Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Flipping Good Luck

Thought for the day:  I never use the cell phone in the car. I like to keep my hands free for making gestures.  Maxine

With age comes wisdom. That's what they tell us, anyway. Sometimes, all it brings is a bunch of aches and pains. And if we're very very lucky, grandchildren.

They're God's rewards for not killing our kids, you know. As Doug Larson wrote, Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap. Hear, hear!

Yep, it's that wonderful time again. Time for me to venture away from the computer for a couple weeks to spend quality time with our grandchildren. So it'll be awhile before I do any new posting or commenting. But I'll be back, so please hold my spot in the blogosphere, okay? In the meantime, I'll be playing with the kids, and (WOW!) helping out when our daughter-in-law brings grandchild number twelve into the world.

Life is good. And, no doubt about it, we've been blessed with flipping good luck when it comes to grandchildren.

Before I go, I thought I'd share a chuckle with you about another grandmother. This is a laugh-o-licious piece that's been around the Internet a time or two, but I'm hoping it'll be new to some of you. It's supposed to be a letter from an 88-year-old grandma to her granddaughter.

Dear Granddaughter,

The other day I went up to our local Christian book store and saw a "Honk if you love Jesus" bumper sticker. I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance, followed by a thunderous prayer meeting. So, I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper. Boy, am I glad I did; what an uplifting experience that followed!

I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord and how good He is, and I didn't notice that the light had changed. It's a good thing someone else loves Jesus, because if he hadn't honked, I'd never have noticed.

I found that lots of people love Jesus!

While I was sitting there, the guy behind me started honking like crazy, and then he leaned out of his window and screamed, "For the love of God, go! Go! Go! GO!" What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus! 

Everyone started honking!

I just leaned out my window and started waving and smiling at all those loving people. I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love.

There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a sunny beach. I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air. I asked my young grandson in the back seat what that meant, and he said it was probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something.
Well, I have never met anyone from Hawaii, so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign right back. My grandson burst out laughing. Why, even he was enjoying this religious experience!

A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment they got out of their cars and started walking toward me. I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed.

So, grinning, I waved at all my new brothers and sisters in Christ, and drove on through the intersection. I noticed I was the only car that got through the intersection before the light changed again, and felt kind of sad that I had to leave them after all the love we had shared.

So I slowed the car down, leaned out the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one last time as I drove away. Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!

Will write again soon.

Love, Grandma

And so I'm off to prepare for some serious kiddie cuddling. (As opposed to kitty cuddling. Alas, our kitties will NOT be amused.)

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stonehenge Whodunits

Thought for the day:  You may put a hundred questions to these rough-hewn giants as they bend in grim contemplation of their fallen companions, but your curiosity falls dead in the vast sunny stillness that enshrouds them.   Henry James

A henge is defined as a prehistoric monument built in a circular area with standing stones or wooden pillars, often enclosed by a bank or ditch, and probably used for tribal or religious rituals. Did you know there are upwards of 900 of these stone rings in the British Isles? Me neither.

Of course, the one we're most familiar with is Stonehenge, considered to be the most ancient monument in the world. Located on Salisbury Plain in England, about 137 km south of London, this monument's circle is aligned with the midsummer sunrise, the midwinter sunset, and the most southerly rising and northerly setting of the moon. Pretty impressive for something built an estimated 5000 years ago, huh? Not only does this monument demonstrate sophisticated applications of mathematics, geometry, and astronomy, but the engineering involved is amazingly advanced and structurally sound, as well. Latest studies indicate Stonehenge was actually built in three different stages, and took a thousand years to complete. (And you think those workmen took a long time refurbishing your kitchen!)

Two kinds of stones were used in the construction: bluestones, which weigh up to four tons, and had to be brought (somehow) to the site from 240 miles away; and Sersen stones, which are approximately eighteen feet long, and weigh twenty-five tons. (No wonder it took them a thousand years!)

Lots of theories abound as to who built Stonehenge, and why. Merlin? The Danes? Aliens? Many people credit the Druids, but the Druids didn't arrive on the scene until thousands of years later, and when they did, their rituals were generally held in forested areas, not open fields, so it isn't likely that they dunit.

The most accepted explanations assign multiple purposes to the site, both as an astronomical observatory and as a location for performing ritual functions. Perhaps as a cemetery. Maybe even a site of healing.

