Tuesday, December 22, 2015: It’s rain, then weird.
It was a soaker this a.m. It has backed off into the afternoon.
I still see some high temps this week hitting the 70s, based on where you are in South Jersey. Warmest, make that weirdest, air temps will be in the nearby Pinelands. Then, we go into a series of fast-moving warm and cold fronts, bringing a bit of west wind, then east to south winds. The onshores will keep air and water temps above average, mainly in the 50s.
While I often speak of the benefits of rain, I’m not as philosophically inclined when I’m on vacation. And I see a lot of sky iffiness right into next week, both wind- and rain-wise. The winds will crank much of the time, mainly out of the south.
There are still striped bass to be had in the suds, some on LBI, many more in IBSP. The bite is mainly bait-based. I’ll be jigging -- and will surely see some action. Dale Carnegie's "Power of Positive Thinking."
DO NOT lead to ...
I have to needle a new Christmas tree myth that has arisen this year. Actually, it might not be a bona fide myth as much as a misread, one that really bugs me because it has to do with a favorite of mine: ticks.
You’re looking at a tick expert. Well, actually you’re not looking at me but looking at my words, which look a lot like me. (My mind wanders a bit around Christmas time.)
Anyway, there is a warning being issued by otherwise knowledgeable folks that this mild winter could have you bringing ticks into your homes via Christmas trees.
I’m seldom one to go up against so-called experts. OK, so maybe I do it all the time. But, this go ’round, I’m right as rain – as opposed to right as snow. (Sorry, snow lovers, but you’re gonna need to dawdle near the Arctic Circle to see a winter-long snow-over. More on that below.)
I have gone whole hog on the warmth-related nonsense that your holiday trees are like some sort of ticking Trojan horses.
I know ticks, inside out – especially after I catch one engorging on me. Per vengeful tradition, I remove it from my skin and pin it to a cork. I then put on my magnifying glasses and, using the surgical likes of an Exacto blade or a box cutter, intricately remove one or maybe two of the tick’s legs. When done, I rub on some antiseptic and gingerly place the bloodsucker back in the woods – to tell all its ectoparasitical friends that I’m one human you do not want to mount.
Go ahead and chuckle. Then check with anyone who hikes with me. They’ll be crawling with ticks and I’ll be absolutely tick-free. The tick grapevine runs far and wide.
Now, back to the mainly media-driven alert, which has off-season ticks hitching rides into our houses upon evergreens. A CBS headline even reads, “Health Officials: Look Out For Ticks On Christmas Trees This Year.” I like CBS but this is the “BS” side of its call letters.
So let me set the tick record straight. Those suckers just ain’t as dedicated to trees as many folks make them out to be. Admittedly, once ticks are upon your person, they get crazily attached, like Glen Close in “Fatal Attraction.” But, when merely hanging around in the bush, they’re rapid bailer-outers. I’ll explain.
Ticks that are hot on the blood trail hang in-wait on vegetation. As I’ve written before, this stationary stalking is technically called questing, though it might better be termed CO2sniffing. They’re tensely poised to detect the enchanting, wafting odor of passing carbon dioxide gases, which mark warm-blooded yummies, possibly yummie bears. (I warned I’m in my Christmas weirdness phase.)
When hanging in a grabbing-at-gasses posture, the poised parasites extend their front legs, exposing amazing and unique bodily structures called Haller organs, which can literally detect carbon dioxide. They’re very much like the ingenious human devices used to detect carbon monoxide, though much quieter – since suddenly issuing a screeching CO2 alarm sound might very well turn around an arriving target, sending it back home to make sure a pilot light didn’t go out.
Ticks like to take credit for naming the Haller organ, claiming it came about after a nondescript, Cretaceous Period tick named Haller one day announced, “I think I’ll stick my legs out and feel around for carbon dioxide.” Other ticks of that prehistoric time roared with laughter … and promptly fell off the planet. But Haller’s lineage slowly perfected leggy, CO2-sniffing – and there you have it, the tick side of the story. I told you, I really know ticks.
Contradicting tick-based history books, Haller’s organs were far more likely named by a first-name-challenged scientist, G. Haller. Yep, just “G.”
In 1881, G published a technical description of the odd, foot-based organs on ticks. He pegged them as “a really cool set of leg ears.” That’s my translation from Haller’s original papers.
Convinced this was likely the greatest find he’d ever make, he named the weird tick parts after himself, dubbing them “Gorgans” – before being persuaded into calling them Haller organs.
Sadly, G. Haller had ice water thrown on his organs when later scientists debunked his leg ears theory. Further research pegged Haller organs as highly complex natural gas sniffers. Yes, they might even be called leg noses.
Which steers us back to the not-happening ticks on Christmas trees.
Even if an entire tassel of ticks were to use pine needle tips for leg-nosing around, they’re not the same insane clingers we have one helluva time pulling off our skin. A mere shake or two of a chosen tree alerts them that a sniffing session isn’t going as planned. They bail out, post haste. All thoughts of CO2 sucking go up in survival smoke.
Therefore, odds are null and void that ticks would hang on for dear life throughout a tree cutting, trimming, transporting, marketing, string wrapping, roof riding and a bouncy trip into the house. You can tree-up this mild Christmas with a tick-fear impunity.
As to Rover the wonderdog, Rudy the fearless hunter, Robbie the rowdy outdoors boy or Renee the woods-runner? They can usher ticks into the house faster than you can say leg noses. Be on the watch – you’re more gaseous than you might think.
DOLLAR GENERAL SHIP BOTTOM: I did a walk-through of the new Dollar General -- and it’s just fine by me. OK, so maybe I’m prejudice because they sponsor NACAR car Number 22. I’ll overlook the fact it’s driven by aggro-driver Matt Kenseth.
