Archive for December, 2006

Holiday Greetings

Sunday, December 24th, 2006
From the House of Toast to you and yours…


Peace on Earth
Good Will To All

Oh Come, All Ye Faithful

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Promoting “global peace through global ecstasy”, today, December 22nd, is Global Orgasm Day. This is not a joke. The organizers of this event believe that it will be possible “to effect positive change in the energy field of the Earth through input of the largest possible surge of human energy, a Synchronized Global Orgasm.” The site even features a handy countdown clock to enable you to coordinate the timing of your actions leading up to the big, er, climax. Even if you miss the earth-shattering moment at approximately 10 AM Eastern time, you can still participate “at the time of your choosing, in the place of your choosing and with as much privacy as you choose.”

The 22nd was chosen because it is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and a day associated with high levels of spiritual energy by many world cultures, both past and present. The ancients heralded it as a turning point — the day marking the return of the sun. Many observed fertility rituals on the Solstice, because it is so linked to the theme of nature’s rebirth.

The stated goal of the project is to add a concentrated burst of positive energy into the earth’s field that will “reduce the current dangerous levels of aggression and violence throughout the world.” Sensors at Princeton University, which reportedly are able to measure minute changes in the earth’s energy field, have shown that human consciousness can in fact be measured to have a global effect during widely-watched events such as 9/11 and the Indian Ocean tsunami. There have also been measurable results during mass meditations and prayers.

So be sure to do your part to participate today, and make a contribution to worldwide peace. This event is so ripe with opportunity for puns and other wisecracks that I’m not even going to try and touch it. But knowing the folks who read this blog, I can’t wait to read your comments.

The Great Christmas Tree Caper

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

I’ve been thinking about Christmas trees since Supacoo wrote a funny post about her experiences with Christmas trees as a youth, and shared a photo of the damn fine-looking specimen which stands proudly in her home this year. Way to go ‘Coo!

My own youthful recollections of Christmas are tainted by the amazing cheapness of my father, who when I was five or six years old made what was probably to him a quite logical and financially sound decision: “why should we waste twenty bucks on a live tree every year when we can buy a fake one and use it year after year?” This might have been forgivable had the fake tree been a huge and gloriously green, perfectly-shaped model of arboreal artificiality, but no: my dad insisted on buying the most cheap-ass, skinny, ugly silver tree one could find on sale at K-Mart, and I had to look at that sucker every single year for the remainder of my childhood. No present placed under it was able to redeem the pure ugliness of that aluminum metal monster.

Therefore, it’s probably not surprising that I vowed when I was old enough to have my own place, by George, there would be no more fake trees for me, and I’ve had a real one ever since. Some years they came from the grocery store or a corner lot; for many years we went to the local Christmas tree farm and cut our own, which was always fun. And during a couple of really fine years when we celebrated Christmas with the in-laws at their home in Colorado, we’d actually go out into the National Forest (with the proper permit, of course) to find the ideal tree. Those were the best years of all.

But this particular year was 1988; the place, Houston, Texas. In the city there aren’t too many options for cutting down a live tree, so one is relegated to buying one from a Big Discount Store or a commercial tree lot. We had scoped out the choices and decided that a lot not far from where we lived had the freshest and best-looking trees in the neighborhood. Not only that, they were open 24 hours a day for the convenience of the late-night tree-seeker.

On this evening about two weeks before Christmas, a good friend of ours had come over to our house for dinner. During this meal, much wine was consumed. Further consumption of wine (and other items) continued after dinner. By about 1 AM, we were feeling no pain whatsoever, which apparently is why the decision to jump into my little red Toyota pickup truck in this toasted condition, drive to the tree lot and get our tree in the middle of the freaking night must have seemed like a good idea.

