Category Archives: Much Ado About Nothing

Reprinting the column that appears in The Source Weekly, a Brazoria County, Texas newspaper every Thursday.

I Met a Turtle

lili1So I met this sea turtle named Lili. Actually, she was introduced to me by a mutual friend during a dive trip in the West Indies recently. Our friend first met Lili (pronounced “Leelee”) when she swam up to him with a plastic bag wrapped around her neck. Current trends in turtle fashions still mainly go to the simple shell look with no accessories, so I can understand her dismay at being forced into that condition. Needless to say, the bag was removed and a friendship immediately made.

Sadly this wasn’t the end of Lili’s plastic perplexities. Not so long later, my diver friend encountered Lili unsuccessfully trying to pass a plastic bag that she’d mistakenly swallowed. While I’m no biologist, I’m pretty sure that there’s no amount of fiber a sea turtle can add to her diet that’s going to pass a plastic bag. The poor creature had lili4managed to only poop out part of it and the rest was stuck. Thankfully, her new diver friend was again there to help her and extracted the bag.

Now, whenever she sees him swimming by in her part of the warm Caribbean waters, she comes to say hello. On our dive, she swam straight up to my face and bumped her beak into my mask, then glided over my head, thumping the bottom of her shell on my forehead. I’m choosing to interpret this as a hearty welcome in turtle speak. Plus, she gets a kick out of swimming through scuba divers’ bubbles.
lili3
Lili is lucky. She found a friendly diver right when she needed him – twice. How many turtles don’t? How many turtles, dolphins, whales, sharks, rays, and so many birds – the list of incredible creatures goes on – how many don’t?

Now is the time that we all must pull our heads out of our shells and take another look at our dependence of single-use plastics. Do you really need a plastic bag for whatever you’re buying? It’s not just the straw, it’s the plastic lid you stick it into and the plastic cup. Stop already with plastic water and soda bottles! How many whales have to wash up full of plastic trash before we make some changes?

Learn more about impacts on underwater environments by watching this award-winning documentary www.ChasingCoral.com and follow @SavingOceans on Twitter! Do it for my friend Lili! lili2

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Toilet and Taquito Trouble

product recall round grunge ribbon stampAt the end of October last year, 2,490,593 pounds of frozen taquitos were recalled with the threat of salmonella and listeria poisoning. Aptly and ironically called “Go-Go Taquitos,” the Texas-based Ruiz Foods products on the list included Beef & Cheese flavor, Buffalo Style Cooked Glazed Chicken, and Chipotle Chicken Wrapped in a Battered Flour Tortilla. Do you want me to wait while you go check your freezer?

A spokesman for the company said, “Don’t eat these.” Despite the belief that I’m just one intestinal parasite away from my goal weight, not eating these seemed like a foregone conclusion for me even before I found out they could potentially poison me. If, however, you are a more indiscriminate forager of frozen foods and ingested some, you’ll know you got the taquito Trojan Horse if you experienced, “diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, stiff neck, confusion, convulsions preceded by diarrhea” according to the company’s statement. I’m not clear, though, how that’d be different from any other experience with frozen taquitos. But I’m not judging, just passing along the warning.

In completely unrelated news, 1.4 million toilets were recalled around that same time with the threat they could explode. The explosions have resulted in shattered tanks and tank lids fully launched off the toilet. At last count, 23 people have been injured, one requiring surgery, when their Flushmate II 501-B Pressure-assisted Flushing System exploded without warning.

If a man’s home is his castle, his bathroom is his throne room, right? This is the one place he goes that he should feel a sense of peace, quiet and safety — of course right up until his toilet explodes. Then he’s left with betrayal, porcelain shrapnel, lacerations, and one hell of a difficult story to explain to the paramedics and his homeowners’ insurance agent.

The Flushmate II is common in toilet brands sold at Lowe’s and Home Depot from December 2015 through September 2016. A spokesperson for the company that manufactured the flushing system said, “Stop using immediately.” Which I’m almost sure means immediately after you figure out if you have one of these in your toilet. Don’t just opt for the bush in the back yard for the sake of safety if you don’t have to. Unless you also had the taquitos. In which case, take all precautions.

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I hereby resolve… pffft

calvin-hobbes-new-years-resolutions-620x469_medium-300x226Oh yes, children. It’s that time of year: the ending of one year and the clean slate of another. That magical time when you believe you can do something different and be something different. It’s time to start making those New Year’s Resolutions, which, depending on the gravity of the resolution, may only last until pie is served tonight at dinner. What the heck, I’m going to make a few anyway.

