The Sweet Smell of Success

Sometimes life just stinks.  The truth of this hit me just below the nose as I was driving home from a weekly meeting of my networking group (unemployment stinks, too).  I happened to pull up behind a small paneled vehicle covered with some very intriguing—or maybe off-putting—advertising.  There, emblazoned across the back in large letters was:  POOP911.com.  That’s right.  There is now a dot com for doo-doo.  The company even has this catchy slogan:  “We scoop dog poop.”

Now, like much of the population these days, I am unemployed but I’m not so sure I’d want to stoop to scoop poop for loot.   I do it for free at my own house (“If it’s round, brown, and on the ground, scoop it!”), for which the yard men are most appreciative, I’m sure.  Doing it for people who are too lazy or too delicate to do the same for themselves, however, strikes me as a form of enabling.  Of course, when jobless one should not be too proud to accept even the most menial of jobs if it means the difference between buying a burger inside McDonald’s or picking through their dumpster out back.  Just the same, I have to admire a guy who can sniff out an opportunity in a tough economy.

As advertised on his truck, our scooper’s rates begin at $9.95 a week (rates differ depending on location).   I wondered if this rate is based on the size of the yard or the size of the dog.  After all, Pekingese pellets can’t compare to the land mines dropped by a St. Bernard, in which case maybe charging by the pound would be more profitable.  Or if the rate is based on the number of dogs, just think what that would add up to if someone had two or more of these load-luggers!

Picking up the Pieces

With my interest piqued, I surfed the Net for POOP911.com and learned that the company is a franchise operation with excrement entrepreneurs throughout the country.  According to their website (www.poop911.com) they have franchise plans to get you started “from the ground up” and a start-up package.  (Please, don’t let that mean a free sample.)   They also say that if “you have already started your business you obviously don’t mind getting your hands dirty.”  Whoa!  Back up the shitake* wagon a minute.  If I’m going to clean up dog poop I insist on gloves and a pooper scooper, maybe even a pair of hip waders.  (Those St. Bernards, remember?)  A more questionable turd, er, turn of phrase at this website is this:  “You do not have to be home for us to come do our business….which is your dog’s business…. which is our bread and butter.”  (Urp!)  They did have some noteworthy terminology for the doggy doo-doo, though, such as dog logs and hound mounds.  (Oh, dear.  Oh, no!  This is embarrassing!  Forget the St. Bernards.  My dog is a Cockapoo.  Caca-poo?   With a name like that my mutt must be a double-duty, doo-doo dumper!)

Name Droppings

Uh, where was I?  Oh, yes.  For a real howl, check out a more complete list of doo-doo euphemisms at “The Poop Thesaurus” at www.heptune.com.  Some specimens include “bum nugget”, “dookie”, “toilet orphan”, “gobbers”, “package”— that “start-up” thing???!!!— “looloos”,  and even “log out” (apparently even the Internet isn’t safe).  Unfortunately an inordinate number of these proxy poos are correlated with food such as corndogs, Tootsie Rolls, Ho-Hos, and fudge brownies.  Honestly, you’ll never think of many of your favorite foods in the same way again.  Still, I have to admit my personal favorite is “sewer trout”.

“The Poop Thesaurus” also informs us that hospitals have a special way of alerting nurses when a patient has a pooey mishap in bed:  They issue a “Brown Code:  STAT” (or is it “SPLAT?”).

(My friend Anita called me while I was in the middle of writing this article.  I told her what I was doing and recited numerous examples of what I had found at “The Poop Thesaurus.”  I guess it was too much for her.  She finally said, “This is more than I can handle.  I’m going to take a. . .”  “Dump?” I asked.  “No,” she answered.  “I’m going to take a nap.  I can’t take any more of this.”)

Go for It

There’s a lot more poop information out there but it’s probably more than most of you want to know anyway.

Surprisingly, the poo-bahs at POOP911.com aren’t the only ones with this cow pie-in-the-sky idea.  Another, petbutler.com (“Have Poop, We Scoop”), claims, “We’re #1 in the #2 business . . .” If this is an accolade I’ll, uh, pass.

To think all this was inspired by an ordinary pile of pooch patties.  A dog really is man’s best friend.