We arrived at the Christmas tree lot which was well lit, but (understandably for that hour of the day) completely deserted. At the entrance to the property stood a small travel trailer where the attendant stayed; we didn’t see anyone around, so we decided the most logical plan would be to pick out a tree, then bring it back to the trailer and check out. The trees were all tagged with prices, and after much searching and general hilarity due to our less-than-sober condition we found what we thought was the ultimate holiday tree, a glorious seven-foot Noble Fir marked with a tag of $39.95. This was a bit more than I had intended to pay, but it really was a beautiful tree. All the others we had looked at were nice, but each had at least one minor blemish which kept it from being The Perfect Christmas Tree. This one, however, was absolutely flawless.

We carried the tree to the trailer, leaned it against the truck, and went in to pay. Inside the tiny trailer, the attendant was stretched out in a lounge chair with a ball cap pulled down over his eyes, his hands folded in his lap. A rather unkempt looking gentleman with a scraggly beard, he appeared to be asleep. A small black and white TV set was playing above the whirr of an electric space heater which was keeping the trailer toasty warm. I figured that with tax, the price of the tree would be about $45, and I had three twenty-dollar bills in my hand. In a tone of voice only slightly louder than normal so as not to startle him, I said “Sir?”

He didn’t move.

I tried a little louder. “Sir? Excuse me, I’d like to buy this tree.”

Nothing.

By now I was yelling at the top of my voice. “Hello, sir? Hello? Can I pay you for this tree? Sir?” When he still didn’t wake up, at that point we began to wonder if he was, in fact, alive. Strange crimes happen in the city, and it seemed entirely possible that some homicidal maniac could have robbed the man of the lot’s mostly cash proceeds and killed him in order to leave no witness. However, we could see no blood or other physical signs of trauma, and closer inspection revealed he was indeed breathing. As if to reassure us, at about that moment he began to snore.

My friend and I looked at each other, both thinking the exact same thing at the exact same moment. Without a word, we dashed out of the trailer, threw the tree in the back of the pickup, and raced out of the lot and back home, laughing like idiots all the way.

In retrospect, he had probably gotten drunk and passed out. Being an attendant at an all-night Christmas tree lot is not a highly skilled occupation, and who knows what kind of low-life the owners of the lot had hired for the temporary job. I suppose we could have shaken the man to wake him up, or left two of the $20-bills (or even one of them!) on the small desk next to the guy. But for whatever reason, we didn’t; instead, we gave in to the lure of larceny that fate presented to us.

It was, however, a very special Christmas. Once the tree was decorated, it was the most magnificent holiday evergreen I have ever had in any year before or since, and it will be remembered not only for its classic beauty but for the manner in which it was obtained. In fact, while visiting Houston this week we had dinner with my former partner in coniferous crime, and once again shared a hearty laugh as we recalled The Great Christmas Tree Caper of 1988. The tag on the tree may have said $39.95, but the memory of it will always be priceless.

An Engineer’s Christmas

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

We’re in Houston tonight, fortunately at a hotel with high-speed Internet access. After my post yesterday in which I spoke of The Engineer and the half-full glass, a fellow techo-geek sent me this gem. For anyone who’s ever wondered how Santa can leave presents for kids all over the world in one night, here’s the scoop from someone who has figured it all out:

There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world. However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the population reference bureau). At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that comes to 108 million homes, presuming there is at least one good child in each.

Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stocking, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get onto the next house.

Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks.

This means Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second–3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) 15 miles per hour.

The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized LEGO set (two pounds), the sleigh is carrying over 500 thousands tons, not counting Santa himself. On land, a conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that the “flying” reindeer can pull 10 times the normal amount, the job can’t be done with eight or even nine of them: Santa would need 360,000 of them. This increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth (the ship, not the monarch).

600,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance—this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would adsorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip.

Not that it matters much, since Santa, as a result of accelerating from a dead stop to 650 mps in .001 seconds, would be subjected to acceleration forces of 17,000 g’s. A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo. Therefore, if Santa did exist, he’s dead now.

Merry Christmas!

