It's fall now, and the leaves are covering my yard like crazy. I just don't have the time or energy to get out there and rake after work. Are there any other ways I can get my yard cleared that don't involve so much work?

-Leave Me Be

Dear Leaf,

It is a little known fact that several weather deities offer yard waste removal services this time of year. If you can afford it, you can have a custom, localized wind storm take all the leaves away. For a small extra fee, you can have it sent to the nearest dump or compost site.


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No matter what I do, I'm always finding one more thing that needs doing before I go to bed each night. This happens 7 or 8 times a night! Im EXHAUSTED!!@

Dear Exhausted!!@,

If these things really need to be done, then you just have to let yourself sleep in a bit more after you've worked so hard. Surely your employer will understand.


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cheese guy

how do i keep my kitty off the table when im not home?

i can has clean table

Dear cheeseburger,

The perfect way to deter your pet is to set up a motion detector so that whenever Kitty hops up on the table it will trigger an anti-gravity ray or a tractor beam. As long as you are careful about programming where the beam will relocate your animal to, these devices are perfectly safe. Also the momentary weightlessness that Kitty experiences should adequately freak the critter out so that it will think twice before jumping on the table again.


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Don't forget, the sale in the Gift Shop ends tonight. Check last week's post for the coupon codes. And now, as promised, here's a fresh batch of advice!

Dear Cheese Man,

You seem to be good with words, maybe you can help me. I started playing Scrabble with my boyfriend so we could have a way to spend time together online, and even gave him a Scrabble dictionary for his birthday. We've been having a great time, but lately he's been starting to make really fantastic plays and win the game more often. I think he may be becoming a logophile, and it's hurting my game stats. What should I do?

-Dethroned Scrabble Queen

Dear Dethroned,

Scrabble has indeed been known to bring out logophilia in otherwise normal people. If he has caused any pain to your stats, you must take action now. Start by doing what you can to limit his exposure to word games and insist that he play number games with you instead. Then watch for signs of withdrawal: kibitzing with a disproportionately extravagant vocabulary, trying to make words with numbers that look like letters, or insisting that the numbers are letters.

If he can play a game of Uno like a normal person, then his condition is not serious, and you need only study the dictionary yourself and step up your own game. If not, then your only way to keep your stats safe is to make the hard choice to play word games with other people.


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Cheesey GUy,

You mentioned before that you have cats. One of our cats keeps knocking his water bowl around and making a mess. Have you had to deal with this and how did you do it?

Sick of Soggy Socks

Dear Soggy,

Our cat Lightning used to love playing with his water bowl, spilling half of it's contents on the floor. It seems that cats like to have fresh, running water. If it isn't, some cats will simulate freshness by making the water move.

We have tried a heavier bowl with a skid-resistant bottom. This only encouraged him to hit it harder which resulted in even more spilling.

Some experts suggest one of those fancy bowls with a fountain that keeps the water moving, but personal experience has shown me that this is far from foolproof. The water always moves the same way, and Lightning sometimes gets bored with that and decides to try and make it more exciting.

The only true solution is to firmly attach the bowl to the floor. Velcro, while it makes it easier to clean and refill the bowl, is not a firm enough attachment. Tape could be a workable solution; but our other cat, Zooky, seems to think that all forms of tape are edible. Glue risks exposing the cats to harmful fumes and chemicals. The only remaining solution (which we have not yet cleared with our landlord) is to nail the bowl to the floor. Kitty will never move that bowl again.


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Dear Cheese Guy,

Bats keep getting into my house. How can I put a stop to this?

Invaded Belfry

Dear Bel,

Remember, bats navigate their world mostly by sound. If you sound-proof your home, it should be nearly invisible to them. Any bats still hiding inside will immediately attempt to move out because they are blind and miserable in the soundless environment you've created.


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Dear Square Root of Kevin,

I hate my job and who it's made me become. I want to go back and make it so I never worked there, but I lose my nerve when I think about all the movies I've seen where people mess up the future or almost destroy the whole space time continuum. How dangerous is it really to do this? Am I really putting the whole universe at risk?

Needing a Change

Dear Needy,

Time travel is indeed risky business; There are the risks of unintended changes* to the timeline, the hazard of less than 100% reliable transportation back to the present day, and those pesky paradoxes that you were referring to.

