Olympians are People Too…Horny People

Picture from USAToday.com

Gosh the Olympic athletes are just wonderfully wholesome aren’t they? Playing a sport they love just for the sake of enjoying competition. They all deserve to be on that Wheaties box that your kids see on the kitchen table.

As in past games, Olympic officials will distribute more than 100,000 condoms to the 10,500 athletes housed in the Olympic village. That’s roughly 10 condoms per athlete. If you consider that some athletes won’t need them because they’re faithfully married, have a same-sex relationship, or just monogamous with someone, that means that someone is getting a whole lot of nooky. I wonder if the Olympic athletes have some unofficial records for some of the sports they participate in when the lights go out? And don’t you imagine that if they’re getting jiggy with it, they do it with nothing but their medals on? I know that’s what I would do.

Picture credit Slate.com

When you’re watching the Tokyo Olympics and that wholesome guy or gal is stepping down from the medal ceremony, aren’t you going to be wondering who they’ll be medaling with later? And if they do, are there judges holding up scorecards?

Have a great Wednesday! ~Phil

Running From the Devil: My Race to Beat Alzheimer’s

Do I have Alzheimer’s disease? No, not yet. At least I haven’t been diagnosed, but I have reasons to believe I’m at very high risk. My father, who recently passed away, had full blown Alzheimer’s and Dementia. My maternal grandmother wasn’t diagnosed, but was showing signs of it shortly before she passed away. Having a family member who had Alzheimer’s doesn’t automatically mean that you will get Alzheimer’s.

About 6 months ago I did the 23 & Me genetic testing. At the time, I wrote about my results in THIS POST, but  I only wrote about the fun stuff. What I didn’t write about then was that the testing showed that I have the APOe4 gene, meaning that I have a 30% chance of developing Alzheimer’s after age 65. This did not surprise me. It’s why I did the testing. I know, some of you are thinking, “A 30% chance and nothing to worry about until 65? What’s the problem?”

The problem is that with Alzheimer’s, there are usually subtle signs and symptoms that appear long before a diagnosis is made. Most people ignore or hide those symptoms, or attribute them to getting older. I see those symptoms in myself. If I’m cleaning up from dinner and holding a container of chip dip that needs to go in the fridge in one hand and the salt shaker that should go in the cupboard in the other hand, over 50% of the time, I reverse them when I put them away. Yes, I know that as we get older we all have more forgetfulness, but in mine I see a pattern. It’s not just putting the chip dip in the cupboard.

I  lose my big words more than I’d like. The multi-syllabic 50 cent words that impress people often escape me. It makes me feel quite lugubrious, when I want to say something and I know that I know a word for what I want to say, but I just can’t find it. (Yes, I’m trying to intentionally use big words as I talk about losing them) It’s a tangible feeling that I’m rummaging around in my head for the word and there’s a blank spot is where the word I want should be. And I can’t think of a simple synonym either! It’s like my brain has completely lost something. Sometimes the sentence I’m saying trails off or I just don’t finish it. Trust me, there are several other examples, but I’m not going to list them all. I know when something doesn’t feel right. I wonder if that might be why my blog, that I used to post to five times a week, has become something I just do occasionally now. Losing one’s sense of humor is a symptom.

If I do get full blown Alzheimer’s some day, I hope this is me.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to exercise regularly and I’m going to try to stimulate my brain to create new neural connections by learning. I intend to resume piano lessons, learn to speak Spanish,  join a chess club, post to both my blogs at least once a week, and resume table tennis, which was a passion of mine when I was younger (I once beat a guy who played in the over 40 World Championship tournament.)

Does anyone remember this movie? Balls of Fury (2007) Or was I the only one who watched it?

In addition to doing those things, I’m going to embark on a lifestyle/diet program that is supposed to have remarkable effects on preventing and reversing some of the cognitive losses of Alzheimer’s. If the results are as good as the book says, I will be very happy. Here’s the book:

Don’t worry, my blog isn’t going to turn into me preaching about Alzheimer’s, I’ll still try to write funny stuff, but I’m hoping to write about it and my journey here occasionally with sensitive humor. My dad losing his mind to Alzheimer’s over the last fifteen years, and me thinking that I might go down that same path is sobering. When I Googled “Alzheimer’s funny” to find some pictures for this post, I didn’t find the memes as funny as I thought I would. Some seemed mean or sad. Hopefully I’ll avoid that if I poke fun at myself in the future. Thanks for reading. I hope you’re having a great weekend! ~Phil

 

The Jigsaw Man Ran Out Of Puzzle Pieces

Some of you may or may not remember a post I wrote about 13 months ago titled The Jigsaw Man. If you missed it, it was about my 83 year old father who had Alzheimer’s and dementia. I thought of him as The Jigsaw Man because that’s what his brain, his memories seemed like to me, a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces didn’t fit or match up with each other anymore. He had bits and pieces of information in his head and it seemed as if he were constantly trying to grasp them but they would slip through his mental fingers. Even his memories of who I was seemed out of his reach over the past couple years.

