July 02, 2005

Simple Solutions

I’m not sure I quite understand what all the commotion in the news is about sometimes. It’s not like I’m heartless, or that I don’t give a hoot about people getting hurt, falling ill or dying … I really do give a hoot. It’s just that some of the horrors that befall humanity are simply avoidable. I’d rather spend my worry-tokens on more worthy causes.

Because I still have a smidgeon of faith in my fellow man, I do believe I cannot be the only one who sees these truths. If I’m wrong, please let me know so I can duct tape my house and stay indoors for the remainder of my time.

Let’s take a look at the recent shark attacks in Florida. The first of these two horrific incidents took place when a young teenage boy was fishing, waist-high in the ocean, using live shrimp as bait. Some expert guy with a 70s Afro claimed it was the casting and reeling of said shrimp that attracted the shark in the first place, luring it closer and closer to the boy; in any case, the poor boy was viciously attacked.

The second incident involved a young girl swimming near a school of feeder fish. She was unaware, of course, and as claimed by an expert sporting a crap poor comb-over, was probably seen by the shark as competition, and was attacked and killed.

Pardon the insertion here, but have you ever noticed that all these self-proclaimed “experts” on TV have incredibly laughable hair? No, really. Keep an eye on this strange phenomenon, it’s quite true. It must be a requirement.

Anyway … while watching various eye-witness interviews throughout the day, I noticed people were surprised, agitated and downright frightened by these events. I do understand they are out of the ordinary and most traumatic ~ no doubt about it. But I get a little annoyed when I hear people saying things like “This is so scary, I mean, I have a two year old and I have to really worry about this now,” and “I don’t know what we’re going to do with the kids this summer now, I’m really afraid.” Perhaps “annoyed” isn’t the exact word… it’s more like “confused,” but in an annoyed way.

The thing is, there are some pretty obvious solutions to this dilemma.
I offer the following:
1. For starters, last time I looked, there was no law requiring us to place our two year olds (or any other age for that matter) into the ocean.
2. You can frequent any of the dozens of swimming pools open to the public OR you can enjoy the pool back at the hotel.
3. If you can’t come up with any form of entertainment for your children all summer except ocean swimming, you probably shouldn’t have bred.
4. Land sharks are extinct. They died along with the original Saturday Night Live Show back in the 70s; stay on solid ground and no one’s going to be attacked by a shark.

Of course there’s nothing quite like a swim in the ocean, sea sand mixing between your toes and waves tickling your back or rolling over your hot shoulders ~ and swim to your heart’s content if you aren’t worried to death over the off-chance of such an oddball attack. I’m not addressing the average beachgoer. I’m only addressing the folks who make such a dramatic statement as mentioned above. If it frightens you that much ~ simple solution ~ don’t do it.

Second to this is the bear attack. I’m mainly in reference to the most recent one in Alaska (what a surprise) where the two campers were attacked and killed in their tent, but you can use just about any of the bear attacks we’ve read about in the past 20 years or so; same rule of thumb.

Bears live in the deep woods. They’re wild. They forage to survive. They don’t care if you’re only on their turf to take pretty pictures or even if you’re there in the name of preserving their species. They don’t give a darn if you’re a nature lover or just a recluse. The number of years you’ve dedicated to studying their behavior doesn’t matter to them one iota. Pack up your camping gear, head out to the wilderness (incase you haven’t noticed, the word “wild” is part of wilderness), and pitch a canvas fortress (as if) … carefully store your food in Tupperware and load up your camera … be my guest, as long as you fully understand that you just might end up being lunch. It’s happened before, it will happen again, and again, and again, and again. It will.

Do I take any joy in these horrific stories? Not on your life. Hell, given the opportunity to be interviewed, I’d be the first one making statements like “I’m truly quite concerned about random bear attacks,” but you can bet your sweet bippy that I wouldn’t be lugging a backpack and bedroll while I’m saying it.

Simple solutions, people. If something scares the ever loving wits out of you, and that “something” is fairly territorial, just stay the hell out of its territory. If it just kinda gives you the creeps but you’re up for the challenge, go for it, by all means.

There are plenty of things in this life worthy of getting wrinkles or raising the blood pressure about; things that are completely unavoidable. It just slays me when people can’t distinguish these things from stuff like shark and bear attacks.


Blogger Alisa said...

