Category Archives: Much Ado About Nothing

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

Straws Suck

straws suckWell, this sucks. Americans use more than 1 MILLION single-use plastic straws every single day. That’s over 365,000,000 straws every year. Considering the fact that plastic straws became popular in the 1960’s, multiplied by 365 million… that’s a whole heckin’ lotta straws out there in the landfills and oceans making a mess of things. So put your drink down for just a minute and consider some options.

Bamboo is a cool alternative. It grows super fast and, if there are no pandas around to fight you for it, you’ve got bamboo for days. An added feature: bamboo straws also work well as blow guns for poison darts. This is important should you ever actually need to fight a panda.

There are straws that are now made out of hay or wheat. Feed a Farmer: buy hay straws! I saw straws made from some eco-friendly other plant base stuff — although the manufacturer wasn’t exactly detailing out what that plant base was. Maybe skip on that one just in case the unnamed plant is actually cilantro. Nobody needs a cilantro straw unless they’re drinking bleach. (Don’t drink bleach!)

You can get fancy hand-blown glass straws. They’re simply perfect for sipping the mint julip on the veranda of your swankienda. Other than most of us don’t have swankiendas, the other drawback on glass straws is that they are, in fact, glass, so maybe not the right thing if you’re prone to seizures, lock jaw, or sudden falls while drinking.

Maybe opt for a plain old paper straw. Sure, they might disintegrate a bit before you finish that root beer float, but unraveling paper straws does fall in the same category as peeling labels off beer bottles. Harmless fidgety entertainment that doesn’t kill dolphins.
And here’s a totally novel idea: just don’t use a straw. Pick up the beverage and just drink it already. Sheesh. Is it that hard? Perpetual puckering gives you nasty wrinkles around your lips that make you look like you sucked a lemon or are descended from prunes. Not a good look. Plastic straws in landfills and oceans: also not a good look.

Once you kick the plastic straw habit, we’ll talk about plastic bags. Until then, on behalf of turtles and whales and pretty much the rest of the Earth, remember that straws suck.

Special shout out to Rethink, Canada for creating the print ad for Greenpeace. Learn more about what you can do to reduce plastics in the ocean at Greenpeace.org 

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Whata What?! But Wait!

800px-Whataburger_Texas_TreasureOn February 23, 1836 the great State of Texas was under siege from a foreign source with nefarious plans to take away a foundational key to all that is great about the State of Texas: Remember the Alamo! August 8, 1950, Texas further establishes it’s predominance as the epicenter of Oh-Hell-Yeah when the first Whataburger opens in Corpus Christi. Recently, Texas again went under attack. A group of carpetbagger Yankees from Chicago bought Whataburger.

While I’m sure it was a universal response when the news was announced, my knee-jerk reaction was to saddle up, join the forces, storm the beaches and take it back! Having Whataburger guided by anyone who doesn’t understand that the stars at night are big and bright teeters close to being sacrilegious. How this even happened is unfathomable.

Then I took a minute to fathom it. In their defense, the carpetbagger Yankees do want to expand Whataburger further past the confines of the Red River and into places like, hmm, well, uh, how about MICHIGAN! Now I’m putting away my Bowie knife and considering the full impact of this. Honey butter chicken biscuits would go a whole long way to making Michigan and just about everything north of Dallas a better place. Maybe these northerners are the way they are simply because their lives have lacked Whataburger ketchup all this time. Think of how much closer we’d all be to world peace!!IMG_6375.JPG

Texas didn’t hold back Nolan Ryan from the rest of the world and yet he never forgot where he came from. Fire ants, FEMA trailers, fajitas, Frito pie have all carried the banner of Texas and maintained their integrity. Okay, maybe not the fire ants, but whatever. Dr. Pepper, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and even Bluebell Ice Cream can be found beyond the borders and are none the worse for it. I think we have to have faith that even if you take the Sweet and Spicy Bacon Burger Whatameal out of Texas, you can’t take the Texas out of the Sweet and Spicy Bacon Burger Whatameal.

Is it really fair for Texas to selfishly withhold Whataburger from the rest of the country? Shouldn’t everyone be able to get a #1 cheeseburger with bacon, jalapenos and extra pickles, a side of fries and a root beer shake in the drive-thru at 2:20am? Come on, people, this is ‘Merica!

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Purse Problems: Just Me?

purseI know women who change their purses as often as they change their shoes. They’re always perfectly matched and coordinated which seems just a little shifty to me. Can you really trust a woman who can’t commit to one purse for more than one day? I say not. Personally, if I find a purse I like, I want a bond with it that will outlive the Apocalypse. Unfortunately, the purse usually taps out long before I do which is what happened recently, forcing me to find a new purse. Oh, the inhumanity of it all.

