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What! Oct. 5, 2017

What I Heard This Week October 5, 2017

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By Lisa Baker • 10-05-17

Carlos Rafael, a US fishing magnate known as “The CodFather,” has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for falsely claiming his vessels caught haddock or pollock when they had other species subject to stricter quotas, then sold the fish for cash. He accepted full responsibility for the crimes he committed including tax evasion, false labeling and fish identification. The CodFather. I love it.  There are some stories I find that are a little more fun and interesting than others. Read on.

Gilbert Toby Curtsinger, ringleader of an operation called “Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Heist,” that stole at least $100,000 worth of bourbon from a couple of Kentucky distilleries, pleaded guilty. We are talking good, expensive bourbon. Nine people (so far) were involved in the bourbon heist which included members of his softball team who over the course of seven years, stole not only bottles but full barrels, which ultimately led to their ruin…how many people do you know that have a barrel of bourbon in their kitchen? The full barrels were worth between $1,200 to $1,500. Most of the bourbon is ruined since only unopened bottles could be salvaged which makes us all very sad.

The woman that was physically removed from a Southwest flight (and recorded) told officials she had a life-threatening pet allergy but then couldn’t produce a medical certificate needed for her flight from Baltimore to LA. Why…there were two dogs on board. Crew members told her that she could be barred from the flight if she couldn’t travel safely with animals on board but she refused to leave the plane. What’s wrong here? That’s like going into the restaurant that has peanut shells on the floor and you’re allergic to peanuts. YOU JUST CAN’T GO INTO THAT RESTAURANT! If you have a pet allergy, then you need to let the airlines know before you board the plane. Geez. Why must some things be so difficult?

Earthquakes. Volcanos. Hurricanes. Flooding. Mass Shootings. Now, fleas have tested positive for the Bubonic Plague in two counties in Arizona. You remember the Bubonic Plague…the infectious disease that killed millions in the Middle Ages. It seems that prairie dogs began dropping dead so someone said, “hmmm. I wonder why.”  The plague is curable with early treatment and antibiotics. Prairie dog holes are now being dusted with an insecticide to help prevent the spread through prairie dog colonies. You just thought we had it bad.

Rapper B.o.B. started a GoFundMe so he can prove that the Earth is flat. He only needs $1-million to launch multiple satellites into space to prove his point. I know that you’re asking yourself what’s wrong with all the thousands of images from all the other satellites already out there? Hmmm.  He needs a job.

Saudi Arabia was the only country in the world where women couldn’t legally drive. It could harm their ovaries.  Soon, women will be allowed to drive. Next year, in fact. They had only recently received the right to vote. As Bob Dylan sings, “…then you better start swimmin’, or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin’.”

North Korea threatened to deploy a hydrogen bomb. Kim Jong Un said, “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire…” hmmm. Dotard. According to Merriam-Webster, this is “a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise. The word comes from the Middle English word ‘doten’ (to dote), and initially had the meaning of ‘imbecile’ when it began being used in the 14th century.Shakespeare liked to use the word. Ref: The Taming of the Shrew and Much Ado About Nothing… “Tush, tush, man, never fleer (laugh) and jest at me. I speak not like a dotard nor a fool.”

A new study published in the annals (records) of Internal Medicine found that even if you are a heavy exerciser, people with desk jobs should get up every thirty minutes and walk around. You will live longer. By doing this, you may live. Period. Get up.

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS: Actor Wilford Brimley is 83. The Waltons.  Rock singer Meat Loaf is 70. Can that be? Singer Shaun Cassidy is 59. Singer-actress Olivia Newton-John is 69. Musician Cesar Rosas is 63. Los Lobos. He can play the guitar!  Actress Linda Hamilton is 61. The Terminator and Beauty and the Beast.  Actress Melissa Sue Anderson is 55. Mary Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. Actor Walter Kownig is 81. Pavel Chekov in Star Trek. Singer-actress-dancer Joey Heatherton is 73. She posed for Playboy in 1997, at the age of 53.

Actor Sam Neill is 70. Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park. Actor Tommy Lee Jones is 71. Director Oliver Stone is 71. Football Hall of Fame Dan Marino is 56. Britain’s Prince Harry is 33. Actor Ed Begley Jr. is 68. Country singer David Bellamy is 67. Actor Mickey Rourke is 61. Magician David Copperfield is 61. Actress Jennifer Tilly is 59. Celia in Monsters’ Inc. and a World Series Ladies’ Poker winner. She’s good. Singer Julio Iglesias is 74. Rock star Bruce Springsteen is 68.

Actor Jason Alexander is 58. George Costanza. Actress Angie Dickinson is 86. Singer Sissy Houston is 84. Singer Johnny Mathis is 82. Actress Fran Drescher is 60. Classical singer Andrea Bocelli is 59. Rocker Joan Jett is 59. Actor Scott Baio is 57. Chachi Arcola on Happy Days. Actress Bonnie Hunt is 56. Actress Brigitte Bardot is 83. Actress Hilary Duff is 30. Former President Jimmy Carter is 93.

Deaths: Television icon Monty Hall has died at the age of 96 of heart failure. Remember Let’s Make a Deal which started in 1963.  What was behind door No. 3? As a little kid, I always liked it when he offered money for what women in the audience had in their purses. Liliane Bettencourt, L’Oréal cosmetics heiress and the world’s richest woman, died at the age of 94. Jake LaMotta, the boxing champion whose career was depicted in 1980 by Robert DeNiro in the film, “Raging Bull,” died at the age of 95. Violet Brown, the world’s oldest person, died at the age of 117. Xavier “X” Atencio, an animator behind early Disney movies including “Pinocchio” and “Fantasia” and the imaginer behind the beloved Disneyland rides like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Haunted Mansion,” died at the age of 98. Musician Tom Petty died of heart failure at the young age of 66.

Hugh Hefner died at age 91 of natural causes. He was buried in Los Angeles next to Marilyn Monroe – his first ever Playboy cover star, in a plot that Hefner bought in 1992 for $75,000. He is survived by 4 children and third and current wife of five years, Crystal Harris (she was 60-years younger.) That’s like Betty White marrying Zac Efron. Hmmm. “Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream.” Hugh Hefner

OJ Simpson has been released from prison. He got out on good behavior. Settle down girls.

Aaron Hernandez, former football player serving life sentence for murder before he died by suicide, has been identified as having Stage 3 CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) according to Boston University. Stage 4 is the highest. The disease can only be detected through autopsies. It has been linked to depression, memory loss and dementia. There is now a lawsuit against the Patriots and the NFL on behalf of Hernandez’s daughter. Last year the NFL acknowledged a link between football-related head trauma and the brain disease. A study showed that out of 111 brains examined of former NFL players, they found 110 of them had CTE. Yet, these guys continue to collect unbelievable paychecks, then sue because the NFL didn’t protect them from such danger. This doesn’t make any sense to me.

Coca Cola just bought out Topo Chico. Tell me it isn’t so. Coke, don’t mess this up!

Prayers for Las Vegas and our world right now.

– Lisa

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.

What! Sept. 28, 2017

What I Heard This Week September 28, 2017

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By Lisa Baker • 09-28-17

After five successful seasons, Chip and Joanna Gaines and Fixer Upper are hanging up their tool belts. Waco, Texas and their whole family of viewers will never be the same. WHO DOESN”T LOVE THEIR SHOW. They said that it’s time to think more about their family. No one can argue with that. It’s because of their grace, humbleness and love of their family, that we drop everything and run to watch the show. Let’s face it…they like each other. I watch Property Brothers (they like each other, too.) But I can’t stand Flip or Flop. What are we going to do?!?! It doesn’t matter what I write about in the rest of this column, nothing else matters…really.

Hurricane Harvey has not been kind to many…FEMA had a little typo on a phone number so hurricane victims in Florida hoping to get help with blue-tarping their roofs, were somehow directed to a phone sex line. The new number has been correctly posted.

