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Much Ado About Nothing – Manners Refresher

Much Ado About Nothing June 14, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Gather around everyone! It’s time for a quick refresher course on some foundational principles for being a decent human being. Don’t panic, it’s nothing complicated or scary. No one is going to expect you to cure cancer or kiss your sister, but we’re getting a little lax on some lessons we should have learned in Kindergarten. Let’s get started.

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” I understand that sometimes there are not-nice things that need to be said, but any Southern lady can tell you that you can say not-nice things in a nice way. Punctuate just about anything with “Bless your heart” and it’ll go over much better than just being ugly. If our words were physically manifested on our bodies, we might think twice about spewing out a bunch of sour ugliness. By the way, this rule applies tenfold for anything posted on the internet.

“You don’t build yourself up by tearing others down.” This includes your country, your elected officials, your parents, other sports teams (with the exclusion of the NY Yankees), your boss, the other drivers who can’t use a turn signal (bless their hearts), and most certainly anyone of a different race, color, creed, heritage, religious faith, or country of origin. If you struggle with this rule, refer to the one above and just keep your mouth shut.

“Lead by example.” If you want your kids to be productive, self-sufficient assets to society then be that. If you want to live in a world that’s not filled with hate, fear and intolerance then don’t be hateful, threatening and intolerant. Be the change you want to see.

While this is pretty basic stuff, so many of us seem to have lost sight of how to play nice with the other children. It’s not enough to just accept that haters are going to hate. We can do better than that and be bigger than hate. I understand that no one wants to be told they have bad breath, but, at the same time, sometimes you just need a helpful breath mint, a friendly smile, and a cheerful “Bless your heart” to save you from some unnecessary embarrassment. Think of this as a breath mint for your manners. Now go out there and be better humans!

Much Ado About Nothing – Willis Carter

Much Ado About Nothing June 6, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

The City of Houston paid a sculptor to create this massive, 32-foot tall, weird, reflective bean thing then proudly planted it near the Museum of Fine Art. I’m not sure why that much metal was wasted on such a thing when there is a real hero desperately in need of recognition and adoration, a true man among men: Willis Carrier. This man should be elevated to saint status, have elementary schools named in his honor, and every July there should be an official holiday complete with parades. Willis Carrier invented the air conditioner.

Where would we be, oh sweltering Gulf Coast of Texas, without this man? Houston wouldn’t be the fourth largest city in the US, that’s for sure. Instead the entire area would be populated by drunk, divorced, chaffed, irritable isolationists and boasting the highest homicide rate on the entire planet. Satan himself would sell his luxury condo for pennies and leave town grumbling about intolerable conditions.

Willis Carrier isn’t just cool, he’s the King of Cool. I suppose when one of your relatives is burned at the stake as part of the Salem Witch Hunts, you become a little hyper-sensitive to being hot under the collar and embody a new motivation for redeeming your family’s name and reputation. Talk about a Phoenix rising from the ashes!

Certainly there needs to be a distinctive tip of the hat to the Egyptians for figuring out how to make clothing out of cotton. Without them, we’d still be wearing wool all summer, which a large majority of people were through the 1800’s. Even swimsuits were made out of wool until the 1930’s! Just the thought of it makes me scratchy, chaffed and irritable.

Without Mr. Carrier, we’d be facing a world without leather car seats, ice cream trucks, and Slurpees®. Humidity would be an unstoppable, mold-growing, hairdo-killing scourge. We’d have no safe retreat from mosquitoes, sunburn, or the neighbors. To be honest, without Willis Carrier’s air conditioners, we’d have long since given the lower half of the Louisiana Purchase back to France and thrown in pretty much every other state south of St. Louis.

So today when you crank that thermostat down to single digits and your house is like a frosty beer mug, stop and send up a prayer of thanksgiving to Willis Carrier. Oh yes! Thank you!

Much Ado About Nothing – Family Court

Much Ado About Nothing May 31, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

In this trough between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, there is no better time to take a look at some examples of beautiful, happy families in their natural habitat: the courtroom. Parents are busy suing their children while the kids are getting lawyered up to go after their parents. Tell me, Hallmark, how are you going to handle this fine kettle of smelly family fish?

In St. Louis, 17-year old Anthony Dwight is suing his biological parents because he was born white. Did this boy skip Biology class in school? Exactly why would he expect his very white, Midwestern parents to produce anything but a white child? But yet he wants to hold them responsible for their “selfish desire to bring another white child into this world,” which, I’m sure, no one regrets right now more than they do. Of course, this is nothing that $20,000 to pay for the treatment to turn his skin color to “dark black” wouldn’t cure. Maybe they just need to turn his behind a bright red.

And Michael Rotondo. THIRTY YEARS OLD and his parents had to get a court order to have him removed from their couch after eight years! I’m guessing they already tried throwing his Xbox into the front yard so when he frantically ran out there to reclaim it they could lock the doors and bar the windows. This college educated, deadbeat dad then whined in court that he didn’t have money for moving boxes so he couldn’t leave. I don’t know about the liquor stores in New York, but around these parts, you can pick up some nice, sturdy boxes for free.