While indeed very dangerous, I can't say that paradoxes necessarily put the whole universe at stake. It's possible that the damage could be very localized, limited only to your own galaxy. But I'm sure your neighbors would agree that this is still a significant risk. Proceed with extreme caution.

Something else to consider is that most time travelers retain their memories of what the timeline was like before they changed it. This means that in your case, changing the past will not help your goal to change who you have become. What you should do is ask a trusted friend to go back and make the change for you.



Examples of possible unintended changes worth consideration:
Preventing an accident that turned out to be how your parents met;
Redirecting the path an abandoned puppy that would later have been rescued, adopted by the old couple down the street, and later foiled an attempted burglary on their home;
Swatting a fly that was the grandfather of the one that irritated your great aunt, causing her to wave her hand and spill her drink, which would have caught the attention of her no-longer-husband-to-be thus canceling the birth of that cousin with the birthmark that inspired your mother's interest in botany.

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Sorry for the delay, everyone. It's a long story that started with a new laptop and ended with a trip to the vet. But, I'll tell you about it later. These questions have been anxiously waiting for an answer:

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Here's the deal,

My dentist tells me I have to floss and brush more, but I'm a busy guy! Isn't there another way?

I. B. Rushed

Dear Ivan,

Just stop eating foods that stick to your teeth. Then you won't have to worry about remembering to brush it off later.


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Dear Skippy,

My wife keeps telling me about how "the dishes won't take care of themselves." How do we get those slackers to pull their own weight?

Dishing It Out

Dear Mr. Out,

She isn't saying what you think she's saying. A lot of women do this. It's called Dropping Hints Instead of Asking For Help Outright. For some reason, they seem to like it better when we decide to help out on our own rather than having to be asked. This is their way of helping us do that.

Now as for your dishes, they really do sound like slackers, so it's no wonder that your wife is Dropping Hints. The key word here is Discipline. Maintain discipline at all times and never give them an inch. It will take both of you to do this. Remember that word Mr. Out; Discipline.


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Why is it that whenever I have important work to do, it's sunny and gorgeous outside, but as soon as I have free time it rains again? Have I angered the weather gods? How do you suggest getting back on their good side?


Dear Rainy,

You have no need to fear. Had you truly angered them, you would have seen a few thunderbolts or twisters by now. The Weather Deities are simply abiding by the authority of a higher power, Murphy's Law.


Cheese Master,

You get to eat with Jedi? Lucky! What's it like to eat chicken with your mind? Could you teach me to use the force like that? I can't even get automatic doors to open when I wave my hand...


Dear Panda,

I don't actually know what it's like. Between this column and my day job, I simply haven't the time to train in the use of The Force. Neither am I licensed to do so. But if automatic doors do not work for you, you likely need more than training.

Start by talking to your local Jedi Council to see if they would be willing to to train you. Since you are already reading and writing emails, you are well above the normal age to enroll, but present your case anyway. It's not unheard of for much older people to start training. If they are willing, they will talk to you about ways to increase your aptitude with The Force (all of which require approval of a Jedi Council).

If you are like most of today's Nontraditional Padawans, they will send you to talk to your neurosurgeon about a midi-chlorian injection. There is some risk and it's quite expensive. Training to become a Jedi is not an easy challenge, and even if you succeed, it's a hard life. But as they like to say, "Do. Or do not. There is no try." In other words, it's a total lifestyle change.

May The Force be with you in making this decision.


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Dear Cheeser,

I admit it. I waited way too long to mow my lawn and now it's a jungle out there. I was finally going to take care of it, but some tree-hugger said he found a new kind of plant or something and chained himself in front of my mower. How do I get my lawn back under control?

Ready to Whack Weeds

Dear Weed Whacker,

All you really need is a change in perspective. Not just anyone can create the right conditions for the Miracle of Evolution in the front lawn. Even by accident. In other words: you are sitting on a Gold Mine.

Sell your lawn to Science and use the money to buy a new one. You should also consider investing some of the money in a lawn care service once your new lawn is installed.


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Where can I find pickle seeds? I've looked everywhere and only found cucumber and every other vegitable.

In a Pickle

P.S. Is there pickle flavored cheese?

Dear Ina,

Can I presume that when you say "everywhere" that it's just a figure of speech? After all, in our Infinite Universe, everything grows somewhere.

