Meet the Internet’s Newest Climate Scientist

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comDo you remember the old television commercial where the guy said, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV?”

If you’ll recall, the line took on a life of its own — kind of like “Where’s the beef?” or, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

This line was unique, because people could put their own spin on it by saying, “I’m not a (fill in the blank), but I play one on TV,” before proceeding to give their opinion on something.

I think it’s time we update this expression to fit the internet age, and I know just how to do it.

People could preface their opinions online by saying, “I’m not a (blank), but I play one on the Internet,” before delivering their opinion on a subject they know absolutely nothing about.

Here’s why I say this.

One of my Facebook friends shared a post about climate change written by someone who obviously has educated himself on the matter. It was intelligent. It wasn’t particularly one-sided, and it certainly wasn’t inflammatory.

It was obvious, however, that he agrees with the 68 percent of Americans who believe human activity is causing climate change. This is a new Gallup poll number, and it’s up 13 percent in 2 years, which is astonishing if you ask me.

After I read the post, I clicked to read the comments, because that was a slightly less painful way to pass the next 5 minutes than slamming my fingers in a door.

To my surprise, though, the vast majority were supportive, which gave me a rare glimmer of hope.

The lone name caller bashed the rest of us as “tree huggers,” which is fine but terribly unoriginal.

This morning, though, I got a notification that someone else had now commented on the post.

It caught my eye because it was a kid I grew up with in my hometown. I found this particularly unusual since I have no idea where he lives, and neither he nor I am even Facebook friends with the author. 

But, thanks to the internet, somehow this guy saw the post and gave us all the gift of his two cents worth.

After his all-caps introductory expletive, he went on to explain the ridiculousness of climate change and inserted a made-up statistic to back up his point. I know it was made up, because I spent 10 minutes researching to prove to myself it was made up.

I sat there with my head cocked sideways like a confused dog on a cartoon with my mouth hanging open, wondering how worlds can collide the way they sometimes do.

I haven’t seen him in decades, but I’m pretty doggone sure he isn’t a climate scientist.

But thanks to the internet, he gets to pretend he is.

Hear the good news! I know a Facebook climate scientist!

The fact that this guy disagrees with what real climate scientists say is immaterial. I wouldn’t have expected any less.

What baffles me is the fact that his lie is sitting out there for impressionable minds to see forever — because that’s how long things last on the internet.

And what disturbs me more are the thousands of myths that the internet will foster and grow today alone from people who simply make stuff up to push their agendas.

And worst of all, the more routine it becomes, the more desensitized we become to it.

If we’re not careful, we will start accepting it if we haven’t already. 

I hope you don’t see that merely as another tree hugger point of view.

Who Can Blame Mad Airline Employees?

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comSeventy percent.

That’s the percentage of Americans who hate their jobs, according to several articles I read on the subject.

That’s pretty extraordinary, if you ask me. Can you imagine getting 70 percent of people to agree on anything beyond what day it is?

I think I know why the percentage of disgruntled workers is so high.

It’s skewed by the airline employees.

Around 10 million Americans work in the air travel industry. Every single one of them must be completely miserable, and I understand why.

Last week I flew for the first time in a few years.

The problems started at the ticket counter.

Even though I was first in line, I wasn’t first in the Priority line, which meant lots of people got to cut in front of me.

This included a woman carrying an infant buried under an avalanche of infant accessories — including a stroller the size of a Volkswagen Beetle — who was checking in for a flight which was leaving in 3 minutes. I got to stand there 10 minutes while the ticket person rebooked her on my flight, which left in 2 hours.

It wasn’t a great way to start the day, but I merely said “that’s okay” when the agent finally got around to me, because I’m sure she gets an earful from passengers all day long. I don’t know how she does it.

The security checkpoint line was fairly short, which was nice on the surface. But it doesn’t make up for the pain involved in making it into the terminal area.

I’ve been through the whole post-9/11 security screening thing several times, so I knew to expect the unexpected. The inconsistency from one airport’s security to another will always baffle me. I know it must baffle the TSA agents as well.

Flying out, I was forced to take my laptop out of its bag and put it in its own tub. Then I put the empty laptop bag in another tub, the contents of my pockets in yet another, and finally my shoes in a fourth.