Since I’m always looking for the silver lining, I’m ready to jump on the opportunity presenting itself here! I am going to hang out a lawyer shingle for my new firm, “Grow the Heck Up Legal Services.” I’m not sure what white Anthony Dwight is paying his lawyer (where did he get that money?), but I’ll represent his parents for free. That I’ve never been to law school is beside the point. I’ll simply show up in court and throw out the GROW THE HECK UP defense. Same with Michael Rotondo: Grow the Heck Up! Case closed.

Ultimately, though, the way to avoid these situations all together is, when you have the choice, just raise hogs instead

Much Ado About Nothing – Hacked

Much Ado About Nothing May 24, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

My next door neighbor got a United Nations Development Programmed grant. No really! He sent me a Facebook direct message to tell me he got $150,000.00. His exact words were, “I’m no joking or pulling legs.” Here’s where it gets really exciting: he saw my name on their lucky winner list, too, and I should contact the claiming agent RIGHT NOW to claim my lucky prize (link included). What are the chances?! I just wonder why he didn’t mention it to me 20 minutes earlier when we were chatting at the mailbox.

Needless to say, I didn’t click on the link, but I did go take a look at the profile of the “claims agent.” It was a nice touch to have pictures of money, but there was also a meme posted that wasn’t in English. A quick hop over to Google Translate to discover my agent is bilingual in Kwa, the native language of the Yoruba people in Benin, Africa. Pretty impressive for a guy who, from his profile picture, looks like Mr. White America and studied at Texas A&M. Anyway, my online conversation with my neighbor ended when I reminded him I work the US State Department. Go figure.

But wait! My luck had not run out! Two days later I got another Facebook direct message from an elderly friend who I very rarely speak to letting me know that ups had just brought him $50,000.00 and that I “needs” ups to bring it to me, too. I had to think about it for a minute before I realized that ups was not the opposite of downs but UPS, the United Parcel Service. Again, a link was shared that I could contact my agent to claim my big prize, too. Uh huh. I’ll do that, and then I’ll use my ups money to buy a unicorn.

From pictures on the internet, Benin, Africa seems to be where National Geographic goes to take pictures of topless native women with baskets on their heads. How does this country have enough broadband and electrical grid to power this kind of nefarious industry? That Benin is the birthplace of the voodoo religion may not be of any small coincidence. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to send my bank account information to Winnie Mandela.

Much Ado About Nothing – Stalker Stories

Much Ado About Nothing May 17, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

So a guy in Phoenix, Arizona meets Jacqueline Ades through an online dating site. They go on one date. She got a nice dinner and he got 65,000 text messages, a butcher knife, visits to his office, and the woman arrested while taking a bath after breaking into his house. According to the police reports, Ms. Ades was sending no fewer than 500 text messages per day to this guy following their date. You have to believe this dude is thinking he should reconsider that nice girl his mother knows from church and stay off the Tinder app.

But don’t think that the United States has a corner on the weird stalker market. Sure, having Brittany Spears and Taylor Swift as citizens does sway the numbers dramatically into our favor, but Japan is making a strong move into the creeper industry. Not in a way you’d expect, though.

In the US and in many first world countries, when someone retires, they find an interesting hobby: golf, taxidermy, competitive dog grooming, performance art. But in Japan, an increasing number of people over 60 are spending their free time being weirdos. In that country, the number of reported stalkers over the age of 70 increased 460% between 2003 and 2012 and is now 9% of all reports. While this is alarming and frightening, you still have to be impressed that there are that many older folks who can utilize the internet, text message, and drive at night well enough that someone is calling the police.

To be honest, I’m a bit baffled at how this is happening at all. Does Japan not have bingo or bus trips to casinos? Quilting clubs? Genealogy groups? Surely there’s a way to entertain mom and dad so they aren’t forcing the waitress at Japan’s equivalent of Denny’s to buy a Rottweiler and screen her calls.

And how does Ms. Ades in Arizona send that many text messages? Unless you’ve got a 17-year old out an hour past their curfew, you don’t need to send that many messages to anyone. At what point does the phone just overheat and explode?

The world is a strange place and getting stranger. Your mother was right when she told you to lock your doors, wear your seat belt, be home before midnight, and for goodness sake, don’t talk to strangers!!

Much Ado About Nothing – Tide Pods

Much Ado About Nothing March 1, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

“God grant me the detergent to wash my clothes, the food to fuel my body, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I honestly thought that the Tide pod thing had reached the pinnacle of stupid until I read a headline in the New York Daily News that said “State lawmakers implore Tide to make less tasty-looking detergent pods.” Obviously someone hasn’t realized that you can’t out-think stupid.

In case you’ve actually been leading a productive, useful life and missed it, the youth of today, the leaders of tomorrow think its fun to challenge each other to explode one of the plastic laundry detergent pods in their mouth. While this might get a bunch of other idiots to watch you do it on YouTube, it also gets you a certain level of priority in the Emergency Room since you’ve likely just poisoned yourself.

