Category Archives: Nature

Hump Day

Wednesday is known as “hump day,” but it’s not to be taken for its literal meaning. Tell that to my dogs, Gizmo (Papillon) and Baby Bear (Border Collie-mix).

The best thing about animals is that they don’t talk much.

Music soothes the savage beast, doggy-style.

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Filed under Animals, Funny, humor, Life, Love, Nature, Relationships, Video

“The Only Good Bug Is a Dead Bug”

Have any of you seen the movie “Starship Troopers?” It’s a science fiction movie about mankind’s battle against these giant alien bugs; ironically enough, the goal of The Bugs is to exterminate us (“us” being human beings, in case you thought I was something else – you wouldn’t be the first).

Before I go any further, I must make a statement: I hate bugs.

Since moving into my new home, I’ve twice come across the dead carcass of a strange insect on my kitchen floor. Legs curled up into itself, much like a dead spider, it was difficult to tell what this bug was or what it looked like when it was alive. I figured that each bug had fallen victim to one of my five Pest-Eating Tailed-Sentinels. Even my 50 lb. Border Collie mix, Bear, loves a good cat-and-mouse with a fly. Still, I shudder to think what I might do should I look to my left and see one of these mystery creatures standing on my shoulder trying to decide which part of my face to attack first.

Last week, I had satellite TV installed at my house. Shortly afterwards, I purchased an antenna to install on my roof so that I could also view my local channels in High-Definition, something not available through satellite TV companies (yes, I’m a technology dork). I installed the antenna no problem, and I neatly ran the cable along different parts of the house in order to get to the bottom without it being very noticeable. After drilling a hole into the cement block at the base of the house near the living room, it was time to run the cable into the crawlspace (a.k.a The Dungeon) and then up through the living room floor and into the back of my cable box. One thing remained between me and endless nights of viewing entertainment: physically crawling into The Dungeon to complete the job.

Already wearing some old jeans and a t-shirt, I added the headlamp (a little flashlight attached to a headband) to my attire and was ready to go. I grabbed my drill and my camera, turning the video “on” on the camera. With Girlfriend out of town, I wanted there to be evidence of what befell me should I be found laying underneath my house, dead, in a puddle of my own blood and piss (yes, I watch too many horror movies).

I crawled through the first hole, a rectangle no more than three feet wide, I’m guessing. Underneath the master bathroom, and I began my crawl to the furthest opposite corner of the house: the living room area. Parts of The Dungeon were simple to traverse, with enough room to comfortably crawl as a baby would. However, because of the uneven grade of the ground, various wiring, piping, and A/C duct work, there were times that I found myself belly-to-the-ground crawling military style. The ground was damp and cool. I passed the master bedroom, another bathroom, and made it to the front bedroom without incident. I took a left and headed towards the underbelly of the living room. After moving a few feet, I was stopped dead in my tracks by this:

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Filed under Funny, How To, humor, Life, Movies, Nature, Personal

Feel My World Shake

My family moved around a lot throughout my childhood – Nebraska, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Florida – but if I’m ever asked where I grew up, my answer will always be Indiana – in particular, Evansville. I still have a good amount of family living there, and in a few short months I will be moving back there after having lived in Florida for the last ten years (no, I’m not crazy). So, when an 5.2 magnitude earthquake rattled the midwest on April 18th, 2008, I was especially interested. After all, this wasn’t the first time I had ever been concerned about seismic activity in my hometown…