Disgraced former Democratic Congressman and New York mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner aka “Carlos Danger,” has been sentenced to 21-months in federal prison for sending sexually explicit pictures and messages to an underage girl. He is a perfect example of having it all but believing that he would never get caught.

According to Urbandictionary: When texting the acronym IYKWIM, it means “If you know what I mean.” If you add AITYD at the end, it means “and I think you do.” Just doing my part to make you a way cooler person than you were yesterday. It would take me longer to remember the letters than it would to just type it!

There is a house for sale in Michigan. The “For Sale” sign in front of the home says, “Quiet Neighbors.” The home is built next to a cemetery. Now there’s a real estate agent that knows how to enjoy life.

Remember when you had to defrost your freezer? Aauugh. My first apartment was horrible. It took all day, if you didn’t chip it out with a butter knife. Then I remember using my blow dryer on it and towels, lots of towels. It was just a mess. Don’t know what made me think of this. We sure have it easy now.

Police in Dumfries, South Scotland, have posted on Facebook that they are looking for the owner of a suitcase packed full of drugs that was left on a bus, then picked up by accident by another passenger. Police said, “Were you a bit wasted last night? Did you misplace a suitcase with £6,500 (which if I converted it properly, it’s about $8827 in American dollars) worth of drugs in it? Great news, it’s been found and we have it at Dumfries Police Station. Just pop in, tell us what’s inside it, where you left it and we will be happy to return it to you!” I love a police department with a sense of humor.

If you’re in the mood for a great show, AE and I have been watching the BBC drama, “Call the Midwife” – we started during Harvey and it’s great. Costumes are wonderful…it’s full of great history and just a really, really, well done show.  It’s a group of midwives working in the poverty-stricken East End of London in the late 1950s – early 1960s. Miranda Hart plays Chummy and I’m convinced that she will play Julia Child in some future production. Let me know what you think.

If you love Sam Smith like I do, you should know that he just released a new single and an album is to follow.

HAAK Vineyard in Santa Fe! These guys have so much fun. September30th, is Wine and Stars in the Vineyard.  Go to www.haakwine.com for updates and directions. October 7th is Haaktober Wurst Ever Wine Festival with Texas Sound Check Band. And really, good Madeira. Really good.

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS: Boxing promoter Don King is 86. Remember that hair! Former US Rep. Ron Paul is 82. He’s speaking “Foreign Policy Matters” at LJ Business Association on October 11th. Broadcast journalist Connie Chung is 71.  Rock singer Robert Plant is 69. Led Zeppelin. TV weatherman Al Roker is 63.  Country singer Billy Joe Shaver is 78. Movie director James Cameron is 63. Singer Madonna is 59. Actress Rose Marie is 94. The Dick Van Dyke Show. Journalist Linda Ellerbee is 73. Britain’s Princess Anne is 67. Actress Debra Messing is 49. Will and Grace. It’s back on NBC, September 28 (tonight) after 11-years. Rock singer-musician Roger Waters is 74. Pink Floyd. Actor-comedian Jeff Foxworthy is 59.

When I was growing up I always wanted to be someone. Now I realize I should have been more specific.” Lily Tomlin

A new 12-sided British pound has entered circulation because it was believed that the round pound was too easy to counterfeit. It features a hologram that changes from the pound symbol to the numeral one. It was tested for three years to make sure it will work in vending machines. The old coin and the new coin will co-exist for several months and is the first new pound coin to be introduced in 30 years.

“The road to success is always under construction.”  Lily Tomlin

Recently, I was reading an article on songwriter and artist, Sam Baker. He told a story about stopping at a little café and asking the waitress if they had any sparkling water. She replied that it all sparkles if you get it in the right light. Think about that…it applies to more than just water.

When someone says “Dory” I think of the friendly and forgetful blue fish that searches for her parents in Finding Nemo. Actually, a dory is a small, shallow boat about 16-23 feet long, lightweight with high sides. Pixar is clever.

In July, on a ranch in Jewett, a bolt of lightning struck a tree and killed 10 longhorn cattle, including an all-white steer and five calves. Wow. I didn’t know that could happen.

On May 3rd, 395 migratory birds collided with the American National Insurance building in Galveston. It was believed that the flock was flying lower because of a storm, there were clouds, then the bright office lights attracted the birds and they crashed. The company shut off some of the lights and is now researching ways to protect the birds during migration season, roughly March through May.

The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster left behind radioactive puppies and dogs when people were forced to evacuate the area, thinking they would return in a few days. Soldiers were dispatched to shoot the abandoned animals, but some lived and have reproduced. Officials forbid petting of the dogs because of the hazards posed by radioactive particles on their fur.  The Clean Futures Fund has a five-year plan to spay and neuter the dogs and cats in the area, then set up food and water stations along with a veterinary clinic to help care for the animals. YouTube, ”The Puppies of Chernobyl.” I never ever thought about this aspect of the disaster.

Twenty-one years ago, I was blessed with my first child. If he had been part monkey or puppy dog, I couldn’t have been any happier. Gage, I continue to derive much pleasure from being your mom. My daughter and I met him in Galveston to see Tommy Tune and Chita Rivera (a little West Side Story, a scene from Bye-Bye Birdie and All That Jazz – it was GOOD) at The Grand 1894 Opera House. Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar, and we called it a successful celebration. Happy Birthday to my kid and my friend.

– Lisa

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.

What! Sept. 21, 2017

What I Heard This Week September 21, 2017

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By Lisa Baker • 09-21-17

September 28th is National Good Neighbor Day. This annual event was first proclaimed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978 as he announced that good neighbors help achieve human understanding and build strong, thriving communities. Think about it…you buy a house and move in. You don’t ask about the neighbors…nothing. You only see your relatives at Christmas time, but neighbors…you’re just stuck with them and they’re stuck with you. You may have Mrs. Kravitz living next door during the day, but remember how she asked if you needed anything during Harvey. The kids across the street may be rowdy, but they picked up sticks in your yard after the storm. So, bake some cookies or banana bread or pick up a bottle of wine and scoot on over to your neighbors this week and say hello. Who knows, they may start bringing in their barking dog, let you know when your kid is sneaking out at night and mow your grass.

In a state like Texas, neighbors rely on neighbors. Please remember that our businesses need you to Shop Local and continue to support one another, especially in times like these.

My mother taught me about justice. “One day you’ll have kids, and they’re going to do the same thing you’re doing, then you’ll see what it’s like. What goes around, comes around.”

So far, this year the Secret Service has spent over $60,000 on golf-cart rental, to protect the President at two of his resorts. Hmmm. On the outside looking in…it would make more sense to buy the carts.

I bet you are familiar with the song “Dancing Queen” by Swedish pop group ABBA. We all know the words. Well, back in 2016, ABBA got together for the first time in 30 years and NO ONE REMEMBERED TO RECORD IT. Now, all the original members (who are ALL still alive) are planning a 2019 global tour, but they won’t be there in person, instead they will be recreated as “digital avatars” for a virtual reality tour. Wait, that’s what they do for Michael Jackson. Band members say it will be just like you’re back in 1977, with a live band, live backing vocals, a great set design with lights and sound…just like a live concert, except for the fact that the band members will be back at home walking their dogs.  Hmmm. I wonder if I could do that at my office.

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! is the follow-up to the original 2008 film, which was based on the ABBA-inspired musical of the same name, and is expected to hit theatres in July 2018.

Hasbro is now offering a “Star Wars” Monopoly set that includes the female character Rey. Their previous version had only male characters, prompting an 8-year-old girl to write them a letter and ask why, woohoo.

Legos were invented in Billund, Denmark. An architecture firm has designed a real structure (130,000-sq-ft) of larger interlocking, Lego-like blocks for an official Lego museum and theme park of sorts that will open on September 28th.   There will be play zones, restaurants, stores, rooftop terraces and a gallery of Lego masterpieces. Then today I read that the toymaker will have to cut 1,400 jobs because after years of rising sales, revenue dropped 5% in the first six months of this year. Hmmm.

A Canadian woman discovered her mother-in-law’s long-lost engagement ring when she pulled up a carrot from her garden. The carrot had grown around the ring. The picture was great. A big fat carrot with an engagement ring on it!

