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Columns | "A Balloon In Cactus"

Shrinking the News

by Maggie Van Ostrand
Maggie Van Ostrand

I was born and raised in New York City where the outside world was the distance between the door and a cab. So why would I be interested in the outside world with people and places whose names I canít pronounce, marauding tanks, beheadings, suicide bombings, and assassinations? I donít want to become inured to horrors. The only Middle East Iím interested in is our middle east, you know, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky. Like that.

So o.k. Iíll limit my information intake to the United States. What do I get? Fear-mongering politicians, greedy lobbyists, and a mind-boggling Congressional lack of common sense. We have loser politicians trying to get reelected instead of arrested, athletes whoíd never make it without dope, decisions handed down by Supreme Court that seem anti-American, guns blasting innocent people, power-hungry fat cats with bad hair cuts buying media and politicians, and news cycles that repeat the same story until you want to scream for relief.

So o.k. Iíll limit my information intake to the small town I live in. What are they talking about at the Post Office? Theyíre talking about an earwig coming out of someoneís cell phone into their ear, about a guy who licked an envelope flap only to find a cockroach on his tongue, and how come we have to print envelopes because mailmen can't read handwriting anymore. Swell. What happened to the good old days where post office entertainment was shaking all the packages to see if we could guess the contents.

So o.k. Iíll limit my information intake to my own home. The cable went out, the Automatic Sprinkler System has gone on strike, my new laptop is dyslexic so ďSaveĒ means ďDelete,Ē and my printer passed away yesterday. The toilet is backed up and, like Ensign Pulver in "Mister Roberts," the washing machine is spewing soapy water everywhere. I actually remember when products were manufactured here in the U.S. of A. and lasted a lifetime without destroying the home they were berthed in.

So o.k. Now I have to shrink into my own head, a good time to ponder things, like Why are they called Flemish painters when thereís no country named Flem? Did Adam really even like the nagging Eve? Why do TV commercials always tell us how little insurance policies cost yet never tell us if they pay your claim? Why donít schools teach how stupid Custer really was? Why donít mattress stores just lower their prices and skip Holiday Sales? Why do we have so many silly studies? (One of them discovered that dog fleas jump higher than cat fleas. It won a Nobel Prize.) Another study finds that not sleeping well makes you look tired the next day.

That's as far as I was able to shrink the news. Iíd just about given up on ever feeling happy again when the car I was behind had a bumper sticker: "Jesus is coming. Look busy."

Life is good again.



Copyright Maggie Van Ostrand
"A Balloon In Cactus"
August 19, 2014 column
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