Friday, July 5, 2013

The Great American Sport: Fly Swatting

I like crossword puzzles. I think I started as a way of beefing up my vocabulary and word list. Many of the puzzles use the clue, "A pest that shows up at a picnic." It's a three letter word and 99.99% of the time the answer is ant. I think fly should be added as an answer. What is more annoying than a fly buzzing around and landing on your sandwich right before you take a bite? Nothing, except two or three flies buzzing you.

With summer here, flies are in abundance. No matter how fast you open and close the door at least one gets in. Pretty soon his entire family has joined him. They come in, eat your food, crawl all over your counters then have the nerve to drop dead in the middle of your potato salad. I hate flies.

So I went Fly Hunting yesterday.  That's right, Fly Hunting, not Fly Fishing.  The equipment for Fly Hunting is much more affordable.  Fly Fishing requires rods with reels, fishing line, lures and heaven only knows what else.  Fly Hunting on the other hand only requires a good eye, steady hand and a fly swatter. Granted not all fly swatters are cheap. Back in the eighty's when I lived in San Francisco I went to Neiman Marcus to shop. I'd been looking at their catalog for years. The only item in the store I could afford without a loan was a yellow butterfly shaped fly swatter. I bought it just so I could tell my mother I had bought something there.

There are other ways to kill flies other than a flap of plastic on the end of a handle.  There is fly paper that I assume has a chemical on it to attract the flies.  When the unsuspecting fly lands on it to partake in the bounty, they can't leave because they are stuck. Spiders make good fly catchers. Their webs act like the fly paper by catching flies in their sticky webs.  The spider can wrap the fly for a tasty treat later. There are fancy fly catchers like hand held fly vacuums. My daughter uses our in-house vacuum to suck up spiders. Spiders in our house tend to be the size of a small country. I wonder if we have a secret toxic dump site that mutates them?  My favorite is the fly zapper. It works with a florescent light to attract the flies, then when they get too close you hear this zapping noise and then silence until the next fly comes along. The morbid side of me likes hearing the zap and sizzle.

There are times when a fly swatter isn't available and you have to depend on your own devices. One summer at camp another counselor showed me how to swat a fly with only my hand. Years later the talent resurfaced as I sat with a group of friends. One minute we are sitting there talking as a fly buzzed around us. When it finally landed everyone stared at me as my hand shot out and squashed it from behind. I didn't even realize what I did until everyone went, "Yuck!" with their eyes wide open. Now days I use and old fashioned fly swatter that I picked up from the dollar store or a piece of rolled-up newspaper. They work just fine.

Until next time, don't become a human fly vacuum. Sleep with your mouth closed.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Twinkle Toes

I have terrible feet.  I suspect I'm not alone since I can't get in to see my podiatrist until next week.  I've never been one for manicuring my toenails but now that I'm older the appearance of my toes and feet seem to matter.  Summer is here.  Time for bathing suits and sandals.  To my dismay, I can't care for my own toenails.  Oh, I know how and what to do.  I just can't manage to bend far enough to reach the little piggies.  I guess I'll just have to suffer through going to a nail spa and getting a pedicure.  It'll be tough sitting there in the cushioned, massage chair.  A nail specialist soaking, massaging and softening my rough sandpaper skin.  But we do what we must do, right?  

As I was looking at my home page this morning a picture of feet appeared with a caption asking if we knew which celeb belonged to the unattractive toes.  I have to say, they were unflattering.  I bit.  I clicked the link to see a full shot of Jennifer Aniston.  I went on to look at Paris Hilton, Kim Kardasian and many more.  I don't know about you, but if I came face to face with Jennifer Aniston, her feet would be the last thing I'd notice. 

Women are shoe magnates.  They gravitate towards shoe departments like birds to freshly waxed cars parked under a tree.  I think I'm one of the few women who look at a shoe department and see not a treasure trove but a torture chamber.  Shoes are an instrument of torture for me.  I can count the pairs of shoes in my closet on both hands with fingers left over.  Between my poor balance, the melting fatty pads on my heels and the crunching nerves between my toes my feet are a constant source of pain and discomfort.  I don't own a pair of shoes with a heel higher than an inch.  I love going barefoot or walk around in one of my two pairs of athletic shoes with orthopedics inserted. 