And there went Barry’s little train of tubs under the X-ray machine.

On my return trip, there were no tubs to make a train. When I started taking my laptop out of the bag, the security guy screamed at me to leave it in there, and then he instructed me to empty my pockets and put my belongings into the bag with the laptop.

“But in Chattanooga —“

“Shut up!”

Okay, he didn’t really say shut up, but he had a shut-up look on his face.

Then I started taking off my shoes, and I can’t even describe the look on Agent Dale Carnegie’s face then.

Why can’t whoever heads up the TSA send out a memo standardizing things such as tubs or no tubs, and shoes on or shoes off?

At the gate, it’s always the same thing. Nobody knows what to do because the rigmarole of actually getting on the plane rarely works the same way twice.

I know the gate agents hate it when they call for the women with giant strollers to pre-board and 200 people jump in line like it’s ice cream time at Miss Mary’s Kindergarten.

It’s a wonder the flight attendants ever get the passengers crammed on the plane. And that’s why I have always felt the sorriest for them. 

Can you imagine saying, “Would you like peanuts, pretzels, cookies or a granola bar” 180 times, only to have to do at least another round or two based on the length of the flight?

Or, how would you like to carry a tray full of hot cups of coffee as the pilot slams into mid-air potholes at 600 mph while trying to remember the Yiddish word for Sweet’N Low?

I know they’re thankless jobs. But the thank yous might be a little more common if we at least knew whether or not we were supposed to wear shoes.

I’ll bet we could get 70 percent of passengers to agree on that. 

Thankfully, Wombats Don’t Fly

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI’m not sure why nature continues to poke me between the eyes with a stick.

It’s not like I’m some mountain man staving off bears, snaring rabid coyotes and combating a year-round blizzard.

I’m a mild-mannered town dweller.

Still, my run-ins with the animal and plant kingdom seem to be frequent.

While in the garage Saturday morning, I heard a faint fluttering noise coming from some utility shelves I mounted on the wall several years ago.

As I moved closer, it stopped, then started, then stopped again.

I scanned the shelves filled with half-empty oil cans, garden sprayers, stains, paints, and lots of other things I really need to toss.

I edged closer. I could hear it, then not. Then again, and so on.

Remember that scene in “Christmas Vacation” when the squirrel jumped out of the Christmas tree onto Clark?

I could see the headline now. “Tennessee Man Mauled by 60-pound Wombat.”

I didn’t think there was a wombat hiding behind my box of jumper cables, but why take a chance? The door was up, so whatever was in there would surely leave now that it had seen what it was up against.

Besides, I had work to do which involved the chainsaw. If that isn’t enough to scare a 60-pound wombat back to Australia, I don’t know what is.

An hour or so passed. I had been in and out of the garage several times and not heard the noise — but I wasn’t listening real closely for it. No sense borrowing trouble when my to-do list for the day was so long.

Then something caught my eye which simultaneously solved the mystery.

Perched on a bike helmet, which was hanging from the bike, which was hanging from a hook on the wall, sat a sparrow with a beak full of twigs.

I shooed him out, and I put the garage door down.

Then, I made a proclamation, which normally sets the forces of the universe in motion in the other direction.

In this instance, I proclaimed that we would keep the door down as much as possible to keep the sparrows from building a nest in the garage.

Kim already thinks we leave the door up too much anyway when we’re working in the yard, so she received my proclamation with open arms. I do think she considered wearing that bike helmet for protection against the suddenly-awakened forces of the universe, but she resisted.

The door would stay down. I had proclaimed it. This is an important fact to remember.

That afternoon and evening, we took the car in and out a couple of times.

We seemed to be bird free.

I went to bed with the knowledge I had single-handedly stopped a disaster before it started.

The next morning, I got up and went into the kitchen. The amount of light coming in from the garage didn’t look right.

Remember my proclamation? The universe did.

For maybe — maybe — the third time in the nearly 25 years we have lived in this house, we forgot to put the door down when we drove the car in the garage for the night. This never happens.

I opened the door to push the button to put it down.

A bird flew out ahead of it.

Another one grazed my head as it flew into the kitchen.

Now we have a bird in the kitchen.

This, of course, woke the dog who sleeps in a crate near the back door.

