Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. Things are getting ramped up for Thanksgiving because we're expecting a full house this year. My brother Mike is coming down from Washington and my son Josh is going to come up from L.A.. Hopefully, we'll also be able to get Mike's daughter to attend as a surprise for him.
Since Anne has been feeling under the weather we're expecting my sister, Marta, and her girls to show up early to help in the kitchen. Jennifer (a friend and contributor to F/A) is also planning to assist. Me? I'll probably be watching football with Dad. (Because that's what guy's do) Yea, I'll most likely get shang-hai'd to slice, dice, chop and (of course) carve the turkey because they just won't let me forget that I once did the chef thing. But I'll be doing my best to entertain the nephews on the computers. After all, that's really what I'm good at.

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GRINS & GIGGLES:
The Top 12 Signs Your Co-Worker Takes Science Fiction WAY Too Seriously 

12. His cell phone rings the theme from "Close Encounters."

11. Constantly musing, "What would Vader do?"

10. Insists he's groping you because he's trying to perform a "Vulcan slut meld."

9. "Only two more auditing sessions and I'll finally be clear!"

8. Gave his children names even he cannot pronounce.

7. Always mutters something about probes and Uranus every time you walk by. It damn well better be science fiction.

6. Can you really "set the fax machine on stun"? I don't think so.

5. He's the only one jockeying to take off the Klingon holidays.

4. No longer able to engage in Kirk vs Picard debates due to restraining order.

3. Says, "He's Dead, Jim" when he cuts into the prime rib at lunch.

2. Camps outside his cubicle 48 hours before the latest "Star Wars" trailer is released online.

and the Number One Sign Your Co-Worker Takes Science Fiction Way Too Seriously...

1. Enters elevator, strikes a pose, and yells "Energize!" as the doors close.

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CYBERSPACE ALERT:
When asked if they were going to upgrade to Windows Experimental, the latest polls break down something like this:

73% No, I can wait. There are too many quirky things about XP to try to tackle it right now.
27% Yes, I can't wait to get a stable operating system on my PC. 

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MEATSPACE ALERT:
Simple Stress-Busters
by Carl Sherman

Stress comes at us from everywhere -- the overbearing bureaucrat... the traffic that stops dead when we've got to get somewhere fast... the big bill we forget until the second notice arrives... and so on. And -- there are life-disrupting events, such as retirement, moving, divorce or the death of a loved one or friend, that are always ready to bombard us. But actually, the feeling of stress doesn't come from the outside. It happens inside of us.

When we feel under pressure, our body releases chemicals, such as adrenaline, that ready us for action. We breathe faster, our pulse and blood pressure rise, our muscles tighten. These physical symptoms comprise what is commonly known as the "fight-or-flight" response -- a leftover from the days when most crises could be either fought or fled. Today, however, we usually have to endure them. This endurance causes stress, which takes its toll on physical and mental health. Some stress is unavoidable. But too much stress leads to troubles that range from upset stomachs to anxiety attacks to heart attacks.

Fact: As many as 90% of doctor visits are for stress-related symptoms.

What can you do to combat stress? There's a whole arsenal of stress remedies to help you change a difficult situation -- or the way you interpret it -- to reduce your body's response to stress and restore a calmer state. The more you know, the better you can choose defenses that work for you. Most effective...

MEDITATION
Taking time every day to disengage from the demands of the world can ease your mind and your body into a deeply relaxed state -- the opposite of the stress response. Meditation fosters your ability to step back from life and observe the passing scene -- and your own thoughts -- in a detached way. Studies have linked the regular practice of meditation to reductions in anxiety, work-related stress... and blood pressure, too. There are many meditation techniques, but I know of one that is simple -- and the best that I have found!

Sit quietly and comfortably in a place where you will not be disturbed.
Focus your attention on your breathing.
Feel the breath as it flows in your nose... and then when it goes out again.
Other thoughts will enter your mind. Just observe them and let them go. Gently return your attention to your breath.

