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Jean Ciampi for Commissioner Major League Baseball

Much Ado About Nothing October 12, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

I love baseball, from t-ball to Little League to college ball to the pros. Of course, with the Houston Astros in the post-season play-offs, lots of people are loving baseball. But I even love baseball when the Astros can’t buy a win against the Iowa School for the Blind’s practice team. It is only as a result of this deep abiding love that I point out that there are some glaring, fundamental problems going on in the sport, problems I will straighten out when I become the next Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Okay, blah blah that there’s not an opening right now, but I fully expect to get the call to the bullpen to take over when word of my sweeping reforms and improvements gets out.

First order of business will be making the pitchers in the American League bat. No more of this silly designated hitter ho-haw. There is no reason why the pitcher can’t step up to the plate and hack away like the rest of the team. If you don’t want to be embarrassed that you can’t hit, take lessons or look for another job. This is, after all, BASEball where the objective is to run the bases. It’s not PITCHball. I’m sorry, Carlos Beltran, it’s not that we don’t love you, Sweetie. Remember, you’ve got a fine career ahead of you in coaching

Next up to bat will be a dress code. I’m not going to nit-pick the small things like whether the pants are worn down to the cleats or pulled up to the knees, but I think it’s important the players look professional on the field at all times. That means no more of that long hair everywhere. Cameron Maybin, this means you. You’re a great addition to the team, and we’d like to keep you. But there’s only a spot there for you because we got rid of Colby Rasmus this year, most likely because he wouldn’t get a good clarifying shampoo and a haircut. As commissioner, I say get a cut or get cut! If they aren’t going to let girls play, then the boys who do play can’t look like girls.

Now, if you need me, I’ll be here with my peanuts and cold beer waiting for the next first pitch and my call up to top of the big leagues! Let’s play ball!

Bless Your Heart

Much Ado About Nothing October 5, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

It’s only my opinion, but the world seems to be just one bad hair day away from a complete meltdown. Mix together the pack of rabid hurricanes, earthquakes in Mexico, fires in the Northwest, volcanos in Bali with stupid, senseless shootings and bickering over religion (which includes football because that kind of is a religion) and we’re a hot mess. Maybe if we all agree to quit saying, “It could be worse,” then the universe would quit saying “Hold my beer.” It’s a small step, but it could be a start.

Besides, telling someone it could be worse is really just another way of saying “stop your belly aching.” Not that this isn’t a valid directive. In the Whiner Olympics, we’ve got real gold medal promise in the individual and team events. But, too, it is a bit insensitive and not very nice to invalidate whatever challenges someone is facing. Since we’re a society of no one having their feelings hurt, let’s not say that anymore.

Try saying “Bless your heart” instead. A solid southern principle which is basically the same idea, but it sounds better. And nobody can add hurt feelings to their mound of problems if you’ve blessed their heart.

To be honest, suffering is actually not a competitive sport despite how a lot of people seem to approach it. Yes, there are people who are worse off and there are those in much better shape. It’s not about the glass being half full or half empty; it’s about what’s actually in the glass. A glass completely full to running over with contaminated storm water is not better than a glass barely half full of spendable cash, Jamaican rum, or Godiva dark chocolate chips.

I think, too, we’d have a much better world if we could all collectively agree to stop praying for patience. Maybe then God will stop answering that prayer with opportunities to learn patience. Honestly, I don’t have to pray for those lessons, because they just keep presenting themselves completely unbidden. Despite the fact that prayers for patience, tolerance and diplomacy never leave my lips, I am overrun with chances to practice them and most often fail miserably – especially on the diplomacy part. Which is why I’m the first one to say “It could be worse” to someone so they’ll stop their belly aching, bless their heart.

Clean College Sheets

Much Ado About Nothing September 28, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

After nearly two months of living in his college dorm room, my youngest son proudly sent me a text message (because you know college kids can’t actually dial a phone and talk on it, they text), and he proudly declared that he had actually washed his sheets … for the first time. As a mother with at least a marginal sense of parental responsibility, I wasn’t sure if I should be overwhelmed with a sense of “Where oh where did I go wrong” or actually proud that I got this text in September and not March.