Chirpy landed on top of a corner cabinet, which sits near the door, and ironically has a top that looks like a bird house. It even has a wooden sparrow sitting on a perch. I honestly believe the real bird saw the wooden bird, and that’s why it didn’t fly across the room and land on the box of Triscuits. 

I won’t belabor the point. Between me, my broom and a cheering beagle, it didn’t take long for the bird to leave as quickly as it flew in.

I found the start-up nest and got rid of it. Then I put the door down.

And, that’s where it will stay. I have proclaimed it.

The Colorfulness of Southern Expressions

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI love southernisms. I always have.

Our language is as colorful as we are, not just the way we sound but the things we say. I try to refrain from pouring it on too thickly when I’m around someone who doesn’t appreciate it. I mean, just because you drive a truck doesn’t mean it has to stay dirty all the time to prove a point.

I try to speak correctly in front of other people. My family gets to hear me when I let my guard down. I guess everyone is like that to a certain extent.

We learn the language orally long before we see it written. That’s why we talk like our parents or whomever had an influence in our speech development.

Both my parents were educated, and they spoke correctly.

That didn’t mean, however, I was spared from hearing the southernisms they undoubtedly learned as children.

Some of daddy’s expressions had to do with being busy. I can’t write them verbatim because they had to do with body parts and this family newspaper you’re holding wouldn’t print them. 

One began, “I’m busier than a cat in a wheat bin… .”

The other expressed being busy from the point of view of a one-legged paper hanger participating in a contest which I don’t think exists in real life.

Body parts are a big staple in southernisms. So are tools — especially when it comes to talking about someone’s intelligence.

“He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.”

“He’s dumber than a sack of hammers.”

And, “He’s as dull as a froe,” all come to mind.

Daddy’s go-to in that situation was, “He couldn’t pour (water) out of a boot with directions on the heel.”

Mama had a couple she used from time to time. “If you put his brain in a hummingbird it would fly backwards.” And, “His brain isn’t big enough to fill a hollow tooth.”

She could also poke fun at herself. Anytime she was out of her element, she would call herself, “a lost ball in tall weeds.”

My grandmother used to say “bless pat” when she was exasperated. Other women in my family said (and say) “whoever heard?” to express disbelief. A similar one was “I swanny.”

I never did know where either of them came from.

Here are some more good ones I’ve heard from various people over the years:

Ice was “slicker than owl grease.”

A tantrum was “a hissy fit.”

Someone going about something hurriedly was “running around like a chicken with his head cut off.”

A miser was “tighter than dick’s hatband.”

A new tractor “ran like a scalded dog.”

An annoying person “could make a preacher cuss.”

A loudmouth “could talk the ears off of a donkey.”

An aesthetically-challenged person was either “hit with an ugly stick” or he “had to tie a pork chop around his neck to get the dog to play with him.”

After a big meal, my uncle would say he was, “fuller than a seed tick.”

When daddy would get disgusted with me for spending too much time watching cartoons he would ask me if I was going to do anything or just “sit in the corner and stack BBs all day.”

I tried it once. BBs went everywhere.

Corn cobs are also good subjects for southernisms, and again, we won’t be going into detail here about any corn cob sayings.

I guess I’ll draw this one to a close. I’m beginning to feel like I was rode hard and put up wet.

I know I didn’t even dust the surface with these, and I’m sure you’ve heard most of them.

I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, you know.

How a Giraffe Brought us Together for a Little While

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comIf only for a moment, we were all united.

It occurred from the most unlikely of sources: April the giraffe. It was, by far, the second-most-famous stable birth in the history of mankind.

I don’t know how many people saw April give birth on Saturday, but I do know they watched from all corners of the globe and represented all religions, cultures, and political positions.

And as unbelievable as it was, we were all on the same side for a few minutes, pulling for the same thing.

It was a modern-day “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” moment.

I wrote about April a month or so ago, back when the internet furor over her pregnancy first began. I talked about how the miracle of birth can be R rated. If you saw — and heard — the video of April’s delivery, you’ll know I was right.

Today, though, let’s celebrate April’s truly remarkable accomplishment: a glimmer of hope for global unification. 

On Saturday, people all over the world were brought together by a giraffe. A giraffe, of all things.