I really shouldn't make light of such a tragic incident but the surfer that assisted getting the girl who was attacked by a bull shark out of the water just made my day when he boldly stated, "That shark kept coming back. He really wanted to finish his lunch"

No truer statement of observation has been made by anyone to the media in regard to animal behavior.

We live in a bubble where we assume we're the dominant species and when that bubble is poked or prodded at by nature, it seems to cause a widespread panic.

Good point in your post WH! ... let's not forget that they (animals) are bigger, more focused, possess sharper teeth, more speed and greater strength.

10:51 AM  
Blogger vtpats said...

It's the brain that makes us the dominant species, not the brawn. Suppose I go camping in said bears territory. Suppose I bring my camera, and my canvas tent and my tupperware food container. Suppose I also bring an elephant gun. Mind you, I'm not hunting, I'm just being cautious. Now if Smokey decides I'm lunch, my elephant gun will say otherwise. Man has the ability to use their brain and overcome those creatures who happen to be more powerful, more focused, etc... It would seem that most forgot their brain existed many moons ago. FWIW.... I won't step foot in an ocean. Sharks scare the hell out of me!

11:31 AM  
Blogger frustratedwriter said...

My last ocean swimming experience ended with a rather large form swimming by me. Never knew what it was except it was big. I carefully made it back to shore and have kept my deep water experiences limited to the inside of a boat.

I do take issue with you over the "land shark" comment. Lawyers still walk this earth, don't they? They are a really vicious breed seeking to devour anything that moves...

1:39 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Great post WH! vtpats has a good point, but one problem with shooting the bear is that some looney tree hugger group or the Fed will sue you for it, even though you were simply defending your very life.

Common sense went out the window for too many people many years ago....

1:43 PM  
Blogger blue2go said...

Another great, thought-provoking and interesting post! I agree with John that common sense has long gone from the media and (some) hysterical people who over-react to news stories like the ones you've mentioned. Is is that people watch too many cartoons with the cute little animals? Even a "Bambi" can be a force to reckon with, as my experience with the mean deer has proved!

1:53 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...


Excellent post! It's not making light of the incidents, just the people who don't put the recent events into perspective.

I laughed out loud at the "land sharks are extinct."

Great writing, as always.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Wicked H said...

Great post! I can't find one item in your post to disagree with. If everyone used more common sense, life would be a bit less complicated. Of course, we would have to inject people with common sense.

I can supply the syringes. Who is up for it?

4:57 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

You make an excellent point.

"you can bet your sweet bippy that I wouldn’t be lugging a backpack and bedroll while I’m saying it" had a good laugh at that.

Geez, you make so much sense, I wish you'd blog more often, I love reading you and it would help sort out some of my confused life lol

6:12 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

Thanks for deciding to write, instead of just read, Carol. This is an excellent post; so well written and wryly funny. I love the bit about bad hair being a prerequisite to experts. Too funny, and I love remembering the phrase "you bet your sweet bippy"!

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Carol, wow! you are a passionate writer! thats awsome and i think i have a whole new respect for you now! i really enjoy working with you and i hope that we share great memories in reservations!

-Stephen (not a V lol)

8:20 PM  
Blogger psuche said...

Hi Carol :)

I don't watch or listen to the news because things like shark attacks are so rare (how many people have been in the ocean since even the first of the year?) that one incident doesn't mean that it is an epidemic or something. News is national and there are hundreds of millions of people out there in the US alone (doing stupid things a lot I might add) and we only hear about one or two a day.

I say let Darwin take care of them. If they don't think before they act then we are better off as a species. Weed out the weak (minded)!


11:59 PM  
Blogger Lyvvie said...

See, now, I don't get the chance to read many newspapers these days, and I admit, I don't click the news websites. It is all depressing or shocking, more shocking because; are people in this world really that dumb or insane or maniaclly devoted to whatever makes them dumb or insane?

They say ignorance is is bliss and, damn, I really need some bliss!

I keep my kids out of the ocean for their health, it's cold, full of sharp and nasty shells (and I mean full, the beach is all *crunch* *crunch* *crunch*) and they do dump sewerage in there. Pools are great. I ignore the pee. Ignorance is bliss.

5:11 AM  
Blogger Johnny Virgil said...

I have no beef with what you said. I scuba dive, and I'm fully aware of the risks...don't really care for sharks, but I try not to do stuff that makes them want to eat me.

