The holiday season is great, isn't it? At the end of every year, people just want to spend time together, and they'll go to any lengths to do it. Whether its an office party or flying across an ocean, people will do what it takes to be with their friends, families, and loved ones for the holidays. It's a magical time of togetherness, which is naturally followed by a somewhat less magical time of rampant disease. What would you expect to happen when people cluster together in large groups, huddled close to one another to fend off the cold? And what better way to help disease spread than by picking up your sick kids and carting them halfway across the country so they can hug and kiss a few dozen relatives? Then, after carting in all these new and exotic germs from all your new and exotic friends and relatives, you tax your body even further by staying up late partying on New Year's Eve. It's no wonder that the new year is always accompanied by illness. Let's face it, cold and flu season is here. I am confident in this statement, because I just had the flu, I have a cold, and it's a season. I was sick all through my finals this semester, which was an absolute joy while simultaneously trying to write a paper on Graham Greene and attempting to hold back the raging torrent of mucous threatening to blast out of my nose and destroy my keyboard like the Ent's seige on Isengard. You know you're in bad shape when even your writing starts to sound stuffed up.

Gweene establishes Pyle as de webwasebtative Amewican, den jub as quickwy makes id ebiden dah he does nah fib da Amewican steweotybe held by fawehnahs, boh Bwitih an Bietnamee awike.

Luckily, I still managed to pull of an A- in that class because my teacher liked me. Well, he didn't like me so much as he hated everyone else and graded ona curve. Anyway as a veteran of both diseases, - cold and flu - I have taken it upon myself to educate you about these potentially life-threatening illnesses, and what you can do to avoid them. Well, not "them," exactly, but the flu. Definitely the flu.

The flu virus as it really is - some Rolaids in Jell-o.

The flu, shortened from the French la flupe, comes in many different viral strains. The most common of these, the flu terrier, is short-haired, obedient, and an excellent pet for families with small children. It is also potentially deadly. As many as twelve people die each year from the flu in the United States alone! That's more than rhino attacks and nasal herpes combined. In fact, a student at Worcester State College died this year from the flu. This was a tragic loss, and the student will be missed and, of course, openly mocked for years to come. I mean, dying from the flu? That's just not a respectable way to go, unless your age is still calculated in months. Being trampled by a herd of rabid moose while attempting to save the President's baby - that's a respectable way to go! I know that's how I plan on snuffing it. But dying from the flu just doesn't sound impressive, since basically everyone gets the flu at least once in their lives, and the vast, overwhelming, utterly massive majority recover from it just fine. It would be one thing to die from the flu if it left all of its survivors horribly crippled or something. If you had to have surgery or undergo radiation treatment that made your hair fall out and your sperm burn up like tiny meteors entering Earth's atmosphere, then maybe dying from the flu would be acceptable. But no, you get a fever, you feel like ass, you miss a week of work, and then it's over and it's like you never had it. It's not as bad as dying from a cold, in which case your family, your friends, and basically anyone else that you've ever been seen interacting with in public would have to kill themselves to avoid being associated with you, but it's still no way to die. So while people may be inclined to say, "Wow, your son died from the flu? That's awful," what they really mean is, "Wow, your son died from the flu? He must have been a big sissy. It was probably the combined fault of your bad, sissy parenting and your filthy sissy genes. Perhaps you shouldn't have been allowed to mate in the first place." To save you and your family that embarrassment, here are some steps you can take to avoid the flu this year.

This man is getting his flu shot, hopefully followed closely by a shot to stop his chins from merging completely with his shoulders.

Avoid inoculation

Some places won't give flu shots this late in the season anyway, but if you can find some hospital that is still willing to inoculate you, resist the temptation. Immunizations are supposedly dead cells from the disease that are injected into your bloodstream so your white blood cells can gain the disease cell corpses' powers, like Mega Man. But a virus is technically not a living organism. If it's not alive, how can it be considered dead? Is it any wonder that a lot of people actually feel sick for a few days after getting the flu shot? I mean, where's the big mystery in this one? I picked up a pamphlet on the flu shot this year which actually included the sentence, "Flulike symptoms may occur." Now tell me, in what way is having flulike symptoms different from having the flu? I'm fairly certain the only reason diseases are a problem is because of their symptoms. If I didn't have any symptoms, I'd never know I was sick. Hell, viruses could replicate all the livelong day inside the run-down motel that is my body as long as they didn't produce any symptoms. Hell, I'd provide HBO and hourly hates. Honestly, why would there even be medical science if diseases didn't manifest any symptoms?

