Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mangy Prairie Mutts make Municipal Nightmare

The horribly stupid yet embarrassingly funny film Caddyshack has become a cult phenomenon.

Baby Ruth treated like a hazmat item in the bottom of the pool.

Rodney Dangerfield's high-tech bartender-friendly stereo golf bag.

And the incessant battle between bumbling Bill Murray and the gophers constantly chewing up the fairways and greens.

The gophers dance around the course, mocking Murray as Carl Spackler, the brainless idiot who attempts to dynamite the rodents into oblivion.

The explosives destroy the golf course and the varmints remain unfazed.

Enter reality.

In Paraghona, Utah, prairie dogs,  second cousins to the gopher,  inspire hatred for  critters worthy  of Ted Knight's country club groundskeepers.

The city fathers are sounding the alarm because the Utah Prairie Dog, a federally protected species, is making mincemeat (or should I say Alpo) of their town.

These furry friends have been pretty unfriendly.

They are burrowing everywhere.

The most dramatic dirt demolition has occurred at the local airport.

Doggie dungeons have been excavated right underneath the runways, causing deep depressions on the tarmac.

Jets can't take off or land.

Too dangerous.

A new fence surrounds the airport running 6 feet below ground level to discourage the pesky buggers.

At a cost of three hundred thousand dollars!

It's not working.

Mayor Connie Robinson wants to use lethal means.

The local minister has weighed in on the problem.

"God gave man dominion over the creatures of the earth. In our town, they have dominion over us!"

Rightly said, holy man with the Mallard duck collar.

Sounds almost biblical doesn't it?

Well, maybe it is.

Listen to this.

 The prairie puppies are digging up the municipal cemetery as well.

 Tombstones tipped.

Mausoleums mauled.

Chins chewed.

Creepy, huh?

It seems that the condo development beneath the buried has led to a bit of nibbling.

The mostly herbivorous earth scratchers won't let Uncle Joe's remains get in the way of a hallway between  prairie dog apartments.

I'm impressed by the architectural wonder of these expansive burrows.

Did you know these tunnels provide homes for other animals as well?

Owls and snakes couldn't survive without the chambers created by this happy corps of subterranean bulldozers.

That's why Lindsey Sterling   formed the Prairie Dog Coalition.

She wants them relocated, not killed.

Very costly.

Does cuteness trump cost?

The Mayor  sees her town collapsing into a field of sinkholes engineered by Deputy Dog of the Prairie.

If the animal lovers prevail, Paraghona may fall into the past, a memory of the way the West was whittled away, one tiny little scoop of dirt at a time.

In Jaws, the mayor of Amity Island hires shark hunter  Captain Quint to rid the beaches of the Great White.

Today, Mayor Robinson is hoping Bill Murray might show up to do the job.

Bill Murray's character glorifies a great golf shot during the movie by shouting "It's in the hole!"

It is indeed in the hole.

Just how do we get it out of the hole?

Baby Ruth, anyone?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tell Your Doctor To Grow A Pair

Why are pharmaceuticals advertised  on television?


After all, you can't write the prescription: only your doctor can.


So what gives?


 The drug companies are spending billions of dollars on a bet.



They are betting that your doctor is a wimp.


 Your doctor, with years of medical school training, residency programs, and finally, the benefit of experience in practice.


Sadly, this paragon of the Hippocratic oath is no match for Madison Avenue.


Medicine X may be the perfect solution.


Or maybe the ailment calls for no drugs at all.


But then the patients head to the physician's office,  zombie-like, repeating the mantra: Cymbalta, Cymbalta, Cymbalta.



What's a practitioner to do?


The lady in the examination room will not be happy unless she leaves with the Rx that the handsome actor described during a break in Jeopardy.


These commercials are extremely well produced.


So well produced that the ads create a national tension that can't be relieved unless the pills are released into the medicine cabinets of the masses.


Here's my problem.


Maybe Cymbalta  isn't such a great prescription.


Maybe it's less effective and has more side effects than the inexpensive alternative.


I have  seen the antidepressant pitches that conclude with this warning: suicide may occur.




Yes, it's true.


We Americans will beg for a little amber bottle containing pills that might make us kill ourselves.


Here's another neat trick.


Television advertising convinces us that we need medication for problems that we didn't even know  we had.


Every now and then my legs bother me a little bit while I'm trying to fall asleep.


Thank goodness television recently made me aware of something called Restless Leg Syndrome.


And of course, it's obvious that I must consume some chemical concoction approved by the FDA to deal with something that the drug companies have converted from an annoyance into a medical condition.


Thank goodness for the GlaxoWellcome Corporation.


I might have stumbled through life without whatever my restless legs crave.


Ain't advertising beautiful?




It's not.


I want doctors to be strong.


Stand up to me.


I don't know what I'm talking about.


Don't buckle under just because Pfizer spent a fortune to say hello during American Idol.


Help me get better with the pharmacy items that you think work best.


Even if that means no prescription at all.


God forbid.


After all, we have to pay for all those TV cameras.


Unfortunately, you may be paying for those cameras with your health.


Be smart.


Let your doctor decide.


 Francis Ford Coppola is a great director.