I am even crediting divine intervention for the mid-morning timing. If she had delivered in the evening local time, most of the world would’ve been asleep and missed it.

As I watched — over breakfast, no less — I marveled at all the languages and cultures where people marveled with me. We all marveled at the same thing. I wondered what they were saying. I did not, however, wonder what the looks on their faces were, because I knew they had the same expression I did.

Ordinarily, a giraffe can’t do too much.

A giraffe cannot make a famous speech to rally people.

A giraffe cannot cure diseases in a laboratory.

And it was pretty much by accident that a giraffe made herself — albeit unwittingly — a hero for men, women and children all over the globe.

If we all can get excited for a giraffe, why on earth can’t a person have the same effect on us?

Where are these people who can pull our planet together? Where are our leaders? 

Where are the great men and women of planet earth who can unite us all to move forward as children of a creator who loves us and wants us to get along with each other and prosper?

As I watched April’s calf crash to the ground, I fought the urge to cry, for some reason. But I wasn’t weeping for the calf or his mother, or even for Oliver the father, who was confined in the next stall.

I wanted to weep because it took a streaming internet feed spying on a mother giraffe in her most vulnerable and intimate moments to make me realize what a vacuum we are in as a people.

We, the people, are desperately searching for something to pull us together. We are yearning for a hero.

I’m not taking a shot at the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., in case you’re wondering. If he hadn’t won, whoever did win would’ve been just as ridiculed as he is, only by different people.

I am sick and tired of hearing, “Yeah, my person is bad, but yours is worse.”

Is that the best we can do?

I want a leader. I want someone we can believe in who will pull the world in a direction we all know it wants to go in.

I know that person is out there, somewhere.

We are ripe for the picking.

A giraffe just proved it.

Plenty of Blame in the United Debacle

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI normally agree with the adage about there being no such thing as bad publicity, but this whole United Airlines story is putting that to the test.

By now, you’ve seen the video of the passenger being dragged off of the plane by airport security from an overbooked United flight.

It’s not a good look for the airline. Plus, it has turned into a viral social media disaster, as so many things do these days. 

I think the blame is pretty widespread in this situation.

Let’s start with the obvious.

The flight was overbooked by four passengers. It doesn’t do me much good to know that a company responsible for flying around a 200-ton chunk of steel is incapable of selling the same number of tickets for which it has seats.

This seems to be a pretty easy fix. If the 16-year-old ticket taker down at the Cinema Eight can figure it out, the third largest airline in the world should be able to do the same.

In my opinion, the next gaffe occurred when the people at the gate failed to realize the number of people waiting to fly outnumbered the seats on the plane. They never should have boarded the plane until they had bumped the extra four.

I’ve been in countless airport terminals where the airline paid people to give up their seat.

In this situation, United offered the passengers $1,000 and a hotel room to fly later. Don’t offer me $1,000 and a night in the pizza capital of the world unless you’re serious about it.

The flight was going to Louisville — Louisville, for heaven’s sake, not Maui. I’m sure Louisville is a fabulous place, but I’ve been not going for years for free. I would gladly not go for $1,000.

Back in March, United came under fire for barring two teenage girls from flying because the leggings they were wearing were determined by the gate agent to be inappropriate.

It seems United needs to fire some of their fashion police officers and replace them with a couple of adolescent ticket takers.

Apparently, when no one volunteered to leave the plane, the airline randomly chose four people. The first three — begrudgingly I’m sure — left. It was the guy who became the star of the show who refused.

Then, the same brainiacs who can’t count called security.

I can hear the flight attendant now.

“Ladies and gentlemen, in a moment, a police officer will board the aircraft and drag this man, kicking and screaming, up the aisle. In anticipation of this event, please take out your mobile devices, enable your camera and press the record button.”

Here’s the deal: if I’m in that situation, I’m taking it as a sign that God is telling me, “Get off the plane, take the money and go grab yourself a Cinnabon, because I’m pretty sure that’s Eddie Van Halen over there in line for one.” 

Since no one is saying this aloud, I will. I truly think the guy should’ve gotten off the plane when his name was called.

When he refused, United should’ve shut down the flight, invited everyone off the plane and tried again tomorrow.

In hindsight, it’s pretty obvious making a hundred people mad would’ve been the better choice.

