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Ryn: Everything is going down the toilet

Rabbit heads, toy trucks, and hockey sticks are not great things to flush down the toilet. But folks still do it.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

“Anything you can flush down a toilet, ” said Butch Burnette, manager of Tucson Plumbing, “someone will eventually find it.”

A whole host of plumbing calamities from across the nation are outlined in a new book, “Chilling Tales from the Porcelain Seat,” with commentary by two Roto-Rooter guys, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, who double as stars of Ghost Hunters on the SciFi Channel.

The book makes for great bathroom reading – especially since it was custom-sized to fit atop of the toilet tank – as long as you don’t read about the tree frog that snuck up on a man’s privates while he was sitting on his throne.

False teeth were at the top of Burnette’s list of the weirdest things pulled from Old Pueblo potties.

“It’s actually fairly common, believe it or not,” he said. “People end up getting drunk and they puke then wake up and can’t find their teeth.”

Yes, it’s funny, he said – except, of course, for the people who lost the teeth.

Another body part Burnette has been sent to retrieve is a glass eye, with no explanation as to how or why it got there.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Some of the stuff found by Roto-Rooter in the book has included a live Civil War cannon shell, hats, toupees, eyeglasses, drug money, cell phones, garden hoses, prisoner pants from an Ohio jail, doorknobs and a hummingbird feeder.

Animals or their parts, like a rabbit head that clogged a toilet after being flushed as the rest of the rabbit was served for dinner, are another strange sewage find.

Burnette once pulled a baby roadrunner from a sewer line, surmising it must have fallen in through a vent or grating.

“I didn’t know what it was,” he said. “I saw a lot of skin at first and then long feathers. It was very strange.”

While Burnette says he never found any dogs, cats or even alligators in the sewers, one of his family members did discover baby coyotes that got in through a drainage canal.

Rattlesnakes and a 4-foot boa constrictor are on the Roto-Rooter guys’ list, as are frogs, pigs, skunks, squirrels, mice, rats and Cornish game hens.

Live kittens have also been rescued from sewer drains, using a fiber optic camera and lots of patience.

Tucson’s eucalyptus trees and oleander may look dandy on the surface, but they, too, are killers when it comes to pipes.

“You can drive anywhere in Tucson and find some really bad root systems,” Burnette said.

“Chilling Tales” explained how pipes, especially old ones, will get miniscule cracks which are quickly filled by roots seeking underground water. More roots will thrive off the tendrils and the next thing you know, you’ve got hundreds of pounds of roots clogging up the waterlines.

The largest root record in “Chilling Tales” is held by a 201-foot, 1,500-pound root that was pulled from a drain in Monterey, Calif., back in 1997.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Photo Ryn Gargulinski

I wanted yet another reason to hate Bermuda grass, but Burnette said the grass roots only reach about 6 inches deep, while pipes are nestled at least 1 foot underground.

As fun as all this sewage pipe stuff may be, one of the most amusing—and disgusting—discoveries was in women’s outhouses near California’s Shasta Lake, “Chilling Tales” reports.

The find was a man who sat at the bottom of the outhouses in a lawn chair with an umbrella.

When police finally confronted the guy, who was donning thigh-high fishing boots and waders, he had a simple explanation for his antics.

He had just been looking for his wife’s wedding ring.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who hates when her pedometer falls in the toilet. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail

logoWhat’s the strangest thing you ever flushed or heard about being flushed down the toilet?

Are any items important enough to you to retrieve from an outhouse?

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30,000 pounds of chicken coming to Tucson – Celebrate with chicken slide show

Got chicken? Tucson sure will when more than 30, 000 pounds of the palatable poultry is delivered to the Community Food Bank on Monday, Sept. 21, according to a news release from the food bank.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Tyson Food, Inc., joined forces with the League of United Latin American Citizens to bring this delicacy to hungry families, churches and other organizations via the food bank.

Thousands of families across southern Arizona will benefit from this donation, said Bill Carnegie, president/CEO of the Community Food Bank.

He also noted in 2008 the food bank distributed 22 million pounds of food, enough to furnish more than 48,000 meals each day. Last year’s demand was nearly 40 percent higher than the previous year, he said.

Carnegie and LULAC member Richard Fimbres will be unloading the chicken truck(s) at 9 a.m. at the food bank, 3003 S. Country Club Road, if anyone wants to truck down to watch.

No word on when the chicken will be available for distribution.

In the meantime, those who can’t go watch raw chicken being unloaded from a truck may enjoy the chicken photo slide show below.



What’s for dinner?

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Tucson man has arm ripped off and thrown in dumpster

A Jeep collision left one passenger without an arm – that the driver drove off with and then threw in a dumpster, according to a news release from the Tucson Police Department.

Police arrested the 26-year-old driver after he abandoned the Jeep, threw his passenger’s arm in the trash and went home.

The driver was booked into Pima County Jail Sept. 16 and charged with leaving the scene of an accident with serious injury and, for throwing away the arm, tampering with evidence.

The collision occurred just after midnight on Sept. 15 when the man driving the vehicle and three other men got into an argument as they were riding in the 2007 Jeep Liberty.

They had been leaving the Fourth Avenue area and, for a still unknown reason, the driver rammed into a tree near Seventh Street and Hoff Avenue while one of the rear passengers had been partly out of the vehicle.

That’s the man who lost his arm. Police found him on the scene suffering from life-threatening injuries. He was taken to a local hospital where he remains in critical but stable condition.

Police found the Jeep abandoned at an apartment complex at near 10th Street and Mountain Avenue, which also housed the dumpster that contained the arm.

No word yet on what happened to the other two passengers or if physicians were able to reattach the arm.

UPDATE 09/21/2009

Physicians were unable to attach the victim’s arm, said Tucson police spokesman Sgt. Fabian Pacheco in an e-mail, and the victim remains in stable condition.

