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2008 GMC Sierra 4×4, 4-Door

2008 GMC Sierra 4×4, 4-Door: M&M MOTORS, 316 West Mulberry Street, Angleton, 979-849-6344

 

1998 Dodge Ram

1998 Dodge Ram: New Clutch, AC, 3.9L, Tow Package, $3895. 979-265-7966, www.332-auto-sales.com

 

GULF MOTORS, FREEPORT

GULF MOTORS, FREEPORT: Serving Brazoria County Since 1981. We Have Over 100 Vehicles To Choose. Buy Here… Pay Here! In-House Financing, 979-233-6344

 

2005 FORD EXPEDITION

2005 FORD EXPEDITION: Runs Great, A/C, Third Row Seat, MUST SEE! $4500 979-285-8706

 

2006 TOYOTA TUNDRA LIMITED

2006 TOYOTA TUNDRA LIMITED: 4.7L, 147K Miles, Leather, Running Boards, $13,995. Corky’s Cars 979-864-3635 corkyscarsinc.com

 

2000 Jeep Wrangler 4×4

2000 Jeep Wrangler 4×4: 6-Cyl Automatic, $9500 OBO, 254-229-3274 Lake Jackson

 

2013 GMC SIERRA 1500 Z71

2013 GMC SIERRA 1500 Z71: 4WD, Crew Cab, Leather, Fully Loaded, Corky’s Cars 979-864-3635 corkyscarsinc.com

 

2001 Dodge Truck

2001 Dodge Truck: Runs Good, New Inspections, Good Tires, $2000. 979-373-1449

 

2005 GMC SIERRA

2005 GMC SIERRA: 8-Cyl, V8, Leather, 171K Miles, $9995. Corky’s Cars 979-864-3635 corkyscarsinc.com

 

2009 CHEVY TRAILBLAZER

2009 CHEVY TRAILBLAZER: 4.2, 6-Cyl, 124K Miles, All Power, Clean, $8995 Corky’s Cars 979-864-3635 corkyscarsinc.com

 

2012 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE

2012 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE: Overland Package, Sunroof, Heated Seats, Loaded, Clean, Corky’s Cars, 979-864-3635, corkyscarsinc.com

 

1990+ Former U-Haul Box Truck

1990+ Former U-Haul Box Truck: 7.3 Diesel, Million Mile Engine, 86K Miles, $3500 979-665-9232

 

2004 Ford Escape (SUV)

2004 Ford Escape (SUV): Very Clean, Black, AC/Heat, Electric Windows/Locks, Runs & Drives Very Good, $3000 979-709-8911

 

Trucks/Vans/SUVs

2004 Toyota Sienna XLE, One Owner, Dual Air, Dual Power Sliding Doors, Sunroof, 109K, $6895. 979-265-7966 www.332-auto-sales.com

 

2008 TOYOTA TUNDRA SR5

2008 TOYOTA TUNDRA SR5: 4.7L, Cloth Seats, 185K Miles, Clean, $15,995. Corky’s Cars 979-864-3635 corkyscarsinc.com

 

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2005 Toyota Sienna LE

2005 Toyota Sienna LE: Handicap Van, Side Ramp, Excellent Condition, Garage Kept, 979-299-3836

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Much Ado About Nothing – Zombie Ants Redux

Much Ado About Nothing February 8, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Originally published May 6, 2010, I’m rerunning this column as proof that no one – not man nor beast or even ants – are safe from the Zombie Apocalypse.

I was sitting around somewhere recently where I had to wait. Probably a doctor’s office or the oil change place or something. This is usually the only chance I have to actually pick up a magazine and thumb through it. At this particular hurry-up-and-wait location, I picked up a back issue of Texas Monthly to read the article on fire ants. Oh, that was a mistake.

It seems that those wacky researchers at Texas A&M have discovered that there is this certain type of fly that will lay eggs in the neck of fire ants. The larvae then start to feed on the fluids of the fire ant’s body until it gets to the brain. As it devours the ant brain – and what a gourmet meal that has to be – the ant slowly becomes a zombie. The ant zombie then mindlessly wanders away from the mound forgetting that it has important work to do, like organizing commando raids on innocent gardeners.

Eventually, far from the mound it used to call home and completely devoid of brain function and bodily fluids, the ant’s head finally just falls off and the new fly emerges.

First of all, this whole thing has a gross-out rating of 38 on a scale from one to 10. I hate fire ants as much as the next guy, but fly larvae who live in ant necks and eat their brains is disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, just because it’s disgusting doesn’t mean I’m not all for it. I just think that there’s a B-horror movie script in this: “Attack of the Zombie Ants” or “Lord of the Brain-Eating Flies.” Feel free to pause here and come up with a few of your own.

Secondly, what super nerd A&M scientist happened to be tagging along behind some pregnant fly to discover she was planting larvae in ant necks? Or did he work backwards? “Hey, where did all these headless zombie ants come from?” Either way, there’s a guy out there who probably needs a make-over on several levels.

What is completely alarming, though, is that more and more I find myself wandering into a room and wondering why I’m there, sometimes feeling dehydrated … Could someone please come check my neck?!?!

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

What I Heard This Week! Feb. 8, 2018

What I Heard This Week February 8, 2018

What I Heard This Week by Lisa Baker

A student spit on a teacher at Cypress Woods High School so the teacher took off his belt and struck the kid. Wrong thing to do. Of course, it’s all on video. If these teachers don’t think that they are being set up to be videoed, then someone needs to let them know. First off, we don’t know all the facts, but if a child of mine spit on a teacher, there would be hell to pay. But some of us are raising a bunch of kids that don’t understand consequences because there are none. When I was young, and dinosaurs roamed the Earth, we all believed that there was a paddle in the principal’s office that had holes drilled in it so there was a swooshing noise as it flew through the air and made contact with your behind. When someone got in trouble, we all got quiet and listened, so we could hear if there yelping involved when the paddle hit home. We would never, ever have spit on a teacher. I’m not saying that all teachers are perfect because THEY ARE NOT, but we need to raise children to respect not only the position, but to respect themselves or we’re not going to have any teachers worth anything because NO ONE WILL WANT TO BE A TEACHER, or fireman, or police officer. Next week I’ll talk about the paddle with the nails in it…or so we thought.


The first delivery of prescription marijuana in Texas has been delivered. There are three dispensaries in the state, two in Austin and one in Schulenburg.


An autopsy has shown that the young unclothed boy, 3 or 4-years old, whose body washed up on a Galveston shoreline in October, showed signs of neglect and abuse, malnourishment and he had died before being placed in the water, not drowning as had been previously believed. The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for successful identification and location of the family members caring for the boy at the time of his disappearance. Call 1-800-CALL-FBI or 409-765-3776. Someone, somewhere knows something. Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward. They released the actual photo of the child the day they found him as a last option. He was a beautiful child with long eyelashes.


Meryl Streep, 68, has filed an application to trademark “Meryl Streep” so others may not profit from her name and fame. I didn’t know you could do that.


Nearly forty years after his wife drowned, investigators are now calling 87-year-old actor Robert Wagner a ‘person of interest’ in the death of Natalie Wood. It is believed that he hasn’t told the whole story about what happened during the boat trip the night of her suspicious death. Really!


The father of two young women that gave statements at the sentencing hearing of Larry Nassar, asked the judge if she would give him “five minutes in a locked room” with Nassar. The judge said no, so he asked for one minute, then rushed across the room to take care of Nassar himself. The father was released without charge. I can’t believe that this hadn’t happened earlier and most of the parents that I know, agree with me.


Not far from the temples of the ancient city of Tikal in northern Guatemala, even the most experienced archaeologists were surprised to find about 60,000 homes, palaces, tombs and even highways hidden in the humid lowlands under the cover of tree canopies in the jungle, built by the Maya over a thousand years ago. Researchers found the structures by shooting lasers down from planes that pierced the thick foliage and painted a 3-D picture of the ground below.


DeLorean Motor Co. plans to start manufacturing the new DeLorean locally in Humble, in early 2019. When the original two-seater rolled off the production lines in 1981, it sold for about $26,000. A used DeLorean now typically costs $55,000 to $65,000. The new DeLorean will sell for around $120,000.


Have you seen the new concert stage for the Rodeo? You should. It’s fan-damn-tastic. OK. Incredible.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Rock singer-guitarist Graham Nash is 76. Country singer Howard Bellamy is 72. TV Chef Ina Garten is 70. Model Christie Brinkley is 64. Rapper T-Mo is 46. Singer guitarist Dave Davies is 71. The Kinks. Actress Morgan Fairchild is 68. Actor Nathan Lane is 62. The Birdcage and MouseHunt. Two of my favorites. Actress Katharine Ross is 78. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Stepford Wives. Vanessa Redgrave is 81.

Actor Tom Selleck is 73. Magnum, P.I. Actress Ann Jillian is 68. It’s a Living. Rock Musician Louie Perez is 65. Los Lobos. La Bamba. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is 64. Olympic gold-medal diver Greg Louganis is 58. He has been called both “the greatest American diver” and “probably the greatest diver in history.” Actor Gene Hackman is 88. Good grief. I can’t believe this. Oscar for Best Actor in The French Connection. Unforgiven. 79 films. It is said that he is retired but still in charge. I believe it.

Drummer, singer-songwriter, record producer and actor Phil Collins, is 67. Genesis. In the Air Tonight.  Actress Carol Channing is 97. She’s so cute. Composer Philip Glass is 81. I can listen to his music all day long. Google Philip Glass – Metamorphosis.  Actress Jessica Walter is 77. Play Misty for Me. Remember Clint Eastwood as a disc jockey and she was the obsessed fan. I had forgotten. Dang. I love this job.  Baseball Hall of Fame Nolan Ryan is 71. Rock singer Johnny Rotten is 62. Sex Pistols. Actress Minnie Driver is 48. Good Will Hunting.

Comedian Tommy Smothers is 81. I just watched the 20-year reunion show 1988-monologue. I do encourage you to Google it. Funny, I called my son and told him to watch it. It was interesting to look back at why CBS kicked them off the air. They were clean cut, ‘boys next door’ so censorship was not expected. They asked for and were given creative control in 1967. They were up against Bonanza on Sunday evening, where nine other shows had been canned because they didn’t have the ratings to compete with Bonanza.


The city of Friendswood is allowing homeowners that flooded last year along Clear Creek to rebuild at ground level, even though they will be subject to severe flooding in storms much less powerful than Harvey. City officials are using a 20-year-old flood insurance map that underestimates the risk of future floods for thousands of homes in order for approximately 300 homeowners to make repairs without going to the expense of elevating their homes. Friendswood had over 2,400 homes that had from 6” to 48” plus inches of water last year.


