Wednesday, April 29, 2009


PANDEMIC! The Swine Flu is upon us. Or is it? Not so sure, since we have now been instructed to call it the H1N1 virus, or something like that. Apparently "Swine Flu" is giving pigs a bad name. Well, whatever...a virus is a virus is a virus.

Ok. So to believe the media hype, the Swine Flu H1N1 is pandemic. Imagine...a Global Epidemic. That means everywhere. But, according to the same media, as of last night there were six people hospitalized with H1N1 in the entire country. Six? Pandemic? How many people are hospitalized in this country with TB or pneumonia or AIDS or HIV or who knows what other host of infectious diseases? I bet it's a whole lot more than six, and I don't hear any outcry going on about those.

So one person has died in this country with the virus. I feel bad for that family, I really do, and I don't want to trivialize it in any way. So what about the 36,000 that die from the regular flu every year? They don't call that a pandemic. Does one death from Swine Flu = Pandemic? If it does, then every infectious disease in this world is in a state of pandemiconium.

My Man always says if you really want to get to the root, just follow the $ trail. Hmmm...Well, let's see, Obama has graciously doled out $15 bil to the pharmaceutical industry. Of course the media stands to gain revenue from the ratings, and when it comes to ratings in this Age of Excess, the more sensational/spectacular/scandalous the better. So there are two possibilities.

The ludicrous inconsistencies coming from higher up are creating panic, but perhaps that is by design, allowing that giving the beleaguered public something new to worry about will take its mind off of its current economic and other woes. Besides, who knows what kind of wheeling and dealing might be taking place in the back room while all eyes are focused on the Virus...After all, why waste a perfectly good crisis?

  • We have a pandemic for Pete's sake, and yet the borders remain wide open, come one come all, and bring your latest diseases with you.
  • Outdoor sporting events have been canceled, but child warehouses child care centers and most schools remain open. A quick check with the Public Health people would reveal that outdoor events aren't really problematic. Closed spaces, where little people cough and spit and sneeze on each other and breathe recycled air, are, however, a different story.
  • They say we have plenty of flu medicine available, but they tell people there's no need to stock up.
Well, WHICH IS IT???? If it's truly pandemic, then let's get serious and give it its due. Lets shut the borders and close public places and quarantine the infected, and inconvenience be hanged. If it's merely the newest strain of flu showing up for the year, as happens every flu season, then could the media just stop whipping up hysteria? And if the Powers That Be really don't know, then could they find out and take some appropriate, rational action instead of all the knee-jerking they are doing?

Personally, I am depending on the time-tested methods of avoiding illness: wash hands often, don't eat/drink after anyone else, cover coughs/sneezes, wash hands often, stay home when sick, eat good, healthy foods, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water, wash hands often. And if I feel the need to medicate I am well-stocked with Vitamin C, elderberry, echinacea, and GSE.

And on that note, Will the Real Story please stand up?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

52 WHATTS?!!

I bought some light bulbs today.

In place of the high-$, energy-saving, long-living neon light bulbs currently in vogue, I opted for the old-fashioned ones. I'm not exactly against the currently fashionable "green" revolution, it's just that I've already tried those new-fangled light bulbs. They certainly are high-$, costing many times what a regular light bulb costs, and it seems reasonable that they save energy, being that they are only a fraction as bright. But they do not last the promised five years. They don't even last as long as the dependable old low-tech standbys. So as my current supply of these modern marvels dwindles, thank goodness, I am replacing them with the old kind. At least that is my desire.

But I made a sad discovery this afternoon: It appears that while I was getting up to speed with the realm of techno-lighting, something disturbing was happening in the world of the humble incandescent light bulb. My first clue of incandescence's imminent ixtinction was in the "Lighting" department at MoreMart which is no longer overflowing with every variety of incandescent light bulb. Nope. It is now overloaded with over-priced high-tech light bulbs of every sort: sunlight ones, daylight ones, blue light ones, coil shapes, spirals, U-shapes, long ones, short ones. I have tried them all, and guess what none of them measures up to the good old plain vanilla light bulb.