I try to place it on a scale of what are normal ranges for college freshman. On one end of the spectrum, I know his roommate is still living out of the suitcase he showed up with. At least my kid has his clothes on hangars. Okay, they were on hangars when I left him at the beginning of the semester, so in my mind, they’re on hangars. Just give me this delusion, will you? On the other end, there are the dorm dwellers with beds that would make a military drill sergeant misty-eyed. Of course, those are the kids who also have mothers driving to campus regularly to pick up laundry and drop off lunch. (I can’t even type that idea without cringing.) I guess that makes him pretty normal.

I’m reasonably certain that he has done laundry since he’s been gone despite the failure to include the bed sheets… reasonably certain, but not wholly positive. Which is why, a few weeks in, I sent a care package with socks and underwear, just in case. He’s probably too old for CPS to take him into custody for parental neglect, but, at the same time, I try to keep up appearances of being a good mother.

So I sent a reply to his text asking if he’d also gotten the sheets back onto the bed. And he had. I mean, to clarify, they were piled up on the bed with the rest of the laundry, so that sort of counts. I’m not sure if the bed was ever actually made again, and, honestly, I didn’t pursue it past there. As a parent, you have to chalk the wins when you can and let go of the rest. He has clean sheets – I’m a happy mom.

Goodbye Buster

Much Ado About Nothing September 21, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

“Whoever said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend, didn’t have a dog.” I’m terribly sad to say that, after over 14 years, my best friend has gone to roll in greener grass. Buster, the rare African Spotted Yard Wolf, who has, on occasion, been the guest columnist here, trotted across the Rainbow Bridge this week. (Don’t bother Googling African Spotted Yard Wolves. He was so rare, he was the only one. Actually, he was some kind of polka dotted mixed breed, but we never wanted to hurt his self-esteem by calling him a mutt.)

Buster joined our family the summer before my youngest son started Kindergarten, the same son who left just a few weeks ago to start college. Back then, I had boldly taken old towels and rugs to donate to the Brazoria County SPCA. But instead of coming back home with a nice tax receipt, I came back with the same old towels and rugs plus a puppy. You seriously have to wonder if they don’t teach those SPCA volunteers some kind of subliminal mind control techniques that convince you that you need a pet, a spay/neuter package, and a bag of Puppy Chow. More likely, I’m just a sucker for a fuzzy face and a waggley tail.

He taught my young sons important lessons about care-giving, unconditional love, responsibility, respect, and the importance of picking up dog poop before you push the mower. Lessons they will carry with them always.

Buster lead a full life, more so after he recovered from his squirrel mania. For a period, he was so neurotic over the squirrels in our yard, we couldn’t even say the word. Unfortunately, the dyslexic son couldn’t spell it, so they just became S-Q-U-earls. He traveled internationally, lived in Saudi Arabia, and regularly got more fan mail for this column than I have in the entire 8 years I’ve written it. To be honest, I think if we had a funeral service for him, he’d have more people show up than would turn out for mine. He will be sorely missed.

Will Rogers said, “If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”  My goal now is to try to be the person Buster always thought I was, so that maybe they’ll let me in there, too.

Harvey

Much Ado About Nothing September 14, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

Yup, I drew the short straw and, obviously, the short elevation. During Hurricane Harvey, my house flooded. My house flooded with water, friends, strangers, dust, spiders, bleach, fans, dehumidifiers, power tools, a handful of tears, swear words that won’t be repeated here, and on the rare occasion, a contractor (although they didn’t usually show up on time, stick around or follow through, so I don’t really count them). Mostly, during Hurricane Harvey, I was flooded in blessings.