The truth is, we'll probably never know all the answers about Stonehenge..

We're doomed to wonder about its mystery.

So, let's try this side of the ocean. Any chance of solving the mysteries of America's Stonehenge? 

Well, that's what some people call it. Sounds a bit grandiose to me. The actual name of this bizarre monument is the Georgia Guidestones. 

Set in an unlikely middle-of-nowhere field in Elberton, Georgia, this monument is comprised of five sixteen-feet tall polished slabs of granite. The four outer ones weigh twenty tons each, and are engraved with ten directives, written in eight different languages: English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi, and Swahili. Along with the center pillar, they support a 25,000 pound capstone, which contains a mission statement of sorts: Let these be guidestones to an age of reason. And those words are written in Egyptian hieroglyphics, classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Babylonian cuneiform. There's a 7/8 inch aperture on the capstone, which allows a sunbeam to shine on the center stone, and thus indicates the day of the year. There's also a hole in one of the stones through which the North Star is visible at all times, and a hole in the center column that frames the sunrise on solstices and equinoxes.

So, how did such a massive monument come to be in the fields of Georgia? Surely, it doesn't date back to prehistoric times, does it?

I'm glad you asked. 

In June of 1979, an elegant gray-haired gentleman, who introduced himself as Robert C. Christian, visited Elbert Granite Finishing, and spoke to company president Joe Findley about building a monument. He claimed to represent a small group of loyal Americans who'd been planning  the project for twenty years, and who intended to remain forever anonymous. When Christian described what he wanted, saying the structure was to serve as a compass, calendar, and clock, and would need to be engraved with a set of guides written in eight different languages, and oh, by the way, it had to be built to withstand catastrophic events, Findley thought the guy was a certifiable nutcase. To end the conversation, Findley quoted an astronomical estimate for the job, but Christian wasn't the least bit dissuaded. He dealt with a local banker to handle all the finances, to whom he freely admitted his use of a pseudonym. That banker, the ONLY person who was given the mystery man's real name, signed a confidentiality agreement, promising never to reveal Christian's identity, and to destroy all paperwork once the project was completed.

That was the last time the man was seen in Elberton. Payments for the project were sent to the banker from a variety of banks from all over the country, and written communications came from a variety of locations, as well. The mystery man was everywhere. He was nowhere.

The completed project was unveiled on March 22, 1980.

A plaque details the monument's dimensions, and explains the purpose of the various holes and notches in the stones, which, like the original Stonehenge, enable the monument to track movements of the sun and stars. A University of Georgia astronomer assisted the builders in properly following the  detailed astrological specifications provided by the mystery man.

Layout of the Georgia Guidestones

Plenty of conspiracy theories have tried to explain the true meaning and purpose of these stones, and why that anonymous group was willing to fork over such vast sums of money to build them. Including the theory espoused by Mark Dice, author of The Resistance Manifesto, that the monument has Satanic origins, and should be smashed to smithereens. However, on the face of it, these stones seem to be intended to offer humanity directions for a post-apocalyptic rebuilding of civilization.

So, who WAS that distinguished gray-haired gentleman? And who else was in that group he represented? Merlin? The Danes? Aliens?

Again, we may never know. I sure don't know. But, psssst,  I DO know what's written in eight different languages on those stones:

  1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
  2. Guide reproduction wisely- improving fitness and diversity.
  3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
  4. Rule passion- faith- tradition- and all things with tempered reason.
  5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
  6. Let all nations rule internally, resolving external disputes in a world court.
  7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
  8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
  9. Prize truth- beauty- love- seeking harmony with the infinite.
  10. Be not a cancer on the earth- leave room for nature- leave room for nature.

So, whatcha think? Words of wisdom, or a bunch of bunk? And who WAS that mystery man?

Alas, some whodunits may never be solved. That's what makes them so much fun. Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Well, Blow Me Down!

Thought for the day: The subject of criminal rehabilitation was debated recently in City Hall. It's an appropriate place for this kind of discussion because the city has always employed so many ex-cons and future cons.  Mike Royko

I understand it's a little windy in Chicago. I've never been there, but our youngest son attended school at Chicago's Illinois Institute of Technology, which, by the way, some magazine or another voted the school that looked most like a penitentiary. Anyway, when he was offered a full ROTC scholarship to attend that school, I warned him up and down about the frigid winters, but he assured me of how much he LOVED cold weather.