7:16 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

By all means, stay in touch with Marilyn. It is wonderful to have old friends contact you via email or other means. I've had 2 women from grade school to find me that way - and it is so nice to be remembered. I was also found by a guy I met in Michigan one summer - and he is an idiot! That was not so fun.

9:25 AM  
Blogger dbdoberman said...

Good points, all of them. Sharks, bears, etc., are not hell-bent on finding humans to maul or have for dinner, we put ourselves in their way. Gee, then they act like the wild animals they are, and sometimes follow through with what is their normal behavior. Of course, the media adds to the horrific, nightmarish quality of it all, and then you have a bunch of panicked people. I get annoyed about the coverage of shark attacks, because I think they are beautiful animals, who know their place in the ecological heirachy -- it is humans who have a hard time with that one.

Good job.

1:14 PM  
Blogger Rob Seifert said...

I'm amazed that more people don't think like you. People that live on the side of an active volcano or in an earthquake prone area should not bitch if they get roasted or if a building falls on their heads. The same thing goes for people who elect to ride motorcycles, bungie jump, sky dive, swim with sharks, or sleep with lions, tigers, or bears. Well that's enough for now. I'm planning a motorcycle/camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. Now how can I get my canvas fortress on the back of the bike...


5:58 PM  
Blogger Raehan said...

You make perfect sense. I'm a wimp and am staying away from real swimming in the ocean--good or bad.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Carol you are spot on! We have signs on all our beaches here about jellyfish, only swim in the nets etc, yet people still swim outside the nets and wonder wtf the get stung!!
We also have signs near many of our boat ramps about crocodiles "Don't swim here DANGER/ACHTUNG"..crocodiles live in these waters.....DUHH..people still swim there, and get eaten....unbelieveable!
It's their habitat we humans invade, not the other way round...drives me mental!
Great post Carol.

9:05 PM  
Blogger lilly05 said...

Hello Carol, I was directed to your blog by RCS and have thouroughly enjoyed your posts. This last one reminded me of a sign I read in Red River, New Mexico it went a something like this: Hikers/Campers beware this area is known for its populations of Black Bears and Grizzly bears, when camping or hiking be aware of your surroundings and ALWAYS carry pepper spray. It is also a good idea to wear small bells tied either to your clothes or to your backpacks so as to not take the bears by surprise. When hiking it is also wise to know the difference between the droppings of the two kinds of bears, the black bears droppings will contain berry seeds twigs and the fur of small mammals.....the grizzly bears droppings will frequently contain numerous small bells and smell strongly of pepper...

Some funny stuff, I tell ya! keep up the great writing!

3:40 AM  
Blogger dan said...

This is no joke Carol, I was walking by the canal a week or so a go and I got attacked by a swan protecting its young.

I learnt an important lesson that day.

We all know about sharks nad bears, but I tell you all, swans are evil gits when they want to be.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Hick said...

Speaking of bad comb-overs, do you ever wonder what those guys look like when they get out of bed in the morning? One side of their otherwise bald head has hair hanging down to their elbow. The other side trimmed short and neat.

Jazz the Wonderdog chased a black bear up a tree in front of our cabin when we were up at Lake Tahoe in November. Stupid people feed the bears and then they (the bears...not the stupid people) feel free to roam around residential areas looking for more food. Wait...I take that back...the stupid people roam around here too.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Sask 1 said...

You make a good point Carol.I did read a little about those shark attacks on the internet.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been meaning to try shark for a while now. I hear it's good. Let the tables turn!

5:37 PM  
Blogger Floridacracker said...

I enjoyed your post. I surf-fish with shrimp in my pocket, surf, snorkel, and SCUBA dive in the ocean AND am raising 3 kids to do the same. In doing these activities, the most dangerous thing we do is get in the car and drive to the ocean. Over this holiday weekend in Florida. probably dozens of people will die on the highways, yet the TV news will not run contiuous stories about these automotive tragedies. No bad hair highway safety experts will be called in for interviews. It will barely be mentioned.
So for me, I will take the ocean and it's inhabitants over a pool any day. Swimming in a pool is too much like taking a bath with a bunch of strangers.
Living involves risk, but not much risk of shark attack...much less bear attack.
Good post. I'm glad I found your blog. Take care.

