How to run your country in ten easy steps

White House Front

1. Put out of touch, wealthy people in charge. Leave them in charge for a long time so they’ll have lots of power be more effective.

2. Allocate unlimited funds for arms and war.

3. Allocate unlimited funds for saber-rattling with other countries.

4. Allocate copious funds for relief in other countries.

5. Whenever the budget runs low from steps  2-4, stop paying the hard-working ancillary people in the government and call it a “government shutdown.” Keep paying the wealthy people in charge.

6. Limit  and periodically cut funds for education. Give it a fancy name like “sequester” so it sounds serious. Make schools struggle with limited means and then cry incompetence when students do poorly in comparison with those in other countries.

7. When the poorly performing students grow up and are unable to support themselves financially,  make them dependent upon government entitlements for their food, income and health care.

8. Whenever the budget runs low, cut the entitlements that you’ve made your citizens dependent upon in step 7.

9. Legalize gambling, tobacco, lottery tickets and marijuana, so the poor citizens who lack education and income will have some way to comfort themselves over their miserable situation, thus ensuring continued poverty, unemployment, obesity, and poor health. Then cut funding for unemployment and health care and decry the rising obesity rates in your country.

10. Repeat these steps annually, while periodically decrying  the poor state of the country and the government deficit.

Bonus step: Have the people in charge periodically pass laws that irritate the masses so they will have less time to feel  miserable about the state of their country. Things like limiting light bulb wattage and shower head flow and making people take off their shoes in airports work best.


© Huffygirl 2013

Hideous Girl

I’ve discovered I have a new power over others, and am not quite sure how to wield it. With my bruised and swollen face and barely understandable speech,  I’ve found that strangers fear me. (*disclaimer)  Passersby are extremely polite and hurried. Any entity that has a waiting room wants to hide me, although they call it “having me wait in the back where I’ll be more comfortable.” And store clerks? Store clerks are terrified of me, and thus, ready to do my bidding.  They do not want to make me unhappy, because then I might make a scene. And it turns out that no store clerk wants the handicapped lady making a scene in their store.

Case in point. I needed a large quantity of oral syringes. Turns out they are difficult to buy, as all the local stores give them away for free. But here’s the catch – they only give you two or three at a time, and I needed several every day. And so I sent Best Husband on a mission to convince the store to let me buy a large quantity so he would not have to run to the store every day to get a few free ones. Day after day, he talked to the clerks, the manager, begged, cajoled, without results. Finally, I decided to put my powers to the test. I appeared with my husband at said store and asked for the manager. When he saw me, I watched his expression turn to that of fear as I stood there explaining my plight in front of all the customers, Then I watched the magic. “Let me make a call,” the manager said, and seconds later returned with the verdict. Ten cents apiece and 100 “free” syringes could be mine. We agreed and the manager jumped into action. He grabbed a large bag and was literally flinging syringes in, while a fumbling assistant helped. Satisfied with the transaction, we paid and turned to leave, but not before I caught the look of relief flooding his face. Victory – he had gotten the handicapped lady out of his store without a scene.

How will I wield this new power? I have decided to only use it for good, though it would be tempting to use it just to mess with people. Do you need your interest rate reduced? Want a better cable rate? Need to negotiate payments on your bills? Whatever the problem, call Hideous Girl. I’ll be there to help.

*Disclaimer: Before I go any further, let me first acknowledge that any person who has lived with a disability has no doubt had the same experience hundreds of times, and I write this in no way intending to belittle their experience.

Related link: Why I will bike no more (

© Huffygirl 2013

Things I learned this winter

  • If you double the amount of sugar in your bread recipe, you end up with a gooey hunk of unleavened dough in your garbage can.
  • Online shopping helps you memorize your credit card number.
  • Sensa makes your wallet lighter, but not you.
  • They really CAN get along without you at work.
  • Watching tragic events on TV makes you feel more a part of them than listening to them on the radio.
  • Buying trip insurance is a good idea for clumsy people.
  • Everything that happens to you is not A SIGN, although it sure seems like it at the time.
  • Appreciating the little things in life is a good idea.
  • Turns out you can make lemonade from lemons.
  • Sometimes winter seems really long, but it probably isn’t.
  • No matter how much time you have on your hands, you still won’t get the projects done that you don’t really want to do.
  • Spray-painting a bird bath is easy.
  • Using Google Music makes you wish you’d bought an iPod.
  • If you fall on your elbow, and you can’t raise your arm afterwards, chances are it’s broken.

double rainbow,, © Huffygirl 2012© Huffygirl 2013

How to build a better mosquito trap

English: B/W-Photography of a female Culiseta ...This spring has been an especially bad year for mosquitoes here in Michigan. After multiple sessions of trying to garden and just plain enjoy being outside, only to be nearly carried off by those pesky biters, Best Husband and I decided to take action.