From the friend who made me laugh into the wee hours of the storm because he’d turned the Emergency Alert System warnings into a drinking game to the one who, for days, sent me encouragement from the safety of a landlocked, Union-sympathizing state well away from the storm surge, we never felt alone. My next door neighbors spent six hours in the middle of the night bailing out the sinking ship that my house had become then swam home with pruned feet and aching backs to sleep it off, then joined the army that had shown up with the sun to cut out drywall. We’ve been blessed with great people.

About midway through the zombie hurricane that just wouldn’t die, my roof decided to finally pursue its lifelong ambition to be a screen door. Yes, my roof leaked, but I wasn’t air-lifted off of it, so there’s that blessing. I can’t get an adjuster up there, but I’ve got a tarp. And if you’re blessed with a tarp, you can go a long time without an adjuster.

I’ve been able to cancel my gym membership since I’m now on the “Body by Harvey” tone up plan. Who needs free weights when you have a pry bar, a sledge hammer, and small mountain of wet carpet, hardwood flooring and drywall to carry to the curb? I’ll use the money I save on the gym to buy hot dogs and marshmallows for when I light up that bonfire I’ve built in my driveway.

I was blessed because my neighborhood Whataburger was back open after only a day or so. The dehumidifiers dried out my house while making my hair look great. I haven’t seen a single snake. Yet.

And my motto throughout this whole ordeal has been, “Every day without tetanus is a good day.” I’m having a string of those so far. So, yes, I’m blessed.

Sharks, Toasters & Cows

Much Ado About Nothing August 24, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

I’m a certified scuba diver and have been for more than 25 years. But when I mentioned to a friend I was planning a spring dive trip, she immediately reacted in terror that I’d be eaten by sharks. While there is an identified group of people who would be happy to see me eaten by sharks, I’m afraid it isn’t likely. I’m at greater risk from toasters, paper cuts and cows.

Honestly, my odds are better in a school of hammerheads (which are credited with munching zero people and even fewer divers last year) than adding toast to my BLT. Toaster deaths in the US alone were up 7%. In 2007, there were more toaster related fatalities than deaths from polio. According to Dr. Kevin Willie, self-proclaimed statistical genius, “At the steep rate that toaster deaths are increasing, the entire human race may soon be wiped out.” So skip investing in most of your extended warranties, because it sounds like your Sunbeam multi-slice toaster will make them irrelevant.

Those who survive the toaster apocalypse may only meet an untimely end delivered by a grass-chomping, milk-making bovine of death. Twenty-two people die each year in unprovoked cow killings. Of those, 75% were deliberate – may I say premeditated – attacks and just fewer than 20% were gang activity. Yes, multiple cows in a group, working together. Personally, I feel I should eat a cheeseburger in retribution and as a show of outraged solidarity for these senseless deaths.

I’d gladly write a letter to my elected government officials about these problems, except I would run the risk of a paper cut. On average, 10 people die from complications related to paper cuts every year. The best way to avoid becoming one of these victims is to join the modern electronic age and go paperless. However, if you find yourself around sharp paper, remain calm. Paper can smell fear.

Of course, sharks can smell fear and paper cuts. Nevertheless, only one person in the US last year was killed in a shark attack. Although I’m not sure attack is the right word. It seemed completely accidental, and the shark apologized in a written statement to the media. Visibility was low, the swimmer got his leg stuck in the shark’s mouth, it was all just an unfortunate mix-up. Obviously not true about the cows, and you simply can’t trust a toaster now.

Extreme Midget Wrestling

Much Ado About Nothing August 17, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

When Extreme Midget Wrestling shows up near you, I’m sorry, but you just drop everything, change your plans, miss your parent’s anniversary dinner, and give away your tickets to whatever is on the stage at Houston Grand Opera so you can go. How many times in your lifetime are you presented with the exciting opportunity to be ringside for midgets in masks wrestling each other? From personal experience, I’m going to say maybe one, if you’re lucky, and that really may be plenty.