The Sound of Opportunity

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Over the weekend, we got a much-needed breath of fresh air as a cold front passed through the area. This means I can finally turn off my air conditioner and open the windows, as the outside temperature has finally dipped below the ninety-degree mark for the first time since about April, I think. While those of you in more moderate climates have four distinct seasons, we here in Texas have only two: “hot”, and “damn hot”. In any case, while the cooling breezes were blowing through the house, Mrs. Toast remarked that all we needed was the sound of crashing surf to feel like we were on our own private island. This comment naturally sent me off to scour that source of all things Good and Wonderful (i.e., The Internet) in search of “surf sounds”. After struggling through many links to tunes by the Beach Boys, sure enough, I came upon this site, which featured a vast selection of “ambient sound” CD’s perfect for relaxation and meditation, all at the bargain price of just $12.95 each. Wow! Check out some of these actual selections from the web site:

Yes, this is what exactly we’re looking for. Soothing relaxing ocean sounds, including crashing waves, and squawking sea gulls. Ahhhhhhhh. Close your eyes and you can almost smell the salt air. I wonder what else they have in this genre?
Oh, storms. That’s nice. Who can resist the soothing sound of tinkling rain and the rumble of a distant thunderstorm on a summer day? I can easily see how someone might want to pay $12.95 for an hour’s worth of relaxing ambient sounds like these. I mean, what a great deal!
And now we … huh? What’s this? “Soothing Air Conditioner”? Um, this is a little bit of a stretch as I just turned OFF the air conditioner. Hmmmm. Other titles in this series include “Soothing Shower Head”, “Peaceful Air Purifier”, “Calming Electric Fan”, and “Smooth Radio Static”. Who knew household appliances could be the source of calming, soothing, ambient sounds? And at the bargain price of only $12.95 each!
I’m amazed to learn that babies find the sound of vacuum cleaners to be soothing. Even though I can remember being awakened as a child by the sound of a vacuum cleaner, apparently nowadays major appliances are a source of great comfort to small children, as in addition to this disk, others in this series include “Baby’s Blow Dryer CD”, “Baby’s Dishwasher CD”, as well as Baby’s fans, washing machines, and clothes dryers. Did I mention each disk in this series is only $12.95?

OK, by now I am starting to realize that there is a vast untapped market here, and I am struck with an idea. If these guys at Pure White Noise® can get people to pay $12.95 by sticking a microphone up to a vacuum cleaner for an hour, there must be many other sounds they’ve overlooked that I can capitalize on. So, allow me to now present my own entries into the ambient sounds market:

CITY SOUNDS: Sure “nature” sounds are great if you find rustling leaves and chirping crickets to be relaxing. But quite a few people who live in big towns like New York City, San Francisco, and Fargo become quite accustomed to the background noise of the city, and go crazy when they get out into the deafening silence of the country. So for those poor deprived city-dwellers, my first CD in the series will feature sixty minutes of various city sounds such as honking horns, shouting, rumbling subways, the muffled thud of bass from the neighbor’s stereo system, domestic disturbances, sirens, gunshots, etc. Urbanites will feel relaxed and right at home.
TRAFFIC NOISE: In case general-purpose city sounds aren’t enough for you, here’s an entire CD of Traffic Sounds which I can record “live” in one afternoon on Houston’s Southwest Freeway. This one will specialize in typical Texas traffic noises, including busses, 18-wheel diesel trucks, lots of cursing, and the occasional crackle of small-arms fire. Nothing like a nice relaxing drive around Loop 610!
BARKING DOGS: Dog lovers will really go for this one. One hour of incessant yapping, relentless barking, and wretched howling. If you’re away from home and miss the sound of Fido in your back yard, be sure to bring along this CD.
BABY’S FIRST CD OF GARBAGE DISPOSAL SOUNDS: Air conditioners, fans, washers, dryers … how could this major household appliance have been overlooked? Crank this one up loud to “create an oasis of relaxation and calm, promote sleep, provide stress relief sounds, block annoying noise for a more restful sleep and improve concentration, and ease the symptoms of colic, tinnitus, ADD/ADHD and hyperacusis”. Includes sounds of grinding chicken bones, silverware and other items. Sure, you could just turn on your own disposer, but this CD is only $12.95! Wow!
CRYING BABY SOUNDS: I’ve saved the best one for last. Are you childless? Ever been out to a restaurant to hear a toddler screaming at the top of his lungs at the next table, and wish that you too could experience the joys of parenthood for yourself? Well then get this disk for all of the fun and none of the dirty diapers. This one’s also perfect for empty-nesters who miss the cries, the wails, the blood-curdling screams that only a hungry, wet, and colicky baby can make. Yes, at just $12.95, you’ll want to pick up several of these for everyone on your Christmas list. I guarantee they’ll never forget you and your thoughtful gift this coming Holiday Season!

