Back to the Grind

All good things must end, including vacations, and so today it was back to work. I was fairly well-rested and could feel the absence of stress when I got to work. In retrospect, I realized that I had felt moderately stressed before going on vacation. But it seemed that today was going to be a pretty good day, at least if you define "a pretty good day" as one in which a person has no desire to throttle anyone else.

That lasted for all of half a day. Alas, the restorative powers of a short vacation do nothing when it comes to dealing with the human foibles of others. The throttling desire returned, although somewhat mutedly compared to a couple of weeks ago. My hands did twitch a bit a couple of times, though. I must work on controlling my reflexes better.



I've been off this week and feeling lazy.

Sure, I could have written about Sheryl Crow's goofy suggestion of allowing people one square of toilet paper per sitting, but she's been the butt of enough jokes elsewhere. No need for me to crack wise about it.

I could have written about the bizarre Phil Spector, who is on trial for murder and is looking like a latter-day Nigel Tufnel (Spinal Tap reference!) after his makeover. But hey, who really cares other than Spector, the victim's family and friends, and the tabloid media?

I could even have written about last night's Democratic presidential candidate debate in South Carolina... But again, who really cares other than the candidates, their victims' families and friends, and the tabloid media? Well, as early as they are out "candidating", since it's still more than NINE MONTHS until the first 2008 presidential primaries, you could make a pretty good case that we're ALL their victims! And that goes for the Republican candidates, too.

Funniest comment I've read about the Democratic candidates: "President Gravel? Only in an episode of The Flintstones."


Secret Message?

Yesterday was April 20th, or "4/20" in pot smoker lingo. I just saw video on Fox and Friends of marijuana smokers in Denver having a smoke-in at 4:20 p.m. local time. The police, predictably, were on hand to make arrests for drug possession.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of the jerseys that the Boston Red Sox were wearing in their 7-6 win over the New York Yankees. They wear the green jerseys during spring training for their game on St. Patrick's Day, but I wasn't aware that they wore them during the regular season. Green jerseys; 4/20. Coincidence or a secret message? Dude, I question the timing!


How Do You Keep a Moron In Suspense?

You've heard that old joke, of course. The answer is "I'll tell you tomorrow." Well, my friend Barbara did something like that to me, sending me an e-mail on Tuesday whose title said "DO NOT OPEN TIL 4/20/07," complete with a red priority exclamation point.

Now, I'm an "instant gratification" kind of person. I don't like to wait! But suddenly I was facing an ethical dilemma: While Barbara wouldn't know if I opened the e-mail before today, I would. Since she asked (well, TOLD) me to wait until today, I felt obligated to do so. And so I respected her request and didn't open the e-mail until I got home from work this morning, even though I was consumed with curiosity. It was not easy.

Anyway, the message told me to watch for a package arriving today (since I was inconveniently celebrating my birthday on Sunday). And sure enough, the UPS guy brought me a box with a couple of deep-dish Malnati's pizzas from Taste of Chicago. My mouth is watering already! Now that is a good friend, folks! And I've almost forgiven her for keeping me in suspense for 2-1/2 days. Almost.

"Lighten Up and Get A Life!"

There's a lot of things about presidential candidate Sen. John McCain that rub me the wrong way, starting with his McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law. But I really liked his response to critics when he told them they needed to "lighten up and get a life."

Amen, brother! "Oh, he might have insulted the Iranians! We don't want the Iranians to be mad at us! Let's wring our hands!" Let's not. And the "Bomb Iran" parody goes all the way back to 1980, by the way. Those of us old enough to remember the Iran hostage crisis remember hearing it... And agreeing with it.

I heard what the wimps at MoveOn.org had to say about Senator McCain's comments, and my response to them was unprintable. When I heard his "lighten up and get a life" reply, my estimation of him went up a couple of notches. "Straight talk," indeed. We need to hear more of it.


Talk About Coitus Interruptus!

A local NBC-2 television news story:
Sex while driving brings DUI charge

FORT MYERS BEACH: Authorities have charged a Fort Myers man with driving under the influence after an accident on March 29th that left his naked passenger lying on the side of the road.

A blood test revealed that Joe Conner, who was driving the Jeep, had a blood alcohol level of .22 - almost three times the legal limit.

The vehicle's passenger, Susan McBride, was thrown from the Jeep in the accident and suffered major injuries.

Arrest reports that were just released shed some light on why McBride may have been naked at the time of the accident.

Deputies say Conner told them McBride, "wanted to have sex and started to take her clothes off."