Start by practicing meditation for five to 10 minutes a day, gradually increasing it to 20 - 30 minutes. Keep a clock nearby so you can keep track of the time. Caution: A clock alarm or kitchen timer is too jarring. Some people, though, set their wristwatch alarms.

EXERCISE
Physical activity neutralizes the fight-or-flight response, easing tension and anxiety and leaving you invigorated. Moderate exercise reverses much of the damage caused by stress, and it can also improve immune function, lower blood pressure and improve your mood.

Intense aerobic exercise -- running or aerobics classes at a gym -- is an effective stress-buster, but so is more relaxed walking. Do what you want to do -- any exercise that you find enjoyable -- and do it for at least 20 minutes every day. More, though, isn't always better. Trap: If you think of exercise as a burden, it will add to your stress.

BIOPHILIA
Human beings have an inborn affinity for nature. Scientists call it "biophilia." Contact with scenes of nature and living things has been shown to reverse the effects of stress. Examples...

Employees whose windows look out on trees and grass report less work stress than those with views of parking lots.
An aquarium in a dentist's waiting room lowers anxiety.
By eating lunch on a park bench, your body will relax.
Spending a half hour in your garden will make your work worries recede into the distance.
If you live in a city, consider a back-to-nature vacation -- a week in the mountains will recharge your batteries more deeply than a short stroll in the park.
Let a little piece of nature into your daily life -- get a pet. Persian cat or parakeet, goldfish, beagle or mouse -- it doesn't really matter. Pet owners are healthier and respond better to stress than other folks.

HUMOR
The ability to take yourself -- and your life -- less seriously is the stress antidote par excellence. How tense can you be when you're laughing at yourself? Look for the lighter side of every situation. Indulge your taste for entertaining books and movies. Does a newspaper cartoon tickle your funny bone? Tape it to your bathroom mirror as a reminder to lighten up. The next time your spouse acts up, ask yourself, What would Groucho Marx have to say about this? Have funny props around. Keep a clown nose in your glove compartment to transform a traffic jam into circus time. Why should kids have all the fun?

FRIENDSHIP
Close ties to others make you feel warm inside... and they also temper your body's reaction to stress. The world feels safer when you know that others are on your side. Expressing your worries and troubles to a sympathetic ear makes them easier to bear. The mere presence of a friend blunts the pulse and blood pressure rise that accompany stressful tasks. People with many friends have lower cholesterol and stronger immune systems. They live longer than loners, too.

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TRUE STORY (Yea, right):

Did ya hear Billy Clinton is back in Washington DC?

You betcha. The former Prez has a job.

Hillary's hired him to open her mail.

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MOVIE TIME:
Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone

Just in case you haven't heard, this movie broke the advanced ticket sales record that was previously held by Pearl Harbor AND hit a record $93.5 million in box office revenue this first weekend breaking the Jurassic Park piggy bank in the process.

Mark Caro says:
If the movie "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" were released in a parallel universe in which J.K. Rowling's book didn't exist, its richly envisioned world and inventive, engaging story could be appreciated in their own rights.
Few family movies offer such imagination-tickling elements as Platform 9 3/4 (the hidden platform where wizard kids catch the train to the boarding school Hogwarts), the Sorting Hat (which, when placed on a kid's head, determines which of four rival school houses the student will join), Quidditch (the high-flying, high-speed basketball-meets-soccer-on-broomsticks game), and Hogwarts' ever-shifting staircases and wall portraits in which the subjects move inside the frames.
The overall premise also boasts an undeniable appeal: An 11-year-old British boy living under the stairs in the house of his mean aunt, uncle and cousin learns that he's a powerful wizard, heads off to wizards' school and heroically battles evil.
Asking for a kid's movie to provide much more seems a bit Grinch-like.

See it with a kid you love. I guarantee you'll both enjoy it.

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QUICK WIT:

Looking for lasting happiness outside yourself is meaningless. It is like expecting to become fit by watching other people exercise.