“The trouble with being in the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”  Lily Tomlin

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS:  Director Brian DePalma is 77. Carrie and Mission Impossible. Singer-actress-dancer Lola Falana is 75. She was the first African American spokeswoman for a major perfume, Tigress, made by Faberge. My mother wore that scent when I was in high school. Broadcast Journalist Morton Dean is 82. Actress Valerie Harper is 78. Actress Cindy Williams is 70. Laverne & Shirley. Actress Barbara Eden is 86. Actor-singer Rick Springfield is 68. Cartoonist Mort Walker is 94. Beetle Bailey. Rock singer-musician Al Jardine is 75.

Musician Mickey Hart is 74. The Dead.  Basketball Hall of Fame Yao Ming is 37. Singer-actress Jennifer Hudson is 36.  Actor Keanu Reeves is 53. Comedian-actress Lily Tomlin is 78. Edith Ann and her very large rocking chair. Singer Barry Gibb is 71. Talk show host Dr. Phil McGraw is 67. Singer Kenny Rogers is 79. Actor Clarence Williams III is 78. The Mod Squad. Johnny Appleseed was born September 26, 1774.  That’s 243-years ago.

DEATHS: Thomas Meehan, three-time Tony-winning co-writer of Broadway hits including Annie and Hairspray, died at age 88. African Spotted Yard Wolf, Buster, an occasional guest columnist at The Source Weekly died last weekHe was 14 which is 78 in dog years. We will miss him.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says that she will not pursue the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination… “I’m done with being a candidate.”

Apple has released their new iPhone X (10) which sells starting at $999. Yikes. My first car was a ’66 Mustang that cost $800. But that was a long, long time ago. If someone had told me that a phone would cost over a thousand dollars and it would talk to me by looking at my face…nah!

An 89-pound alligator snapping turtle wandered out of his home in Buffalo Bayou and onto Memorial Drive recently. The turtle is believed to be around 70 years old and after being treated for dehydration, was returned to his home on Buffalo Bayou.

Did you ever watch Psych? Yes, I’m a Psycho-O. I just loved the show. The series about phony psychic Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill) ended in 2014 but I just heard that a two-hour, Psych: The Movie, will be airing on USA in time for Christmas. The special will pick up three years after the series ended.

Twitter ”#hashtag” celebrated its 10th anniversary. In 2007, Chris Messina sent a tweet asking Twitter users what they thought about adding a pound sign before a topic.

New at Blue Bell: Pink Camo ‘n Cream…strawberry, chocolate and cream cheese ice cream swirled together in a camouflage pattern. Banana Split Sundae is creamy banana ice cream with crushed pineapple, maraschino cherries and chopped roasted almonds, surrounded by swirls of strawberry and chocolate sundae sauces. And Rainbow Sherbet is back.

Take a break from social media. A recent study found that people who gave it up for a week felt more content.

Twenty-four years after her death, there is a live and online auction of items from Audrey Hepburn’s personal collection. Go to www.christies.com. She was one of the most famous screen actresses of the 20th century. My personal favorite.

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, I’m possible.Audrey Hepburn

– Lisa


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.

What! Sept. 14, 2017

What I Heard This Week September 14, 2017

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By Lisa Baker • 09-14-17

We are Texas, come hell or high water.

I’m sure there are words to describe the past few weeks in Brazoria County and the Greater Houston area, but it’s still hard for me to wrap my thoughts around it all and say what’s in my heart, without big tears forming in my eyes. Harvey’s wreckage is still everywhere but so is Texas love. I am humbled. We saw the biggest outpouring of love, concern and physically hard labor that was absolutely, positively overwhelming. People outside Texas are awed by what has been accomplished. Neighbors helped neighbors with donation sites, people feeding people, sandbags filled and placed by volunteers, friends giving up beds and meals to share with those left homeless…I can’t say enough about our first responders, police, county leaders, and our city personnel.  Our thoughts and prayers for our community, friends, loved ones and neighbors remain in abundance. I don’t know of a single person that was not affected by this deadly storm. And it’s not over, clean-up has only just begun. But Brazoria County will stand proud and strong.

My son left for college a month ago. Recently, I received a “ransom text” that looked like letters cut out of magazines. It said that in order to guarantee phone calls from my son, I would need to send two cases of Topo Chico mineral water, asap, to an address vaguely similar to my son’s college dorm address. Hmmm. Without any further thoughts, I paid the ransom.

Pay attention. It’s a thing in Europe. You can now snort your chocolate. Coco Loko (available on Amazon, 1.25 ounce is 10 snorts for $25, but not actually approved by the Food and Drug Administration) is a snort-able blend of cacao powder, plants and organic compounds like ginkgo biloba, taurine and guarana, which is found in energy drinks and has been linked to spikes in blood pressure and heart palpitations. No one has really studied what happens when you put chocolate into your nose. No one knew that we would need to. When we were kids, we stuck erasers, pennies, rocks and sticks in our noses but MOM NEVER SAID, “Don’t stick that chocolate up your nose!” I think I’ll just continue my chili pepper chocolate bar I pick up at Central Market that lasts me about 2 weeks. But I’ll never be able to pinch off my little evening piece without thinking about sticking it up my nose.

A California geophysicist believes that the Houston area was 2-centimeters lower because of the load of the floodwaters on the Earth’s crust. Water is heavy…about a ton per cubic meter and GPS data showed that the flood was so large it is believed that it flexed Earth’s crust, and pushed Houston down. Then when the floodwaters totally recede, we would expect a similar, opposite elastic response…like jumping on a mattress or trampoline. Isn’t that interesting.

Harvey and Irma Schluter have been married for 75 years. He turned 104 in July and she will be 93 in November. Mr. Schluter was a barber and owned his own business. Together they have taken in over 120 foster children during their marriage, some physically or mentally disabled. They remember the first time spotting a plane, the Great Depression, Neil Armstrong walking on the moon and what the weather was like on the day that President John F. Kennedy was shot…so let’s just say that there’s a Harvey and Irma living in Spokane, Washington, that any of us would be proud to know.

To preserve the planet’s resources, Swiss supermarket chain Coop, has begun selling burgers made from insects. The burger is made of rice, chopped vegetables, and spices with about 1/3 of the burger being mealworm larvae. The texture is a bit like a meaty falafel with a crunch. “Where’s the BEEF?”

Don’t be a victim of disaster fraud…TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-252-8011

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS: Cajun singer Zachary Richard is 67. German composer Hans Zimmer is 60. I believe the world is better place because of his music. Singer Gloria Gaynor is 74. Rock singer Chrissie Hynde is 66. The Pretenders. Actor Corbin Bernsen is 63. Actor Topol is 82. Fiddler on the Roof. Actor Hugh Grant is 57. Actor Adam Sandler is 51. Model Rachel Hunter is 48. Pop-jazz singer Michael Buble is 42. Country singer-songwriter Hunter Hayes is 26. Cutie pie.

Actress Jacqueline Bisset is 73. Actress Jean Smart is 66. Designing Women. Actress Linda Gray is 77. Dallas. Singer Maria Muldaur is 75. Midnight at the Oasis. Original MTV VJ Nina Blackwood is 65. Actor Peter Scolari is 62. Michael Harris on Newhart. Actress Rachel Ward is 60. Rock musician and drummer Neil Peart is 65. Rush.

DEATHS: Walter Becker, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted bassist-guitarist and co-founder of Steely Dan, died at age 67. ”Reelin’ in the Years” in 1972. “My Old School” in in 1973. “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” in 1974 and the list goes on and on.

Don’t forget to put out your hummingbird feeders. With the lack of flowering vegetation after the storm, they need us even more through the end of October.

Brazoria County Junior Achievement will present the Business Hall of Fame on Sept.14th at the LJ Civic Center. Each year, they honor individuals that make great contributions to our community. The 2017 Class of Laureates are Howard Goe of Goe Harley-Davidson, David Novosad of Brazosport Tire, Andy Reyes of Reyes Realty and Earl Shipp of Gulf Coast Operations VP Dow Chemical Company. If you know any of these guys be sure to drop them a note of congratulations. They have helped to make Brazoria County a great place to live, work and raise a family.

