Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What to do if abducted by a UFO while on vacation

1. Keep your passport with you at all times.

2. Bring along a small inflatable pillow for your added comfort.

3. Dress in layers. At the time of the abduction, you'll probably be wearing pajamas, so grab a sweater and raincoat. Substitute comfy shoes for slippers.

4. Be a smart traveler. Check your purse or backpack for your sewing kit, Swiss army knife, camera with extra film and a postcard showing the name of your hotel. Remember your motion sickness pills - a must for any space traveler.

5. Ask the aliens about the weather where you're going. If still uncertain, bring both an umbrella and sun screen (minimum 15 SPF).

6. Call the hotel's front desk and cancel your early morning wake-up call.

7. Put your room key/card in your shoe to keep your hands free. (Always beware of pickpockets.)

8. Not knowing what sanitary facilities you might find at your surprise destination, a roll of toilet paper is a must to carry along on your journey.

9. Always have a few snacks with you - such as mints, nuts and fruit. Don't forget a bottle of water.

10. If this is to be your last night in the hotel, be very specific with the aliens about your check-out time.


Visit Roberta's Cat Lady blog

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Toothpaste Wars

When your shampoo is gone, it‘s gone. You can maybe trick it into one final watered-down curtain call by filling the bottle halfway with water and shaking. The results won‘t be appealing. Then that‘s it. The end of the bottle. That shampoo is out of your hair, your life - forever.

A tube of toothpaste refuses to finish. You squeeze it as flat as you can, only to discover there‘s at least three weeks‘ supply hiding under the cap. Toothpaste simply won‘t go away. The very morning you feel the urge to discard the tube, you can feel the contents inching its way around. So back to the medicine cabinet shelf the tube goes. There‘s an unwritten law stating you can‘t throw toothpaste away until it‘s empty.

And it rarely is. Hey, you bought it, it‘s yours. For life.

Chances are you've already noticed this, but all tubes of toothpaste contain the same quantity, regardless if marked “medium“ or “jumbo.“ This is a trick on the consumer and there‘s no way around it even if you decide to change brands or flavors.

Here are some possible ways to flatten a tube (with expected results indicated):
- Jump on it (poor results)
- Whack it with a hammer (not much better)
- Sit on it (not recommended)
- Tape it to the bottom of one of your shoes when you go jogging (as good as it gets).

The problem, of course, is even when the tube gets flattened to varying degrees, the toothpaste is still in there - waiting for you. Calling out your name.

I bought bubble gum flavored toothpaste by mistake, because it was in the display row where the mint stuff usually is. I‘ve been using this tube twice a day for 28 months and there‘s no end in sight. I've done everything but flatten it with a rolling pin, which is next on my attack list. (I realize the odds are against me.)

As always, toothpaste triumphs.


Roberta Beach Jacobson (a.k.a. The Cat Lady) is an American humorist and author. In 1974, she left suburban Chicago to explore Europe. For all of these years, she's been wandering around, map in hand, scratching her head. Can someone out there please give her directions? She makes her home in a mountainous village on a tiny Greek island. It's the sort of remote spot where animals outnumber people, although some of the animals weren't actually invited.

Follow her Cat Lady blog:

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Lies we all tell our dogs

Anyone who shares a home with a pooch understands patience is a top priority (and a sense of humor doesn't hurt either). To keep our canines content (and ourselves sane), we sometimes find ourselves bending the truth just a little.

Admit it, at times we've all been guilty. Here are examples of some half-truths we tell our dogs:

1. Bath day? No, we just want to take your collar off for a while.

2. I didn't clear out any of your old bones from behind the sofa. You must have moved them yourself.

3. Time to go out for a walk. You won't even notice the hailstorm.

4. No, we're not taking you to the vet. We're just going for a little ride in the car.

5. Stop complaining. Your doggy basket is every bit as comfy as our bed.

6. Must be your imagination. Who'd mix in vegetables with your dinner? Vitamins? Where'd you get the silly idea you have doggy vitamins hidden in your food?

7. An old sock is just as good a birthday present as an expensive dog toy from the pet shop.

8. It's exactly the same as before; your dog pillow didn't shrink in the wash.

9. I'm sure some beast didn't come into our yard during the night and steal your favorite squeaky toy. Don't worry - we'll find it.