Walmart has started putting the Dr. Scholls self help foot machines in their stores.  You take off your shoes, I do hope people have clean, fungus free toes when they step onto the magic pad that analyzes their foot.  It tells you where you need more support.  It just so happens that a display of all the supports is right beside the machine

The people of Thailand are very foot conscience.  They believe happy feet make for a happy person.  When I went to Thailand some years ago, there was a foot massage parlor on every corner.  People would just stop in the middle of their busy day and get a foot massage, then go on their way.  The Thai people are a very friendly and happy group. I must say I learned to enjoy the service.  Getting a massage for the rest of my body didn't feel too bad either. 

Until next time, watch out for bunions, warts and hammer toes.  They all make for ugly feet.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Dog Daze Of Summer

Summer is almost here and once again our canine friends have made the news.

The first item I found told the weight dropping story of Obie.  Obie is a dachshund owned by Nora Vanatta in Portland, Oregon.  Apparently like Moi, Obie likes his treats.  The more he ate the fatter he got.  When he reached 77 pounds  he resembled a large Nathan's all beef wiener than a dog.  Nora put him on a diet.  You can see from his picture, Obie's legs barely touched the ground.  After Obie lost 40 pounds his stomach may not have dragged the ground but 2 1/2 pounds of extra skin did. He had a tummy tuck and now plans to show off his new physique to all those female Hot dogs in his pack of friends.

 Years ago I watched an episode of Dirty Jobs on a turkey farm.  The males had been engineered to be so big chested they couldn't get close enough to the females to mate.  The females had to be artificially inseminated.  Fat animals are around us everywhere, my neighbors adopted a dog through a network of friends, this Chocolate Lab looks more like a pot bellied pig than a dog.  The base of her tail is as big around as my wrist.

Over weight dogs and cats are at epidemic proportions.  Years ago my vet whipped me with a wet noodle for allowing my cat to gain weight.  As if on cue, one of the office cats waddled in.  His stomach barely cleared the floor and his sides were rounded out like balloons, I looked at him and replied pointing, "You can not say a word to me when you have that waddling around your office."
With the removal of wet food from his diet and a new puppy in the house, Izzy soon lost a few pounds. Not enough for a tummy tuck but enough to have a beer belly swinging back and forth when he swaggers.

Our second dog tail comes to us from Santa Rosa, California.  It seems a pooch named Toby was served his water in a shiny, I'm talking buffed to a radiant glow shiny metal bowl. The bowl was so shiny it and the water acted like a prism in a magnifying glass . The  Weisbrich's kitchen is a bright, sunny room.  Toby's bowl was placed in a bright corner of the kitchen.  The bowl caught a sunbeam throwing it back onto the wall. The light was intensified by the prism effect of the bowl and concentrated in one spot.  If you ever sat in the sun with a magnifying glass as a kid, you know if you angled it just right  it would concentrate the light causing a fire.   I, myself, remember burning a small hole in my jeans one day and leaving small, burn marks all over paper.  Like the magnifying glass of our childhood the bowl threw the sunbeam back onto the wall.  A fire soon broke out.  Fortunately it was quickly put out.  Needless to say, Toby has a new bowl.   

There are as many pet bowls to chose from as there are dog and cat breeds.  I used a ceramic bowl with cute paw prints all over it for my two cats until they knocked it off the counter conducting an experiment on gravity.  I went to a thick plastic bowl that wouldn't break even under the weight of Obie and his pals.  the plastic gave Kayla a rash under her chin so now they eat out of one of those shiny metal bowls.  Not to worry, my kitchen is on the dark side.  My two dogs used to eat out of matching plastic bowls, the same kind the cats used only bigger.  They didn't suffer rashes but when the edges became so rough from being chewed I bought them metal bowls too.  Again they are not in the sunlight.  The first set of metal bowls I bought came with a stand.  I thought my old girl could eat more comfortably if she didn't need to bend over as far.  She seemed to like it.  Of all the bowls I've used, metal is definitely my number one pick.  They are easy to clean, they don't break if the cat knocks it off the counter so he can watch it fall and they don't cause rashes under the chin.  What kind of bowl do you like to use?

