Tag Archives: Christmas

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE: presents for people who attract obnoxious swarms of biting, stinging and irksome insects

QUESTION: What gift could you possible get for a friend or relative who attracts obnoxious swarms of biting, stinging and irksome insects?

ANSWER:  Hair.

Seriously?  Seriously.  Nearly a year ago, the media was reporting that nurses stationed at hospitals in Auckland, New Zealand, were being attacked by swarms of biting insects.  The nurses reportedly resorted to wearing flea collars around their ankles to protect themselves from infestations at the hospitals.  These flea collars were, however, designed for use by dogs, cats and other pets, and they therefore contained toxins and other harmful chemicals that could prove dangerous to humans.  At least one hospital therefore suggested that its staff consider using electronic flea collars, which are apparently a more appropriate, dignified and stylish alternative.

Ecolab, the company responsible for pest management at most hospitals in Auckland, essentially dismissed the claims.  It reportedly explained that the irritations suffered by nurses may not be caused by real insects but instead could be caused by imaginary bugs.  The company also allegedly theorized that marks on the skin that resemble insect bites may actually be caused by static electricity.

That’s right: schooled, trained and licensed medical professionals entrusted to save human lives were now unable to differentiate between swarms of biting insects and the type of electric shock you receive when you touch a doorknob after scuttling around in socks.

Well, static electricity is apparently contagious.  Employees at the largest casino in Auckland later complained that they were also suffering from similar attacks from swarms of insec…. er…  electric shocks.  They also began wearing flea collars around their ankles to protect themselves from bites… uh… electric shocks.  Not surprisingly, the casino’s management allegedly dismissed the claims.  A spokesperson for the casino reportedlyexplained that

[m]ost large carpeted buildings that are frequented by the public encounter some degree of an issue with biting insects…  We have thorough proactive pest control measures in place and are confident that we are providing a safe and healthy facility for our staff and customers.

It also represented that the casino’s carpeted floors are cleaned on a daily basis and that it was not aware of any problems with biting insects.  The explanation fails to account for the reason that SkyCity Casino provided insect repellant to its staff.

Credit a group of scientists with a recent discovery that may serve as a more practical means for combating the infestations than insect repellant and flea anklets. According to a recent report in Biology Letters, a bi-monthly publication that purports to carry cutting-edge research articles, ectoparasites – the technical name for bedbugs – can be thwarted by hair.  The report was submitted by a team of scientists from Sheffield, England, that conducted an experiment that revealed that bedbugs placed on shaved arms were more likely to attack than bedbugs placed on unshaved arms.  They theorized that body hair slowed attacks by bedbugs because the bedbugs were unable to find an appropriate location to feast.

This discovery may not lead to a perfect or ideal solution, simply because the experiment was limited to attacks by bedbugs and not swarms of other nagging insects.  At the very least, though, the recent revelation offers hope and promise to the victims during the forthcoming holiday season.  It’s a Christmas miracle, Charlie Brown!

This little nugget of joy also means that Rogaine has suddenly become a fitting gift for balding friends and relatives.  Your friends and relatives will no longer take offense at the implications; they’ll simply be thankful and appreciative of your kindness and generosity.  They’ll also applaud your gifts of specially formulated shampoos and conditioners designed to stimulate the growth of hair and cutting-edge hair rejuvenation systems.

Want to really splurge on that special someone?  Consider the Hands Free Hair Rejuvenation System that’s now sold at the Sharper Image.  It’s an electric metal hat that resembles some odd combination of a bicycle crash helmet and the robotic maid from the Jetsons.  I’m guessing that it also makes an ideal fashion statement for trendy and stylish recipients.

So.  There you have it.  Any product that purports to stimulate the growth of hair is clearly the most appropriate gift for someone who attracts obnoxious swarms of biting, stinging and irksome insects.  You’ll never disparage late-night infomercials again.

SEASON’S EATINGS: How Santa Claus And An Army Of Elves Have Engaged In A Scheme To Contribute To A National Epidemic

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that childhood obesity affects nearly 17.5% of children and adolescents.  WebMD claims that nearly one in five children are overweight or obese.  The American Academy of Child & Parent Psychiatry estimates that obesity affects between 16% and 33% of children and adolescents.  These rates have increased nearly 300% over the past thirty years.

A number of factors are likely contributing to this epidemic.  The most common reasons, however, appear to be some combination of eating too much, consuming unhealthy foods and exercising too little.

Personally, I blame the elves.  Santa’s elves.

I’m not sure how long it’s been since the little miscreants have actually made toys that were delivered by the jolly fat man in the red suit.  Instead, the only elves that seem to be working are busy whipping up chocolate chip granola fudge bars, double stuffed fudge cookies and jumbo peanut butter fudge sticks.  This isn’t necessarily the most positive trend, because these goodies don’t exactly have the nutritional value of fruits, vegetables, lean meats or any other food commonly associated with positive health.  The little boogers are even rationalizing the presence of trans-fats in many of their recipes:

We are aware of the health concerns regarding trans-fats.  We have invested significant resources to find suitable ingredient replacements to reduce or remove trans-fats from our foods…  This is a challenge to do without impacting taste, texture and freshness. We remain dedicated to achieving this goal in existing products that still contain trans-fats, as well as in any future products we introduce.

The elves need to stop this practice, uphold their end of the bargain and work with their ringleader to simply make toys that will be delivered to children throughout the world.  The problem may be that ‘ol St. Nick isn’t exactly an innocent party, and he instead appears to be conspiring with the elves to perpetuate the scheme.  For example, we’re aware that children have long been encouraged to leave a plate of cookies near the chimney on Christmas Eve.  This is, after all, the season of giving and Santa surely welcomes this snack.  When asked to estimate the number of cookies that he eats, the plump old man admitted that he eats:

Lots and lots. I’m not sure if I can count high enough, but I eat a lot of cookies even though Mrs. Claus says to cut back on the number. Last year I ate so many I felt a little sick because of the sheer number of them, so this year I may eat a little less at each home.

Sometimes kids will also leave some type of healthy snack near the chimney.  Many kids elect to provide carrots, but others leave apples or a different vegetable or fruit.  We all know that this is really a farce.  Santa eats the cookies, but we’re also pretty darn sure that he feeds the healthy food to his pets… er… the reindeer.

Frankly, I’m done with the fat old man and his legion of elves.  I really should have stopped believing some time ago, given that I’m now in my thirties and have already successfully dismissed the Easter Bunny, the Great Pumpkin and other fictional characters.  This, however, is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.  I would therefore strongly suggest that everyone follow suit and emphasize a holiday that is rooted in history, is predicated on real human beings and has national significance.   That’s right – I’m suggesting that we simply flash forward to February and celebrate Presidents Day.  George Washington may not have been the pinnacle of health, but he’s also not likely to contribute to the national obesity epidemic or slide down your chimney and eat your cookies.

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