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Much Ado About Nothing – Bee Aware

Much Ado About Nothing April 19, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Just when you think it’s safe to go back into the house, they show up. Hundreds of them. And they’re all buzzing and flying and crawling, coming into my home while I stand by seemingly helpless and mildly horrified: BEES! A swarm just smaller than something conjured by a frightening Stephen King novel was invading my house, establishing their own independent colony, and usurping my authority over my own domain. What these little airborne bumble bodies didn’t know was that they’d picked the wrong house.

Okay, they weren’t exactly John Belushi dressed as a Bandito bee demanding all our pollen. Nor were they the Astro’s Biggio, Bagwell, and Berkman. For that matter, they likely weren’t even killer bees at all. They were relatively harmless European honey bees excited over spring in full bloom looking for a place to set up shop for their honey buzzness. It just couldn’t be in my house.

Armed with the power of Google, I called three bee removal companies, all of which said they’d come to my house and spray them dead for a “fair and reasonable price to be negotiated later.” Suddenly, I’m more horrified by the bee wranglers than the infestation. With the exception of their South American cousins with anger management issues who actually want to kill off any life form near their hives, bees are actually on the more loveable end of the insect spectrum (as opposed to say, cockroaches). No possible way did I want the bees murdered in cold honey!

I wanted these bees relocated to a nice field of clover more than two miles from where I now live. I wanted them to forget my address. Forget my house. Forget the belief that taking over my attic was like annexing Poland as a first step to total world domination. Because, let’s face it, my house is only big enough for one all-important, omnipotent queen bee, and I’m still wearing the crown in this hive. So they just needed to be moved on.

Fortunately, I found apiarists (guys in bee tamer suits) who came immediately to calmly and politely remove the buzzing interlopers to a new better-suited location. So at the end of the day, I’m happy. The bees will be happier. And my check cleared so the bee guys will be happiest of all.

Much Ado About Nothing – Royal Wedding Prep

Much Ado About Nothing April 12, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

The invites are out for next month’s royal wedding, and I wait anxiously for mine to arrive, the whole while brushing up on a few key royal guest no-no’s in order to not be sent to the Tower to await beheading.

First of all, don’t hug the Queen. Did you hear that, Michelle Obama? Don’t hug the Queen. I know it was just that one time you put your hand on her back, but she’s squirrely about the whole personal space thing. I think this goes back thousands of royal generations. You think the Marquis de Sade is your buddy and just wants to give you a warm, happy hug, and the next thing you know, there’s a knife in your back. Happened all the time, just ask Julius Caesar. Sure the Knights of the Roundtable wear metal suits, but hardly practical for the Queen. This may be why you’re not invited this time. And why President Trump is also not invited.

Secondly, don’t send texts, update your status, or tweet. Really? I’m considering the caliber of the guest list here. Don’t people at this level have “people” to do that for them? Don’t they clench their jaws and say, “James, send a line to Mumsy to have Buffy’s polo pony walked.” Or “James, FaceBook that Lady Wallingford looks like a stuffed platypus in that horrible dress LOL.” The key here is to wait until after the nuptials to worry about Buffy’s polo pony. And remember that Lady Wallingford is one of your FaceBook friends, so she’ll read that.

Other tips: Back up when leaving the presence of the Royals. I don’t know if that is related to the fact that the lactose intolerant rarely get invited to these things or not. Just back up and don’t knock anything over. Also, ladies must wear a hat. The one you wore to the rodeo is a no. Yankees baseball cap is a double no. I wouldn’t even wear that one to a dog fight. Think pretty but low profile. You don’t want Lady Wallingford to smack it off your head because she can’t see the bride.

Prince Harry and Meghan are contemporary and a bit unconventional, but don’t expect that to mean that all the rules are right out the royal window. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to check the mailbox again.

Much Ado About Nothing – Coffee Cancer

Much Ado About Nothing April 5, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

And in happier news… well, there’s none of that. But California says your coffee will give you cancer, so you’ve got that to look forward to. According to the courts, roasting coffee beans creates – along with a steamy, hot cup of Joe — a chemical called acrylamide which has been linked to cancer. As a result, there has to be a warning posted to protect us from ourselves. Although, I’m not sure how you’re supposed to read the warning if you can’t actually pry your eyes open without drinking the coffee first.

I’m not a coffee drinker myself. To be honest, I’ve actually never had a cup of coffee in my ever-lengthening life. I went through college during the age of Jolt Cola, which was the equivalent of a caffeinated atomic bomb. You drank one at the beginning of the semester and didn’t actually sleep again until a week after mid-terms. So I never found the need for coffee, nor did the taste appeal to me. But I understand the bond people have with their coffee cups. How else do you explain Starbucks?

So correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t every researcher and nutritionist touting the health benefits of coffee? You only have to Google to find studies showing it reduces risk of heart disease, hair loss, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and lowers the risk for early death. Unless you die of acrylamide sourced cancer, I guess.

Tell me, too, why aren’t those same courts up in arms about the fact that there’s also formaldehyde in coffee beans that comes out when you roast them. As I recall from my high school biology days, anything drenched in formaldehyde wasn’t exactly healthy.

Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up in the shadow of the petroleum and chemical plants most of my life, but I’m thinking there are bigger risks out there than a café-latte-expresso-mocha with a shot of moo juice (or whatever you call those expensive designer coffee drinks). There are a lot of people doing a whole lot of things to keep folks from being exposed to nasty stuff. But we have to face the facts that we’re a Better Living Through Chemistry kind of society and it comes with risks. So does stepping out your front door on a daily basis. So enjoy your coffee, but wear your seatbelts.

Much Ado About Nothing – MLB Opening Day

Much Ado About Nothing March 29, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

It’s been exactly 148 days of dark, cold, baseball-less winter. Four months and 28 days since the Houston Astros won the 2017 World Series. But it is Opening Day for Major League Baseball and I’m as happy as a tick on a fat dog. The Cracker Jacks® are cracking, the hot dogs are grilling, and the Astros are gearing up for another run on the Title. These are the days filled with great hope, optimism, and a belief that all can be right with the world. Until it’s not.

There are some weird things brewing in the back offices of America’s game. Since I haven’t gotten the call up to take over as the Commissioner of the MLB, there isn’t much I can do about these proposed changes. Obviously, if I had any say at all, the Astros wouldn’t be playing in the American League West; there’d be no such thing as a designated hitter; and there’d be a cap on salaries and ticket prices.

So somewhere in the Halls of Power, someone is drunk. In order to speed up the game, the MLB is proposing that each extra inning starts with a runner at second base. I can only wonder if the players will also be expected to sell those $1 chocolate bars to raise money for the party at the end of the season, if there will be 10-run rule, and will the winning team get free snow cones from the concession stand?

From someone who sat up to watch all 18 innings of the Astros game against the Atlanta Braves in 2005, I think this is a ridiculous, pointless rule. If they’re going to do that, then why not just call the game after five innings? Why play at all? Just send the two owners to the mound and flip a coin. Heads gets a win and a bath in a cooler of blue Gatorade. Tails has to eat one of the new pickle corndogs that the Texas Rangers will be selling at their stadium this season. Poor food choices are just one more reason to not like the Rangers. If you need more reasons, hit me up. There’s a long list.

From the five-year old with a glove bigger than his head to Jose Altuve once again besting his own batting records, it’s finally time. Let’s Play Ball!

Much Ado About Nothing – Spring Break

Much Ado About Nothing March 22, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Dear Kenmore Elite Washer and Dryer, I am so sorry. I understand that there are limits to your capacity and capabilities to perform your set functions, but I can’t tell my college students not to come home with a half-semester’s worth of dirty laundry. Of course, you and I have developed a machine-human relationship built on respect and understanding that, obviously, in their naïve youthfulness, they don’t quite get. I try not to overload you and you try not to eat single socks. For us, it works. They, however, have strange ideas. Young people are like that.

First of all, I sort clothes. Whites, colors, jeans, towels, delicates – you get it. It’s like an adult Sesame Street® game where you match all the things that are alike. If nothing else, this is a great way to keep tighty-whities from being tighty-denim blues. So maybe college students don’t actually get that. To them, sorting is “wash” or “throw away.” One load. One love. And whereas I try to not overtax the machine, they believe if you can still force the door closed, you’re good to go. My dear Kenmores, I can only apologize.

To the French-door, freezer underneath refrigerator, I appreciate your efforts to work overtime. I do understand that it is more difficult to maintain a consistent temperature when the doors stand open for long periods of time. And yes, I realize, too, that there was a lot of food in there, but maybe there were just too many choices. Although, by the end of the relatively brief visit, you and the pantry looked like all battalions of the Syrian Army had just come through on a supply raid. I promise to reward your consistency and patience by restocking as soon as I liquidate my 401K.

You have to realize, my prized and well-loved appliances, that college students just aren’t like you. They have no easy-to-understand manual that lets you trouble-shoot problems as they arise. There is certainly no warranty or protection plan. There are no YouTube videos that explain step-by-step how to go back to the original factory settings. Trust me, I checked!

