Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Things I Am Thankful For

This list is NOT all-inclusive.
  • Garbage Pickup.
  • Being able to do a complete mental body scan and being able to say, "Nothing hurts!"
  • My family, immediate and extended. My Family: Born Weird! His Family: They think they're normal! Our Family: "How about HAPPY?!"
  • Faith. I didn't realize having faith was gonna take so much FAITH. If I'd known, I might have settled for Faith Lite. Meanwhile, I'm working on my Persecution Complex.
  • All that nice weather between hurricanes.
  • Permanent Press. Although I think I would ignore wrinkles either way. Is Botox the facial version of Permanent Press? Because you have to get your face-freezing botulism spores re-injected every so often, I guess it would at best be a Temporary Press.
  • Not having to worry about where my next meal is coming from, or where our plumbing waste is going to. That when I turn on the tap something comes out, and it's clean.
  • The roof is still attached to my house, and it isn't BLUE.
  • My mother-in-law is a fantastic cook, and she did the Thanksgiving Dinner.
  • The reinvigoration of every known holiday and special occasion by virtue of my children. The Easter Bunny has spring in his (her?) step! Santa Claus is Jesus' Chief Procurement Officer! Martin Luther King Jr. is our best buddy! The presidents sure know how to plan a fun weekend! St. Patrick is the best green dude this side of Gumby! Easter is the reason for a really long church service and a fabulous egg hunt! The Fourth of July is a great time to store explosives in the garage! Labor Day is all play and no work! The Halloween Anticipation Season kicks off on September first! We don't like Pilgrim Outfits but it doesn't matter if we get the bigger half of the turkey wishbone on Thanksgiving! Birthdays last a minimum of a week, and with luck can be extended to last an entire month! And so forth.
  • High-speed internet. Without it, I'm just another hearts player.
  • Recipe sites on the internet. Now you only need to buy cookbooks for the pictures.
  • The Triple A. This year we were on a first-name basis.
  • Air conditioning. Without it Florida is not habitable by anything but rain forest critters.
  • Catalogs. I dislike crowds. I dislike shopping crowds even more. I hate waiting in long lines with shopping crowds the most.
  • That every time I clean my closet I find at least 20 bucks or a dinner gift certificate to make it worth my while.
  • Caller I.D. We can now interrupt ourselves only for friends and family.
  • Drive-through anything. With kids and carseats, any transaction you can complete through a car window is a blessing.
  • The football season. It takes my mind off the bird flu.
  • Floss.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Wisdom of Four

It seems like business leaders, politicians and educators are constantly convening meetings so they can solve problems and generate wisdom. But as any parent knows, all the wisdom of the earth is contained in the fresh thoughts of your average 4-year-old. Their experience with the world is limited, and their ability to comment about it is recent, almost newly-acquired. So they are able to think outside the box better than anyone! Here are a few things MY 4-year-old has had to say lately.
Who IS This Masked Oracle? "I have to go potty. I want you to come in to watch my privacy." "You made me MAD! I'm going to give myself a timeout." (Don't ask me how he concluded this was a great way to punish us. We won't inform him otherwise until he graduates high school.) Him: "I'm going to play the computer game WITHOUT the disk." Me: "How are you going to play it without the disk?" Him: "Greatly." "I'm going to tell you the rules about ME." "Don't say those words." Him (to his father): "Why are you putting these toys here?" (in a cardboard box) Hubby: "Those are going into the garbage." Him: (incredulous) TOYS are GARBAGE? You're ashamed of yourself! Hubby: "The toys are broken." Him: "You ruined my LIFE!" "Don't call them classmates. They're my friends." "I only like Pilgrims a little bit." Him (to me): "I'm the boss. Everyone in this family has to do what I say." Me: "I'm the Queen. The boss works for the Queen." Him: "I don't like the Castle People. They can't stay here." "I'm allergic to aliens." Me: (to both kids) "Don't you think it would be nice if we could buy some extra presents and wrap them up and give them to poor children who don't get presents?" Him (lip quivering): "But, but...I'M poor children!" "How old will you be when I'm 100?" "I want a twin sister. She has to be the same age." (After fighting with his brother, then appealing to me.) "Let me tell you what the tease was." "I'm going to put you outside with the alligators and the mosquitoes and the spiders. And you'll have to SLEEP there." "I'm going to CRUSH you into CRACKERS."