And so it was, to the interwebs. Searching under “mosquito traps” led us to YouTube,  where Hiten Patel, an Asian gentleman and self-described “mind therapist and holistic healer” has a hilarious how-to for making a mosquito trap. Patel elucidates each point of the process of taking an ordinary soda bottle and turning it into a mosquito killing machine, as if he were teaching us how to install guidance chips into sidewinder missiles. At one point he switches the camera to Grandma, who sits cross-legged on the floor while demonstrating the intricate process of assembling the two-piece mosquito trap, all the while solemn-faced, and making Vanna White-type illustrative gestures, while Patel narrates in the background. If you have eight minutes (!) to spare, be sure to watch this gem.

Next, I searched for a recipe for the mosquito killing solution. Patel gave his recipe in gibberish metric, which was completely unhelpful, especially since I had never heard anyone speak of measuring water in milligrams. I found an American recipe that was quite detailed for something which only included three ingredients, including measuring the water temperature before adding the yeast. How many people really do have home kitchen thermometers, I wonder?

Next, the fun began. Best husband and I, with three college degrees between us, spent a lively hour arguing debating the best way to assemble the mosquito trap, with each of us believing that our way was best. In the end, there was no agreement, which led to the only logical conclusion possible: to make several mosquito traps, each with a little different configuration, and see which one works.

How to build a better mosquito trap

1. First, buy a two-liter bottle of soda, and drink it down as fast as you can. (or, dump it down the sink, as we might have done, but I’m not admitting to it.) In fact, buy several soda bottles, because chances are, you’ll need want to make more than one, because it’s such fun.

2. Follow the recipe for making the mosquito-killing secret sauce, which, it turns out, makes more solution than will fit in the bottle. Then, start over, and make up your own recipe as you go along.

3. Next, cut the soda bottle into two pieces. Grandma eyeballed this and dove in with ordinary scissors, which was much too simple for us. Instead, you’ll need a black marker, utility knife, tape measure, and GPS. Eyeball the spot where you will dissect the bottle. Then, to be sure, measure and mark, then debate the pros and cons of why you selected this spot to slice in. Best husband posits that the top should be significantly shorter than the bottom, allowing a gap between the liquid and the opening, thereby insuring room for the little buggers to drop in. I contend that the bottle should be cut into nearly equal parts, as this will prevent the mosquitoes from having any dead space to use for escape, and seemed closer to the way that Grandma did it.  Debate this endlessly if possible, but for at least an hour.

4. Tape the two ends of bottle together, then cover the bottle with black paper. Or green paper, because we didn’t have black. And argue about discuss whether it’s better to cover the whole bottle for improved effectiveness, or leave part of it uncovered, so you can have the satisfaction of seeing the floating mosquito carcases in bottom.

5. Add the killing solution, and discover that it won’t all fit, and the leftover part contains most of the yeast, which is the crucial ingredient.

6. Place the extra killing solution in a cup and store in the refrigerator, where it promptly ferments in record time, and oozes yeasty goo all over your refrigerator. Then, in disgust, dump the rest of it in your mosquito trap, which is what at least one of you wanted to do in the first place.

7. Hang your mosquito trap in your yard, and in no time at all, enjoy a peaceful, mosquito-free environment. Or, conversely, hang the damn thing in your yard and check it every few hours to see how many dead mosquitoes have accumulated, so you can enjoy the satisfaction of seeing your environmentally friendly couples-project rid your property of insect Armageddon. We’re still waiting for that part.

