other than the last day of October because it is almost always too cold in most parts of the country for an enjoyable celebration.  And any historical or religious associations with Halloween are vestigial at best, at least in this country.

When I was a kid, I recall the majority of Halloweens growing up as being cold, dark and rainy. Think how disappointing it is to a kid being told that you cannot go trick-or-treating because it’s freezing cold outside or raining cats and witches.  Fun fact: the advanced forecast for Halloween 2019 in Chicago is Snow!

And as Susan over at Looking for the Good pointed out that until recently, it was dark out every year because they did the time change before Halloween back then, which might be good for scares but not good for kids who are Trick-O-Treating.

Over the years, there have been petitions to move Halloween to the Last Saturday of the month.  So far none have gained the necessary traction.  People just don’t like extreme change.   So maybe the compromise is to decouple Trick-O-Treating from Halloween proper.


Recently, the Halloween & Costume Association, the group that petitioned to move Halloween to the last Saturday of Octoberproposed a new holiday: National Trick or Treat Day. It would fall on the last Saturday of October and thereby extend the official Halloween celebration, rather than moving it.

This takes the kid portion of Halloween and moves it to a more parent-friendly timeslot while letting Halloween purists still enjoy the true meaning of the holiday: hooking with people at costume parties!

It definitely will help alleviate some unintended consequences that parents of school-aged children face.  If Halloween falls outside of the weekend, parents still have to go to work the next day.  What if you have an important meeting the next day?  Do you really want to be out on the streets until 9 am begging for candy?   Or trying to get your kid out of bed for school the next day is even harder when they are sugar-drunk.  Teachers don’t appreciate having to deal with students who are recovering from a chocolate bar bender either.

If you think about it, many communities already do this unofficially.  They will have special Trunk-or-Treat events, Family-friendly parades or weekend block parties to substitute for going out on Halloween night.  Look, the traditions we associate with Halloween didn’t arrive all at once or from day one.  They evolved over time.  There is no reason we cannot continue to fine-tune Halloween and make it more modern while still honoring the traditional aspects.   


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Dark Matters, Evergreen Content, Wacky World Wednesday

Doxing is bad, but it’s even worse when you do it to the wrong person

Hey, didja hear the news? The guy who moved in down the street is a child molester who burned down an orphanage and kicks puppies. Kicks puppies! Let’s go give him a piece of our mind.  I heard it from a friend, who heard it from her brother’s girlfriend’s, uncle’s cousin’s, baby momma’s doctor who lived next door to an old class mate’s mail man, so it has to be true.

Mob burns down his house.

Oh hey, turns out we had the wrong Mr Nobody. Whoops, our bad.

Doxing: search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.


People mean well but execute poorly.  After the shooting of Trayvon Martin, Spike Lee posted what he thought was the address of George Zimmerman.  The address in question, however, turned out to belong to Elaine and David McClain, who had nothing to do with the shooter.

“My youngest son, his last name is Zimmerman and his middle name is George,” Elaine McClain told Orlando’s WKMG TV.Apparently Lee obtained the address from one of his Twitter followers and as is par for the course with social media, shared it quickly without vetting it.  Now he is being sued for $1.2 million.

Remember Cecil the Lion?  He was hunted and killed by a Minnesota dentist named Walter Palmer.  This sparked an international outcry and greater scrutiny of trophy hunting wild animals.  The outcry lasted almost a month but I’m not so sure about the other part.  But lost in all that is the fact that many outraged individuals visited Palmer’s office and harassed his staff…who had NOTHING to do with their employer’s actions.

It’s hard to keep up but recently there were two other people who committed terrible and perhaps unnecessary acts against fellow world citizens and public opinion outrage ensues.

A Walgreens pharmacist refused to provide an Arizona woman with miscarriage medication, citing his ethical beliefs. I never understood why people with these beliefs become pharmacists. It’s not like you didn’t know you’d have to fill these prescriptions in pharmacy school!

I’m having trouble finding a legitimate news site to verify but someone posted on Facebook that a woman was kicked off a Delta flight at the Fort Wayne International Airport over a dispute about whether or not the woman’s phone was on airplane mode.  Honestly, the electronics causing interference on flights is a bit suspect,  but rules are rules.

Let’s not forget that revealing the identity of Wrigley Field’s most infamous fan sent him into hiding for the better part of two decades.

