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Wanna Know Who You Really Are? Spit Here.

5 Jun

by Roger White                                                                              

 

So the wife finally convinced me to do this ancestry DNA thing you’ve probably heard or read about. Ya know, you send in your DNA sample to this mad scientist type place somewhere in Utah and a few months later you get to find out you’re not Scotch-Irish like you’ve been told since you were 3 but are in fact one-fifth Bosnian-Herzegovinian with a touch of Latvian Orthodox and a slight dusting of the Saskatchewan Moose Jaw Clan. Which is probably why your family just said you were Scotch-Irish and left it at that. Much simpler.

Anyway, one day the wife hands me this cardboard box and excitedly proclaims, “Here’s your kit! Time to provide your sample!”

I was instantly horrified. The only “samples” I’ve ever had to provide for medical/research purposes involved either (a) needles, blood, and pain; (b) sitting alone in a room with a tiny container, some tissues, and a “men’s” magazine while trying hard to think sexy thoughts; or (c) forcibly going to the bathroom and then, while completely mortified, placing my uncomfortably warm “sample” into a tray in the wall of my examination room while praying to God no one opens the tray from the other side of the wall while I’m providing my uncomfortably warm “sample.”

To my great relief, I found out that the ancestry guys just wanted my spit. For a moment, as I self-consciously began earnestly trying to hock up a nice loogie, I eyed Ralph asleep on the floor and pondered what the results would be if I gave them a vial of elderly long-haired dachshund saliva. “Dear Mr. White,” I envisioned, “from your unique DNA sample, our labs have concluded that you are eight-tenths Old World German with a family history of hunting badgers and an unusual tendency toward heartworm. For long-term health, you may consider drinking less from the toilet and going for ‘walkies’ at least three times a week.”

But no, I diligently hocked up my sample, sealed my little vial, and we both shipped off our DNA data in hopes of discovering if great-great-great-great-great grandpappy was perhaps Nebuchadnezzar II or Spike Jones or whoever.

We have since been in the “waiting phase,” while—according to the company literature—the DNA lab experts and biochemists in white labcoats spend arduous weeks attempting to deconstruct our respective spittles down to the double-helix level and painstakingly extract our ancestry information. A substantial part of me thinks that in reality, there’s a big basement room in Provo somewhere with a giant wall map of the world and a bunch of guys in t-shirts and sweatpants armed with darts.

“OK,” a rotund guy yells out, still munching a pizza crust, slouched at his chair. “Watch out. This one is for, let’s see, this dude’s name is ‘White.’” He reaches into a coffee can full of darts, takes a dart and heaves it at the wall. “Rocko,” the guy yells. “Where’d that hit?”

Rocko takes a swig of Miller Lite from a longneck bottle and shuffles over to the map. “It’s in the middle of the damn ocean. Try again.”

The rotund “lab expert” sighs and throws another. “Bingo!”

Rocko burps and leans down to inspect the dart’s landing zone. “Bolivia. Somewhere in the middle of Lake Titicaca. Wow.”

“How ’bout that? Bet the guy never knew he was one-quarter Titicacan. OK, watch out, here goes again…”

I’m hoping that’s not how it goes, but the cynic in me can’t help but think the whole thing is at least a little bit scammy. I did read somewhere that the results aren’t 100 percent accurate and that some folks tend to be over-identified Scandinavian for some reason. I guess Scandinavian is the default heritage, kind of like on the Magic 8 Ball how more times than not the answer is “Results Hazy. Try Again Later.”

 

Roger White is a four-sevenths Scandinavian freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely six-elevenths Creole wife, two half-Sri Lankan daughters, a full-blooded Obesian dachshund, and a cat that refuses to provide a sample. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

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A Cautionary Tale from the Planet Retha

27 Jul

by Regor White

 

Sit down, kids, and I’ll share a tale. Mikey, don’t sit so close to the fire. Your Keds are starting to melt. That’s it. OK, good.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (turn right at Andromeda, second star cluster on your left), there was a planet called Retha. The dominant species on the planet Retha were beings known as Nahums. Now, to energize their transport Planet Rethapods and to heat their dwelling units, for many years the Nahums of the good planet Retha used a substance known as ilo—a gooey byproduct of gigantic decayed creatures (called oarsiduns) that lived long before the Nahums.

As time went on, technology developed rapidly—as did the burgeoning population of Retha. The great thinkers and scientists of the planet began to wonder and worry about the safety and the continued availability of the resource ilo. They found, you see, that ilo gave off foul emissions when consumed for energy—and common sense told the thinkers that only so much ilo could be used before it was all gone. Furthermore, the thinkers had found wondrous ways to harness Retha’s natural, reusable energy—such as her great winds and the heat from her nearest star—to fulfill all of the planet’s power needs.