Yes, he passed away about ten day’s before Father’s Day. What was interesting to me was that my memories of him changed with his passing. During his last several years he wasn’t the man I grew up with. Initially I thought that to be very sad, and it is, but the process of laying someone to rest requires sorting and sifting through their whole lives. Ironically, and maybe intentionally, my dad saved pictures going back through his entire life, possibly knowing when his memory was fading that he would need these to remember who he was. He missed the internet revolution, so all of his pictures are of the printed out, Kodak film type, that never got a single like on Facebook.  Something about that makes them seem a little more special.

It was good fortune that he did, because it was a wonderful reminder to me of who he was over the course of his life, and it softened the painful memories of the last 5-10 years.

One thing that my father’s disease and passing has given me is an appreciation of the here and now. We always think we have more time. My dad, who was 84 when he passed, lived a pretty long life, but from day to day, he didn’t remember most of it for the last several years. He lived in the moment because it was all he had. On my last visit with him at the memory care facility he’s lived in over the past year, in the moment all he wanted was to sit in the courtyard and feel the sun on his face. So that’s what we did, and he smiled.

Here’s to hoping that in the afterlife he’s finally getting the internet and can read this. Thanks for everything dad. ~Phil

An Amish Buggy in Chinatown

On Monday night I was staying overnight in Philadelphia for work. Despite the fact that it was named after me, I don’t actually live there. It became too much trouble fighting off the adoring Phil Factor fans (known as Philistines) every time I left the house. No privacy, couldn’t eat at restaurants without interruption, yadda yadda, you know how that is, right?

I stayed in the Hilton Garden Inn Philadelphia Center City, which, unbeknownst to me, was in the heart of Philadelphia’s “Chinatown.” (Let’s be honest, you were already assuming that there’s lot’s of things unbeknownst to me) If you’d like to read my review of the Hilton Garden Inn on Philliver’s Travels, just click HERE.

At my hotel, the hotel restaurant/bar was closed due to the pandemic. So I did a little Googling and found a sports bar within a block of my hotel. Walking down the street I passed many Chinese shops and restaurants. One thing I didn’t expect to see was an Amish buggy. Here I was in a big city, in Chinatown, and there’s a broken down Amish buggy!

Now we all know that the state of Pennsylvania is well known for it’s Amish population, and the U.S. Amish capital is Lancaster, Pennsylvania, just 90 minutes away. But the abandoned Amish buggy had me curious. Why would any Amish folks be smack dab in the middle of one of the largest cities in the country? And what did they do when their buggy broke down? So here’s my theory of what happened…

I think a couple Amish kids, let’s say Jebediah and Samuel were on Rumspringa.  Jebediah & Samuel took pops buggy for a joy ride into the big city. When it broke down they couldn’t find their AAA card, (Amish Assistance Alliance) and they were shift out of pluck.

They had a few shekels in their pocket and strolled down the street to the Chinese sports bar. (Yes, there actually is a Chinese sports bar in Philadelphia and if you want to see my full review of it, head on over to Philliver’s Travels.) Upon entering the bar they sat down and ordered an extravagant dinner and several drinks. Not knowing the shekel to dollar conversion, they didn’t have enough to pay for their feast.

The waiter understood their predicament and with a sly wink, offered a solution. They could work off the extra they owed by washing dishes, or they could take the money they had and gamble it in hopes of getting what they owed. In the spirit of Rumspringa, they agreed to gamble. The waiter led them down the hall and past the restrooms to a stairway that descended into a darkness beneath the restaurant. They quickly glanced nervously to each other before shrugging their shoulders and following the waiter into what they assumed was Hell. They passed through a doorway that was opened only after the waiter had given the secret knock.

Once inside they were overcome by the noise, activity and a thick fog of cigar smoke. It was a casino, likely illegal and populated by a crowd that probably belonged behind bars, and not the kind of bar they had left upstairs.

They were led to a table where within minutes they had gambled away what little money they had. They feared the worst as two Chinese waiters led them away from the table. They were escorted back up the stairs where they were put in the kitchen to wash dishes until they had paid off their debt. Jebediah and Samual weren’t just any Amish though. They had gotten a taste of the big city and they liked it.