Oh, wait. The flight was cancelled anyway. I’m not sure why, but it may have had something to do with the fact that the passengers and crew watched a future billionaire get dragged off of the plane.

The incident did serve one purpose, though. Nobody is talking about the Pepsi ad anymore.

Beware the Man With a ‘Rare Breed of Expertise’

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comA brand-new spring means renewed hope, rebirth and a fresh new list of chores.

Even a mild winter plays evil tricks on the yard, as you well know.

This spring, I’m considering hiring someone to help for a day. I don’t know who to call, but I certainly know who I would never approach: myself 20 years ago.

Back then, I wasn’t nearly as proficient as I thought I was. And, I wasn’t even close to the expertly-skilled master I am today.

For instance, years ago we bought a backyard greenhouse which I assembled.

It was starting to show its age pretty badly, so we decided to revive it this year.

This reincarnation started with replacing the dutch door.

Let’s not forget I am a master of such things — not a novice like I was back when I assembled it. So naturally, building a new door would be a snap.

I ripped my new plank down the middle to give me two pieces the width I needed.

Then, I cut the lengths to match the old door.

Because of my rare breed of expertise, I was able to cut precision lap joints on the corners so the door frame would be perfectly flat.

I even cut a groove along the edge of two pieces so the little sliding window could open and close. We woodworking giants call that particular cut a dado, just in case you’re ever on Jeopardy.

Finally, I put the pieces together into perfect 90-degree angles.

I marveled at my door frame. All I had left was to remove the plastic panels from what was left of the old door and nail them on.

I chuckled as I pulled the nails 20-year-ago me hammered in back then. Some of them were crooked and a few more were bent.

Since the nails were a specialty item that came with the greenhouse, I reused them. I spent a fair amount of time straightening the ones that my 1997 self bent as he drove them in, which I’m sure he did hastily.

I’ll tell you the truth, 20th Century me was a raw rookie compared to this expert woodworker.

Before I could install the new door, I had to remove the old hinges from the door facing.

As I started looking at them, I saw where at least half of the rusty heads were stripped to the point where a screwdriver would never work.

Good grief. What kind of a hack put them in and stripped the heads in the process?

As middle-aged me shook my head at young me, I unscrewed the ones I could. Then I twisted out the stripped ones with a pair of locking pliers, which took several unnecessary minutes.

It was time to install the door, which by now you surely are picturing as a work of art. 

I put the top part against the door facing and marked where the hinges should go. Then I attached it while Kim held it. 

The bottom part was a little trickier, since it had to be perfectly in line with the top part. But, as I am sure you have already guessed, I attached it with laser perfection.

I stepped back and marveled at my handiwork as I swelled with pride.

Oh, if there were only more of me to go around.

In order to carry my ego over the threshold, I pulled the handle to open the door.

It came open about 6 inches before the bottom edge kind of hit the brick walkway Kim put in some years ago.

Of course, nothing ever “kind of” hits a brick, since bricks are not known for their flexibility.

Somewhere, good ol’ nail bending, screw stripping, 1997 me is sipping lemonade having a good laugh about now. My beautiful new door won’t open. And, I’m too tired to lower the bricks.

Maybe I’ll stop being so hard on my younger self. He could’ve been worse. 

At least his greenhouse door opened and closed for 20 years. 

I Suppose I’ll Still Like Apples in 6 Years

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI have planted countless flowers, shrubs and trees in my life.

Kim loves to garden, and she thinks I love to dig holes, so it’s a natural fit.

Although she normally spearheads the planting projects, I must admit I enjoy it in moderation.

I have transplanted rose of Sharon bushes all over the yard. They sprout up on their own, and I have learned that they never do so in the right place.

We also have a burning bush that likes to procreate, and I have scattered its saplings here and there around the backyard.

We have 8,000 or so varieties of plants that came from Kim’s mother, just like we have a healthy collection of aunt somebody’s variegated something-or-anothers.

Sometimes a planting project is my idea, though. I dug up a couple of cedar trees from the farm my father grew up on and planted them at the house. And as we speak, I am planning a midnight raid to Mama’s old house to dig up some of the iris I loved looking at as a kid.

Planting is rewarding, but it’s hard work.