Oh, and just in case (despite reading this) you are now eager to start your own poop scooping business, I have a slogan for you:  “Dung-ho!”  Accept it with my compliments.  Think of it as my free “start-up package” just for you.

Logging out.


*An actual euphemism for poop.

© 2014, thewitsendscribbler.com

Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


WES:  (Groan)

SHELDON:  What’s wrong?  Too much queso dip and chips?

WES:  What?

SHELDON:  You sound like you’re in pain.

WES:  I guess you could say that.  Job hunting is a pain.  It seems I’m just a square peg in a world of round holes.  I’m not suited for most of what’s out there.

SHELDON:  Like what?

WES:  Well, for instance, look at this job listing website.  I’m up to page 21 and so far I haven’t found a good fit yet.  A lot of good a liberal arts degree does you nowadays.

SHELDON:  What are you looking for?

WES:  Something not too far away that won’t make me wish I were home watching reality TV.

SHELDON:  Maybe I can help.  Is there something that might be worth investigating?

WES:  Here’s an ad for a “Team Member” at a crafts and fabric store.  I love how this listing starts:   “_________ Inc., is an at-will employer, which means that your employment may be terminated by the Company or yourself with or without notice or cause unless…”

SHELDON:  Now there’s a motivational come-on you don’t see every day.

WES:  Here’s one.  “Part-time Funeral Home Receptionist.”

SHELDON:  Oh, I don’t think so.  Sounds like a dead-end job to me.  Besides, one of the qualifications is a “high level of excitement, energy, and enthusiasm.”  At a funeral home???  A cheerleader for the bereaved???  Just think how that would sound:  “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar. / If you like our burial plots, stand up and holler!”

Or maybe this:  “Clap your hands, stamp your feet. / Our caskets can’t be beat. / Satin-lined, bronze or wood. / Handles, too,  and drop-down hood.”

Or this:  “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, / Our crematory is a must! / Your loved one done all to a turn, / Then poured into a lovely urn.”

WES:  “This position has not been approved for applicable relocation benefits.”

SHELDON:  Oh, come on.  Getting buried once should be enough for anyone.

WES:  “Part-Time Morning Crew.”

SHELDON:  Another funeral home position?

WES:  Not mourning; morning, as in a.m.  Here’s one for late night shifts at a fast food chain.  Eight years of college and a year in grad school so I can flip burgers.  How depressing is that?

SHELDON:  On the bright side, you get to wear a uniform.  No wardrobe expenses.

WES:  Someone else wants a “Hiker/Driver.”  What’s that?  Can’t they make up their minds?  Do they want me to hike or drive?

SHELDON:  Maybe you hike to the job site and drive from there.  I have to admit, though, it is confusing.

WES:  Here’s an opening for a night stocker at a grocery store.

SHELDON:  Night stalking could get you killed, or at least arrested.

WES:  Is there such a thing as a muse with arrested development?

SHELDON:  Sorry.

WES:  “Logistics Specialist.”  Yeah, right.  I have enough trouble trying to navigate the DFW freeway system.

This could be cool:  “Medical Examiner/Clinical.”  I love that crime scene stuff on TV.  “Persons with recent medical and phlebotomy experience to include the vitals, blood and urine.”  E-e-ew!  Never mind.

SHELDON:  Kind of makes you glad you aren’t qualified for that one, doesn’t it?

WES:  “Part-Time Infant Teacher.”

SHELDON:  Wow!  They’re recruiting younger ones all the time.

WES:  As if our public schools didn’t have enough of them alreadyand now they’re cutting their hours, too.

Here’s an ad for a “Cylinder Maintenance Technician” for a high volume hydrocarbon testing laboratory.  Working conditions include wet or humid conditions (non-weather), work near moving mechanical parts, fumes or airborne particles, air contamination (i.​e.​, dust, fume, smoke, toxic conditions, disagreeable odors), toxic or caustic chemicals, risk of electrical shock, work with explosives.

SHELDON:  The answer to a personal injury attorney’s dream.

WES:  Here’s an ad from another job website:  “Need Clown Entertainment . . . Age of guests 4-5.”

SHELDON:  Why doesn’t she just check with Congress? Plenty of qualified candidates there.

