Still, I'm back to reading my flist, although I'm still not commenting much; just haven't had time. This was the first real vacation I've taken in a long time; usually I spend my time off trying to get this or that done, but Emily made me actually rest and recreate this time around -- I needed it! Now that I'm back, I'm in the catch-up mode.
I'm going to try to get back on track with the agent/publisher hunt, too. I've got to dig out my office supplies, read over and print fresh copies of my manuscripts, research my markets, and get stuff in the mail. Meanwhile, my plan is to write at least 2,000 words of new material every week (including my column) -- *before* working on any fanfic.
That might shorten my LJ time, but I'll keep everyone updated on my progress and, of course, on the progress of the grandkids:
Meanwhile, here are two filler columns that were in the paper during my vacation, but which I didn't get a chance to post here. Just some light fluff to get me through summer!
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
I’m not much of a drinker, and haven’t been since that fiasco at my 21st birthday party (which I’m still not sure I can legally discuss). I’m not opposed to alcohol consumption in moderation; but drinking in moderation is about as common as balancing the Federal budget.
“Oh, I don’t have a problem with drinking, but I like to have a good time!” Excuse me: If you can’t have a good time without drinking, you have a problem. As for me, if I want to get a sense of being out of control, I’ll go over my bills.
But what I really can’t stand is beer. It has nothing to do with alcohol; I just can’t stand the taste. It’s as if you made a drink by dumping a bucket of water into a pail of garbage and let it set for several weeks.
Yes, I’m aware some alcoholic beverages are actually made that way, which kind of proves my point about drinking being bad.
The only time I use beer is to soak bratwurst in before cooking. Brats, corn on the cob, watermelon – yum, it must be summer. Where was I?
Just as alcohol can be used to clean wounds, there’s a use for beer, too. In fact, a friend sent me a list of possible uses that have absolutely nothing to do with t-shirts, sports, and/or speaking nonsense in a very loud voice:
1. Bathe in it.
Yeah, I know, but still. The suggestion is to “pour a bottle of German Babebier in the tub and lie back for a real bubble bath”. No, you may not drink your bath water; use a second bottle for that.
No, I do not know what Babebier is. Parsing the word, I conclude that it might be beer designed to lure babes at a bar.
2. Put out a fire.
“Simply shake and spirtz. After all, beer is mostly water.” True, except for the alcohol. Actually, beer could work on small fires, but nothing beats having an honest to goodness fire extinguisher.
As for larger fires … well, larger fires tend to boil off the water and ignite the rest of the ingredients. Besides, people who’ve been drinking beer may not be the best ones to judge whether they’ll put out the fire or go boom. In fact, dialing 911 and running for the hills might be a better option under any circumstances.
3. Marinate meat.
See? Bring on the brats!
A nutritionist says beer is slightly acidic, which makes it an excellent meat tenderizer. The instructions I found said to poke a few holes in the meat, then marinate in the refrigerator for at least a few hours – and, “do not drink the marinade”.
Beer lovers will see a problem with that scenario. Just remember, guys, meat needs to be well cooked to kill all the bad little bugs; you wouldn’t want to end up in the hospital, where they don’t serve Miller Lite, do you?
4. Polish pots.
There was a time when the last dregs of beer were taken from kegs and used to polish the copper vats in breweries. It’s the acidity, again: Pour some on, let it sit, then wipe it off. This explains why so many middle aged men have such shiny abdomens.
5. Shampoo hair.
Bad news: First you’re supposed to simmer it until all the alcohol has boiled out. Still, it’s supposed to give hair more shine and luster – plus, for you ladies, it’ll drive the guys wild.
“Wow – your hair – it smells so … so … will you marry me?”
6. Loosen rusty bolts.
“Pour some beer on them and wait a few minutes; the carbonation may help break up rust.” Doesn’t Coca-Cola do the same thing? You’d think there wouldn’t be any rusty bolts, considering how many drinks can fix them up.
7. Clear up brown spots in your lawn.
It seems beer has fermented sugars, which stimulate plant growth and kill fungi. Then you can mow more often, using more expensive gasoline and putting more pollutants in the air, when you could be kicking back and drinking the stuff. Beer, I mean, not gasoline. Isn’t there a game on?
8. Steam clams or mussels.
Put ‘em in a steamer pot with equal parts water and beer, then boil while the mollusks get drunk and slack jawed and their shells open. Make sure the clams are over 21.
9. Pass a kidney stone.
Wow, didn’t see that one coming. Apparently beer helps dilate the tubes connecting kidneys to bladder, which helps a stone pass more quickly. The alcohol also helps take the edge off the pain.
Okay, I see all sorts of trouble with that scenario, starting with the unknown hordes of people who will find that a convenient excuse. No – use water or cranberry juice instead, and get a prescription for pain medication if necessary. Otherwise you could exchange one medical problem for another.
10. Kill slugs.
Yup. Fill some wide-mouth jars a third of the way with cheap beer, then bury them about fifteen feet from whatever you’re trying to protect. Slugs love beer – who doesn’t, except me? – so they’ll drop in and drown.
Notice the instructions specify cheap beer. I mean, they’re uninvited guests, right? But they’ll die happy.
11. Find due North.
Yeah, I said “huh?” too.