Before anyone gets frosty about the word “midgets,” just don’t. There’s enough hate in the world right now, and I am not going to add to it with this. I’m going strictly off their publicity: Extreme Midget Wrestling. It did not say Extreme Little People Wrestling or Extreme Person of Short Stature Wrestling. Or I would have used that. So just stop before you start.

Recently, I’m pleased to say, I was able to cross this off my bucket list without actually knowing that it was ever on my bucket list. In a poorly air conditioned space in a mostly empty mall in Texas City, I stood in line with one of my best buds hoping and praying that we could still get a standing room only ticket for the event for $25. If there were concerns about the stability of my mental state for jumping on this crazy idea, then paying $25 for it pretty much clears up those doubts.

I’m not even going into what they were charging for beer. Trust me, though, beer is pretty much a requirement with midget wrestling. You could almost get by without actually having the midgets or the wrestling, but if you don’t have the beer, you’ll lose 98% of the audience for an event like this.

So it had what one would expect from Extreme Midget Wrestling. Midgets launching off the ropes to land on other midgets on the mat. Midgets smacking each other in the face with trash can lids and yellow “Caution: Wet Floor” signs that I think they found at the mall. There were midgets in tights and capes and one wore a chicken mask thing. The midget referee would count the “knock-out” to about two before there was a miraculous recovery and Cinderella victory. Those who went ahead to the opera, probably had the same stuff without the beer.

NASA Help Wanted

Much Ado About Nothing August 10, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

NASA has a “Help Wanted” ad out there looking for a Planetary Protection Officer. I’m guessing the potential candidate will have 3-5 years applicable experience and be willing to relocate. With a salary that tops out around $187K, there’s naturally been a flood of applicants. I’m honestly thinking of applying myself, because if Bruce Willis or Will Smith don’t get the job, I’m the perfect candidate and a shoo-in.

I’m actually updating my resume now to indicate my experience with alien beings that speak an indecipherable language, are prone to unexpected fits of destruction, emit strange odors, and exhibit unpredictable behavior. Oh yes, I’ve raised teenagers. Honestly, any mother who has carried a baby for nine months can relate at some level to the whole alien possession thing ala Sigourney Weaver in “Alien” and the entire “Attack of the Body Snatchers” series. Others need not apply.

According to Dr. James L. Green, Director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, the job is all about protecting Earth from nasty little foreign microbes that come back on space samples and keeping the Solar System from getting Earth cooties. Breaking it down into laymen’s terms: cleaning woman. Again, who is better qualified than a mom of boys? No one that’s who.

I’ve battled flu germs, strep germs, and germs that cause rashes, fevers, hives, snot, intestinal explosions and whining. There is no microbe that will escape the mother who cannot have the whole house go down and certainly doesn’t have time to be sick herself. I’ve beat down head lice, chiggers, poison ivy, heat chafe and whatever it is that makes boys stink. So let’s just start with “All astronauts wash your hands before coming in the kitchen and use a tissue to wipe your nose!” From there, I think, we can manage the rest.

So right after I finish crafting my cover letter, I’ll pull together my references which include two young men who, under my protection, survived all kinds of microbes and those alien years that lasted through most of junior high and high school. They’ll vouch for the fact that you’re better to think twice than tangle with a mom on a mission. I don’t care what planet you come from.

Lost Cat

Much Ado About Nothing August 3, 2017

Buster Ciampi

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

Filling in this week for Jean Ciampi who thinks it’s too stinkin’ hot to work is Guest Columnist Buster. A distinguished and grateful alumni of the Brazoria County SPCA, Buster currently advocates for animal rights (with the exclusion of squirrels because he believes they get exactly what they deserve).

Recently, I was out patrolling the neighborhood as any good and respectable dog does, sniffing mailboxes, trees, bushes. You know, checking the pee mail. That’s when I saw that someone had stuck a paper on a pole with the picture of a lost cat and the ridiculous claim of a $500 reward. My first thought was that this cat must have swallowed an expensive pair of diamond earrings before it ran away. Because unless the cat is actually a dog, there’s no cat worth that!