The good news for you – although not so much for me – is that the college students seem to only migrate through seasonally. I’ve already scheduled the technician for your tune-ups. And thank you for your service.

Much Ado About Nothing – Shopping

Much Ado About Nothing March 15, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Some women are shopaholics, whether they admit it or not. For some, an intervention and a 12-step program should really be more critical than the One-Day-Only sale at Kohl’s. Personally, I’m not one of those women. At the same time, I’m not one who is wearing the same outfit since 1987 because I don’t want to go to the mall. (By the way, that outfit is back in style!). Regardless of where you fall on the shopping spectrum, there are a few things that are just torturous to shop for.

Jeans. Jeans are not fun to shop for. While pretty much any t-shirt can be worn by pretty much any person, jeans are individual. The perfect pair of jeans that will fit great and be comfortable are usually found next to the unicorns and the bags of Purina Big Foot Chow. You have to have your fat jeans for the days when it’s better to feel good than to look good. There are your weekend jeans, painting jeans, dress up jeans, wear with heels jeans. And really, none of them fit perfectly. With jeans, you just have to get close and live with it.

What’s worse than shopping for jeans? Shopping for bras. Sorry, guys, but if we have to suffer, so do you. This is implanted on our female psyches at an impressionable age by our mothers. It’s a miserable task, take my word for it. You have to find the one that makes you stand up, stand out and not give you back boobs. You know, back boobs, that fat that rolls over the top of your bra strap in back right between your armpits and your spine. So not pretty. Shopping for bras is nothing like a Victoria Secret commercial. There’s no angel there with a measuring tape making the experience all ethereal. It’s usually some really old lady who’s had tuna sandwiches for lunch for the past 16 years.

And at the top of the list of things we all hate to shop for: bathing suits. Unless you’re an Olympic qualifier, Speedo is not a brand anyone should consider in any style. The simplest way to handle bathing suit shopping is to accept that you’re going to be miserable and be grateful for winter because suddenly jeans aren’t so bad.

Much Ado About Nothing – What I Don’t Understand

Much Ado About Nothing March 8, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Did you know that 48.8% of Millennials felt climate change was the most critical issue facing our world today and that 78.1% said they’d be willing to change their lifestyle to protect the environment? I do my part and recycle and stuff, but I’m going to let younger, more energetic minds worry about the big issues, and I’ll worry about things like, why do cows all point the same direction when they stand together in a field? Maybe it’s part of climate change.

After you find the answer to that one, can someone please tell me why several days of sub-freezing weather only kills vegetation that has been paid for? If I paid good money for something in my flowerbed, it’s dead. Frozen, mushy, brown and dead. But the weeds come back energized and heartier than ever after their winter cryo-therapy. Why? If I bought weeds, would they die? Could I shred up some dollar bills for mulch for a better effect than wasting those same dollars on weed control and Round-Up®? Wouldn’t that be environmentally more responsible than applying all those chemicals anyway?!

Here’s another good question that maybe anyone can field: What’s an Instant Pot? Is it not cool to just have a Crock-Pot® anymore? Or is an Instant Pot just a Crock-Pot on crack? Maybe it should just be called a Crack-Pot. In so very many ways, I think that might fit.

I realize I could just ask Alexa or Siri or whoever the unseen-but-all-hearing entity is that lives inside the electronics that seem to have invaded my life. Except I don’t understand those either. To be honest, I’m still utterly fascinated at the magic of radio waves. My television screen had a message telling me to speak my request into my remote control. There was a time when doing things like that would get you a one-way trip to the booby hatch, so I’m not sure I’m completely comfortable with that quite yet.

Oh yeah, and can someone tell me why a good pair of scissors comes in a package that can only be opened with a good pair of scissors? Not to state the obvious, but if I had a good pair of scissors to open the package, I wouldn’t, well, need to open the package.

You see, Millennials, why I leave it to you to fix the big things.

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Tide Pods

Much Ado About Nothing March 1, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Olympics

Much Ado About Nothing February 14, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Zombie Ants Redux

Much Ado About Nothing February 8, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – New California

Much Ado About Nothing February 1, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Blueberries

Much Ado About Nothing January 25, 2018

 

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Cold

Much Ado About Nothing January 18, 2018

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Space Trash

Much Ado About Nothing January 11, 2018

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Crabbiness

Much Ado About Nothing January 4, 2018

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Resolutions

Much Ado About Nothing December 28, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much Ado About Nothing – Blood Donor

Much Ado About Nothing December 21, 2017

Jean Ciampi - Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing by Jan Ciampi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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