Note: No actual babies were harmed during the making of this CD, although we came pretty damn close and had to restrain ourselves on a couple of occasions.

Over the river and through the woods…

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

…we’re off on a Houston drive!
For my hospital tests
I’m feeling quite stressed
I hope I get home ali…ive!

Ho, ho, ho! Time to get out the sleigh bells and put a wreath on the front grill of the van, as we’re about to hit the road for the holidays. In addition to visiting the relatives, it’s also time for me to go back to Methodist Hospital for another pre-transplant evaluation of my lung functions for my IPF, so I’ll be spending the better part of Wednesday and Thursday being poked, prodded, stuffed into a little airtight cabinet, and blowing into tubes. What jolly fun! After quite a few of these pulmonary function tests, I think I’ve about got the routine down by now.

The good news is that I seem to still be doing fairly well considering that two years ago, I was told that I had perhaps 18 months left to live … and I honestly feel better now than I did then. I can’t help but think that my experimental pirfenidone treatment has had something to do with that (and of course, all that clean living – hah!) so I’m optimistic that the test results this week will show that I’ve remained relatively stable in the six months since my last exam. I have noticed that I’m coughing more and seem to be getting tired more easily than I did over the summer during my whirlwind New England road trip, but we’ll see what my pulmonologist has to say. Most likely, I expect he will tell me to come back in another three months (or six months if I’m lucky) and we’ll do this drill all over again. It’s a bit frustrating to be stuck in limbo like this: dependent on supplemental oxygen and not well enough to be able to carry on “normal” activities, yet not sick enough to need immediate transplant surgery. But hey, I am not complaining! On the contrary, I consider it a major blessing that I’m doing as well as I am, and have learned to cope with the limitations imposed by my condition. This glass is definitely half-full. (Which, being an engineer, reminds me of the old joke that an optimist sees a glass as half full, a pessimist sees it as half empty, and an engineer sees a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.)

But once this business is out of the way Thursday afternoon, it’s on to more pleasant things including some shopping and dinner at a nice restaurant in Houston, and visits with friends and family there. We’ll be back on Christmas eve to spend a quiet holiday at home, and may find a few minutes for an occasional blog post here and there. I’m sure most of you will be busy with your own family gatherings, but please stop by and say “hi” if you get the chance. I know one blogger friend in particular will be quite busy with having a baby over the holiday; please visit April’s blog and wish her congratulations once her little bundle of holiday joy arrives (any day now). Talk about a great Christmas present!

I’ll leave you for now with this sacred and uplifting tune that will hopefully enhance your enjoyment of the season; I think it captures the true spirit of the holiday. Just click on the little “play” button below. If I’m not able to post again before the weekend, let me take this opportunity to say…

Merry Christmas to All
And To All a Good Night!

Blog weather: Mostly cloudy

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Blog “Word Clouds” are popular items these days, here’s mine:


Get yours here.

Oh boy, another web poll!

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

Once again I’d like to probe the inner workings of your mind with a survey … but this time, not on boring, inconsequential topics like “who would you like to see as our next president.” Nope, today we’re going to explore the deep philosophical implications of … butts.

Ah, now I have your attention!