(Yeah, right. He was born and raised in Georgia. What did HE know about cold weather?)

Our concerns notwithstanding, he accepted the scholarship and set off for the Windy City. His first winter there was a record-setting one. For high temperatures. Piece of cake, right? The second year, however, set records in the opposite direction, and was unrelentingly cold, windy, and snowy for weeks on end. So, when he called me, I figured he was finally gonna admit that the cold weather was more than he'd bargained for ... not that I would've ever said, "I told you so." (But I was thinking it!) But no. He told me, "This is so NEAT! As soon as you walk outside, you can feel the hair in your nose freeze!"

So (ahem) turns out he really DOES like cold weather.

Okey dokey, let's take a virtual whirlwind tour of Illinois before we make fun of some of their laws.

This is Abraham Lincoln's home, located in Springfield. Before he was elected president, he served in the Illinois legislature, and practiced law in Springfield. With Lincoln's ties to Illinois, it should come as no surprise that in 1865, Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery.

Like his home, Lincoln's tomb, just outside Springfield, is also a National Historical Site.    

Illinois is also home to the largest catsup bottle in the world. The 170-foot tower, located beside route 159 near Collinsville, was built in 1949.

On December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi and a group of scientists built what you see in the drawing on the left. Constructed on a transformed squash court under a section of stands at the University of Chicago's Stagg football field, this stack of uranium-embedded carbon blocks successfully demonstrated the production of controlled heat. Called a pile, this was actually the first man-made nuclear fission reactor.  [Photo courtesy of University of Chicago archival photograph files.]

 In 1947, a plaque was unveiled at  the University of Chicago to commemorate Fermi's achievement. It reads: On December 2, 1942, man achieved here the first self-sustaining chain reaction and thereby initiated the controlled release of nuclear energy. [Photo courtesy of University of Chicago archival photograph files.]  Fermi is second from the right.  

On April 15, 1955, Ray Kroc opened the first McDonald's in  Des Plaines, Illinois. That building was demolished in 1984, and then rebuilt according to the original blueprint. It is now a museum.

The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, in Collinsville, documents the history of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico.


 The Home Insurance Building, built in 1885, was the world's first skyscraper, at 138 feet, and ten stories. Alas, it was demolished in 1931.

When the Sears Tower was built in 1974, it was the tallest building in the world, a title it maintained for nearly twenty years.

During prohibition, Chicago was notorious for bootlegging and mobsters. The infamous St. Valentine's Massacre of 1929 is depicted at the left. (There are actual gruesome photographs on the web, but I preferred this shot of Chicago policemen reenacting the event.) Al Capone hired hit men and ordered a hit on his arch-rival "Bugs" Moran. The hit men, disguised as policemen, arrived at the garage to do the dirty deed, but Moran wasn't there. Five of Moran's men, a mechanic, and an optometrist who "got a kick out of hanging around with gangsters" were lined up against the wall and shot in the back in a barrage of gunfire.

Time to move on, and check out those laws:


  • It's against the law to wear saggy pants. (That's saggy, not soggy. Of course, if they're real soggy, they're also apt to sag.)
  • You can be arrested for vagrancy if you don't have at least a dollar on your person. 
  • You must contact police before entering the city in an automobile. (I have a feeling this one's been on the books for a LONG time.)
  • It's illegal for a woman over 200 pounds to ride a horse in shorts.
  • The English language isn't to be spoken. (Only "American.")
  • In Champaign, it's against the law to pee in your neighbor's mouth. (There was actually a need to write this one down???)
  • In Chicago, it's illegal to eat in a place that's on fire. (But it's the hottest spot in town, officer ...)
  • Can't give a dog whiskey in Chicago, either. (Better stick to beer.)
  • It's also illegal to fish while sitting on a giraffe's neck. (Really? What's with all these giraffe laws?)
  • And you may not drink beer out of a bucket while sitting on the curb. (For Heaven's sake, stand UP! And while you're at it, pull up those pants!)
  • It's only legal to protest naked in front of Chicago's city hall if you're under seventeen and have a legal permit.
  • In Cicero, no humming allowed on public streets on Sundays.
  • In Des Plaines, wheelbarrows with For-Sale signs may not be chained to trees. (Booooorn freeee...)
  • In Evanston, bowling is forbidden. (Now, that's downright un-American!)
  • In Galesburg, no person may keep a smelly dog. (A law obviously enacted by people who never owned a dog who tears into the back yard, still wet from a bath, to roll in the first putrid thing he finds.) 
  • It's also illegal in Galesburg to burn bird feathers. (In case you were wondering.)
  • And you can earn a one thousand dollar fine for beating rats with a baseball bat. (Use a hockey stick.)
  • In Horner, it's against the law to use a slingshot, unless you're a law enforcement officer.
  • In Kenilworth, a rooster must step back three hundred feet from any residence if he wishes to crow. (So, do his owners have to mark the distance for him, or does he get his own tape measure?)
  • In Kirkland, bees aren't allowed to fly over the village or through any of Kirkland's streets. (Who's gonna stop them?)
  • In Normal, it's against the law to make faces at dogs. (Aw, come on! It's ... normal ... to make faces at some dogs.)
  • In Winnetka, you aren't allowed to remove your shoes in a theater if your feet stink. (So, who gets to tell that snarling 350-pound biker to put his boots back on?)
  • And finally, in Zion, it's illegal to give lit cigars to dogs, cats, or any other domesticated animal. (Stick to chewing tobacco, or let 'em light it themselves.)