This year, I’m resolving to answer every robo-call and unidentified number in a foreign language invented and understood only by me. However, it will be based on a long lost ancient Burmese slang, which I will also make up because I don’t even speak modern Burmese let alone the other stuff. Since candidates rarely hire Hindu monks to make campaign calls, I’m feeling pretty cocky that I won’t get called out on this ruse. And it guarantees I’ll annoy them a lot more than they annoy me.

Furthermore, I am resolving to stay away from Chex mix whenever and wherever I encounter it. I’m suspicious that heroin is often a secret ingredient that forms an immediate and unbreakable addiction. You only have to ingest one pretzel/peanut/cereal square combo to be headed down the road to never stopping. There is no such thing as a Chex mix serving size that does not fit in a five pound bucket. Therefore, my only answer is to go cold turkey on Chex mix, so please, no matter how much I beg, don’t give me any.

I’m also resolving to not just watch television shows about people exercising in lieu of actually exercising. Sitting on the couch with a bowl of Chex mix watching American Ninja Warrior, Biggest Loser, and that new show that Dwayne the Rock Johnson hosts called something about muscled up young people doing really hard physical activities probably isn’t going to make me healthier, stronger or skinnier. It may convince me not to attempt to pull a fully inflated tire off a commercial big rig and try to flip it over my head. But I’m pretty sure there was only a small margin of possibility that was going to happen anyway.

Finally, I resolve to be less snarky and sarcastic… Yeah, whatever. Can someone pass me the Chex mix?

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Wild Wienie Water

wienersThe accusatory finger was pointed at P.T. Barnum when the words were uttered, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” There is no greater modern-day proof of the shocking truth of that statement than the fact that you can now purchase a tube of Hot Dog Water for $37.99 before applicable sales tax. And people actually are! Seriously. A tube filled with a small wiener floating in the unfiltered water it was cooked in. Just when I thought there was hope for mankind.

Douglas Bevans, who seems to be at the center of the wiener water world, set up a booth at a festival in Vancouver, British Columbia and did a frighteningly great amount of business on the premise that the wonder water would make you look younger, improve your overall vitality, reduce swelling, and – wait for it – improve your brain function. Well, thank God! Because if I’m shucking out nearly $40 for a small bottle of cold hot dog water and actually drinking it, I’ve got serious issues with my brain function, to the point that I shouldn’t be operating heavy equipment, like a toothbrush, for example.

What’s more, you can also purchase hot dog water lip balm, body fragrance, and hot dog water breath spray. Obviously, I need to be drinking my chilled hot dog water because I’m not finding enough brain function to figure out why you’d want your breath or body to smell like hot dog water unless you are an actual dog. In which case, perhaps we should consider expanding this idea into toilet water as well.

When asked to substantiate the miracle claims of his wiener water, Mr. Bevans, who is the Hot Dog Water CEO, hemmed and hawed to Global News, “There’s a fair bit of it that is too science-y for me, but from what I understand from the specialists here working on it, it’s this idea of like-likes-like.” Like oh my God like for sure like I get that… No. No, I don’t get that.

When you boil it down, this is no different than coffee enemas, tongue scraping, leaches, blood-letting, or hay bathing (soaking in a pile of wet hay to relieve joint pain – really, it’s a thing.) But on the chance I’m wrong, just send your $40 directly to me, and I’ll send back a magical package of Oscar Meyers and you give it a whirl.

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Ash Bashing

A burned, half-eaten biscuit, with a few crumbs, on a white background.I don’t know what it is where you grew up, but at my childhood school, Grandparents’ Day meant bringing your parents’ elderly living parents to school. Alive. You could even bring an older person who wasn’t necessarily related to you but filled that role of a grandparent in your life. The key element being that they were actually still alive. One girl in Davis, California brought her grandfather to school to share with her friends, except she’d baked his cremated ashes into cookies and passed them out.

What happened to the idea of respecting your elders? Maybe it’s a bigger issue to me now that I’m tipping into that elder category myself. While I loved my grandma more than anything on earth and I do really love a good chocolate chip cookie, combining the two does not magnify the love for or greatness of either no matter what angle you look at it. I love endangered baby harp seals. I love lasagna. That does not mean that I want to combine the two into an ill-gotten, macabre casserole to share with unsuspecting friends.

What makes it all even weirder, there were kids that ate the cookies knowing that Grandpa was an ingredient! One of those students, Andy Knox, said that despite containing “tiny grey flecks”, there was no way to tell it was human remains. “If you ever ate sand as a kid, you know, you can kind of feel it crunching in between your teeth, so there was a little tiny bit of that.” Okay, remember that kid’s name. If he ever runs for office, do not vote for him no matter who the other choice is.