He went on to explain to authorities that the two were traveling down Estero Boulevard, "having sex at the time the vehicle lost control."

The Jeep hit three mailboxes and a guard rail before finally coming to rest in a ditch.

The arrest report also said McBride has permanent disfigurement on her face from scarring caused by the crash.

McBride's neighbor described her injuries in more detail.

"Thirty percent of her body was road burn. She had a severe concussion and contusions on the head, stitches and a broken rib," said Kathy Rivera.
Ouch! They never put that part in the Penthouse letters! Later in the story, the woman denies that she was having sex with the driver at the time of the crash. However, she was found naked on the ground at the scene of the crash, which occurred around 1 a.m. And that is the sort of thing that could cause an already inebriated driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Also, it should be noted that the Jeep didn't lose control, the driver lost control over the Jeep. Don't blame inanimate objects when you screw up, folks.

And if you're drunk and feeling frisky, get a room! It'll be a lot cheaper than an emergency room visit would be.

A Pet Peeve (or Two)

For Pete's sake, people, there is no such word as "efforting"! Effort is NOT A VERB!! Growl!

While I'm being peeved, I don't like it when a fantasy story set in another world starts giving characters English names like Martin, Amos and William. Or a French name like Guy, for that matter. If you're in a world where there is no England, then the characters don't speak English and shouldn't have English given names! It completely spoils the ambience and the suspension of disbelief required in good fiction. I guess the only good thing I can say is that none of the characters are named Christian. Yet. And yes, it's an old series that I'm just now discovering, but the first book was pretty good, but the author really annoyed me by doing this in the second book. I already bought the third and fourth books in the series, though, so I guess I'll have to read them to find out what happens next. But I'm not happy about it.


Surviving the Unthinkable

I've been thinking about the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech yesterday, where some deranged idiot murdered 32 people and wounded 15 others before taking his own life. We will hear over the coming days about those murdered people, about promising lives cut short, about the sorrow felt by mourning families and friends. And we will wonder, "What would I have done under those circumstances?"

Now, it's kind of tough to second-guess those who were there, and many times the information originally given out is garbled, distorted, inaccurate or just plain wrong. But I heard that in at least one place, students were shot "execution-style," that is, lined up and shot in the back of the head. And when I hear that, and about the shooter moving methodically through the halls of the academic building, I wonder why there wasn't more resistance and why nobody tried to jump him. They had to have heard the shots coming toward them.

So I thought about this last night at work, and asked the question, "How do you survive a situation like that? What do you do if a gunman comes into your workplace or your school or the mall where you are shopping?" If you get to the point where you're lined up and waiting for the gunshot from behind you like a sheep led to the slaughter, you've screwed up, big-time.

First, DON'T PANIC! Panicking is the most likely thing to get you killed. If you hear gunshots nearby, the first thing you should do is get down on the ground, fast. This makes you less of a target. When you're on the ground, take a deep breath and take stock of your surroundings.

Second, DON'T FREEZE! Just as running around wildly in a panic can get you killed, so can freezing in fear. Don't count on the cops to save you. Don't count on the SWAT team. They may be able to respond within a few minutes, but you may be dead if you wait for them. The best thing you can do is...

GET OUT! Know where the emergency exits are around you. You don't want to be a hero if you don't have to, so the best thing you can do is get away from the situation. Low-crawl on the floor to the nearest emergency exit. If the gunshots are coming from that direction, then low-crawl to the next-nearest one. If the gunshots are coming from a hallway outside of your office and you have a window in the office, go out the window if you are on the first floor.

If you are on a higher floor, you'll have to decide if dropping to the ground from that floor will kill you. You can probably drop from a second or even third floor without taking too much damage. If there is anything around that might break your fall, cushions on a chair or couch, etc., drop those out first and try to land on them. If there are bushes below, try to land on them. If there's a ledge, try to walk out onto it, then bend down and grasp the ledge and swing over, and hang by your arms before dropping. This will lessen the distance you will fall and cut the amount of damage you will take when you hit the ground.

What about if you're on an upper floor? Then you can try barricading the door, as one roomful of students at Virginia Tech did. Look at the hinges on the door. If they are on your side of the door, then it will swing in and it can be barricaded with a heavy piece of furniture like a desk or a couch. If the hinges are on the other side of the door, then it will swing out and barricading it is a waste of time.

