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post-vacation stuff

Getting back into the groove of things has been harder than I thought. After three weeks of living like a normal human being, I've had a rough time adjusting to staying up all night again. I could just do like so many other third shifters and sleep the whole time when I'm not working, but at the end of vacation I dedicated myself to getting more done, both on the home front and the writing front; but I sure didn't get much done yesterday.

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!


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.


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:
Home Depot.

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.

And, finally:

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.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 18th, 2008 08:37 am (UTC)
Those boys look like they are coming along just perfectly. And I knew about slugs and beer but not the rest - interesting.
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:46 am (UTC)
I got a big kick out of how many of those uses could be done just fine without beer -- like someone was trying to justify their six pack! :-)

The boys are great -- they turned 2 months old yesterday and got their vaccination shots, which isn't much of a birthday present.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:47 am (UTC)
I do love my trivia -- too bad that leaves so little space for important stuff!

Sleep problems are common for people who work the night shift -- I can't exactly say I'm adjusted to them, but at least I'm used to having them.
Aug. 18th, 2008 09:15 am (UTC)
LOL!! I love the beer uses!

The babies are looking bigger already! :)
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:48 am (UTC)
Aren't they, though? Two months old yesterday, but only three weeks after their original due date!
Aug. 18th, 2008 09:25 am (UTC)
Lovely picture :)

I don't like the taste of beer either but I think my husband would kill me if I started using his beer for all the things you suggest *g*.
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:48 am (UTC)
beer bashing
Yes, some people would see it as a huge waste!
Aug. 18th, 2008 11:13 am (UTC)
The grand-kids look great and good luck with the agenting.

At least you've had one in the past!

Aug. 21st, 2008 05:49 am (UTC)
They sure do! :-)

It's true that at least I got an agent, but at this point I can't help feeling it was a wasted three years (actually four, since I went into something of a funk), as he didn't really accomplish anything.
Aug. 18th, 2008 12:03 pm (UTC)
I don't think I'd want beer scented hair. Ever.

I know a couple who cook all the time with beer- especially something called beer can chicken on their grill. I personally can't stand the taste at all, although my cousin loves Land Shark along with a couple produced by one of the local microbreweries.

The twins are really growing.

Aug. 21st, 2008 05:51 am (UTC)
Oh yes, I've heard of beer can chicken. Really, in the food I've tried that it was used in you can't taste the beer. I'm definitely with you on the hair, though!
Aug. 18th, 2008 12:12 pm (UTC)
Nightshift is so hard on the system. I did it for 17 years and I'd never go back.

The boys look like they're growing. My niece just had her second so I'm watching one gain inches by the moment as well.

Glad you took the 3 weeks to actually vacation. Everyone should do that on occasion.
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
I believe it's about fifteen years for me ... one of the reasons I'd like to be writing full time is to get away from that!

Isn't it amazing at that age, the way they seem to change daily? The longest I've gone without seeing them was the full week I was in Missouri, and I was shocked by the growth. Pretty soon they'll be in that smiling stage I like so much!

I did need the vacation, and Emily saw to it that I took the *whole* three weeks off -- although I took four 9 hour drives during that period, which weren't exactly the most restful days!
Aug. 18th, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
oh those boys are so handsome!! they look like hugs and kisses and trucks and toy blocks all rolled into flesh and blood. i'm glad you got a vacation. i'm just starting a job working graveyard. i've done this before as well and didn't think i'd go back to it again, however the situation is a bit different now so i'm hoping it will be better (money is not the root of all evil, it is the motivator for all insanity). yay for more writing and creativity!! many blessings as you pursue further publication and fresh creativity!!! emily sounds like she knows just what you need. :)
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:55 am (UTC)
They look like all of that! Pretty soon they'll start the smiling thing I love so much, then I can work on making them laugh. :-)

Yep, money motivates a lot. Actually, I've got enough experience that I could bump onto day shift, but it's quiet enough on nights that I get a lot of writing and internet stuff done -- which at this point in my life is worth the interrupted sleep. On the other hand, I'd leap at a chance to write full time!
Aug. 18th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
Welcome back - glad to hear you had a real vacation! The babies are still too cute for words. Another use for beer - battering your fish (you know, after you scale - and filet - it and before you fry it). Mmmm.
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:57 am (UTC)
There's something to be said for a real vacation ...

Sure, I know all about beer battered fish, it's big around here. Neither of my kids like fish, so I don't eat it often, but maybe I should start buying more for the times when they're not around. The youngest is almost in college -- I should be able to choose my own meals, on occasion!
Aug. 19th, 2008 08:40 am (UTC)
Awww...they're SO CUTE!!

BTW, beer is good for nursing mothers who are having a difficult time with this task...it makes the milk come easier.
Aug. 21st, 2008 05:59 am (UTC)
Aren't they, though?

I hadn't heard about that. I don't think I'll mention it to Charis, though -- she likes beer about as much as I do. :-)
Aug. 21st, 2008 06:01 am (UTC)
The first time I heard a pharmacist suggest that to a patient who was having trouble producing enough milk, I did a double-take. I must had some really WILD "WTF?!" look on my face because she explained the mechanism behind it.

Now when I hear my pharmacy manager suggest to someone to "Have a beer." I understand why...but it's fun to watch the same perplexed look cross the patient's face!! LOL!
Aug. 21st, 2008 09:13 am (UTC)
We had a firefighter go down with heat exhaustion once who had it so bad he was hospitalized. The doctor released him with strict orders that he must drink a six-pack of beer, and if he urinated before the last can was finished, he wouldn't have to go back in for further treatment to avoid kidney damage. It worked!
Aug. 20th, 2008 02:06 am (UTC)
The boys look so good - how great!

And I'm glad you got to relax on your vacay, which is what they're supposed to be about but seldom end up being so.

Best of luck on the publishing venture. I may have to pick your brain about it in times to come.
Aug. 21st, 2008 06:00 am (UTC)
Sometimes I'd get a little antsy that I wasn't getting anything done, but then Emily would just slap me around a little until I settled down. :-)

by all means, pick to your heart's content. I may not have made a fiction sale yet, but I have learned an awfully lot about the business.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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