Okay, now listen carefully, because this may save your life. You’ll need to have all these items with you whenever you’re in the wilderness, or on I-465 around Indianapolis, or otherwise in a hopeless situation. Open a beer, pour some into a bowl, and let it go flat. The beer, not the bowl. Now, magnetize a needle by stroking it repeatedly in one direction with a pair of silk panties.
Just let that one go; this is a family newspaper.
The stroking will generate, in addition to bad jokes from your companions, a charge of static electricity. When you float the needle in the beer, it’ll point in a north-south direction. At that point, you can get home and take the time to seriously ask yourself why you’re carrying around a pair of silk panties.
I see I’m running out of space; like most people, I lose track of time while using beer. But let’s continue this next time, because all these ideas may save the alcoholic beverage industry.
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Here are some more ideas on non-drinking ways to use beer. I’m going to start counting them from 1 again, because some of you might be drinking the beer instead, and have trouble getting beyond 10.
1. Soothe tired feet.
The idea is to pour ice-cold beer into a bucket and soak your feet. Apparently the carbonation helps, but you have to wonder if it’s the cold temperature that does the most good. But then, who wants warm beer?
2. Make a beer slide.
At your next party lay a large vinyl tarp on a slope, then use lots of beer to make it slick. Remember the “Slip ‘N Slide” that was popular several years ago? Like that, only for the over 21 crowd.
Again, one has to wonder why you can’t just use water.
3. Lower your blood pressure.
Ever see a drunk who’s flushed and sweaty? Let me rephrase: Ever see a drunk who’s not flushed and sweaty? Apparently there’s something in beer that dilates blood vessels, which is one way to lower blood pressure. Just not the healthy way.
An engineer in California uses dried hops, an ingredient in beer, in a coffeemaker to make a tea that tastes even worse than beer. It’s actually lowered his blood pressure. Just remember, the average traffic cop doesn’t accept that as an excuse.
4. Trick a cheap landlord.
If your landlord pays the heating bill and keeps the thermostat set low, you can fool it by freezing a can of beer, then laying it on top of the box that encloses the thermostat. The cold temperature will transfer over, fooling the thermostat into thinking the temperature has dropped.
Okay, seriously, why not just get ice? I think somebody’s using these ideas as an excuse for their next six-pack.
5. Catch Mice.
Fill small pails with beer, along with a little ramp leading up to the edge. The mice, attracted to the smell, will hop in, drink up, and be unable to stagger back out. Or, you could invite them over to see the big game, get them drunk, then call a taxi to take them somewhere else.
It’s the humane method, and much less scary then getting a cat.
6. Cure insomnia.
No, not the obvious way. Apparently the hops used to brew beer are supposed to help, especially for colicky babies. You sew it into pillows as a sleep aid, but be careful: Hops is a type of flower, so it’s a no-no for people with allergies. Or common sense.
7. Massage yourself.
Get your mind out of the gutter, you’re not drunk yet. The idea is the roll a full can underfoot, or between the shoulder blades while leaning against a wall. The pressure loosens up muscle tissue, and when you’re done you can drink it and loosen up even more.
Yes, yes, it’ll work with a can of any beverage, but why take the fun out of it?
8. Calm an upset stomach.
A highly carbonated beer can settle a stomach, in the same way drinking 7-Up or Sprite can, with the fringe benefit that the alcohol helps buffer pain. If your stomach is upset because you just saw red and blue lights in your rear view mirror, you’re doing it in the wrong order.
9. Build your next home.
There’s a place called Earthship in New Mexico, a house that has walls made of empty beer cans and concrete. Can you imagine if the cans were full? Get thirsty, grab an ice pick and a straw … you don’t have to even get off the couch, at least for awhile.
There are full beer cans in Earthship: It uses a “thermal-mass” refrigerator, which uses the full cans as insulation. The cold nighttime desert air flows in, and the beer releases its coolness during the day, which isn’t too different from what happens when you drink it.
Collecting the building materials for Earthship was part of the fun.
10. Build a plane.
Yeah. A guy named Duane Mathis sells plans for model airplanes made from beer cans, some of which are actually capable of flying. Now, I know you need empty cans to make these models, but you should let some time pass between using the contents and flying the plane. Remember, friends don’t let friends fly drunk.
11. Build patio furniture.
If you can still count to 11, you might be sober enough for a construction project. The instructions I saw call for plywood, posts, strips of lattice, screws, some tacking nails, adhesive, and 65 assorted beer cans.
There’s also a warning that your wonderful new patio furniture should not be exposed to the rain, because the caps will rust. People, I’ve got two words for you on this subject:
12. Tame a wild hair.
Beer is sticky; this is why it sticks to your insides, you see, causing the famous beer belly. Wet your finger and slick down that errant hair that won’t stay down, and you’ve got a quick fix that will make you smell like a brewery but look like a million.
13. Scale fish.
Nothing goes with beer drinking like fishing, or maybe it’s vice-versa. Turns out you can nail three or four beer caps to a sturdy piece of wood, which gives you a fish scaler right out of the latest issue of Redneck digest.
You know, I meant that as a joke, but that’s a great idea for a magazine -- if someone hasn’t already thought of it. Surely a dozen uses for beer would be a great feature article for issue #1? This might single-handedly save the alcoholic beverage industry, and my finances.