Antarctic Fun and Eggs (or, how to make olive and egg penguins) 12/7/04
Take as many hard-boiled eggs as you want penguins (we'll go with one).
Take one hard-boiled egg. Peel. Get three black (pitted - the canned kind that don't really taste like anything, because they're actually green olives dyed black and stored in water to make them completely bland) olives, plus wooden toothpicks (the coloured kind; it will be important later).
Take one olive, spear it with a toothpick, and put it on top of the boiled egg. This will be your penguin head. You now have a slightly hydrocephalic penguin.
Slice a second olive in half, then slice one half in half again, so you have two quarter olives and one half olive. Attach the quarter pieces with toothpicks on either side of the egg, and attach the half olive to the back. You now have wings on your slightly hydrocephalic penguin.
And, the reason you spent the extra fifty cents and got the coloured toothpicks (any rumours about wooden toothpick dye toxicity have been highly overrated, and anyway, the tic stops after a few weeks): Break off the pointy end off one of the yellow toothpicks and stick it into the olive head as a beak.
(This is the kind of thing that distinguishes the master garnish maker from the amateur, so don't scrimp on the toothpicks!)
Now, take the carrot (what? You don't have a carrot? Well, get one!) and cut two thin slices from the larger end (discard the rest of the carrot, because carrots are icky). Cut the slices into little feet-like shapes (remember, penguins have webbed feet! Your guests *will* notice!), and attach with toothpicks (to the bottom of the egg. Unless you're making a Three Mile Island Penguin, in which case, let your gruesome sense of humour guide you). Your hydrocephalic penguin should now stand up. If it doesn't, you are a total failure, and it *will* go on your permanent record.
(These things come back to haunt you, you know.)
Place the finished hydrocephalic penguin on a veggie or meat tray.
If you feel creative, you can make an ice-floe out of cream cheese for the penguins to stand on. Going further, get a beanie polar bear, and have him mauling one of the penguins (use hot sauce for blood; it doesn't congeal like ketchup) so that you can watch your more pedantic friends' heads explode when they look at the display.
Eat the third olive.
Forays into the world of underground medicine.1/18/05
I get lots and lots of junk mail/catalogues, because I buy mail-order, and I donate to charities. The charity mailings are usually good for a few mis-spelled address labels, and the catalogues are often fascinating, and quite amusing, if not very useful. I really think, though, that the junk mail experience reaches its apotheosis in the direct mailer.
You know these things - an envelope arrives in the mail, and it's filled with index-card sized ads for various things. They're often themed - medical stuff, home stuff, local businesses - sometimes, they can even be slightly useful. My favourite one is the gardening-themed one - I can fantasize about really big tillers and earth-moving equipment (did you know you can buy personal-sized bulldozers? You can get anything).
However, some pretty odd stuff can creep in to those envelopes. I suppose, if you have the money, they send it out, no questions asked. I don't mind most of it, but there's one that came in the last mailing that had a message I thought I should share with all of you.
No, no, don't thank me - I'm just doing my part to educate you on the wonders of thorough colon cleansing.
(Of course, it's not true, but we won't let ugly facts get in the way of our great idea.)
The cause of all this is apparently internal parasites. Big, nasty, internal parasites that inhabit the digestive systems of 10-90% of American childrens' delicate little intestinal systems.
(That's a good number, isn't it? with a range of 10-90% - no-one can ever accuse them of not having accurate numbers to back up their findings.)
Anyway, this delightful wad of knowledge appeared in a gardening mailer, folded in quarters, 6 pages long, and started "Dear friend". I don't know how anyone could have doubted the veracity of this missive - except that it's all a load of, well, undigested fecal matter.
Five pages of horror stories about people being completely unaware that they have so many internal parasites that their digestive system is home to the entire worm population of Cleveland, finished off with an ad for "cleansing" teas and pills.
...And testimonials from people who started voiding vast numbers of parasites after trying the program. Either they are remarkably unobservant, or those teas have a little something "extra", if you know what I mean.
Oooh, the colours.
...And the pictures. They're nice enough to include photos of the parasites - roundworm (which I thought was a fungus - no wait, that's ring worm), tape worms, liver flukes - all sorts of good stuff. Apparently, we've all been unknowingly harbouring them for years, showering them with all the Big Macs and Domino's Pizza they need to survive. The tea and pills are our only hope!
The tea and pills will cause us to excrete worms for months! The tea and pills are only $69.95 (plus $7.95 shipping and handling) for a thirty day supply (and you can get more if you want to take the stuff for two months for only an additional $27.95)!
One doctor from Rhode Island tried it on his patients after finding parasites at the cellular level!
(Even though everyone else is claiming to see them with the naked eye, but hey, he's a doctor.)
Honestly? I think they put worms in the capsules.