Finally, what do you do if there's nothing to barricade the door with? What if there's no way to escape? Then the best thing to do is to try to jump the gunman if you are with a group of people. Make sure that the lights are turned off so that the gunman's eyes have to adjust when entering the room. Look for anything that you can use as an improvised weapon. One possible tactic would be to have everyone remove their shoes and throw them at the gunman's head as he enters the room, in order to distract him, since his natural reaction will be to raise his hands to block the objects coming at his face. At that point, everyone should charge the gunman and knock him to the floor. The odds are that someone will be shot in the process, but he can't shoot everyone at once, and once he's on the ground, your greater numbers can neutralize him.

Remember that it's not a fair fight; he came at you with a gun, so anything you do to him is fair. Repeated kicks to the groin should immobilize him, and when you're taking off your shoes to use as missiles, be sure to pull out the laces to use as an improvised garrote. Have someone try to get behind him, loop the shoelace around his neck, and strangle him with it. Heavy leather bootlaces probably would work better than the cloth laces in an average pair of tennis shoes. You may not have anything else to use as a weapon, but shoes and shoelaces could do the trick in a pinch. Be prepared to improvise with whatever is at hand, and think outside the box about things that you can use to defend yourself.

Think about what you would do in that kind of a situation. It's unlikely that you'll ever have to do it, of course. But then again, it was unlikely that those murdered students ever would either. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they didn't respond in a way that allowed them to survive. If they had done this mental exercise sometime in the past, perhaps they might have.


Animal Story Farm, Part 3

Because, once again, some animal stories are more equal than others. From the London Daily Mail:
Mystery cat takes regular bus to the shops

Bus drivers have nicknamed a white cat Macavity after it has started using the No 331 several mornings a week.

The feline, which has a purple collar, gets onto the busy Walsall to Wolverhampton bus at the same stop most mornings - he then jumps off at the next stop 400m down the road, near a fish and chip shop.

The cat was nicknamed Macavity after the mystery cat in T.S Elliot's poem. He gets on the bus in front of a row of 1950s semi-detached houses and jumps off at a row of shops down the road which include a fish and chip shop.

Now, I'd be skeptical about a story like this, except that they have a picture of Macavity getting off the bus:

I think the fish and chips shop should hire him as their spokescat.


Non-Nappy-Headed Ho Dies

So on Thursday night, Don Imus is fired for his "nappy-headed hos" comment. And now, on Saturday, the world's most famous Ho, Don Ho, dies. Coincidence? Perhaps. But now both of the Dons' careers are sending up tiny bubbles. Aloha, Don!

Don't Be That Guy!

Jim Macdonald at Making Light:
Do you know how we can tell the difference between people who were wearing their seatbelts and those who weren’t, at the scene of an automobile accident? The ones who were wearing their seatbelts are standing around saying “This really sucks,” and the ones who weren’t are kinda just lying there.

This is not to say that all unrestrained traffic accidents are fatals, or that seatbelted folks are invulnerable. But if you’re playing the odds….
Read it. Read it all. And then buckle your seatbelt! I don't have so many readers that I can afford to lose any.

And if you won't wear a seatbelt, at least make sure that you've signed an organ donor card. Because, y'know, if you're in a car wreck, you may not be needing them yourself any more.


Free Speech? Eh, Not So Much

"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." -- Voltaire (1694-1778)

"...Unless it might possibly offend anyone in any way at any time. Then you're on your own." -- America (2007)

Or as The Clash noted in their song "Know Your Rights" (from their seminal album Combat Rock), "you have the right to free speech, as long as you're not dumb enough to actually try it." Oh, the "Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech," it says so right there in the Constitution, but your free speech rights will be abridged well below the federal level. If you say anything that anyone might find offensive, you will find yourself hounded from the public square, investigated, humiliated, and if you cross your fingers, rehabilitated. Know your rights. These are your rights. Welcome to America, 2007. "Put in your earplugs, put on your eyeshades, you know where to put the cork." (Tommy, the Who.)

Well, Imus lost the radio gig, too. No surprise, really. Media outlets are controversy-averse. Controversy is bad for business, bad for ad sales, bad for the bottom line. Bad for ratings? We'll never know in this case. One thing's for sure: The civil rights groups that were picketing CBS and threatening boycotts put the lie to the notion that blacks are impoverished in America. Obviously they have enough economic clout that CBS and its sponsors didn't wish to lose their business.