Okay, boys and girls, this brings us once again to (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Srories of the Week

***  A family of four, including a three-week-old infant, got so hopelessly lost in a corn maze, poor ol' Dad had to call 911 for help. The sun was fading fast on Conner Farm, in Danvers, Massachusetts, so they ended operations for the day, unaware that stragglers were still wandering among the cornstalks. Until police showed up with a rescue dog, that is. Didn't take long to find the corn-fused family, either. Turns out, they were only twenty-five feet from the street. Not sure why they were unable to see the street lights or hear the traffic, but it's a safe bet the family won't be visiting a haunted house this year. They've already had their Halloween scare for the year.

[from YouTube]
***  Most people pace themselves to last through a marathon, but Brett Henderson streaked right past the other runners like they were standing still. Wait, no. He didn't streak past; he streaked. As in, wearing no clothes. His mother claims the borrowed shorts he was wearing kept falling down, so I guess kicking them to the curb was his solution. Police say otherwise, and call him a narcissist who refused to stop when ordered to do so. It took additional persuasion from a Tazer to bring him down. The offense occurred in May, during Cincinnati's Flying Pig Marathon, and the Ohio judge finally made his ruling this week. Henderson is banned from flying with the pigs in any future marathons. Flying pigs, they like. But the naked truth is, unfettered bouncing balls they can do without.

***  How do I love thee? More than the stars in the sky, the raindrops in a hurricane, the grains of sand on the beach. The grains of sand on a particular Cornwall beach, that is. And how much is that, you ask? I'll have to get back to you. Researchers are counting them now. That's right. Researchers from Australia, England, and the United States are conducting an erosion study to determine whether beaches are shrinking or being replaced. So, they're determining how sand moves by ... er ... counting it? The researchers have been planning this study for the past five years, and have some very sophisticated machines and a bank of computers to help them. Dr. Ian Turner said, "For every wave that runs up on the beach, the instruments used in this field study will give information on the transport of sand in the water column, the movement of the sea itself, and the net change in the beach shape." So, whatcha think? I'm thinking most of the locals would've been more than happy to give them an earful about how much that beach has eroded over the years. Hmmm, could be another Ig Nobel in the making.

***  What's not to love about a doctor who still makes house calls? For free! Only problem is, this boob wasn't a doctor. He wasn't as obvious as the dude in the picture, but this guy did go door-to-door with little black bag in hand, generously offering to perform free breast exams on unsuspecting (and unbelievably gullible) women. The Florida man was 76 years old when the authorities charged him with multiple counts of sexual battery and practicing medicine without a license, and now, at 81, his lawyers and prosecutors have allegedly reached an agreement. The judge will be ruling on the sentencing later this month. Dunno what that sentence is gonna be, but maybe those women he molested could come up with an appropriate one. Like maybe a few prostate exams or colonoscopies performed by volunteers?

                                       Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shoe Lookin' At Me?

Thought for the day:  Little known fashion law- if the shoe fits, it's probably ugly.

Spit shined any shoes lately?
What are you wearing on your feet right now? Yeah, that's right. This very minute. If you're wearing shoes, are they well-shined?

That's what I thought. (Yeah, it's a huge waste of time trying to polish slippers, isn't it?)