10. What a beautiful doggy sweater Grandma knitted for you. I'm sure you'll be proud to wear it around the neighborhood.

11. Your new haircut looks even to me.

Monday, March 10, 2008

No need to count calories in Athens

Face it, it's easy to lose weight when you make your home in Athens, Greece. It can't be avoided. After you've huffed and puffed your way up to the Acropolis a couple of times, you've dropped at least three pounds.

Greeks love application forms and you get the benefit of shedding calories filling out forms for various authorities. You've completed paperwork for your residence permit and then hiked back there six months later for a renewal. You've been a regular on the work permit treadmill ever since your arrival - after finding out which address to go to. It took you two months to locate the right agency, the right building, the right department, the right desk. By the time you signed on the dotted line, not only were you entwined in red tape but you'd dropped another five pounds.

Every expatriate falls into a routine. Yours, every Friday morning since moving to the Greek capital, has been to dash over to the post office to ask if any post boxes are available yet.

The answer is always, “No. Try again later,” followed by a don't-take-it-personally shrug.

One Friday you find the post office door shut. They're on strike, the sign informs you. OK, no problem, you power-walk to your office, maintaining your cool. The work day seems endless, but finally you're set free for the weekend

You open the door to your apartment, knowing a home-cooked dinner will boost your spirits. You try to switch on the light and discover the electricity is out. Again. Forget coffee. Forget frying the lamb chops or boiling the potatoes. Another couple of pounds gone.

You amuse yourself Saturday morning by mingling with the tourists, examining the piles of rocks and rubble of the various archaeological sites around the city. As you clock in block after block, kilometer after kilometer, the inches are sliding off your thighs. The city buses are overflowing and taxis won't even slow down for red lights. You have to hike.

You're being treated to an average of 13.5 hours of sunshine every day in the Greek capital. Ouch! The sunburn keeps you awake. You pace around your bedroom and the calories continue to melt away the rest of the weekend.

When Monday arrives, you're groggy from lack of sleep. Stopping by the post office on your lunch break, you're surprised to finally be handed the key to your new post office box. Congratulations, they only kept you waiting seven months. Must be your lucky day.

You test your good fortune. After work you decide to do banking. Maybe they've finally set up the automatic debit for your telephone bill that you applied for weeks ago. The bank is not exactly a hop, skip and a jump away, but you go for it.

Oddly, you find the door locked. No sign either. A kindly passerby tells you they're striking. Does anything in this city function? You're an intelligent expat, so you don't blow your cool. With the agility of an Olympic hopeful, down the steps to the subway you fly. Exactly 341 steps, you've verified it many times. No pain, no gain.

Your jeans are starting to feel too large for your frame. You must have dropped half-a-dozen pounds just the past week. Your legs ache as if you're competing in a marathon, but still you must shop for dinner. You go into 14 grocery stores to locate the few six items on your list. One shop is sold out of butter, another has no tomatoes. In another they seem to have nothing at all. You're burning calories faster than you can possibly replace them. Your jeans start to inch their way downward.

Face it, none of your clothes fit properly anymore. By the time you raise your glass of ouzo to celebrate your first anniversary of living in Athens, you'll be half the woman you were when you arrived.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

New York Toxicology experts determined that collective damage from New York neighborhood farting was a far more serious threat than the possibility of airborne asbestos from last’s weeks steam pipe explosion.
"Yes, the explosion was frightening, and brought back memories of 911, but thankfully, there was no terrorism link. We are hoping for a complete recovery for the victims of this unfortunate event," said a spokesperson from the New York Mayor’s office.
"We are focusing our attention on conventional sources of pollution that are part of the city back ground ‘noise’ because our sensors are registering no new pollutants," he continued. "People get used to their neighborhood smell, then panic in a crises, and don’t realize that it is the same old armpit that they have been sleeping with for years"

Monday, July 16, 2007

British Fashion Police ask for Andrei Lugovoi’s immediate extradition from Russia.