But he knows nothing about your glucose level.


Rely on the trained expert who does.


That sometimes wimpy person who is your doctor.


Tell him or her to man-up and ignore what you saw on TV.


You'll feel better in the end.


Merck and Astrazeneca are great companies.


I just want them to focus more on making the pills and less on pushing them.



Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Eighth Deadly Sin: Mounds left in the Grass

Poop reveals character.


Yes, you read that right.


Poop reveals character.


Dog poop, that is.


You see, the pooper scooper laws are out there.


A legal requirement that you gather Fido's feces when you and your beloved beast tramp the neighborhood.


Problem is, how do you enforce this law?


It's not exactly a 911 emergency.


 It also is unlikely that the local detective bureau is going to launch an investigation into alleged violations.


It's essentially an honor system.


That's why it reveals character.


You can probably ignore the aromatic load deposited during the collie's constitutional.


And you'd probably get away with it.


Truly an honor system.


Look, I know it's not easy.


I use those cheap plastic bags Giant Eagle pushes on us as substitutes for the old-fashioned paper bags.


Those old bags were so strong and durable that we used to use them as covers for school books.


Remember that?


Anyhow, I know it takes character because those cheap bags do have the occasional hidden hole.


Not fun discovering your blue plastic bag converted into an oven mitt for meadow muffins has broken its promise.


Broken its promise to keep canine ka-ka off your skin.


Oh well, like I said, it takes character.


I know a young man who specializes in the rarest of skills: the simulated scoop.


He walks the dog, blue bag in hand, clear for the world to see.


When terrier turds materialize, he bends over and scoops up … air!


Observers think he is cleaning up.


What a good citizen.


What a terrific actor!


Next, I present an example of true nobility.


About 20 houses away, there is a home with a small trash can ever-present on the edge of the driveway, right by the sidewalk.


A sign attached invites dog walkers to deposit accumulated bags o' poop in the can.


I thank the Lord for people like that.


I bet Mother Teresa never provided such a service to humanity.


So you see, poop does reveal character.


What kind of character do you have?


If you're not sure, take the organic burglar alarm out for walk.


Soon you'll know just what kind of person you are.


Remember, God sees everything.


He knows the real scoop on poop.


Double bag it next time.


You and your fingernails will be glad you did.


 And you will be a person of high moral character.


Don't be like the simulated scooper.


If you do as he does, you will one day face Saint Peter.


He will look at you sternly, holding his clipboard of eternity.


After an intense moment  reviewing your life's actions,  he will solemnly  utter these five dreaded words.



Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ethan taught me Happiness is a Wet Toe

        Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame wrote  "Happiness is a warm puppy."


Schulz's alter ego, Charlie Brown, faced a lot of aggravations.


 Lucy pulling away the football just as Charlie was about to kick a field goal.


Linus, Schroeder, Lucy, and Snoopy on the baseball diamond, determined to humiliate their  manager.


Peppermint Patty once took the ball from Charlie Brown and ordered him to left field.


How embarrassing.


 Especially if the little red-haired girl was watching.


The "happiness is a warm puppy" expression grows out of the realization that while we all face challenges, we should embrace the little joys of life when they present themselves.


For Charles Schulz, a warm puppy brought a smile even if just for a moment.


For you, maybe it's a good meal now and then.


How about that great feeling, half passed out on your recliner after a long day.


This one makes me happy: pants that fit.


Relish the small moments.


Which brings me to Ethan.


Ethan was born with a congenital heart defect.


He has spent more days in hospitals than out of them over the course of his young life.


Seen more of needles and nurses than ponies and paper airplanes.


Development  stunted because his cardiac system can't move  blood to the organs that crave it.


Ethan is shot up with steroids and travels by way of a wheelchair.


His frail body won't allow for walking these days.


The other day, Children's Hospital staff wheeled Ethan outside for his seventh birthday celebration.


Lots of children, laughing, running, dancing in the water sprinkler out in the sun.


Ethan watches.


And longingly wishes to feel the pulse of water on his skin.


Closer,  he motions.


Closer to the  water.


He wants to do what every  kid wants to do when a sprinkler is spotted on a warm summer afternoon.


He wants to get in it.


Closer, nurse, closer.


Just inches away.


He struggles in the wheelchair.


Slowly extends his leg.


Stretches out his foot.


 Then it happens.


Toe hits cool stream of water.


A big grin.




        Then it ends.


Too tired for more.


Return to the sterile universe of stainless steel, IVs, and hospital gowns.


But he remembers that moment.


And still today he talks about it.


And  relives  it in his mind.


And savors it.


And is happy because of it.


We've all got problems.


Some more than others.


But don't ignore the little morsels God gives you along way.


"Stop and smell the roses"  means there are roses on your path you don't appreciate.


Your life is not as difficult as little Ethan's or even Charlie Brown's.


Yet they grab a little happiness where they can find it.


Do you?



Charlie Brown looked at that decrepit remnant of a Scotch Pine and saw a beautiful Christmas tree.


Ethan got his toe soaked and beamed.


If you look carefully enough, you'll come across the warm puppies in your life.


Or maybe even a wet toe.


Just ask Ethan.