"That's IT! I'll give you TEN more chances. If you lose your chances, then you get CONSEQUENCES!." (His "consequences" to me are either that my newspaper gets taken away, or I can't have my morning coffee.) "I love you a million times."

Friday, November 18, 2005

Eureka! Worst Jobs in Science

So you thought trash collectors have it bad? You told your parents you were going to be a baseball player or actress, and they insisted you went into "science?" Well scientists sometimes don't have the greatest jobs, either. Thanks to Popular Science Magazine we can examine and hypothesize about this year's top ten worst jobs in science: 1) Orangutan Urine Collector: People in white lab coats go running around in rain forests, trying to figure out the exact moment Dr. Zaius is going to take a leak. ("Dr. Zaius" was one of the Orangutan leaders in Planet of the Apes) They operate using big plastic sheets, which they try to throw down on the rain forest floor at key moments, or the more daring among them use a plastic bag on a pole. Recommended accessory: goggles and deodorizer. They couldn't just stick a catheter in some sick zoo oragutan for this? Guess not, they're trying to determine something about the "levels" in free-ranging rain forest critters. 2) Space Ballerina: The NASA guys want to show off to the public a new robot they've invented that has a sensitive "skin" that can detect the presence of astronauts and get out of the way before any embarrassing space collisions occur. Who better to promenade with in public than a Ballerina For Hire? Sure, the lifts may be clumsy, but the thing is NOT supposed to step on her foot. And no one's going out for drinks after the performance. 3) Expeditioner for Earthwatch: These are volunteer positions that people take during their vacation time to help out with particular scientific causes. So, for example, instead of sunning yourself in Hawaii, you could be analyzing dirt! Or watching frost melt! Or trying to exterminate mosquitoes before they give you malaria! One volunteer had his eyes swollen shut when he got bitten by something they were studying. He is still not sure what it was. You can't count on getting a tan, but you MAY be able to get a t-shirt. 4) Semen Washer: Like today's sanitation engineers they insist on being called by their technical name, cryobiologists. (No sense crying over spilled specimen bottles!) These specialists work at the "sperm bank." Hopefully with nice 9-5 hours and days off for all the federal holidays including Columbus Day! (Do they issue a receipt after you make your deposit? Insist on identification to make sure you're depositing to the right account? Offer prizes for people opening new accounts? Is there a drive through for sperm donors in a hurry? How about an ATM for privacy?) Semen washers use centrifuges and preservatives so that deposits are "insured" for up to 20 years in the freezer. 5) Volcanologist: Or in the venacular, Occasional Human Sacrifices. See, it's no good studying volcanoes from afar. You have to get right up close to them and peer inside. And sometimes, like those projectile vomiting infants, these volcanoes "spit up," hitting the poor volcanologists with molten lava. These guys and gals are "on call," meaning the minute a volcano looks like it's going to spew ash and bury a town, they are supposed to come running to get some great recordings on their instruments from the slope of the volcano. No wonder these people so often get turned into lava statues. 6) Nuclear Weapons Scientist: If you work for a rogue country, somebody may be trying to kill you to keep you from allowing that country to join the "nuclear club." Even if you work for a non-rogue country, it just isn't that prestigious telling people your job is to develop weapons for the purpose of wiping out humanity. And if you decide to give up your job at the lab, it's tough to go over to academia. The reason? All that work you did in the lab is "classified." You can't prove you did it, and you certainly can't publish anything about it! Then there was this nasty eye-burning laser incident... 