No Way to Start a Weekend

I was heading to the clock at the end of the day to clock out when somebody spotted me and told me that I'd been paged to the MDO's office. I had three minutes until it was time for me to clock out. I walked in and spotted the supervisor and asked what was up. I was then escorted into the back office where my partner was sitting. The supervisor apologetically told me that she had to conduct an investigative interview, which can lead to discipline. We were both mystified about what this might involve, but then she came out and told us that two trays of our 34102 mail in blue trays had been found in the spread area yesterday, at noon. Even worse, when they were found, the information was given to the MDO while he was in a meeting with the plant manager. The bigwigs had their eyes focused on us, and not in a friendly way.

She wanted to know why it hadn't been run, and when the last time I'd checked the spread area had been. I explained that I'd gone to pick up the blue tray mail for my other run at around 3 a.m., and I'd checked the 34102 GPC at that time, which was empty. We'd already run all of the mail in that GPC. The mail in the blue trays is local-originating and comes off the machines being run by Tour 3. They usually finish up before 1 a.m., and were long gone when I did my final check of the spread area. Therefore, no new blue trays should have appeared in the spread area after that time.

I told the supervisor that what probably happened is that someone found the mail mis-spread in with their trays of mail, and rather than walking all the way to my machine to give it to me, they just dumped it in the GPC in the spread area. I also pointed out that if they'd just inducted the mail into the UTS, instead of fooling around with spreading the mail by hand, it would have come to my machine and been run, instead of being mis-spread through human error. I know that I've found more than one tray of mis-spread mail in my GPC on occasion, and I've always taken it to the machine that was running that mail. Apparently not everyone is that conscientious.

My partner was livid about the whole thing. As he noted, it's stupid to hassle two of your hardest-working, most conscientious clerks about something that may not even have been their fault. There was no chain-of-custody on where those two trays came from.

It was pretty obvious that the supervisor didn't want to have to do the investigative interview, but that she was getting pressured from above. She was coy about who was doing the pressuring. I don't know why. I don't have any problem at all about talking it over with the MDO or even the plant manager himself. I know that I do a damn good job, as good a job as anyone in the plant, and I take pride in that. And I'm not intimidated by anyone, no matter what title they may wear. That's probably because I'm not bucking for any kind of promotion. If I was, I might be some kind of yes-man lackey myself. But that's not my style. Never has been. Never will be.


One Shoe Drops on Imus

The other shoe hangs by a shoelace. Last night, MSNBC announced that they will no longer simulcast Don Imus's radio show. Instead of suspending him for two weeks as they'd originally planned, they're pulling the plug entirely. And there are those at CBS, whose WFAN affiliate produces Imus's radio show, that want him gone as well. The tidal wave continues to rise.

I think Imus has made one huge mistake in the past few days: He hasn't gone into rehab. Remember the guy on the TV show (not one I watch, so I don't remember his name) who used a slur about gays to refer to a co-star on his show? Like many others who have gotten into trouble with drugs or alcohol or simply just saying something stupid, he went into rehab. Yes, nowadays just about any sin can be washed away in the Holy Light of Rehab. Hallelujah! Imus hasn't done that, and he probably should have.

Why is this so? Because while in the past, alcoholism and drug abuse were considered to be signs of personality flaws and moral degeneracy, today they are "illnesses," and those who suffer from them are considered to be victims who are not responsible for their behavior. When you look at it like that, then it's easy to hear someone say, "Hey, that was the booze/drugs talking! I'm not really like that! It was the disease! It's not my fault!" and think, "Well, golly, he's right! He's a victim, too, so we have to forgive him."

But Imus hasn't been astute enough to blame Demon Rum or Peruvian Marching Powder for his hurtful words. He hasn't humbled himself by going into one of those $1000-a-day rehab centers. He hasn't made himself a fellow victim, and therefore, he cannot be sympathized with or forgiven by those in our society who believe that only their fellow victims can be righteous.

So that's my advice for Imus: Go into rehab! Quickly, before the radio gig goes up in smoke as well.


Just Once...

Is anyone else as sick and tired of the Don Imus Apology Tour as I am? I mean, Anna Nicole Smith-level sick and tired. Yeah, he said something on his radio show that he thought was humorous that most other people didn't find humorous at all. Then the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the Perpetually Offended got ahold of it, and were, predictably, offended. You saw people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, both of whom have made racially offensive comments in the past, come out of the woodwork and demand that Imus be fired from his radio show. And then you saw Imus begin his apology tour, groveling to all and sundry.

