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Much Ado About Nothing – Family Pet Fails

Much Ado About Nothing October 11, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

It’s been just over a year since our well-loved dog Buster chased a squirrel across the Rainbow Bridge. I guess my youngest son believes the official period of mourning should be wrapping up: I can take the sheets off the mirrors and quit wearing black wool every day. Recently, he started a not so subtle campaign for the addition to the family with a text that said, “Talk to Dad about getting a pet from the family of Mustelidae.” This wasn’t going to be good.

I’m sure the Mustelidae’s are a very nice family but maybe we just invite them for dinner first. Before I could Google mustelidae, a follow up text explained they’re ferrets, weasels and otters, oh, and honey badgers which, according to the internet, are “very dangerous and deadly to humans.” Okay, dinner is out and I’m questioning the wisdom of letting him major in marine biology.

When I pointed out that I don’t have water for an otter and my homeowner’s association surely will frown on deadly honey badgers, he pushed for the weasel. “Dangerous but not deadly to humans,” so still no.

Today’s text read, “Hey, what about getting a family tortoise. Pass it along in the family.” Nothing says let’s have a game of fetch quite like a family tortoise. But since they live for over 100 years, he says we can pass it down for generations. Which means that there will be Ciampi’s hating us into the next century. He tried pointing out, “Every normal white family has a dog, but the Ciampi legacy is a family tortoise that’s been in the family for years.” Since I’m not driving a crossover SUV or into anything pumpkin spice, I have to do something to maintain my white mom status besides asking to speak to the manager. While the tortoise is cool in a sedate, slo-mo kind of way and a much better choice than a honey badger, it’s still a no.

Son #2 is currently babysitting hissing cockroaches for his Biology lab and is smart enough not to even suggest one as a pet, so college is teaching him something. I’m not convinced there’s another good boy that could follow Buster. I’m also not convinced that Son #2 is not giving up. But before he asks, no, we’re not getting a pet giant squid.

Much Ado About Nothing – Drug Dogs

Much Ado About Nothing October 3, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

The skies over Los Angeles have just gotten a little friendlier. Last month Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) announced you can now legally carry marijuana through the airport. While this may be good news to folks like Sir Paul McCartney who got busted for half a pound in Tokyo airport in the 80’s and actor Bill Murray who got thrown out of college in the 70’s for trying to bring nine pounds through O’Hare, not everyone is buzzing about the change, starting with how many detection canines who can look for a pink slip with their bowl of kibble.

I am not nor have I ever been a user of recreational drugs, so I could care less about the news. But I’m a sucker for a dog: stray dog, rescued dog, working dog, old dog, service dog. So I’m guessing we’re going to have a pack of well-trained pooches off the payroll now. No reason for Thor the Narcotics K9 to point out the pothead passengers if TSA starts standing for Travelers Smoking is Alright. Is there a union to speak up for dog rights? Can these dogs get an emotional support animal? Preferably not a kitten.

Before you book a ticket for the Sunshine State and pack your suitcase “with up to 28.5 grams of marijuana and 8 grams of concentrated marijuana” as allowed by California law plus three bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and a Taco Bell Triple Double Crunch Wrap Box, remember that once you leave LAX, you’re onboard a plane subject to Federal laws which don’t feel kindly about such things. And if you land in a state that’s not so liberal on their drug laws, you may encounter some still-employed, feisty detection canines carrying a grudge about their brothers in collars that lost their jobs and want to take it out on you.

So here’s how it rolls up: you can’t really carry marijuana on the plane, can’t have it on you in a majority of airports, and cannot smoke it in LAX. I’m not totally sure then what exactly has changed other than the drug sniffing dogs are all pointing their paws at bigger prizes on the luggage carousel instead of weeding out weed. Maybe we listen to McGruff the Crime Dog and Just Say No.

Much Ado About Nothing – Flu Snipers

Much Ado About Nothing September 26, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

While that first crisp morning might be the indicator that summer is finally considering releasing its sweaty, nasty, mosquito-infested hold on our lives, it also heralds the beginning of a new season. Good bye hurricane season, hello flu season. I know this because every form of pharmacy has stuck a sign out trying to lure me in for a shot. I don’t like shots. I’d rather have summer. But maybe without the mosquitoes.