© Huffygirl 2013

Livin’ in an Amish Paradise

Amish country near Arthur, Illinois“We been spending’ most our lives living in an Amish paradise…” Weird Al

It’s getting close to lunch time at my clinic, but I have no hope of wrapping things up for a break any time soon. Why not? The waiting room looks like a call back for extras for Witness. Women in sturdy blue polyester dresses and enormous black bonnets, de rigueur for every Amish lady, are shushing children in blue shirts and black overalls, their bowl haircuts shrouded with enormous black hats. Men with springy gray beards sit silently nearby, dressed in their identical Amish uniforms. Probably only one of this cast of thousands is actually scheduled for an appointment. Yet in the course of the visit, I’ll start with one and end up seeing three or four, as they think I might as well see the daughter with a “little” cold (pneumonia), the diabetic grandma (blood sugar over 400), and their cousin’s farrier, who happened to come along for the ride. And could I please hurry it up, because the neighbor who gave them all a ride has to get back in time for dinner. Yes, just another day of Amish Hell at the office, and I’m smack in the middle of it.

The Amish are a sturdy sect of traditionalists who live simply and eschew modern technology. Originally members of a church schism in Switzerland, the Amish community left to settle in the Pennsylvania area, and eventually migrated to other parts of the US, including Michigan and Indiana. The Amish community is truly off the grid, living free of silly government entanglements such as Social Security numbers, government IDs, and therefore, health insurance. So just about any day might be Amish Day at the free clinic. The Amish folk are for the most part lovely, delightful people who would do anything to help a friend or neighbor. So why do I feel like I’m in the seventh circle of hell whenever their group darkens my door?

They come in large swarms, with no concept of anyone’s time, except their own. They want everything done at once, because they came all the way to town, darn it, and they’re busy people with things to do. The women wear two-piece dresses held together

Amish clothing hanging in the bedroom at The A...

by straight pins, and more undergarments than Scarlet O’Hara. Nothing strikes fear in my heart more than to think that I might have to ask one of them to get undressed – a 20 minute ordeal at least on each side of the operation which will tie up one of my two exam rooms for the next 40 minutes. Every Amish patient expects me to solve their problem, without their giving me any information about it. “So how has your blood sugar been, Rachel,” I ask, already knowing the answer. “Oh, I can’t really say. It’s high.” Then we begin the game we play every time, which I always lose. “Is it higher than 200?” I’ll ask, hoping this time I might get an answer. “Oh it’s high. I can’t really say.” “Can’t really say” is the Amish polite way of saying “you are an English woman, an outsider and I’m not giving you any information no matter how many different ways you ask.” And so I jump in, treating a pain they won’t describe, or a cough that has been present for God knows how long, listening to lung sounds through industrial polyester,  and expected to do it in record time because, really, don’t I know they still need to get to the store and be home in time for milking?

Later, if we have to call them about test results or an appointment, a new kind of hell begins. Their emergency contact person is listed only as “Bruce,” a non-Amish neighbor who has a phone, and has somehow become trusted enough to take their messages. I always hope that we never have to contact them for anything urgent, because Bruce might be busy with the plowing and not get them the message right away. Plus, he’s handling messages for every Amish family up and down the road, and with each family boasting 8 to 18 children, that’s a lot of Amish. There’s never any point in calling them to reschedule an appointment, because they’ll just show up anyway. After all, they went to all the trouble of getting a ride, and they’re not going to redo it just for my convenience.

Yet, in many ways they are endearing. They represent an earlier time, when neighbor trusted neighbor, when it was possible to be happy and connected to one’s community without having a phone permanently attached to one’s palm. Despite my frustration, I love most all of my Amish patients. They remind me of goodness, community, and simpler times.

© Huffygirl 2013

Just in time for Easter, now there’s Chocnix

English: A milk chocolate Easter Bunny.

Worried about that chocolate addiction of yours? And with the Easter Bunny just here, showering you with chocolate bunnies, eggs and the like, aren’t you wishing there was a way you could come clean and rid yourself once and for all of that chocolate addiction? Well, now you can. Now, there’s Chocnix®.

Chocnix® is a prescription medication designed to free the user from chocolate addiction. Chocnix works by blocking the pleasurable and addictive effects of chocolate. After only one week of use, Chocnix® users will find eating chocolate less pleasant. Eventually, chocolate eaters will receive less and less positive reinforcement from the ingestion of chocolate, causing the user to eventually stop eating chocolate. By 12 weeks of Chocnix® use, most users find they are able to completely abstain from chocolate eating. After an additional 12 weeks of use, most patients find they will never desire to eat chocolate again.

