Swine flu, keep away from our desserts

November 10, 2009

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Egads, The Herald-Mail has canceled its pie and cookie contests out of concerns about the swine flu? I wasn't paying much attention to this disease before, but now it's personal.

And to be clear, I am writing as an unbiased journalist, not as an occasional judge in these contests, who routinely gorged himself so badly that he had to be wheeled out of the room on one of those orange lumber carts you see at the Home Depot.

Also to be clear, I was not a judge the year that the winner was an out-of-the-box recipe for lemon cookies. Mail Call didn't shut up about that one for three months.


Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, the flu takes unfair advantage when it starts messing with desserts. I didn't know chocolate was a carrier -- it's called swine flu, so cancel the pork chop contest.

I don't mind it so much when nasty bacteria turn up in spinach or tomatoes. But the thought that it might infect snickerdoodles makes everything go a bit black.

Personally, I blame the bacteriaphobic society of ours, and I speak as someone who spends a lot of time mucking horse stalls and composting cow pies. I would have only two words for the swine flu bacteria when it comes to me: Good luck.

You can take a number if you want, but there's a pretty long line of competing bacteria hanging around, so I don't think much of your chances.

So I'm fine with swine. My downfall is children, since I'm never around them and have no immunity. I get within 40 yards of a school zone and my tonsils will be in traction for six weeks.

And kids get sick because they're not allowed to play on the floor or lick their fingers anymore. And they get dunked three times a day in Lysol.

I don't know how humans started down this path. We have the same reaction to every threat: Kill things.

Kill mice, kill weeds, kill bugs, kill snakes. Kill as many bacteria as you can, including the good bacteria whose job it is to destroy the bad bacteria. No wonder so many people get sick. Our disease-fighting artillery have been nuked by sterile wipes.

The media are of no help. I saw a television news broadcast where the reporter got all freaky because an infrared light showed that his unwashed hands were covered with bacteria. Dude would probably get ooged out if you told him that his arteries were covered with blood.

I'm not saying that people in the 1300s who got their drinking water out of their septic tanks had all the answers either, but there must be a happy medium.

Speaking of cleanliness, what's that 0.1 percent of bacteria that antiseptics don't kill? Every sterilization product that I've ever seen says, "Kills 99.9 percent of all germs." That 0.1 percent, whatever it is, has to be one rockin' germ. It's the one I'd be afraid of.

I am glad to see, however, that the nation seems to be getting over its fear of the swine flu vaccine. I guess when the first million people who got it didn't instantly drop to their knees and start worshipping Obama, they figured that it might not be the government conspiracy they once feared.

So now we've gone from a vaccine that no one wanted to a vaccine that people are lined up 10,000 deep to get. One day we're mad that the government wants us to get vaccinated, and the next day we're mad because the government doesn't have enough vaccine to go around. Sheesh.

People are lucky I'm not in charge of the Centers for Disease Control. I'd be filling needles with Kool-Aid, just to shut everyone up.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at Tune in to the Rowland Rant video at, on or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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