What I find a little frightening are the grocery stores that want you to be “Shot While You Shop.” That’s just flat out alarming. Are they going after moving targets now? Why do I suddenly feel like big game hunting has come to town and I’m on the trophy list? Are they posting snipers in the produce department? I’m terrified now to slip in for a loaf of bread that I won’t be targeted by some half-crazed pharmacist with a quota, a blow gun and a flu shot dart. We’ve gone from gang-related drive-by shootings to viral-prevention walk-by shootings. The world has gone crazy.

Did you know that you’re even supposed to get a flu shot for your dog, too? Oh yes! If you don’t, then you’re a negligent, uncaring animal hater that could be responsible for some other dog getting a stuffy nose and watery eyes. Maybe even a low-grade fever and sneezing. Of course, if you don’t get a flu shot for your dog then you’ll get lumped into the group of people who don’t give their children vaccines which thereby endangers all of us. So maybe it’d just be easier to sneak in that flu shot when Rover gets his rabies update.

I’m all about everyone having a flu shot. And don’t bother crying at me about how the last time you had a flu shot you got the flu. You probably already had the flu when you got the shot. It takes ten days to incubate. Unless you’re a dog, then I guess it incubates in dog years or something. In the next few weeks, I’ll even man up and get one myself. What the heck, maybe I’ll get pneumonia, shingles and rabies while I’m at it. Or I’ll simply make a grocery list and wait to get picked off in the freezer section by the pharmacy flu snipers!

Much Ado About Nothing – Bugnapping

Much Ado About Nothing September 19, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

I get it that maybe you hate your job. I’ve had jobs I hated. One summer, I sold pots and pans door to door. Clarification: I went door to door but sold zero pots and pans. I hated it. When you hate your job, though, the smart thing to do is find another job and move on. I suggest professionalism in the hopes you’ll get a good reference and you never know who you’ll run into in the business world. Unless you work at the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion. Then all bets are totally off.

Last month, a group of employees at the Philly Insectarium finally got fed up with I don’t even know what. The list of things that could be horrible about working at the Philadelphia Insectarium are almost uncountable, starting with spending every day with a bunch of creepy bugs that you’re not allowed to stomp on, smash, or spray with Raid. I can only guess that the employee benefits package sucks. As if they’re going to offer medical or life insurance to people who work around deadly six-eyed sand spiders. Another day, another claim on the company policy! Employees dropping like rare, endangered, poisonous flies!

Whatever their reasons, employees started carting off boxes of bugs. More than 7,000 insects gone, including an entire colony of cockroaches, over several days. In case the staff uniforms pinned to the wall with large knives weren’t a clue to who the bugnappers were, then the fact that it was all caught on the security cameras made it a little easier to figure out. Police are currently investigating and have recovered some of the little creepy creatures at a residence. They found some bugs there, too. The rest are still unaccounted for – bugs and “buglars.”

According to statements, the haul was only valued at $40,000. Hello! You just committed a felony for a bunch of roaches that a lot of people would have paid you to take out of their apartments. It’s not like they lifted a priceless Rembrandt painting that could be sold on the black market for millions. No, we’re talking lizards, snakes, millipedes.

So maybe you get a job at the Insectarium because you’re just not the brightest firefly in the jar. This means, kids: Stay in School! Stay out of Jail! And, for now, don’t buy undocumented insects.

Much Ado About Nothing – Mauled by Bears

Much Ado About Nothing September 12, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

I just got back from the Emergency Room. Lots of blood, pain, and 8 stitches in my left shin from being mauled by a bear. … No, really, a bear. … Okay, a small bear. Think Paddington kind of bear. It was, after all, only 8 stitches. … No?  … Fine, the real truth is that I got mauled by the corner of the dishwasher door. The stitches are real, but the bear maybe not as much. But any good journalist will tell you, though, to never let the truth come between you and a good story. So I’m sticking with the bear.

Let’s face it, we’ve all done it. If you’ve spent any time at all in a kitchen and have experienced the posh luxury of not eating on paper plates, then you’ve probably caught your leg on the open dishwasher door at some point. And it hurts. I, however, can’t just bump my shin, mutter some form of the word poop through gritted teeth, and then move on with my life. No, I have to go full combat mode. And lose.

When the ER doc looks at your leg and says, “The dishwasher did this to you? Through your jeans? Wow. I mean, I can see your tendon” then you know you’ve pretty much done a number on your shin. At the same time you start feeling a little stupid for being so badly roughed up by a kitchen appliance. That’s why you need a bear.