I can't remember her exact words, but my maternal grandmother used to say something about feet making pride take a fall. And no, she wasn't referring to my tendency to trip over my own feet, either. What she meant was, "Polish your shoes!" Because she held fast to the tradition that a person would always be judged by the state of his shoes. Maybe that held a modicum of truth once upon a time, but I don't think it's applicable anymore. (Especially for those of us who are retired.)

As a kid, I never thought much about shoes, because like it or not, what we got was what we wore, so why bother thinking about it? Fashion wasn't even in our vocabulary, let alone in our budget. Except for one time. In the late 50s, all my friends were wearing saddle oxfords, so when it was time for me to get new shoes, I dared to ask for a pair.

Now, I don't know about your mothers, but mine had an uncanny skill. Of necessity, she was thrifty, so she had these ... unknown sources. Stores where she could purchase items on layaway that almost looked like the latest fads, but were much cheaper. And much much uglier. The saddle oxfords she brought home were the heaviest, clunkiest things I'd ever seen. Each one must've weighed five pounds, was thick-soled and extremely wide, with a horrible rounded toe, when all my friends had feminine, thinner-soled ones with a slightly pointed toe. Only thing those new shoes were good for was street skating, because the skates could clamp onto those thick soles like nobody's business. But I'm telling you, those shoes Would. Not. Wear. Out. Believe me, I tried. And just my luck, my feet went into a stalled growth pattern about then, so it seemed like I wore those things forever. And (ugh) polished them religiously. It wasn't what my grandmother meant, but believe me, with those shoes, polished or not, my feet definitely made pride take a fall.

Did you, your friends, or your kids ever have shoes that looked more like the ones on the left? Worn out and molded to every nook and cranny of your feet, and riper than the dumpster behind McDonald's on a hot summer day? Shoes you loved, no matter how bad they looked?

When I was in high school, most of the boys wore shirts and ties to school, but almost always sported a scuzzy-looking pair of Converse sneakers on their feet. (Or a pair of knock-offs from that unknown source store.) My brother's six years older, and when he was in high school, most of the boys wore black shoes with Cuban heels. And cleats. (If they could get away with it.) And there was nothing scuzzy-looking about those shoes. My grandmother would've approved, because they were as well-polished as a well-loved '55 Chevy.

Nowadays, it seems like people wear flip-flops just about everywhere. To church. To weddings, even. I mean, dressy flip-flops. Talk about an oxymoron. (Although, I must confess, I wore dressy flip-flops to our daughter's outdoor, ultra casual wedding.)

On the other hand, there are the Imelda Marcos type shoe lovers in the world. The ones who think nothing of paying triple digits for a single pair of shoes, and who fill an entire room with them. The designer shoes. Me, I still have a few pairs of gorgeous 6" stilleto heels with ankle straps. (NOT designer, and NOT even close to triple digit.) Now, I haven't actually WORN them in ages. Still, it's nice to LOOK at them as I shuffle past in my scruffy slippers. Like visiting old friends.

So, are you a shoe person? Ever hear of Kobi Levi? He's an Israeli shoe designer with imagination out the wazoo.  I'm sure his shoes are way beyond my cheap thrifty lifestyle, but if I had a pair, I wouldn't know whether to wear them or display them. They're as much art as they are shoes. Check 'em out:

So, which pair would you wear? The "tongue" shoes would work for a rabid Rolling Stones fan ...

Anne Petry said, A man hasn't got a corner on virtue just because his shoes are shined. And I say, a woman doesn't have to wear high dollar shoes to be attractive. Because, in the end, of all the things you wear, the expression on your face is always the most important.

So, SMILE, baby! (You're cool.)

                                         Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


Monday, October 10, 2011

All Romp, No Pomp

Thought for the day:  Do electrons have a negative influence on society?

Everybody likes to receive awards. Remember how nice it was to see gold stars on your first grade school papers? Then there's sports trophies and letters, academic awards, medals and ribbons. The plaques and gold watches from work. (Then again, it's highly possible some employers have regressed to giving gold stars.) Even the ubiquitous participation certificates are a nice acknowledgement of endeavor.

The most prestigious awards in the world are probably the Nobel prizes. They not only come with a huge amount of prestige, but a hefty amount of cash, as well. The first Nobel awards were presented in 1901, and as you probably know, they've been funded since year one by the estate of Alfred Nobel, inventor of nitroglycerin and dynamite, who obviously wanted to leave a lasting legacy that didn't go boom.