Who would pay $500 to have a cat given back? Just speaking from the dog’s perspective, I’d pay twice that for someone to load up a whole litter of cats and haul them off. But that’s just me and I’m a dog. Besides, why would you want a cat that, at best, has zero sense of loyalty and, at worst, has a miserable sense of direction? I’m thinking this cat got fed up with that family and moved in with someone on the other side of the neighborhood that has a bigger food bowl. Face it, that’s how cats are.

Of course, there’s a family that’s obviously upset. No one wants to see a helpless animal suffer – even if that helpless animal is a human. Unfortunately, there are just misguided people who actually prefer cats to having a dog. Yes, that’s stupid and those people should have their trash dumped over and strewn across their front yard to mark them as stupid. But regardless of that, this family, sadly, has an attachment to the cat that probably hasn’t thought about them even once. Because, well, that’s how cats are.

The kindest thing to do in this situation, in my humble dog opinion, would be to gently let these caring though confused people know that, for a mere fraction of that reward, they could adopt a really nice, loyal dog who would be smart enough not to run away and be their lifelong best friend. It may just be time to puppy up!

I Don’t Care Restaurant

Much Ado About Nothing July 27, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

I have brilliant friends. I mean the kind of friends who can solve for X, read Mandarin Chinese, who invent the internet, and can refreeze the polar ice caps with only the power of their minds. But blah blah all that. Who cares about any of that, because my most brilliant friend is the one who told me she’s opening a restaurant and calling it “I Don’t Care. You Pick.” Brilliant, I tell you! Where do you want to go eat? “I Don’t Care. You Pick.” Okay! Let’s go there! It happens a million times a day all over the world. She’ll be rich on the franchise rights alone.

Her new endeavor will likely put a few competitors out of business. The We Always Go There Diner probably won’t last long. I don’t hold out much hope for the We Ate There Last Time Cafe, the That One’s Too Far Grill, or the We Always Go There Taco Shack and Burger Barn. But that’s free enterprise in action, right?

Oh wait, though! Her brilliance doesn’t stop there. Oh no! Then she started telling me about her menu. House specials will include the What’s-In-That Platter, made fresh daily with every possible known food allergen. Substitutions on that one will, of course, be extra. Steaks will always be served twice. The first one will be a dummy steak that will immediately be returned to the kitchen to be recooked “the right way.” Then every meal can be finished off with the Just-a-Small-Piece pie that is the highlight of her Bring Two Forks dessert list.

Kids can choose from the “You Liked It Last Time,” the popular “You Can Pick It Off,” and the “At Least Try It.” The most finicky junior diner, however, might enjoy a large helping of the “It Is Not Yucky.” Each entrée will either be served on plates large enough to push the food around or just thrown directly onto the floor.

Sure there are plenty of problems that plague mankind, but none so grievous as the “What’s for dinner” and “Where do you want to eat” question combo. It’s that one-two sucker punch at the end of the day that puts you on the mat every time. Now finally, someone has found the answer and it just seems so obvious. Why didn’t someone think of it before?

Walmart Donkey

Much Ado About Nothing July 20, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

There are people who shop at Walmart and then there are “The People of Walmart.” Anyone who needs a brisket, motor oil, bath towels, fertilizer, and hydrogen peroxide but only wants to make one stop and get low prices is simply a person who shops at Walmart. People who buy those things then post videos on social media involving all those items and the corresponding police intervention are likely “People of Walmart.”

The woman in Brownwood, Texas who rode a donkey into the Walmart there is definitely in the People of Walmart category. It doesn’t matter what she was there to purchase, she was riding a donkey. I wasn’t actually at the Walmart to witness the alleged donkey debacle, but it was on the internet, so it has to be true. Therefore it’s my job as a responsible journalist (hahaha) to report on it.

