Opinion

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

In last week’s column I brought up the topic of Nessler Park’s missing workout stations. As I mentioned then, there were about 6-8 exercise stations scattered along the Rotary Fitness Trail. But suddenly one day while walking the trail, my husband and I noticed they were gone. Vanished. All of them. Overnight.
All that remained were bare patches of dirt about 6’ x 6’, pictured right.
I contacted the city Recreation and Tourism Department to find out what happened. For long-time local residents, this used to be the Parks and Recreation Department. I’m not sure if Recreation and Tourism is even the correct and most up-to-date title, but let’s just go with that for the moment.
A very helpful staff member did some checking for me and gave me an updated report on the who, what, where, how and why of the disappearing workout stations. Good news for those of you who use those exercise areas – the city decided to pull the old equipment and will be replacing it with new workout stations as soon as it quits raining.
A big thank you to whatever city employee/department head okayed this improvement. I’ve seen people using these fitness areas frequently when I’ve been walking the Nessler Park trails. It’s great to see our tax dollars being used for something so positive, and it’s available for use at no cost to anyone visiting Nessler Park.
Now if the city of Texas City could just get it to quit raining so this new equipment could be installed … Most of Galveston County has had more than its share of precipitation in recent weeks. I think, at least for the moment, that the drought is over in our area. So those of you who have been praying for rain might want to ease up on those prayers for just a while, and anyone doing a rain dance might also want to give it a rest.
As I’m writing this column, it’s Sunday evening, and it’s thundering and raining outside. Enough already! Our street, on the north side of Texas City, keeps flooding curb to curb, which it almost never does. Our back yard has standing water in several areas, also something that rarely occurs.
We may not have to have restrictions put on the use of water this summer. As it is now, no one can mow a lawn without the mower sinking into the mud. My potted plants need water wings. On the bright side, though, everyone’s lawn is green, not brown, a wonderful improvement over last year.
Unfortunately, all this unexpected rain means the city of Texas City will have to put those wonderful new workout stations on hold, probably for a few weeks. The ground is pretty saturated at the park at the moment, making installation impossible.
Until things dry out, the only use I can think of for those water-logged areas would be mud wrestling pits.
And that is definitely not a pretty picture.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

It’s time for one of those columns again – the ones that are great examples of where the title “This ’n’ That” originated.
A lot of writers call these “roundup” columns. This is where we round up all those unrelated little sticky notes and stray bits of paper that cover our desks, duct-tape them together (electronically speaking) and call them a column.
In other words, I’ve just decided to clear off my desk.
In doing so, I found a really cool sentiment I saw on the signboard at First Christian church in Texas City. (They have some great messages.)
This one, from at least a few months ago, proclaimed: “Life has no remote – Get up and change it yourself!” There should be a T-shirt that says that.
Speaking of T-shirts (you saw this one coming, right?), here are a few gems that I didn’t have space for in an earlier column.
This one is perfect for me. It states unequivocally: “I suffer from OCD. Obsessive Cat Disorder.”
They got that right.
Here’s another shirt for those times when you are just a bit past your limit: “Sometimes I question my sanity. Occasionally it replies.” Scary but true.
This one isn’t very tactful but there are times when it probably says it all for you: “I’ll TRY to be nicer if you try to be smarter.”
If you have days when you’re feeling just a bit older than you would like to be, here’s your shirt: “Young at heart … slightly older in other places.”
For all you teachers out there who give so much to the students you work with: “I’m not crazy because I teach. I’m crazy because I like it.”
As always, I’ve saved my favorite for last – because it’s my column, I write it and I get to make these big decisions. This column’s winning T-shirt says: “People said ‘follow your dreams’ so I went back to bed.”
Next up, where did they go? This week’s pressing question concerns Texas City’s Nessler Park. For many years, it has had a variety of exercise stations where local citizens could get a nice workout climbing ropes, doing chin-ups, sit-ups and other fitness activities.
Not anymore. My husband and I went for our daily walk one afternoon and the fitness stations were in their usual locations. The next day they were gone.
Vanished. Beamed up by the mother ship?
Now all that remains are large, dug-out squares of dirt. No signs showing how to work out, no landscape timbers to keep the dirt filler in and – sometimes – the weeds out.
Zip, zilch, nada.
I can’t remember how many workout stations there were, but I think there were between six and eight. I’ll guesstimate that the space they each took up was about 6ft x 6ft.
Whoever removed them worked fast. They were there one day and gone the next.
So the big question for this week is really three questions – who removed them, why did they do that and are they going to be replaced?
The stations were scattered along the Rotary Club fitness trail built back in the 1980s. At some point there were quite a few more, but they too were removed – and never replaced. Let’s hope that isn’t going to happen again.
By the time you read this, I hope to have gotten the answers to my questions. If I do, I’ll report back to you here on “the case of the disappearing workout stations”.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

