Monthly Archives: April 2018

Exploding Ants: It’s Real

1exploding antIn the dark, misguided world of ants, there’s a complete spectrum of ant terrorism that threatens all the insect world and beyond. The raspberry crazy ants must surely have a rap sheet for cocaine possession equivalent to the collective total of the Rolling Stones. Fire ants are just mean in an ugly, unified way, showing no thought or remorse in their attacks. And then there are the real extremists: Exploding Ants. These are the ants of mass destruction.

While I have some really great people in my tribe of friends and I would do almost anything for them, I’m probably not going to blow myself up to protect them. I’d take a bullet for my kids, but I’m still not sure I’d voluntarily explode my personage on their behalf. In the same vein, I’m not a good candidate to be an ISIS bride with a body bomb in a crowded market in Syria. That’s just not me. Not so, though, for exploding ants!

When threatened, these little ISIS-like insects will sacrifice themselves by exploding their bodies and sliming their enemies with a sticky, yellow irritant that either scares them off or kills them. If they don’t run away, I’m guessing the enemy may die of shock as much as from being slimed. Because honestly, the last thing you expect when you’re in hand-to-hand-to-hand-to-hand (they’re insects, they have a lot of hands) combat with an ant, is for it to suddenly pull the pin and blow up.

All this is not to scare you. You can still sleep at night, because exploding ants seem to be found primarily in the rain forests of Borneo. Unless you’re reading this in a wet Borneo tree, then ramp up your concern levels. But how long before they show up here? How long before other insects catch on to this trick? Or reptiles?! Personally, I’d love to see all snakes explode. But what if it continues to spread? How long before you’re hiking through Yosemite and Yogi Bear explodes because you startled him? You only have to Google “exploding whale” to see the video of what happened in Oregon in 1970. (No, really. Do it.)

As a responsible journalist, I’m here to write the news, not invent it. If you think I’ve made all this up, check it out for yourself at http://www.ExplodingAnts.com. But wear your Kevlar.

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Yes Honey, They’re Bees

bee-movie-meme-fbJust when you think it’s safe to go back into the house, they show up. Hundreds of them. And they’re all buzzing and flying and crawling, coming into my home while I stand by seemingly helpless and mildly horrified: BEES! A swarm just smaller than something conjured by a frightening Stephen King novel was invading my house, establishing their own independent colony, and usurping my authority over my own domain. What these little airborne bumble bodies didn’t know was that they’d picked the wrong house.

Okay, they weren’t exactly John Belushi dressed as a Bandito bee demanding all our pollen. Nor were they the Astro’s Biggio, Bagwell, and Berkman. For that matter, they likely weren’t even killer bees at all. They were relatively harmless European honey bees excited over spring in full bloom looking for a place to set up shop for their honey buzzness. It just couldn’t be in my house.

Armed with the power of Google, I called three bee removal companies, all of which said they’d come to my house and spray them dead for a “fair and reasonable price to be negotiated later.” Suddenly, I’m more horrified by the bee wranglers than the infestation. With the exception of their South American cousins with anger management issues who actually want to kill off any life form near their hives, bees are actually on the more loveable end of the insect spectrum (as opposed to say, cockroaches). No possible way did I want the bees murdered in cold honey!

I wanted these bees relocated to a nice field of clover more than two miles from where I now live. I wanted them to forget my address. Forget my house. Forget the belief that taking over my attic was like annexing Poland as a first step to total world domination. Because, let’s face it, my house is only big enough for one all-important, omnipotent queen bee, and I’m still wearing the crown in this hive. So they just needed to be moved on.

Fortunately, I found apiarists (guys in bee tamer suits) who came immediately to calmly and politely remove the buzzing interlopers to a new better-suited location. So at the end of the day, I’m happy. The bees will be happier. And my check cleared so the bee guys will be happiest of all.

(Thanks “Bee Movie” for the graphic)

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Don’t Screw Up Royally

180323-royal-wedding-invitations-cost-featured-coupleThe invites are out for next month’s royal wedding, and I wait anxiously for mine to arrive, the whole while brushing up on a few key royal guest no-no’s in order to not be sent to the Tower to await beheading.

First of all, don’t hug the Queen. Did you hear that, Michelle Obama? Don’t hug the Queen. I know it was just that one time you put your hand on her back, but she’s squirrely about the whole personal space thing. I think this goes back thousands of royal generations. You think the Marquis de Sade is your buddy and just wants to give you a warm, happy hug, and the next thing you know, there’s a knife in your back. Happened all the time, just ask Julius Caesar. Sure the Knights of the Roundtable wear metal suits, but hardly practical for the Queen. This may be why you’re not invited this time. And why President Trump is also not invited.