You may have seen or heard about this story involving a teacher at Monacan High School in Richmond, Virginia, who was recently fired by the school district as a direct result of his extra-curricular activities. Stephen Murmur is a self-proclaimed “butt-printing artist” who creates floral and abstract art by plastering his posterior and genitals with paint and pressing them against canvas. He goes to great lengths to keep his work as an artist separate from that as a teacher, performing his activities outside of class on his own time, using a pseudonym and appearing in disguise to promote his art. He has never mentioned or involved the school in any way whatsoever, or shown any of his creations to his students in or out of class. In a recent interview, Murmur said in response to questions about his disguise: “I’m certainly proud of the ass painting. I do have a real job where I do have real clients and I don’t think they’d be too understanding if I was also the guy who painted with my ass.”

As it turns out, he was right. After officials at the school saw a YouTube video of Murmur (which is no longer available on the site) and word got around about it, they placed him on indefinite administrative leave, claiming: “In the school system, personnel regulations state that teachers are expected to set an example for students through their personal conduct. Additionally, the Supreme Court has stated that schools must teach by example and that teachers, like parents, are role models.”

Murmer contacted the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia after he was suspended late last week, and the case may go to court. He has been instructed by the school administration not to speak with the media, and did not return messages seeking comment.

But let’s get to the bottom of this issue! How do Wind In The Wire readers feel about this pressing matter? Do you think that the school board has the right to butt in on someone’s private life in this way? Are they being ass-inine? Can you get behind Murmur’s creative motivation? Or does this cheeky story merely make you crack a smile? Thankfully, I’ve run out of bad metaphors, so let’s put it to a vote:

Do you think the “Butt Artist” should be fired from his teaching job?

Your Answer
No, what he does on his own time is his own business.
Yes, he’s setting a bad example for the students.

pollcode.com free polls

Thanks for your input!

Library hijinks

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Here in East Texas it’s exams week at the University where Mrs. Toast works as a Librarian, which is the time that students go absolutely bonkers. Everything they’ve worked for all year in large part boils down to how well they do this week, and the pressure is enormous. And what do college students do when they’re stressed? Apparently, they have parties in the library, take off their clothes, and urinate in the stairwells. The library is open 24-hours-a-day all this week, allegedly to give students a quiet place to study for exams, but the librarians who have been working the overnight shift (not Mrs. Toast, fortunately) have witnessed some strange goings-on in the halls of literature. One of them has been sending a daily e-mail to the rest of the library staff reporting on the nightly carnage, including the theft and vandalism of wall signs, water gun fights, students taking off their clothes to study in their underwear, and the most heinous crime of all (gasp!), loud talking!! Hey people, put a lid on it – this is a library here! But things seem to be improving: here is an excerpt from one of his daily reports:

The building has cleared out a lot. I see no sleeping or signs that those who are left are slowing down. I noticed that a lot more trash has been picked up and put in the garbage instead of being left out. I think I have begun to make some sort of bond with the natives. They appear more docile and cooperative. I brought my camera with me this time around the building. Some were shy and had to be coaxed out of their hiding places while other strutted and thumped their chests demanding that their primitive nobility be recorded for the ages. I quickly made new friends and passed the word about the vandals and damage, and recruited their help in watching for trouble. I don’t know if this will help but I suspect that it has. Word is spreading of the strange silent pale one who stalks the stacks at night.

In the course of discussing these disturbing incidents, several of the librarians got together and came up with a brilliant plan: build a deck on the roof, add some lights and a DJ, sell drinks, and the library would become the hippest spot between Dallas and Houston. They could even call it … are you ready? … “The Library”. Hit up the patrons for a cover charge to get in and the University could make a fortune. I don’t know why they’re not all over this idea.

Meanwhile, another faculty member mentioned that a library in his home town sponsored something called “librarian night” at the local strip club. All the girls at the club (not the librarians) dressed up as librarians (or at least started dressed that way) and then gave a portion of the proceeds to the library. Here’s another great idea the University needs to capitalize on; they could even do a poster session for ALA, plus “Librarian of the Month” calendars and desktop screen savers!