7) Extremophile Hunter: As much as this sounds like chasing kids with skateboards, bungee jumpers and people who ski out of helicopters, the truth is a lot more nauseating. Apparently it involves going to some of the most remote, stinkiest places on earth to see if any living things are inhabiting the area. (Aside from the dumb scientists "looking for them," of course.) Apparently there is a Extremophile Microbe that has been discovered living in arsenic-saturated mud that gives off enough gas to smell like a herd of elephants after a baked bean barbecue. Only not as pleasant. It is also laced with a combination of smells representing rotten eggs, natural gas and dead fish. So breathe out of your mouth, I say! 8) Biology Teacher in Kansas: Because of the ongoing debate over evolution vs intelligent design, Kansas' biology teachers are stuck worrying about if they are going to be sued, ridiculed, fired, or adversely publicized on any given day. What to do? Go with the Big Bang Theory. We all just exploded onto the scene intact. Or try both theories. God exists! Things change! What more do you need to know? 9) Manure Inspector: Ha! Well at least they don't have to inspect the manure of that Extremophile Microbe. How bad can this be if you're allowed to wear a gas mask and wash your hands before lunch? Isn't every farmer on the planet somewhat of a manure inspector? Well the scientists who specialize in this are trying to make sure the manure samples are not contaminated with E. Coli bacteria, because the farmers don't want that stuff getting onto the vegetables. Experts in the field assure us that even if you wear gloves while getting your samples, the smell somehow gets embedded into your skin. 10) Guinea Pig: Yes, they need humans in the lab. Real live ones. The pesticide companies need to know what happens to the human body when exposed to a variety of compounds. (That glow-in-the-dark skin? It's great for exercising at night.) When even mosquitoes reject you, then you know your onto something toxic! Somehow that career as a singer/songwriter is starting to look better after all!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Wal-Mart Is NOT Part of the Axis of Evil...

...although you could probably find plenty of people, from economists and small retailers to union organizers and wholesalers who might argue the point. Wal-Mart's resemblance to Iraq, North Korea and Syria have more to do with its simmering potential for violence. I hate to say this, folks, but we may have to send in a battalion of troops or weary National Guardsmen to quell a wave of retailing combat that seems to have overtaken America's most obesely successful retailer. It would be best to secure the perimeter before allowing citizens to shop there. The first incident occurred this summer. Allegedly several zealous Wal-mart employees pursued a suspected shoplifter out of the store and into the parking lot. They wrestled the poor fellow to the asphalt. Which probably irritated hordes of circling Wal-mart shoppers seeking a great parking space. After subduing the suspect, the employees apparently "sat" on him until the authorities got there. We wouldn't want anyone escaping the premises with an armful of cheap plastic crap! I guess just getting the guy's license plate number or retrieving the goods was not satisfying enough for the Dukes of Wal-mart. By the time the police arrived to take over from this "citizen's arrest," (or, Enthusiastic Employee Kapture, a.k.a. "EEK!"), the guy wasn't looking so hot. In fact, he was, to use a technical term right out of the employee handbook, "deceased." Turns out the reason the guy would not remain "subdued" on the parking lot pavement is that he had no shirt on, and the pavement was 110 degrees, give or take a third degree burn. So not only was this ex-shopper "dead," he was also "toast," as in "overdone on one side." All from applying excess pressure to this fellow's lung regions. No matter how else you look at it, Wal-mart just lost a customer! But in this war of Retailer vs Consumer, the customers weren't about to let Wal-mart gain the upper hand through intimidation tactics. No! They followed up by opening fire at a completely different Wal-mart, killing two workers. Flak jackets are not currently part of the Wal-mart employee uniform, but perhaps that will change once the full extent of the Customer Insurgency is known. Likely the gunman was just making an aggressive commentary on the store's customer service. I think we can all agree, though, that exercising your second amendment right to bear arms is a clumsy way to exercise your first amendment right to free speech. So what can we do about these customer insurgents, who, we suspect, are being trained