Have you had that nasty respiratory bug that’s going around Galveston County? OK, please don’t all answer at the same time, or it will be deafening.
How do you know if you had the particular ailment I’m talking about? Well, let me describe the most common symptoms, then you decide.
When it struck our home, my husband and I both had super-bad sore throats. After a few days, our throats got better but, by then, we were suffering from what felt like the sinus infection from hell, complete with headaches, sneezing and a very annoying post-nasal drip.
As they say on those TV infomercials: “But wait – there’s more!”
After another few days, we developed racking, croup-like coughs that went on and on and on. At the end of the first week, my husband went to the doctor. He was diagnosed with an infection and given a prescription for antibiotics. He started getting better but it took two weeks to get back to feeling semi-well. I decided to go the same route and, by the end of two weeks, I also was much improved.
The cough by now had become
a dry cough and that held on for two more weeks.
During the month of March, through which we sneezed, coughed and ached our way, several of our friends suffered from what sounded like the same ailment. I heard about at least two people who wound up with pneumonia and about another with strep throat.
Our local weather during the month didn’t help much. One day was warm, the next was chilly, then it turned rainy – well, you probably remember as well as I do.

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I never did find out if this mysterious infection was contagious or not. My personal opinion was that it was like some kind of pulmonary version of a zombie apocalypse.
To quote my favorite character, Rick Grimes, who has just finished his fifth season on The Walking Dead: “We are all infected.” I think that pretty well sums up up this miserable ailment.
My only words of advice on dealing with it are to avoid other people, see your doctor ASAP if it strikes you and buy stock in a pharmaceutical company that manufactures cough drops.
My spouse and I alone have probably used more than 100 of these palliatives. We don’t go anywhere without them because, once we start coughing, that’s all that will stop it. Believe me, you don’t want to go anywhere in public without these health aids.
Our coughing fits sound like a cross between tuberculosis and whooping cough. It is definitely not pretty. Everyone I know who’s had this illness sounds exactly like we do. Barking seals are quieter than that.
All I can hope is that the recent milder, dryer weather will knock out whatever this thing is.
And, by the way, to any of you who are addicted – like me – to The Walking Dead, which is now between seasons and won’t return until October, be brave. It’s not easy to go cold turkey on this amazing AMC-TV show.
Sunday nights will be bleak for the next six months, so starting local therapy groups might be a good idea. We could band together and discuss why Morgan is back in the storyline, whether Rick’s group will take over Alexandria by force and which beloved character will be the next one killed off, just for starters.
Try to remember that, when it comes to being addicted to this series, we are all infected.

This ‘n’ That

Delang, Nicki Nicky De Lange

Recently, as I was hanging up on my fourth robocall of the day, I found myself wondering why, in this day of highly advanced technology, no one seems able to successfully block out unwanted, unsolicited nuisance calls.
Remember years ago when all of us were encouraged to list our names with a “don’t call” agency in order to keep sales people and other pests from interrupting our lives? I bet you signed up for it. I know I did.
And as we all know – much to our regret – this solution is not working. My land line averages at least three calls a day from people trying to sell me home security systems, protection for my credit cards and emergency alert gadgets (you know: the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” thing you wear around your neck).
And the calls just keep on rolling in.
The biggest aggravation for me is that we can’t screen out political calls. In the past few years I have hung up on robocalls from everyone from local candidates to President Obama himself. And what makes it especially annoying is that you can’t vent your feelings on anyone because you’re listening to a recording.
I can’t help wondering how some of these politicos would like it if we all called them at home to tell them why we aren’t voting for them …

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On those rare occasions when a real human being calls to promote a candidate, I always reply, “I don’t like anyone who is running, and I’m going to put down Kinky Friedman as a write-in candidate.” This usually stuns them, and I disconnect the call with a smile on my face.
And then there are the charities, which also can’t be blocked. Why can’t they be limited to snail mail only? Think of how much that would increase the profits of our postal system. And no matter how noble their causes might be, do they really think I’m going to donate to them every every time they dial my number?
Last but definitely not least are the robocalls from scam artists. My current favorite call is one I refer to as “the crooks.” They want to offer me credit card protection. Oh, please, … someone needs to protect all of us from these slick con artists.
Some days, when I feel like having fun, I listen to the message and then press “1” to be connected to a “representative.” I listen to the beginning of the spiel, then start asking inconvenient questions they don’t want to answer. Inevitably they hang up on me.
What I really want to know, however, is how come our amazing advances in technology can make an iPhone into a wrist watch but can’t devise a program that can successfully block robocalls? That might be one of the best inventions ever, coming right after air conditioning and indoor plumbing.