On Mosquitoes (Thank you, Mr. Clemens)

Dear Reader,

I am in possession of an inquiry from a northern correspondent who asks what the purpose of the mosquito is. (I am trying to fit in its scientific name which is Diptera but I haven’t quite figured that out. Oh, wait. I just did). As I  know that the question  weighs heavily on her mind, and that she has, without doubt, lost sleep over the issue, I will endeavor to answer as fully as I can. God forbid, there are enough unanswerable questions that all of us have to deal with. It may be that I can allay the curiosity of one soul and so improve her life.


Thank you for your question. In response, I have done considerable research on the subject, mostly from the 1989 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia that occupies the lower end of my book shelf. In the pages of the “M” book, there is to be found a lengthy discussion beginning on page 830 and proceeding on to page 834. It is a longer dissertation than I would expect but, there it is. I am left to wonder at the character of the writer who assembled this verbiage – must not have much of a social life.

After careful research on this member of the insect world, I have, I think, rightly deduced that the mosquito has two assignments in the natural order of things.

The first few lines of my ever present encyclopedia reveals that he has the assigned task of spreading various maladies among those of us who occupy the human race. I might add that this insect is highly accomplished at this task and is able to do so without inflicting the disease upon his own body. He is the absolute master at inflicting such sicknesses as malaria, encephalitis, something called filariasis and yellow fever. You remember yellow fever don’t you? Just about every jungle movie ever made has had at least one sufferer. They must keep a couple of mosquitoes around just for those movie scenes. Anyway….not all of them have a job inflicting us so it is not always easy to tell which is just hanging around and which is on a deadly mission.

The mosquitoes’ second purpose is, oddly enough, to be one of the primary food sources for animals such as birds, reptiles, amphibians, and the odd cat. I wonder how these animals are able to tell the difference between a non-venomous and a venomous “skeeter.” (Southern US term for the mosquito).   If I have done my research correctly, they are able to eat these insects without regard to whether a particular mosquito is diseased or not. It is an unfortunate state of affairs that we humans can get yellow fever and animals cannot. Just doesn’t seem right to me. Rules are rules though and they cannot be broken, so far as I can tell.

Dear friend, I know that you are considerable vexed by the presence of these malevolent beasts and that you have taken a notion to move so as to avoid their attacks. Let me tell  you that these creatures exist all over the world so cannot be escaped. Even relocation to the arctic regions will not prevent exposure. There is hope though! In a recent interview, you lamented to me the rather large population of bullfrogs in residence on your property. It will be a comfort to your family to know that bullfrogs are one of the primary consumers of mosquitoes. The nosiness of these amphibians that you so strongly bemoan is their celebratory song employed when they are full of mosquitoes. I hope you will take comfort in that knowledge.

There you have it. Dear reader, I hope I have sufficiently answered your query and, in so doing, given some cessation to your anxieties. If you are of a mind to do your own research, you are welcome to borrow my encyclopedia on the condition that it be returned in reasonable condition and within a short time.

I remain respectfully yours,


WARNING!! This is a rant!!

I have to confess that I am angry. This is 2010 and, you’d think by now, strong arm and hi-pressure sales tactics would be gone forever. I guess I live in a cave.

I had the unfortunate “opportunity” recently to have to interact with two of the most hi-pressure salesman I’ve ever encountered. In retrospect, I would have been better off meeting a grizzly bear and her cubs than have to deal with these two.

Propriety does not allow me to reveal the name of the organization or the names of the two ruffians who accosted me and my youngest son. Let us leave it to say that the organization is very large and is always recruiting for new members. Their need for new members is such that virtually any and every town in the land has somebody from their organization in residence. They are world wide.

My son and I were examining the possibility of him becoming a member. I am a former member myself but am now too old for them. This bunch prefers the younger set for their membership. Well, first they promised my son a great membership package with all kinds of opportunities. My youngest wanted a very specific membership package that they did not want to give him. That’s when things got ugly.