WES:  It doesn’t get any better.  Another company wants a “Cow Performer” for his chicken franchise.

SHELDON:  You got a beef with that?  Sounds udder-ly delightful to me.

WES:  You know, Sheldon, as a muse you really suck.

SHELDON:  Hey!  Job-hunting is stressful; a little humor can’t hurt.  What else have you found?  Let’s see, cheese shop clerk, dairy clerk, baker, long-haul truck driver, night custodial worker, dish washer, nanny, parking attendant, maid/housekeeper, sandwich maker, bar tender, telemarketer. . .

WES:  Telemarketer.  Great!  As if I want to be hated and depressed.

SHELDON:  Maybe you should apply for this bartender position.  A lot of job-hunters are probably drinking these days.  You could really identify with them.  And there are the tips.

WES:  I’ll drink to that.  Make it a double.


© 2014 The Wit’s End Scribbler

Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


A dog licking his feet, a vet once told me, is the sign of an allergy.   Treatment:  antihistamines twice a day.  Now, I don’t lick my feet—E-e-w-w-w!—but I, too, have allergies, primarily airborne stuff like dust, pollen, and animal dander.  As a result, it is necessary that The Mutt and I each take our daily dose of Benadryl, his with a spoonful of peanut butter, mine with a glass of water.

The Mutt has developed perpetually orange-colored hair around his paws, a reaction to his saliva, it seems, and possibly another reason not to lick my feet:  Cover me with feathers and I’d look like some mutant duck (which is still better than a blue-footed booby, I suppose).

Puppy dog nails

Anyway, one day I found an entire canine toenail on my bed and decided to check The Mutt’s feet; they resemble those of a Hobbit’s so it’s not readily evident what’s going on underneath all that hair.  They looked rather long to me and I thought I might have to clip them myself; the groomer usually does this but maybe my dog just has fast-growing nails.  One of them, though, really freaked me out:  It was growing in the opposite direction from the others, curling upwards!  Despite checking the Web for instructions on how to cut dog toenails, I thought better of the do-it-yourself approach and called the vet.  The cost for this clip job would be $16.50 and the tech would show me how to do it.  (Cutting the quick is a bloody business and painful for the dog.  Who wants to alienate his best friend?)

Aural déja vu

In the examining room the vet tech was inspecting The Mutt’s feet when she exclaimed, “Your dog has weird toenails.  I’ve never seen anything like this.”  Right away I knew this did not bode well.  (Cha-ching!  $16.50 and counting.)  The tech called for the head-honcho-tech who, upon examining my dog’s feet said, “Your dog has weird toenails.  I’ve never seen anything like this.”  (Seems I just heard that somewhere.)  She said the vet needed to see this.  (Cha-ching!)  Looking at those thrice-examined toes the vet said—Wait for it.—”Your dog has weird toes.  I’ve never seen anything like this.”  (Are we in an echo chamber?)  Then she said, “I want to take some pictures of your dog’s feet (Cha-ching!) to send to a dermatologist for an opinion.”  (Cha-ching!)  She said they’d call me when they had a diagnosis.  Meanwhile, the two techs finished clipping The Mutt’s nails.

We were given one prescription for a pain reliever and another for a stronger antihistamine.  (Cha-ching! Cha-ching!)  By the time we checked out the bill was $111.50!

Diagnosis and treatment

A few days later the vet called to say The Mutt had Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy (SLO) which, loosely translated, means “Your dog has weird toenails.”  SLO is “thought to be an autoimmune disease that targets the nails.”  It results in separation of the nail from the quick which then grows independently under the nail instead of within it.  It can be painful with flare-ups likely and although it’s incurable, it is treatable with two more medications (Cha-ching!) and fish oil!  Two capsules, twice a day.  And not just any fish oil.  It has to be 1000 mg fish oil capsules containing 180 EPA (eicosapentanoic acid).  None of the three brands I checked listed this EPA count.  I asked the pharmacist; he couldn’t tell me.  I called the vet’s office and read all three labels.  I was put on hold three times while consultations took place.  (That’s 17 minutes I’ll never get back.)  It was suggested I buy all three and bring them in.  But I was just there—and I’m almost home!  I needed fish oil for myself anyway so I chose the “buy one, get one” brand.  Turns out they were fine for The Mutt, too.