earthquake

In 1990, I was a senior in high school, living in Evansville with my grandparents. The calendar had just turned to December, and the local news was saturated with the name Iben Browning, a man who claimed to have predicted the 1989 earthquake in California (remembered by me as the World Series earthquake). He also professed to be a climatologist, scientist, inventor, and holder of a doctorate in physiology. He had predicted that conditions were right for a major earthquake to occur along the New Madrid fault line on December 3rd, 1990, a fault line that Evansville lies along. I remember a lot of people being really freaked out (me being one of them), many of them planning to stay home from work or school that day. There was no way I was going to go school and end up in a pile of rubble, but convincing my grandparents that I should stay home was another story. I finally get out of attending when I explained that since so many students were going to be absent, we probably wouldn’t be doing any work anyway. Luckily, my claim of the probable high absenteeism was corroborated by a local news broadcast the evening before E-day. It’s important to note that it was my grandmother that I won over, and she was the one who took care of getting my grandfather to allow me to stay home – my grandpa was much too practical to believe in such nonsense or ever take part in such hysteria. My brother David lived on the other side of town with a family friend (he was a freshman at another high school), but he wasn’t going to go to school either. So, he came over and the earthquake party was on! We brought a full-sized mattress into the living room and camped out in front of the television, anxiously watching the news and waiting for the world to shake. The plan was that once it started, we would get underneath the mattress, a place that would surely protect us from the house caving in on top of us (genius, I know). The night came and went without incident of course, as did the next day – December 3rd, Earthquake Day. My grandpa didn’t let us off the hook that easily, however. Our day off from school was filled with chores and yard work. I believe it was my grandfather’s way of telling us “I told you so” without saying anything. It was later learned that Mr. Browning was not a geologist nor a seismologist, he had no formal training in climatology, his doctorate was in zoology not physiology, he had not predicted the World Series earthquake, and his projection had been based on a widely discredited theory. Oh well, thanks for the day off, Iben!

Getting back to present day; CNN was reporting that there was virtually no damage, and no reports of any casualties. Once I had heard from my family that everyone was OK, I did some more online reading about the earthquake on the website of Evansville’s local newspaper, The Evansville Courier. At the bottom of any of their online articles, readers can leave comments for the world to see. There were over three hundred comments discussing the initial earthquake article, and I found several of them to be pretty amusing. Assuming that most people in the world don’t read articles on the Evansville Courier website, I thought I would share some of the comments that gave me a good laugh. Enjoy!

“Earth Fart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“10 sec.?? Not here. I thought I was experiencing the Excorist only there wasn’t a priest! And I haven’t had any pea soup.”

“Wow, glad I confirmed what that was. I just woke up at 4:30 and was getting in the shower. I thought maybe I just drank too much last night.”

“Got my son up in the basement, I can’t but this did.”

“10 seconds my foot! I’d say it lasted a good 30 seconds. It woke my husband up about 4:37 this morning and of course he likes to share things with me so he yells babe, wake up, we’re having an earthquake!!”

“An earthquake of this magnitude obviously is the result of man-made global warming.”

“Best one in my lifetime I think. Bed was shaking for all the wrong reasons.”

“We are having riots down here on Haynie’s Corner. I am out of food & water and I’m down to 30 rounds of ammo. I heard there was a few killings at Roberts Stadium. Are we gonna get FEMA cards?”

“Why aren’t the bridges being inspected? Why are tall buildings in downtown not being inspected? I heard on the news this morning that the Henderson bridges are fine. How do they know that? This is what 8 years of Bush in the White House has gotten us. Just look at the aftermath of hurricate Katrina. We need Obama in the White House and get rid of these non-caring republicans who want to tell us that everything is fine.”

“The earthquake this morning was NOT Bush’s fault; in fact, the earthquake was in no way political, so go back to sleep!”

“They say that dogs and animals feel these things worse than humans…..I sat straight up in bed….my stupid dog slept through it.”

“My name is SGT_SHLITZ. I am a survivor living in Evansville, Indiana. I am broadcasting on all AM frequencies. I will be at the Yankeetown Boat ramp everyday at mid-day, when the sun is highest in the sky. If you are out there… if anyone is out there… I can provide food, I can provide shelter, I can provide security. If there’s anybody out there… anybody… please. You are not alone.”

“That wasn’t an earthquake, that was Bill Clinton leaving Boonville…”

“That really rocked my world.”

“They last time I felt anything like that I had a vibrating strap around my booty trying to get rid of some fat.”

“I don’t need this. I’m gonna move to L.A.”

“Folks, get used to it. This is just more of God’s wrath, like the storms and flooding, for the way Evansville people are living. If we don’t turn this thing around and start loving each other, stop voting for only those candidates the Democrat party tells you to and do all we can to close down the nudey bars that are ruining our city, we can expect this to be a weekly occurrance.”

“If this was Gods wrath on Evansville why did it start in Illinois.”

“Damn Bush….this is all his “fault”.”

“It was really the shock of people seeing gas prices for the first time this morning”

“Maybe the big one will come and knock down all the eyesore houses around town.”