The point of all this is that even though your intentions may be good, your actions may help pave the Road to Hell.  Life is filled with unintended consequences and you just never know what might happen if you provide an angry crowd with the address of a person who had a moment of dickness.  Maybe their 4 year old kid has to learn about  bad words much sooner than any parent would like, or worse.

There are other ways to get back at these people.  Better, legitimate ways that are perhaps a little harder to implement but have much more satisfying effects with fewer unintended consequences as the byproduct.


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Getting It Off Your Chest, Wacky World Wednesday

Why I hate financial services online sites


Financial Services Technical Support….how may we piss you off today?

Like many people, I have two retirement accounts: the one at work because of matching funds and the one that is the culmination of past jobs’ 401K accounts that got transferred once the job terminated.

About once a quarter I attempt to log into my retirement online accounts to see how they are doing. I say attempt because I always lock myself out of my account because I have so many Fucking userids and passwords to remember.

Unlike normal online accounts, you only get 1-2 chances with Financial Services websites for some reason. Fat-finger a password and they lock you out.  And once you reset your password you can never use a previous one again in this lifetime.  I’m pretty sure if reincarnation is a thing, they won’t let you use the same one in the next lifetime either.

Incorrect information was entered in an attempt to log into your account. To protect your account, we have disabled online access to your account.
You can restore your online access by following the instructions the next time you access Benefits OnLine®. Or you can call at your plan’s toll-free number and authorize a representative to restore your access. We take your online security seriously and will notify you of any changes to your login information.

They sing the “for your security” song but it’s really to protect their ass from liability mitigate risk.  I’m sure there is some Federal Regulation that mandates this. To which I say have your fucking lobbyist make their congressional whores change it.

Sadly, there isn’t anything the average consumer can do about it. I have to continue using the work one for the matching contributions and they all are gonna be the same movie. So I’ll call customer support and reset my password to something I won’t remember next week, let alone next time the friendly email reminder about quarterly earnings comes in.  But I can refuse to buy any of their other expensive add-on services like Financial Planning or Wealth Management.

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Corporate America, Wacky World Wednesday

Emojis in work emails don’t make you look dumb, doing these 7 things do

The other day I was riding the elevator, watching that Captivate board because my cell service craps out inside enclosed spaces like elevators and it was the only way to avoid any interaction with everyone else for those long 60 seconds it takes to get to the fifty something floor I work on.

I cannot find the source because I don’t know how to link back to elevators, but every six months or so, some guru writes a thing about proper email communication.  Yes it’s okay to use the smiley face.  No it’s not.  Whoops, now it’s okay again.  Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

some of these might be a little too informal when asking for time off

Some of these might be a little too informal when asking for time off

Here are some things that really make you look like an idiot and make your coworkers hate you.  Note: there are caveats and exceptions to many of these.

Requesting info previously provided within the same email thread

Nothing says lazy reader than someone not scrolling down to see if the information was already provided.  Obviously if the thread has gone one for weeks, you don’t want to re-read a Lord of the Rings length email just to learn the name of the 6th wraith.  But if you cannot scroll down a few paragraphs to see the relevant information, you really need to get into a different line of work.  You are taking up value dollars from the meager 3% merit increases allocated for the group.

Receive email with multiple questions, only address one

This is really the worst, especially if your job is to answer these questions and you know you are just going to get asked in the next round.  You’re either doing it on purpose or you really aren’t paying attention to life.

(When to) Drop people from email thread

Reply or Reply to All is more art than science.  That said, the number of times this gets messed up is insane.

Don't list to me

Copy boss on trivia email

The boss needs to be informed of high level occurrences and the view from 30,000 ft.  She really doesn’t want to read a 20 volley thread about how you decided that Appleby’s is better than Olive Garden for Justin’s going away lunch.  Everyone hates Justin anyway.

Forwarding an email without any additional contextual text

We really cannot read your mind.  Also even if we kinda know where you might be going with the screenshot or the forward, it really won’t kill you to include two sentences to clarify what you expect us to do with this information.

Mix up thread or bring up something unrelated to thread and subject line

It’s hard enough finding information buried in the inbox when someone does use an appropriate description Subject Line.  But when the Subject line is New Hire and you use it to talk about who’s doing what on Project X, it is annoying.  The lone exception is when you are need to relay some info stat from your phone and you honestly don’t have the time to create a new email.

What is the status of ticket 7932139450304943023?

This is a  Corporate America Felony that your Pointy Hair Boss is likely to commit.  He’s usually looking at something, perhaps an SLA report and has the info in front of him but is too lazy to cut and paste so you have a frame of reference.