But don't listen to cynical old me! Read, instead, the incoherent (and somewhat icky) testimonials from satisfied customers! F.M., from San Francisco writes:
"I had heaviness, bloating, irregular bowel movements and constipation, bitterness in the mouth, and my tongue was coated with something."
(Yes, those coated tongues can be nasty. You know what clears that feeling? Gin. Don't forget the olive.)
Alternatively, I.B. from Southfield writes:
"For 3 weeks, we passed repulsive things. I think they were all the
debris accumulated in our colons."
(Debris? What debris? Old bricks? leftover construction material? What are these people putting in their colons?)
(Wait, I've changed my mind - I don't want to know.)
I don't know about you, but I'm sold. I'd much rather trust medical advice from a pamphlet included in my gardening mailer that go to an actual doctor with degrees, and stuff.
Remember, the Royal Academy of Physicians of Great Britain has stated that 90% of disease and discomfort is directly or indirectly linked to an unclean colon.
(The RAPGB is comprised of Bill the second assistant under-gardener, and his friend Jim, who always wanted to be a doctor, but lacked the necessary teeth. You can write to them c/o The Grange, Mumbles-on-the-Wold, Lincs. Address it to Bill, because Jim tends to eat the envelopes if they're addressed to him, as he hasn't been quite right in the head since the unfortunate incident with the wheelbarrow.)
Warp on Drugs!9/21/05
Every now and then, I get rather irritated by drug hysteria. I have to deal with the fallout every time I get my prescription painkillers renewed, because even people who need that sort of thing are considered to be hopeless addicts. Given the choice between pain bad enough that I can't function well, and being dependent on something, I'll go with the no-pain option, thanks. I know many people who feel the same.
Personally, I don't think using drugs should be a crime, though underground distributing, selling, and growing/making the damn things should be. Committing crimes to get money to pay for drugs - well, that's already criminal. Meth labs that explode and hurt people - well, exploding random things is illegal, unless you're in the armed forces. And shooting people because they're on your drug turf - well, it so happens we have a law against that, too.
Who'd have thought?
I think people would do much better if some illegal drugs were not illegal and much, much cheaper, like all the other substances that are legal which can kill you, but I am aware of the fact that not everyone is the staunch non-voting libertarian I am proud to call me.
See? The drugs have had no effect on my coherence, none at all. I'm as phlurblebit as I angdenew phloop.
(By the way, I'd vote, but they have this silly rule here about how you actually have to be a citizen of the country to vote.)
I am under no illusion that drugs are not very bad for you, as are cigarettes, alcohol, Cheetos and mistaking the top-loading washing machine for a whirlpool tub. I just think that a system that punishes anyone and everyone with the merest association to illegal drugs (including everyone who watched the scene in "Scarface" where Al Pacino goes face down in a *mountain* of coke and thought "wow. I wonder what that feels like") misses the point, somewhat.
There are jobs where past drug use is an automatic disqualifier (such as, you know, prison guard), but there are jobs where epilepsy is an automatic disqualifier. You don't want a chronic addicted drug user taking care of your kids, but then, you don't really want an alcoholic taking care of them, either.
It's just not a rational demarcation, that's all I'm saying. I don't mind paying an outrageous tax for cigarettes, and I'm sure the government could make a bundle off drug taxes.
Sadly, it doesn't work so well in real life, in part because people tend to see things in black and white. There's very little sense of proportion in the way that most people approach their lives, as the college students that die from alcohol poisoning every year and the millions of drunk drivers can attest.
Despite laws and admonitions and deaths, people still drink too much and in some cases compound the issue by getting behind the wheel of a car. If we can't trust people to obey laws and common sense when using a legal substance, I don't think we'd have much hope with drugs. Most people are simply too stupid to use recreational drugs responsibly.
We should have a government office on drug policy. Heck, I'll head it up (non-citizens can work for the government, they just can't vote for it). I propose that we skip the whole "war on drugs" thing, and only give the drugs to people who are responsible enough to enjoy them safely. People can take a test (200 question multiple choice section and a five-page essay), and if they pass, they get a license to use.
I envision it to be like a hunting license; you get four hits a season, and if you go over the limit or do something stupid like kill someone (even accidentally), your license is revoked and you pay a whopping fine and/or go to jail (unlike your hunting license, so I suppose it's not an exact analogy) .
In certain states, if you grow your own and don't sell it, but keep it for personal use on your land only, you can grow a private stash.
I think it could work. It would also give us something to do with the tons of drugs the US confiscates every year besides burn them. If we get a surplus, we can ration it out, like surplus cheese.
"National Drug Policy and Licensing Office; this is the Angel of Death, how can I help you?"
Text and images copyright L. Mellin, 2000-2008, except where noted. All rights reserved.