Ah, back to the helm of The Republic. I must say, it's been a very dreadfully long time, and I wouldn't blame you at all if you're not reading this, as there's a very good chance that you're not. What have I been doing with myself during my hiatus, you might ask? Well, don't bother, it's not really anything to write home about. I did go on vacation with my family and my girlfriend and her family (for those of you keeping track, that adds up to 1,023 people), up on one of Michigan's six lakes named "Long Lake." 'Twas a wonderfully relaxing time, and quite a bit cooler than this 95-degree madness that I've come back to, and I kept my longstanding vacation tradition of sitting on the beach reading for hours, taking occasional breaks to eat, sleep, and mingle with friends and relatives.
Hey hey, a paragraph break! I haven't been keeping track, but that's probably only the sixth or seventh in The Republic's long and proud history. Anyways, let's have a little talk about Japanese Beetles. Hmm... On second thought, let's not capitalize the name, it's only an insect. What do we know about Japanese beetles? Well, there's the name for starters: Japanese is an adjective, meaning "Of or pertaining to Japan," according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED for short), so clearly the name indicates that the insect in question is or at some point was beleived to be of Japanese origin. Beetle is of course a noun, for which the OED gives this handy little definition:
"The class name for insects of the coleopterous order, having the upper pair of wings converted into hard sheaths or wing-cases (elytra) that close over the back, and protect the lower or true wings, which most species are able to use in flight."
I'm terribly sorry, but blogger is apparently refusing me the right to indent lengthy quotations, so that's the best I'm going to do. Let the record show, however, that those are not paragraph breaks per se, and should not be counted as such. Anyways, where was I? Beetles. Yes. When you combine the words "Japanese" and "beetle," you get a new definition, one which unfortunately cannot be found on the austere pages of that definitive record of the English Language, but which is nonetheless useful: The Japanese beetle is the most disgusting animal known to man. Anyways, Reens (My sister and landlady) and I returned from our vacation to discover that our neighborhood was infested with the aforementioned green insectoid monstrocities, who were making themselves as comfortable as pigs in the mud devouring my sister's much-cherished garden. Hundreds of them. Thousands, even. A small amount of research on Reenie's part revealed that the two main ways to dispose of the little buggers are to either pick them off by hand, or else purchase and trap them with a pheromone trap. Being more than a bit vexed with the beetles, and in no mood to pick them off the bushes like so many blueberries, it was the second option which my sister took, and hence asked me to set up the contraption. It's a simple device, really: You suspend a tablet of synthesized beetle sex attractants mixed with some sort of poison (it probably takes a pretty weird guy with a PhD to think of this) over a plastic bag with a funnel in the top, and within a few seconds the horny little bastards fly to it from all corners of the yard, and fall stunned into the bag, where they writhe around in a pile having some disgusting bug orgy/feeding frenzy until the smell of dead bugs begins to counterract the pheromones and the bag has to be replaced for more bugs to show up. Grossed out? I know I am, dear reader (don't you hate it when people patronize you in print by calling you "dear reader?" I know I do), but I'm afraid we're not yet finished with this gruesome tale. Remember how I said said the bugs are writhing around in a pile in the bottom of the bag? That's right, the majority of them are not yet dead. Just for a second, imagine yourself holding a tied-off plastic bag containing roughly a pound of writhing beatles. If you're starting to get phantom itches from imagining that those bugs are now crawling all over yourself, welcome to my world. Feel free to leave my world any time you like and go back to your happy place, assuming that there are no Japanese beetles there. What are we supposed to do with this 1 pound bag of garden pests? We notice that there are tiny holes in the bag (as if the bugs are supposed to be able to breathe or something, I don't know. Ask the guys who make beetle sex attractants for a living, not me). So, Reens comes up with the idea of drowning the little buggers in soap water, which, she says, is rumored to be lethal to them. Figures that something that disgusting would have a fatal allergy to soap, I guess, but being more than a little tired of the sight of the beetles, I take the idea step further and suggest that we put a little bleach into the solution, just for good measure. So, we fill a bucket with goodly amounts of soap, bleach, and just a touch of water (for flavor), and dip the bag-o-bugs into it. So far so good, but after a few minutes we decided to check up on the bugs, to make sure that they had truly all died (you must understand, a bag of beetles does in fact float, so it was never completely submerged). Reenie grabbed the still-dry top of the bag and slowly lifted it up out of the water a few inches, which is when a dark, rust-colored liquid began pouring out of the aforementioned holes in the bag, and clouding the water in the bucket below. Unbelievably disgusting. Methinks that perhaps the bleach and soap don't just kill the bugs, they sort of chemically break them down to a brown pulp. I didn't think I'd be able to eat for days, but somehow I managed to have some dinner, although I didn't want to go near anything crunchy.
Anyways, that's pretty much all I can stand to write for now, the memory's still too vivid, especially considering that every day since then I've gotten home from work to see a fresh new pound of bugs in the bottom of the bag I put up the previous evening. I don't ever want to go to hell, because it's probably where I sent all those bugs, and they're probably pissed. I mean, here they thought they were gonna get free love like it's 1967 all over again, and instead ended up being disintegrated by bleach. Serves 'em right. More posts to come soonish, although I can never make any guarantees as to the quality.