Keurig Green Mountain has plans to purchase Dr. Pepper Snapple for nearly $19-+—————–billion. *4an’t some things just stay the same. Several years ago, when Snapple bought out Dr. Pepper and shut down the Dublin, Texas plant, I said I wasn’t ever going to drink Dr. Pepper again. I was depressed. OK, I have cheated a few times but not often. I’m a Waco girl. I still have a couple of bottles of Dublin DP in my file cabinet. I’ll break one out when my daughter graduates from high school.


In the past, I have used this column to complain about a few things, but I’m going to repeat one complaints now because it’s meaningful…why don’t they make women’s clothing with pockets. Real pockets, not half pockets or stitched pockets where your phone falls into the toilet or on to the floor. Men would not put up with a 3” deep pocket. Yes, I got an Otter Box this time. It’s not pretty at all and I wish I had my beautiful tortoise shell back but l I can only lose my phone so many times before I must change my ways. Perhaps this will keep it dry.


Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie has signed to be an occasional contributor to ABC News. Hmmm.


Giant manta rays are being added to the threatened species list by the federal government. Last year, scientists were pleased to discover a large population of juvenile manta rays at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, the protected coral reefs about 100 miles off the coast of Galveston.


A Houston chemical container company now faces environmental charges after using a hidden storm drain to dump benzene and other highly toxic, carcinogenic and flammable liquids into waterways near homes and schools that lead to Sims Bayou and then Galveston Bay. Employees were injured as the chemicals burned through their gloves, irritated their eyes then the company refused to pay for their medical care, so they tattle-taled on them. Gee, do you think this will be good for the manta rays.


Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai have now used the same cloning technique that produced Dolly the sheep in 1996, to clone two healthy female monkeys named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua. Since Dolly, they have produced dogs, cats, pigs, cows, ponies and many, many other animals but never a primate which they think will bring them closer to replicating humans. The belief is that this will help in the research of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.


The flu season is in its third month and its no better. Continue practicing flu prevention. Wash your hands, don’t put your fingers in your mouth, eyes or nose, and stay home if you can. Flu death in Texas is 2,897 on January 27th.  The Brazoria County Health Department said the flu season started October 1 and as of January 19th, had recorded 1,946 cases. The way I understand it is, there is Flu A and Flu B. If you had one of those, you can still get the other. We have at least another month to go before it slows down.


J.J. Watt won the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for raising more than $37-million in 19 days for Harvey relief fund. He, of course, said, “It’s about so much more than just one man, it’s about a whole city.” He’s so cute and humble. The Man of The Year honors a player each year because of their charitable contributions off the field and excellence on the field. The only other Houston winner has been Warren Moon.


It’s time to prune the crepe myrtles. For those that do it correctly, it’s called pruning. For those that go to cutting and sawing with no knowledge of how to do it properly, it’s called “crepe myrder.” Please avoid the mutilation and read some instructions first. Your trees will be prettier for it and we won’t talk about you behind your back.


Kimberly-Clark, maker of Huggies, Kotex, Scott toilet tissue, Viva and other consumer products says that declining fertility rates in the US have contributed to a decline in diaper sales. The company now plans to dismiss around 5,000 people and sell or close about 10 manufacturing facilities. Amazon.com has launched its own private label brand of diapers.


My son comes home from college often to work at The Clarion but one week-end he came home, just because. He arrived after I was in bed and wanted to talk. A lot. I kept falling asleep as he spoke. He would say, “Mom, are you listening? what did I just say?” and I would repeat small, very tiny words that I pulled from the fog of my non-working brain. This went on forever. It was a lot like Chinese water torture except for people that love each other. Gage, I will do better next time. Love, Mom


Thanks for reading this.


– Lisa

What I Heard This Week! Feb. 1, 2018

What I Heard This Week February 1, 2018

What I Heard This Week by Lisa Baker

A mom turned her 14-year-old son over to police after he and his two friends carjacked an 81-year-old woman at gunpoint outside a Walmart in Florida. Surveillance video captured the three youths and then…his mom saw the video of the carjacking on the news. What a woman. I nominate her for Mom of the Year for the guts and the unbelievable love that it took to turn him in.  He will benefit for the rest of his life. When my kids were that age, I believed in the “pinching of the earlobe between two fingernails,” when discipline was needed, especially when they had embarrassed me in public. It leaves no real evidence other than pink earlobes, but it gets immediate attention. I picture that poor mom with an earlobe in hand, marching her son into the police station.


The Houston Boat Show saw an 18% increase in attendees over last year as 81,000 people shopped earlier this month, looking to replace vessels damaged by Hurricane Harvey.


United Airlines turned down one traveler’s request to bring her ‘emotional support peacock’ on a flight even though the woman said that she had purchased a second ticket for the peacock. The airlines had explained to the customer on three separate occasions that the animal did not meet guidelines including its weight and size. What about the poop?


The head of Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency has resigned and the employee who issued a ballistic missile alert to residents causing mass panic for 38 minutes earlier this month, has been terminated. As it turns out, the employee who had worked at the agency for 10 years, intentionally sent the message because he really thought the island was being attacked, but the worker had made similar mistakes twice before.


A Houston woman posted an ad in her husband’s girlfriend’s name on Craigslist ‘seeking sex from married men.’ The ad included the girlfriend’s name, age and a personal photo. Investigators traced the ad to a computer at the scorned woman’s workplace. Hmmm. In discussion with my peers, many believed that she deserves a standing ovation for creativity and sheer guts.


Mistakes are proof that you are trying.


The appraisal district took ALL my money this morning, so as I left the substation in Clute, I decided to treat myself at Dairy Bar with one of their delicious cheeseburgers. A smiling Robert (who took my order) asked if I wanted large fries and a drink with my order. I told him that I really DID want large fries, large onion rings, large milkshake and a sherbet but I would settle for just small fries and no drink. He must have seen the desperation in my eyes knowing that I had just signed over my firstborn at the tax office. He walked away from me for just a moment then turned around holding a small dish of coconut sherbet and a spoon, saying, “Here, try it.” It was so delicious – it tasted just like vacation. The next time you’re on Plantation Drive, be sure to stop and have a dish of Robert’s special sherbet. Tell him that Lisa sent you.


Hope you saw the once in a “Blue Moon” on the 31st.  Actually, it was a Super Blue Blood Moon. Even though it’s called a blue moon, the moon appears red because it is the only color on the spectrum that will make it through the Earth’s atmosphere, giving the moon a reddish glow. It won’t come again until 2037.


Helen McIntire is retiring from our office. She has been here from day one, 19 years ago. We will all miss our co-worker and our friend. If you ever need anyone to pray for you, Helen is the girl. The office won’t be the same without her. Come by on Thursday afternoon and help us wish her the best.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS:  Actor Richard Dean Anderson is 68. MacGyver. Dr. Jeff Webber in General Hospital. Rock singer Robin Zander is 65. Cheap Trick. Princess Caroline of Monaco is 61. Actress Mariska Hargitay is 54.  Actor Jerry Maren is 99. He is the last known surviving Munchkin from The Wizard of Oz. Cajun musician Doug Kershaw is 82. Louisiana Man. Olympic gold-medal gymnast Mary Lou Retton is 50.  Cartoonist Jules Feiffer is 89. He is considered the most widely read satirist in the country. Actor Scott Glenn is 79. Urban Cowboy, The Right Stuff, The Hunt for Red October.

Musician Lucinda Williams is 65. Passionate Kisses. Rock singer-musician Eddie van Halen is 63. Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres is 60. Celebrity Chef Graham Kerr is 84. The Galloping Gourmet. Singer Steve Perry is 69. Journey. Actress Linda Blair is 59. Regan in The Exorcist. Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri is 50. Actor James Cromwell is 78. The Green Mile, Space Cowboys, The Queen. Ballet Mikhail Baryshnikov is 70. Actor Alan Cumming is 53. Most recently the master of ceremonies in Cabaret on Broadway. Country singer Tracy Lawrence is 50. Sticks and Stones.

Candice Bergen, 71, will star again as the popular Murphy Brown in the CBS 2018-2019 season. The original show earned 18 trophies and tackled current political and cultural issues. Murphy Brown, a single, very successful business person, became pregnant and decided to raise her baby without the father, calling it a lifestyle choice. This prompted then VP Dan Quayle to voice his opinion about “the breakdown of family values.” She responded that families come in all shapes and sizes and that’s what really defines a family is caring and love. Yep, she was a rebel in 1988. Shoulder pads and all.


Elton John announced the ‘Farewell’ Yellow Brick Road tour will include Toyota Center Dec. 8th & 9th.


Madonna. Madonna. Madonna. Someone must not be getting all the attention that she needs at age 58. Recently, she posted an Instagram picture posing topless with a $4,000 Louis Vuitton handbag printed with the Mona Lisa and a caption that read, “Still drooling over a handbag…”. Hmmm. And what’s with the gold and diamond things on her teeth they call Grillz. Is that age appropriate or considered even the least little bit fashionable?


Taco Bell is now serving fries. They can be topped with beef, pico de Gallo, nacho cheese, sour cream, guacamole, bacon or jalapeno peppers. Dang.


The National Hurricane Center’s official report on Hurricane Harvey has been released, five months after what we hope was the only ‘once in a lifetime event’ that will rock our world. Fingers crossed. The report confirms and exceeds what we knew already. Rainfall amounts were likely even more extreme in places with levels so high that flood gauges could not capture them. The hurricane center estimates damage at between $90 to $160 billion. The storm killed at least 68 people but attributed another 35 deaths to indirect causes. “The most significant tropical cyclone rainfall event in US history.”


The Spoetzl Brewery, in Shiner, Texas, which has produced Shiner beers for more than a century, (for those of you that are math-challenged, that’s more than 100-years), announced that they will have a $1.2 million, 30-second commercial, that will air statewide during this year’s Super Bowl. I love Shiner Black Bohemian Lager. Then my second favorite is Shiner Bock. But there are 12 other selections that might do something nice for your taste buds…IPA, Holiday Cheer, Ruby Redbird, Strawberry Blond…it’s a long list. You can try them out this Sunday during The Super Bowl LII. May Justin Timberlake have no controversial costume problems this time around.

Remember, most people aren’t really all that they ‘post’ to be.


– Lisa

Much Ado About Nothing – New California

Much Ado About Nothing February 1, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Betsy Ross, get out your needle and thread, sister, because if a group of West Coasters get their way, we’re adding a star to Old Glory with the establishment of our 51st State: New California. It seems some folks over there aren’t feeling so sun-shiney about their state’s state of affairs and want a divorce. They’re not making this up just for attention, either. No, they have a hashtag on Twitter, people. This is for real!