Investigating police officers had to figure out what laws cover baking deceased human remains into food and tricking people into eating them. Is this a food and beverage violation? I don’t know, but scientists say that despite how distasteful in every possible way this is, there was no risk to the cookie eaters.

First you have Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards snorting his father’s ashes with way too much cocaine (Seriously. Google it.) and now this. What happened to the idea of Rest in Peace. That’s peace as in peaceful and leave me alone once I’m dead. Not piece of your next recipe. Lord! Kids these days!

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The Science of Halloween Candy

TomummyHalloween has changed a lot since I was running the neighborhood with eye holes cut out of a sheet with my brother dressed as a hobo. (Modern translation of hobo: a more delicate and antiquated word for homeless person). Now it’s a major production on both sides of the door, so it’s important to know key candy distribution guidelines. Pay attention, kids, this can be the difference between a bag of worthless suckers and a full-sized Hershey bar wrapped with a $5 bill.

Here’s how it works now. Little bitty kids who show up before it’s even dusk get fussed over because they’re beyond adorable in a costume that mom spent a month making or a month’s salary buying. They get one or two pieces of the good candy – name brand chocolate. Mom needs some kind of payback for her efforts, because, let’s face it, that’s who will eat that candy. For that matter, consider just handing her one of those single serving size bottles of cheap red wine.

As soon as it gets dark, look for elementary and middle school kids. They’re more interested in quantity than quality. Feel free to mix in filler candy like Jolly Ranchers, candy corn and those weird circus peanut things (what are those things other than nasty?) along with several pieces of good candy. Remember, unless a mom finds this, this candy will likely live under a bed until spring.

Later in the evening, the older kids come out. You’ve got a 50/50 chance that they didn’t even bother to put on a costume. My policy is no costume = no candy. I tend to vote Republican, so there’s no free candy handout at my house. Earn your candy. You can get a cat ear headband at the dollar store. Otherwise, you better come prepared to entertain me. For what candy costs these days, I want some payback. Sing, tell a good joke. A two-minute rehearsed monologue from a recognizable playwright and I’ll empty the rest of my candy bowl into your pillowcase and throw in a $5 bill.

At the end of the night, if my porch light is off, I’m tired of opening my door and I’m planning to enjoy the last three KitKat bars I held back with red wine at a price point that doesn’t befit handing out for free to young mothers. So stay safe and don’t take candy from strangers.

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Baseball and Taco Hell

AR-309269980Anyone who knows me even casually knows I’m a fanatical baseball fan. So when the Astros are in the post-season, don’t bother me at game time unless there’s fire, homicide-level blood loss, or a minimum of two high-level FBI agents present. Unless you’re my dad.

Twenty minutes before the start of Game 2 of the ALCS, I’m at my dad’s house settling in for the first pitch when he tosses me the keys and says, “Run get us tacos.” Gasp! Wait! What?! Now??!! Okay, it’s his house and he is my dad. I’m going for tacos.

I hop in the Dadmobile and race to the neighborhood Taco Cabana. I hit the drive thru for four chicken tacos thinking I’m in good shape with 12 minutes until game time and only two cars ahead of me. Then I realize I’ve entered Taco Hell!!

It took only seconds to realize the car in front of me has ordered 25 different individual items all special ordered. Surely this is proof that evil is real and Satan is active in our world. Obviously, it can only be Satan, Prince of Darkness, driving the solitary car in front of me. I roll up the windows in order to scream in private.

It has gotten to the point that I could have driven myself to Mexico, executed a quickie divorce, found and married a Mexican national, had his mother make me tacos, and driven back. Faster. I was now missing the start of the game. Okay, forget the divorce part. I could drive to Mexico, become a naturalized citizen, learned to make authentic tacos myself, and driven back. Faster. This was killing me.

Just as I’m picking up my phone to call 911 to report a gas leak inside Taco Cabana that has killed all the employees because there has been no sign of life inside for at least 15 minutes, the window opens and Satan receives his massive bag of food. Of course, he’s paying in what must be ancient coins from Somalia’s Gubon Desert and how the heck do you make change for that? One final, cleansing scream before I pull forward.

By the time I got back, the Astros were down by 1. Yes, I won the War on Tacos, but the Astros lost the game and the next one and all the rest of the series. Somewhere Satan is laughing and my season is over. From this point forward, tacos will always taste like disappointing loss.

Thank you to the Houston Astros for a great season, Jose Altuve and the Daily Herald for the pic.

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