Wednesday, April 18, 2018

White Poop Post

It's true. The last time Dave and I took a walk we saw white dog poop. It's an artifact, like nesting Pyrex bowls in four colors. Aluminum tumblers. Wax lips.

White dog poop.

I'm not the first to wonder whatever happened to white dog poop. You used to see it everywhere. Now there are way more dogs and not as much poop, and it's not likely to be white. We kids rolled around in the dirt all day, and between the chigger bites and the dog poop, we ended up with titanium immune systems that could thwart a virus from Mars. Today's kids are staring at screens and staying tidy and trying to decide whether they'd rather perish from asthma or food allergies if the ear infections don't take them down first.

As I recall the poop didn't come out white but turned white after petrification, which took a day or two. I looked it up, and the reason we used to have white dog poop was we used to feed dogs bones. Not only bones, but they weren't scoring the Alpo exclusively by any means. If you didn't give your dog bones, you'd just have to throw the bones out. And the bones were just part of the meal. A lot of dogs will eat a pair of socks on a Frisbee with Tinker-toy topping just in case it was tasty, and you don't even need to fuss with the presentation. Basically, anything you didn't personally want to finish, including your homework, went to the dog.

The bones gave the poop a nice armature and the rest of the goo leached out, leaving a turd-shaped wad of white calcium. Like the white turd we just saw. I checked: there was fur in it. We do have coyotes. And they ain't eating Alpo, unless that's your cat's name.

Our old dog Boomer had a little hitch in her git-along one day and I made an appointment with the vet, who instructed me to bring along some of her poop just for drill, so I followed her around the yard for an hour waiting for a deposit. She finally pushed out a stick of chalk and I gathered as many crumbles of it into a bag as I could and presented it to the vet, who looked at me in horror and derision. "What are you feeding that dog?" he demanded, in a tone of voice inappropriate to a man who was about to give me an invoice in three figures.

Well how the hell should I know? She wouldn't eat kibble. That dog had the run of the neighborhood and was cute as the dickens and I know the next-door neighbor fed her from his own plate, and God knows what the bartender at the Homestead Tavern tossed her before dialing us up to let us know where she was (again). Probably bones. The vet scolded me up one side and down the other and handed me a bill for telling me our dog was too long for her legs and would probably have back trouble for the rest of her life. I took her home and she bounced out of the car and never limped again.

Evidently modern dogs are as sensitive to poor quality food as their owners are sensitive to advertising. All I know is you can get turned in to the Humane Society for feeding them Store Brand Kibble instead of premium fare with the correct balance of nutrition particles and organic bison nuts, designed to replicate an ancestral diet. It's all antelope haunch, prairie grass, and caveman socks, and if it doesn't drain your wallet, you should be ashamed.

But the dogs of my youth did fine, until they got run over. It was quick. a '56 Buick wouldn't even leave a wet spot.

Saturday, April 14, 2018


Smack me if I ever complain about ants again.

Coming up on forty springs we've lived in this house and none of the relevant gods has seen fit to drop rats on us, until now. We had a bit of a mouse thing going on in the early years. Taking care of that looked like it would involve cleaning up after ourselves in the kitchen, which might have interfered with our drinking. Then we became tidy people. We threw out the stove which had gone mouse-condo and got new appliances. Mice showed up just often enough to entertain the cat. She stalked the dishwasher and came up with a genuine rodent about once a year. Cute little guys. They say if you see one mouse, you have five thousand. I couldn't prove it. Seems more like we just get the one.

They say the same thing about rats. I hadn't seen any in the house. However, judging by whatever is thundering across the attic above the kitchen, and given that no one else in town has reported a capybara infestation, I'm entertaining the possibility that we have lots and lots of rats, or possibly small bison. We called pest control.

This is the kind of problem you take care of yourself when you're young, but now we're more inclined to pitch money at it. Especially when our Tyvek suits are at the cleaners.

Nice outfit. They don't use poison, which we all know (right?) can ramificate the hawk population pretty fierce. They try to determine where the rats are coming in and either plug it up or direct us to (direct someone else to) plug it up, and then they come back with traps and remove the rodents. A week later they do it again, until finally they come up empty.

The guy thought our entry-point culprits were a couple spots at the top of the roofline that looked chewed-on. This would allow entry into the second-floor attic, from which point (said he) they work their way down the walls and into the kitchen attic, which is lower. He wanted me to call a roofer.

This seemed implausible to me. So I didn't do anything.

Then I noticed poop in the kitchen. Near the sofa. I swept it up. The next day, more poop. I'm a huge proponent of denial when it comes to problems, but finally I pulled the sofa away from the wall and found many more poops, a scouting party of ants, and a neat cache of Iams Healthy Adult Cat Kibble. I read up.