10:00 PM  
Blogger EnkiTel said...

In other words, **it happens. You don’t think about the motor vehicle death rate every time you get in your car go to work, but its substantially higher then any bear, shark, and random sky diver parachute failures combined.

Live it up! (and do bring a spare)

10:17 PM  
Blogger Rainypete said...

I prefer to take a more proactive approach. When camping, trap the bear. Then when you go swimming in the ocean and shark decides to try and eat you , throw it the bear.

As for if it scares you, avoid it......exactly my approach to all those "Idol" shows on TV.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Pete B said...

Damn, people are stupid! Let's be quite clear about this - it's not so much the people who suffer through misfortune only partly due to their course of action - it's the public hysteria that really gets me.

Now, over here in the UK we don't tend to get much by way of wild animal attacks. The point is that you see the same thing with almost any potentially serious, yet low probability health hazard (for an example try mobile 'phone masts). People just seem to panic and engage "brain null mode"...

Somehow I'm reminded of the writing of the late Douglas Adams in "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish" (that would be Hitchiker's Guide part 4, to non-initiates) where one character has decided that the world *must* have gone mad, as ultimately evidenced by the fact that it is seen as necessary to put instructions on the outside of a pack of tooth picks!

Anyhow, enough ranting for now.
I suppose I should consider instigating a blog - though given the likely number of other grumpy engineers with blogs, I'm not sure it's worth it.


Pete B (in the UK)

10:58 AM  
Blogger Dave Morris said...

Lucid, intelligent thoughts Carol... about people who are incapable of lucid, intelligent thought. Thanks for the SNL reference, too. Every time someone knocks on the door or rings the bell, that stupid skit comes to mind!

11:06 AM  
Blogger Grant said...

Those stories aren't real hard-hitting news anyway. They have nothing to do with Tom and Katie. The public needs to know, when they kiss does Tom tilt his head to the left or right? :p
Besides, do what you want for your vacation, there is no escape from the Giant Atomic Chickens. They would make the news more often except that nobody ever lives to tell of their encounter.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Carol (Smiles and Laughter) said...

LOL! Well said. Very well said.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous SilverMoon said...

Excellent post throughout. I'm in accord with your well-written thoughts on mini and major points. (There's a reason I deplore the news, won't watch it, won't read about it on the internet, and keep my knowledge in that area to true "news", which does not include politics unless it's about a cause that I am fighting for.)

Throughly enjoyed the animal kingdom knowlege, humor and reality. Animals' domains deserve respect in more than one way.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Becky said...

Carol, I'm so glad you wrote this! I have another dilemma, though. I have been granted the opportunity to take my children to the beach on a short (but much needed and deserved) vacation later this summer. (Thanks Mom and Dad!!) Anyway, my lovely daughter, Medium, saw the news about the little girl who was killed by the shark in Florida. Now my child is refusing to go to the beach. She's never been to the beach. Ever. Nothing has been able to assuage her fears. Even offering to have someone stay at the condo with her so the rest of us can go to the beach in shifts. Nothing. Her fears are rational in her mind. I've tried explaining to her that the sharks won't come up on the beach or in the extremely shallow water in which my tiny little girls will be permitted to splash and play. Nothing is working! Help! I want my children to see the ocean and feel it on their skin and feel the sand in their toes - but I just can't justify not going (or going without her) just to ease her fear. I don't want to sound like a bad mom, but I don't want to feel like I'm forcing her to go, either. Ugh.

1:43 PM  
Blogger NYCbeauty said...

I'm back and better than ever. Can't wait to catch up on your life! Thanks for all of your support.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Weary Hag said...

Thank you all for saving me tons of duct tape! I so much enjoy and appreciate the fine comments ~ as always.

Becky, I see your dilemma. Auntie Hag to the rescue (let's hope). I'm sure you tell bedtime stories... use this link as your next bedtime story (print it out...it's long-been one of my favorite little stories ~ and it's true!)