The first salesman told my son that today was the day of decision and he was going to have to make a decision one way or the other. “I really don’t care what you do,” he said.“Don’t worry about the package, either” he continued. “It does not matter because you will have all these benefits.” My son stood his ground. Then the salesman came to me and said that, “If your son is only here for the money, I don’t want him in my program.” (See the hypocrisy?). I told him to talk to my son. That’s when he brought in the second salesman. That one was by phone only. He called and told my son that if he did not make a decision today, he would remove him from the program. Again, my son stood his ground and said, “How can I be thrown out of a program that I have not joined.” That made the salesmen mad. He then called me and appealed to me as a former member. I told him to talk to my son. He kept talking to me in an appeal to my sense of camaraderie. He then made a bunch of promises about what he would personally do to make sure my youngest would get everything he wanted and that I should trust him (kind of felt like buying a car). I told him to put everything in writing and he and I would talk it over.

We have yet to hear from him. Probably won’t either. I hope I can sell those guys a car someday. That would be fun, don’t you think?

There. I feel better now.


“How is it that I can be your offspring when you and I have such radically different tastes in food?” My 24-year old son is a self-proclaimed food aficionado while I am perfectly content with a much simpler affair for my stomach to process. The discussion was the result of him bringing over tortilla chips and beer, both of which were lime flavored. I had long discounted tortilla chips flavored with anything and was not about to attempt to down one that tastes like a piece of fruit (if, indeed, lime is a fruit). I did, however, have a swallow of his lime flavored beer. The one, single taste had no effect on my senses. The aftertaste, however, was such that I was convinced that any further intake of this alleged brew would rob me of all cognitive and moral sense and awaken in me the vilest deprivations known to man. I gave the beer back to my son with the observation that this was not, in fact, beer at all but an obvious impostor. Furthermore, I said, this horrid mixture was most likely the result of a vast right wing conspiracy concocted by the lime industry and probably financed by some dark and secret organization. No doubt, sales of limes are down and this is a nefarious attempt on their part to trick the less knowledgeable of our society into buying these supposed fruits. I have no doubt that history will ultimately prove that it was the lime, and not the apple, that was the original object of desire from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in The Garden of Eden.

My son took exception to my position regarding all things lime-flavored and even went so far as to enlist the family’s loyalty toward his attitude. The youngest of the household quickly jumped to his aid, and, purposefully and visibly, ate several lime flavored tortilla chips in my very presence (he would have taken a healthy dose of the foul beer too but he is of an inadequate age to do so. He did threaten such an action until I most enthusiastically advised against it). Even the wife held no anxiety against lime flavored anything and quickly took the side of the eldest son. I did have a possible ally in my daughter who was not present. I called her only to find that, she too, had taken the pro-lime position. I, the matriarch of the family, found myself alone in my attitude. The only ally left to me was my 4-year old granddaughter and she was having a nap.

Isn’t it amazing how a minor issue like a lime can divide a family? Harrumph.

Business Card Blues

Business card blues is a modern day behavioral disorder among the business class in America. Clinically referred to as BCB, most people are undiagnosed. Indeed, gentle reader, you may very well be among its sufferers. There are no statistics indicating the number of people with BCB and there is no treatment plan other than folk remedies. The behavior is rooted in a deep internal need to be seen as “connected.” This syndrome is manifested in groups as well. Networking clubs, many (but not all) Chambers of Commerce, business “power circles” (these are the real serious cases), and civic clubs are typical places where you might find “BCB’ers.”