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Life Lessons, Practical Life Lessons, Wacky World Wednesday

The Commencement Address I’d love to give

How much longer do we have to listen before we can go Part-tay?

How much longer do we have to listen before we can go Part-tay?

It is extremely unlikely I will ever give a commencement speech in this lifetime.  I’m really okay with that too because just the shortlist of People More Qualified than I is a group known as Everyone Else on the Planet.  However, if I were ever asked, here is what I would like to say.

Class of 2017 graduates,

I want to take this opportunity to offer you the benefits of all the wisdom I’ve accumulated in the three decades since I was in your position: fresh out of college and about to enter the workforce bright eyed and ready to change the world.  So I will keep this short because Twentysomethings are a group with less memory retention than a litter of concussed amnesiac kittens please remember the following as you move forward in life:

  1. Corporate America sucks.   You will likely get an entry level job that is more Sinecure than upwardly mobile career.  (Unless you have connected parents BTW if your parents are rich and helping you out, you can skip the rest of this speech.  The race is easier the closer you start from the finish line and why are you still here, don’t you have a new car to wreck?) The good news is as you won’t be burning a lot of brain cells, you will have a lot of downtime to work on your KSA: Knowledge, Skills and Ability. You might get lucky and work for a company that has good in-house training and continuous education initiative take advantage of it.  If your company doesn’t offer this, it is up to you to seek it out on your own time.  Your future depends on it.

  2. Don’t move out of your parents home until you have to.  Unless you really really have to such as having crazy strict, crazy religious, or just crazy dysfunctional, stick it out as long as you can.  Pay your parents something in rent  and pocket the rest into a savings account that you DO NOT TOUCH.

  3. Learn to cook and pack a lunch. Not just a bunch of frozen TV dinners or weight watchers crap but actual food that you buy weekly at the grocery store. You will save money and eat more healthy.

  4. Exercise and stop eating crap all the time. I’m not saying you have to sub salad for french fries at every meal, but eating good during the week will allow you some leeway on the weekends.  Yes your young body can process most of that stuff now, especially if you are active, but there will come a time when you cannot burn off the double cheeseburger as easily as you once did.

  5. You cannot recreate your college HeyDays.  You can visit your college town for homecoming and/or College Prom*  once, maybe twice and then stop.  just stop.  You are much older than even the oldest co-ed and it’s just creepy if you are trying to hook up with them.  Also, be prepared to lose your college friends, or at least regulate 90% of them to acquaintances you hear from on birthdays and major holidays.  Those nights of stayed up late talking about philosophy and sex and psychology and sex and politics, and sex…are over.  They won’t have time to shoot the shit with you, especially if you live beyond easy visiting distance from one another.

  6. Get a 2nd job working weekends or even a couple nights a week.  It won’t kill you and the extra money will come in handy.  It also limits the time at home with your parents if that’s a concern.  Plus you might be able to pick up an auxiliary skill that augments those KSA I mentioned (you’re were paying attention at the beginning of this right?)

  7. Finally, This is the best time in your life to screw up at virtually Anything!   As long as you don’t do anything detrimental (think felony or debilitating meth habit)  the consequences of failure are so much less serious now than they will ever be.  Want to open a Seashell themed Coffee Shop?  Go for it.  Move across the country?  No one is stopping you.  Once you have a family, that all changes.  You have more responsibilities – children, spouses, financial obligations.  You might even have to take care of those pesky parents.


Best of luck to you, you’re gonna need it.


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aggregation aggregation aggregation, Current Events, This Week on Facebook, Wacky World Wednesday

CPS Proposed Acceptance Letter Graduation Requirement insane, out of touch

Mayor Rahm Emanuel obviously isn’t looking to run for a 3rd term.  Otherwise he would reconsider or seriously revamp a plan requiring high school graduates to have a post high school plan.

“Starting with next year’s freshman class, in order to receive their high school diploma, all CPS students would have to show an acceptance letter to a four-year university, a community college, a trade school or apprenticeship, an internship, or a branch of the armed services.”

update 4/6/2017:  It appears this plan isn’t officially implemented and is still  in the planning stages.

This sounds like something someone who hasn’t been in high school for centuries thought up.  Or doesn’t have any friends with diverse life situations.  What if you don’t know what you want to do after high school and want a Gap Year?  Sucks to be you Malia Obama.

So what if you don’t get accepted to college?  Are you forced to join the military?  How many kids are gonna fake an internship to Vandelay Industries?