Ask her if she wouldn't like to try to save a sea star. (starfish is a misnomer... they aren't fish at all and are actually named sea stars in fancy shmancy fish-speak circles)
Perhaps where you go to, there won't be any sea stars, but little girls like to imagine themselves being helpful to small helpless creatures. It could work in getting her there... then you could walk along the water's edge and "look" for some. You could even ask her to do YOU the favor of helping YOU to save some. If she becomes flustered at their absence, play a game pretending the seashells need saving as well, and toss a few into the ocean. She may have so much fun she'll forget her fears.
If all else fails, a little forceful prodding now and again, in the name of eliminating or dimishing fears, never really hurt any child.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

How true about all the bad hairdos on TV. I first began noticing them when a mutual friend was channel surfing and commenting on all the bad do's. Until then, I hadn't noticed.

Personally, I like the "when animals attack" news. Keeps those PETA jerkoffs humble.

5:24 PM  
Blogger mrsmogul said...

Thanks to your post, I am officially not going swimming or going to the woods!

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Cleona said...

Couldn't agree more, Carol! But, um...I guess I misssed the post in which you explained why you were watching TV? I mean, if you were that desperate for distraction you could've always picked up a book or something. But TV? Now that is serious bottom-feeding, girlfriend. Cut it out before we get scared for you! ;-)

9:08 AM  
Blogger GratisGab said...

LOVED this post. I've wondered about this stuff very much along the same lines. And LOL @ the hair comment :)

9:10 AM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

Jeez, I'm sick for a few days and you already have 33 comments? Wow. Well, just throwing this out here because I can:

I love, love, LOVE the Land Shark skit. Ask Beth, just thinking about it can set me off into giggles. Because people? They are so very stupid.

Anyway, I don't watch the news or read the paper because it is depressing and I have enough problems with depression all on my own, I don't need to go and borrow depression. But yes, I have never got this panic. Okay, there are sharks. There are bears. There are even (gasp) mad cows. Does that mean you're going to stop swimming/camping/eating beef? In my case, no.

It just requires some simple common sense (I know. It is weird hearing me say this) and precautions. That's it. Use your brains. And if it freaks you out, don't do it! Argh!

Great post, as usual. I love your writing and it was fun remembering the land shark and the bet your sweet bippy! Beautiful downtown Burbank. Although I think the show was on reruns when I saw it, maybe on the Comedy Network? Can't remember. Still loved it.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Bekah said...

I completely agree with you. Humans tend to think (as a whole) that we're always going to be the dominant species, but just because we have the ability to think and reason doesn't mean we can talk our way out of getting eaten by a shark. When we wander into their territory, they're the ones who make the rules, not us.

This weekend with my in-laws (see: HELL) my sister-in-law was saying how "freaked out" she was about the shark attacks (they live in FL), and that she won't let her daughters in the ocean anymore.

That's a perfect example of people NOT PAYING ATTENTION until someone on Fox tells you it happened. There's an average of 60 shark attacks a year off the coast of Florida, and now, after two, she's flipping out and won't let her kids in the ocean? Pfft. It's a danger that's always there! Why don't people know that?!

3:06 PM  
Blogger annush said...

the one thing that SERIOUSLY pisses me off about the news is that they never have any GOOD news. As if i need any more stress in my life!

3:58 PM  
Blogger Ovedya said...

Well....good news is really not news. At least, not according to those that report the news.

On a related note, have you noticed that the most frightening horror movies are those where the victims are stalked by a large beast of some sort or creation? I think it has something to do with our innate instinct. We know intellectually that we are at the top of the food chain, but every once in a while some enormous beastie comes along and challenges that assertion. I can't imagine anything more frightening then getting eaten alive.

4:39 PM  
Blogger ultimatepress said...

You are so right, there is always a reason these animals are provoked. Why are you fishing with shark food if you don't want to catch a shark? I love camping, but heck if your going to see me deep in the wilds of bear country or cat country etc. I agree with the comment that the news can give any news thats good. Why are we so fascinated by bad news. My dad is actually starting a paper in town right now that will have a whole section devoted to good things going on to counteract the rest of the "news".

-Tea Break Lizabeth (looks like I'm signed in as my other blog)

12:00 PM  
Blogger Walker said...

I know what you mean and the way people say that it is the animals fault for the humans intrusion on their territory.
I remember the hair on Rivera when he used to do the news reports ha ha ha

1:29 AM  
Blogger Pete B said...

Just to let you know, I have carried out my threat from earlier in the week, and now have a Blog.
If anybody feels like reading/commenting that would be cool.

The first proper post is kinda serious - mainly influenced by events in London yesterday. I promise to put some lighter stuff up soon.

Pete B

7:56 AM  

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