Well, until next time, keep those metal bowls out of the sun or keep the fire extinguisher handy.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Angry Birds

Alfred Hitchcock introduced us to angry birds in his famous film, "The Birds". Like the peaceful coastal town in the film, Hopkinsville, Tennessee is being invaded by blackbirds and European Starlings. Every evening the skies over the small town darken with thousands of them. Every morning the residents have dig their way out. Everything outside is covered in white bird droppings. Trees and cars all look like they are covered in snow. Snow that doesn't melt. The townspeople are concerned not only for their safety but worry about the spread of disease from all the feces left behind.  Residents have no idea why for the last couple of years the birds have invaded their town, they just wish the birds would find a new town to harass.

Angry birds can be found elsewhere too.  A parking lot in Florida had to be taped off like a crime scene due to a pair of nesting hawks.  Every time the hawks feard for their hatching's they swooped down, dive bombing people getting in or out of their cars.  The hawks were on the endangered species list making the relocation of the nest a non-option.

Workers from the building who were interviewed expressed fear of being attacked but seemed understanding of the hawks concern for their babies.

Meanwhile over in Bradenton, Florida a retirement community was under attack by another nesting pair of hawks.  Signs were put up warning people to be on the look out for the protective parents.   Residents started using umbrellas as a shield against the pair after several people were injured.  One resident said nesting season couldn't come to an end fast enough for her.

Today when we hear angry birds, we think of those cute red, yellow, blue and black animated ones we put in a slingshot to knock down structures built out of tires, stones etc.  They seem to be attacking us from all sides.  First on the Internet as a very addicting game.  Marketing has allowed them to follow in the steps of the Simpson's, The Flintstones and Spider man by being plastered on everything from lunch boxes to party favors.  There is even a low tech boxed game version of Angry Birds.  What is it about these little fellows that inspires grown men and women to sit for hours flinging them at structures inhabited by oinking pigs.  I confess, I logged on to the game around nine in the evening to see what all the twitter was about.  It didn't take long to get me hooked.  I swear on my little pinky that I only played five minutes.  My husband came in at two in the morning asking me when I planned to come to bed.  I looked at the clock and accused him of changing it.  The only thing that saved me from a life of catapulting birds was after they got me hooked, I had to pay for the tools that would help me get to the next level.  I refused to pay, I made it through several levels before getting stuck.  I quickly got tired of failure and quit.   You can only take those annoying oinking pigs laughing at you for so long.

Until next time, take care and if you play Angry Birds, aim for  the weakest link and watch all those annoying pigs topple over and explode.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Inside the IRS, Watch For Smiles, Laughs and Giggles

Since tax day is just a hop and skip away I decided to google taxes and see what popped up.
Please note, I am not a tax preparer.  The following post is for entertainment purposes only.

Some tax payers in an effort to get more deductions end up entertaining the auditors.  Not that I've ever seen a real or TV IRS agent smile, I just assume when an agent reads, Dental implants as a deduction, reason,  I can't get hired for a job because of my teeth, someone would at least give a toothy grin. The following is a small collection of deductions people have tried to slide by the IRS.

Swimming pools are the number one deduction people try to take.  They dive into the idea before finding out what the criteria for deducting a pool is.  Yes, a backyard cement pond, as Jed Clampett used to call it, is deductible if a doctor writes a prescription to treat a medical condition.   Floating Islands and pool side furniture are not deductible.  Although, you might need the exercise for the heart attack you get from blowing up all those pool toys by mouth.  Just kidding, we all know you get the kid from down the street to do for you.

Rounding off numbers to make everything nice and neat sends up a red flag as your return scoots by.  Agents figure by rounding off to a zero instead of a dollar amount you must be trying to get more than you deserve.

Medical costs are always deductible unless it's for having your guinea pig neutered.  Deductions for a family pet are not allowed.  However, the cost of purchasing, caring for and maintaining a service animal for the disabled are deductible.

If you are job hunting the cost of printing resumes, the envelopes and stamps are allowed.  If you travel to an interview, milage is deductible unless, I hazard a guess, you hire a limo to take you.  If you end up moving over fifty miles to take a job the moving costs are deductible  Just don't try to deduct that $200 cocktail dress as an interview outfit. 

I'm sure some professional journals are deductible such as Psychology Today, but if you plan to deduct your Playboy or Playgirl you'd better have a good, juicy story to defend the deduction.  And doing research to keep your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend etc happy won't excite anyone into giving it to you.

Last but not least, keep exes happy.  Disgruntled exes love to call the IRS claiming their ex, that's you, are laundering money for the mob, made money a lot of money you have not declared, taking deductions for medical care you didn't get etc.