After a thorough search, I was thrilled to stumble across a section of incandescent bulbs, but it was very small, and as I searched for the 60-watts I got my second shock: the 60-watt is no longer. In its place we now have the new, improved...52-watt light bulb. 52? And then I noticed the formerly-known-as-75-watt bulb is now...67 watts.

Lighting. The next economic battle the consumer is bound to lose. It's the 21st Century incarnation of the shell game that I remember from the 1970's. In that version, the standard 5-lb sack of sugar was quietly down-sized 20% while the price increased 20%. Gotta make up that 20% somewhere, you know.

So I wonder. What comes next? What will be the next battleground? It could be anything at all, but good, bad, or indifferent, you can be absolutely certain of one thing: whatever it may be, you will pay. So hang on to your wallet. If you can. It's a conspiracy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Notes From the Chimney Sweep

The song doesn't say, does it? But in case you have ever wondered what happened to that crazed Mississippi squirrel that brought on the revival in that sleepy little town of Pascagoula, wonder no more. I think I may have cleared up that little mystery.

Spring is often a busy season for a chimney sweep, but not for the reasons one might expect. Gone are the winter requests to cure a smoking fireplace or to inspect or rebuild a chimney after a fire, and we get a few calls from those organized souls who want to get a jump on next fall’s heating season by cleaning their chimneys ahead of time, but a lot of our spring calls come from people who have discovered animals and/or their nests in the chimney: usually an assortment of birds or squirrels, less frequently a raccoon, or perhaps a possum. At least on one occasion, we were called by a homeowner whose house was suddenly infested with flies; and then there was the time this chimney sweep was called upon to ascertain that the stench in one house was caused, not by a dead animal in the chimney as surmised by the owner, but by a package of fish rotting on the coffee table in the living room. Really. The chimney sweep seems to be the go-to guy when people just don’t know where to go, and, as I say, spring ends up being fairly busy.

So when the phone rang a few days ago I wasn’t entirely surprised to hear, “I saw you on the computer. I know you get birds and things out of chimneys, but I have something much worse than a bird!” followed by a tale of woe, poured out, if you can imagine, in a frantic voice with a serious Southern d-r-a-w-l.

This poor young woman’s house reeked so badly with the odor of something dead and decaying that they could barely stand to stay in it, and after looking everywhere they could possibly think of to look, they concluded that a squirrel had died in the chimney, a not at all unheard-of event in the world of chimneys and fireplaces. She had called to see if we, or anyone we knew, could take care of such a problem for her, going on to tell me that she had called the “wildlife people” who had someone that took care of such things, but, alas, they were unable to locate him.

Even in her misery, she was so very polite, as Southern belles are wont to be, and I found myself wanting to help her. Almost. Such a job is always distasteful, to say the least. I started to ask where she was located, but before I could get the question out, she asked me if the job could be done for free… That made me laugh and I told her that there would certainly be a charge. If anyone could be found to do it.

And then, “Are you in Alabama?” Alabama? Uh…no. She explained that our area code was only one number off from an area code that she knew of in Alabama, so she thought maybe we were there, close enough to come to her rescue in…. Pascagoula, Mississippi.

Relief! I no longer felt bad for not figuring out how to help her. Being in central Texas ~ the part she missed when she found us on the computer ~ I couldn’t if I wanted to. So, I wished her well, expressing hope that she would find someone to take care of that for her. And in that lovely, lively, eager Southern voice she assured me, “Oh, I will! Even if I have to pay them!”


Well, in any event…one Squirrel of Mississippi Revival fame: Found! And now you know...the rest of the story.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"The Computer is Down"

. . . and now that I have a wee bit of time to indulge my blogging mode, I am cut off at the pass by an uncooperative internet at home. TWO WEEKS so far, with no more hope than a faint possible light at the end of the tunnel, which of course could be a train, or maybe just something in my eye. Thank God and the government for the public library. . .

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Shiver Me Timbers!

Just think. . .2009. . .The civilized age of high-tech marvels, medical miracles, instant worldwide communications, higher education, general enlightenment, pirates. . . Pirates. . .?