I think the only thing that impressed the ER doctor more than what brought me there was how I reacted to getting it fixed. When he shot me several times in a part of my leg that is nothing but nerve endings and bear drool, I commenced with a vocabulary that would get me inducted into the Marine Corps. The guy in the next room may have needed to add heart attack to his triage notes. And the kid in the waiting room who thought he broke his arm, thought again. Pain killers should not hurt that bad.

So if anyone asks what happened, I was mauled by a bear. A Whirlpool Gold Series Bear. With delay start option. And moving forward, my trust issues include the microwave and the refrigerator. And I’m totally good with paper plates.

Much Ado About Nothing – North V South

Much Ado About Nothing September 5, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

If you listen to the Flat Earth people, you believe, if you go far enough, you can eventually get to the edge of the Earth. At that point you fall off into the Abyss to be eaten by sea monsters. While I’m relatively confident this is not factual, I do know that if you go north any further than about Oklahoma City, things are no longer as they should be.  I believe once you’re out of range of a Whataburger, a Buc-cee’s bathroom, and some way of picking up an Astros’ broadcast, you have left civilization and should turn around immediately. No one should be expected to spend any extended time in a location without a Chick-fil-A. Yet, here I am.

If the absence of sweet tea wasn’t enough of an indication that I had sadly left the South, then realizing that practically every grocery store, daycare, and dentist office sells a complete selection of hard liquor cleared up any doubts. You can spend 20 minutes browsing brands of single malt scotch at the corner gas station. There are more types of tequilas than candy bars! What happened to that “Don’t Drink and Drive” message?

Liquor stores are called Party Stores. I suppose when every store is a liquor store, you have to find a way to set yourself apart. At the party store, along with all the makings for a Long Island Ice Tea and bottles of wine that are more than my monthly mortgage payment, you can also pick up the “Cheese of the Month” which might just happen to be the 2017 Supreme Champion at the World Cheese Awards. We’re not talking Velveeta here. Not at the party store. No, sir. Go back to the Shell station for that.

Party stores have gift ideas like personalized specialty glasses for your favorite Moscow Mule drinker. Every place else just has a local jackass with a red Solo cup. Party stores offer a full deli stocked with imported prosciutto. Other spots have packages of peppered beef jerky. If you ask me, it’s all just a bit of semantics.

Maybe there needs to be a little less focus on alcohol and more attention paid to negotiating a Ninfa’s or Pappasito’s here in the frozen tundra. Michigan may not be the edge of the Earth, but I think you can see it from here.

Much Ado About Nothing – Blessed are Teachers

Much Ado About Nothing August 29, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

School is back in session. Teachers, unsung warriors that they are, have once again manned the battle lines to fight for the ongoing education of the next generation. Truly there is no level of sainthood great enough to crown the heads of these bold, brave souls who selflessly walk into the classrooms of darkness and shine a light. Let us pray.

Blessed be the elementary school teacher. Kindergarten teachers who fight the battles of noses that will ceaselessly run snot, shoes that refuse to stayed tied, and 5-year olds who are genetically coded to ask 43.2 million questions before noon of every single day. First- and Second-grade teachers with classrooms full of children refusing their lunches because they spent the morning eating crayons, boogers and Elmer’s glue. Third- and Fourth-grade teachers facing down the “indoor voice” that is perfect if indoors is a jet propulsion lab.

Blessed are the middle school teachers who have mastered the art of not laughing until the students can’t see them. Theirs is the world of “Stop that!” “Keep your hands where I can see them,” and “Bring the signed permission slip or you can’t watch THE video.” Not that THE video is going to teach anything that hasn’t already been learned on the bus.

Blessed be the junior high teachers. Theirs will be a consecrated, shiny, elevated place in Heaven for this is the special ops, SEAL team branch of teachers. Lord! Extra prayers for them!

And blessed be the high school teachers. They possess a special gifting to juggle the Ivy League auto-accepts and the unwed teenage mothers, the class president, the class clown, and the kid dealing drugs out of his third-period gym locker. They must face the AP, SAT, ACT, standardized, and the daily test of the parking lots at school.

Bless the teachers as they navigate helicopter parents, school shooters, and an education system that seems determined to break their spirits and their bank accounts. They have accepted a profession – no, a calling! – that is critical and pivotal. And not just because the nuclear waste dump wasn’t hiring. They do it for the love of the job or because they have a serious screw loose. Most likely both.

Say a prayer for them, then hug a teacher because if they didn’t do that job, you’d have to..