Alas, the influential and powerful Nahums who owned the ilo reserves resisted violently any consideration of these new energy discoveries. They intimidated the thinkers, employed their own so-called scientists to refute and discredit the thinkers, and they paid great sums to Retha’s lawgivers—an unscrupulous class Lopiticiansknown as Lopiticians—to ensure that laws and edicts quashed any and all acceptance of this upstart “renewable energy.”

Disaster followed disaster regarding use and transport of the volatile substance ilo—such as the great ilo spills in the waters of Oximec and Askala that killed all manner of creatures and fouled the once-healthy waters.

The strained rationalizations and twisted logic of the ilo elite reached the pinnacle of absurdity, however, when a process known as farcking became widespread in the Retha region known as North Aricema. Farcking was a procedure invented by the ilo industry to reach deep into Retha’s crust and force out pockets of ilo and its sister substance (called natural sag) by injecting great quantities of high-pressure liquid. This farcking process and the resultant injection of the mass quantities of farcking waste into Retha caused violent tremors—planet rumbles known as rethaquakes—where there had seldom ever been such tremors before.

In the North Aricema provinces of Sexta and Olkamoha, for example, where there had been an average of only one measurable rethaquake per year for decades, they began experiencing an average of 100 of these tremors per year since widespread farcking began there. Yet the pawns of the very wealthy ilo industry quakes!claimed there was no connection—no “concrete proof” of what was patently obvious.

Even after scientific journals all across Retha proved a definite link between the flurry of rethaquakes and the farcking procedures, the province of Sexta went so far as to forbid the governments of its very own villages to ban these rethaquake-inducing processes.

Under the guise of scholarship, ilo industry propagandists, such as the Institute for Policy Doublespeak in the village of Sallad (an ilo stronghold of the Sexta provincmr merrille) produced stories blaming geology itself for the uptick in rethaqakes. A Nahum named Merrill Swetmath, a “resident scholar” of the Doublespeak Institute, even wrote that the high-pressure injection of farcking wastes might be to blame, not the farcking itself. The ridiculous premise of this argument, of course, was that the waste-water injection WAS a basic component of the farcking process! Astounding, no?

Well, you probably know the outcome here, kids. The Lopiticians refused to listen to the scientists and true thinkers who were looking out for the future of Retha. The great and powerful ilo industry reigned supreme over the land—until, that is, swarms of rethaquakes ruined the landscape, and the ilo reserves eventually ran out, throwing an unprepared population into a new Dark Age. Poor Retha.

Thank goodness Earth is no Retha. Eh, kids?

 

Regor White is a freelance Nahum living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely spousal Nahum, two precocious offspring units, a very obese dachshund, and a cat with Epstein-Barr. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com. Or not.

Reparative Therapy Is Just the Tip o’ the Platform

9 Jun

by Roger White

 

This week on Lone Star Myth Bashers, we take a hard look at the common perception that the conservative movement in Texas makes our fair state the target of national and international ridicule with its outlandish statements and backward beliefs.

Quite the contrary. LSMB has found ample evidence that the state’s GOP base, for example, uses hard science as a foundation for its advocacy agenda. At its recent convention in Fort Worth, the Republican braintrust offered this scientific gem as a tenet of its party platform: “We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle.”

Yes, despite opposition from such liberal elite establishments as the American Medical AssociaAMAtion, American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association—and the fact that several states have banned this type of “therapy” outright—the Texas GOP has forged bravely ahead in its mission. The hard science the party is using, by the way, comes from an 1892 pamphlet entitled “Tingly Feelings are from the Devil.”

“One of the most fundamental tenets of our party’s focus on the family is the protection of the natural, wholesome man-woman relationship the way God intended it,” the Texas governor said in his address. “If a person seeking to rid himself of unnatural and unhealthy homosexual cravings wants to seek help through this reparatioh yeahve technique, he should be able to find this sort of assistance readily. And the therapy works. Believe me, I know. I mean, I’ve heard.”