Well, I think he owed those women basketball players from Rutgers an apology for what he said about them. But I don't think he needs to lick the polish off Al Sharpton's shoes, or Jesse Jackson's, or Hillary Clinton's, or those of anyone else weighing in on the matter. He's gotten suspended for two weeks, for saying something far more offensive than what got Rush Limbaugh canned from Monday Night Football several years ago. But Imus's show has been popular, and without Imus, there is no show. So he won't be fired, and if some sponsors bail on him, they'll be back after the heat is off in a month or two.

I'll tell you, though, just once, just ONCE, I'd like to see someone in the position that Imus is in "man up" and say, "Yeah, I said it, and I'm not sorry! I thought it was funny at the time. If you're offended, then grow a thicker skin! You don't have a constitutional right to go through life without being offended! If you don't like it, then don't listen to my show and don't buy the products from my show's sponsors. There are plenty of other people who will. I'm not going to kowtow to political correctness, and I'm not going to lick the polish off Al Sharpton's shoes!"

It'll never happen, though.


Spotted in the Mail

Last night, I saw a rather humorous large advertising postcard. It was addressed to a guy locally. It had the word "EARTHQUAKE" in large jagged letters that were splitting apart in the center and warned that earthquake damage is not covered by standard homeowner's insurance. The other side showed a map of the U.S. with the level of danger on a rainbow scale from Red (High) through Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue and then finally the lowest level of danger, White. The entire state of Florida is White, except for the little bump at the northern end of the state that juts into Georgia, which is Blue.

So this company is sending this to a guy whose home is about as likely to be struck by a meteor as it is to suffer earthquake damage. I wonder if that same company sends warnings about hurricane damage not being covered by standard homeowner's policies to Montana and the Dakotas? I hope the guy who gets it has as good a laugh over it as I did.

Where is the Red? All along the Pacific Coast from Washington to California, plus southern Alaska and the Big Island of Hawaii, and the area where Missouri meets Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas around the New Madrid fault. If you live in any of those areas, make sure you keep your earthquake premiums current.


And While We're On the Subject...

I ripped a couple of comedy CDs to my iPod over the weekend. They were Have You Seen Me Lately and Leader of the Banned, both by the late Sam Kinison. Out of curiosity, I went to Wikipedia and looked up his entry and found that tomorrow, April 10th, is the 15th anniversary of his death. He was killed by a drunk driver, which was bitterly ironic considering that part of his shtick was making light of groups that opposed drunk driving. I still thought he was funny as hell.

So here's to you, Sam, wherever you may be spending your afterlife. Need I note that this may be NSFW? It's his video for "Wild Thing," featuring Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Billy Idol and Slash, as well as Jessica Hahn. And if you're muttering, "Fifteen years? Has it really been that long?!" then you're probably old, like me. Likewise if you remember who Jessica Hahn was.

Farewell, Johnny Hart

You might have seen that cartoonist Johnny Hart, who drew the "B.C." and "Wizard of Id" comic strips, passed away on Saturday at age 78. He had a stroke and died at his drawing board. It's the cartoonist's equivalent of dying with his boots on.

I don't read the comics every day, the way I used to when I was a kid. Maybe it's just that my view of the world has grown grimmer, although that might argue for reading the comics more, not less. My local paper didn't carry either of Hart's strips, although I read both of them growing up in St. Joseph, Mo., and Kansas City, and I usually found them to be humorous.

I have a lot of admiration for cartoonists, because they have a tough job: They have to be able to draw the same characters over and over, and they have to be able to come up with something clever for them to say every day. That's no small order. There are only so many jokes in the world. For someone to be able to do it day after day for almost fifty years like Hart did is really quite an accomplishment.

So farewell, Johnny Hart, and godspeed. Just as when Charles Schulz died a few years ago, Hart is irreplaceable. He was one of a kind, and the world will be a little less funny for his passing.


Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

Fox News Channel mentioned this story the other day (well, rehashed it, actually, since the original FNC story is from late January) and I thought it was kind of interesting:

Porn Industry May Decide DVD Format War

The story notes that the American adult film industry's revenues in 2006 were over $12 billion, while mainstream American film's revenues were only around $9 billion. This tells you how much clout the adult film industry will have in deciding the battle between the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD high definition DVD formats, just as it did in making VHS the videotape format winner over Betamax.

This shouldn't be any surprise to anyone with a little knowledge of history. For any new technology, if there is a possible application for erotic gratification, then that will be one of the first applications. Photography and motion pictures are a couple of good examples. As soon as people had the ability to take pictures, they were taking racy pictures, and not just the soft core kind. Another good example is the electric vibrator, which was on the market nine years before the electric vacuum cleaner and ten years before the electric iron, according to the linked article.