All the living former US presidents (Carter, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama) have joined together and formed the OneAmericaAppeal, an online campaign to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Harvey and the floods it caused along the Texas coast.

Dozens of wildfires burned in western US states and sent smoke into cities from Seattle to Denver, prompting health warnings and cancellations of outdoor activities. A 16-square mile fire east of Portland was believed to have been started by a 15-year-old boy and his friends while using fireworks.

Contrary to what I’ve heard from friends and customers, hurricane season is not over. Hurricane season is from June 1st to November 30th. Don’t get too comfortable.

Insurance adjusters are bringing in drones to help assess the damage from Harvey and Irma. This will allow insurance to get in to unsafe areas either because of nature or police protection. There are limitations because drones cannot fly in heavy wind or rain and cannot go inside to inspect for damage.

The Angleton branch library had to cancel their book sale but it’s been rescheduled to September 21-23. Don’t forget to visit to get your book “fix” and help support the library. Most items are $1 or less. Angleton Branch Library, 401 East Cedar. 979-864-1519.

Tetnus shots are recommended for those that worked during and after the storm filling up or slinging sandbags or those that had to wade in the rising waters. Bacteria can get into the smallest cut.


Ways to spot a flood-damaged car: Look for condensation on the inside surfaces of the windshield and windows. Sniff it. Close the windows and doors, sit inside and sniff for mold or mildew. Be aware of strong air fresheners. They may be covering up something. Run your hands along the carpet and pat to locate moisture. If able, peel back the carpet for signs of rust. If the carpet is brand new, but it’s an older car or even if sections of the carpet is new, beware. Open the trunk and feel there as well. Pull the seatbelts all the way out to see if there is discoloration from water stains farther down on the straps. Look for rust or corrosion on screws, door hinges, hood springs, trunk latches or brackets under the dashboard. Use a mirror and look below the seats to see if the springs are rusty. Use the mirror to check the undercarriage of the car for signs of corrosion. Electrical wires may be brittle. Try out all the electronics. Be sure all the dashboard lights come on…check headlights, turn signals and emergency blinkers. Turn on the AC, wipers and cigarette lighter then listen to the radio – static or distorted audio could be the result of water damage. Check the oil. Changes in color and viscosity may indicate water in the oil. Oil that’s affected by flooding may also feel sticky to the touch. Check the paper air filter for water stains. Check inside the wheel well where water tends to pool. Mud and grass may be hard to remove under the spare tire. Look. Hope this helps. Always hire a professional if there is any question.

With all the reconstruction after the storm, I can’t stress to you enough…know the contractor that you’re dealing with. Call and check references, call local Chambers of Commerce. Call the Better Business Bureau. Do not pay in advance. There will be so much scamming going on. And there will be MANY, many people that are taken advantage of because of this storm.

Great tip: Not that it will do us a bit of good now, but we can sure use this idea in the future. If you evacuate or leave town and need to know if your electricity went out while you were gone, put a cup of water in your freezer. Freeze it solid, then put a quarter on top of it and leave it in your freezer. That way when you come back you can tell if your food completely thawed, then re-froze or if it stayed frozen while you were gone. If the quarter has fallen to the bottom of the cup that means all the food defrosted and you should throw it out. But if the quarter is either on the top or in the middle of the cup then your food may still be ok. Better idea: Leave the cup in your freezer all the time and if you lose power for any reason you will have this tip to fall back on. If you don’t feel good about your food, just throw it out.

A study conducted with 549 people from 29 countries has shown that you should NEVER use a smiley face in work emails because it does more harm than good – it’s not the warm fuzzy feeling that you want to portray. Messages without smiley faces led people to believe the sender was more competent than the same emails with added smileys. Hmmm. 😊

Houston billionaire and Galveston native, Tillman Fertitta, 60, has reached an agreement to purchase the Houston Rockets for $2.2 billion, the highest sale price in NBA history. Fertitta is chairman and CEO of Landry’s (Landry’s Seafood, Keman Boardwalk, McCormick & Schmick’s, Morton’s the Steakhouse, Golden Nugget Casinos, Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier, San Luis Resort, Spa and chairman of the UH board of Regents, and star of Billion Dollar Buyer. In 2008, Fertitta had to sell his share in Houston Texans franchise to comply with the NFL rule prohibiting team owners from having an interest in gambling-related business. Casino ownership is not considered an issue with the NBA.

Don’t be a victim of disaster fraud…TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov or 800-252-8011

– Lisa

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.

What! Aug. 17, 2017

What I Heard This Week August 17, 2017

What I Heard This Week - Logo

By Lisa Baker • 08-17-17

In San Antonio, a man, dressed all in black, entered a home through the garage then forced his way into the kitchen where he encountered the homeowner. He then tried to flee right after the homeowner grabbed a handgun and fired. The want-a-be thief, then later returned to yell at the homeowner for shooting at him. Huh? The female homeowner said, “If you don’t like being shot at, stay out of houses that aren’t yours.” YES!!

Eclipse: Unless you’ve been living underground, you know that the US will experience its first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse since 1918. NASA describes it as one of nature’s most awesome sights. Last minute travel may be difficult on public roadways so if you are traveling, go early and be prepared for heavy traffic, delays and headaches. In some locations in the US, the temperature may drop as much as 20-30 degrees. But NOT in Brazoria County. Since we aren’t in the direct path, it means there will never be a time when you can look at the sun without using the special eclipse glasses or viewers. Even quick glances at the sun, can cause significant damage, which people won’t feel since the back of the eye lacks pain sensors. You will think that your vision is fine until the next morning when you can’t see any more. Don’t take a chance with your expensive smartphones – cover the lens with a solar filter or the eclipse glasses. While supplies last, you can pick up eclipse glasses at The Source Weekly office. You can also go the BASF Planetarium for the Partial Eclipse Safe Viewing party that begins Monday at 11:46am, maximum viewing at 1:16pm and ends at 2:45pm. The Center for the Arts and Sciences at 400 College Drive in Clute. See you there.

Central Market’s Hatch Chile Festival has begun. Stock up and put them in the freezer. They’ll taste pretty yummy this fall, in chili, potato soup, biscuits, corn bread or pasta. They were roasting and bagging them outside the store on Saturday.

A Houston man ordered to pay child support for a daughter that is not his, has finished his 165-mile walk to Austin and the State Capitol to raise awareness of his situation. A DNA test proved he is not the father but according to Texas law, he is still responsible for around $65,000 in back child support that was accrued before the DNA test. The man in question is now married and the father of three. He is due back in Harris County Civil Court on August 28th.

New York: An 8-month-old baby was found alive in a white plastic garbage bag, 3-days and nights after she had been abandoned by her 17-year-old mother. The mother has been charged with attempted murder. So sad. Some states have laws that make it legal to leave a newborn in a safe place such as a hospital or fire station without fear of being prosecuted but it wouldn’t apply to an 8-month-old. Too bad the law tacks an age on it…some people just should not or cannot be parents…for many reasons.

And while we are on this subject…the body of an 8-month-old baby was found in a locked closet at a Ft. Worth home. A police spokesman called the circumstances “suspicious.” Really. What does that mean? Upon further search days later, it had been determined the babysitter had placed the child in his car seat which was then put in the closet so the baby could sleep…the baby was not strapped in correctly, slid down and suffocated. Moms, Dads and babysitters everywhere…listen.

Elvis died 40-years ago at the age of 42. Graceland is the second most famous home in the US after the White House – Presley is considered the best-selling artist of all time. In 4th grade, when Carolyn and I played house, she was married to Elvis and I always had to be married to the dead twin. Life is so unfair.

When a child grows up to a point where we can live with them, they decide to leave home.