"While it is bad enough that he dribbled radioactive Polonium-210 all across Europe and the UK before he got it into Letvinenko’s tea," said Britain’s MK5 ‘s fashionista department, " His suit and tie is a far worse offense, and should be shot on sight, without a trial. How unfortunate that Lugovoi may still be wearing the suit when it happens."
Russian authorities took immediate offense. "Extradition is not possible under our constitution, no matter how badly our citizens dress. Our billionaire oligarchs have no better taste in suits than Lugovoi."
"Admittedly," they added, "His look would have pulled together better if his tie had matched the striped orange and white traffic cone behind him in the photo".

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Crackle, of the Famed Trio Snap, Crackle and Pop, Dies

Crackle, of the famed trio that graced Rice Krispie boxes for decades, has passed away, a company spokesman said today.

Crackle, born in 1932 as Willie "Crackle" Finsterbottom, was drawn to the field of cereal advertising and entertainment by his great uncle, the legendary "Poppin' Oats Otis".

It wasn't long before Crackle met the men he would spend the next several decades working with--Ernest "Snap" Williamson and Franklin "Pop" Zander--in a Brooklyn bread line.

Though Crackle's career was a brilliant and lengthy one, it was not without it's troubles. In 1949, a brief but torrid affair with Maxine Andrews of The Andrews Sisters, ended, causing Crackle to sink into a deep depression, followed by repeated attempts to take his own life by tying a lug nut to his foot and jumping into a bowl of milk.

Saved on several occasions by Snap and Pop, Crackle sought counselling and was soon back to his old self, spending many ensuing years honing his craft.

Following a tumultuous three-month marriage to actress Liz Taylor in the late 60's, Crackle sought meaning in several different religions. A brief stint in the Manson Family, along with dabbling in black magic and voodoo, nearly cost Crackle his job with Kellogg's, but company executives decided to give him a second chance.

Many also remember Snap, Crackle, and Pop's legendary appearance at Woodstock, an event marred after Snap ingested, against all advice, the "brown acid". He then climbed the scaffolding, removed his clothes, and went off on a profanity-laced diatribe against the Vietnam War and President Nixon.

Ever the seeker, in later years, Crackle embraced Scientology, which he admits he joined only to get to meet Tom Cruise, then later the Raelian Cult, and most recently the Reverend Moon's "Unity of Sciences" group.

Kellogg's has announced the team will continue on, with comedian Pauly Shore taking the place of the late breakfast legend.

"We're confident the team of 'Snap, Pop, and Shore' will be a big hit with the breakfast consumer", said Kellogg spokesman Bernie Rankmiddle.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but it is expected that pallbearers will include Snap, Pop, Sneezy from the Seven Dwarfs, a life-long friend of Crackle, and Gary Coleman, who just wants the publicity.

He is survived by a wife, and the undying love of his millions of fans.

Friday, June 29, 2007

George Will to Publish Book of Children's Stories

Conservative commentator and author George Will has announced that he is in the midst of publishing a book of classic children's stories.

The Book, "Fable Truncation," will feature Will's brief yet brilliant interpretation of many classic children's stories, including "The Three Little Pigs":

"In summation, two of three diminutive quadrupeds and their architecturally inadequate homes succumb to excessive Canis lupis exhalation, but escape ingurgitation after cohabitating with a contemporary possessive of a structurally sound dwelling."

And what child won't be lost in wonderment after reading Will's take on Alice in Wonderland:

"It is not an abject certainty, but the likelihood that Alice was delusional must be reconnoitered as a plausible assumption. Any other verisimilitude would represent an atypical discovery."

The book will include Will's take on 20 children's classics. According to Will, "Concerning the parturiency of my omnibus, I am sanguine that fledgling homosapiens will procure interest in my extrapolation of lore handed down by progenitors for the apocryphal beguilement of their lineage."

Will's publisher, Don Truscott, president of "Chapter Eleven" books, said, "You heard what George said...this book is going to sell itself!"

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lobster Shorts

The clothing on display in the store window on the small island appeared to be perfectly normal, no hint of anything amiss. What did I know about buying shorts in Greece? Nothing.

I had to play this one by ear. Stay cool. Waltz in. Pretend you know what you're doing. Upon examining the label, I learned the shorts were one-hundred percent cotton. Perfect start. I liked the price, too. Available in S, M, L and XL. That made sense to me, no confusing numbers to deal with.