Following similar scientific revelations, other planks of the Texas GOP Party Platform that you may not know about include the following:

  • Pigment restructuring therapy. This treatment bleaches skin to a more acceptable tone for those seeking escape from the non-Caucasian lifestyle. The skin treatment is accompanied by an intensive regimen of audio hypnosis sessions, which involve listening to such lifestyle-correcting standards as Rush Limbaugh, Jeff Foxworthy, and Lawrence Welk for several hours per day.
  • Income repression treatment. This achievement-aversion therapy offered to business owners provides mental reparative techniques that can be applied subliminally to those workers who continually whine about raising the minimum wage. Comes in colorless, odorless powder form or can be broadcast covertly over closed-circuit television in company break rooms.
  • Immigration control counseling. For those hardworking yet undocumented folks suffering from those pesky urges to seek a living wage, food for their families, and life free from the constant threat of decapitation, this treatment allows the would-be immigrant to understand that this country just isn’t for everybody and that we would all be better off if, as the great philosopher A. Bunker once opined, “the sames stayed with the sames, and the differents stayed with the differents.”
  • Tolerance-removal ointments. These creams and salves perfected in far East Texas, when applied to the scalp and back of the neck, turn the neck a bright crimson and rid the user of those uncomfortable notions that all religions and creeds deserve equality. Two of the more popular brands are the Muslim Mollifying Mask and Jew Away.
  • Fox disciple training. These intensive multi-media sessions indoctrinate the participant in thfoxe understanding and appreciation of the professional, unbiased reporting found only on Fox News.
  • Affordable healthcare interventions. When a party member who is out of work has strayed and actually found that affordable healthcare is available, trained interventionists swiftly correct the wayward soul, using such mantras as “A pre-existing condition is a pre-existing condition” and “better dead than socialist!”
  • Planned parenthood prevention pills. These handy and easy-to-use tablets keep members on the straight and narrow if they are having those unclean thoughts about seeking reproductive guidance from licensed professionals.
  • Handgun-acceptance sessions. If, after the never-ending onslaught of news reports on senseless handgun killings begins to make a member consider getting rid of his trusty sidearm, these refocusing sessions remind the member that guns are our friends—and that the only way to solve these lawless shootings is for every man, woman, and child in America to be packing heat at all times.

For more on the party platform, visit http://www.theylltakemygunwhentheypryitfrommycolddeadhands.com.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Writer’s Block? No, It’s COS–Creative Obstruction Syndrome

11 Jun

by Roger White

 

When I was a kid, living in what was then a tiny suburban town with a flashing yellow light on the highway and a few close-knit neighborhoods in which summer curfew was the precise moment the street lights came on, I was good friends with the son of the town doctor. Despite the fact that he was the smartest d_burleson[1]kid in town and half the time I couldn’t understand what the devil he was talking about, he was a fun kid. For several preteen summers, we hung around together just about every day. We’d take turns having sleepovers at each other’s houses. David’s house was the nicest in town, and I always had a blast exploring the attic crawlspaces with him. We had a secret room in one of the crawlspaces we called Project Asparagus. The tiny storage space we decorated with shag rugs and posters and a black light. It was our cool, clandestine hideout. We didn’t discover until years later that his mom knew all about Project Asparagus and could hear us every time we crawled around in there. She said we sounded like two overgrown rats.

 

Anyway, David’s dad, Dr. Brown, was a community icon. Back then, you pretty much figured that doctors knew everything. You trusted their judgment. Their diagnoses, their viewpoint on things, carried much weight. Doctors fixed you. There wasn’t anything that doctors didn’t know.

 

I’m not sure if it’s a product of cynical wisdom that comes with maturity or the overwhelming influx of white noise and myriad “expert opinions” of this information age (have a symptom—Google it!), but as the years have gone by my unshakeable faith in the medical profession has eroded somewhat. In fact, if you were to graph my advancing age alongside my trust in MDs, QUAAACKyou’d have two lines angling in opposite directions. A lot of it could be due to the fact that today doctors have an official (and expensive-sounding) medical term for every human condition. And if they don’t actually know what it is that ails you, then they label it some nebulous multi-syllabic syndrome.

 

For example, lately our oldest daughter has been having stomach problems. She often feels queasy and lightheaded after she eats, and she’s even passed out a couple of times. It’s been unsettling, to say the least, so we took her in to a gastroenterologist. He took a quick gander at her, asked her a couple of questions, and pronounced that she was suffering from IBS—Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Cut back on the dairy and sugar and see me in a few weeks if it doesn’t get better, he said. Will that be cash or credit? What? That’s it? Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Geez, my bowels get irritable, too—every time I overdo the Tex-Mex and beer. Does that mean I have IBS? In fact, I would imagine everybody has IBS on occasion.