and funded by disgruntled retailers such as K-mart, Sears and the Store Formerly Known as Eckerd's? One solution is better armor for those peaceful customers who frequent Wal-mart. The Hummer would be the recommended vehicle for your Saturday morning shopping. Second, I'm thinking we need to dim the lights in the stores. That would provide a more soothing atmosphere, not to mention making it more difficult for sharpshooters to take aim. Third, we need to make the shoplifting experience less lethal. Instead of A) Shooting to kill, or B) Suffocating the suspect between the pavement and the store employees' buttocks, instead we should go for a kinder, gentler approach of perhaps slashing their tires before they escape, or just maybe shocking them into submission with taser technology. They'll thank us later! This raises the issue of the Shoplifting Enigma at Wal-mart. Who, exactly, is harmed by this? Let's start out by examining who is NOT harmed: 1) Founder Sam Walton. He's dead, and therefore beyond economic repercussions. 2) Wal-mart employees. There is no regulation in the employee handbook that says killing the customer is preferable to letting them escape with unpaid-for merchandise. 3) Chinese workers. The will continue churing out the goods no matter what American consumers do or do not purchase. In fact, they may churn out even more if they have to replace shoplifted items. They will still receive their 9 cents per day paycheck. 4) Wal-mart shoppers. What? You're saying we may have to pay MORE for our cheap plastic crap to make up for the pilfered goods? Well, we'll just buy less of it, then. Thus freeing up closet and cupboard space across America. Or we'll buy the stuff at our locally-owned and operated store! Thus creating millions of jobs for Americans. Note: I am not advocating breaking the law. Shoplifting is still morally wrong. I'm just pointing out that it is a victimless crime unless someone gets inadvertently squashed on the pavement. Even more so if they get squashed in a handicapped parking space. I'm thinking, though, that they have a double standard on Matters of Shoplifting. If you'll recall, Runaway Bride Jennifer Wilbanks allegedly is an ex-Walmart shoplifter. She only got fined and had to do community service. No one sat on her! (Although, arguably, she may have outrun them, or simply "vanished" when they tried to apprehend her.) So obviously they have more than one way to deal with cases of suspected shoplifting. I think the next time they have a case like this they should release some kind of chloroform throughout the store. Then as customers pass out they can have their bags inspected by Wal-mart employees wearing masks or chemical weapons gear. See? Didn't you think all along that Wal-mart was hiding Saddam's WMDs?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Robertson vs Chavez: Smite-Down 2005

I meant to comment on this topic a couple months ago, when we first got the word that Smite Makes Right. You know things are careening out of control in world affairs when Pat Robertson issues a fatwa. Yes, we all heard that correctly. One of the USA's most famed Christian evangelists this summer declared a Death Edict in honor of Hugo Chavez. Why, Chavez is such a huge troublemaker that I didn't even know who he was prior to Robertson's proclamation. Quiz: Who is Hugo Chavez? 1) Peruvian author of Campesino Literature. 2) Modern day migrant labor leader. 3) One of the survivors of the Andean plane crash where the soccer players had to eat each other to stay alive. 4) Former member of Menudo. 5) Shortstop for the Washington Nationals. 6) President of the largest oil-producing nation in the Western Hemisphere. Answer: Follow the oil! Which leads us to Robertson's suggestion that "someone" assassinate Mr. Chavez, who is president of Venezuela. (Maybe Pat can dispatch whichever of the angelic spirits on his shoulders that he was listening to when this idea first came up.) There has been a lot of hue and cry over the fact that calling for anyone's untimely demise, particularly someone you've never met, does not approach the heights of Christian charity. But the fact remains that who lives and who dies is an area that DOES fall undr God's domain. The question becomes: is Pat Robertson now God's earthly webmaster? Is he the Worldly Justice Arm of God's heavenly legions? If he personally assassinates Chavez, or gets someone else to do so, can he honestly say, "I was just following orders?" Isn't that what .44 Caliber Killer David Berkowitz claimed back in the 1970s? Let's bring back Crossfire and have Pat debate the "Son of Sam" over who has more moral authority! Later Mr. Robertson said his words were taken out of context (hopefully by someone using rubber gloves or a 10-foot pole). He was simply misunderstood! Little did we know he was daydreaming aloud, channeling strictly personal Rambo-esque fantasies that have nothing to do with his stature as the head of the Christian Broadcasting Corp. Well shouldn't he have warned us before the interview that he was planning to get all charistmatic on us? That he would start speaking in tongues that everyone would find confusing? He went on to say that "taking him out" COULD mean a lot of things besides killing. It could mean kidnapping! (No commandment broken there. Thou Shalt Not Kidnap is in the Misdemeanor Section.) It could mean getting two tickets for a Broadway Show and reservations for a nice dinner! It was perhaps a suggestion that Condi Rice, Hillary Clinton or Tammy Faye Bakker-(Whatever Her New Name Is Now) make the social sacrifice for the good of our nation! Well I think Pat should take matters into his own hands. I'll tell you what I would pay to see -- "Punching" Pat and "Hurricane" Hugo in the ring together. It will be one of those epic battles like the kind that Captain Kirk had, mano a mano, against various aliens, complete with a cheesy Faux Dramatic musical background. (Kirk's opponents were all strangely human except they had reflective skin, weird-colored eyes, ugly outfits or a little extra facial cartilage.) Better yet! We'll get them together in a Predators vs the Christians scenario, where they have to work TOGETHER in order to defeat (choose two): a lion and an alligator, a tiger and a Florida python, a panther and an angry moose, a charging elephant and a rabid fox, or bigfoot and a mosquito carrying West Nile Virus. They would each be bare-chested and wearing loincloths, so the mosquito would have a definite advantage. Let's see if Pat could forget all about assassination attempts and work with his Christian brother Chavez to survive! I am thinking this would be hugely popular in a pay-per-view setting, and I'd be willing to personally publicize it. When Christian leaders start calling for targeted assassinations (or even general ones, frankly) then their stature as both Christians and leaders must be questioned. I'll give Robertson the benefit of the doubt that he's laboring on God's behalf. Certainly the CBC network and associated ministries do a lot of good, and the people who support them are generally well-meaning Christians. But when their leaders start sounding like Osama Bin Loudmouth, then it's time for Preacher Pat to revisit God's statements on where his Kingdom is located.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


I have always loved little interesting factoids that don't (generally) provide useful knowledge but are fun to contemplate. So of course the era of the internet has been a treasure trove of these weird items. They are great if you want to bore people while waiting in line to check out, or if you are trapped on public transportation somewhere. Although it's embarrassing to realize the Poster Child for people like us is Cliff Claven from Cheers! Here is a list I came across recently that made me wonder if the compilers were under illegal influences. Did you know.... 1) It is impossible to lick your elbow. I think we all discovered this when we were approximately eight years old. We merely forgot in the interim. Anyway it isn't necessary to lick your elbow if you have a dog and something tasty you can stick your elbow into. 2) A crocodile can't stick its tongue out. I suppose they expect us to go around peering into crocodiles to see for sure. Not to mention wondering if this means that alligators CAN stick their tongues out. And who really wants to know what's past a dangerous carnivore's teeth? I would just as soon not find out. 3) A shrimp's heart is in its head. Which means they can make decisions about dating using both organs! I am not sure, though, that this is useful on the Shrimp Social Scene, which I expect is normally pretty serene. Another question: Are appetizers supposed to have organs? 4) In a study of 200,000 ostriches over eight decades, there was not a single reported case of an ostrich burying its head in the sand. Way to ruin a commonly understood image! So who is the 95-year-old person in charge of the study? I can't imagine 200,000 ostriches on the planet. I thought there were like, ten of them, and they got passed around from zoo to zoo with an occasional foray onto a movie set or nature documentary. I wouldn't be surprised if they are actually extinct, and what we see is just some animatronic thing created by Disney. Anyway, all it takes is ONE ostrich burying its head in the sand to cement the image for the entire species, courtesy the folks at Loony Toons. 5) It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky. Unless they're on their backs? Or standing upright? Will this be a new metaphor to supplant the one about Pigs Flying? (Meaning, "fat chance.") Sure, I'll cut up all my credit cards, when WILBUR GOES STAR-GAZING. Is there anything up there that pigs need to see? Maybe they just don't care! Like, it is physically impossible for me to go to a NASCAR event. People who have been studying me closely for the past 80 years (give or take four decades) have NEVER seen me at one! 6) A pregnant goldfish is called a twit. Who decided that, the British? Maybe I will start referring to annoying people by saying, "Goldie has a bun in the oven!" or "My fishy friend is in the family way," or "Get back to me in nine months or you run out of fish food, whichever comes first." Maybe I will become so annoying with these obscure references that people with think I am a twit. 7) More than 50 percent of the planet's population has never made or received a phone call. Sorta makes you want to send quarters to Ethiopia, doesn't it? Just more proof that we live in an insulated, high-tech cocoon that is indifferent to how the rest of the world lives. (Gee, and we thought the PHONELESS people were out of touch!) Probably they get a lot more done during their day, since they aren't interrupted with pointless calls. Nor do they have to get caller ID to avoid the telemarketers. The telemarketers are forced to go door-to-door. I guess drums and smoke signals are not as obsolete as we imagined. 8) Horses can't vomit. So what do they do when they get drunk? Does this mean we should be DOUBLY suspicious of a horse's back end, especially if he or she is not feeling well? 9) "The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick" is supposed to be the toughest tongue twister in the English langauge. Yeah, well they loaded that one. Try saying, "Toy boat" four times fast and you get more bang for your buck, syllable for syllable. 10) Immutable Laws of Sneezing: If you sneeze too hard, you can fracture a rib. If you try to suppress a sneeze, you can rupture a blood vessel in your head or neck and die. And, if you keep your eyes open by force, they can pop out. Pardon me if I think this is more Folk Legend than something out of the New England Journal of Medicine. I believe the fracturing a rib part. I think the blood vessel that ruptures during a withheld sneeze was probably ready to go anyway. And as far as eyeballs popping out...if this were possible, don't you think we'd already have seen it on 20/20 or Jerry Springer? With six billion people on the planet, there are bound to be DOZENS of eyeballs popping out each day, if this were true. You'd see them rolling up the streets of Manhattan as people show off for the Today Show. I think it's about as likely as a dog staring up at the sky and seeing a pig licking a horse's elbow. 11) Rats are so prolific that in 18 months two rats could have a million descendents. Assuming, of course, that they live on a Rat Planet that is devoid of predators and rat poison. I guess that's what gave the Pied Piper tale its resonance. We don't know for certain that flea-bitten rats were the cause of the Bubonic Plague, but hey, their PR team is worse than the one retained by the ostriches!
12) Wearing headphones for an hour will multiply the amount of bacteria in your ears 700 times. Basically they are enjoying your ear canal as their own personal sauna as they endeavor to create more descendents than their buddies The Rats. I am wondering, though, if the bacteria will go deaf, or start becoming anti-social if exposed to too much rap, hip-hop or heavy metal music.
So that's it for this edition of "Did You Know?" Perhaps follow-up editions will answer the questions, "Do I care?" and "When will you stop?"