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS: Steve Wozniak is 67. Apple Co-founder. Singer Joe Jackson is 63. Actress Viola Davis is 52. Actor Richard Anderson is 91. He was the boss in both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.  Singer Mel Tillis is 85. Actor Dustin Hoffman is 80. I just watched Mrs. Doubtfire again. A classic. Actress Connie Stevens is 79.  Cricket Blake in Hawaiian Eye.  Actor Larry Wilcox is 70. Officer Jon Baker in ChiPs. Actor Keith Carradine is 68. Actor Donny Most is 64.  Ralph Malph on Happy Days. The cute smiling redhead.

Princess Beatrice of York is 29. Actress Rosanna Arquette is 58. Actor Antonio Banderas is 57. Actor-writer Justin Theroux is 46. Actress Angie Harmon is 45. Actress Melanie Griffith is 60. TV host Hoda Kotb is 53. Pro and College Football Hall of famer Deion Sanders is 50. Actress Gillian Anderson is 49. Tennis Hall of Famer Rod Laver is 79. Widely regarded as one of the greatest in the history of the sport.

Blues musician Buddy Guy is 81. Singer Paul Anka is 76. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzegger is 70. Actress Delta Burke is 61. Law Professor Anita Hill is 61. Movie director Richard Linklater is 57. Actor Laurence Fishburne is 56. Actress Lisa Kudrow is 54. Actress Hilary Swank is 43. Actor George Hamilton is 78. Rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot is 54. Tennis Hall-of-Fame Pete Sampras is 46.

Actor Sam Elliott (sigh!) is 73. I could take the rest of the column to talk about Sam Elliott but I won’t. I’ll just end it right here!

Coke Zero is gone. It will be replaced with Coke Zero Sugar to give it an “even better unique blend of flavors.” Some people are mad. If I’m going to splurge and have a soda every few months, I want the straight-up hard stuff called pure cane sugar in my Dr. Pepper. Coke Zero will be packaged in cans and bottles that resemble Coca-Cola Classic.

Word on the street is that Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ is the first slam-dunk Oscar contender of 2017. My kids went to see it in Houston in Imax and said it was just unbelievable. I suggested that I might just go by myself one evening and they both said, “No…it’s just not the sort of movie that you go to by yourself.”  I must go with them or a friend. Are the tables turned or what? Hmmm.

Walmart is bringing back an app that will let you skip the checkout line. Just download their phone app then scan the barcodes of items as they are placed in the basket. Then you have your receipt and cart contents verified by a Walmart employee as you leave, out the door and on your way quickly.

Soon, the United States Postal Service may be allowed to raise the price of mailing a letter.  (It may be time for you to stock up on Forever Stamps.) But let’s think about it, since it’s only 49-cents right now, that’s dang cheap to send something across town or across the country. But, be warned, The Source Weekly may be emailing our account balances out soon. We save every place we can so we can help you advertise your business for the same amount we were charging 10-years ago. That’s right. We haven’t gone up on our rates in 10-years.

The Brazoria County Commissioners’ Court voted unanimously to ban all water activities along San Luis Pass in Southern Brazoria County. This includes bathing, swimming and wade fishing and the order will go into effect on August 20, 2017. Violators will be prosecuted – punishment up to $500 fine. They’re serious this time because too many people have ignored the dangers and lost their lives in the strong current.

Longtime Houston Livestock and Rodeo announcer Bill Bailey died at age 78. He had retired after being with the rodeo for 54 years. That voice. In the 70’s the rodeo’s world-famous BBQ contest was his idea.

A San Antonio woman was cited for disobeying a warning sign, failing to obey a police officer and driving past a barricade, after she waded back into rushing waters to retrieve her keys…AFTER SHE HAD ALREADY BEEN RESCUED from her flooded car by first responders. You could just see the roof of her car in the picture. While I researched this information, I happened to click on a recent rain-soaked video showing a rescue of a San Antonio man that was stranded atop his SUV that was submerged in raging floodwaters. My knees were weak as I watched all 25-minutes of the video. Emergency and first responders everywhere, deserve a huge round of applause because they are absolutely, awesome.

A child is someone who passes through your life, and then disappears into an adult.

The day that this paper comes out, my son, my oldest child, leaves for college. I’ve been preparing for this, for a long, long time. I remember his first birthday party and feeling so sad because it meant that I had only a limited number of years left with him. Well, as it turns out, I got bonus years because he’s a smart kid and stayed at BC for two years, all while working two part-time jobs. I couldn’t be prouder. I first said that I won’t cry on Thursday, then I said that I will NOT cry in front of him but now I’m saying that I will do my very best not to let him see me cry, because honestly, I can barely even see the computer as I type this and my nose is running like a faucet. This kid has made me so happy. He has the nicest, sweetest heart and can find good in most any situation. Because of him I got to be a mom…somebody’s mother…something that I knew I had to be or my life wouldn’t be complete. I was 41-years old when he was born. He went to work with me every day and we built Legos, read the “P” encyclopedia, struggled through math homework, colored and played games, all while I could have (and should have) been working on this newspaper. Regrets? Nope, not one single regret. We played in the dirt, caught frogs, rode bikes and worked on scouting. We talked and I mean, we really talked. And often.  Many, many times, I would close the door of his bedroom at bedtime with him still talking, then as I slipped back in the next morning to wake him, he would pop right up and say, “Now, what I was saying…” and start right back where we left off, in the same conversation that we had tucked into bed the night before. I rejoice in knowing that I saw Disneyworld, Harry Potter World, New York, Boston, fishing on the lake and the whole wonderful world through his eyes.  I have loved helping him check off his concert bucket list of Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, Elton John, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Frankie Valli, Tom Jones, B.B. King, Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson and Z.Z. Top. His future concert list will change and I hope I’m there with him clapping and cheering. But I know that I will mourn for all the vacations we didn’t go on, the books we didn’t read and the little things that we didn’t do, because our lives will never be the same, once we load up all the college related stuff that has been filling up my dining room for the past month. It’s so sweet and sour. I will be happy and sad as he closes his dorm door and I walk back to my car.  I will still sit on the back porch this Sunday and think about all the things we talked about, analyzed and scrutinized every Sunday morning while sipping our favorite coffees from our favorite mugs. I am so excited to see where this new chapter takes him. This is what I raised him to do. But I have this huge, gigantic lump in my throat. I’m going to miss him so much.

Having a child is like growing another heart.

– Lisa

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.

What! Aug. 10, 2017

What I Heard This Week August 10, 2017

What I Heard This Week - Logo

By Lisa Baker • 08-10-17

A Houston woman is free on a $5,000 bond after being accused of belting, slapping and using a Taser on her 6-year-old son because he disrespected her, refused to study and had gotten in trouble in school. If you have ever had a child then you understand a mother’s frustration but I admit, I have never, ever thought about using a Taser. The mother said, “My anger management class told me not to tase him, but we didn’t go into what else to do.” Hmmm. Take away his bike?

On July 28, there was a calf named Genie, born in Kerrville, Texas, that looks JUST LIKE Gene Simmons, bass player of the rock group, Kiss. You know, the tongue, the black and white paint with the points heading off the forehead. A perfect doppelganger. The side-by-side pictures tell the tale.

Former Governor Mark White, who served as Texas governor from 1983 to 1987, suffered a heart attack in Houston and passed away at the age of 77. He made significant investments in improving education in Texas including limiting classroom size and the “no pass, no play” rule, which required students to maintain passing grades to play sports. The latter was not very popular in a state that loves football like Texas. Former President George W. Bush and Luci Baines Johnson were both speakers at the funeral which was open to the public.

The Dow hit 22,000 earlier in August and I didn’t hear about it until today…are we becoming complacent? Don’t get too comfortable.

Again, Willie Nelson says not to listen to the new rumors about his death. He says, “I’m not dead yet.” He’s coming to the rodeo this year. Saturday March 18th, 2018.