Ok, so we can all accept that teenagers have a propensity for stupid. As I recall, teenagers of my Dad’s generation had a thing for swallowing live goldfish — although in their defense, live goldfish aren’t considered deadly bio-hazards. My generation covered ourselves in baby oil before lying in the sun which is why so many of us are dealing with skin cancer. You can already see the increase in risk and the decrease in smart.

What has me smacking my own forehead in utter amazement is that government lawmakers – people that someone actually cast a ballot and put in office – are now trying to pass legislation to keep companies from making anything but food look like food. Have we devolved to such a level of ignorant that this has to happen?

If people will eat Tide pods for fun, then I can assume there are people who will still be reading this, so I’ll just say again: You can’t out-think stupid. Before you ever pass the law that requires soap to look like dirt, teenagers will have long found something more ridiculous and dangerous to do. It’s obviously not enough to just go out and win a trophy, since everyone has one of those.

The way I look at it, teenagers are finally washing their own mouths out with soap. If they could find a way to paddle their own rear ends, there might be a glimmer of hope for the future of our society.

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Olympics

Much Ado About Nothing February 14, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

I’m sorry, but there will be no column this week. For that matter, next week is kind of questionable as well. Honestly, don’t really look for much from me until after the Olympics are over. I’m completely and unashamedly addicted. If there were a 12-Step Program for Olympic coverage, I’d have the meetings at my house – during the commercials, of course.  Otherwise, please no talking.

I’ll watch anything Olympic. Every sport. Preliminary qualifying rounds for the Skeleton could be broadcast at 3:40am local time and I’m setting an alarm. I don’t want to miss one thrilling moment of seeing tiny people go screaming headfirst down a treacherous ice track on a tiny sled at 60mph to what could be, with one misjudged turn, their untimely death. This year, brothers from Latvia are battling each other for a medal in the sport. One is at his third Olympics with no medal and the other one earned silver in Sochi. Oh the drama! I’ve got to see how it comes out. Meanwhile, I’ll wait while you go Google “skeleton” and “Latvia.”

Over the past three years and 50 weeks, I haven’t thought about – and certainly haven’t watched – men’s half pipe competition. Now? Now, I’m asking the cashier at Target how did the Canadian not land that backside triple 1440 nose grab? Then I’m leaving the store in complete shock that she was not as impressed with his follow up chicken salad and the backside rodeo. I’m completely baffled by some people’s priorities.

I think it was utterly brilliant to hold the Olympics in South Korea. With the attention of the entire world focused on the Korean peninsula, there’s no way that wacky North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is going to misbehave with one of his atomic missiles that seem to always be pointed at us. Nothing makes the whole planet side against you than screwing up the Olympics with a hostile act of aggression. For that matter, I’m even building up some hard core resentment against Mother Nature for her failure to cooperate with the events in the mountains.

So, if you’ll excuse me, the women’s biathlon qualifying rounds are starting. How do you not watch a bunch of girls awkwardly slush through the snow with a rifle on their backs then stop and shoot the nose off a gnat? Chant with me now: USA! USA!

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Starving Student

Much Ado About Nothing December 7, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

College. It’s the place where you pay big bucks to learn big things. My youngest son is currently close to finishing up his first semester at college and is learning some really big things. Like how not to starve to death. Last August, we settled him into his new dorm room with clean sheets, a manageable class schedule, and an ample meal plan. By Thanksgiving break, his checking account was dry, his gas tank empty, and he had $1.19 left on his meal plan until the end of the semester. Desperation is the mother of invention.

He reports that he’s started hanging around with sorority girls and his scrawny friends. Obviously, these are people who are not utilizing their meal plans and are happy to let him mooch a lunch now and then. I’m hoping the parents of those kids are all socialists or at least voted Democrat in the last election.

It seems that since the days when my dad let me starve in college, they’ve upped the age that you can sell plasma. So that option is out for him, at least for another year. But, by then, I’m hoping he’ll have wrestled his budget to the ground.

He “rented” his car so an international student in his dorm could take his test for his US driver’s license. He convinced drunk fraternity boys that he was cheaper than Uber (he wasn’t). He found a $5 bill in the dryer. He’ll be fine.

Discovering a new, hunger-fueled resourcefulness, he used his last nickels to buy a four pound jar of discount peanut butter at the Dollar Store. He can’t afford bread, but, no worries, the plastic spoons at Chick-fil-A are free. Coffee creamer and ketchup packets are yours for the taking just about everywhere. And if he tags along with someone going out for Mexican food, there’s that big bowl of free chips. I hardly worry that he’ll waste away to nothing.

I know, though, that college is making him smarter because he hasn’t asked me for money. Eating crow and swallowing your pride just aren’t that filling. On a positive note, I bet he’ll never run out of money again. Of course, he may also never be able to face another box of no-name mac-n-cheese ever again either. So college really is making him a better, healthier, smarter person!

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

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