The “Fish Oil Frolics”

Have you ever tried giving fish oil to a dog?  First, I punctured the capsules and drizzled the oil over his food.  He wouldn’t eat for three days.  (The Hairball was interested, though.)  Next, I froze them but he wasn’t fooled.  Finally, I resorted to my gun (pill gun, that is–a plastic tube through which you push the meds, or fish oil capsules, into your pet’s throat with a plunger).   The hard part is catching the patient.  After a few days I was able to establish myself as the Alpha member of the family.  Now he simply lies down and waits for the inevitable.  Not that that’s entirely successful, though.  Occasionally he runs off and barfs at least one of them up in a pool of dog spittle from which I have to retrieve it and then recycle back into the little darling.  Yech!  Why is dog spit so slimy?  One night—Whoops!—I stepped on a patch of oil flowing from a scrunched capsule and slid several inches across the kitchen floor.  “Not good, you twit!” I growled at The Mutt.  I count it as success of a sort, at least until I realize that in another 12 hours we get to repeat the entire fiasco.

Once the toenail thing is under control it’s the teeth cleaning (Cha-ching!)  Minimum charge:  $357.00, barring any complications.  I swear, my next dog is going to be a Gund!*

©2013, The Wit’s End Scribbler

*Manufacturer of stuffed toy animals.

Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Guess we should have expected it.  “When pigs fly,” the expression meaning “ain’t never gonna happen,” has gone to hog heaven.  No, folks, pigs today don’t really fly, but they may be getting high, thanks to legislators in Washington (the state, that is, although most of us probably suspect the dopes in our nation’s capitol have been smoking the stuff for years).

It seems that since their state became the first to legalize recreational marijuana use, cannabis growers there need a way to dispose of  marijuana waste and— By golly!  Wouldn’t you know it? — someone has come up with a solution.   According to several reports on the Internet, pig farmers in Washington have started feeding these drug dregs (stems, roots, seeds, and leaves) to their herds.  (Could the pot-bellied pig have been ahead of his time?)  Not only that, according to Reuters, there already are rules governing this enterprise.  The downside (for all the potheads out there) is that the marijuana waste must be “rendered unusable prior to leaving a licensed producer or processor’s facility.”  On the upside, however, the regulations stipulate that mixing it with real food waste is “acceptable,” thus making it perfectly suitable for slopping hogs.


Pot Luck

Already pig farmers are seeing positive results produced by these new porcine provisions.  At her farm north of Seattle, Susannah Gross fed four members of one litter “potent plant leavings during the last four months of their lives.”  By the time these not-so-little piggies went to market they weighed 20 to 30 pounds more than the rest of their littermates.  Says Gross, “They were eating more, as you can imagine.”

Well, I couldn’t until I did a little research.  Seems studies confirm that marijuana use stimulates the appetite (gives you “the munchies”) thus producing weight gain, i.e., smoking pot makes you fat.  I’m not sure that only the pigs’ appetites were responding to the weed waste mix, though.  I suspect they were feeling pret-ty good during those four months—maybe even experienced “tickled pigs’ feet.”  (Insert groan here.)  By the time they figured out where they were headed they probably didn’t even care anymore.  (Actually, there’s no real evidence that THC, the mind altering chemical in cannabis, is transferred to animal tissue by pot-enhanced feed.  Or so says the European Food Safety Authority.)

Economics is another reason for raising these weed eaters.  While the pigs may or may not be getting high, the prices of more conventional feed such as corn and soy are.  As a result, “small farmers are looking for new, free sources of livestock feed,” according to NPR radio station KPIU in Seattle.  Local butcher William von Schneidau feeds marijuana refuse to his pigs which, in turn, become prosciutto for his BB Ranch butcher shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market.  The weed scraps, which he gets from a medical marijuana co-op, provides more fiber, says von Schneidau, and gives the meat a more savory flavor.  He also says the meat is redder (delish.com).  So much for the other white meat.