Secondly, don’t send texts, update your status, or tweet. Really? I’m considering the caliber of the guest list here. Don’t people at this level have “people” to do that for them? Don’t they clench their jaws and say, “James, send a line to Mumsy to have Buffy’s polo pony walked.” Or “James, FaceBook that Lady Wallingford looks like a stuffed platypus in that horrible dress LOL.” The key here is to wait until after the nuptials to worry about Buffy’s polo pony. And remember that Lady Wallingford is one of your FaceBook friends, so she’ll read that.

Other tips: Back up when leaving the presence of the Royals. I don’t know if that is related to the fact that the lactose intolerant rarely get invited to these things or not. Just back up and don’t knock anything over. Also, ladies must wear a hat. The one you wore to the rodeo is a no. Yankees baseball cap is a double no. I wouldn’t even wear that one to a dog fight. Think pretty but low profile. You don’t want Lady Wallingford to smack it off your head because she can’t see the bride.

Prince Harry and Meghan are contemporary and a bit unconventional, but don’t expect that to mean that all the rules are right out the royal window. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to check the mailbox again.

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Cup of Kill You?

Coffee - health hazardsAnd in happier news… well, there’s none of that. But California says your coffee will give you cancer, so you’ve got that to look forward to. According to the courts, roasting coffee beans creates – along with a steamy, hot cup of Joe — a chemical called acrylamide which has been linked to cancer. As a result, there has to be a warning posted to protect us from ourselves. Although, I’m not sure how you’re supposed to read the warning if you can’t actually pry your eyes open without drinking the coffee first.

I’m not a coffee drinker myself. To be honest, I’ve actually never had a cup of coffee in my entire ever-lengthening life. I went through college during the age of Jolt Cola, which was the equivalent of a caffeinated atomic bomb. You drank one at the beginning of the semester and didn’t actually sleep again until a week after mid-terms. So I never found the need for coffee, nor did the taste appeal to me. But I understand the bond people have with their coffee cups. How else do you explain Starbucks?

So correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t every researcher and nutritionist touting the health benefits of coffee? You only have to Google to find studies showing it reduces risk of heart disease, hair loss, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and lowers the risk for early death. Unless you die of acrylamide sourced cancer, I guess.

Tell me, too, why aren’t those same courts up in arms about the fact that there’s also formaldehyde in coffee beans that comes out when you roast them. As I recall from my high school biology days, anything drenched in formaldehyde wasn’t exactly healthy.

Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up in the shadow of the petroleum and chemical plants most of my life, but I’m thinking there are bigger risks out there than a café-latte-expresso-mocha with a shot of moo juice (or whatever you call those expensive designer coffee drinks). There are a lot of people doing a whole lot of things to keep folks from being exposed to nasty stuff. But we have to face the facts that we’re a Better Living Through Chemistry kind of society and it comes with risks. So does stepping out your front door on a daily basis. So enjoy your coffee, folks, but wear your seatbelts.

 

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Baseball is BACK!

44444It was exactly 148 days of dark, cold, baseball-less winter. Four months and 28 days since the Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series until it was Opening Day for Major League Baseball, and I’m as happy as a tick on a fat dog. The Cracker Jacks® are cracking, the hot dogs are grilling, and the Astros are gearing up for another run on the Title. These are the days filled with great hope, optimism, and a belief that all can be right with the world. Until it’s not.


There are some weird things brewing in the back offices of America’s game. Since I haven’t gotten the call up to take over as the Commissioner of the MLB, there isn’t much I can do about these proposed changes. Obviously, if I had any say at all, the Astros wouldn’t be playing in the American League West; there’d be no such thing as a designated hitter; and there’d be a cap on salaries and ticket prices.

So somewhere in the Halls of Power, someone is drunk. In order to speed up the game, the MLB is proposing that each extra inning starts with a runner at second base. I can only wonder if the players will also be expected to sell those $1 chocolate bars to raise money for the party at the end of the season, if there will be 10-run rule, and will the winning team get free snow cones from the concession stand?

From someone who sat up to watch all 18 innings of the Astros game against the Atlanta Braves in 2005, I think this is a ridiculous, pointless rule. If they’re going to do that, then why not just call the game after five innings? Why play at all? Just send the two owners to the mound and flip a coin. Heads gets a win and a bath in a cooler of blue Gatorade. Tails has to eat one of the new pickle corndogs that the Texas Rangers will be selling at their stadium this season. Poor food choices are just one more reason to not like the Rangers. If you need more reasons, hit me up. There’s a long list.

We can only hope those who need to come to their senses do. Meanwhile, from the five-year old with a glove bigger than his head to Jose Altuve once again besting his own batting records, it’s finally time, fans! Let’s Play Ball!

 

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