Much Ado About Nothing – On the Move

Much Ado About Nothing August 22, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

Heed my words: Do not pray for patience as God will provide the opportunities for you to learn it. Never ask, “What else can possibly go wrong?” Trust me, nothing tempts the Universe to yell, “Hold my beer!” more than that. And never ever, don’t ever say never. I actually said once I’d never live in the Middle East which landed me in Saudi Arabia for three years. As Harvey threatened Texas, I said, “My house will never flood.” It flooded. And then I said, “I’m never moving again.” Fill out the change of address card because I’m moving. TO MICHIGAN!

Imma gunna freeze! Michigan, where cold fronts are six foot deep! You don’t understand, people; my blood is so thin, it’s invisible! I fully expect by the end of my first winter to be found encased in ice like a Yeti on the backside of Everest, a look of miserable shock forever captured on my face. Ice belongs in tea or cream, not spread in deadly sheets across the road with the sole purpose of sending your car careening into a ditch so no one finds you until the “spring thaw” in July.

We’ve already bought a house there from a very nice couple who are gleefully laughing with giddy joy as they hippy-hop off to retirement in Florida. I think I may hate them. Despite that, they were so very kind as to agree to leave the outdoor patio heater and the snow blower for us. Snow blower? Are there YouTube videos for how to operate that? I mean, do you run out as soon as it starts snowing and blow the offending fluffy ice masses back into the sky? Do they have plow attachments for the mower? And in the name of all things holy, how do I get a pizza delivered in January?!

I’m trying hard to see the positives. I’ll have seasons and Hurricane won’t be one of them. I can look forward to summer – all 26 days of it. White Christmas will be more than just a song. I suppose, too, if I can survive three plus years in Saudi Arabia, I can probably survive Siberia. And as long as there’s an internet connection, I’ll keep writing this column.

Much Ado About Nothing – Death of Common Sense

Much Ado About Nothing August 15, 2018

Much Ado by Jean Ciampi

It is with deep grief that we announce the unfortunate passing of Common Sense. Despite a steep decline over recent years, Common Sense had been a well-loved and critical part of the community, often playing an important part of key decisions as well as in the everyday lives of neighbors and friends. Common Sense was born from Logic and Rational Thinking, both of which died many years ago. Many will not notice the quiet passing, unfortunately, as Common Sense was rarely seen in public anymore, but the loss will be felt nonetheless.

“Forbes” magazine was quick to publish the obituary, at least indirectly. They ran an op-ed piece recently by Panos Mourdoukoutas, an economist with Long Island University, entitled, “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.” Few things could announce the death of Common Sense more loudly than this. Perhaps Mr. Mourdoukoutas has never actually been into a public library to realize what a vibrant, progressive, necessary place they still are. I think, as a taxpayer myself, I’d rather save money by no longer funding his job at Long Island University. I wonder if you could get free shipping on an Idiot Stick from Amazon Prime that could then be used to beat some sense into that man.

Sadly, the departure of Common Sense has left an intense vacuum which seems to be impacting all aspects of life across the globe. Evidence of it was seen in Cairo where the International Garden municipal park refuses to acknowledge that the “zebra” currently on display in the zebra enclosure is actually a donkey. It’s a donkey painted with black stripes. The poor unsuspecting donkey must feel like a complete ass because the black paint is smeared and running so badly he looks more like Tammy Faye Bakker after an ugly cry. Alas, Common Sense is no longer here to step in and shine a bright light into the zebra pens of our lives.

Common Sense was anything but common, but there’s still time to keep the memory alive. We must all work together, speak up when we see dumb things happening. We must do more than just shake our heads and post pictures of the ridiculous on social media. We must Stop the Stupidity! Who remembers Common Sense?! Who’s with me?! … Anyone? … Hello? … (crickets).

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.

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  • Much Ado About Nothing - Period Party

    by on July 19, 2018 - 0 Comments

    I got an invitation to a Period Party. As a writer – well, in the loosest interpretation of that word – I thought I’d been invited to a fun little soiree involving punctuation and editing marks. My brain was so busy trying to decide which red gel pen I’d take as a hostess gift that […]

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    by on July 19, 2018 - 0 Comments

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    by on August 8, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Burger King offends me. Standing in allegiance with vegans and vegetarians everywhere, I must demand that they change their name. Burger, naturally, is an affront to the sensibilities of all animal lovers everywhere. Not to mention, the idea of having a crowned ruler dictating over a bun-oriented sandwich of any type seems highly archaic. To […]

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    by on July 26, 2018 - 0 Comments

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