So far, so good. I suspected I was on a roll, but before I could celebrate trouble set in. Unisex trouble.

From the metal display bin, I selected surfer shorts in red and khaki, size L, and headed in the direction of the fitting room the woman at the cash register pointed out to me. It was really nothing more than a cluttered-up closet with a tattered pull-curtain that had seen better days. Buying shorts couldn‘t be too complicated for a wise traveler such as myself.

I eyed my image through the dust in the cracked mirror. The elastic felt correct around my waist, but there appeared to be some extra baggage. Suddenly I looked seven months pregnant, although the front pouch was actually filled with nothing but air.

“Excuse me,“ I called out to the saleswoman. “Are you sure these red shorts are unisex? The sign in the window said unisex. So what‘s with this pouch-thing?“ I stepped out from behind the curtain.

The saleswoman was attentive and immediately came to my rescue. “Good fit, yes, yes,” she called out. “Nice color, misses. Pretty red, no?“

Did this woman not see the front panel flapping in the wind? I could have inflated a fair-sized beach ball and stuffed it in the shorts. “The colors are great,” I assured her. “No problem. Look, I understand about unisex men, but what do unisex women need with this extra front part?“ I asked her as I breezed over to her counter and modeled the offending shorts for her.

She didn't comprehend. She smiled her approval, oblivious to my unisex challenge.

I was starting to feel gender-challenged. I‘m the first to admit I‘ve worn some pretty dirty, mismatched, wrinkled, ripped or sandy clothing hopping around the Greek islands. I‘ve paraded around in broken sandals repaired with rubber bands and I‘ve worn my underpants inside-out on occasion. I‘ve gone four or five days wearing the same bra, unwashed. I wasn‘t looking to
enter any beauty contests on the island‘s beaches. But these shorts appeared likely to catch a gust of wind that would send me sailing above the trees like a kite. This was in the middle of Meltemi season, when the wind could easily top seven on the Beaufort scale. These shorts placed me in the danger zone.

Determined to win the battle of the bulge, I returned to the privacy of my dressing room and secured the curtain. Next I tried on the khaki shorts. Same result. The shorts were begging to be inflated with a bicycle pump.

Always inventive, I tried them on backwards, the rope-tie of the waist looking ridiculously out-of-place. My derriere was not the answer to this Greek fashion challenge.

I called out to the saleswoman to ask if the island had an alternations shop. I could have guessed her answer.


Why would an island with no bank, no movie theater, no bus system and no international newsagent have a tailor shop? On my second day I‘d found out there was no optician either. I'd repaired my glasses myself when a screw fell out, using a paper clip.

Looking in the mirror again, I recalled how, on the ferry the previous week, several of my fellow passengers had looked incredulous and asked me, “You say you‘re going where?“

Unsure what to do, I put on the red shorts again. I could hear other tourists out there waiting for the dressing room. I stared at my unnaturally ballooned shape, trying to dream up a solution. Maybe I could stuff something in there to fill the empty cavity. What did I have with me that would fit? The space was too large for a bandana, too small for my backpack. I could think of nothing else, except maybe my lobster dinner from the previous night.

I‘d been in the stuffy closet for about 15 minutes and knew I had to rush out of there so someone else could have a chance to spend some vacation cash. In a last ditch attempt, I removed one of the rubber bands from my sandal, gathered a generous handful of excess red material from my front and affixed the rubber band, creating a faux penis. In female terms, I likened it to a pony tail growing from my front, pointing me in the right direction. Critically I examined my image in the mirror. Was this the way I wanted to spend the rest of my Greek vacation? Pony-tailed?

Why not? I'd triumphed over the battle of the flapping cotton bulge. Color me one intelligent, unisex-savvy traveler.

- by Roberta Beach Jacobson (

China's Food Supply in a Pickle

Exploding pickles from China were turned back by United States custom officials on Wednesday, when the pickles shot out of the jar and then exploded into star shaped bursts of green pickle goo when the custom officials opened a jar for inspection. The pickles, packaged under a ‘Fourth of July" label, were traced to a fireworks factory in China.

"We were just trying to diversify", said the factory owner as he was being led away to be shot, "Chinese New Year only comes once a year, and fireworks sales have been slow".