Ninety years after the first Nobel prize was awarded, a spoof of the Nobel prize was presented for the first time.

The Stinker, Ig Nobel symbol

The Ig Nobel (pronounced ig-no-BELL) prize, a play on the word ignoble, and an American parody of the Nobel prizes, is awarded for the ten most unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. Organized by The Annals of Improbable Research, a scientific humor magazine, the awards are presented at Harvard University each year, and the presenters are actual Nobel laureate winners. The aim of these awards? First make people laugh, and then make them think. The whimsical-looking awards, suitable for hanging on a bathroom wall, go to serious scientists whose studies may be a bit, shall we say, offbeat. (For example, last year's engineering prize was awarded for a method of collecting whale snot with a remote-controlled helicopter.)

Recently, in a celebration completely devoid of decorum or pomp, this year's winners were feted by the scientific community. Winners included: for chemistry, the inventors of a wasabi-based fire alarm; for medicine, a study that shows decisions can be influenced when we reeeeally have to pee; and for biology, the discovery of a beetle that likes to mate with a beer bottle. American John Perry took the prize in literature for his Theory of Structured Procrastination, which states, "To be a high achiever, always work on something important, using it as a way to avoid doing something even more important." And my personal favorite award went to the mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, who scored the Ig Nobel Peace prize for demonstrating the problems of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running over them with an armored tank.

Peaceful parking through tanks.

Just goes to show ya. Science isn't all serious all the time. The entire ceremony of this year's Ig awards can be found on Youtube, if you care to take a gander, but here's a really cool (and short) promo  you may enjoy.

What's kinda cool is scientists from all over the world dip into their own funds to attend these ceremonies. Allegedly, very few of the recipients turn down the prizes or fail to show up to accept them. Makes me wonder how some other scientists might have responded to an invitation. Here's what I think :

  • Audubon would probably wing it.
  • Ampere's passport wouldn't be current.
  • Darwin would wait to see what evolved.
  • Boyle would be under too much pressure to attend.
  • Edison would consider it an illuminating experience.
  • Einstein would find it relatively easy to attend.
  • Ohm might resist the idea.
  • Pavlov would drool at the thought.
  • Pierre and Marie Curie would radiate enthusiasm.
  • Watt would consider it a great way to let off steam.
  • Volta would be electrified at the invitation, and Archimedes, absolutely buoyant.

Enough. Just remember: scientists aren't mad, by gollyTheir senses of humor can be just as wacky as ours. And science really can be fun.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Gambling for Tatas

Thought for the day: Did you hear about the mother potato who got steamed because her daughter wanted to marry a famous newscaster and have a houseful of tater tots? Yeah, it seems the daughter was pure Yukon Gold, and he was nothing but a commentator.

Everyone who associates Idaho with potatoes, say eye.

Okay, so potatoes aren't Idaho's only claim to fame, but it's the most commonly known. And for good reason. They grow a LOT of potatoes.

In a state where cows allegedly outnumber people, there's a lot more to love besides our favorite mashed, scalloped, and au gratin potatoes. It's been said the people are so friendly, if your car breaks down on a state highway, the first person who comes along not only stops to pick you up, but takes you home for dinner with the family, and puts you up in the guest room overnight. And if a small town restaurant doesn't have what you want, the waitress will run three blocks to the nearest store to get it for you. True, most Idaho towns have more tackle shops, outfitters' businesses, and whitewater businesses than houses, but it sounds like a relaxed once upon a time way of living, where neighbors not only know neighbors, but are willing to lend a hand when it's time to dig up those taters.

So, let's take a quick look at some of the things you can find in Idaho, before we shred and fry some of their laws to a golden turn.

What's not to love about the world's largest beagle?

Big Springs

Cataldo Mission

The Jesuits' Cataldo Mission is the oldest building in the state. The first Service was held there in 1852.         


The Birds of Prey Wildlife area has the densest population of eagles, hawks, and falcons in the world.                                                                                                                                       

Crystal Ice Cave

Yeah, as you can imagine, a state with something called the Crystal Ice Cave has a lot of winter activities, like the McCall Winter Festival, where you can see awesome ice sculptures, like the bear on the left, play snowshoe golf, do a little snowbike racing, tubing, skiing, horse skijoring, (a sport where a person on skis is pulled by a horse, dogs, or a motor vehicle ... yee-HA!) or some good ol' wine tasting. Sounds like a more sophisticated Redneck Games, only with snow and ice instead of mud and beer.     