“These after shocks have wrecked my nerves. Hope it’s safe to be in a car, I think I am going to have to go to the liquor store soon.”

“I’m concerned that all of this may trigger a tsunami on the Ohio River…”

“I wonder if this will loosen my dirt and make it easier to work on a garden.”

“Well…..my sister called me this morning and said, WOW, even the earth shakes for you on your birthday! Happy Birthday!”

“The Earth is not your mother, she is not dying, and she is not mad at us. We didn’t cause this, Bush didn’t cause it, and Clinton/Obama wouldn’t have stopped it from occuring (even though I’m sure one of them will make this claim).”

“If anyone would like to challenge me in map folding…just say when and where…”

“Mother Earth needs to lay off the beans (or get some Beano!)…”

“04/18/2008 … never forget.”

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Filed under Family, Funny, humor, Life, Nature, Politics

(P)Oops, I Did It Again

I’ve done plenty of embarrassing and/or stupid things in my life, especially when I was younger.

OK, mostly when I was younger.

(Who am I kidding?)

Anyway, here is one such story; a story that, twenty-one years later, my brother David will not let me forget. He loves telling people this story. I might as well share it, because chances are good you’ll eventually hear about it from him anyway. Did I mention that he loves reminding me of this story? Everything you are about to read is, of course, true.

the_forest

The year was 1987, and I was living in Baltimore, Maryland with my siblings and my dad. It had been a warm spring, and it just so happened to be the year of the locusts (everyone called them locusts, when in actuality, they were cicadas). The locusts swarmed in and covered everything from trees to telephone poles. If you were outside, you could hear the constant hum of their buzzing. Luckily, they weren’t dangerous; they didn’t bite or sting. The locusts only lived a few days, maybe a week. I remember them being nothing more than a nuisance. Their shells remained attached to everything long after they were dead. When I say that these shells were everywhere, I mean e v e r y w h e r e. The constant buzzing of the locusts had been replaced by the constant crunch-crunch-crunching of their shells under my feet, as I ran through the park that I had spent many an afternoon in, eagerly trying to catch up to the Nerf football that had been thrown ahead of me. There was nothing like a good game of crunch football.

Locust season passed; spring turned to summer. When school let out, I traveled to Evansville, Indiana to spend the time off with my grandparents and one of my uncles. When I returned to Maryland, the fall season was quickly approaching with cooling temperatures and color-changing leaves. It was a perfect time of year to be thirteen, to have a bicycle, and access to that nearby park containing trails through it’s vast surrounding woods. I wasted no time in contacting my friend Stevie who lived down the block, anxious to get outdoors.

Stevie lived on the same side of the street as me, just down the block. His parents were very nice – they had me over for dinner on more than one occasion. His family always had more than we had (they had both VHS and Beta), but they were not-at-all snobby or selfish. They had told my father how impressed they were with me a few different times, mainly because I always addressed them as “sir” and “ma’am,” which surely filled my father with pride.

Stevie was a fun friend to have. He was the guy who was willing to do anything to win your approval and be your friend, and I was the guy willing to make him do stuff just to see if he would do it. Like the time we started a club, and we held our “meetings’ in the basement of his house (which was a playroom). These meetings consisted of video games, wrestling, or most commonly, a starting place for our outdoor adventures throughout the day. When the coast was clear, I confiscated a large empty canning jar from his mother’s kitchen. We then invited the neighborhood boys to join our club, under one condition – they had to pee in the jar and keep it a secret. Stevie’s responsibility as vice president was to keep the pee jar hidden there, in his basement. For two weeks, in the bottom drawer of a dresser at our club’s headquarters sat a big, warm, mason jar containing the urine of five or six little boys. His parents weren’t as impressed with me when his mom found it one morning.

We rode down to the park, and it is exactly what one would imagine upon hearing the word “park”: trees, a playground (monkey bars, merry-go-round, swings – all of the necessities), a sidewalk path throughout, benches for grown-ups so they could watch their little ones play, and pooper-scooper stations for owners whose dogs had decided that the park looked like a giant dog toilet. It was a big park; it could easily accommodate several large groups of people at once. If you ventured towards the middle of the park, there was a downward hill leading to a rather large grass field that saw many a crunch-football game take place. Continuing past this field was the forest, which is what you call any wooded area when you’re thirteen years old. This was my favorite part of the park.