As a child, M fell heir to an outgrown Halloween pirate costume. The costume was really nothing more than a pair of black below-the-knee-length pants with a tattered edge, worn with a raggedy white t-shirt. To dress it up a bit, I offered a favored hoop earring and a red bandana. Being prior to the age of earring-wearing males, we attached the hoop to the bandana, thus giving the effect minus the agony. When his birthday came around, I took myself off to the pharmacy where I bought him a black eye patch to complete the rogue look. Accessorized with imagination. . . he was ready for adventure!

In those day, M lived his characters. We had been through eras of baseball players, frontiersmen, astronauts, astronomers, pirates, and even Navy SEALS, among others. His pirate period included teaming up with his dad to build a stunning papier-mache pirate ship, The Jolliest Roger; he also ventured into the world of pirate cuisine, cooking a meal of ship's biscuits, oh my. . . definitely best left for when one might be absolutely perishing from hunger with no other possibilities in sight.

Pirates from the past. . . Adventurers on the High Seas. Hunters of treasure. Chasers of dreams. Swashbuckling figures clothed in mystery and legend and romance. The dream of any small boy equipped with imagination and a little creativity.

Fast forward to 2009. Of all things incredible, piracy is making a comeback. You'd think, wouldn't you, that in this touchy-feely age of non-violence and tolerance, we might have outgrown this uncivilized, barbaric sort of behavior? Nope. It seems that all political correctness has really accomplished is to disarm the law-abiding victims, thus giving even more power to the criminals. After all, we wouldn't want to offend anyone, would we, and we certainly don't want to be intolerant of a pirate.

The latest in the modern pirate saga began just a few days ago, off the coast of Africa (think "shores of Tripoli"). The first attack on an American ship in over 200 years was carried out by a band of reprobates from Somalia, an anarchic country where piracy is apparently a mainstay of the economy. In the spirit of "international cooperation," our ship was unarmed, on its own out there upon the Seven Seas, with nothing more than a fire hose between it and any assilants that might come around. Hardly a match against these particular pirates who happened along well-armed with a variety of machine guns, in noisy motorboats, probably stinking of oil and gasoline. Looked at through modern-day eyes, piracy has most assuredly seen better days.

In the valiant tradition of true and honorable captaincy, Captain Richard Phillips offered himself hostage to these thugs, who promptly carted him off in a lifeboat where they planned to hold him for ransom. They obviously underestimated the United States Navy, who came quickly to the rescue, isolating the maverick lifeboat from reinforcements; and late-breaking reports indicate that Captain Phillips is today a free man, courtesy of the Navy SEALS, that elite team of real-life, all-American heroes who go through the world's toughest training only to do a job which few even know exists.

After parachuting down in the dark, the military snipers patiently watched for their chance, and with the Commander's "fire-when-ready" ok in place, they opened up on the renegades, killing all but the one who had gone off to the Bainbridge to negotiate (That one is now in American military custody, and will no doubt be treated to a civilized trial where he will be represented by the finest legal counsel the American taxpayer can provide. . . another rant for another time.). Sharpshooters, YES! Three shots, three pirates.

Yep. . . Piracy may have lost its luster, but the United States Navy just makes me proud! And the Navy SEALS. . .? You gotta love those guys!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Back to Business

The world conspires to keep me running ragged with NOTHING to show for it. My life has been deadline-driven for the long...with the next/last one coming right up: TEA Party Day. Am I ready? I am not. The dining room is overrun with piles of papers and receipts and calendars, planners, work orders, and proposals. I am feverishly trying to sort it all out before the taxman cometh. Hmmm...exactly one week to go, and things don't look promising.

I miss writing, but my brain is too full to think. All sorts of things are running around in it. So many that I can barely sort them out. So I don't. Instead, I escape. You know what they say ~ When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Well, I'm going as fast as I can! Not that it's getting me anywhere.

Facebook is always good for an easy escape. Lots of fun and not much thinking required. AGH! How I look down on those lessers forever in escape mode. Now I am one of them. :-/ Well...what goes around comes around, and the time has come.

It's officially late and getting later by the minute. It might even be tomorrow.

So. Back to business? I hope so, soon. Right after garden club, a tax day TEA party, politics as usual, Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope, helping C and De move their household, the annual Cherokee fish fry... Yep, by next month I should be able to start minding my own business. Unless, of course, someone/thing else is lying in wait.

Stay tuned.