The only thing more daunting than purse shopping might be finding jeans that fit right or a bathing suit that doesn’t cause debilitating emotional trauma. For me, the process involves looking at every single available purse in a two state radius, narrowing the field to approximately ten possibilities, then taking everything from the outgoing purse and testing compatibility with the new candidates. If you’re someone who doesn’t do a regular purse purge, this is a bit embarrassing to do in public. And that’s today’s lesson learned.

Who knew I still had an individually wrapped Hostess cupcake that was given to me by a woman selling no-stick cookware. It was a bit worse for wear considering how many times my wallet must have been dropped on it. I found the garage door opener for a house I haven’t owned in 8 years, three gently used Kleenex, a jury summons, an expired asthma inhaler, and what may have or may not have been a contact lens. I had a lip balm without a cap, one earring, and four grocery store coupons paper clipped together that had expired during the Clinton Administration.

Because I have the same level of devotion for my wallet that I have for my purse, the new purse has to match the old wallet. I also don’t want to cause my wallet undue stress by purchasing a purse that costs more than my house payment. Oh, and the new purse has to pretty much match everything I could possible wear. I’m not sure if I want a purse so much as the messiah of leather accessories. You see my struggle.

But good news: After two weeks of carrying my purse possessions around in a plastic bag, I have a winner! That problem is now solved for another two decades!

(Note: The pictured purse is NOT the one I ultimately settled on, thank you for asking. However, if it’s more your style, it is available at WalMart.com.)

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Gifts That Don’t Give

gift cardWe’ve all gotten the ubiquitous gift card (look that word up). Everything is available in a gift card these days and what isn’t you can cover with the use-everywhere-major-credit-card gift card. The question, then, is what do you do with the gift card when you’ve spent all the money on it? Throw it away so it’ll end up in a landfill until the earth is struck by an asteroid and melted? Sure, that’s one option. I think I might have another, more immediate solution: re-gifting!

This is the season for graduations, weddings and Father’s Day. It doesn’t take long for your wallet to get sucked dry with all the congratulations/I love you/you’re a great dad stuff that is best expressed with a token of your admiration. But what if you don’t really like those people and don’t want to dump a bunch of cash on a gift for them? Here’s where the gift card re-gifting comes in!

Say your nephew is getting married. Because you happened to say at the last family gathering that the Bugs Bunny tattoo he got from his shoulder blades to his butt crack was ridiculously stupid, he doesn’t invite you. What better way to show him it didn’t bother you than to send a $200 Macy’s gift card … with no actual money on it? Of course he won’t realize that until he’s at the register with his new bride trying to purchase that MixMaster with the stainless steel pasta blade attachment. But at that point, you get the last laugh.

The graduate attending commencement only because his teachers felt seven years in high school was enough for anyone will love the re-gifted Target gift card. What better way to say, “Get a real job and earn your own money!”

For the father that abandoned you as a baby to be raised by wolverines? You got it: the re-gifted Bass Pro Shop gift card. Money can’t buy you love. And a good thing, because there’s no money on that gift card!

What’s the worst that can happen? The recipient actually calls and asks where the money is? Play dumb. And if you knew what ubiquitous meant without looking it up, then practice playing dumb so you’ll be ready. Now just consider this my gift to you.

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Mom and the Man

JackFour years ago, he graduated from high school. Four days ago, he graduated from college. I thought I couldn’t be more proud of my oldest son as when he boldly and confidently marched himself into his Kindergarten class without so much as a look back at me; not until he boldly and confidently marched across a stage to accept a high school diploma. Well, paint me ignorant because neither matched seeing him pause mid-handshake with the president of the university, diploma in the other hand, while a photographer captured that moment he became a college graduate.

And so the washing machine that is my life hits the spin cycle again. You’d think I’d get used to this. You’d think.

What I’m realizing about being a parent, now that my babies are turning into adult people is, if you do it right, they go away. Suddenly, that seems really messed up! If you invest your heart, you’re life’s allotment of patience, a small financial fortune, and any hope of developing a solid sleep pattern, your reward is to see the back of their heads as they charge off boldly and confidently into their lives. Just when you finally get them to the point that you really want to hang around them, they leave! So messed up.

But, too, if you really do it right, you give them a phone. It’s like one of those tracking devices they put on dorsal fins of orcas. Even as your kids get all adult-y, they’ll still use that phone to call you about the really important things in their lives: How long does it take for hard-boiled eggs? What do bedbugs look like? Where do you get pants altered? Yes, your role in their lives is basically to be their personal Google search, but that’s okay. It means they can handle the big things in their lives themselves.