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Saints vs the Druids: All Hallow's Peeve

There is no escaping Halloween. I believe it is now the second most festive American holiday, trailing only Christmas in its Bulb-to-Populace Ratio. You can’t even walk into a drugstore in October without some plastic contraption springing to life and shrieking at you. The market for fake webbing has to rival the “sweet spot” that candy companies count on each fall. I’m not suggesting that anyone ignore Halloween. No one with kids has that option. As soon as September 1 rolled around, both my 4-year-old and 6-year-old cried gleefully, “It’s ALMOST Halloween!” U.S. retailers couldn’t agree more. I’ve been battling ghosts, werewolves, vampires and spiders for two solid months. (To be fair, spiders are a year-round squeal opportunity in Florida.) But that’s TWO months out of the twelve we are allotted each year. That seems excessive for a holiday that, technically, gives us ZERO days off from school or work. Maybe getting an evening off from reality is supposed to be enough. As a parent you need to find a happy medium (or medium well, anyway) between the Ode to Satan Faction and the Pretend It Doesn’t Exist Crowd. As a general rule I’m opposed to witchcraft (black, white or plaid), blood sacrifices, worship of nature, and costumes that make you itch or sweat. On the other hand, I don’t feel we need to concede the holiday to Beelzebub just because a few pagans are demanding federal tax exemptions for their fright wigs and black nail polish. I heard on the radio that South Floridians (who recently endured the Wrath of Hurricane Wilma) were being advised to NOT send the children trick-or-treating after dark in areas that have not yet had power restored. Hopefully they got the message on their battery-operated radios? It’s interesting to imagine just what South Florida’s trick-or-treaters would be getting in their loot bags as they go door to door. Stale bread! Curdled milk! Defrosted peas! Miscellaneous debris that hitchhiked from Cancun! There was another urgent announcement to watch out for predatory child molesters. I guess it is illegal for them to dress up in enticing costumes such as the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus or FEMA workers. But apparently it is okay for them to pretend to be mummies, zombies, Darth Vader or IRS agents! For me the solution is simple. As long as the kids are trick-or-treating, Hubby or I will be going around with them. If they don’t mind going door-to-door with mom and dad at age 15, well, so be it! This year marked a big step forward for them. They finally graduated to having their own costumes. Previously I had just bought them various cartoon or superhero character pajamas, claimed it was a “costume,” and then neatly folded it into the laundry cycle once Halloween was over. Now, unfortunately, they can tell the difference between pajamas and a genuine costume. So this year we had to spring for one Power Ranger outfit and one Ninja Turtle costume. Of course with kids this age you hit the street fairly early, before 6 pm, in order to maximize your use of daylight hours. While the kids were trick-or-treating for candies, the mosquitoes were trick-or-treating on my skin. In spite of me emptying half a bottle of bug spray on each of the kids, plus myself and my brother Rob who was visiting. The 6-year-old looked like he had been training for this event all year. He raced from door to door with frightening speed, slowing down only when I insisted he wait for his brother. Fortunately we were going around with friends up the street, one of whom kept up with my son, and the other of whom lagged behind with the 4-year-old. They were dressed up as Spiderman I and Spiderman II. They're not twins, just Brotherly Arachnids. At one point my 6-year-old, in the process of hurtling door-to-door, managed to trip over an extension cord. He maintained his balance, but we could all see this large inflated Spooky Something rapidly losing air. It was deflating with the speed of the U.S. economy! Fortunately that problem got fixed by Jennifer Campbell, who was one of our entourage along with her two kids. It seemed the older kids were acquiring candy at speeds high enough to cause their costumes to become a blur. By the end of the evening I was dragging. I vowed next year I would rent a 6-person golf cart and tour the neighborhood in style. Then we could pack all the right accessories such as DEET Deep Woods Off brand bug spray, child molester spray, exploding python spray, speeding vehicle spray, cranky neighbor spray and any other sprays I may not have thought of. Plus flashlights, reflective vests, lightsticks and giant, spinning strobes. That way cars will see us, and aliens will fear us. And for the record, on the following day the 6-year-old dressed up as St. Francis as he and his first grade class were star participants in the All Saints Day Mass. St. Francis was a Power Ranger in his own right, and calling on a Power infinitely stronger than anything running around on the Druid’s Night Out.