The UN passed new sanctions against North Korea so they can’t sell iron, coal, lead and seafood on the international market – about one third of their export income. The world just wants them to tone down the missile-muscle flexing that they have going on. NK says, no way…and they now threaten revenge against the US. In today’s paper they use the words, “pay dearly.” Great. But it does help that China is now in agreement that something needs to be done.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for global cooperation to end nuclear weapons as Japan marked 72 years since the US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”. George Santayana (1863-1952)

The Cubs waited 108-years to win the World Series last year so with all the celebrating that happened during that time and if the math is right…they’re being call “World Series Babies.” Chicago hospitals are now seeing quite a spike (double) in births, 9-months later. One couple welcomed Addison, named for the street outside Wrigley Field.

According to Urban Dictionary: Scaramucci, noun (scar-moo-chee) a unit of time, approximately 9.5-10 days. Example: “I go through a pack of paper towels every Scaramucci.”

The James Taylor & Bonnie Raitt concert was my birthday celebration to myself this year. The kids absolutely loved it. My son got his autograph and all is right with the world. But there were some really, old people rocking and rolling there. Then I remembered how old I am. ☹

New cooking classes at H-E-B in LJ…Friday, Saturday and Sunday…ages 21 and up…Homemade mozzarella ravioli with tomato garlic sauce and salad with a special vinaigrette. Go by their service desk and sign up. It’s fun.

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS: Singer Tony Bennett is 91. The man never stops. He played at Smart Financial recently and he still has everything that it takes to woo a huge crowd. Actor Martin Sheen is 77. Rock singer James Hetfield is 54. Metallica.  Actor Sam Worthington is 41. He was Jake Sully in Avatar. New Avatar movie scheduled for release in 2020. Meteorologist Dylan Dreyer is 36. She is the best part of the Today show. Actress Loni Anderson is 72. Rock singer Rick Derringer is 70. “Hang on Sloopy.”

Actress Maureen McCormick is 61. Marcia Brady.  Actor Daniel Radcliffe is 28. Blues singer Robert Cray is 64.  Comedian Ruth Buzzi is 81. Laugh In. Actress Lynda Carter is 66. Wonder Woman. Actress-singer Kristin Chenoweth is 49. Comic Orson Bean is 89. To Tell the Truth. Actress Louise Fletcher is 83. Nurse Rached in One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Game show host Alex Trebek is 77. Britain’s Prince George of Cambridge is 4.  Actor Billy Bob Thornton is 62. Former President Barack Obama is 56. Retired MLB All-Star pitcher Roger Clemens is 55. Cartoon artist Jim Davis is 72. Garfield.  TV Producer Dick Ebersol is 70. Saturday Night Live and married to Susan Saint James since 1981. Actress Sally Struthers is 70. All in the Family.

Former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is 74. Actor Danny Glover is 71. Director Albert Brooks is 70. Singer Don Henley is 70. Singer Bobby Sherman is 74. He earned six gold records during his career including “Julie, Julie, Julie, Do You Love Me and Easy Come, Easy Go.” He retired from music in the 70s for a career as a paramedic and later a police officer.

What do you call a block of cheese that hasn’t been shredded? Ungrateful.

Peach Street Farmer’s MarketBuy Local, Eat Fresh, in Angleton, open on August 12th. 234 S. Arcola. New venue. Homegrown fruits, veggies, honey, kick-off activities and a great deal of enthusiasm.

Several studies have come out showing that stressful life experiences can lead to dementia. Like losing your job, poverty, divorce, fighting in a war…life experiences and the environment people live in has long-term effects.

Downtown Houston Summer Movie Series is showing Ghostbusters (1984) on August 19th at Main Street Square at Main and McKinney. DowntownHouston.org. It’s a fun movie night plus food trucks.

I seem to be receiving more and more junk and scam mail, every day. I don’t open but just “block sender” on each of them. It doesn’t seem to matter. The robots are working overtime. There are so many fake “$50 vouchers” from Walgreens, Costco, Sam’s, Amazon…just to name a few. One email that caught my eye this morning, “Salads Causing Heart Attacks.” Oh, my. “My order on Delta has been successfully charged to my credit card and my e-ticket is now available for download…just click here.” I’m not sure where Delta is taking me but I bet the trip isn’t worth it. This just came in…I’ve got a “Telegraphic Transfer of a payment from Fabienne.” Where you been, Fabienne? It also seems that there is a “Japanese toenail fungus that could be killing me.” I know what’s killing me but I can’t seem to block it from my computer.

And I need you more than want you. And I want you for all time.  Glen Campbell 1936-2017

A seriously injured Dallas couple are seeking more than $1-million from a body shop that repaired their hail damaged Honda with glue instead of welding. Because the shop did not repair the car properly the fuel tank and structural integrity of the car was compromised, the car caught on fire and the driver sustained serious burns while still conscious and trapped in the burning vehicle. Yikes.

Jim Gentil publishes the Positive People newsletter email. It’s a great read. He is also an ex-Brazoria County guy and motivational speaker for companies that need a good shot of positive. FYI. jim@jimgentil.com.  A few weeks ago, he had this little piece written by Steve Goodier. It is worth repeating. It hit home with me because I know many kids leaving for college in a few days…including my own son. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did…

Pablo Picasso, the great Spanish painter and sculptor, once said this about his ability: “My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general; if you become a monk, you’ll end up as Pope.’  Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”  No lack of confidence here.

But he would have agreed with Abraham Lincoln.  “Whatever you are,” said Lincoln, “be a good one.”  He demonstrated the wisdom of that advice with his own life.

And Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.  He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

I think it helps to remember that excellence is not a place at which we arrive so much as a way of traveling.  To do and be our best is a habit among those who want to live well.

Viennese-born composer Frederick Loewe, whom we remember from his musical scores that include “My Fair Lady,” “Gigi” and “Camelot,” was not always famous.  He studied piano with the great masters of Europe and achieved huge success as a musician and composer in his early years.  But when he immigrated to the United States, he failed as a piano virtuoso.  For a while he tried other types of work including prospecting for gold and boxing.  But he never gave up his dream and continued to play piano and write music.

During those lean years, he could not always afford to make payments on his piano. One day, bent over the keyboard, he heard nothing but the music that he played with such rare inspiration.  When he finished and looked up, he was startled to find that he had an audience – three moving men who were seated on the floor.

They said nothing and made no movement toward the piano.  Instead, they dug into their pockets, pooled together enough money for the payment, placed it on the piano and walked out, empty handed.  Moved by the beauty of his music, these men recognized excellence and responded to it.

Whatever you are, be a good one.  Because if you believe that what you do is of value, then, at least in the important things, you and I can’t afford to be content with mediocre output.  Like Albert Einstein said: “We have to do the best we can. This is our sacred human responsibility.”

And when you choose the path of excellence through this life, then like Frederick Loewe, you may find encouragement from unexpected sources.  And it will have been worth it. Steve Goodier

What I didn’t tell you about my recent Zoo trip was that there are “people of the zoo” that are more interesting to watch than the animals…mainly because of their total lack of common sense. Leave t-shirts at home that says you shower naked and other lovely comments that I can’t repeat in this column. Shame on you. The zoo is for kids. There was the lady with her newborn baby sitting in the sun in late July. I believe that you should be at least 18 months old to visit the zoo with an adult, because otherwise you’re just an adult using a child as an excuse to get into the zoo. Bring your manners with you. Strollers to the right just like driving a car…and you can’t put three strollers side-by-side at the zoo so you can continue your conversation with the other moms. You were wiping people out. There’s no passing lane. Drink a glass of wine together this afternoon after you get home from the zoo. You don’t have the right-of-way simply because of your stroller is bigger than me. I’m a nice person – don’t hurt me. And by the way, healthy 10-year-olds should not be in strollers – are you trying to raise a capable adult or a wimp? OK, I feel better now.

Martin Shkreli was found guilty of securities fraud. He is famous for raising the price of an AIDS drug from $13.50 to $750, practically overnight. Then he was also running a Ponzi scheme, stealing millions of dollars from investors. He could get as much as 20 years in prison. He’s just so cocky…

According to Dictionary.com, a Ponzi (pon-zee) noun, is a swindle in which a quick return, made up of money from new investors, on an initial investment that lures the victim into much bigger risks.

