We here at the Marion County Express pride ourselves on a quality report about our local communities.
Occasionally, however, it behooves us to look beyond our political boundaries and venture out into the world — if for no other reason than to remind ourselves travel is overrated.
Our first stop is St. Petersburg, Florida, and Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Minnesota Twins visited the Rays for a spring training game during which an odd technical problem plagued the Twins.
Like all Major League teams, the Twins use PitchCom, a system that allows the manager to transmit audio signals for pitches and plays to headsets hidden in players’ caps.
The volume on Minnesota catcher Tony Wolters’ device must’ve been turned up to “11,” because the Associated Press reports the Rays’ batters, and the umpire could clearly hear every pitch called during Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda’s second spring training start.
The glitch, however, failed to fluster Maeda, who pitched two scoreless innings and allowed two hits.
They fixed Wolters’ PitchCom receiver, but this was never a problem when catchers just stuck their fingers down to indicate the pitch.
In news abroad, Starbucks in Italy plans to roll out a series of beverages that include virgin olive oil, the AP reports.
The story comes from Milan. This surprises me for two reasons. First, I would think that if you lived in Milan, you would have a lot better options for coffee than Starbucks.
Secondly, as seriously as the Italians take food, I think they would see this olive oil coffee idea as a cheap, culturally insensitive gimmick.
What’s next? Is Starbucks going to offer cans of Chef Boyardee spaghetti next to the scones and lemon squares?
But if the menu at Starbucks in Milan sounds questionable, then you might want to skip a stop at Thomas Micolinio’s ice cream parlor in Rottenburg am Neckar, Germany.
The store’s menu now includes cricket-flavored scoops with dried brown crickets on top.
Bugs carry a lot of protein, though I’m seldom worried about protein when I’m at an ice cream shop.
Some environmentalists believe the earth’s population growth eventually will make it impossible to raise cattle because of the large tracts of land required for the job.
Bugs, they say, will replace livestock as the primary protein source for humans.
I hope to be dead by that point in the future should it ever raise. I do not want to live in a world without hamburgers nor do I wish to live in a world where a bowl of crickets is a part of my balanced diet.
Finally, let’s swing by Bogota, Colombia, where the late drug kingpin Pablo Escobar is still causing trouble.
Escobar’s former ranch has some 70 hippopotamuses — descendants of four hippos brought illegally from Africa by Escobar in the late 1980s.
Hippos are not to be trifled with. In their native Africa, they’re one of the top killers of humans in the sub-Saharan regions.
Colombia wants to ship some of the hippos out to India and Mexico.
This confuses me. I am no expert in global affairs, but as I understand it, Mexico and Central America have enough problems that people leave their homes and travel thousands of miles, risking death, to find work in the United States.
I’m not sure how a bunch of hippos dropped off in the country improves anything.
Similarly, India struggles with poverty, overpopulation, and infrastructure, especially with roads and its electrical grid.
Again, how are a bunch of hippos going to solve this problem?
I’m just happy that President Joe Biden has not offered sanctuary for the hippos.
To be fair, it would not be the first time Americans tried to woo hippos.
In 1910, a Congressman from Louisiana introduce a bill into the House of Representatives that would have imported hippos into the Louisiana bayous.
The idea was the hippos would feed on hyacinth, a flower that was clogging rivers. The hippos would also be harvested for meat.
The plan got support from conservation-savvy President Theodore Roosevelt, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.
The Times praised hippo meat as “lake cow bacon.” That combination of words conjures no flavor ideas in my mind.
Maybe that’s why Congress never passed the bill.
Middle school teacher Daniel P. Finney is a Marion County Express columnist.
Daniel P. Finney wrote for newspapers for 27 years before being laid off in 2020. He teaches middle school English now. He writes columns and podcasts for ParagraphStacker.com, a free, reader-supported website. Please consider donating $10 a month to help him cover the expenses of this site.
Post: 1217 24th St., Apt. 36, Des Moines, 50311.