 

Don’t quote me on this, but I seriously think the word “syndrome” is either Greek or Latin for “best guess.” Just as “disorder” is code for “we really don’t know.” Instead of admitting they simply have no idea what the heck is wrong with you, docs assign you a syndrome. If you can’t sleep, you have Restless Leg Syndrome; if you’re tired a lot, you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; if you and your coworkers feel bad at the same time, you have Sick Building Syndrome. If you get mad, you have Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. And, of course, let’s not forget perhaps the most significant medical discovery of the new age: ADD. When I was a kid, if you ran ADDaround a lot, couldn’t pay attention for long stretches, and hollered like a banshee, they called you normal and made you play outside until you were worn out. Nowadays, youngsters who exhibit the very same behavior are proclaimed to be suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder and promptly pumped full of prescription drugs strong enough to tranquilize a racehorse.

 

Ouch. I had a lot more to say about this, but my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is flaring up. Meds! Where are my meds?!

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

Let’s Play the Blame Game

11 Dec

by Roger White  

 

Did you ever notice how a lot of bloggers and columnists these days start their blogs and columns with “Did you ever notice…”? Uh oh.

Actually, in all the 2,103 columns I’ve written over the past (censored) years, I don’t believe I’ve ever kicked off an installment with those four Seinfeldian words. So allow me this one:

Did you ever notice how there is always someone or something to blame for every cotton pickin’ thing these days? In this age of victims, nothing just happens by chance or circumstance anymore—someone must be blamed. Fault must be found. Perpetrators must be punished. And surely somewhere down the line, lawyers must be compensated.

I have resisted this mindset as long as I can, dragged my feet against the rushing tide of the times until my heels are raw. So I give in. I will now add my voice to the din; therefore, I give you my “blame” list for some of the odd quirks and tendencies that are endemic to li’l old me.

Scapegoat No. 1—Doorways. Ya know the age-old question of “what did I come in here for” that hits you when you walk into a room and then draw a complete blank? Well, at my age this happens just about every hour on the hour. I thought I was getting old and feeble-minded, but as it turns out, my door is to blame. Yep, psychologist types at the University duhhhhof Notre Dame have determined that walking through a doorway triggers something called an event boundary in your noggin. In other words, what you were thinking of in one room goes flying away when you go to another room, especially when the TV is on and the Cowboys have the ball. Okay, I made up that last part. But isn’t this great? I have a lawsuit in the works against Pella Doors and Windows. If you want to join me in a class action suit, dial 1-800-DUM-DOOR.

Scapegoat No. 2—Apple Maps. I get lost a lot; now, I’ve someone to blame. Did you hear about this? Seems that Apple Maps, in its rush to compete against Google and other major online map companies, goofed big time, putting many cities and landmarks in the wrong places.

In one grievous instance, Apple plopped some town called Mildura, Australia, more than 40 miles away from where it really is, and—believe it or not—some drivers actually ended up stuck in the rugged Australian outback and had to be rescued by police.

Can you picture this? The road sign reads “Mildura Straight Ahead” but the car’s Apple Map says “No, Ron, turn left.”

you are here, no here“Crikey!” says Ron and turns left against his better judgment. Ten hours later, as Ron scorches in the 110-degree heat of the outback, he decides to leave.

“NO!” orders Apple Map. “You are here. This is Mildura.”

“But…I’m thirsty.”

“I’m sorry, Ron, but I have shut off your motor.”

This is ripe for another juicy legal action, no?

“Uh, yeah, hello? Is this Apple Maps?”

“Yes.”

“Listen, I have Apple Maps on my iPhone, and it told me that to get to Dallas I had to drive straight ahead off the Galveston Sea Wall, and my car is now in 15 feet of water. Can I speak to your legal department?”

Scapegoat No. 3—Kitty litter. One of my duties around the homestead is waste management—and this includes changing that most toxic of entities, the kitty litter box. I have always thought that this lovely, touchy-feely euphemism—kitty litter—is one of the cruelest of domestic ironies. The term “kitty litter” sounds cute, harmless, even cuddly somehow. Have you ever changed a kitty litter box that hasn’t been touched by human hands in over a week? This is one of the foulest, nastiest, zombie apocalyptic-type things you’ll ever come in contact with. I honestly believe that you could arm the U.S. Marines meowuhohwith cats, turned back end toward the enemy, and you could send any opposing force running faster than Iraq’s elite Republican Guards.

Anyway, it turns out that, now stay with me here, some suicide attempts have actually been linked to kitty litter. I believe it. A study by a guy named Teodor Postolache (really, that’s his name) claims there’s a link between an infection called Toxoplasma gondii, which you get from handling kitty litter, and suicide attempts.

So there you have it, honey. I would change the box, but, man, I’m so down. What’s the use in living?