Well, I have to go and dress Gabriel, my service dog, in a waiter's uniform.  Having one's Long Island Ice Tea brought out to pool-side is a "service" no one should go without. 

Until next time, brainstorm and use as many crazy deduction ideas you can think of, if the IRS agents are laughing hard enough maybe they'll give you the deduction for shear wit.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On The ? Edge of Medicine

I've been away taking care of family but I'm back.  Did you miss me?  Of course you did.

When contemplating what to write about this week I originally thought of marijuana.  It made the news in two spots in the past couple of weeks.  There was a story about the drug smuggler who made a cannon that shot bundles of weed over the Mexican/USA boarder where it was picked up by his associates.  There was also a story about a woman who received a package of marijuana by mistake.  She was suing the delivery service because the intended recipients came looking for it after the delivery driver told them where he had left it.  They showed up on her doorstep demanding their property.  But a better story was dumped on me instead.

I was talking to a friend in the health care field when she mentioned having to attend a meeting on  Fecal Transplants.  That's right, fecal not facial.  She said it wasn't the way she liked starting her day.

I won't describe what I imagined a fecal transplant entailed.  I'll simply tell you what it is.

Fecal transplants also known as  Fecal Microbiota Transplantationare (FMT) is done on people with serious imbalances in their intestinal tract.  Colitis and IBS are just two of these conditions. Some sufferer's  have found relief using this type of treatment.

There are only a few facilities around the world that offer this treatment.  In Portland, Oregon you and your donor can spend two weeks on a retreat while the treatment is performed and the recipients learns how to better cope with their condition.  The clinic will provide the donor from their donor bank or you can bring your own.  Family members are recommended.

What is a Fecal Transplant and how is it performed?  The donor is tested for any and all diseases and illnesses.  Once a donor has been cleared, the fical matter is collected.  It goes through a process to remove the bacteria from the sample.  The bacteria is then tested to make sure it is free from any contaminants.  Once cleared, the bacteria is mixed with a sterile medium that is introduced to the recipient via colonoscapy or enema.  That's it. 

Until next time watch where you step, it might just be your next treatment sample.


Friday, March 1, 2013

An Eye Popper

A mistrial was declared in Philadelphia after an eye popping moment during a trial.  John Huttick was suing Matthew Brunelli for the loss of his eye during a fight. Huttick tried to break-up a brawl between Brunelli and another bar patron when Huttick says Brunelli stabbed him in the eye with a key protruding between his fingers.  In the middle of Huttick's testimony, his glass eye popped out of its socket.  Huttick quickly caught the wayward prosthetic as two jurors rose in horror.  The judge said it was an unfortunate incident, declared a mistrial and re-scheduled the trail for March.

After reading this story I remembered stories I heard about the actor Peter Falk.  He lost one of his eyes due to cancer at age three.  As a young man he would cause a stir by secretly taking his glass eye out and sneaking it into someones drink.  They would lift their glass and find an eye staring at them.  Talk about an eye-stopper.

Back in the early to mid eighties, there was a TV show, Tales of the Gold Monkey.  The series took place in the thirties on a Pacific Island.  The main character, Jake, had a one-eyed Jack Russell named, Jack.  How does this relate to the Huttick story you ask.  There was a running joke, in every episode Jack would lose his false eye or have it taken, then find it before the end of the show.  Jack's prosthetic eye wasn't just an ordinary glass copy, it was an opal with a sapphire center.

There are lots of people and animals that appear to have eyes that pop out of their heads.  The comedian, Marty Feldman, had the biggest eyes I ever saw.  I have a puppet named Marty because his eyes pop out.  Gene Wilder has eyes that can appear to pop.  In the animal world Pugs have eyes that pop out, in some cases, literally pop out of their heads.  Can you imagine, watching your beloved Pug pop his eyes out after being frightened.  I guess Jack could have been played by a Pug instead of a Jack Russell.  Nah, that would be type casting.

There are members of the ape family that have huge eyes that seem to pop out at you.  Their eyes take up most of their face.   I can close my eyes and see one,  I just can't think of the name, it's on the tip of my eye-lash, let me loosen it by blinking a few times.  Sorry, it simply won't come to me.

There are many sayings that include the image of popping eyes.  A man looks at a woman and his wife responds, "Put your eyes back in your head.", while others describe someone as having their  eyes bugged out.  

Until next time, keep your eyes firmly in your head or you may lose your way.