Life is the most difficult exam. Many people fail because they try to copy others, not realizing that everyone has a different question paper.

Did you know that zebra stripes are different on every single zebra? Like fingerprints.

– Lisa

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!

What! Aug. 03, 2017

What I Heard This Week August 3, 2017

What I Heard This Week - Logo

By Lisa Baker • 08-03-17

Hey.  Someone left some very pretty, red tomato cages in my backyard office garden area. Whoever you may be…thank you and I appreciate your random act of kindness. I must pay it forward.

BestHerbs Coffee in Grand Prairie, voluntarily recalled all its New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee because it contains a substance similar to Viagra. Some people were buying the coffee to use as a male enhancement. Hmmm. Cuppa tea?

A federal appeals court has ruled that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) must now review sizes of seats on commercial planes. So, I say…are the seats shrinking…because some of these planes have been in the air with the same size seats for the past 25-30 years…or are our behinds just getting bigger?

A collection bag used by Neil Armstrong during the first manned mission to the moon in 1969, containing traces of moon dust, sold for $1.8-million recently at an auction, after a lengthy court battle. The artifact from the Apollo 11 mission had been misidentified and sold at an online government auction in 2015 and NASA fought to get it back, but it was recently found to legally belong to the Chicago woman who bought it in 2015 for $995. NASA still says that the artifact belongs to the American people. Oops.

Remember skate key hanging on a piece of yarn around your neck?

An Alaskan Princess cruise was diverted because a Utah man on board killed his wife. The man told an acquaintance who walked into the blood splattered cabin that he did it because she wouldn’t quit laughing at him. Personal note to self… laughter is not always good medicine. Princess Cruises announced that passengers received $150 onboard credit “because of the effect on their vacations.”

A married, senior pastor at a Woodlands church, was arrested and charged with prostitution after he paid an undercover sheriff’s deputy $80 for sexual activities. Yikes.

Jeff Bagwell was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He mentioned his dad. A lot. He mentioned little-known clubhouse attendants. Then he thanked his dad again and again. Bagwell said, “You showed me respect, how to have respect and to walk through this life as a man. That’s something that I’m very proud of…you are just a wonderful father and I’m so happy that you’re here for this day for me. I know it means a lot to you. And we’re in this together, my friend.” Tears. His dad, Robert, is 89.

Katy ISD, home to nearly 73,000 students, has blocked off six “family nights” for the 2017-2018 school year calendar, where teachers will be dissuaded from assigning homework and students will be encouraged to eat, read, play and bond with their families…this is an imaginative idea if people will seize the moment and do it.  I say, don’t wait for a school calendar to suggest a family night. What’s wrong with tonight?

Sam Shepard, the rugged good-looking actor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of plays, screenplays, stories and memoirs, has died at the age of 73 from complications of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was one talented guy.

Pay attention because this one gets complicated. In Montgomery, Alabama, inmates escaped from a jail by using peanut butter to change the number above a cell to the number that identified the door leading to outside the jail, then they tricked a new inexperienced jail employee into letting an inmate into his cell (which actually led to the outside.)  They apparently saved peanut butter from food served at the jail.  If only they would use all that smart for the good of mankind and themselves.

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS: Singer Yusuf Islam is 69. He is the former Cat Stevens. Cartoonist Garry Trudeau is 69. Comedian Jon Lovitz is 60. Singer-actress Jennifer Lopez is 48. Humorist Dave Barry is 70. Love him. Actress Betty Buckley is 70. Actress Jan Smithers is 68. WKRP in Cincinnati. Actor Tom Cruise is 55. Actress Yeardley Smith is 53. Lisa Simpson. Martha Stewart is 76. Actress Geraldine Chaplin is 73. Author J.K. Rowling is 52. Playwright Tom Stoppard is 80. He says, “A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”

Longtime cannabis activist and talk show host Montel Williams is 61.  He debuted his line of cannabis-based elixirs last week. Williams’ multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 1999 pushed him to become an outspoken advocate for medical cannabis.

The world’s oldest-known zoo hippo, Bertha, died at the age of 65. The female hippo had lived at the Manila Zoo in the Philippines since it opened in 1959.

J.J. Watt debuted his new clothing line. It is sold locally at Nordstrom and online at MizzenandMain.com.

On a normal day, I seem to think I can do two things at once. It’s obviously not very efficient or I would be further along at the end of each week. Currently, I have toothpaste down the front of many of my clothes because I think I can cook, clean and change the oil in the car, all while I brush my teeth. There again, not very efficient.  But, I do think I’m capable of listening to a book on tape all while driving a car, because I’ve done it for thirty plus years, without incident. They were called books on cassette way back then. I have had several favorite authors including Sue Grafton with the alphabet series about female private investigator, Kinsey Millhone. Grafton said that, “while going through a bitter divorce and custody battle that lasted six long years, she imagined ways to kill or maim her ex-husband. Her fantasies were so vivid that she decided to write them down.”  Hmmm.

Recently, I started listening to the Mitford series by Jan Karon. I LOVE THEM. They’re on the opposite end of the spectrum with this main character, an Episcopal priest named Timothy Kavanaugh, living in a fictional town in North Carolina. It’s just the sweetest read that doesn’t preach, is free of sex, violence and profane content. There are 20 books in all, including two children’s books AND I just found out that the first movie in the series, “At Home in Mitford,” will preview August 20th, on the Hallmark channel.  The only bad part is Cameron Mathison and Andie MacDowell don’t really fit my vision (at all) of the main two characters, which always happens when you read a book first. I envision someone more mature like Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan. But, they didn’t ask me. But now that I’m thinking about it, why can’t Sam Elliott just star in everything.

I still believe that if your aim is to change the world, journalism is a more immediate short-term weapon.” Tom Stoppard

The International Olympic Committee has announced that the 2024 and 2028 Olympics will be held in Paris and Los Angeles BUT we don’t know which city gets which year, yet.

Little Shop of Horrors coming to Brazosport Center Stages, September 15-24. I’m telling you early because I don’t want to hear you whine when it sells out and you don’t get a ticket.  So, mark it on your calendar now so you can say that you bought tickets and saw one of the most popular shows in the world. Audrey II will be looking for you.

“If you’ve never been hated by your child, you’ve never been a parent.”  Bette Davis

Stay dry this week.

– Lisa

What! July 27, 2017

What I Heard This Week July 27, 2017

What I Heard This Week - Logo

By Lisa Baker • 07-27-17

An English woman was having anesthesia injected into her eye before cataract surgery when they discovered 17 contact lenses clumped together in her eye…then, they discovered another 10 lenses…that’s a total of 27 contact lenses in one eye. The patient had been wearing monthly disposable contact lenses for about 35 years. Yikes. That makes my eyes hurt.

The rapper, Bow Wow, has denied that he paid people to follow him down the street to “make him appear more popular.” I’ve thought about doing that…me in H-E-B, with an entourage following close behind, through the gluten free isle then on to the red wine.  People swooning when they see what I placed on the checkout line. I would be so popular that readers would want to read more and advertisers would be lined up, just waiting for me, begging me to let them advertise more each week. I should try it.  I wonder how much he paid them to follow him. Which reminds me…I need part-time sales people at my office. Retired…college students…mothers that want to go back to work now that their kids are in school…I need good, conscientious, MATURE people that want to work with a super-great, employment family.

Between 1980 and 2014, the average life expectancy increased in the US from 77.5 to 81.5 years for women and from 70 to 76.7 years for men.

Texas Monthly has named Truth BBQ in Brenham as one of their “Top Fifty BBQ Joints in Texas.” If that wasn’t enough, Truth made the “Top 10 List” for their mouth-watering brisket. Truth BBQ Pitmaster is 29-year-old, third-generation restaurateur, Leonard Botello IV, who also happens to be a Lake Jackson native. Remember Café Laredo and Café Annice? It is reported that Leonard will soon open a second location “somewhere” inside the loop. Congratulations to the whole Botello family. We know you ALL worked hard for this.