Side note to self: File suit against the Fresh Step company.

Now, this last part has nothing to do with anything, but I believe it carries a strong message for you and me. Seems that a Florida man remains in the hospital with severe injuries after the cops stopped him for DWHATSIYS.

What’s DWHATSIYS, you ask? That’s police lingo for Driving While Having A Traffic Sign In Your Skull. Duh. The Florida Highway Patrol pulled over one L.R. Newton after he smashed into a road sign and then kept on going. When they stopped the guy, they found that a big chunk of the traffic sign was sticking out of his headbone. Newton’s in stable condition, but the sign didn’t make it.

Stupid sign. I’d sue the sign makers.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

 

Smack! Oh, My Akin Head. Smack, Smack!

27 Aug

by Roger White  

 

I make it a point never to get political in my missives to you, my brethren and sistren. In my book, all politicians of every stripe and polka-dot leave themselves wide open to much well-earned ridicule as long as their well-stuffed pockets continue to leak all those special-interest dollars. I aspire to run right down the skinny middle when it comes to any public comments regarding that muddy, treacherous, and ridiculous landscape we know as politics.

But dumb is dumb, OK, even among this population known for its monumental foul-ups.

I’m referring, of course, to one Todd Akin, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the great state of Missouri. Note how I did not mention Rep. Akin’s political affiliation. It may or may not be relevant, and frankly I don’t care if he’s a donkey, an elephant, or some creature in between. Because mainly what he is is a jackass. What we’re focusing on here are the actual, fantastical words that came from his actual, bombastical mouth recently. I am still, at this very moment, smacking myself upside the head with an open palm, trying to determine if I’m having a bad dream.

For those with short-term memory loss or who have been vacationing on Easter Island of late, here’s what the honorable Rep. Akin opined regarding a woman’s chances of getting pregnant because of rape: “From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Smack, smack. Nope, I didn’t wake up. It must be real. Smack.

Now, I’m as flag-totin’, freedom-lovin’, and Ford-truck-commercial-watchin’ as the next American, but sweet ghosts of Gary Hart and Dan Quayle, we do not need any more help looking like nitwits to the rest of the civilized world.

Where to begin with the supreme idiocy and outrageous implications of this statement? First off, the very idea that women can just “shut that whole thing down” if they want to? Smack, smack. No, still real. As if there really needed to be research on this, a three-year study of American women was actually conducted in 1996 that found rape-related pregnancy occurred with “significant frequency”—with no fewer cases of pregnancy than from consensual sex. Besides, if women could simply “shut that whole thing down” (smack), don’t you think girls and women all over the world would be “shutting down” unwanted pregnancies on their own—just by sheer willpower?

Another thing about Akin’s declaration that is just as upsetting, not so much for the sheer stupidity but more for the casual implication, is the language he used regarding “legitimate rape.” You know what he’s saying here, of course. Was it really rape? Did she lead him on? The word “rape” needs no modifier. To imply otherwise is a slap in the face to rape victims everywhere.

Ah, but wait. There’s more. Here’s the topper: Akin is a (drumroll) member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, no less. Smack, smack, smack. Man, that’s beginning to hurt.

And guess what? Yours truly has done some digging. Hey, I was once an investigative journalist, ya know. Had the fedora with press credentials stuck in it and everything. Covered the city beat for the Cement, Texas, Greensheet. Anyway, I’ll bet you didn’t know some of the other cringeworthy things ol’ Rep. Akin has done and said. Take a gander:

  • In a speech delivered to the Research On Funding Limits for Matters Amoral & Objectionable (ROFLMAO) Institute, Akin proposed cutting funding for AIDS research, reasoning that, “Transmission of AIDS is rare in cases of legitimate male rape because the truly heterosexual male body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down back there.”
  • Akin was the author of the Sanitize Public Hot Tubs Now Bill, citing his belief that women have been known to get pregnant by merely sitting in a hot tub in which a male has “relieved himself.”
  • The Missouri representative also proposed NASA’s First Manned Mission to the Sun. “As sure as the Earth is flat, the Soviet Union or China will get there first if we don’t get on this,” Akin said at a press conference held at the Akin Phrenology Institute. “I want to see our flag on solar soil.”
  • Akin also sponsored House Resolution 6969, otherwise known as the Perpetual Motion Resolution. Wearing a dreamcatcher necklace made entirely of magnets at the press conference, Akin stated that “just because scientists say it violates fundamental laws of thermodynamics doesn’t mean we can’t try. Hey, this magnet thing really works,” Akin added. “Go ahead, see if you can push me over.”

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.