So as my oldest spreads his big, strong wings to fly, I watch the back of his head as he marches off to do big things. He’s bolder and more confident than ever, but I know, too, he’ll glance back. When he does, I’ll tell him hard-boiled eggs take about 12 minutes, bedbugs look like little apple seeds, the dry cleaner can alter the pants, and I’ll always be here, always proud, always loving the man he’s become.

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Let’s Not Be Friends

imagesIGDA1YTNDear Strange Men of Facebook, please stop sending me friend requests. I’m not accepting them until you can come up with a more original fake story. This includes you Musawa Muhamadi. Please schedule a time when you can all get together for a virtual meeting then divide up your facts and try again. Until then, you’ll continue to be deleted and blocked. Probably after that, too, but who am I to destroy your ambitions.

It seems like pretty regularly, I get friend requests from men who are, strangely, all widowed, nice looking slightly older men working as some sort of highly specialized surgeon, who love puppies and cooking, and are deeply patriotic Americans. Including Musawa Muhamadi. According to his profile, he’d also been a Lieutenant Colonel and combat surgeon in Afghanistan with the US Air Force. Because I was stuck in an airport for several hours with nothing to do, I decided to have some fun. I sent a private message explaining that I’d received his friend request but just could not remember how we knew each other.

He responded immediately — excited, I’m sure, that he might have a gullible fish on his line — completely ignoring anything I’d just written. Instead he launched into how he’d happened across my profile, how wonderful I am, and that he must get to know me better. Uh huh. Right. My profile is locked and blocked so to access it at all, he’d have to have some mad, disreputable computing skills. More like a hacker than a surgeon, wouldn’t you think?

So I started grilling. What was the capital of New Hampshire (Concord)? What must be yelled for a baseball game to start (Play ball!)? What day are income taxes due (April 15)? All things any solid American would know, right? And finally, why wasn’t he fluent in English, if it is, in fact, his native language. Moments later, he deleted his friend request to me. Funny, huh? He deleted me – I’m still chuckling.

So to Mr. Muhamadi, whoever you are, and those like you, give me a break. We have no mutual friends. You’ve only been on Facebook since August of last year. You have two photos – one of you in your surgical scrubs and one of you with an adorable child/kitten/puppy or glass of wine. You might as well say you’re a unicorn herder because that’s about as believable. Thank you, but delete!

(Photo is Dr. David Samati, an actual celebrity doctor whose image is often used for Facebook scams. He has never sent me a friend request. I’m not sure why.)

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Thanks Liam Neeson

Liam

Who are you gonna call?       Liam Neeson 

Recently, in the middle of a really crazy busy day, my internet service went out. For that matter, the whole electronic support system to my house went out. Of course, my first thought was that the line had been quietly cut by ISIS as part of their plot to abduct me to a life of militant radicalism. I’ve read enough creepy thrillers to know how all that works. So I sent a last final farewell text to one of my best friends, who, instead of contacting Liam Neeson (because he always saves abducted people), she told me to look around and be grateful for the things that did work. Here’s what I came up with.

I’m grateful that I don’t have a urinary tract infection. Anyone who does have a UTI, I’m really sorry. Have some cranberry juice on me. Urinary tract infections are in the top zone of the suckage scale and I’m truly thankful I don’t have one.

I’m grateful that I don’t need hair plugs. I’m not saying the time won’t come when I will, but right now, I’m solid. I actually have the kind of hair that’s begging for the wild, 1980’s big hair look to come charging back, although in modern translation, my look is more Crazy Cat Lady. One day, I’m going to be that old woman in the nursing home with stark white, Albert Einstein hair in a style that makes you question my competency. But I probably won’t have plugs, so feeling the gratitude there.

I’m grateful for the bag of snail bait in the garage. I don’t think garden snails fall under the protection of the animal rights groups. And even if they do, too bad. I say, “Come to mamma, you slimy little, flower-eating brother of a grub!” In the war for the roses, I’m bringing out the heavy artillery. Load up on the poisonous appetizers, you escargot wanna-be’s!

I’m grateful for my hot water heater, Amazon Prime, places that now sell wine on Sundays before noon, and other people’s dogs. I believe in a cilantro-free world of equality, peace, and well-used turn signals. I have a deep, honest appreciation for Liam Neeson consistently saving the abducted sequel after sequel. But mostly, I’m grateful that terrorists haven’t really cut my internet service and I’m another day as a non-radical extremist.

 

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