According to the Geological Society of America, the coast of Louisiana has experienced catastrophic rates of wetland loss over the past century, equivalent in size to the state of Delaware.  A variety of factors have contributed to the problem, including construction of flood-protection levees (sediment from the Mississippi River is now funneled into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico) and accelerated sea-level rise (climate change.) It was stated, “Perhaps worst-case scenarios should be considered the new normal in other low-elevation coastal zones worldwide as well.”

Just weeks ago, Saudi Arabia decided to let girls take PE class in public school. Then a week later, Saudi police arrested a young woman for wearing a mini skirt and crop top in public which is very much against the law there. They are still required to cover their hair and bodies in public. Hmmm.

Have you noticed how pretty the crepe myrtles are this year. Plenty of blooms and the colors are just gorgeous. I wonder why this year is different than the last.

Flowers always make people better, happier and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul.”  Luther Burbank

England is celebrating Jane Austen (it is the 200th anniversary of her death) by releasing a 10-pound note with her portrait on it. Last year England released a 5-pound note with Winston Churchill’s portrait on one side and Queen Elizabeth on the other side. Both notes are printed on polymer plastic and should last twice as long as cloth paper notes.

Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.Bo Derek

Basketball Hall of Fame center Dikembe Mutombo says he is working on putting together a group that have interest in buying the Houston Rockets.

A couple called off their $30,000 wedding in Indiana, but were left with a non-refundable contract and a plated dinner for 170 guests, so families, veterans and others – around 200 homeless strangers in all – arrived at the Ritz Charles in donated clothing and accessories to feast on bourbon-glazed meatballs, roasted chicken smothered in chardonnay cream sauce and of course, wedding cake. The bride-to-be had scrimped and saved for years to pay for her dream wedding and just didn’t want it all to go to waste. When life gives you lemons…

HAPPY BIRTHDAYS: Actor Patrick Wayne is 78. He made eleven films with his dad, John Wayne. Actor Jan-Michael Vincent is 73. He was once the highest paid actor on TV. Singer Linda Ronstadt is 71. The singer is often referred to as the first true female rock superstar and is considered the top-selling female singer of the 70s. Arianna Huffington is 67. She is the co-founder of The Huffington Post. Actor Terry O’Quinn is 65. John Locke on Lost. College Football Hall of Fame and football coach Jimmy Johnson is 74.

Rock composer-musician Stewart Copeland is 65. He was the former drummer of The Police. Dancer Michael Flatley is 59. Actress Phoebe Cates is 54. She has been married to actor Kevin Kline since 1989.  Actor Donald Sutherland is 85. The Dirty Dozen, M*A*S*H, Kelly’s Heroes, Klute, Animal House, Ordinary People and many, many more, Singer-actress Diahann Carroll is 82. Julia. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall is 70. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is 63.  Singer Vikki Carr is 77. It Must Be Him. Rock musician Brian May is 70. Queen. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch is 41. Actor Vin Diesel is 50.Actor Anthony Edwards is 55. ER.

Ex-NFL player and actor Rosey Grier is 85. Actress Jane Lynch is 57. Actress Diana Rigg is 79. The Avengers. Singer Kim Carnes is 72. Bette Davis Eyes. Musician Carlos Santana is 70. Actress Donna Dixon is 60. She has been married to Dan Aykroyd since 1983. Actor James Brolin is 77. Businessman Richard Branson is 67. Virgin Group. Singer Ricky Skaggs is 63. Actress Elizabeth McGovern is 56. Cora Crawley in Downton Abbey but also the frontwoman of a band called Sadie and the Hotheads. Watch, ‘Nothing New.

A Nevada parole board has decided that the 70-year-old former football, TV and movie star, O.J. Simpson, will be released in October after serving his minimum term for armed robbery and assault with a weapon.

A Dallas man walked 3-miles to work every day because he was trying to better himself. A group of strangers, so inspired by his need, secretly set up a donation box at a local restaurant where they were able to gather enough money for a used Toyota Camry, a year’s worth of insurance, 2-years of oil changes and a $500 gas card. There is so much good in the world.

Former President Jimmy Carter was treated for dehydration while helping to build houses in Canada for Habitat for Humanity. He is 92 years old and still building houses for Habitat. Two years ago, after he revealed that cancer had spread to his brain, doctors treated him with Keytruda, a drug to help the immune system seek out and destroy cancer cells. It sure sounds like it worked.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited North Dakota last week to learn more about the fracking and oil industries. There has been much speculation about the billionaire’s possible future in politics.

Mark your calendar. The 2017 Lavender and Wine Festival will be hosted by Chappell Hill Lavender Farm and Windy Winery on August 12th, in Brenham, Texas.

Back to childhood years…remember the black and white Indian head picture on the tv screen as it signed off the air at midnight after playing the national anthem…then that terrible shrieking noise and outrageous static that was a reminder to turn off the TV and get to bed. Somewhere during that midnight hour, they had a video of a jet fighter with a poem that had nothing to do with going to bed or turning out the lights. Then early the next morning the color bar test pattern would appear and your day had started.

They are calling them reboots. New movies about previously produced topics. Tom Cruise will make archaeology cool again in a reboot of The Mummy. Brie Larson will star in the new King Kong movie, Kong: Skull Island. The Fate of the Furious is the eighth installment in The Fast and Furious franchise. Helen Mirren will make a cameo appearance which classes up the whole thing. Baywatch returns with Dwayne Johnson and others. I never saw the TV series so I’m underwhelmed. Oh, and Top Gun 2.

Krispy Kreme – Japan, has Crème Brulee donuts and café latte bunny donuts. Central Florida Krispy Kreme’s have the Birthday Cake Batter doughnut – yellow cake batter and white Kreme filling, topped with yellow icing and sprinkles. But, no one can compete with LondonRed Berry Drizzle yeast donut filled with raspberry jam, topped with cream cheese frosting, finished with biscuit pieces and fresh strawberries, plus a drizzle of red berry coulis and lacy crepe crumbs. You should see the pictures. There’s a Popping Champagne donut filled with Marc de Champagne brandy-infused white chocolate topped with champagne cream and Belgian chocolate shavings, sprinkled with popping candies and gold sugar…Magic Unicorn Donut (think new unicorn drink at Starbucks – it’s beautiful) and then Salted Caramel and Honeycomb donut drizzled with white chocolate. Don’t get excited because these upscale donuts are only available at one location…inside the food hall at Selfridges (a high-end department store similar to Neiman Marcus) where the namesake Selfridge Donut is stuffed full of chocolate frosting, covered in dark chocolate ganache, finished with gold dust, Belgian chocolate stars and a candy Selfridge plaque on top. I heard there are some good deals on flights right now.

Disney has announced that Epcot, Disney’s third-oldest theme park, is going to get a facelift.

Remember when the TV announcer would say…” It’s ten o’clock – do you know where your children are?” When I explained this to my kids, they did not understand AT ALL. Sigh. Those were the days when we were still outside playing instead of having our noses stuck into a phone.

UrbanDictionary says the word of the day is “Magic Stairs” which is another word for escalator…” The elevator is too slow, so I’ll take the magic stairs.”

When a barber shop owner received an estimate for the new floors at his shop in the UK, he decided that it was way too expensive and that he could do better, so he covered the floor in pennies. It took the barber shop crew a full week to glue 70,000 coins to the ground and then grout. Talk about the coolest floors in town! They are beautiful. I would never have guessed that it would be that pretty.

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” Phyllis Diller

I told you that my daughter turned eighteen last week. Heavy sigh. She had a reunion group that met at the Zoo early that morning so we went together, then I did my own thing which was to visit the new 305-pound baby elephant named “Joy” that was born to Asian Elephant mom, Shanti on July 12th. Nothing prepared me for Joy being so cute.  We hurried back to LJ, showered then headed back to Jinya Ramen Bar (our favorite ramen noodle joint) and on to Jones Hall to watch/listen to The Houston Symphony perform live while the first Harry Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” played on a huge screen. IT WAS SO GOOD! 3 sold-out performances. What an 18th birthday!

– Lisa

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.

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