The symptoms are somewhat different for each of us but the malady generally runs along the following lines:

  • Those who suffer from BCB have an uncontrollable desire to collect every business card from every person in the known (and unknown) universe. Their theory is that, perhaps there may be a need for a farm tractor salesman among his friends in New York City and, by golly, he will be the one who has that contact information at hand. It matters not that this individual purveyor of tractors for whom he has kept his card twenty-plus years has long since endured three career changes and is now a cashier at the 7-11 eight miles past nowhere in Kansas.
  • The typical BCB’er has an enormous, unorganized, collection of cards at his office. He has one or more loose leaf notebooks in which he, at one time, attempted to assemble this stack of cards into a usable order. These are usually ordered by first name in an attempt to ensure ease of location (assuming he can remember their name). This endeavor is almost always abandoned when the sufferer finds the system inadequate and impossible to manage. The current trend towards oddly shaped business cards also serves to frustrate this plan at organizational wizardry.
  • A sufferer will have an even larger selection of business cards stored in a box (or boxes) spread between his office and home. These are usually put there as a result of abandoning the aforementioned loose leaf notebook system. This collection is generally of a much larger number than the ones that actually find their way into the notebook. There will be multiple sets of the same card as well. Indeed, some sufferers will have cards in this “library” of who’s who in known creation of people who have long since gone on to their reward. One extreme case was found to have Napolean Bonaparte’s card in one of these storage boxes. Interestingly, the Emperor of France did not have email.
  • The newest collection of cards is always located in the BCB’ers upper desk drawer on his dominant side. These are the most recently obtained ones and have yet to be classified in the appropriate collective device. In extreme cases of BCB, these cards can languish in this holding pen for a year or more before they are put away. BCB’ers are notoriously slow decision makers.

There is no known cure for BCB. Some have made partial success using card scan machines that put a picture of the card on one’s computer. The dilemma of the hard copy remains though. This results in a single storage system of multiple shoes boxes stored in the attic. This does make it easy on the BCB sufferer though. He can stick his kids with dumping all those cards after he has passed on.

Now, excuse me while I look for Tim’s card. I know I moved it from my top tight drawer at work…but where? Ah! It’s in the 3rd notebook….nope, not there. Hmmm. There are two shoeboxes here and six more at home. Try the computer first. Rats! Forgot my password. I wonder if Tim ever even gave me a card. Sure he did. Just have to find it. I’ll bet it’s in that box in the back of the car. Sheesh. The wife has the car today….

Advice for bullies

(Yes, I know I’m late). I have never, so far as I can recall, bullied anyone. Don’t really know why anybody’d want to so I am at a temporary lose as to how best to advise you. Being as how I have given some level of wisdom to those whom you feel compelled to torment and torture, I feel obligated to give you the same consideration.  Given that you are more than likely of the incontrovertible opinion that no human on this planet can advise YOU, I doubt you will read and heed any of this anyway. I will, nonetheless, try.

If you absolutely have to bully somebody, at least try to be nice about it. You could start by doing your nastiness out of the public view. But that would probably not suit your style much, would it? If you are the average bully, you are probably of the mind to be as public as possible. The more people that see how cantankerous you are, the more people that are intimidated by you. You might call that “mass effect bullying.” It sure makes it easier on you. At least it is less work.

There will be an occasional sap that will make a feeble attempt to stand up to you. In that very rare time, you must have a special technique. Might I suggest you make yourself appear as large as physically possible and make a lot of noise? That, by the way, is how one stands up to a mountain lion (I’ve been told that but, no, I have never had the occasion to test this technique. Nor do I wish to). You can also add some threatening body language. Ask your victim if he/she is aware of who you are and question his/her sanity for even thinking of standing up to you. In a loud voice so that everybody can hear, clearly and emphatically state that the last person to stand up to you is, mysteriously, gone. You don’t know what happened to him/her.

The most fun that you will ever have is when you get to be a bully, AND, in charge of people. This is nirvana to a bully. You can indulge your habit whenever and however you like. All in your charge will cringe in fear of you if, for no other reason, it means they get to keep their job. Imagine the fun you will have with them! Your only possible downside to this is if one of them gets promoted above you. If you keep them sufficiently under your thumb, that will never be a problem.

Well, that’s about the best thing I can tell you. Bullying as a career strategy is not all that great but I suspect you don’t care much. As long as your ego is fed and people fear you, that’s all that really matters. Course, sooner or later that age-old principle will come back to haunt you. You know the one you learned in first grade? “There is always somebody out there bigger and badder than you.”

I hope he finds you too.