Many years ago, we nearly died from planting 27 bushes in one day to form a shrub around the swimming pool. Thankfully, the third degree sunburn was there to take my mind off my muscles which felt like rusty log chains the next morning. The only body part I didn’t strain that day was my brain.

We still refer to that experience as the “27 red tip day” in our house. It lives in infamy. I measure all physical pain using the 27 red tip day scale.

We’ve been gardening forever. We planted a tiny garden outside our apartment the first year we were married, and we haven’t missed many — if any — years since. Ours is a city garden, nothing big. I wouldn’t want to tackle a big garden anyway, you know, because of the moderation thing.

Grant got interested in it to the point where he had his on smaller garden a few years. His had better soil. That must’ve been it. I predict once the bug is inside you, it stays there. We’ll see.

Right now, however, we have 121 heirloom tomato plants we grew from seed. One hundred and twenty-one, no joke. I just counted them. I don’t know what we’re going to do with 110 of them, but we’ll figure out something.

I said all that to say this: we’ve never planted a fruit tree. 

I’ve always wished I had fruit trees, but I don’t. And that’s my fault, because I always say it will take too long before they bear fruit.

I guess I have short attention span syndrome. Or maybe I think I’m going to develop apple-infect-ivitis or some other dread fruit-related disease.

How many years ago would I have enjoyed the first apple or peach if we had planted a couple of trees the first time we talked about it?

Decades. Just fewer than three, but decades nonetheless.

I think about it often.

I’m thinking about it now because Kim visited with our 80-year-old neighbor outside last night who said she is going to plant a fruit tree.

I wonder if our neighbor has been putting off planting fruit trees for 50 years? Even if she has, what an inspiration she is. We should all aspire to see the glass half full with such gusto.

Kim said, “That’s the kind of 80 year old I want to be.”

Me, too.

Now, I’m not going to go in some kind of broad-sweeping, tear-jerking “what might’ve been” direction. Thankfully, I don’t have too many regrets.

But unless I change my mind, I am going to plant a couple of fruit trees.

I’ll let you know in 6 years how they turned out.

The Sad Election We Can’t Ever Undo

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comThis election was a disaster.

The results will affect the entire world for generations.

How could we get it so wrong?

I’m sorry, wheelbarrow. Boot, you had a good run. And thimble, oh, thimble. We will miss you.

By now you’ve probably heard that these three classic Monopoly game pieces were voted out in an online contest and replaced by a tyrannosaurs rex, a duck and a penguin. More than 4 million people from 146 countries voted.

The internet strikes again.

This is ridiculous.

First of all, the T-rex is scaly instead of smooth like the rest of the pieces. Plus, it looks like it could eat the car in one bite.

The duck is billed (sorry) as a rubber duck, but it’s not rubber. If it were rubber, at least that would make it a little cooler — the way the rope is made out of plastic in Clue.

I’ve never understood peoples’ fascination with penguins in the first place. And the Monopoly penguin has this smart aleck, narcissistic look on his face that reminds me of the selfies people take when they go to the beach.

While we’re changing the iconic pieces, why stop there? We could get rid of the Scottie dog and the car and replace them with a vape pipe and a cellphone. Why not make one out of plastic that looks like a Kardashian? 

I’m sure the move was a marketing ploy to make the game appeal to younger people.

In trying to accomplish that, we ended up with an animal that became extinct a million years ago, a duck that won’t float and a bird that lives on the ice and swims instead of flies.

It could’ve been worse, if you can believe it. 

Also on the ballot were a computer, a bunny slipper, an emoji face and a monster truck for heaven’s sake.

Can you imagine if the inventor of Monopoly were reincarnated to see a monster truck spewing carbon monoxide all over St. James Place?

I’ve got an idea. Let’s not stop with changing the pieces. 

Let’s jack up the price of Boardwalk to a $12.2 million and turn it into a mixed-use development with a Chili’s in the parking lot.

Let’s cave into pressure from MoveOn.org and change the name of Oriental Avenue to something less offensive. While we’re at it, let’s change the name of Marvin Gardens, simply because Marvin Gardens is a dumb name in the first place.

We could gentrify Baltic Avenue. And we need to anyway, because it is only a block from our new domed stadium we built for our new NFL team, which we plan to pay for with the revenue from Luxury Tax.