To find pickle seeds you should look to the Garden Gnomes of Middle Iowa. They are the only people to successfully pickle cucumbers without killing the seeds. These seeds are sold year round at their Garden Gnome Farmers' Market.

Oddly enough, they do also sell a pickle flavored cheese, but I don't really recommend it.


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Cheese Boss

I can't apply for a job until I upload my college transcripts. But when I scan them the pdf file size is waaaaay too big. How do I fix this?


Dear Fran,

If the file size is too big, that means the transcript is too big. Use a photocopier that can reduce the page size and try scanning again.


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Dear Skippy,

Why shouldn't I tip or rock the pepsi machine?


Dear Thirsty,

These machines are greedy by nature. (Not just Pepsi, but all vending machines.) Giving the machine a tip only encourages this nature. Whenever one of these machines "eats" your money, it was expecting a tip. The initial programing tells them not to expect tips, but when someone gets generous they start expecting everyone to be extra generous.

Rocking the machine is just plain dangerous, even if it helps you talk the machine out of demanding a tip. At best you will end up with a shaken soda that is ready to explode. If you really upset it, the machine may decide to fall on top of you out of spite.


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Dear Square Kevin,

Yes, it's me again. Remember how I told you that my website is like an advice column? I'm having a hard time getting people to submit questions for me to answer. I'm still having fun making up questions for myself, but I think it would be more fun for people to read my goofy answers to their own questions. How can I get more participation without sounding like I'm begging for it?

Bacon Pi

Dear Bacon,

First you need to consider how many regular readers you have. If you're answering three questions every week, and you only have two regular readers, you will use up whatever they give you pretty quickly. Your audience is not to blame, you just need a bigger one.

I see you haven't invested in advertising yet (like I suggested). Get on that, it really should help. Also, you really need to just get the word out that you have a website people might enjoy.

When it comes right down to it, you just have to ask them yourself. For example: "I need your help SRoC Readers! Your questions are what this site runs on, and you've given me some good ones! Keep them coming! Tell your friends!"

You might get an even better response if you try to subliminally hide your request inside a running gag of some kind. It may not sound any less like begging, but at least you can get a laugh out of it at the same time.


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Hey Guy,

How come you didn't update on Thursday last week?


Dear Waiter,

it was impossible; I didn't have a Thursday last week.

My day job gave us Friday off for the holiday weekend. This made Thursday the last workday before the weekend, which means that Thursday must have actually been Friday. The following day also had to be Friday because it was the day before Saturday. The end result was that there was no Thursday last week.

However, it didn't seem fair not to update just because I didn't have a Thursday. I've decided that whenever there is a week without a Thursday, I will update on the second Friday of that week.


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Hey Coach,

It seems like every time I actually get to see my favorite team play, they lose. Does the fact that I'm watching make them screw up? Should I show my support by not watching?

Unlucky Fan

Dear Fan,

It sounds like you have a Luck deficiency. It's very likely that it is entirely your fault that your team is losing. Luckily, the cure is fairly simple.

You will need to spend more time around Lucky artifacts: Roll around in a clover field, get a pet rabbit (they each come with four Lucky rabbit's feet), and start every day with a bowl of Lucky Charms (even better [if you can handle the sugar] would be to eat seven bowls daily).

Until your luck turns around, the best way to show your support would be to support the other team.


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Dear Cheese,

A friend who's moving has offered to sell her house to me at a great price, but it's in the wrong town! How do I decide between a great house and a great commute?


Dear ?,

It may sound impossible, but you don't have to choose. You just need to get in touch with the folks at Aperture Science*, where the Impossible is easy!

With their flagship product, the Portal Gun you can create an intradimensional portal between your new home and your workplace. However, since you're looking to save money, and the device is outrageously expensive,** you will want to look into simply renting one long enough to just move the house itself*** to a more convenient location.

*As of this writing, their website seems to be down for the holidays (and some kind of internal computer issues). I'm sure they'll be open for business again soon.
**The hand-held portal device is worth more than the combined incomes of everyone in your old and new hometowns.
***If you take this route, you will also need a shrink-ray (available in most hobby stores). The portals created by the device were intended for personal use and as such are only about as big as your average doorway.
****Note to self: find a better way to do footnotes.


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Mr. Cheese,

My neighbors just got a new pet and they let the thing run wild! It's torn up my garden, scuffed up my siding by scratching itself against it, and made a toilet of my front lawn! I've confronted them about it and they accused me of "planting" the evidence! RIDICULOUS! That means I'd have to have TOUCHED it! Never!
How do I keep that yak away from my house?