The two plucky Amish lads decided to stay on as dishwashers at the Chinese sports bar (click here for my review of that Chinese sports bar). Fast forward to the year 2025  after they had washed many dishes eventually worked their way up the Chinese sports bar hierarchy to running the illegal casino downstairs and several others throughout the city. As they gained a significant amount of dark influence in Philly, they bring cohorts from their Amish community and by 2025, Philadelphia’s Chinatown will be known as Amishtown. So that’s what happened when an Amish buggy broke down in Chinatown.

Have a great weekend! ~Phil

Do You Want To Learn To Travel The World?

Today’s the day! My travel blog, Philliver’s Travels, launched today with THREE groundbreaking posts you won’t want to miss!

  1. The Drunk That Saved Pittsburgh!– A funny story from my travels
  2. Travel Hacking with The Basic Travel Couple-Learn how to travel without breaking the bank!
  3. An Interview with International Travel Writer Bel Woodhouse– Have you ever wanted to live overseas? Learn what it’s like to live and travel internationally from an expert!

Like I’ve said before, The Phil Factor isn’t going away, but it will have to share my attention with Philliver’s Travels, and as always, I am very grateful for your reading and support. Have a great weekend! ~Phil

Top Ten Tuesday! Ten Travel Tips You Must Know!

Happy Tuesday everybody. Well, I guess it’s more of a happy Tuesday if you’re getting ready for a trip this weekend. As a prelude to my new travel website and writing venture, Philliver’s Travels, this post is a preview of some of the content you’ll see there.

As we all know, travel is fun and exciting, but it can be a little less than fun when things go wrong. So, to kick things off for my new site, I collaborated with freelance travel writer and International Living magazine/website contributor, Bel Woodhouse , to give you some things to think about before you leave home.

10. Have a “Go-bag” You know who has go-bags? Criminals & smart travelers. (One of those two are my target audience. Which are you?) What I mean by a Go-Bag, is when you travel, don’t take your home phone charger. Don’t take your entire medicine bottle from the cabinet, and for cripes sake, don’t take your toothbrush from home! Buy an extra phone charger, travel toothbrush, tiny tubes of toothpaste, and a weeks worth of your meds. Put them in your suitcase and leave them there! ALL. THE. TIME. That way, you’ll have less things to remember to pack. If you leave things behind at your hotel when you’re heading home, you won’t be out of luck until you can replace those items. As a man that has bought my fair share and your fair share of phone chargers when I get to a destination, having a Go-bag is a smart move.

9. (From Bel) Always have a good old fashioned paper map. Don’t rely on technology. Batteries go flat, coverage gets spotty, phones are stolen. Paper doesn’t let you down. I’ve had one in 30+ countries and have never been lost, mugged or had anything bad happen. EVER.

8. Count your kids: Traveling as a family? This ain’t your local shopping mall. Don’t take your eyes off your little ones. If there’s anything Home Alone taught us, it’s that you need to count your kids wherever you go. MacCaulay Culkin was left home alone and look how he turned out:

7. (From Bel) Know where you are, where you shouldn’t go and how to get back to your hotel, accommodation or nearest taxi.

6. Do the Math! Growing up, I hated mathematics. When you travel, it comes in handy. Just because it seems like you have plenty of time to get to your gate, don’t be fooled. If you show up at the airport Friday-Monday, four days of the week, you need to factor in extra drop off luggage line time and the security line time. On those four days there’s a higher volume of travelers and lines will be longer and slower. Also, if you have connecting flights, book your flights with at least a one hour and ten minute window between the first flight landing and the second flight taking off.  Trust me on that one.

5. (From Bel) Keep the majority of your money on your person, not in your wallet in case someone lifts it.

4. How to tip the housekeeping staff: If you’re staying in a hotel or resort with daily housekeeping, tipping them is customary, but how and when you tip makes a difference. $5 a day American is pretty standard, but should vary depending on the hotel you’re at. Let’s say you’re staying five days, do you dole out that $5 each day or wait until the end of your stay? Don’t wait until the end of the stay. Leave at least a $10 tip the first morning and spread the rest out over the week. My reason? Sometimes if you tip well early, you get better service, like a few extra coffee pods, extra towels, chocolates on the pillow, or just a generally better room cleaning. These folks work hard. Don’t be stingy!

3. (From Bel) Have situational awareness. Take note of what and who is around you. I was in a market in Nicaragua and made eye contact with a guy, then held my camera close until he moved past me only to push over another young woman and steal her camera. Know who and what is around you and keep an eye on your stuff.