Oh, the outside sucks for snazziness but inside there are some fast and easy deals. Half the store is food-ish and other half is everything else-ish.
I found a drink known as Sparkling ICE® that is nicely priced, as are larger Hershey chocolate bars, which are well below competitors. Hey, it’s vitally important to me, knowing where the cheapest chocolate is at, regionally.
Many can/bottle cold drinks DG, located right as you come in, are cheaper than 7-11 and Wawa.
A price comparison item that just jumped out at me was Glade air freshener, “Clean Linen,” which, at Dollar General’s $1, is actually a couple cents more expensive than Walmart.
The best buys are DG’s favored line of products. You can tell them by both the unfamiliar brand name and also an obviously lower price, especially when stocked next to more famed-named items.
Interestingly, some DG items that seem very cheap are actually downsized offerings of big-name products. Make sure to keep an eye on the price-per-pound, which is the only way to judge oranges with oranges. That said, the place does run cheaper on a whole.
The checkout gal told me the store is only partially stocked. In fact, a huge Dollar General truck pulled into the lot as I was there.
DG parking note: I’ve never been big on parking on northbound Long Beach Boulevard, fronting the Dollar General location, going back to when it was DiFigleo’s Meat Market. Moving traffic passes too damn close to Boulevard-parked vehicles. Getting out is spooky enough. Climbing back in with bags in tow is even spookier.
If you have a full-sized truck or larger SUV and plan on parking in front of DG, turn your outside left side (driver’s side) rearview mirror inward. That’s actually a smart thing to do whenever parking one of today’s trucks or SUVs. These damned new mega-sized rearview mirrors stick way out.
I’ve heard of more than a few LBI cases of them being fatally clipped by a passing vehicle of equal or even lesser mirror-age. Those hits are often a high-speed impact, sending glass and assorted mirror fragments dangerously flying. Making matters worse, many a mirror-splattering driver will just keep going on their merry way -- likely figuring it’s an even-steven trade-off, since they also annihilated their own rearview right-side mirror.
Last year, I took out a mirror on a tree, driving a barely negotiable Pinelands dirt road. The final repair cost was utterly ugly. Modern outside mirrors are dramatically costly to replace, then they have all sorts of electrical stuff inside for power adjusting. Repairs indubitably end up just below your deductible – regardless of what your deductible is.
FYI: DOLLAR GENERAL CORPORATION Company Profile via www.hoovers.com/ ;
Dollar General's at ease with living off the crumbs of Wal-Mart. The fast-growing retailer boasts roughly 12,200 discount stores in over 40 US states, mostly in the South, East, the Midwest, and the Southwest. It generates about 75% of its sales from consumables (including refrigerated, shelf-stable, and perishable foods) and another 10% from seasonal items. The stores also offer household products (cleaning supplies and health and beauty aids) and apparel. Pricing its items at $10 or less (and 25% of items at or under $1), Dollar General targets low-, middle-, and fixed-income shoppers. The no-frills stores typically measure about 7,400 sq. ft. and are located in small towns that are off the radar of giant discounters.
12/22/15 UPDATED 10:59 AM Although there are probably going to be more fish, most have packed it up for the year. We will continue to carry fresh shucked clam, but no live clams and no fresh bunker. There was a major tractor trailer accident on the Mathis Bridge a couple of hours ago, and it is going to take them most of the day to clear it. With the rain and lack of access to the island, I will probably be leaving the shop early today. There will be someone here until 3 PM that can call me with any questions or problems. We will be doing our holiday packages and gift cards right up until we close at 3 PM, Christmas Eve.
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Congress OKs bill banning plastic microbeads in skin care products
WASHINGTON -- Plastic microbeads used in soaps, body washes and other personal-care products will be phased out starting in 2017 under legislation approved by Congress and sent to the president.
The Senate approved the bill Friday following House approval last week. Lawmakers said the bill was needed to protect fish and wildlife that are ingesting the tiny beads after they are rinsed down the drain and discharged into lakes and rivers.
Microbeads are tiny plastic particles used as an abrasive in many personal-care and beauty products, such as facial scrubs, soaps and toothpastes. They do not dissolve and can persist in the environment for decades.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, called microbeads devastating to wildlife and human health. Once signed into law, the legislation phasing out microbeads should protect Lake Erie and other waterways now being polluted, Portman said.
Are microbeads in beauty products hurting the environment?
"The Great Lakes have survived many a foe - severe pollution, oil spills, discharge from refineries, zebra mussels and attempts to steal our water, just to name a few," said Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. "We are going to fight any activity that puts our beloved Great Lakes in jeopardy."
Marcus Eriksen, a science educator and research director of the environmental group 5 Gyres, raised concerns that the microbeads can soak up pesticides and chemicals after they are washed down the drain.
"By the time the plastic gets downstream towards the ocean, they become these toxic pills," he told CBS News last year. Eriksen believes many water treatment plants cannot filter out the tiny plastics, allowing them to flow into the ocean or waterways where fish could mistake them for food.
"Big fish eat little fish, eventually the fish is on your dinner plate," Eriksen said. "And you're eating that fish, along with all the toxins it consumed along the way."
The federal legislation would prohibit the manufacture of products containing plastic microbeads as of July 1, 2017, and phase out sales of the product over the next two years. The federal law would take precedence over state laws that are starting to phase out microbeads over similar concerns.
"We know our country's waterways do not always respect state boundaries," said Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J. "The strong federal standard we have developed is more protective and implementation will occur sooner" than in any current state law.