Dear Yaksbane,

Some Yaksbane would actually be a pretty good idea. It has a powerful smell, but I'm sure it's preferable to more yak-damage. You should also check into your local leash laws. Most places require unattended yaks to be on a leash or in a kennel.

Meanwhile, I would suggest that you "flush" your lawn of yak poo by investing in the Portal Gun I recommended to "Moving?". Create an exit portal facing your neighbor's lawn and place the entrance portal directly under the "evidence." No touching required!


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Mr. Colby,

There's some kind of plague going around my work place. How can I avoid it?

Clinging to Health

Dear Clinger,

Your safest course of action is to simply avoid your workplace. If you can, work from home. If not, contract yourself a lesser illness that will allow you to take time off until the plague passes.


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Cheesey Guy,

I found this video on YouTube that seems to show proof of a time traveler in the 1920's with a cell phone. Could this be for real?

Hopeful Skeptic

Here's the video:

Dear Hopeful,

Yes... but no. That time traveler is a phony. Sure, she brought her iPhone back to 1928 and got herself captured by a camera that she knew would be there. But look at that smile when she looks at the camera. That's the smile of a prankster who knows that she's got people fooled. The fact remains (and in a few years it will be proven) that no mere cell phone sized battery can hold up more than a few seconds when transmitting through Time.

The time traveler and her iPhone are real, but it's a prank call.


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Help me Skippy,

Spring time is here and I'm helpless in the garden. How can I get myself a green thumb?

Lost with Tomatoes

Dear Lost,

Well, if you like to talk to tomatoes, it sounds like you're in good company. Granted, not many tomatoes can speak back. Nevertheless, there's no need for you to be helpless when hired help is listed in the phone book.

As far as your thumb goes, all you need is bowl of water and some food coloring.


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Dear Jack Cheddar,

Is it true that all matter and energy is made of Brie cheese?

Peter O. H. Q. V. Griffin LXVI

I can't say that I'm familiar with that theory. It may be worth looking into if you can provide any further information or support for this idea.

Is it possible that you're thinking of Pre-Cheese instead? It could be that you misheard part of the Big Meltdown* theory. (similar to, but not to be confused with the Big Crunch) It states that eventually the gravity of Everything will cause the Universe to stop expanding, shrink back, and collapse in on itself. It continues that rather than creating a massive Black Hole, all that compacted mater and energy will churn itself into a molten state and turn to cheese as it slowly cools.


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I used to be a morning person, but I'm not sleeping well lately. For some reason I'm tired all day, but when I finally go to bed at night I can't sleep. Is it possible that I've become a vampire and just can't remember? This would be a big problem for my social life.

-Nearly Nocturnal

Dear Nearly,

If you have a high pain tolerance, it is possible. Try to think back to when you first noticed the trouble. Did you spend the night with any friends who are paler than average? Have you been to Transylvania recently? Do you have reason to believe you might have recently died and been reanimated by a malevolent spirit?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you should be on the lookout for other symptoms. There are several types of vampires, and so your symptoms may vary, but here are a few early signs to watch out for: Sudden food allergies, most commonly garlic and the Vitamin-D* found in sunlight; faded or absent reflections in mirrors; reduced desire to cook your meat as well done as before; an increased desire to bite irritating people.

*(Not all vampires are deathly allergic to sunlight. Most simply happen to be night people. [If you insist on hunting the living for our blood, you will get much better results {and less angry mobs} if you avoid doing this in broad daylight.] A few vampires are even known to glitter in the sunlight. However, this small group tends to keep to itself because all other vampires find the sparkling to be offensive and "un-vampiric")

If you recognize any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. There is no known 'cure' for vampiric transformation, but your doctor can better help you know what to expect and should be able to get you connected with a local Coven that can help you adapt to your new life.

Or it could just be stress. Go watch a scary movie and take you mind off your own troubles for a while.


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Dear Big Cheese,

What's the best way to deal with a flooded basement? And how do I make sure it doesn't happen again?


Dear Soggy,

As I'm sure you know, flooding is simply caused by the local water table rising above the level of your basement. All you need to do is elevate your basement above any probable flood stage. Do be aware, however, that this may require you to add on to your home's entryway or front porch.


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