Bullying: a guide for defense

Just read an article that suggested there be a law against bullying in the workplace. Considering that I have vast experience in my life as one having been bullied upon, I think I can offer some help to my fellow man. If you are such a victim, consider the following wisdom as a gesture on my part to ease your way through life. You may thank me later.

Remember that a bully is hiding something (their own fear usually). He (or she) has gotten it into their head that their will is superior to your own and you must be forced to bow to whatever whim they may have (kind of reminds you of the government, doesn’t it?). If you don’t, they will use their bullying tactics which may or may not include actual force. Here is your key wisdom:  “Power perceived is power achieved.” You must make the bully think you have a much larger stick than his and are willing to use it. In the south, this tactic is typically referred to as “opening a can of whup ___” on the bully. Careful here! If you open one, you must be prepared to serve the entire contents.  Anything less will certainly make the matter worse. Course, if you are a ninety eight pound weenie, you probably don’t have this can available. Opening one of these cans when you lack the ability to serve it is referred to as “letting your alligator mouth overload your paperweight ______.” So, what to do?

You must make the bully “think” that you have the ability to offer up massive retaliation. No, that won’t work. He already knows you can’t, otherwise he would not be pestering you in the first place. Bullies lack most, if not all, horse sense which disallows trying to reason with them. You could complain to your boss or file a lawsuit against the company for allowing a hostile workplace. See who will hire you after that.  You will be an internationally known ninety-eight pound weenie. That’ll look real good on your resume.

In some states, it is legal to have a handgun in your locked car. Maybe you could create the perception that you have a .44 revolver in your glove box.  Course, if you ARE that ninety eight pound weenie, you probably could not pick one of those up. That won’t work either.

You could get a slingshot and practice until you can knock a maggot off a meat wagon. You know, that might just work! Catch your bully alongside the head with a nice smooth rock. You could be a pretty fair piece away by the time he clears his head.  You’re probably a pretty fast runner too, being as how you’ve probably been ducking bullies all this time. Well…., you will have to come to work the next day though. You’ll probably be the only guy in these parts ever arrested for assault with a slingshot.

No, I think you are pretty much on your own here. Maybe the government will give you a law.

NEXT: Advice for Bullies

Do a few things well

Yikes! It’s 6:15! You overslept. Gotta go. Appointment at 8:00 with somebody you barely know but, hey, you have to meet more people to find more business. No time to waste. Quick, do your stretches, read your Bible, wolf down some breakfast, get your meds, DON’T for get to shave and iron your clothes! Out the door(did you kiss your wife/husband/kids good-bye?). Get to work quickly (why do you always get stuck behind the slowest driver on the planet!!!) so you can get the coffee on and open your email so you can spend twenty minutes cleaning out all the spam just to find the two emails you need. Off to your 8:00…………the pace goes on all day. Life in America. Or should it be?

                There is a principle that I would personally prefer to live by. I know it in two statements. The first version is “Do a few things well.” I heard this from an Army General several years ago as he talked about training soldiers. He wanted us to focus on our core mission and forget about the “stuff” that gets in the way. At that time, we had gotten caught up in doing things that were not mission related, the end result being the mission (and quality) suffered. He wanted us to go back and remove all of the stuff (he had a name for this but I can’t remember) in our schedule that was not directly connected to the accomplishment of our core mission. We did so with a vengeance. After a period of time, we regained our quality, reduced stress, and became a much better force.

                The other statement is from Charles Kuralt. You remember him, don’t you? He was host of CBS Sunday Morning for several years and is, along with Mark Twain, my favorite author. He was an “everyman” who drove the length and breadth of these United States in search of people who “do one thing supremely well.” He found them too. There was the fellow that was an absolute expert with a slingshot. Then there was the guy who could hold more eggs in his bare hand than anybody else. You can see some of Charles’ old show on You Tube (do a search on CBS Sunday Morning). Charles himself did one thing supremely well. He told stories better than anybody, anywhere. He assembled them in a few books that you can find at the library, by the way. He had the right idea.