Good news! Mice and rats are likely to drop a deuce fifty times a day. So the collection I had could have been a single rodent over three days, or a threesome overnight. Not so bad. I swept up, Windexed the crap out of the floor, and bought mouse traps, because I am optimistic.

Two of the traps were sprung and all the peanut butter licked off without sign of violence.

Rat behavior.

Rats don't hunt much if they don't have to. They forage. Kibble is super easy to transport and store. It's better than rooting through the Dumpster. It's convenient.

The sofa didn't smell right. I blamed my nose for a couple days and then turned the sofa over. There was a hole in the dust cover fabric. I cut the fabric off. Ten thousand turds tumbled out. I threw out the fabric, cleaned up the turds, sprayed everything in sight with everything this side of napalm, and considered myself lucky I foiled them before they could bring in the tiny TV for the Spring Break Party. Also, I put away the bowl of cat kibble every night. If Tater gets hungry, she can just go find herself a rat. And I called the roofer.

It isn't much different with climate change. It's the poop that betrays us--all that carbon we've hauled out of the earth and shot into the sky. And if we want to do anything about the poopetrators, first thing we have to take away the kibble. But we loves our kibble. We wantss our kibble. All that plastic packaging, and heat and AC at the flick of a switch, and instant transportation? It's so convenient. Mmm, kibble.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

At Last, A Cure For Adult Onset Panty Despoilment

I get my most reliable medical information from the full-page spreads in the newspaper that say "Paid Advertisement" at the top. You should never trust an advertisement that's purchased on credit. This recent one caught my eye:

Pills May Replace Diapers And Padded Underwear At Stores

This is an exciting development, although I'd think it would have to be a really large, spongey pill. The pill in question is called UriVarx and according to the ad it "contains ingredients that keeps the bladder from releasing voluntarily." There's no further explanation, so I assume the pill, with its ingredients, gets lodged in the exit hole of the bladder. I do have some limited acquaintance with Adult Onset Panty Despoilment and despite the difficulties the condition presents, I would prefer--call me a urinary libertarian--to maintain my bladder's ability to release voluntarily. But corking the sucker up altogether might be an attractive option in the short run.

According to WebMD, the main symptom of urinary incontinence is involuntary release of urine from the bladder. (Similarly, nausea is characterized by a barfy feeling.) According to the proprietor of the UriVarx ad, the unfortunately named Dr. Damaj, your bladder muscles weaken as you age. This doesn't surprise me in the least. Judging from the condition of the muscles on the outside of me, I suspect everything inside is flapping away in there like hung laundry.

Many UriVarx users report that their bladders have never been stronger. Some of them are positively ripped. And "adult pads and diapers are no longer a worry." This is a relief! You get a closet full of those and you never know when they're going to turn on you. Marie L. of Danbury, CT exults that thanks to UriVarx, she is no longer living in constant fear of finding a bathroom. This is a serious concern. Those suckers are everywhere; there's no getting away from them.

Furthermore, "research shows that as we get older, the muscles which surround the bladder weaken. This is caused by hormonal changes in the body that causes the muscles to weaken." This brings to mind several questions:

(1) Are the muscles that surround the bladder supposed to be intimidating?

(2) Are there any good money in pharmaceutical advertisement editing?

Coincidentally, another full-page ad two pages later also featured the pioneering work of Dr. Damaj. "Apeaz" (pronounced either Appease or Ape-Ass) is an arthritis painkilling cream. Its "powerful effect is created by the cream's active ingredient, a special medical compound." Even better, every container of Apeaz comes with a breakthrough pill named ArthriVarx, which also contains special compounds.

ArthriVarx is probably related to UriVarx. I'm holding out for AardiVarx, which has been shown to cure ants. Or its predecessor ArchaeoVarx, with its key stomping ingredients and tiny little arms. You rub it on Jurassic.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

All That And A Bag Of Cheeps

It was a great day at the zoo. In recognition of International Frog Day, my friend Shawn and I spent the day posing in front of our Frog Taxi poster, explaining why we shuttle frogs across the highway during their winter migration to their breeding ponds and back again. Shawn is the Frog Queen, pretty much, having started the taxi service to begin with (along with our friend Rob). She is even featured in the poster, in her headlamp tiara. But we also had the Frog Princess in the (firm, young) flesh. There is such a thing as a Frog Princess. Evidently. I guess if we absolutely must be obsessed with princesses and we absolutely must dress our little girls in pink tulle all the dang time, it's good we have at least one Frog Princess.