The victim was the only one of the four who is in active military duty and the other two passengers were only witnesses to the incident, Pacheco said. They provided statements and were released.

Pacheco also confirmed that the incident was alcohol-related.

UPDATE 04/13/2013

The name and photo of the driver arrested in this incident has been removed from this posting. Ryndustries is open to being fair, since life certainly isn’t, and removed the specifics at the request of one of the men involved.


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Shocking news: New study finds BB guns can be dangerous to kids

Folks, hold on to your hats. A new trauma study at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix has just been released with some shocking results:

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

BB and Pellet Guns May Pose Lethal Danger to Kids

Wow. If I didn’t get that one from the medical center’s news release, I was going to buy BB guns for all my toddler nephews and nieces this coming Christmas.

Got to love these studies, those that take x number of years and cost x millions of dollars just to state the obvious.

The BB gun study only took six years to complete and evaluated the results of 29 pediatric patients blasted by BB or pellet guns. Nine of those kids needed surgery; 17 suffered serious injuries; six suffered “significant morbidity” and two died.

I hope the kids were not shot on purpose just so the docs would have someone to study.

There was no mention of the cost of this particular study, but the release said the results, authored by Patrick J O’Neill, PhD, MD, and his trauma surgery and neurosurgery colleagues, has been published in the journal Pediatric Neurosurgery.

Anyone who saw the horrible movie “Orphan” witnessed the scene where the boy shoots a BB gun at a pigeon that falls over and bleeds excessively. That should have been enough proof that a BB gun could hurt small children, too.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Other stupid studies throughout the years have included:

Study finds: Women don’t like to be told they look fat

Study finds: Bullies tend to have problems relating to others

Study finds: People who cannot afford cars are more likely to take public transit

Study finds: People put on more clothes when it’s cold

While those are real studies mentioned at, we can envision others that may be on an upcoming list:

Study finds: Most people don’t appreciate being punched in the face

Study finds: Hungry people tend to eat

Study finds: Sunlight fades fabric

Study finds: People say it hurts when you stick a fork in your eye

Did you know BB guns could be dangerous for kids?

What’s the most ridiculous study you can recall?

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Tucson bicycle dangers and UA bike safety campaign

If you are looking for thrills, chills and a regularly risking your life, you need not go skydiving or careening down Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Tucson cyclist at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski
Tucson cyclist at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski

You can just bicycle around Tucson.

Yes, Tucson offers some of the finest weather, landscapes and miles of bike paths to enjoy. But it also offers some of the most oblivious motorists who often don’t seem to give a hoot about bicyclists.

Not all bicyclists are safe riders, either. I’ve seen them dart across traffic, hog car lanes and cruise through stop signs and lights with a sense of entitlement that makes kings and queens look meek.

My Day of the Dead blog noted two bicycle fatalities in the past few months, one in the Tucson police’s and the other in Pima County sheriff’s jurisdiction.

Alexander Nunez, 49, was killed July 2 after he was hit by a van on East 22nd Street near South Sixth Avenue, police reported.

Nunez was riding north across 22nd Street, just east of South Sixth Avenue, when he rode into the path of an oncoming van, according to witnesses and roadway evidence, Officer Linda Galindo said.

Jerome David Featherman, 84, was killed Sept. 3 after his bicycle was struck by a sedan that drove into the bike lane along Desert Bell Drive in Green Valley, according to the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

Featherman, who was wearing both a helmet and reflective vest, was hit from behind by a southbound sedan driven by David Armstrong, 76.

Featherman died after being taken to the hospital.

Tucson police on bike patrol at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski
Tucson police on bike patrol at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski

Other Tucson police statistics report two fatal bicycle versus car incidents this year, one with a motorist who left the scene; 150 bicycle traffic injuries, 46 with motorists who left the scene; 47 bicycle property damage incidents and 26 “other” bicycle accidents.

Maybe the “other” are bicyclists who rode into garbage cans or shopping carts left all over town.

Since police statistics lag about a month behind, putting us in early August, we can do some math and deduct that approximately 21 bicyclists are injured each month.

And those are just police statistics.

I am in no way trying to discourage bicycling in Tucson. But I am also in no way soon going to pump up the tires of my own bicycle that’s been sitting largely unused since I moved to town nearly three years ago.

I felt safer biking through the clogged and manic streets of New York City, which I did often, than I did once biking one mile in Tucson to the nearby Blockbuster.

UA Bicycle Safety and Education Campaign

The University of Arizona is a hotspot for bicyclists, with more than 10,000 bicyclists on the UA campus any given weekday, according to UAPD spokesman Sgt. Juan Alvarez.

The UAPD and campus Parking and Transportation Services have teamed up to promote the Bicycle Safety and Education Campaign. The campaign’s goal is to educate folks on bicycle traffic laws and give you some tips on keeping your bike safe against thieves.

The campaign kicks off this week, with the UAPD and Parking and Transportation personnel stationed at the following locations:

Wednesday, Sept. 16 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (University/Cherry)
Tuesday, Sept. 22 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (University/Cherry)
Wednesday, Sept. 23 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Highland/Fourth)
Thursday, Oct. 1 – 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (Olive/Second)

Campaign includes free bicycle registration at the sites and U-Locks for sale for $15, cash or check only, please.


Cutest bicycling couple at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski
Cutest bicycling couple at downtown bike fair/Ryn Gargulinski

What do you think?

Do you ever bicycle around town? Does it seem safe and friendly?

Have you ever had a bicycle crash, smash-up or been hit by a car?

Have you ever hit a bicyclist while driving your car?

Are you one of those 46 meanies who left the scene? If so, please leave your name, address and phone number in comments below.