Never let it be said that librarians don’t work hard to further their careers.

And here we thought Americans were smarter

Monday, December 11th, 2006

Here’s a follow-up to the previous news item about the guy in Germany who asked police to help him get a refund on the “bad marijuana” he had bought: stupidity seems to be spreading world-wide. Last weekend, a Wichita, Kansas man called 911 to report that he had been the victim of an armed robbery. The theft? A pound of weed worth about $1,100 that he had been trying to sell at his home.

The victim told police that a buyer had pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and stole the drugs. Police said they’d be more than happy to help, and brought a drug-sniffing dog to the house. More marijuana and drug paraphernalia was soon located, and the victim was booked into Sedgwick County jail on several charges, including possession with intent to sell drugs.

The thief has not been found.

Again, one has to ask “what were they thinking”? Or maybe the problem was that they had been smoking their shit before getting the brilliant idea to call the cops. I guess it must have been pretty good.

Random News Tidbits

Friday, December 8th, 2006

Wrapping up a week when, it seems, trivial world events such as the war in Iraq and politics on the home front were pushed aside by the dramatic media appearance of Britney Spear’s cooch, (Related story: K-Fed — now known as “Fed-Ex” — says he’s “doing great“) here are a few other headlines you may have missed:

Bad Kitty

In Miami, a 7-year-old child’s birthday party went horribly wrong when a 62-pound cougar named “Georgia”, hired as part of an exotic animal show for the party by the child’s father, mauled a 4-year old guest. The declawed cat grasped the child’s head with her teeth, causing severe lacerations to her eyelid, left cheek and ear. Doctors sewed back part of her severed ear. Georgia was later euthanized as part of a rabies test, over the objection of the cat’s trainer, Cory Oltz. Oltz, the owner of “Wild Animal World”, says the child “sneaked up behind” the big cat and startled it, despite being cautioned to remain calm and still while the animal was being brought out. Oltz faces a misdemeanor charge of allowing injury to the public, as well as a lawsuit by the child’s family. According to an attorney representing the injured girl, who has not been identified, “the family wants this to be the last child who is attacked by these animals.” Two similar incidents have occurred in the last seven years.

Wild Animal World is a non-profit organization which offers a “wide variety of educational, exciting and professional interaction with exotic animals,” charging about $300 for a one-hour birthday party show, according to its website. Oltz, a former model, says on the site: “I always wanted to do a photo session with a big cat. They provided one on a modeling shoot and I was hooked!” Her least favorite part of the job: “The inevitable bites get tiresome.” While there are lots of cute pictures on the website of foxes, lemurs, monkeys and other animals posing with kids, oddly, none of the photos depict a big cat ripping a child’s face off. I guess that would be bad for business.

Flight Grounded by Giant Fart

Meanwhile, considering my recent post regarding the side-splitting humor of simulated flatulence around the ol’ Christmas tree, this story from Nashville seems especially apropos: An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing earlier this week after a passenger lit a match to disguise the scent of “a body odor”.

According to the Associated Press, the Dallas-bound flight was diverted to Nashville after several passengers reported smelling burning sulfur. All 99 passengers and five crew members were taken off and screened while the plane and luggage were searched. The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal flatulence from an “unspecified medical condition.”

An airline spokesman said, “It’s humorous in a way, but you feel sorry for the individual. It’s unusual that someone would go to those measures to cover it up.” The flight took off again, but the woman, who was neither identified nor charged in the incident, was not allowed back on the plane. Apparently, authorities decided that the extreme mortal embarrassment she had already suffered was punishment enough.

Hot Panda Sex

In other news, from Hong Kong comes encouraging word from scientists who say that a plan to stimulate giant pandas to breed by showing them “panda porn” has paid off. They claim to have sparked a baby boom among the endangered animals by showing them DVDs of pandas mating.