So we were all set, royalty-wise. And we greeted many young parents with their eager spawn at their sides, and did a little recruiting for the frog-shuttle team, which now boasts some eighty volunteers. There was something a little rough-looking about one father, but he did pay attention, and declared "his boy" would be our best frog-nabber, because he can git 'em like nobody's business. There was something about him that made me wonder what the boy does with the frogs he gits, but I kept that to myself. And he listened to our whole spiel, the breeding pond, the migration, the intervening Highway Of Death, and then he said:

"So, what good are frogs? What do they do for us?"

Awesome! Clearly, here was an opportunity to educate. Out of the goodness of my heart, I left that opportunity to Shawn, while I excused myself to wander off to a corner where my thoughts wouldn't leak out. Primarily: What the hell good are you, dipwad?

I often think I would have been a good teacher, once we got past that paddlin' I'd have to administer to get my students' attention. So much is lost when there hasn't been any foundation laid about our puny place in the universe, and people have grown all the way into adulthood with blinders of ignorance on, allowing them to imagine that their own needs are paramount, and can be fulfilled with a big TV and a big car to roar around in and a bag of chips and some foldin' money; and the trail of detritus we leave behind has no consequence. I simply don't know where to start to answer a question like his, although there are many answers. I do know when to start. With kids.

That's one of the reasons I keep humiliating myself in the Birdathon van: to raise money for the Portland Audubon Society, with its great educational outreach. Yes, once again, after a year off to think about what I've done, I am going to sally forth and attempt to identify one single bird species before anyone else does, with all day to do it. We're likely to spot over a hundred, so you'd think this would be easy, but it's not. Eleven other people in that van are going to be confidently hollering out bird IDs from chips and squeaks and dots in the sky and tricks of the light, and I'm going to be pointing and saying ooo ooo ooo like a chimpanzee. It's mortifying. My method is to get one in the brain pan all ready to fire and wait for it to flit by. I do get marginally better every year but I am to bird-watching what Kim Kardashian is to erudition.

Hear ye! Hear ye!
That's not fair. I don't actually know who Kim Kardashian is, which means it's possible she's a bird.

Anyway, I do have a donation page you can toss an eyeball at, and go ahead and pitch in if you want. I'd like to help Portland Audubon teach the children well, and preserve something to teach them about. Get the little dickenses outside noticing things besides themselves, before they grow up and think they're all that and a bag of chips.

Would you like to help me raise funds for Portland Audubon? You can do it right here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Crone Is In

"That's why old ladies' houses are so messy. We can't see it, and we don't give a shit." That's what my friend Gayle says.

I never did have good eyesight, but I'd say the number of shits given tracks closely and inversely with age. And the number of shits given has a lot to do with how much we care what other people think of us. The older we get, the less we care. Personally, I think either people have a decent enough opinion of me, or they're wrong, or they may be right but I don't give a shit.

There's another aspect to it. If I've gotten to be this age without keeling over, I assume I've been doing things okay. The dust mites in my pillow aren't going to take me down. The spiders who are enjoying my hospitality and my disinclination to use the vacuum are not interested in biting me.

So consider this a warning if you want to drop by. You will find a friendly cat at the front door and lots of beer in the fridge. Dave will have seen to it that the toilet is clean. But you're not going to find the toilet seat lid down. If it is, I'm either indulging your delicate sense of vulnerability, or I had to stand on the toilet to reach something. But it won't be because I really believe the toilet sprays fecal matter all over the bathroom every time I flush. Because I don't believe that. Even if I'm wrong, it hasn't made me sick yet.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm part of my own ecosystem, and I don't want to mess anything up as long as everything's going okay. I don't believe that ecosystems work because Nature designs them that way. Nature doesn't plan any more than I do. Whatever you see in a given ecosystem is a snapshot of What Works Now. If circumstances change, the components will change with them.

So what you see in my house is what works for me now. It's going to be somewhat tidy, but not excessively tidy, because I will have struck a balance between my wish to not be visually burdened with clutter and my wish to not actually do a lot of work. If my writing room is tidy, I have writer's block. And I never have writer's block, so there will be crap all over in there. And no part of the house is going to be actually clean.

If you judge me for that, no hard feelings: I don't give a shit.

I haven't decided what, if anything, to do with the roof rats that have moved in above our kitchen. I never even know they're there until about eleven o'clock at night, when they start rough-housing and plotting and scraping their teeth on stuff. I do find this disturbing. So maybe I'll start going to bed earlier.

If I did have a plan, the plan would be to live to 99 and then go down fast and hard from late-onset hantavirus, dust mite allergy, spider bite, and fecal contamination.