Oh, wait, I forgot. We eliminated Luxury Tax and shifted that burden to the working poor who play Monopoly.

I mean, how are we going to afford a skybox if we have to pay a Luxury Tax?

Monopoly is a classic game. It was created in the early 20th century and reflects the period.

The thimble, wheelbarrow and boot are all signs of the times.

I always liked to think these pieces represented peoples’ lifestyles. They should be preserved.

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.

The next time I play Monopoly, I’m going to get the red convertible from the Game of Life, I’m going to stick a blue peg in the driver’s seat for me. Then I’m going to get the prettiest pink peg and stick her next to me.

Then I’m going to get two more blue pegs and two more pink pegs to represent our two kids and their two friends who they insisted on bringing on the trip because my Hawaiian shirt embarrasses them.

That’s what I’m going to use as my Monopoly piece, and I am going to beat the stew out of whoever is the T-rex, the rubber ducky and especially the penguin.

Just land on my redeveloped mixed-use Boardwalk and see what happens, Mr Penguin.

And don’t even think about eating at my Chili’s.

Beware the Ivy of March

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comIn my backyard sits an old bed sheet with a heaping pile of pulled weeds on it.

It’s been there for 9 days. It has endured a couple of rains and even a snow.

It needs to be dragged down by the road for the public works truck to pick up, but no one in my family is probably going near it any time soon.

This pile consists of last year’s dead day lilies, some blackberry stalks and various other weeds.

And somewhere in all those tangles lurks the meanest poison ivy vine the world has ever known.

Mother nature spent all winter breeding this weapon of mass destruction, and take a wild guess where she decided to test it out.

This new strain of killer weed must be invisible; neither Kim nor I ever saw it. On the other hand, we didn’t know we needed to be on the lookout for poison ivy during the first week of March.

We worked for a couple of hours. When I came in, I thoroughly rinsed my hands and arms. It felt so refreshing, I rinsed my face. I rubbed it thoroughly with my hands, then I rubbed it some more with a paper towel.

I didn’t realize I was saturating every square inch of my bare skin with poison ivy oil.

I’ve had poison ivy plenty times in my life. Always before, the symptoms were rows of little clear blisters on my arms or legs. They’re a temporary annoyance more than anything else — never a whole lot worse than mosquito bites.

Not this time.

It took two days after my run-in before the blisters started appearing on my arms. A day later, the rash broke out on my nose, cheek, chin and neck. That’s also when my eyes began to swell.

By the fourth day, my face looked like I had been sparring with Floyd Mayweather. My left eye was swollen to the point that I could see my own eyelid from the inside.

Both arms had several beet-colored, half-dollar-sized blotches.

Kim came away with some, too. She got it on her arms and even a little patch on her forehead. I rarely beat her at anything, but I won the poison ivy challenge in a runaway.

I finally gave in and sought professional help because calamine lotion was only making this stuff mad and more ornery.

The doctor sent me home with 14 days worth of pills, a $100 tube of ointment and a package of cookies.

The cookies, actually, were my idea. When one goes to the doctor, that person deserves a treat. For the record, it was a toss-up between Oreos and army men.

Naturally, I felt the need to explain myself to everyone I saw. More than once I sensed someone thinking, “Why won’t this hideous, one-eyed man stop talking to me?”

My face looks better now, but it’s not completely back to normal. My eye still itches. I don’t think the blotches on my arms will ever heal, even after one Benjamin Franklin amount of ointment.

Every time Kim tells the story to someone she says, “I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture. I should’ve taken a picture.” I’m a little concerned by how much she wanted to preserve the hideousness. 

Poison ivy isn’t contagious, which is the good news.

The bad news is, the oil from the plant stays on whatever it touches for a long time. I threw away my trusty White Mule gloves I’ve had for probably 30 years.

I used the nuclear holocaust setting on the washer for my clothes, and I’m still afraid to touch them.

Then there’s the problem of that pile in the backyard. Public works runs again in 3 days, so I have some time to figure out how I’m going to get it to the road.

Regardless of what I do, I’ll be cautious. I don’t want new army men that badly.

CraftBeerClub.com-The Finest Craft Beers from America’s Best Micro Breweries- 728x90 banner