Hell's Canyon

Carved by the Snake River, Hell's Canyon is ten miles wide, and at 7993 feet deep, the deepest gorge in the country. It's located along the Idaho-Oregon border.

Sawtooth Mountains
Shoshone Falls, a 212-foot drop

Soda Springs geyser

The Soda Springs geyser is the largest man-made CO2 geyser in the world. It first squirted sky-high in 1937, when a local man was drilling in search of a warm water source for his swimming pool. He got a little more than he'd bargained for when he accidentally tapped into an underground CO2 chamber. Unlike Old Faithful, a natural geyser, this one would've squirted continually until it was spent, so the town placed a cap on it, and now allows it to erupt on a schedule of their choosing. On calm days, it can erupt 100 to 150 feet into the air. On windy days, the cap stays in place.

Okay, so do we have any interesting laws this week? Y'all were a little disappointed at how rational Hawaii's laws are, so let's see if we can do a little better this time:

  • It's illegal for a man to give his sweetheart a box of candy weighing less than fifty pounds. (All RIGHT!)
  • You may not fish on a camel's back. (Probably not many fish there, anyway.)
  • It's against the law to ride a merry-go-round on a Sunday.
  • In Boise, you may not fish from a giraffe's back. (Probably not many fish there, either.)
  • In Couer d'Alene, if a police officer suspects occupants of a vehicle are engaging in sex, he must honk his horn or flash his lights, and then wait three minutes before approaching the vehicle. (Wow! Talk about polite!)
  • In Eagle, it's illegal to sweep dirt from one's house into the street.
  • And no bicycles on the tennis courts.
  • And no camping on the sidewalks, either.
  • In Pocatello, a person may not be seen in public without a smile on their face. (Told ya! Friendly, friendly, friendly!)

Okay, boys and girls, the moment you've all been waiting for. It's time for (ta-DA!)

The Weirdest News Stories of the Week

*** Saturday morning TV commercials have long been directed at youngsters, but have you ever heard of an ad designed to get your dog's attention? Austrian TV will be airing ads for Nestle's Beneful dog food that more or less contain a subliminal message aimed at canines. During the commercial, high frequency tones, undetectable by human ears, will issue a siren call to Fido, much like a dog whistle. No telling if the stimulus will initiate Pavlov's drooling dog response, but it should make pooches sit up and pay attention to the TV. And THAT, the company hopes, will make owners pay attention, too. And buy Beneful.

*** Most of us would rather shuffle off this earth with a bang, instead of a whimper. Now there's a company in Alabama that gives everyone the opportunity to do just that. Thad Holmes and Clem Parnell, owners of Holy Smokes LLC, turn cremains into ammunition ... for shotgun, pistol, or rifle. One pound of ashes mixed with shot produces 250 shotgun shells, or it can be sealed into the hollow tips of bullets to produce 250 pistol rounds, or 100 rifle. Aimed at gun enthusiasts and hunters, this allows the deceased to keep on hunting with his pals. Or to be the centerpiece of one bang-up shooting party.

*** Trump's Taj Mahal in Atlantic City is holding a Nip, Tuck, and Lift Sweepstakes, and you could say they're aiming to "change the face" of the usual casino promotion. Just think of it. Win big at Blackjack, and you could earn a boob job. Have a winning streak at the roulette wheel, and get yourself some botox treatments, or liposuction. During this month's unusual promotion, Trump One cardholders have the opportunity to earn points, and those with enough points will be entered into the grand drawing, to be held on the 29th. The winner gets $25,000 worth of plastic surgery. I've heard of people losing their shirts by gambling, but now somebody has the opportunity to lose a bunch of blubber. What a concept.

*** One last story. You'd think if a person lost a bunch of blubber ... that is, had liposuction, he'd be happy to tell that load of fat adios. Forever. But, maybe not. Orlando, Florida, cosmetic surgeon Jeffrey Hartog offers liposuction patients another alternative. With his company Liquid Gold, that suctioned fat can now be stored in a warehouse. He suggests it could come in handy for later procedures, like filling in wrinkles. Other doctors question the viability of the stored fat, but it's a good guess that, if nothing else, that doc's wallet will be getting fatter.

                                             Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.