Wednesday, June 29, 2016

An expert lists summer dangers you should avoid

As an expert in outdoor summer dangers, and a recognized fellow of the Overlooked Outdoor Perils Society (OOPS), I offer you this free list of things to avoid this summer:

10. Snails. These innocuous-looking slime-trailers seem harmless enough, but every summer they cause a significant number of people to meet their doom. In summer people go barefoot, maybe to grab the morning paper, and accidentally crush a snail under their heels. Every human's hard-wired "ick" factor causes many to recoil backwards, lose their balance, and impale themselves on a yard gnome. Slippers, people. Slippers.

9. Beach cottages. The depressive funk which sets in once you realize that the cottage in paradise you have rented is not where you will get to live the rest of your life is enough to cause 9 out of 10 visitors to end themselves. Nine out of ten. Look it up.

8. Beach cottages (haunted.) This is self-explanatory.

7. Beach cottage cheese. Even with an insulated cooler and those hard blue plastic frozen thingys, you cannot keep it from going bad and killing you. Here's something that won't, though: going curdless for a week. Yes, I know, it's perfect chilled on summer salads. But, much like going on a blind date to a Captain & Tennille tribute band concert, it's just not worth it.

6. Bicycles built for two
. Deathtraps! Funded and built by large corporate mortuaries. Avoid.

5. Bikini waxing / manscaping. If you strip away your body's natural defenses, it's like ringing a dinner bell for nature. "Here, microbes!" you might as well scream. "Here's a million hitherto-protected pores laid out for lunch!" Ewww is right. Have you made out your will?

4. Tying flies. Tying those delicate, feathery fake flies onto your fishing line takes dexterity and total focus for long periods, as you sit creekside, during which time, hey look over your shoulder, a bear! No, don't bother. Gotta get that fly just right. And CHOMP.

3. Sunblock. Here's a subtle tipoff about the chemical stew of ingredients in sunblock: they are able to BLOCK THE SUN. You don't need that absorbed through your skin into your liver. If I know you, your liver's plenty busy already.

2. Sharks. They live in water. You CAN avoid water, can't you?

1. Politics. There is nothing more toxic than the summer before an election. Save your life. Turn off your TV until Thanksgiving. And, seriously, wear some slippers.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Wa pic - Next-level restroom signage

 At least your wait is entertaining.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Black holes are real; just open your purse

Of all the cruelties society has perpetrated on women, the worst, I think, is the purse.

Watching a woman try to find something in the depths of this hateful contrivance would evoke sympathy from the most hardened misogynist. If a dude wants money, he reaches into his pocket and whips out cash. He has a one in four chance of picking the right pocket every time. Better odds than anything in Vegas.

Ask your wife if you can borrow five bucks to buy a frosty drink we used to call a milkshake but now we call coffee, well, good luck. Hope you are in the mood for a magic show. She is going to start pulling out more items than could fit in the bed of a Ford F-150.

You thought the lamps and junk Mary Poppins pulled out of her handbag were a special effect? They must have edited that scene for time. In real life, Mary would STILL be pulling crap out.

Purses are like yogurt; there are just too many options. Zippers on the outside, on the inside, snap-pouches, secret compartments, several time zones, probably quarks.

Plus, every woman owns at least three purses, by which I mean 20. A purse must coordinate with an outfit, which requires a level of interest in fashion the average man expends completely by deciding whether or not to put on underwear.

Imagine if it were culturally acceptable for men to carry purses. We would have hammers, spackling paste, jerky, small watermelons, ketchup packets out the wazoo, sandpaper, Pringles, super glue, probably several reptiles to keep the flies down.

Men would only own one purse, too, brown leather, like a saddle bag, with a filagree on the side of our favorite team or Kardashian.

Men would name their purses, names like "Butch" or "007." This would lead to confusing conversations in bars:

"Man, I can't believe I left Butch at home today. I really could have used a 1/8th-inch drill bit."

"Wait. Is Butch your brother?"

"No, Butch is's a...hey, how about those Rams coming back to L.A.?"

Even though men would only own one, we would have to ask our wives where we left it.

"Honey, have you seen 007?"

"Um...(stifling a chuckle) Try asking Dr. No."

"Are you laughing?"

"NO, no, I...inhaled a dust bunny."

If only I could get my legislation passed, requiring 12 pockets on pants, we would have peace in our time.

. . .

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sunday Wa pic - Truth in advertising

 In my day, we didn't advertise them, we just called 'em "stale."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Finally, something that might take on those mutant ninja turtles

When I was a teenager they came out with a movie involving savage hybrid animal-people, which really struck a chord with me, because it reminded me of my high school. 

Inhuman treatment and cruel experimentation were part of my daily routine. "The Island of Doctor Moreau" was like somebody had brought a camera into my locker room, basically.

As a movie, it was laughable, the glued-on facial prosthetics fake-looking even for 1977, but for a teenager it was just another over-the-top cultural extravaganza that summer, like Elvis' death and the premier of "Star Wars." 

The book by H.G. Wells was written in the 19th Century, but the movie's outcome was still surprisingly in tune with the morality of the times—the mad scientist who played God was punished, his lab and his creatures burned up. The young, gorgeous couple escaped with their lives and some of their clothes. The moral was delivered.

Nearly 40 years later, a recent headline practically jumped out at me, Moreau-like, from my "trending news" sidebar on Facebook—"Scientists Create Human-Pig Embryos To Alleviate Transplant Organ Shortage." I picture H.G. Wells bonking his head on the inside of his casket as he tries to sit up and say "Guys, I was kidding."

This is real. Scientists have been creating "chimeras," animal-human hybrids, albeit only in their fetal form. Ultimately they want to raise pigs to grow a human pancreas or other in-demand organs which can then be transplanted into a human. 

It's technical, but it involves destroying certain pig cells and inserting human ones which then result in 95% pig and 5% human, kind of like what we already see in some voting districts. 

So you zap a pig embryo where its pancreas is supposed to develop, stick in human cells, implant the embryo in a mommy pig, and theoretically a piglet is born which will grow a human pancreas for later removal. It's so early in the testing, though, that scientists are not sure if the human cells will stay put down there. They might travel to the pig's brain, creating issues. Imagine craving the bacon right off yourself. Imagine "Charlotte's Web" as a Guillermo Del Toro movie. 

Understandably, public funding has been largely suspended in the U.S., with the exception of—get this—the Defense Department. I kid you not. The Department of Defense is helping fund this research, perhaps with an eye toward a future super weaponized smart-pig? We can only guess. 

Some weeks this stuff writes itself, people. 

. . .