Bob hates to crunch celery – but 'it's good for him' by Bob Karolevitz I hate celery!
The trouble is: Phyllis likes it, and she serves it every chance she gets � diced, chopped up, boiled and raw.
I get celery in soup. Celery in salads. Celery in stir fry and celery in stew. She's even doctored it up with cheese for hors d'oeuvres.
She'd probably put it in my breakfast cereal, too, but even she knows that it doesn't go with Grape-Nuts.
I rank celery with stewed tomatoes and mushy carrots on my no-no list, but Phyllis makes sure I get some of each.
"Eat them. They're good for you," she instructs, which is exactly how my sainted mother used to admonish me. If I didn't eat them � and celery, too � I wouldn't grow big and strong, she'd say.
Celery doesn't look like much of a vegetable, which it is. It started out some 2,000 years ago as a medicinal herb. That's when it grew wild in the brackish water of Mediterranean wetlands. As far as I'm concerned, that should have been the end of it.
Then somebody decided that the seeds � they're so small that a million of them weigh slightly less than a pound � were good for seasoning. That led to cultivation to take the bitterness out, and in no time at all the Romans were eating it.
(They also thought that wreaths of celery would protect them from hangovers. But what can you expect from people who wore togas, went around with garlands on their heads and participated in orgies?)
By the middle of the 16th century, French chefs were using celery in their recipes. They tried domestic varieties, but for oo-la-la concoctions they imported special celery stalks from Italy.
There's no record of when it finally came to America, so I can't blame anybody, including the British. They say a Philadelphia seed catalog offered four different varieties in 1806, and some 50 years later � about Civil War time � commercial production began in Michigan, so the plant which Phyllis foists on me has been around for a long, long time.
In the process farmers learned to "blanch" the stalks several weeks before harvest by mounding dirt around them to produce pale green stems with sweeter flavor. (American Celery Council words, not mine.)
Then came the health craze!
Because an eight-inch outer stalk of celery contains only seven calories, they tell me we can eat as much as we want and still not gain weight. Frankly I'd rather blow up like a balloon than solve my avoirdupois problem that way.
Vegetarians gave three cheers for the crunchy plant, and so did the diet fadists as they gobbled up tons of it. That, of course, made the celery planters in California, Florida, and elsewhere happy. But I'm not.
I read somewhere that American housewives in the 19th century used centerpieces of succulent celery leaves in pressed glass vases to decorate their tables. Thank goodness Phyllis hasn't caught onto that or we'd have bouquets of that aromatic stuff around the place.
On the other hand, I also remember a jazz tune called Celery Stalks at Midnight by Artie Shaw or somebody. That's the only way I'll take my Apium graveolens, thank you.
© 2003 Robert F. Karolevitz
Between the Lines
by David Lias
I've just returned from vacation, and unfortunately had to devote too much time to clearing junk from my e-mail.
Jim Shea, a columnist with the The Hartford Courant, evidently has a similar problem. He, however, decided to have fun with it. Here's what he wrote.
People often wonder where they would be today without e-mail.
I've been wondering who I would be today if I were to take advantage of all the unsolicited opportunities I receive via my e-mail.
Let me describe my e-mail self: Probably the first thing you would notice about me is that I have large breasts, which I acquired naturally in just 30 days without surgery.
Something you wouldn't notice is that I have also been recently endowed with more than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness � if you catch my drift � and while I have no idea how this was accomplished, just thinking about the possibilities does make one wince.
But that isn't the only area in which I have achieved longevity. My skin problems have been solved forever, I have eliminated wrinkles and cellulite, forever, and totally reversed the aging process, forever.
I have a great job, too, one for which I am paid to sit on the couch and watch television. When I combine my television job with my other job � making $1,500 a week stuffing envelopes � I do pretty well.
I'm pretty fortunate in other ways, too. I have the best cellphone deal around, the lowest mortgage rate anywhere and exclusive tips on some hot stocks that I'd like to share but can't because we don't want them to go up in value too fast for a reason I'm not entirely clear on.
Speaking of wealth, get this. The other day, Dr. Williams Banigo of the Federal Secretariat in Lagos, Nigeria, sent me an e-mail asking if I would be willing to allow him to deposit $16.5 million in my checking account, for which he would be willing to pay me a 10 percent commission. We're still working on the details, but I guess I have to send him some money first.
Did I mention that I am very popular with women, particularly ones from Russia. I don't know how they know me, but they are willing to marry me sight unseen.
Another woman who likes me has a video camera set up in her bedroom so I can see her 24 hours a day.
And then there's Linda, who's "bored with her husband" and wants me to flirt with her.
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but I have just been offered more half-price Viagra than you can shake a stick at.
I'll tell you, what a life. I'm even on a diet in which I can eat as much pizza as I want and still lose weight.
The greatest thing about my e-mail existence, though, is that just when I think things can't get any better, they do. This just in: I am never going to have to worry about septic-tank issues again.
So, you know, now I got that going for me, too.
On a serious note, there is a way to actually make money at home by using your computer, and reduce the amount of spam you receive.
You can sue the spammers. Seriously. This is no fly-by-night scheme.
I recently read an account from an individual in Iowa who has used a state law there to successfully sue five spammers.
"I have won every case. Iowa has one of the better anti-spam laws in the country, allowing for up to $500, or $10 per message from the same spammer, whichever is greater," he wrote.
"It's time consuming to do all the background work to find out where the spam came from, and you have to determine whether the spammer you want to sue would be one that you could collect from, but I have been successful in my spam-fighting mission. Nothing hurts spammers more than money out of their own pockets."
South Dakota has a law on the books that states that a recipient or a provider of internet access services may bring actions based on violation of the law.
One of those actions allows us South Dakotans to "recover damages for such a violation in an amount equal to the greater of: (a) The amount of the actual monetary loss; or (b) Five hundred dollars for each violation, not to exceed a total of ten thousand dollars.
If the court finds that the defendant willfully, knowingly, or repeatedly violated a certain section of this law, the court may increase the amount of the award to an amount equal to not more than three times the amount available under this section. This state law states:
"In any such action, the court may require an undertaking for the payment of the costs of such action, and assess reasonable costs, including reasonable attorneys' fees, against any party.
At the request of any party to an action brought pursuant to this section or any other participant in such an action, the court may issue protective orders and conduct legal proceedings in such a way as to protect the secrecy and security of the computer, computer network, computer data, computer program, and computer software involved in order to prevent possible recurrence of the same or a similar act by another person and to protect any trade secrets of any such party or participant."
So if you've got a bit of extra time, an understanding of state regulations, and a willingness to cut your daily dose of spam, I'd say go for it.
There's a chance you could make some extra money.
All from the comfort of your home.
Sure beats stuffing envelopes.