The coastal counties from Los Angeles up just past San Francisco into Napa are getting voted off the island. According to the executive summary published on their website, “After years of over taxation, regulation, and mono party politics (There should be a comma here. That’s them, not me.) the State of California and many of it’s (Respectfully pointing out that it should be ‘its’ and not ‘it’s’. Again, not my typo.) 58 Counties have become ungovernable.” No kidding ungovernable. They need to get the grammar police sworn in immediately! You can’t run a respectable state while ignoring comma laws! It just invites anarchy!

So they’ve gone so far as to even design a flag, which is important. You can’t run the idea of a new state up the flagpole if you don’t actually have a flag. The problem with the flag, as I see it, is the big, fat LONE STAR on it! Maybe they’ve gotten so caught up in the whole secession ho-haw that they overlooked the fact that the United States already has a Lone Star State. And may I speak for all Texans both living, dead and yet unborn: Back Off There. Stick an avocado on it instead. Pay attention, that whole “Don’t Mess With Texas” isn’t a joke.

Honestly, I get it. I lived in California in the early 90’s and they’re nuts. But is ripping yourselves to pieces the answer? In Texas, 84% of us still aren’t speaking to the City of Dallas or the Texas Rangers organization after they refused to switch home-stands with the Astros during Hurricane Harvey, but we don’t cut them out of the State. El Paso is closer to Los Angeles than it is to Houston, but we don’t act like we don’t know them just because we never see them.

Work out your problems, California. If we’re going to get a new state, I think Puerto Rico may have dibs.

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Much Ado About Nothing – Blueberries

Much Ado About Nothing January 25, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

I bought a pint of fresh blueberries recently at the grocery store despite the fact that they cost more per berry than an ounce of pure silver. But, I’m trying to eat better, so what the heck. I splurged. It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed that the label on top of the container said, “I am healthy!” Wait. What? Was there a question about that? They’re blueberries not chocolate chips!

Okay, now I’m suspicious. Why would they say that? What kind of world do we live in that we can’t just trust blueberries to be what you expect them to be – healthy? I mean, if you’re really blueberries the fruit and not actually BlueBell the ice cream, then you don’t need to state the obvious, do you?

I completely understand that blueberries plus pancake batter, lots of butter and warm maple syrup might tip out of the healthy spectrum. Blueberries that are just an adjective to describe cobbler or pie justifiably don’t make the cut. And just because blueberries are part of the Red, White, and Bluebell flavor of ice cream, there’s no way you can call it healthy even if you squint and lie to yourself. But these are just plain old naked blueberries supposedly fresh out of their natural habitat wearing nothing but what God gived ‘em.

So I started reading the label more closely. Maybe there’s something there that they’re trying to distract me away from seeing. Okay, these blueberries came from Canada which rules out my suspicion that maybe they’d been imported by the Columbian drug cartel and this was an effort to keep them from being confused with kilos of cocaine. Although isn’t Canada frozen over right now? Where exactly are they growing blueberries in the snow. Again, suspicious.

All I’m going to say about this is that the cherry tomatoes grown here in Texas don’t feel the need to be defensive. And for that matter, the Oreos don’t either. You don’t see “We’re Not Healthy!” stamped all over those. No, they quietly list off their refined sugars and processed flours and preservatives in discrete small print on the back. They’re just Oreos and we accept and embrace them for just being what they are. Which, obviously, I can’t say about blueberries now.

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

What I Heard This Week! Jan. 25, 2018

What I Heard This Week January 25, 2018

What I Heard This Week by Lisa Baker

Many things are changing in Saudi Arabia. The country is getting its first movie theatres. Soon women will be allowed to drive and now 12 camels have been disqualified from this year’s “Camel Beauty Contest” because their handlers used Botox to make them more handsome for the judging. Or should this be pretty? I just couldn’t tell from the pictures. This is a perfect example of men objectifying camels again. So many questions. What about the talent competition?  Where do you inject the Botox? The face?  The hump? Must be tough to be a ‘hot’ camel these days. Especially if you are retaining water.


People are eating Tide Pods. Yes, laundry detergent wrapped in a soft, squishy dissolvable covering. It’s a viral fad called Tide Pod Challenge. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Same thing, except this is for people with less brain cells. You bite down on a pod, making sure of course, that you video yourself or get one of your stupid friends to video it for you, then you’ll need to call poison control before you post your video and see how many ‘likes’ you have. Poison Control Hotline is 1-800-222-1222. So far, in the first 15 days of this year, there were 39 reported cases of teens poisoned by the capsules. That’s seizures, respiratory arrest and even death.


Shakespeare’s scripts contained over 2200 never-before-seen words. He liked to invent words, turn nouns to verbs and use cleverly applied prefixes. Many of these words have become some of our everyday language. The top ten words I found…Addiction, Arch-villain, Assassination, Bedazzled, Belongings, Cold-blooded, Dishearten, Eventful, Eyeball, and Fashionable. If you’re bored at this point, don’t read the next ten. Half-blooded or Hot-blooded, Inaudible, Ladybird, Manager, Multitudinous (means numerous), New-fangled, Pageantry, Scuffle, Swagger, and Uncomfortable. Interesting.


When GasBuddy surveyed their customers on ratings and reviews for “who has the best gas station,” guess who won? Best Coffee? Cleanest? Customer Service?  Outdoor Lighting? BEST Restrooms? and Overall, the BEST? Do you need a hint? Well, the mascot is a beaver. Congratulations, Buc-ee’s. We didn’t need a stinking survey to tell us what we already knew.


Don’t settle: Don’t finish bad books. If you don’t like the menu, leave the restaurant. If you’re not on the right path, get off it. – Chris Brogan


Researchers have developed a non-invasive blood test that can detect signs of eight types of cancer long before any symptoms of the disease emerge. Cancer of the ovary, liver, stomach, pancreas, esophagus, colon, lung and breast can be screened all at once. Great news because ovarian, liver, stomach, pancreatic and esophageal currently have no screening tests. The research was said to have been like looking for a needle in a haystack.


Newest Kardashian and Kanye West baby is named Chicago West. She will be called Chi which is pronounced SHY. She joins Saint and North. My momma always said, “Lisa, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”


As I sat down for a recent meeting, we were notified that we had an absent board member who needed to attend his own company meeting for SwampButt Underwear. His website says Science Sweat Stink Stank and SwampButt Underwear where there are two styles and both fit snuggly with no droop. That’s what it says. Personally, I hate droopy underwear. I’m ordering a pair for my son and I’ve now done my part for local business by telling you. Pay it forward. Small businesses need your help. swampbutt.com


Elton John emotionally announced that he will retire from performing after a lengthy Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour of 300 shows over a three-year period. Rocket Man is almost 71.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Actor Hector Elizondo is 81. Former AC News anchor Diane Sawyer is 72. Golfer Jane Stephenson is 66. Actor Ralph Fiennes is 55. Actress Betty White is 96. Actor James Earl Jones is 87. The voice of Darth Vader. Talk-show host Mary Povich is 79. Actor-comedian Steve Harvey is 61. Singer Susanna Hoffs is 59. The Bangles. Actor-comedian Jim Carrey is 56. World Golf Hall of Fame Jack Nicklaus is 78. Opera singer conductor Placido Domingo is 77.

Singer Mac Davis is 76. He wrote for Elvis, “Memories, In the Ghetto, Don’t Cry Daddy, A Little Less Conversation” then in the 70s he did “Baby, Don’t Get Hooked on Me, I Believe in Music” and starred in North Dallas Forty with Nick Nolte. I always thought he was very attractive.

Basketball Hall of Fame Hakeem Olajuwon is 55. Actress Tippi Hedren is 88. The Birds. Marnie. Actress Shelley Fabares is 74. The Donna Reed Show. Former ABC newswoman Anne Compton is 71. TV chef Paula Deen is 71. Butter. Actor Desi Arnaz Jr. is 65. Yikes, Little Ricky. Dino, Desi and Billy. Actress Katey Sagal is 64. Dancer singer Chita Rivera is 84. I saw her recently singing and dancing with Tommy Tune in Galveston. You would never believe that she was almost 84.

Actress Jill Eikenberry is 71. Singer-songwriter Billy Ocean is 68. Actor-director Robby Benson is 62. Actress Geena Davis is 62. Rapper Kid Rock is 47. He just donated $122,000 from sales of merchandise promoting his potential US Senate campaign to a voter-registration organization. I guess he isn’t really running for the US Senate after all.


After 50 years on the road, 77-year-old Neil Diamond has announced that he will retire from touring after having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Recording Academy at the Grammy Awards this Sunday. I may have said this before but when I saw him in concert in Houston in the 90’s, I was amazed at the audience participation when he started singing “Sweet Caroline.” Everyone sang and danced in their seats in unison, all while waving their arms. It reminded me of the Wiggles concert that we had taken the kids to a few weeks before. Happy memories.


Twenty-five years ago, Fort Bend County’s assistant engineer had a meeting with US Army Corps of Engineer and was told that the footprint for Barker Reservoir was bigger than the land owned by the government, therefore the reservoir, while dry most of the time, could fill during a major rainstorm. He warned the county judge, county commissioners, the FB County Drainage District and the county emergency management coordinator. The land in the reservoir was sinking, therefore the houses being built were at a level lower than the water level the dams were designed to hold.  They ignored him, attacked him for writing the memo, and questioned his credentials. Around 9,000 structures were damaged during Hurricane Harvey in this area. Hmmm. He kept a copy of the memo.


“I cannot help but express the pain and shame…over the irreparable harm caused to children by church ministers. It is fair to ask for forgiveness.” Pope Francis, in an apology for sexual abuse by Catholic priests.


Ladies at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Nassau Bay take recycled plastic grocery sacks, cut them up and make ‘plarn’ which is then used to crochet sleeping mats for those that need a soft place to sleep or sit, like the homeless. They look great and I heard that there are instructions on Pinterest.


I’ve reached that age where my brain went from “you probably shouldn’t say that” to “what the hell, let’s see what happens.”


Remember all the problems that American Airlines has had with their new uniforms. Thousands of complaints from flight attendants and crew members about hives, wheezing, vertigo, headaches and other health problems. The supplier, Twin Hill, remains confident of the quality and integrity of their product and will continue to supply uniforms until its contract ends in 2020, but after that, Lands’ End will have enough uniforms ready for all 51,000 employees minus the pilots, who are still looking for a new supplier. In the meantime, airline employees can choose to wear an approved alternative.


Guinness World Records, the world’s authority on record-breaking achievements, honored Dolly Parton as the artist with the most hits on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart by a female and the most decades with a Top 20 Hit on that same chart. Dolly Parton turned 72 last week.


Almost 160 victims and Olympians that former doctor Larry Nassar abused under the guise of medical treatment, have now confronted him before the court. Kyle Stephens said, “Perhaps you have figured it out by now, but little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world…I have been coming for you for a long time.”  The former sports doctor pleaded guilty to molesting girls at his Michigan State University office, his home and at a Lansing-area gymnastic club, sometimes with a parent present. Why didn’t someone have the courage and character to come forward before now. Prison will not be good to him…inmates don’t like child predators. Good. As this paper goes to printer, he was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. The judge said, “You’ve done nothing to deserve to walk outside a prison again.”


Don’t forget the Houston Auto Show this weekend. One NRG Park. January 24-28.+


Food Thoughts: Red Lobster turns 50 and changes are coming. You can order online and there’s delivery. ‘Loaded Seaside Fries’ topped with cheese, fried clams and a ladle of hot clam chowder on top, Yucatan Shrimp, Petite Red Lobster Rolls and Shrimp Pot Stickers are just a few of the additions to the new menu. Kitchens are being redone, and Beyoncé is getting credit for increased sales from younger eaters when she used ‘Red Lobster’ twice in her 2016 song, “Formation.” Repeat after me…cheese biscuits.


McDonald’s is testing the use of fresh beef in new burger called ArchBurger. They have made several changes to their menu recently to appeal to those concerned with the ingredients in their food. No artificial preservatives in Chicken McNuggets and apple juice in the Happy Meal has less sugar. Isn’t that the way it should have been all along. Burger King introduced Double Quarter Pound King, its own version of McDonald’s quarter-pounder. McDonald’s & Burger King did not immediately return our calls seeking comment. Wink, wink. All this food talk, I’m starving.


The whole world has a packaging problem and it’s our job to encourage and help companies reduce packaging waste. Think about how much trash YOU have each week. Plastic never breaks down but ends up as very tiny particles that are eaten by animals and invades our food sources. Coca-Cola announced it wants to recycle a bottle or can for every beverage it sells by 2030 and reduce the amount of plastic it uses in bottles. McDonald’s plan to use all recycled or other environmentally friendly materials for its soda cups, Happy Meal boxes and other packaging by 2025 and they plan for all their 37,000 restaurants worldwide to recycle customer waste by that same year. This is good.


The flu season is not getting better, it’s getting worse. Hawaii is the only state that doesn’t have wide-spread illnesses. Now they are saying that you can SPREAD the flu virus just by breathing, which means that you can GET the flu the same way, just by breathing. Hold your breath.


Remember, your vibe attracts your tribe.


– Lisa

Much Ado About Nothing – Cold

Much Ado About Nothing January 18, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean CiampiTexans are good at a lot of things, and, as a result, we have an impressive ego about how universally awesome we are, especially around Houston. However, we as Texans do have one weakness: the cold. We don’t do cold or ice or sleet well at all. A few hours of fluffy snow that melts within a few hours so we can go back to our shorts and sandals is okay every nine years, but not the hard core stuff.  Cold is our kryptonite.

During this recent freeze, all Texans were like stunned sea turtles. Even the sea turtles were stunned sea turtles. Poor things had to be thawed out in warm water which probably gave them turtle soup nightmares. My nightmares, however, were caused by all the weather warnings and frenzied news channel weather people triggering off my Post Traumatic Storm Disorder. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

I noticed at least two of my neighbors had their windows open, which I thought unusual considering the sub-freezing temperatures. Then I realized they were airing out the wood smoke that had filled their houses. Don’t judge, we don’t use our fireplaces much around here, so I suppose it’s easy to forget to open the flue.

Personally, I spent the Ice-pocolypse binge watching Netflix. It was that show ‘The Crown’ about Queen Elizabeth so I rationalized that it was sort of educational and therefore not a complete waste of a day. And a night. And maybe part of the next day but whatever. It’s too cold to do anything else so, again, don’t judge.

To people living in colder climes, we just ask that you don’t laugh at us when we try to make sleet angels or google the difference between sleet and snow. Yes, we used the Whataburger gift card we got for Christmas to scrape our windows. What else do we have? Besides, Whataburger is Texas. They understand and will still accept it. And there’s no reason to smirk behind your mittens because we took three boredom naps, stress baked all the frozen fundraiser cookie dough, and cycled through all five stages of grief and loss during our one day at home for weather.

Face it, we don’t do cold, but, thankfully, winter is now probably over since it’s now 70 degrees outside again..

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

What I Heard This Week! Jan. 18, 2018

What I Heard This Week January 18, 2018

What I Heard This Week by Lisa BakerFewer than 3 percent of cars sold today in the US have stick shifts and clutch pedals. You can’t even get a stick shift in a Volkswagen Beetle. I had a 1975 chocolate brown Toyota Celica that I couldn’t quite get into reverse, so the first day I had the car, the boy that carried out my groceries had to do that for me. (That tells you how long ago it was, because no one has carried out our groceries in forever.) After that, I always pulled through to the second parking place, so I could go forward. It took me about a week to master shifting and reverse, then it was THE MOST fun car to drive. It was a 5-speed and I rolled through those gears. I’m making wistful sounds right now.


American Girl Dolls is introducing Luciana, an 18-inch doll, a creative, confident 11-year-old girl and aspiring astronaut who dreams of being the first person to go to Mars. She has skills and brains, is a good leader and team player, has STEM-inspired outfits and accessories including a flight suit, space suit and a Mars Habitat loaded with science and research tools. To insure the doll’s authenticity, they worked with female experts from NASA. Barbie. I miss playing with you in your wedding dress and putting together carboard furniture to go in your Dream House where you could live happily after with Ken. My, how times have changed.


A Louisiana teacher was ejected from a meeting room by a marshall, handcuffed on the floor and put into a patrol car when she stood up at a school board meeting and asked why the superintendent was getting a raise while educators and support staff hadn’t received a raise in 10 years. This teacher had won a teacher of the year award in 2016 and is said to be a really, good teacher and nice person. It’s all on video so there are facts. I watched it all and she should not have been arrested. Maybe there was more to the story.


A New Jersey couple were renovating their new $2-million condo, only to find that the inside of the walls, the insulation and the ceiling had been stuffed full of water bottles filled with urine. There were also containers of partially eaten Chinese food, cupcake wrappers, construction debris, and the insulation in the master bedroom was soaked in urine. The couple tried to sell the condo back to the construction company but are now suing the company. Ugh.


You saw the picture of the little boy in the hoodie that had “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” written across the front. The ad prompted some celebrities to end their partnerships with the H&M clothing line. Well, this little boy’s mom doesn’t have a problem with it and says, “(I) am the mum and this is one of hundreds of outfits my son has modeled. Stop crying wolf all the time, unnecessary issue here…get over it.” “Everyone is entitled to their opinion about this…I really don’t understand but not coz (I) am choosing not to but because it’s not my way of thinking, sorry.” OUCH. At my house, if momma is happy then everybody is happy.


Part of my children’s Christmas gift (memories instead of stuff) involved tickets to see Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium, author and science rock star. He and his enthusiasm strips down complex ideas, make jokes and suddenly you understand what a black hole is. All this is done while he is walking around on stage in his socks. He recently released “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” and it immediately went to No. 1 on the New York Times’ nonfiction best seller list. He’s a good Google.


Neil deGrasse Tyson – “Kids should be allowed to break stuff more often. That’s a consequence of exploration. Exploration is what you do when you don’t know what you’re doing.”


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Country singer Naomi Judd is 72. Singer Rod Stewart is 73. Boxing Hall of Fame and entrepreneur George Foreman is 69.  Singer Robert Earl Keen is 62. Singer Mary J. Blige is 47. Texas-born, Mexican-American rock musician Alejandro Escovedo is 67. Singer Pat Benatar is 65. Hall of Fame race car driver Bobby Rahal is 65. Folk singer Joan Baez is 77.  Rockabilly singer Roy Head is 77. Treat Her Right.

Comedian Larry Storch is 95. Ahh. Remember him on F Troop. CBS newsman Charles Osgood is 85. Singer Shirley Bassey is 81. She recorded the theme songs to Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Moonraker for the James Bond movies. Game show host Bob Eubanks is 80. Actress Yvette Mimieux is 76. Musician Robby Krieger is 72. The Doors.

Musician Stephen Stills is 73. Actress Victoria Principal is 68. Actor-Director Mel Gibson is 62. NFL quarterback Eli Manning is 37. The Amazing Kreskin is 83. He predicted that Trump would be elected 11 months before it happened. Actress Kirstie Alley is 67. Country singer Ricky Van Shelton is 66. Radio-TV personality Howard Stern is 64. Entrepreneur Jeff Bezos is 54. Amazon.com.

Rock singer Jimmy Page is 74. Led Zeppelin. Rock singer-musician Dave Matthews is 51. Singer Crystal Gayle is 67. Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue. Floor length hair. Voted one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World by People magazine in 1983. Baby sister of 84-year-old Loretta Lynn (who btw fell and broke her hip last week.)

Physicist Stephen Hawking is 76. A good quote of his (and he has some really great ones) is, “I believe alien life is quite common in the universe, although intelligent life is less so. Some say it has yet to appear on planet Earth.” Hmmm.


Ray Thomas, Moody Blues founding member and flautist, died at age 76. Thomas stepped back from the band due to ill health in 1999 and in 2014 confirmed that he had been diagnosed with inoperable but treatable prostate cancer. Nights in White Satin. The Moody Blues are to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in April.


President Oprah? Fact or Fiction or just Fantasy?


Stephen Hawking – “My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit as well as physically.” That’s good advice whether you are disabled or not.


Houston Auto Show, January 24-28, at NRG Center and presented by The Houston Chronicle.


In Southern California at a private residence, authorities found 13 siblings, ages 2 to 29 years old, all malnourished, in filthy conditions and some chained to furniture, after one of the children, a 17-year-old, jumped out a window, called 911 and led police to the home. The child that escaped was so small that police thought she was 10-years-old. The mother and father are being held on $9-million bail.


Mahatma Gandhi – “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”


The LJ Civic Center Ballroom will be the location of the annual Daddy-Daughter Dance this year. February 9th and it always sells out so get your tickets soon. Tickets are not sold at the door.


Actually, this was a really boring week. I struggled to find something interesting to tell you. I will do better next week.


Dr. Seuss – “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

 


– Lisa

What I Heard This Week! Jan. 11, 2018

What I Heard This Week January 11, 2018

What I Heard This Week by Lisa BakerDoctors believed that surgery was needed for a 41-year old woman that had not responded to six years of standard treatment for Crohn’s, which is a very serious bowel disease. Surgery finally found the problem, two small foreign objects that had pierced and inflamed the woman’s intestine. Both pieces of plastic had the word ‘Heinz’ written on them. The woman said she had no memory of eating ketchup packages and is relieved that she no longer has any symptoms of Crohn’s.


The Dow Jones industrial average hit 25,000 for the first time, just 23-days after it hit 24,000 – the fastest 1,000-point gain in the Dow’s 122-year history. It was just one year ago that it hit 20,000. Did you get that???


Country singer Mickey Gilley is recovering after the car that his son was driving collided with another vehicle and rolled 3 times. They were on their way to Branson where Gilley owns a theatre where he regularly performs but says he will be back on stage as scheduled in just a few days. His cousins are Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart. The famous club in Pasadena, gained fame in the 80’s with Urban Cowboy and was billed as the “World’s Biggest Honky Tonk.”


San Francisco was hit by magnitude 4.4 earthquake last week. Fires, earthquakes and now landslides. The rain turned the scorched landscape into mud and then flash flooding.


Bradley Cooper makes his directorial debut and stars in a remake of the classic, “A Star is Born,” along with Lady Gaga. It was first done in 1937 with Janet Gaynor as the aspiring Hollywood actress and Fredric March as the fading movie star who helps launch her career. Then in 1954, Judy Garland and James Mason starred in a very well received production. In 1976, Barbara Streisand and Kris Kristofferson starred in the third remake. I loved this one, but Rotten Tomatoes only gives it a 31%. But then again, I love Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand. This fourth remake will be released in May 2018.


Pho Saigon Vietnamese Noodle House is opening a new restaurant in Pearland in the Kirby Commons shopping center. My kids and I discovered their original Midtown location years ago on a wet, cold, rainy afternoon stuck away in a shopping center that we didn’t really like the looks of, but we went in anyway. We continue to drop in because their Pho is outstanding.


The 2018 RodeoHouston lineup includes Garth Brooks (opening), Little Big Town, Blake Shelton, Leon Bridges, Kelsea Ballerini, Alessia Cara, Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Chris Young, Cody Johnson, Calibre 50, Zac Brown Band, J Balvin, OneRepublic, Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Brad Paisley and Garth Brooks (closing.) I’m in for Leon Bridges.


I’m so hot. I’m so cold. Just months ago, inmates of Texas prisons complained that the heat-sensitive needed AC. Some of them got it. Now there are multiple complaints of unheated and under-heated units at around two-dozen prisons. Officials say that all heating units are working. It’s a Goldilocks world.


Researchers at University of Colorado say that injecting wastewater from oil and gas production back underground causes enough increase in underground pressure to make rock formations slip along fault lines, therefore creating human-caused quakes along the Colorado-New Mexico border.


Barnes & Noble sales had a bad sales quarter because they say that in the same quarter (2016) a year ago, “Harry Potter and The Cursed Child” was released and there wasn’t a similar hot seller released in the same quarter of 2017. Buy and read a book.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Country singer Patty Loveless is 61. Rock singer Michael Stipe is 58. R.E.M. TV host Jack Hanna is 71. Remember Johnny Carson episodes with animals?  Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. is 50. Model Christy Turlington is 49. Actor Taye Diggs is 47. Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale is 90. Actor Robert Duvall is 87. Actress Diane Keaton is 72. Rocker singer Marilyn Manson is 49. Rock singer-musician Country Joe McDonald is 76. Woodstock. Country Joe and the Fish. Yikes, that’s a long time ago. Rapper GrandMaster Flash is 60. I love it when rappers turn 60. Rock musician Andy Summers is 75. The Police.

Actor Sir Ben Kingsley is 74. Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg is 71. Actress Bebe Neuwirth is 59. Dr. Lilith Sternin who married Dr. Frasier Crane in Cheers. Actor Val Kilmer is 58. Author Nicholas Sparks is 52. Olympic gold-medal gymnast Gabby Douglas is 22. Singer Kenny Loggins is 70. Nitty Gritty Dirt Bank, Loggins and Messina, Blue Sky Riders. Actor David Caruso is 62. Talk-show host-reporter Katie Couric is 61. Actor Nicholas Cage is 54.


Actress Rose Marie, best know for her role as a wisecracking comedy writer on The Dick Van Dyke Show died at age 94. She believed that female comedians today think that being funny means you use four-letter words for shock value and that’s just not funny.

Sue Grafton, bestselling author of her alphabet detective mysteries, died at the age of 77. She started with “A Is for Alibi,” in 1982 and continued through “Y is for Yesterday,” released August 2017. Her last book, “Z is for Zero,” was set for release in the fall of 2019, but her husband says that she hadn’t started writing it because of her chemotherapy treatments, so it seems that it’s a 25-letter alphabet and Investigator Kinsey Millhone has retired. Grafton was always adamant that her books would never be turned into movies or TV shows. I’ve read them all. She will be missed.

Astronaut John Young, the first man to make six trips to space and to walk on the moon, died at age 87.

Jerry Van Dyke, comic actor and younger brother of Dick Van Dyke, died at the age of 86.


The Starplex Cinemas in Brazos Mall in Lake Jackson had 20 to 30 gallons of water dumped into the theatre after the sprinkler system was activated. First responders and fire fighters from LJ and Clute determined that there was no fire and after viewing surveillance cameras it was determined that a young man had thrown something at the fire sprinklers on the ceiling. I heard it was a coin. When I discussed this with my son, I stated that I would have “torn him up” if he had ever done anything like that. His reply was, “It would have been hard for me to do that because you would never let us go to the mall by ourselves because you said the mall is not a babysitter.” Hmmm. They weren’t happy with me when I told them ‘no’ but they both agree now that the mall is not the place to be dropped off with no supervision. They listened.


American Cancer Society says that studies have shown that taller people have a greater risk of cancer. Shhh.


John Williams has composed music for more than 100 films including all seven Star Wars, Superman, Home Alone,, The Book Thief, Schlindler’s List, E.T., Jaws, Jurassic Park, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Indiana Jones, the first three Harry Potter films and tons more. Part of my children’s Christmas gift this year (working on the idea of creating memories instead of buying stuff) were Houston Symphony tickets to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets film with live orchestra and a choir.  It was three hours of pure pleasure. The Butterbeer wasn’t spectacular but it was still cold Butterbeer.


For those of you that haven’t read Harry Potter, Butterbeer was a popular wizarding beverage described as tasting “a little like less-sickly butterscotch.” It was served at numerous locations in the wizarding world and had a very slight alcoholic content. Students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would often buy it when visiting Hogsmeade. I found a recipe online that has sweetened condensed milk, butterscotch topping, whipped butter, and vanilla cream soda. I don’t feel the need to try, but you might want to.


The good thing about science is that it’s true, whether or not you believe in it. Neil deGrasse Tyson


The official name is Eclectic Menagerie Park and I know that you have seen it off to the left as you race towards Houston on 288. The Rubenstein Family and Texas Pipe and Supply has created a very untraditional park with huge handmade metal sculptures. Let’s face it. Welders are artists. There is the armadillo, dinosaur, gorilla, the little red truck caught on a fishing pole, eagle, three art cows, roadrunner, planes, and more. It’s a great place to take pictures. 288 and Belfort.


New Year’s is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.” Mark Twain


The 86-acre Bayou Wildlife Zoo in Galveston Co. has been owned and operated by Clint Wolston since 1985. He’s loved and raised a white rhino named Pee Wee, zebras, a zonkey (there was some hanky-panky between the donkey and a zebra but I’m not naming names), kangaroos, ring-tailed lemurs, ostriches, emus, giraffes, camels and currently, 500 other animals. The place is for sale because Mr. Wolston is almost 81-years-old and wants to relax with his wife. The park had 90,000 visitors last year and includes two miles of trails, 15 lakes and ponds, native trees and 3,500 feet of waterfront on Dickinson Bayou. Years ago, I remember visiting with my kids and riding the tram through the grounds with the animals practically sitting on our laps. Mr. Walston just wants someone qualified to continue the magic for the next generation. Oh, and $6-million allows you this little bit of heaven.


Momma Mia II, the sequel, Here We Go Again, is due to release July 20th, 2018 and rumor is that Cher has a part.


DeeDee Bridgewater is an American jazz singer. She is a three-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, as well as a Tony Award-winning stage actress. For 23 years, she was the host of National Public Radio’s syndicated radio show JazzSet with DeeDee Bridgewater. She sang with Ray Charles and she is now coming to The Clarion on January 20th. Don’t say that I didn’t let you know in time to get your tickets. Box Office 979-230-3156.


I thought I saw a spider, but it was just a piece of yarn. It’s dead yarn now.


Hoda Kotb – “I think the whole money thing for me, I’ve always been sort of – I know it sounds ridiculous that I’m going to say this, but I really have done jobs I liked for the job I liked because I never wanted to be happy every other Friday on pay day,” Kotb said. “Like, I didn’t want that to be the happy day. I wanted to feel good throughout. So, no, I’m not making Matt Lauer money. Not even close.” Meanwhile “Today” has thrived in the ratings since pervy Matt Lauer was dismissed for sexual misconduct. There are some thoughts that perhaps a lot of viewers could see his true colors.


If you stumble, make it part of the dance. Lisa

 


– Lisa

Much Ado About Nothing – Space Trash

Much Ado About Nothing January 11, 2018

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

Attention People of Earth! It’s like this: remember that 9.4-ton unmanned space station that China launched, oh, way back when? No? Well, it’s going to be crashing into Earth sometime in the next couple of months. While nothing can ruin your day quite like being obliterated by space debris with a “Made in China” tag on it, the chances that you’ll take a direct hit from the Tiangong-1 are about “a million times less than your odds for winning the Powerball jackpot,” according to experts. And let’s face it, your odds on that one are less than NONE ever, so maybe hold off on panicking.

However, Aerospace Corporation reports that “It’s hard to pinpoint where the station or its parts will fall, but it’s anticipated to land” along a line that includes multiple states in the U.S. from northern California to Pennsylvania. Texas is out of the line of fire, so the important national treasures — Whataburger and the 2017 World Champion Astros — are all safe.

Now, I’m just going to throw this out there, but maybe the Chinese should have Googled “Skylab” before they got all giddy over this whole launch-things-into-space business. They would have discovered that in 1979 we were all watching the skies for America’s monster manned orbiter to drop on us like Dorothy’s house in “The Wizard of Oz.” Not since a wayward meteor knocked out all the dinosaurs had so many been terrorized by the possibility of a close encounter with space junk. Yet, here we go again and, wouldn’t you know, all our insurance policies for unplanned injuries, death, or dismemberment caused by projectiles re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere have expired.

While maybe we don’t need to run around like Henny Penny worrying that the sky is falling, scientists are still warning that “highly” toxic hydrazine from the 34-foot long space station could survive re-entry. Yeah, so don’t touch unknown substances on the ground and avoid inhaling fumes. Which is pretty much just good advice regardless and should go without saying.

In other space news, a man in France is raising money to erect a statue to memorialize the first and only cat in space. And we wonder why they cancelled funding for the space program.

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Much Ado About Nothing – Crabbiness

Much Ado About Nothing January 4, 2018

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

If you have a verifiable emergency, call 9-1-1. Indicators that you might have an emergency are the presence of more blood than can be contained in an average sized Band-aide; firearms being used inside a building that isn’t a gun range; and fire where fire shouldn’t be. All those things constitute a call to 9-1-1. Problems with your dinner do not make that list unless your dinner is obstructing your airway. Otherwise, talk to the restaurant manager. Don’t call the police Nelson Agosto, age 51 of Stuart, Florida.

It seems Mr. Agosto didn’t understand this and called 9-1-1 TWICE from Crabby’s Seafood Shack to complain about the size of his clams. He told the dispatcher that he had “ordered something and it was extremely so small.”

I’m in no way affiliated with any law enforcement organization, but I’ve watched lots of real-crime TV shows and on none of them did SWAT stand for Seafood Weight Assessment Team. So calling 9-1-1 and expecting the SWAT team to rush out in full riot gear and throw gas canisters into the kitchen at Crabby’s Seafood Shack to smoke out larger clams was misguided for sure. I’m going to also step out on a limb here and wager that the even the Navy SEALS, who by the very name of the organization may seem like reasonable allies, are also going to register a big, fat negatory on their scale of concern over Mr. Agosto’s clam size.

The sad thing is that the waiter told the guy before he ordered that the clams were small. When they actually showed up small and he complained, the restaurant gave him an additional free order. He still called 9-1-1. Well, sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for, because the Stuart, Florida PD rolled a cruiser and responded to the call. And arrested Mr. Agosto. He’ll do the perp walk for misuse of 9-1-1. Maybe he’ll get charged for being an idiot in a No Idiot Zone. If that’s not a thing, it should be.

A couple of lessons to take away from this: Don’t go getting crabby at Crabby’s. If you do, don’t be shellfish with emergency public services. And if you’ve got problems with undersized clams, just cross your legs, shut your mouth and keep this problem to yourself.

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

What I Heard This Week! Jan. 4, 2018

What I Heard This Week January 4, 2018

What I Heard This Week by Lisa BakerThey ordered their pizza 5 minutes before the New Year and when it arrived they firmly stated, “Wait, we ordered this pizza a year ago.” 😊


Reliable, smart, compassionate Hoda Kobt has officially replaced Matt Lauer on “Today” and the former (fired) newsman sent her a congratulations text. Whoopee. I don’t know why it would make the news. That was nice, but I don’t think that too many people really cares what he thinks.


Magnolia Market owners, Joanna and Chip Gaines, are expecting their 5th child and we are told that it is the result of a romantic Johnny Swim concert last October. We all wish the Gaines lived next door.


New Year’s Day now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” Mark Twain


A couple were on their first date. He is a well-known Houston attorney. She is…hmm, a “well-known” date. He claims she was drunk, he called an Uber to pick her up, but she refused to leave. She did stick around and destroy $1-million worth of artwork which included several oil paintings (two Andy Warhol valued at $500,000 each) and two sculptures, then poured wine on three paintings and tore a Renoir and a Monet off the wall. Ouch. The young lady was released on $30,000 bond. That’s exactly why I stick with posters. They’re easier to replace when the drunks tear them off the walls.


In February, the first DNA genetic-based dating app, Pheramor, will be launched. It will combine genetic information with data from social media posts to create user profiles. The Houston-based mobile dating app will use cheek swabs to analyze users’ pheromones, which research suggests could predict who is attracted to whom. According to Wikipedia, a pheromone is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species …that affect behavior or physiology. The word was first proposed in 1959 with researchers reporting the identification of the first pheromone in silk moths.


Dating apps are big business these days. According to eHarmony.com, 53 percent of people lie on dating profiles. See above.


They have been best friends for 60 years…since sixth grade; diving, and playing first-string HS football together. In Hawaii, two men have just discovered that they have the same biological mother, so they are not only best friends, but brothers. Both are retired, plan to do some traveling together and said it was the best Christmas present ever. Thanks, Ancestry.com.


Learn to park with manners, I’m not a sardine.


In Moscow, a 65-year-old woman was blown off a 4th floor balcony in heavy winds, broke her arm and three ribs landing in a snowdrift, was then taken to the hospital in the bucket of a construction truck because the ambulance couldn’t reach her in the snow. I like to close my eyes sometimes and picture these stories I tell you. This one made me laugh.


In Rome, police arrested a topless protestor after she tried to remove the baby Jesus from the Vatican’s nativity scene…with the statue of the mother of Jesus looking on, in what I picture would be silent amazement. My eyes are closed on this one too. Oh, my.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Mouseketeer Tommy Cole is 76. He is an Emmy winning makeup artist as well as former actor. Musician Walter “Wolfman” Washington is 74. Singer Jimmy Buffett is 71. Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 69. Actress Sissy Spacek is 68. Carrie. Academy award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter. And she has been married to the same guy since 1974. Singer Annie Lennox is 63. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is 46. News correspondent Cokie Roberts is 74. Humorist David Sedrais is 61. Rock musician Lars Ulrich is 54. Metallica. Actor Jared Leto is 46. Actor Kit Harington is 31. Game of Thrones.

Actress Susan Lucci is 71. All My Children. Rock singer Eddie Vedder is 53. Pearl Jam. Actor Mike Lookinland is 57. He was the youngest brother Bobby Brady on The Brady Bunch. Actress Jennifer Beals is 54. Flashdance. Model Tyson Beckford is 47. He was named the greatest male model of all time by Vogue Magazine in 2014. Host John Walsh is 72. Criminal investigator, human rights & victim rights advocate, and host/creator, of America’s Most Wanted. Walsh is known for his anti-crime activism, with which he became involved following the murder of his son, Adam, in 1981; in 2008, the late serial killer Ottis Toole was named as the killer of Walsh’s son.

Author Mary Higgins Clark is 90. I love her books. Considered to be The Queen of Suspense. Designer Kate Spade is 55. Singer Ricky Martin is 46. Author Stephenie Meyer is 44. Twilight. Best-selling author of 2008 (29 million) and 2009 (26.5 million.) That’s a lot of vampires. Actor-director Woody Allen is 82. Actress-singer Bette Midler is 72. Actor Treat Williams is 66. Hair. Musician-actor John Densmore is 73. The Doors.


Bruce McCandless, the first NASA astronaut to float untethered in space, died at 80. He said, “I wanted to say something similar to Neil Armstrong when he landed on the moon, so I said, ‘It may have been a small step for Neil, but it’s a heck of a big leap for me.’ That loosened the tension a bit.” He logged more than 312 hours in space.


January is a very special “moon” month. This month’s first full Moon, the full Wolf Moon, was rising on January 1. What a great way to start the year. A second full Moon, the Blue Moon rises on the 31st and brings the year’s only eclipse for North America just before dawn. Its total phase can be seen from west of the Mississippi and in western Canada. Both of January’s full Moons are Super Moons.


Moon Folklore: A bright first Moon promises rain and a bountiful harvest; a red-tinted Moon means a dry year. A growing Moon and a flowing tide are lucky times to marry. A halo around the Moon predicts wet or stormy weather


At the end of the day faith is a funny thing. It turns up when you don’t really expect it. It’s like one day you realize that the fairy tale may be slightly different than you dreamed. The castle, well, it may not be a castle. And it’s not so important, happy ever after, just that its happy right now. See, once in a while, once in a blue moon, people will surprise you and once in a while people may even take your breath away. – Meredith Grey


According to BabyCenter, the most popular baby girl names of 2017 were: #1 Sophia aka Sofia, Olivia, Emma, Ava, Isabella, Mia, Aria, Riley, Zoe, Amelia, Layla, Charlotte, Aubrey, Lily, Chloe, Harper, Evelyn, Adalyn, Emily and #20, Abigail. And the most popular baby boy names of 2017 were: #1 Jackson aka Jaxon, Liam, Noah, Aiden, Lucas, Caden, Grayson, Mason, Elijah, Logan, Oliver, Ethan, Jayden, Muhammad, Carter, Michael, Sebastian, Alexander, Jacob and #20 Benjamin.


What happens in the Artic doesn’t stay in the Artic, it affects the rest of the planet. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, permafrost in the Artic is thawing faster than ever, water is warming, and sea ice is melting at the fastest pace seen in 1,500 years. Because of the many buildings, roads and pipelines that are built on frozen land, thawing could make them vulnerable when the ground melts and shifts.


Per-ma-frost (noun) 1. A thick subsurface layer of soil that remains frozen throughout the year, occurring mainly in polar regions.


Iceland’s parliament has presented a bill that would require public and private businesses with 25 or more employees to prove through audits and certification that equal pay for men and women is provided or they will face fines, in what will be the first such requirement in the world.


The oldest tree on the White House lawn is a magnolia that is now too old and badly damaged to remain in place. According to specialists from the National Arboretum, a large portion of the tree was removed last week. According to folklore, Andrew Jackson brought the seedling to Washington because a magnolia was a favorite tree of his wife who died just days after he was elected. Hoover held Cabinet meetings there, Roosevelt spoke to Winston Churchill in its shade, Nixon walked past the tree as he left the White House for the last time and for decades, the magnolia was featured on the back of the $20 bill. Wood from the magnolia will be preserved and hopefully, a seedling will be available for replanting in the same area.


Think Prince, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Jan Gaston (my best friend in HS who had a purple car and a purple bedroom) and Connie Rhodes (the sweet smiling face that you meet when you walk in the front door of The Source Weekly.) What do they all have in common? They love the color, purple. Pantone just announced its 2018 Color of the Year is Pantone 18-3838, also known at Ultra Violet.


We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.Stephen Hawking


As an iPhone owner, I wasn’t happy to find out that Apple issued software updates that deliberately “slowed down older-model phones so aging batteries lasted longer.” Huh? I don’t believe the aging part.  But, I dropped my phone so many times, it turned black and blue so there was no real need for a new battery. If you have a slow problem, install Battery Life, a free app that tells you how much capacity your battery still has or for more detail, try Lirum Info app (free or $2.99.)


The Paris-Texas Bakery on 288-B is quite a treat.  Anne-Elisabeth and I met there for breakfast this morning. On my first visit I had feasted on the avocado toast and a chocolate-almond croissant. Both were big winners. Today, we both ordered the sausage & cheddar quiche (it’s a huge slice with the most delicious smoke flavor) and the almond croissant (no chocolate.) There was nothing left on our plates. We drank our coffee and watched them roll out and cut cinnamon rolls, all while making the most of the Christmas break. Life is good.


A stay-at-home mother of five boys, opened her electric bill to find she was being charged over $284-billion. That’s dollars. She knew that her outside Christmas lights or Christmas tree wouldn’t have made that much difference. As it turned out, it was just a mistake from the electric company.


A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other – Anonymous


– Lisa

What I Heard This Week! Dec. 28, 2017

What I Heard This Week December 28, 2017

What I Heard This Week by Lisa BakerMy list of New Year’s resolutions. Here’s the first: (1) Stop procrastinating so much. I’ll post the rest tomorrow or maybe the day after.


House for Sale that once belonged to Rockets Hakeem Olajuwon. 7,271-square-feet for $595,000, includes four-bedrooms, six full baths, two half baths (can you imagine cleaning eight toilets), pool & spa, waterfall, outdoor kitchen, gym, office, wine cellar, game room, media room and small basketball court. I would have said, YES, immediately, but the teeny-tiny basketball court just won’t work for me and the wine room isn’t even stocked. Sigh. Former next-door neighbor was “Mattress Mack.


My New Year’s resolution is to simply remember to write 2018 instead of 2017 as the date.


The kids and I have Broadway Series tickets. It was their joint birthday gifts this past year, so we could secure tickets for Hamilton and because we really like Broadway shows. So, we have seen some shows that we likely would not have purchased tickets for if we hadn’t had the package. Last month it was Escape to Margaritaville, a musical of Jimmy Buffett. We were like, um, not excited but willing to take a chance. I should have known it was going to be a great evening when I found myself sitting in an Adirondack chair next to a giant beach ball, drinking a Hendricks and tonic with extra lime while looking at a strange mix of theatre people dressed in Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops. I was definitely overdressed. The Jimmy Buffett lead was played by Paul Alexander Nolan who we had seen in Jesus Christ Superstar in New York, an unbelievably talented guy who did a remarkable job on the Buffett songs. It was an outstanding show and at the end, Jimmy Buffet, in the flesh, came out and sang for us. They released a slew of beach balls and confetti cannons were shot. We stood in line at the stage door for autographs and I realized then, that Jimmy Buffett is short.  Gage and I are now newly converted Parrot Heads. This was a trial run show so in the spring, they head straight to Broadway.


New Year’s Eve, where ‘auld acquaintance be forgot,” unless, of course, those tests come back positive.” Jay Leno


It’s incomprehensible that someone could do this to a child. A mother has been ordered to undergo intensive psychotherapy for the next five years because she lied about her young son having cancer and sought unnecessary treatment for him including powerful pain drugs like Oxycodone and methadone. She raised money through a GoFundMe, shaved his head, eyebrows and told people that he had a brain tumor and that “some of the best oncologists” were treating the child.  She convinced her husband (what the heck!), doctors (come on, how long did they go to school) and family members that she, herself, was a doctor. Because she is aware of her deceptions, she is not considered to be mentally ill. Arghhh. We are creating a society of selfie-taking, egotistical, self-centered, human beings. She was given a five-year probation sentence (not even close to enough), the maximum under the law and if she violates probation, she faces three years in prison. (Maybe she will violate probation.)


Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.” Bill Vaughan


A former top Volkswagen official in the US, Oliver Schmidt, was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the automaker’s cheating on diesel emissions tests. This has cost VW more than $20-billion in fines and settlements.


My New Year’s resolution is to stop hanging out with people who ask me about my New Year’s resolutions.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Rapper Jay-Z is 48.  Actress Diane Ladd is 82. Director Joel Coen is 63. Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O’ Brother, Where Art Thou? Comedian Howie Mandel is 62. Actor Andrew McCarthy is 55. St. Elmo’s Fire, Pretty in Pink, Weekend at Bernie’s and was a member of the Brat Pack in the 80’s. Actress Liv Ullmann is 79. CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl is 76. Rocker Billy Gibbons is 68. Rocker Keith Richards is 74. Director Steven Spielberg is 71. Actor Brad Pitt is 54. Actress Katie Holmes is 39.

Actor-comedian Dick Van Dyke is 92. He’s the best. Singer Ted Nugent is 69. Actor Steve Buscemi is 60. He always seems to play the evil guy in the movies, but he is also the voice of Randall Boggs in Monsters. Inc. Actor Jamie Foxx is 50. Singer Taylor Swift is 28. Pope Francis is 81. Rock singer-musician Art Neville is 80. Actor Christopher Plummer is 88. Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music and he recently replaced the scandal-plagued Kevin Spacey who was playing J. Paul Getty in “All the Money in the World,” and has since received a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor for this role.


Last Saturday, I took my daughter and her friend to downtown Alvin for a rockets class Christmas party, so while she was socializing, I visited Froberg’s Farm. First, I hit the fried pies for a pumpkin, a strawberry (that turned out to be apricot) and a pecan. They were hot, so I forced myself to eat the pecan pie before I even started shopping. I had to. Then I bagged loads of huge green onions, radishes, mustard greens (99 cents a bunch – cooked them with bacon), curly kale (99 cents a bunch – cooked them with orange juice), and turnips, red beets & cabbage that I roasted with olive oil and lemon pepper. A feast. Wait, let’s get back to Froberg’s. Then, I hauled my two-vegetable laden recycled bags over to Greak’s Smokehouse next door and added stuffed bell peppers and a package of pork chops thick enough for stuffing, along with (pay attention here) a bacon-wrapped, cream cheese stuffed, pork loin that was just perfect. There is no way to describe how yummy it was. It was quite a nice hour at Froberg’s. Don’t forget to check out the Peach Street Farmers Market Saturday mornings in Angleton.


New Year’s Resolution I’m going to lose weight, I’m going to exercise every day. I’m going to go on a diet and stick to it…Is that cake?


An unexpected surge of donations recently has allowed the Houston Firefighters Foundation to donate $52,000, enough for two additional swift water rescue boats for The Houston Fire Department. As we all know they struggled along with thousands of other volunteers to rescue stranded residents during Harvey.


Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah Winfrey


Cardinal Bernard Law, disgraced former archbishop, died at 86. Although never accused of abuse himself, he covered up years of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston by transferring sexually abusive priests to other parishes to protect them and the status of the church. The movie “Spotlight” was based on this story. He resigned in 2002 to take a job with the church in Rome.


My daughter and I watched “The Keepers,” last week on Netflix. It is a true-crime tale that was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Documentary Series 2017. Great show. Sister Cathy Cesnik was 26 and a beloved teacher at Baltimore’s Archbishop Keough HS when she was murdered in 1969. Fifty years later, students explain what was really happening at the school. There were seven shockingly brutal episodes.


Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.” Benjamin Franklin           Happy New Year’s my friends…Lisa


– Lisa

Much Ado About Nothing – Resolutions

Much Ado About Nothing December 28, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

If you’re scrambling at the last minute to get your New Year’s resolution lined up and are considering just falling back on a trusted standard like kicking that two 12-pack a day Mountain Dew habit, just stop. It’s a new year, it’s time for new resolutions. Forget the “lose weight,” “eat vegetables,” and “be a better human” choices. We all know no one is going to do any of those and, if they do, no one wants to hear about it. Let’s be more creative.

This year give up using plastic bags you don’t need. Shocking, I know, but it’s time to eliminate the urban tumbleweeds already. I honestly believe you can muscle two bananas and a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to the car without a plastic bag. Give it a try. If you need additional assistance, get someone to help you out to your car, but skip the bag.

If you want a real challenge this year, something that will push you beyond where you think you can go, resolve to use your turn signal. Not just when there’s a state trooper behind you, but all the time. Changing lanes? Use your signal. Turning left? Use your signal. Right turn? You got it: signal. This is an advanced resolution, so keep the plastic bag thing as an option if you think this is too much. Most people do.

You can resolve to return your shopping cart to the cart corral. Don’t just leave it in a parking space or on the stripes next to the handicapped spot. Putting it in front of another parked car is not cool. Neither is hooking the wheels over the curb of the grass around the light poles. You pushed the cart all over the store, surely you can push it another 30 feet and put it in the corral. You can do it. I believe in you.

If these are overly daunting, go for the guaranteed win. Resolve to not talk on your phone in public bathrooms. Don’t wear pajama pants outside the house. Stand up against unnecessary use of cilantro (by the way, all cilantro is unnecessary). Smile more than you snarl. And what the heck, eat more vegetables and be a better human.

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

Much Ado About Nothing – Blood Donor

Much Ado About Nothing December 21, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

Christmas shopping recently quickly reminded me that this is truly the season to be bled dry. From your MasterCard, checking, savings, 401K, and your children’s college funds should all be liquidated, right? But until you’ve really opened a vein, you haven’t been bled for Christmas. This Christmas give the real gift: The Gift of Life. This is the time of year to resolve to stop being a baby and be a blood donor!

Trust me, there’s no bigger needle-phobic than me. I’d rather be dipped in honey and rolled in fire ants than be stuck with a needle for any reason. But when you consider that surviving a tiny stick in the arm may be the difference in someone just surviving, it’s kind of hard to be a conscientious objector to donating blood. So suck it up, Sunshine, and roll up your sleeve already.

Sure, there are those who have the “Get Out of Donating Free” card. If you take certain medications, have Mad Cow disease, recently tattooed the name of your favorite elementary school teacher anywhere on your body and punctuated it with random piercings, or partaken in a short list of activities that don’t need to be discussed here, then you’re off the hook. The rest of you need to be the next in line at the donor coach.

If just doing the right thing to save the life of someone in need of blood isn’t enough, consider this: they give you free stuff in exchange for a bag o’ blood. A significant portion of my weekend wardrobe is made up of free donor t-shirts. Plus, you get cookies! And I’m almost sure but don’t Google it or anything, I think that all the calories in the cookies you eat after donating blood are null and void. Calories consumed while performing any type of life-saving activity just don’t count. It’s only fair and reasonable, right?

The holidays are a tough time for the Red Cross to keep the blood available for those who need it. People get caught up in finding just the right Chia Pet for the office gift exchange and forget to donate or they’re sick or out of town or whatever. So this season we all have to do our part. What better gift can you give than the gift of life?

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

What! Dec. 21, 2017

What I Heard This Week December 21, 2017

Another human foot has washed ashore in Canada. That makes thirteen (13) feet attached to sports shoes, that have been found in this area since 2007. This most recent one was a tibia and fibula attached to a left human foot with a white ankle sock in a black running shoe. These feet have their own Wikipedia page and a map showing where all the feet were found. eww. One theory is shoe technology. More and more sports shoes are using air pockets or light foam which make them much more buoyant. One article said, “Notice there are no feet washing ashore in stiletto heels or flip flops.”


Onomatopoeia: is a word that imitates a natural sound. Boo, chomp, crunch, eek, huh, sniff, eek, giggle…just to name a few.


This was on Facebook. I found it to be very true especially with the recent cold weather. Why I prefer Summer over Winter. “When you get in a hot car, the a/c begins to work immediately. When you get in a cold car, the heat doesn’t start working until you get where you need to go.” Yep.


Ocean’s Eleven starred George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Elliot Gould, Bernie Mac, Matt Damon, Carl Reiner, Casey Affleck and was a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film starring Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop. It is one of my favorite movies. Then came Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen. I love them all. Now, there’s going to be Ocean’s Eight, starring Sandra Bullock, Anne Hathaway, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter, Awkwafina and Sarah Paulson.  (What a group, but what happened to Julia Roberts?) Sandra Bullock stars as Debbie Ocean, the ex-con sister of Danny Ocean (Clooney & Sinatra). The heist goes down at the annual Met Gala. Is it called Ocean’s Eight because it will take only 8 women to ‘kick the same patootie’ it took 11 guys? Release date is June 8, 2018. I’m ready.


Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity at University of Houston has been suspended until 2023 because of abusing pledges during a three-day ritual last year that left one with a lacerated spleen. The indictment says that one pledge was forced to roll in vomit, spit and feces and had to go without food, drink and sleep during the three-day period. He was tackled in the dark by fraternity members and was later hospitalized. Sorry, folks, but five years is not enough time. Hazing is unacceptable just as bad behavior is unacceptable.


He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.” Roy L. Smith


To keep up with Amazon, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. will change their legal name to Walmart Inc. in February. Walmart wants to be your ‘everything’ just like Amazon and I bet if they take the dash out, this will work. Right. You know, keeping up with the Jones…the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s.


Which reminds me. Remember the show in the 70’s called Alias Smith and Jones. Their outlaw names were Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, two of the most wanted and most successful outlaws in the history of the West, good-looking (and I mean, REALLY good-looking), popular with everyone except the trains and bankers, and with all their robbing and stealing, they had never shot anyone. The two of them decided that they wanted out of the bank and train robbing business, so as the show evolved, it was the story of the two of them trying to stay out of trouble until the Governor felt that they had earned and deserved amnesty. Sally Field played Clementine Hale and Susan Saint James was Miss Porter.


Daily Specials. Did you know that on Whiskey Wednesday at The Fill Station (new Brian’s BBQ) in downtown LJ you can get ½ price whiskey flights? And at Happy Hour (3-6pm) you can get a beer and chopped beef sandwich for $7.


RECENT BIRTHDAYS: Actor-comedian Tim Conway is 84. Just thinking of him makes me smile. Actor Don Johnson is 68. Miami Vice and white suits. Singer Lulu is 69. Think of “To Sir with Love.” Comedian-actress Rosanne Barr is 65. Actress Kate Capshaw is 64. She met her husband, Steven Spielberg, working on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Rock singer Ozzy Osbourne is 69. Actress Daryl Hannah is 57.  ‘Splash.’ Actress Julianne Moore is 57. Impressionist Rich Little is 79. “The man of a thousand voices.” Singer Tina Turner is 78. What’s Love Got to Do With It, We Don’t Need Another Hero, Proud Mary, Private Dancer…

Pop musician John McVie is 72. John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Fleetwood Mac.  Actress Kathryn Crosby Is 84. The daughter of a West Columbia, Texas schoolteacher and politician, she went to Hollywood as a beauty contest winner and onetime queen of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Actor economist Ben Stein is 73. Footwear designer Manolo Blahnik is 75. TV Host Bill Nye is 62. Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Actress Cathy Lee Crosby is 73. Wonder Woman in 1974. Broadcast journalist Stone Phillips is 63. He was born in Texas City. Pop singer Britney Spears is 36.  Actor Jeff Bridges is 68. Actress Patricia Wettig is 66. Thirtysomething.


Several months back when I was trying to assist us (you & me), on our journey to become way cooler people than we really are, I explained the Danish term ‘hygge’ (hue-ugh) which translates to ‘coziness’ in English, but recently the word has been used more to describe a sought-after lifestyle. So, today your new hip, trendy word is ‘lagom’ which is Swedish and is defined as not too little, not too much, just right. You know, like Goldilocks. This too, is a lifestyle or way of living, with suggestions of reducing your environmental impact on the world…making life easier, more enjoyable and less expensive by being frugal, fair and creating balance. Pay attention because you are going to hear this word again. Lagom. It will be named on shampoo bottles, candles, sandwich meat and paint colors as everyone jumps on this fad. OK, maybe not sandwich meat but you know what I’m saying.


Good news for many…Pfizer, maker of the little blue ($65 a single pill) Viagra, will now have a little competition when Teva Pharmaceuticals launches their own little white impotence pill. No word on what the cost is but Pfizer has decided to make its own generic version of Viagra and sell it for half the price. Good grief.


A Saudi prince was the mystery buyer of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “Salvator Mundi” which brought $450.3-million at auction last month. Hmmm. Where will it end up.


A LAW WENT INTO EFFECT in Texas on September 1, 2017, that allows estate executors, guardians and trustees to gain access to the digital assets of those who die. It could include photos, digital music library, emails and credit card loyalty points. It could be a domain name (toys.com just sold for $5-million) but you will need to leave written instructions in a will or trust. So, if you have any embarrassing information with your “digital assets” you better make provisions quick.


This one is sick. A Wisconsin man was sentenced to federal prison after he was caught in a Houston undercover sting where he believed he was meeting a Houston mother at a hotel to have sex with her four-year-old child. I’m not telling you ‘all’ the ugly, just enough to gently remind you that there are some people in this world that we need to protect our kids from. Sigh.


Which is worse? Pitching a hissy fit or pitching a conniption fit? I guess it just depends on what part of Texas you are from.


The Houston Zoo welcomed Hasani, a three-year-old African lion that came from the Oregon Zoo. Since the zoo carnivores eat more than 36,000 pounds of meat annually, they would love it if you would help them with an end-of-year ‘Gift of Grub’ contribution. In fact, they have quite a few new mouths to feed with so many new baby animals…two baby Masai giraffes, a baby California sea lion, a baby Asian elephant, two baby Red River hogs, and two baby jaguars.


Personal story: First, I’m going to set this up by telling you that I’m allergic to cats. My daughter and I, along with a few employees, were up at The Source Weekly office one day during the catastrophic Harvey weeks. As we came in through the back door, Anne-Elisabeth heard a very faint meow. I ignored her plea of, “Mom. Please. Kittens. Listen,” and went to work. An hour or so later, in the rain, 7 of us ended up rescuing 3, three-week old kittens that were surrounded by water underneath our deck. Kay’s husband had to come up with his electric drill to help us remove boards from the deck to get those babies out. They were so very tiny, cold, dehydrated, wet and almost dead. We dried them off, kept them warm, then an hour later as we left, we saw (gasp) two more babies underneath the generator behind State Farm. OMG. Five kittens. We took them to the Gaspard’s house (which is kitty city,) drained Orren and Margaret of information, bottles and all sorts of kitty things. That evening, the SPCA kindly provided milk and droppers. They were fed every 2 hours. We lost 3 of the kittens over the next 24 hours which was pure agony that I can never forget, so we were very determined that the last two males were going to live. And my, how they have lived. We now have Winnie who was Winston until the vet found girl parts.  She has the most beautiful eyes and has the looks of a Blue Russian, is a very healthy eater, moves so gracefully and is full of love. You only have to say her name and her motor just rumbles in utter contentment. Then there is Sully (Sullivan) who was also supposed to be a male but, alas, wasn’t. Sully has a mild case of gender identity disorder (what would you do if everyone told you that you were a boy for the first 6 weeks of your life then decided you were a girl – talk about confusion), she is believed to be the runt of the litter, has soft little white stripes on her belly, might have selective hearing, can jump to the top of the shower door and is the sweetest most affectionate little ball of fur that you have ever seen. We don’t think she knows how to meow because instead, she chirps like a bird. They know yum-yum (food), nite-nite (they run to their sleeping box) and treats (self-explanatory.) Oh, and Mr. Strawberry, their favorite toy. My son, Gage, who is also allergic to cats, says that our house has an unbelievable amount of love in it now. What I am trying to tell you is that there are a ton of the cutest, sweetest puppies and kittens just looking for new parents at the SPCA. It breaks my heart to go over there and see animals just begging to have you touch them. If you had asked me 6-months ago if I was going to have two cats… absolutely, NOT.  There was no way.  But it sure has been fun. Expensive, yes. But who needs to be able to send their kids to college!


CVS Health, the second-largest US drugstore chain announced plans to buy Aetna, the third-largest health insurer, in a $69-billion deal. This merger could change the health care by lowering prescription costs. Something’s got to give. We can’t keep on like it is.


Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) St. Luke’s Health System and Dignity Health said they agreed to merge operations, creating what could become one of the largest not-for-profit US hospital systems. The new system would have 139 hospitals in 28 states and employ 159,000 people.


A Utah man fled from police, then hid from them in a church’s boiler room, only to have to call 911 six hours later to be rescued because he had accidently locked himself in and couldn’t get out.


Merry CHRISTmas, my friends. Remember that when you quit believing in Santa, you get underwear.


– Lisa

Holiday Tips

Much Ado About Nothing December 14, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

Yes, the holiday season is here. Stop looking so surprised, overwhelmed and freaked out. It shows up same time every year, and the stores have been throwing up warning signs since mid-August. Yet here we are with panic rising in our throats. Not to worry, oh festive elf! I’ve got some fool-proof pointers that will make this year as smooth as eggnog (as long as the eggnog is 85% bourbon and fool-proof actually means 90-proof).

Tip #1: Do all your holiday shopping online late at night. Everything looks better and affordable online late at night. Sure, blurry-eyed exhaustion may cloud your better financial judgement, but you can cut back other places later. Think of what you’ll save in heating costs by burning your unopened credit card statements in the fireplace!

Tip #2: Go gift cards! Invited to the wedding of an old boyfriend once, I took a nice Macy’s gift card. Just the gift card. I didn’t actually put any money on it. Which I hope made for a horribly awkward situation for the lucky bride and groom later, but he didn’t invite me to his subsequent weddings. See how that’s a win? So stuff those stockings with empty gift cards. You come off looking like Santa himself and there’s zero guilt when they get lost later.

Tip #3: Don’t overthink your holiday dinner. Make a Chef Boyardee pizza kit crust into the shape of a Christmas tree and “decorate” it with pepperonis, post it on Pinterest, and look forlorn if anyone mentions turkey. If your family still insists on squelching your inner creative diva, lock yourself in your room – at least until the dishes are done.

Tip #4: Know now that anyone who tells you Christmas cookies aren’t breakfast food is not your friend. Those people are toxic and you don’t need them in your life. You need Christmas cookies in your life. Freeze a few. You’ll need them in February, too.

Last Tip: Remember the Holiday Serenity Prayer. God grant me the serenity to accept the presents I cannot exchange, the courage to exchange the things I can, and the wisdom to save the receipts. From my family to yours, have a wonderful and blessed Christmas season and year to come!

You can also find “Much Ado About Nothing” online at www.thewriterjean.com.

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