2. Talk to the hotel/resort staff before going out: Not every hotel has a concierge, but the staff at every hotel is knowledgeable about the surrounding area and they always have tips and tricks to make your adventures safer, less costly, and more fun. Ask them if there’s some not so well known restaurants that are secret gems.

1. (From Bel) The biggest thing -Always be polite, manners get you everywhere in every country. Show respect. You are a guest and you’re not entitled to everything you want. I have seen many tourists be invited by locals on free tours and into their homes for a meal just by being polite. It opens doors and means the world to people no matter what country you’re in. It is the difference between a traveler and a tourist.

Thank you Bel for visiting #ThePhilFactor and thank you for being part of my Philliver’s Travels blog launch this coming Saturday.

Bel: “I love helping any way I can when someone has the courage to reach for the stars and try to achieve a new dream, project or just have a creative outlet. If you have the courage to try, you can enrich your life in so many ways. I used to be in the Navy, now I’m living my dream life in the Caribbean. Anything is possible when you have the courage to try.”

I couldn’t have been luckier to find Bel on IG (@thetravelbag.guru) and she couldn’t be any nicer. Come back on Saturday for the Philliver’s Travels blog launch and my interview with Bel. Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil

 

My New Adventure: Philliver’s Travels

Good morning and happy Sunday. As many of you have seen on social media, I’m launching a new website on Saturday, May 1, Philliver’s Travels.  The focus will be on travel. Over the last 15 years, because of my job and my desire to get away from the dreary northeast of the United States, I’ve travelled more than most, but not as much as some.

A beach in The Bahamas from my trip three years ago.

Unlike The Phil Factor, which has been all about finding humor in everyday situations, Philliver’s Travels will have travel reviews of locations, attractions and hotels and restaurants, educational information on how to travel hack to take a vacation without having to empty your life’s savings, and of course funny stories about my travel experiences. For all the smart stuff about travelling internationally and travel hacking, I’ll bring in experts for interviews.

Fort Myer’s Beach, Florida, on the Gulf coast

The Phil Factor isn’t going away, but it will remain more of an occasional blog as it has been for the past two years. If you have enjoyed my humor here, I hope that you’ll visit Philliver’s Travels regularly for that same humor applied to travel and the people and places I go. You’ll be able to find me on social media through a new Instagram, @phillivers_travels.

This Tuesday I’ll be giving a preview of some of the content you’ll see on Philliver’s Travels with a brand new Tuesday Top Ten list of travel tips from myself and International Living‘s (IG’s thetravelbag.guru) Bel Woodhouse! Have a great Sunday! ~Phil (or should I say Philliver?)  Btw, how many of you get the Philliver’s Travels reference? I’m thinking that about 50% of you get it and the other half just think it’s weird. Let me know in the comments!

Should I Write a Travel Blog? A Phil Factor Poll?!!?

A beach in The Bahamas

After 16 years of trying to be funny, I’m thinking of branching out. Over the last 15 years I’ve traveled more than most, but not as much as some. I love traveling and I love dreaming of new places that I want to see up close. I’m considering starting a travel blog incorporating reviews of hotels, attractions and restaurants, interviews with real travel experts, and humorous stories about things that have occurred in my travels. Would this be a blog/website you’d want to read? Or are there too many travel writers out there? I’d love your feedback, comments and suggestions. If you were to have only one travel blog/website to read, what would you want to hear about? Please vote on my poll and share your thoughts in the comments.

Ok, I think they’ve removed the poll option from the admin options. I’ve installed a plug-in for polls and I don’t like it already. If you think I should add a travel blog to The Phil Factor portfolio, please hit like and if you’re feeling generous, I’d love comments with suggestions about what you like when you’re reading travel reviews or articles.

Thanks! Have a great day! ~Phil

 

Throwback Thursday! That’s Right, I’m a Baller!

Do you know where the grass is always greener? I do, and I’m going to tell you.

Today could have been a day like any other, but it wasn’t. I woke up, fell out of bed and dragged a comb across my head. Then I slathered some SPF 100 on my face and I looked in the mirror and said to myself, this is it. This is the day. The day that I mow my new lawn for the first time. This is the fifth house that I’ve lived in since I began The Phil Factor fifteen years ago and I anticipate that this will be the last one. Then again, I thought the same thing a year ago, so we’ll see. I like to stay one step ahead of the law.

It’s not that I love mowing the lawn. It’s just a chore like any other, but I do like my lawn to look good. What made today important was that it was to be the first mowing of the year for my new lawn. It’s spring in the northeastern United States and lawns don’t get mowed much earlier than this because of the weather. It literally snowed here yesterday, but today the sun was shining. Because of the coronavirus I may not be able to get a trim on the hair on my head, (what do you think? Should I go man-bun?) but I’ll be damned if my lawn is going to look shaggy.