Doctor: "Well, Mr. Thompson, your annual checkup shows that you're in great shape. However, I just got your blood test back, and I'm afraid you have a very dangerous form of syphilis."
Patient: "Oh no! What makes it so dangerous!"
Doctor: "It creates no sores, no rash, no fever, no headache, no hair loss, no swelling of the glands, no joint pain, no organ decay, and no brain damage."
Patient: "But it's going to kill me?"
Doctor: "Unless a cure is found within the next seventy-five to eighty years, yes."
Patient: "So it doesn't do anything and actually increases my life expectancy by a couple years. What exactly is so dangerous about it?"
Doctor: "It's unbelievably contagious. You see, while it does not create any sores, the disease can be transmitted through normal sexual contact and does not require broken skin to transmit to another person. Mr. Thompson, for the good of those you love, you must not engage in any sexual act ever again!"
Patient: "Otherwise I might give them a disease with absolutely no symptoms whatsoever."
Doctor: "Exactly!"
Patient: "I'm not paying for this visit."

I'm sorry, but having the symptoms equals having the disease. End of story.

Wash your hands

Cleanliness is next to godliness, and no god of mine gets the damn flu! One of the easiest ways to pick up germs laying around is by touching something that a sick person has already touched. You should be sure to wash your hands vigorously with antibacterial soap and warm water after coming in contact with anything that someone else might have touched, such as doorknobs, faucets, toilet seats and handles, showerheads, remote controls, the keyboard and mouse of your computer, microwave buttons, lightswitches, stair railings, subway poles, silverware, dishes, dough products, drawers, keys, writing utensils, soap, the button on "walk" signs, elevator buttons, water fountains, snack machines, telephones, clothes in department stores, arcade games, rental videos, steering wheels, sports equipment, park benches, pizza boxes, trees, spare change, pets, infants, or large patches of air. Due to the abundance of objects which may carry germs, you will want to construct a portable sink that you can strap to your midsection so you can wash your hands the necessary fix to six thousand times a day. Better yet, chop off your hands at the wrist, thus preventing the possibility of touching them to something infected. You will be able to chop off one of your hands easily with a kitchen knife or chainsaw, but the other one might prove difficult using a standard blade. Consult a physician for the best way to remove both hands without the use of some expensive equipment.

Breathe cleanly

I can't believe this picture exists. Still, I think we can all agree that this is the greatest thing ever.

Even more dangerous than the objects we handle is the air we breathe. The germs expelled during a cough can linger in the air within the cough radius for over four hours. The residue from a sneeze can last over six. Wear a watch. Whenever you see someone cough or sneeze, be sure to keep a good distance between you and the possibly infected area for an appropriate length of time. Unfortunately, you can't be everywhere at once, and you can't see everything. It would be impossible to monitor every cough or sneeze that might occur in your path. You'll need to take defensive measures to purify the air you breathe. I'm not talking about one of those flimsy face masks, either. I know those are all the rage now because the media showed us so many pictures of Chinese people wearing those masks during the SARS breakout. Well let me clue you in on something, my friend. Those masks didn't stop SARS. Jesus did. And don't go relying on him to save your ass from the flu - he only helps those who helps themselves. The best way to control the purity of the oxygen you breathe is to provide your own. Invest in a scuba tank and mask. Or, if that is out of your price range, simply fill a plastic bag with uninfected air from home and breathe out of it as you go on your travels. Sure, people might look at you funny, stare, point, and kick you out of their stores, restaurants, and homes, but you can feel content knowing that they're just a bunch of disease-ridden cadavers-to-be, and you should feel free to remind them of this.

Eat healthy

A good diet is the key to a strong immune system. And you want a strong immune system. When your immune system is working at full capacity, it will fight off infections before you even know anything is wrong. That's much better than your body's response to infections when your immune system isn't doing its job, which consist of coughing, hacking, vomiting, sweating, and creating enough mucous to float an ocean liner. Doctors like to say that these things are our body's way of getting rid of an invader. If that's true, then our bodies are fucking retarded. You do not make yourself feel better by forcing a load of acidic bile over the delicate membranes of your upper digestive tract. So keep your immune system running smoothly by eating right. Be sure to eat the heart, lungs, and livers, and other blood-rich organs and muscles of your enemies so that you can gain their strength. Make sure your enemies don't already have the flu when you kill them, though! They'd just love to trick you like that, those wily rascals!

Now, there's no way to guarantee that you'll make it through the next couple months disease-free, but if you don't take every possible precaution and wind up getting sick, you'll be kicking yourself. That is, assuming you have the strength left in your germ-bloated body to kick yourself. Even if you manage, your foot will probably break off at the ankle from the effort. And won't that suck? As for me, I'm going to worry about getting back to full health and finally shaking the clouds from my head. Who knows? I might even try writing an article that's actually funny! You know, for a change.

Weekend WebHello internet friends, Zachary "Punt Kicker Jones" Gutierrez here with images of forum posts so funky, it'll make you say, "Damn that's funky." Remember to send me an angry email if you're featured this week so we can all laugh at you on the SA Forums in FYAD.

This week we've got a planet of forums, insane fans who worship imaginary film characters, and a trio of fools living in their own South African anime paradise. Click damn you.

– Ben "Greasnin" Platt

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