Chocnix® is not for everyone. Users may experience rage, anger, chocolate envy and psychosis. Don’t use Chocnix® if you suffer from extreme chocolate addition, evidenced by waking up the day after Easter with your head in an Easter basket, surrounded by foil wrappers. Ask your doctor if Chocnix® is right for you.

© Huffygirl 2013

Homeless community seeks shelter at Chimp Haven

Chimpanzee. Taken at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Chimpanzee. Taken at the Los Angeles Zoo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Protesters from the homeless community lined up outside the NIH recently, demanding funding for housing assistance. Protesters sported signs reading “I want my 1,000 square feet too!”  and “Havens for all.” Arlo Twiddle, spokesperson for the homeless community, iterated the protesters demands. “It has come to our attention that NIH is providing funding for retired research chimps to live in a glamorous haven, with fresh fruit and nutritious meals, toys, activities and even concert performances. Meanwhile, I and thousands of  other homeless live under bridges and in boxes in back alleys. We are only asking for the same dignity for ourselves that the government is providing for, well, frankly, wild monkeys.”

Nina Bodewell, spokesperson for Chimp Haven, only partially disputes Twiddle’s claim. “As nearly everyone knows, chimpanzees are in fact great apes, and not monkeys,” Bodewell noted at a recent news conference. However, as to Twiddle’s claims that the Chimp Haven is a plush chimpanzee resort, Bodewell had no rebuttal. Sources close to the news have found the following information regarding the amenities at Chimp Haven, the sanctuary to which the NIH is sending retired research chimps.

They’ll get a daily assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables along with their nutritionally balanced biscuits. They’ll have toys to play with, from balls and backpacks to anything else that’s safe and might amuse them — one Christmas, they got donated books — and even concerts. Drummers and other musicians have been brought in to play for them, and administrative associate Steve Snodgrass sometimes plays “lyrical” Irish fiddle tunes…”*

NIH has even laid out their requirements for what is an acceptable area for the retired chimps:

Research chimpanzees should be kept in groups of at least seven, with about 1,000 square feet of outdoor space per chimp — roughly one-sixth of an acre for a group of seven, according to the proposal. The space must include year-round outdoor access with a variety of natural surfaces such as grass, dirt and mulch, and enough climbing space to let all members of large troupes travel, feed and rest well above the ground, and with material to let them build new nests each day, the report said. Chimp Haven’s enclosures range from a quarter-acre to five acres, some of them forested and all with climbing structures.” *

Twiddle and others in the homeless community remain ardent in their intent to continue the protest until they get a hearing for their grievances.” If the government refuses to provide us with similar housing and amenities, we plan to infiltrate Chimp Haven and live in the chimp resort. After all, at 1,000 square foot per chimp, roughly the size of a  two-bedroom apartment, there should be plenty of room for our community to share this space. Personally, I’d be happy with 500 square feet, and maybe a few left-over biscuits that the chimps have rejected.”

NIH officials remain silent on the homeless protesters demands.

*Research chimps may be headed from lab to leisure,

© Huffygirl 2013

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Missing syrup has Canadian Federation in sticky situation

There are some days when the news gods smile on satire writers like me, and today is one of those days. I heard a news story so good that I wish I could say I had made it up. But I can’t because, sadly, it’s all true.

Small maple syrup jug with non-functional loop...

There’s a sticky situation going on for the Quebec Maple Syrup Federation. Yup, Even saying there’s a syrup federation sounds delightfully made up, as if this were OPEC or the Rebel Alliance. But, with syrup going for $1,800 per barrel, or about 13 times the price of a barrel of oil, the maple syrup heist is nothing to laugh at.

You can read the entire story of syrupy intrigue here, but in the meantime here’s the sticky details. Earlier this year an audit of the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve (Yes! There really is a strategic maple syrup reserve!) revealed 6 million pounds of the sweet liquid were missing, replaced by empty barrels or barrels containing water. The investigation eventually led to a tale of skullduggery involving  a leading syrup producer in New Brunswick, Etienne St. Pierre, Jacques Leblond, and a host of others that sound like the extras from Les Misérables.

Fortunately, in the latest development, the thieves have been pancaked, with several arrested and some of the missing syrup recovered. But the drama continues as syrup officials are unsure how sales of the stolen syrup will affect the global syrup market, and concerns from Quebec over continuing control of the syrup cartel.

And we thought nothing interesting was happening in the news this week!

© Huffygirl 2013