Know who wouldn’t have to abide by this requirement?   Private schools, Religious schools, Charter schools and I suppose Home schooled kids.  And let’s not forgot, Mayor Emanuel sends his kids to private school.

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Current Events, This Week on Facebook, Wacky World Wednesday

I need a Social Media Reset, maybe you do too

If anyone had told me what Social Media would be like when I signed up for the various platforms over the years, I probably would have used them differently.   I’m using the catch all phrase Social Media to include LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram et al but everyone knows I’m really referring to the 900 lb gorilla in the room known as Facebook.

For many people, Facebook is their only main portal to the world.  It’s how they they communicate with friends and family, and it’s how they get their news.  An ever-moving reality show, featuring You, starring Your Friends,  and reflecting Your Infallible Opinions.  I have to admit I’m caught up in it too (and as a blogger rely on the page views that social media helps generate.)  I actually envy my friends who only check Facebook once a week like people once checked their AOL email.


I’ve gone through various phases of how I use Facebook.  In the beginning I followed Zuckerberg’s Philosophy to the letter.  It was fun to let friends know what I was up to and see what they were doing (but I never poked anyone!).  Over time additional functionality allowed you to check in, share links and photos, and like shit.  And it didn’t take long for people to figure out ways to monetize their Facebook pages, either directly or indirectly.  I played along but didn’t really care how people used it.  Then I noticed some friends only posted, never interacting with me anyone.  Or only posted annoying chain letters or pet causes.  And please like my page but don’t ask me to like yours.

Somewhere along the way, Facebook went from being a fun distraction to be virtual reality that showed the best and worst of people.  Suddenly you realized that you really weren’t as good of friends as you thought with that person from book club when they unfriended you.

And then there were the 2008, 2012 and 2016 elections each being more ugly than the previous.  The disagreements between friends and family use to be hidden in the background, but Facebook  shined a light on that indifference, bringing it kicking and screaming into center stage.

Maybe we should go back to the early days, where your status had to be in the form of Person’s Name is ____________.

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A friend posted a link to a Sugar Detox  a couple weeks ago, just in time for the New Year.   I’m wary of New Year’s resolutions and goals that set one up to fail but I figure even I can pull off something like this  since it is only 3 days.   I decided to start last Tuesday (January 3rd) because it would be over before the weekend.

A couple of things here.  Detox isn’t really the right word according to the medical community.   Detoxification is a normal function of our bodies to get rid of unwanted substances, i.e. toxins.   Cleanse would be a better word choice.  Also, your body doesn’t know the difference between 71 and 72 hours, and the three days is because humans need some sort of measurable to know exactly when they can go back to eating donuts again.  [If there’s any science behind it, I suspect 3 days is the minimum amount of time it takes the average person to rid themselves of the majority of the toxic element they are attempting to eject.]

Here is a list of what I can’t have: carbs, most fruit, sugar, baked goods, wheat bread  or alcohol.

Here is a list of what I can have: Mostly sawdust and the tears of vegans.

Kidding, there are lots of things that I can eat that don’t contain sugar and don’t forget we also get a 15 g “sugar allowance” per day.    The hardest part was not having an alcoholic beverage before bedtime.

Day One wasn’t hard at all.  I didn’t do any type of exercise to go along with it because I had just gone back to work from the holiday break and had some catching up to do.

Day Two  I was a little hungry in the afternoon and had to resist the urge to get an unauthorized snack. I did swim a few laps at the gym during lunch.

In the evening I really wanted a treat or a drink (though that could have been because of the current Stressors going on in our lives).  I noticed that I was at about the half way point so I told myself that I just need to get through the next 32-36 hours and its over. My wife Nightingale, who also unofficially participated, noticed she was more drained and we realized that we were running out of the energy that sugar normally provided us.

Day Three was essentially a cake walk because I was so close to the finish line, that it didn’t make any sense to cheat.  I ran a few miles on the treadmill at lunch time.

So cutting out sugar for three days with a small amount of exercise may have helped me lose a pound or two but other than a little tired, I didn’t feel any different than usual.  That’s probably because sugar isn’t a big part of my life as it is for some people.  I definitely consume more than 15 grams a day, but not significantly more and I avoid sugar and substitutes whenever I can substitute a healthier choice and the few miles I do run a week help burn some of it off.