Side Effects

Another report (msn.com) quotes von Schneidau as saying the pot-eating pigs get not only fatter but also lazy, barely able to lift their heads.  Not surprising, but there’s more to the story than that.  The enterprising von Schneidau has contracted with a distillery for spent vodka grains which he adds to the porkers’ menu as well. (http://www.seattlemet.com/eat-and-drink/nosh-pit.)  Now tell me, if you were dining on weed and booze wouldn’t you be a little sluggish, too?  Potted and besotted at the same time.  What a way to pig out!

In March von Schneidau held a “Pot Pig Gig” dinner, a sold-out success.  He plans another this summer.  The local populace is licking its chops already.  If he’s not careful, von Schneidau may end up hosting the entire ’60’s generation at his joint.  Wow— Pigstock!

So, now we have stoner swine.  Eventually cattle ranchers may feed this stuff to their stock.  They could call it “mooster” (a slang term for marijuana).  Of course, then we’d have to rethink the whole idea of “grass-fed” beef and “pot” roast.


© 2013, The Wit’s End Scribbler

Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


In part I of this article, we learned that several college majors have absolutely no value in securing employment following graduation.  We also learned the economic benefits of eliminating them from college curricula.  In the interest of saving time and even more money—while eliminating those dreadful all-nighters cramming for exams covering subjects that won’t benefit you anyway—I hereby list another five majors flunking the relevance test.

6.  History.  Now you’d think, considering the average high school student’s ignorance of even his own country’s history, that this field would be begging for history majors.  Unfortunately, claims the report, “We are not a contemplative society,” i.e., thinking is not our strong point.  Furthermore, most history majors (who tend to be teachers) are finding little hope for employment since there are so many of them and “school districts are more likely to be cutting back than hiring.”  Let me see if I have this straight:  We are not a contemplative society, we cut back on hiring history teachers, students don’t learn history, so we are not a contemplative society.  Is public education great or what?!!!

7.  Psychology.   With so many screwed up people running around today psychology majors should be more necessary than ever.  The most likely way psych majors will find work is if they go on to graduate work.  Otherwise, according to the report, they’ll find themselves in competition for barista jobs with other psych majors.  That could be a real grind for the ol’ bean.

8.  Biology.  A plain old biology degree just won’t cut it today.  Having given up on the idea of med school because of the “cost, difficulty and length of study,” many biology majors often seek lower-level research or technician jobs where there is a lot of competition but few jobs.  Better to forget dissecting frogs and look instead for work in biotech or pharmaceutical industries.  Biology instructors might get hopping mad but the frogs will be leaping for joy.

9.  English.  According to the report “this is the road more traveled by, with not nearly enough writing, teaching, publishing or journalism jobs for all the students who graduate with a yen for the written word.”  In addition, the digital impact on many fields of media makes it extra tough.  Which is why I fear for the future of English:  With all the texting going on these days and the stunted language of abbreviations and acronyms it entails, I expect that eventually a lot of people will have to enroll in ESL (English as a Second Language) classes in order to speak using entire words again— preferably before their thumbs fall off.

10.  Economics.  The supply of graduates in this major outnumbers the demand.  I find this curious considering the mess our economy is in right now.  Apparently all those economists who are working aren’t doing such a great job.  Maybe they should step down and give the new grads a chance.  Or maybe it’s just that college economics programs aren’t worth a dime.  Heck, even a dime isn’t worth a dime anymore.  That’s my two cents worth, anyway.

Judging by this list I’m a goner.  A former perpetual student, I went back to school numerous times.  My scholastic résumé includes majors in criminal justice (#2), communications, English (#9), and history (#6), as well as library science (a Master’s program), and a few journalism courses besides.  I did graduate with a B.A. in humanities (one of those liberal arts and sciences, #5) and, later, a B.A. in philosophy (another liberal arts degree—I’m a slow learner).  I also did some graduate work in philosophy (ethics).  All that philosophy allows me to, as they say, sit around and think deep thoughts about being unemployed.*  As for me, it’s back to scouring the job listings.

*Quote from Dragon:  The Bruce Lee Story.  Dir. Rob Cohen.   With Jason Scott Lee and Lauren Holly.  Universal Pictures, 1993.


© 2013, The Wit’s End Scribbler



Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment