I was shocked — literally shocked! — when I saw the story. The headline read: “Germs taken to space come back deadlier.”
That’s just great. As if we don’t have enough problems in the world, now we have to deal with juiced-up salmonella that WE sent up into space. Just great!
What did these people expect? That the salmonella would come back tamer and help find the cure for cancer? Any kid who has ever read a comic book or watched a sci-fi flick could have told you how this one would turn out. Send germs into outer space, and they come back to eat your face.
It’s that simple.
If you haven’t read the story, I will sum it up for you: Enterprising scientists decided last year to send salmonella up in a space shuttle, curious to see how the bacterium would fare on such a voyage. The year before they sent salmonella on a cruise to the Caribbean, but between the bacterium getting drunk all the time and contracting the Norwalk virus, that experiment was a complete bust. So this time they picked space. Makes perfect sense!
Maybe it’s just me, but I get these pictures in my head of astronauts conducting little, tiny tests on the weightless salmonella. You know, like how long salmonella can pedal on a stationary bike in zero gravity. Whether they react differently to ink blot tests while orbiting earth. How long it takes them to put a miniature puzzle of the Eiffel Tower together. Or whether bad TV comedies are any better in zero Gs. These are the things I honestly picture. What did you think, that they just sat around and listened to Strauss the whole time? Continue Reading »
As the deafening noise rose to the decibel levels you only get with erupting volcanoes or, say, planets exploding, I looked over to see a comrade hand me a pair of construction-grade noise-protection ear muffs. They were the same kind that you see worn by guys at rifle ranges who are firing howitzers.
He was already wearing a pair, and I laughed. I thought it was just a joke — or maybe he’d had one beer too many. But he said, “Seriously, might want to put these on. This could go on for a while.”
So I did. And funny thing was, I could hear myself think again. It blotted out all the noise and all the insanity that had encircled me. It allowed me to ponder great questions like: Is this my future? Is this what it means to be a parent? Is it too late to trade the little one in for say a riding mower or a walk-in freezer? Have we entered a new stage? Will I be able to conjure up the strength to survive it all? Will she be like these other kids when she grows up? And how did I not see this coming?
I looked at my buddy. He was smiling, and if I read the look on his face correctly, he was thinking, “Don’t worry. You’ll learn.”
Some friends of ours who had just bought a new house held a shrimp boil this past weekend to celebrate their soon-to-be construction area. Call it a pre-house-warming or a groundbreaking. Either way, we were certain by the stacks of flooring stashed throughout the house and the sledgehammer by the front door that the real intention was to put us to work. Continue Reading »
I’m not one for sappy or overly-sentimental moments. Leave them for the maple trees and the sorry movies. But once in a while you have that sensation you just can’t shake. That moment that really gets to you and lights you up inside, as if the universe takes a big, deep breath and sighs with relief.
Something had been different this night. Something lighter in the air. Something energized and upbeat in the voices of my mother and my aunt. The two of them were at my grandmother’s house when I called. They sounded upbeat and joked on the phone with my daughter Amelie — listening to her say “hi,” “bye,” and other mangled bits of a language called “Toddlerish.”
Something felt good.
For the past couple of months, my grandmother’s health has been failing. To be blunt, her body was shutting down. Not slowly and gradually — she was dying fast. Hospice was caring for her at home, and my mother and aunt were with her constantly. I had already gone to Tampa to say my goodbyes.
There’s nothing tougher than waiting on death. Every time the phone rings, you answer it with stiff shoulders and ears that don’t want to touch the receiver. When family members talk, they sound tired, monotone and mournful. There is no joy. It’s agonizing and tedious. It hurts and wears you out.
But something was different this night, as if we had all let our guard down. Like we allowed, for just a moment, ourselves to breathe and relax. It felt like things would be all right, and it felt good. We laughed as a family, and I wonder now if we somehow knew. Continue Reading »
Dear Leona Helmsley’s Dog,
First off, let me just send my condolences and tell you how sorry I am for your loss. This must be very tough on you. Maybe as tough as when your mother was sent off to the federal pen for tax evasion. Things got tough then, and we all read about how you had to go off your foie gras diet and switch to boiled lobster. No butter! Is there no humanity in this world?
And now she’s gone forever, that wonderful hotel heiress who the cruel media dubbed the “Queen of Mean.” I always liked the woman. Not that we were close or anything. In fact, we had never met. But I walked by the Helmsley Park Lane in Manhattan once, and the hotel actually sneered at me and tried to steal a quarter from my pocket. So I feel like I knew her well. Is it true she could suck a dollar from a billfold three blocks away?
But to the point of this letter: I read in the newspapers that you have suddenly come into great wealth thanks to your master’s unfortunate demise. If I’m not mistaken, you were left a total of $12 million. That’s good money for a Maltese. Shoot, that’s good money for a beagle or a shitzu. In fact, in dog dollars, I believe that’s $84 million.
Not bad, and I’m sure you have big plans for that money. Jetting out west to party all night with Paris Hilton. You two will go and trash rooms at a Radisson or a Marriott. (Silly second-tier luxury hotels.) And no doubt you’ll keep up with your manicures (or in your case, are they pedicures?)
But a dog your size surely can’t use all that money. So I’m asking if you would be willing to give some of it to me. You wouldn’t believe our poor and miserable lifestyle. We’re so low, we have to stay at Holiday Inns and GASP! even the occasional Travelodge. The money wouldn’t be for me, but instead my own dog, Chase. She’s nothing like your fine pedigree. My dog’s a simple mongrel — an American mutt with no appreciation for the fineries of high-class living. She eats garbage, that sad, uncultured wretch.
Continue Reading »