There's something fascinating in looking at vintage black-and-white erotica from the past century or so. You get the feeling that however different their clothing, hairstyles and cultures may have been from ours, their essential human nature was just the same. The fellow in the top hat frolicking with the gal in the corset is not so far removed from us as we might have thought.

A number of the pictures I've seen are of French women from the 1920s, with short flapper hairstyles and outrageous costumes. Many of the pictures have flowery backgrounds or classical Grecian urns and columns as props. Perhaps the most essentially French one is a nude woman with dark hair and smoldering eyes and a cupid-bow mouth, wearing only an oversized beret and a scarf around her neck, left hand on her hip, right foot up on the seat of a chair, right elbow resting on her knee and a smoking cigarette extended from her fingertips. Another common trope is the gypsy, with scarves and beads and bangles, and sometimes even a tambourine (probably NSFW!).

But for artistic effect, my favorite would be this one (probably NSFW!). Giant peacock plumes! C'est parfait.


Those Sneaky Swiss/French/New Englanders

I'm not really sure which of the above to blame for today's chocolate fiasco story. Perhaps any of them, perhaps all of them. Here's what happened: My friend Mary is also a chocolate aficionado, and after reading my recent blog post about chocolate, she wanted me to try the strongest dark chocolate that I described. I thought it was 86%, but it was actually 85%. Anyway, I wrote back to her that I could probably save myself the money and just write that it would be too bitter for my taste. But today, I was at the store and saw the Lindt Excellence collection, a sampler that showed Mint Intense, Orange Intense, 70% cacao dark chocolate and 85% cacao dark chocolate pieces on the package. "Okay," I thought, "I'll try them just so that Mary will be happy."

Well, I got home and opened up the package and found out that while there were several of each of the Mint Intense, Orange Intense and 70% cacao dark chocolate squares, there were NO 85% cacao pieces in the package AT ALL! I was not amused. Those weasels lied to me on their package! I don't know if it was the weaselly Swiss who own the company, the weaselly French who manufactured the chocolate or the weaselly New Hampshireans (New Hampshirites?) who packaged the chocolate here in America. Probably the latter, but we'll spread the blame liberally.

So, I'm sorry, Mary, but I still can't tell you anything about that 85% cacao dark chocolate. Although the 70% cacao is quite bitter. The orange and mint flavors are sweet enough to take some of the bite out of it in the other two kinds. I think I'll probably stick to milk chocolate for a while after this.


Stop Me If You've Heard This One...

So, a coyote walks into a sandwich shop...

And he says, "Is your roadrunner fresh?"

The man behind the counter replies, "We don't serve your kind here. And we don't have roadrunner sandwiches."

The coyote sighs and says, "You've hurt my feelings. I'm going into rehab*, like everyone else."

* - "He was taken to the Flint Creek Rehabilitation Center in Barrington, home to all of Chicago's transplanted urban coyotes."


So, a coyote walks into a sandwich shop...

And he says, "Is your roadrunner fresh?"

The man behind the counter replies, "We don't serve your kind here. And we don't have roadrunner sandwiches."

The coyote howls and says, "Darn it! I should have known better than to trust that stupid Acme restaurant guidebook!"


Euro-cent Wise, Euro Foolish

I hope that wasn't lost in translation!

Okay, this story is from Novosti, the Russian news agency, and probably should be taken with a deer-lick-sized block of salt:

Belgium to impose tax on barbequing to fight global warming
BRUSSELS, April 3 (RIA Novosti) - The government of Belgium's French-speaking region of Wallonia, which has a population of about 4 million, has approved a tax on barbequing, local media reported.

Experts said that between 50 and 100 grams of CO2, a so-called greenhouse gas, is emitted during barbequing. Beginning June 2007, residents of Wallonia will have to pay 20 euros for a grilling session.

The local authorities plan to monitor compliance with the new tax legislation from helicopters, whose thermal sensors will detect burning grills.

Scientists believe CO2 emissions are a major cause of global warming.
Now, the question: How much carbon dioxide will be emitted by the fleet of helicopters hovering over Wallonia, hoping to catch scofflaw grillers? I'll bet it's one hell of a lot more than the barbecue grills will be putting off! That's a hefty tax, by the way, since the current exchange rate is more than one dollar per euro.

Can you imagine what would happen if some American state tried pulling a similar stunt? The offending officials would no doubt be burned in effigy, although we don't know what kind of carbon tax will be required to do that in the future!