Interestingly, according to the reports, the woman already had several parole violations when authorities arrested and charged her with a DUI. Wow, drunk? Really? Didn’t see that coming! I question, though, whether Driving Under the Influence includes operating a farm animal for vehicular transportation. Maybe she got busted for the Donkey Under the Influence. It says that animal control took the donkey back to wherever he came from, but didn’t mention if he smelled like 190 proof Everclear or if he could pass a field sobriety test. Maybe the donkey is the real perpetrator and the poor woman is just an unwilling participant. … Nah, probably not.

In this poor, intoxicated woman’s defense, it’s not like she was riding the donkey into a Spec’s liquor store which would have really made it hard to defend her in court. Plus, she’s probably not the first person to show her ass in Walmart. Most people, however, usually leave them in a trailer in the parking lot or at least tied up to one of the shopping cart racks. I mean, this is Texas and those things do happen. And, too, she was wearing more than just flesh-colored thong underwear and Saran Wrap, so she’s ahead of the game on some of the other People of Walmart. Maybe she can get credit for that at her hearing. Because the donkey doesn’t seem to have any priors, I hope he gets community service and sobers up.

Evil!

Much Ado About Nothing July 6, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

There is evil in the world. You don’t have to look too far to find it, actually. I only had to go as far as my own garage. All this time that I’ve been in love with my car (and I do love my car), it’s been quietly festering a hatred for me. And maybe it’s not the entire car that hates me, but for sure the GPS has a desire to see me dead. Recently, it came pretty close to getting its wish!

One night last week I went to a meeting near downtown Houston. I plugged the address into my GPS, believing naively that I’d take the most direct route to my destination. My GPS, however, thought we’d take some crazy joy ride through some weird side streets and loop around through a few neighborhoods before we got to the destination. Since I definitely had somewhere to be, I thought this wasn’t really the time for a nasty confrontation with my car, so I bit my tongue and followed directions.

That was my first mistake. My car now realized what a mushy pushover I could be. When I come out of this meeting, it’s late and dark. I tell the GPS to take me home because I’ve gotten so turned around getting to this place that I’m not completely sure how to get back out. That was my second mistake.

My GPS, hell-bent on taking me down the Trail of Transportation Terror, sends me through parts of Houston that only a truck-mounted automatic assault rifle would make me feel good in. The GPS told me to turn on streets I’d passed two blocks before, to go the wrong way on one-way streets, and to turn onto streets that didn’t even exist. My car had decided I’d suddenly developed a crystal meth habit and needed a dealer, that it was time to make a few bucks “the hard way,” or it just wanted me dead. Those were the only possible reasons it was doing this to me.

I finally made it home in one piece, and I’ve managed to forgive my car. We all have those moments when we go off the grid. But I’m smarter now. Not only do I own a paper map, but I can read it and fold it. Take that GPS! Now who wins?

I’m Dead!

Much Ado About Nothing June 29, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing by Jan CiampiIt’s all fun and games until you show up dead. Trust me, I know. You can only imagine my understandable surprise and concern to discover that, sadly, Jean Ciampi passed away January 9, 2015. If you think it’s funny, go Google search yourself and see if you missed your own funeral by two and a half years. If someone had actually notified me of my untimely demise, I would have possibly attended the event, signed the guest book, and tried to piece together what exactly happened that I turned up dead in Ventnor, New Jersey.

What was yet even more alarming was to then discover that since the time of my unfortunate passing, I’ve still been voting a consistent Republican ticket in Florida. I’ve always said, “Vote early and vote often,” so I’ll stand by that. But for the sake of clarity, I vote issues not party lines – even from the grave.

Of course, this then led me to check Facebook to find out what else I didn’t know about myself. For a split second, I thought I’d become a Spanish-speaking male gymnast managing a Tommy Hilfiger in Venezuela – and not at all bad looking, if I can say that. Obviously, at least in that case, wires have just gotten crossed somewhere causing confusion. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve never spoken Spanish beyond ordering a beer and finding a bathroom.

So back to the George H. Wimberg Funeral Home in Linwood, New Jersey (I’m guessing that’s somewhere near Ventnor. If you’re from New Jersey, feel free to jump in here.) I’m scanning through my obituary and seeing a couple of things that need correction. For example, they got my age wrong. I’m not, despite all appearances, 87-years old. They also got all the names of my family members wrong. But I guess they did go astray on that one critical detail that I’m not actually dead, so I shouldn’t be surprised that they missed the mark on those things, too.

Regardless of all that, from the condolences left online at the funeral home’s website, I see how much people really do appreciate my cooking and baking. I hate that it’s taken this for me to find out, but still good to know. And the indications are that I’m a pretty okay person. Or at least I was. May I rest in peace.

Judgement

Much Ado About Nothing June 22, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

I don’t know why so many people waste their time judging others based on stupid, superficial things like the melanin levels of their skin, their stand on a power greater than themselves or how they cast their ballot. I could care less how well you wear the color orange, what you do on Sunday morning or if you wrote in Mickey Mouse to be governor of Idaho. However, I believe there are real points that separate us all into one category or another.

A friend of mine recently stated that he judged people by how well they navigated the self-check lanes. Yup. That’s valid. We’ve only had about 20 years of watching the demonstration. Where do you go that there hasn’t been a cashier scanning your stuff? It’s not that difficult to replicate the process on your own, especially with the disembodied voice telling you to “place the item in the bagging area.” But, if you can’t get it, and I’m trying hard to accept and love you even with your short-comings, please use the cashiers but try to pay attention next time.

Straight up, I’ll judge you based on your opinion about the designated hitter. There’s something fundamentally wrong with anyone who thinks the pitcher should have a free pass with the bat in a game where the point is to hit the ball to get on base. That’s why it’s called baseball and not Pitcher’s Mound Ball. It just makes zero sense. You’d never have a rule in football that you couldn’t tackle the quarterback. If the pitcher was that precious, there wouldn’t be a whole bullpen full of replacements! Be forewarned that when I’m the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, that mess is going to get cleaned up. American League pitchers might want to start taking batting practice now.

And, I’m not ashamed to admit, I’m probably going to judge you on whether or not you have a library card. How do you not have a library card? They’re free. Then you get to read books that are free. There are movies, too, if you can’t force yourself to read a book. (Force yourself to read a book anyway.) Get a library card!

Of course, there are good people and then there are cilantro eaters. You’re one or the other. And honestly, the other stuff I can probably get past.

Slippery Slope to Luby’s

Much Ado About Nothing June 15, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

I had never eaten at a Cracker Barrel restaurant until this past week. But, too, I’m also the person who never watched an episode of “Dallas” – probably for the same reasons. It took less than 34 seconds to realize exactly why I would probably never go back to Cracker Barrel again any time soon: I don’t ever want to be that old. When you suddenly find yourself eating at Cracker Barrel just know you are on a slippery slope to the Luby’s buffet and a full-care nursing home.

Straight up, Cracker Barrel is basically a senior citizen theme park. Those rocking chairs on the porch are just age-appropriate thrill rides. Think rollercoasters for people over 65. Stopping at Cracker Barrel for dinner is not unlike going on a fall foliage bus tour without having to get up the steps of the bus or obtain a medical release from the six medical specialists who currently file on your insurance. At the end of the day, you still get to eat with a huge group of other old folks then exit through the gift shop.

Oh yes, the gift shop. Where else can you get unlimited refills on your ice tea, purchase a cotton/poly blend quilt for $79.99, and pick up a complete collection of Tony Bennett’s greatest hits on CD? Not since the old Stuckey’s sold those weird pecan roll things has there been such a flurry of excitement in the retail world.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the food wasn’t good at Cracker Barrel. In their defense, there was no blue Jell-O on the menu. You still have to wait to progress into your Luby’s stage of decline to get that. I will warn you, though, that this is not the place to go if having your food touch each other is going to trigger you. I spent most of my meal digging the green beans out from under the mashed potatoes. This wasn’t a problem for me, but I know this can cause PTSD in others.

The greater concern for me was if I was given an automatic membership into AARP with my meal. I’m not sure I’m quite ready for that (regardless of my eligibility). Nor am I willing to purchase shoes with Velcro closures. Sorry, Cracker Barrel, but give me another 20 years and I’ll be back.

Parenting Advice

Much Ado About Nothing June 8, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

As I have just recently graduated my last child out of public schools with no interaction with CPS, the court system, or Federal Law Enforcement Officials, I feel I have credibility to pass along advice to parents coming along behind me. While I believe that half the fun of parenting is discovering new and better ways to screw up your kids and ruin their lives, these are tips to keep them from screwing up yours.

Big Parenting Mistake #1: Teaching your children to mow the yard. Do this and you’re setting yourself up for disaster. After a couple of summers, you’ll be fat and lazy sitting on the porch with an ice cold watching them work like rented mules. Next thing you know, they’ll graduate from high school and go to college, leaving your much older, fatter, lazier self alone to push the mower. Don’t think you’ll pay the neighbor kids to mow because you’re paying college tuition, so you can’t afford those things.

Do not let your children learn to drive. Driver’s training is Big Parenting Mistake #2. Sure, those first few times they run to the store for you on their own is great, but then they start realizing they have freedom. This is a dangerous thing in a child. Suddenly, it will occur to them that they can drive other places besides the store, like out of state. Then one day they get in the car, drive away and don’t come home to mow the yard. That’s going to hit you especially hard if you’ve already screwed up and made Mistake #1. Plus, they took your car.

Have you allowed your children to start becoming free-thinking, independent people? Wow. You’ve just made Big Parenting Mistake #3. This almost completely guarantees that your children are going to screw up your life. Count on them wanting to think for themselves, be independent and not stay home to mow your yard. Probably with your car.

Children with no skills, ambition or transportation are more likely to stick around and take care of you in your old age. They’ll gladly heat frozen pizzas, apply bunion cream and pluck the hairs out of your withered, old chin until you die. And with the money you save not paying college tuition or financing a new car, you can pay someone to mow your yard.

Back to Running

Much Ado About Nothing June 1, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

I use to run – and not just because I was being chased. I actually would run for, I don’t know, I can’t remember why I would do that, but I did. Now, for some reason yet unknown by me, I’ve decided to start running again in earnest. I’ve probably managed to kill off the last brain cell in charge of logical decision-making, and running is the obvious fallout. Here are a few things, though, that I’ve discovered in my recent return to recreational running.

First of all, anyone who tries to sell you the line of garbage about endorphins and improved physical health blah bluh bluhh is probably addicted to catnip and concealing a criminal record. The truth is that running, if done right, will improve your cardiovascular system if, and only if, you don’t die first. As I was slogging along on my last run (which had the appearance of a forced death march), I kept wondering if I’d stay conscious long enough to tell the paramedics that my heart was in much better shape from running before he administered oxygen and the shock paddles.

Then there’s the whole fake news stuff about how you’ll look better because of running. After a run of any distance, I look like I’ve been picked out of the moving fan blades of a jet engine. I smell bad. I look bad. And I have an attitude that doesn’t even register anymore on the bad spectrum. There are encounters with rabid dingoes that are more pleasant than being around me after a run. So unless you really like the wild-eyed, red faced, oxygen-starved look, then no, I don’t look better because of running.

Sure, you’ll sleep better (if your calves don’t cramp in the night and cause you to scream obscenities). You’ll meet great people (like the formerly incarcerated catnip dealers). You’ll feel better (when you stop hurting, the toenails grow back and the blisters heal). And think of all the cool fun runs you can join (that cost as much to register for as a case of decent wine, so what really is the better choice?)

So, until this flight of fantastical thinking passes, I’ll be out there setting personal records that can be measured on the same scale as glacier movement. Feel free to tie on your shoes and join me!

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