“It works,” Zhang Zhihe, a leading Chinese expert, told the Xinhua news agency. “It is the same idea as chimpanzees seeing people smoke and then copying it.”

In the first 10 months of this year 31 cubs were born in captivity in China and 28 survived, said Zhang. That’s an increase from 12 births in 2005 and just nine in 2000.

Let’s hope the pandas are not shown the Britney Spears video.

Sorry, No Refunds or Exchanges

Finally, the Wind in the Wire “What Were They Thinking?” award for the week goes to a 52-year-old German man who tried in vain to get a refund for 400 euros worth of what he said was “bad marijuana” from his dealer by turning to the police for help.

“It is un-usable,” the man told police in the hope they would help him get his money back. Not surprisingly to anyone other than perhaps the man himself, police then charged him with violating drug possession laws and confiscated the 200 grams of marijuana he brought with him to the police station.

You can’t make up stuff like this. Have a great weekend!

We have boring statistics!

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Those of you who love data analysis, sets, trends, samples, arrays, and other statistical trivia will be thrilled by today’s post. The other 97% of you, feel free to go have a sandwich or something while we ponder the effect of NaBloPoMo on the readership of this here Blog. Not only do I have raw numbers, I’ve got fancy graphs! I mean, just look at this shit!


No doubt this brings to mind the famous Mark Twain quote, “There are three types of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that the first few days of November started off slowly with less than 20 visitors per day, which has been typical of the last several months around here. But then the effects of NaBloPoMo started kicking in as new readers began stopping by around the 6th; and other than for that mysterious plunge on Saturday the 11th, whoa Nellie … we were off to the races, peaking up around 90 hits on a few days. This is very exciting for me, and once again please let me thank everyone who visited during the month.

Of course, my ability to sustain this level of growth is highly doubtful. I pulled out all the stops for NaBloPoMo, folks: surveys, humor, pathos, thoughtful commentary, not to mention the cute cat pictures. However, that ship may have sailed, as they say, as my first few posts so far this month will attest. But I’ll keep plugging anyway, and hope that some of y’all will stick around for whatever pithy banter I might come up with next. If that doesn’t work, I may steal David Letterman’s old schtick and start giving away canned hams. Whatever works.

This says it all

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006


But even if I didn’t win any of the swag, the accomplishment thing is still not too shabby.

Dewey Readmore Books, Library Cat

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

Note: Welcome Carnival of the Cats readers. Since the author of this blog has a special interest in both cats and libraries, this recent story from the Associated Press is particularly poignant.

SPENCER, Iowa – The final chapter is closed on Dewey Readmore Books. The 19-year-old cat, who became a mascot for the city’s library after being found in a book drop, died Wednesday in the arms of librarian Vicki Myron.

The temperature was minus 10 when Myron and another librarian found Dewey under a pile of books in the library’s book drop when they came to work one morning in January 1988.

“We didn’t know if someone abandoned him or if a Good Samaritan found him on the street and shoved him in the book drop to get him out of the cold,” she said. “His paws were frozen. We warmed him up and fed him and he just purred and cuddled. From day one, we felt he’d be the right personality for the public.”

Since then, Dewey became famous, Myron said.

She said TV crews came from as far away as Japan to do stories about him. Myron said she has found 222 “hits” for Dewey on the Internet search engine “Google.”

Dewey’s name was chosen in a local contest to name him shortly after he was found. He was named after the Dewey Decimal System, a system used in most libraries to catalog books.

Dewey, who Myron said still came running for cheeseburgers, boiled ham and chicken garlic TV dinners, had been experiencing health problems recently and was diagnosed with a stomach tumor shortly before Nov. 18, which was officially marked as his 19th birthday.

After his health rallied, he started “acting funny trying to hide” and Myron decided to take him to the vet and have him euthanized.

Library employee Kim Peterson said the staff is talking about having Dewey cremated and burying his ashes at the library.

Read the full story in the Sioux City Journal, or see Dewey’s official bio. This week’s Carnival of the Cats is being hosted by Catymology.