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Pop Culture, This Week on Facebook, Uncategorized, Wacky World Wednesday

What happens when you go on a Sugar Detox


Update 01/05/2017There are some who believe this video was faked.  I’m not sure why anyone would do such a thing, the benefit would have to outweigh the Parent Shaming they endured, or they completely miscalculated the rewards and/or response. 


Has everyone seen the video of the 2 year old who lifted a dresser off his twin brother?  I was first alerted to it by former ChicagoNow blogger Jenny Milkowski who posted the video on her FB Page.

Even before I watched the video, I knew what to expect:

Judgemental Comments from Know-It-All members of the That-Could-Never-Happen-to-Me clan.

  • “Where were the parents?”
  • “How could they not hear anything?”
  • “I would never leave my kids unsupervised”

It doesn’t help that many of the news outlets covering the story don’t relay all the available facts.  Not that anyone would read them before spouting off an opinion.  Most people just watch the video and fire off their two cents without reading any of the pesky facts.

The story is that the kids (Bowdy and Brock Shoff) woke up and were playing in their room while their parents were sleeping.  This is very common with twins or kids who share a room at this age.  They have each other and can do more without the watchful eyes of parents.

Apparently when the parents woke up and checked on their kids, they found them playing in the room but the dresser was tipped over.  They reviewed their nanny cam and discovered what had happened.

The Shoffs were “initially hesitant to share the video but decided the issue of bolting furniture was too important to ignore.”  They also imply a higher power was involved with helping Browdy move the dresser off his brother Brock.

I’m not saying the Shoffs are candidates for Parents of the Year.  They know they fucked up and that is one reason they shared the video:  To hopefully convince other parents who don’t think that dresser or TV Stand is any danger, to think again.

It’s practically impossible to watch your kids 24/7 and attempting to do can be more harmful then not doing so.  If you have small children (or even just one) you are likely always in a sleep deficit.

Here’s something that is much more helpful than McJudgey comments that do not add anything to the discussion…a Childproofing Checklist from the International Association for Child Safety

Childproofing Checklist by Developemnt / Age

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I’m not a big tennis fan but I do pay attention whenever there is a story about the Williams sibling rivalry.  The only other tennis star I’ve really heard of is Maria Sharapova.  She is after all a five-times Grand Slam champion and the highest earning athlete in any female sport.

UPDATEMaria Sharapova appealed her two year suspension.

When my friend posted on Facebook about Sharapova failing a drug test, I did my google-fu to see what I could dig up get the full story.  Initially I learned that she was suspended by the International Tennis Federation and sponsors like Nike, Porsche and Tag Heuer were wasting no time parting ways with her because she tested positive for the drug meldonium.

Apparently she has been using this drug for 10 years but it was recently added by World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to the list of banned substances effective January 1st of this year.  My first thought was this sounds like Bears Quarterback Jim Miller’s suspension in 1999.  Miller said he “had unknowingly taken the banned substance nandrolone for four days as a substitute for his regular dietary supplement.”

I looked on Sharapova’s Facebook page and there  was a link to her website with a press release video.  I thought it odd not to simple post a link to the video and this was probably a calculated move.  The entire 7+ minute press conference is linked above.  I give her props for taking ownership of her actions and not trying to deny the test results or blame her doctor.  I also gotta say even though I understand the attempt at humor, the comment about the ugly hotel carpeting (2:55) didn’t win her any friends.

Fans and proponents are calling for the ITF to be lenient with her punishment.  Anti-doping advocates want to make an example out of Sharpova.  The Court of Public Opinion will hash out whether this was a deliberate attempt at gaining a competitive edge or an honest mistake.

We have drug testing of athletes for a reason.  It’s not precautionary like a smoke detector or seat belts.  It’s because athletes are under such pressure to perform at a high level and the demands led to the temptation to gain any edge possible.

However the ITF decides to handle this, they must be consistent and judicious.  Whatever punishment they doll out for this, it has to be the same punishment they would give Venus Williams, Roger Federer or some unknown last place professional tennis player if they had failed the same test.

You can be Pollyanna and believe that it was an honest mistake.  That she didn’t read the notice the ITF sent in September and didn’t realize the drug she was taking — that she knew by the name mildronate — was also meldonium.

You can be cynical and think that it was a calculated risk that has now blown up in Sharapova’s pretty and very marketable face.  Meldonium isn’t known for its magnesium supplements or diabetes fighting ability.

Or you can even be both.  I kinda think that she was taking the drug for legitimate health reasons and learned that it had some performance enhancing usefulness.

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