At 8:30 I pulled on a pair of badass plaid cargo shorts and my favorite baseball cap. “Phil, isn’t 8:30 a little early to cut your lawn. Won’t it disturb the neighbors who might be sleeping in? you may be thinking to yourself. Yes, 8:30 is a little early to start mowing your lawn, but that’s the point. It is, as my kids would say, “a baller move.”  I want everyone in the neighborhood to look out their front windows thinking, who the feck is out cutting their lawn today? And at fecking 8:30?  Apparently when I’m a baller I imagine that my neighbors are Irish and they like to swear

As I stood in my garage poised to push my lawn mower and my baller-ness out into this strange new frontier of suburbia, I paused, took a deep breath and imagined the first few guitar riffs of the Scorpions Rock You Like a Hurricane, then I reached out and hit the garage door opener as the vocals start,

It’s early morning, the sun comes out
Last night was shaking and pretty loud
My cat is purring, it scratches my skin
So what is wrong with another sin?

Then in my mind I skip the next verse and go straight to…

Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane
Here I am
Rock you like a hurricane

And with that chorus ringing in my mind I pushed my lawnmower out in to the sun and fired it up. Because I’m a baller.

Me cutting my lawn today was the equivalent to a fighter throwing the first punch. All the other suburbanites had been waiting. Of course nobody wants to cut their lawn, and if everyone else’s lawn looks a little overgrown, it’s OK if yours does too. So being new to the neighborhood, I threw down the gauntlet, because I’m a baller.  I imagined that all over the neighborhood wives were suddenly saying to their husbands, “Honey, the new guy is cutting his lawn. Ours is kind of long. Why don’t you go out and cut ours today?”  I don’t care that I pissed off every other guy in the neighborhood and ruined their Saturday. You know why? Because I’m a baller. I’m now the mother fecking alpha dog of this cul-de-sac. That’s right mo fo’s, because, say it with me, I’m a baller.

 

Two things: first, thank you to the Scorpions for my use of their song, which is also my ringtone, and secondly, when some lawn mower company steals my ‘leaving the garage with the mower scene set to Rock You Like a Hurricane‘ idea, prepare to be sued for copyright infringement. You know why? Because I’m a baller, and the grass is always greener in my yard. You know what would be a total baller move by you right now? Clicking the Facebook or Twitter share button below. That would be baller A F.

Have a great Easter and a great Passover or just have a great day, because you’re a baller! 

#Phil2024

Happy Sweet 16 Blogiversary To Me!

Yes, on this very day, at this exact time, on April 3rd in 2005, I put my writing legs up in the stirrups, leaned back and gave birth to The Phil Factor. Yes, the image was meant to make you cringe a little.  If my blog was a person it would be starting to curse at it’s parents and experimenting with alcohol while failing geometry.

My Blogger sidebar before I moved it over to WordPress. I love that at the bottom it shows 2005.

Yes, I know that over the past year I haven’t blogged as often as I used to. I’ve had a lot of real life going on in my life and I’ve discovered that for me writing is something I do a lot of when I’m happy and not as much when I’m stressed. I’m starting to feel a bit more settled as all the changes in my life have become the norm for me. So, as I traditionally do, I will copy and paste my very first blog post so that if you missed it, you can enjoy it as if you’re watching a re-run from an old show.

What Up Dawg? Is it just me or is everyone sick of Randy Jackson’s act on American Idol? How many times can we hear, “What up dawg?” Or his other favorite, “It was a little pitchy in spots,” or “It was just ahh ight for me.” The dude is like one of those action figures where you squeeze him and he has three pre-programmed phrases he rotates through. Nearly as bad is Paula Abdul. Has anyone else noticed that this season she seems drunk every week? She loves everyone this season and seems to find an excuse to physically grab Simon Cowell every week. Considering her recent charge of leaving the scene of an accident after she clipped another car on the freeway, how ironic is it that her big 1988 hit song, Straight Up, included the line “caught in a hit and run”?

That’s how I introduced myself to the blogging world and I was rewarded with ZERO comments or likes. Also, I’d like to give a shout out to my longtime blogging friend Jennifer of Not Quite Perfect  ,and other blogs, who has been blogging longer than me and is still at it. Visit her site and give her a like or comment.

Lastly and most importantly I’d like to say thank you to all of my blogging friends who have made this the wonderful, welcoming blogging community that it is. I have appreciated every read, like or comment over the past sixteen years. Without you, I probably wouldn’t have lasted a year.

Cheers to all of you and I hope we can share a glass of champagne some day. Have a great weekend! ~Phil