The forest contained several man-made paths for walking and biking. If you wanted to, you could wander off of the beaten path, as this area was not overly dense. I was rather skilled with my Huffy and not-at-all afraid, so of course, Stevie and I had gone exploring several times already. On one of our very first trips, we discovered a creek. On weekends we would build a fort in a secluded area, but I guess our hideaway was never very structurally sound – upon our return, we’d only find a pile of branches, sticks, and twigs, as if some other kids actually discovered our land and knocked it over. Nah… it must have been the wind.

One Saturday morning, Stevie and I decided that we were going to try to venture further into the forest than we ever had before. I loaded up on necessities from the corner store (12 oz. can of Coke and a pack of Rain-Blo bubble gum stuffed into, and sticking out of, my crumpled up tube sock), and headed into the unknown.

We rode for almost two hours, stopping whenever we saw anything interesting. We always stopped at anything that could be a used as a bike ramp. We built another fort, our biggest to date, and it felt like we were so deep into the forest that it would never be found. It had been a very good day so far. Well, up until I was consumed by the overwhelming need to relieve myself.

There are a couple things you need to understand at this point. Number one, I had to go number two. Number two, I wished I only had to go number one. If I only had to go number one, all I would have had to do is stand behind a tree and do what all men have done at some point in their lives. But this was far more complex. I could have made the return trip home to a bathroom, but I knew that such a decision would end our expedition. I wasn’t ready to go home – we were having too much fun. However, I really didn’t want Stevie (or anyone, ever) to see me crapping, and I had nothing with which to wipe.

As quickly as these thoughts came and went, the urge to “drop the kids off at the pool” had rapidly increased. I realized that there was no way I would have been able to make it back home. I wouldn’t last that long, and holding it in was becoming a bit painful. It was “go” time. I jumped off my bike, and made Stevie promise not to look while I simultaneously scanned the area for the spot that would supply the most privacy. There’s no need to go into detail about what happened next. Once relieved, I briefly considered cleaning up with my shirt or my underwear and then just leaving them out there in the forest. I decided it wasn’t worth the risk to sacrifice any article of clothing – I didn’t have a lot of clothes to begin with. If Dad were to find out what I had done, he’d surely beat the shit out of me (pun intended).

Instead, I grabbed the biggest leaf I could find, and did the best I could. Three leaves seemed to do the trick. As I gathered myself, I was suddenly filled with pride. I had conquered nature. I was a man.

I pooped in the forest.

Back at home later that night, I couldn’t help but notice how itchy my backside was becoming. I needed to shower – it’s probably not possible to properly clean yourself in the previous conditions. I went to bed after I showered, but I wasn’t going to get much sleep that night. I tossed and turned, scratched my butt, scratched my hands (why were they itching?), scratched my butt some more… I finally slept.

I woke up still itching and scared to death – I had a rash on both hands, and on two of the fingers on my left hand there were pus-filled bubbles hanging off that were each the size of a dime. To my horror, my backside was also wet for some reason, a reason that was quickly becoming quite obvious. I ran to the bathroom. Now, have you ever had to bend over slightly and look behind yourself into a mirror at yourself? I don’t ever, ever recommend it, even under normal conditions. I discourage it even more if you had just previously used poison oak leaves as toilet paper.

I showed, and told, my father what happened to me. He was trying to yell at me to stop scratching through his laughter. I’m pretty sure this was not one of those moments that my behavior filled him with pride, and I’m still not sure which was the most embarrassing: being dumb enough to wipe my behind with poison oak leaves? Or, to be bent over the edge of the bed, pants pulled down, having calamine lotion applied to the affected area by my father? You decide.

A couple of interesting notes:
•Super Target sells travel-sized Charmin
•If you want to miss a week of school, try poison oak. It worked for me.
•I didn’t use my underwear to “clean up” because I didn’t want to destroy an article of clothing. In the following week of my recovery, I ruined eight pair.
•My brother David, to this day, routinely refers to me as “poison oak boy.” A couple of years ago, for my birthday, he drew me this cartoon. It’s hanging on my fridge.

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Filed under Family, Friends, Funny, humor, Life, Nature