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Forecast: Hot and Buggy

May 22, 1998

Every 13 years Nashville gets infested, and I mean that in the most horrendous sense you can possibly imagine, with little red-eyed insects called cicadas. They fly around like drunk Russian airline pilots at a convention making an unbelievable amount of noise and, in some areas, blocking the sun for several hours a day. They come out of the ground at night as red-eyed wingless grubs, molt, and wait for the sun to come up so the festivities can begin. There are literally millions of them–I’m not exaggerating about this. And I consider it my sacred duty, as someone who as a child captured black widow spiders and even now is called in to pull snakes from gardens, to make sure everyone I know gets the full cicada experience. Cicadas in coffee cups, under desks, in chairs, down the backs of shirts…the possibilities for anyone who does not appreciate these creatures are endless.

But, the other night, something happened. I’ve heard that people who work calmly in reptile houses in zoos or handle huge numbers of roaches for horror films will, eventually, have a collective case of, well, the scientific term is "the willies". They’ll suddenly realize what they’re dealing with, and it will put them into a complete blind panic. I’ve always scoffed at these stories, but, the other night, having gotten up at midnight to take the dog out, I had my attack. The ground was moving, and as I stepped across the yard, I felt I was walking on what can only be described as stale potato chips and canned ravioli. Ugh. I was seized by a terrible fear and loathing. These things were DISGUSTING! Fortunately my weakness was only temporary, but it left me with a greater understanding of what some people feel. It made me sympathetic, tolerant, and deeply aware of how revolting insects can appear.

Yeah, and if you believe that, I’ll be more than happy to get you some coffee.

Ultimate Diet

Faintly Flabby Earthlings are always on the lookout for a new diet. The trouble with most diets is that you don’t get enough to eat (the starvation diet), or you don’t get enough variation (the liquid diet), or you go broke (the all-meat diet). Consequently, people tend to cheat on their diets, or quit after 3 days, or go right back to stuffing their faces after it is all over. Is there nothing you can do but give up and tell your friends you have a gland problem? Or is there a slim hope?

Such is the new Toddler Miracle Diet! Over the years you may have noticed, as I have, that most two-year-olds are trim. It came to me one day over a cup of black coffee and a carrot that perhaps their diet is the reason.

After consultation with pediatricians, X-ray technicians, and distraught moms, I was able to formulate this new diet. It is inexpensive, offering great variety and sufficient quantity. Before embarking on this diet, however, be sure to check with your doctor… otherwise you might have to see him afterward. Good luck!


Breakfast – One scrambled egg, one piece of toast with grape jelly. Eat 2 bites of egg, using your fingers; dump the rest on the floor. Take 1 bite of toast, then smear the jelly over your face and clothes. Get some in your eyebrows too. It’ll give you something to pick at for several hours of satisfying appetite control.

Lunch – Four crayons (any color), a handful of potato chips, and a glass of milk (3 sips only, then spill the rest down your leg).

Dinner – A dry stick, two pennies and a nickel, 4 sips of stale beer.

Bedtime Snack – Toast piece of bread and toss it on the kitchen floor. Be sure to step on it and hear it go crunch!


Breakfast – Pick up stale crunched toast from kitchen floor and eat it. Drink half bottle of vanilla extract or one vial of vegetable dye. Um. Yummy!

Lunch – Half a tube of "Pulsating Pink" lipstick and a cigarette (to be eaten, not smoked). One ice cube, if desired.

Afternoon Snack – Lick an all-day sucker until sticky, take outside, drop in dirt. Retrieve and continue slurping until it is clean again. Then bring inside and drop on the rug. Wander away without thought.

Dinner – A rock or an uncooked bean, which should be thrust up your left nostril. Pour iced tea over mashed potatoes; eat with a large strainer spoon, since taking your time is vital to your dieting success.


Breakfast – Two pancakes with plenty of syrup, eat with fingers, rub in hair. Don’t pull it out later though. It hurts. Glass of milk: drink half, stuff remainder of picked over pancakes into glass. After breakfast, pick up yesterday’s sucker from rug, lick off fuzz, and put it on the cushion of your best chair. Wander away without direction.

Lunch – Three matches, peanutbutter and jelly sandwich. Spit several bites onto the floor. Pour glass of milk on table and slurp up. Smear a design on table with remaining milk. It’s good for your artistic expression.

Dinner – Dish of ice cream, handful of potato chips, some wine, and coffee.


Breakfast – A quarter-tube of toothpaste (any flavor), bit of soap, an olive. Pour a glass of milk over bowl of cornflakes, add a half-cup of sugar. Once cereal is soggy, drink milk and feed cereal to dog. Be sure to rub some in dog’s fur just for fun.

Lunch – Eat crumbs off kitchen floor and dining room carpet. Find that sucker and finish eating it.

Dinner – A glass of spaghetti and chocolate milk. Discard meatball on plate. Stick of mascara for dessert.

We remain competitive by paying less than our competitors.

We have no time to train you and you’ll have to introduce yourself to your co-workers.

…who still live with their parents and won’t mind our internship-level salaries.

We don’t pay enough to expect that you’ll dress up; well, a couple of the real daring guys wear ear rings.

We all listen to nutty motivational tapes.

You’ll be six months behind schedule on your first day.

Some time each night and some time each weekend.

Anyone in the office can boss you around.

We have no quality control.

Unless you wasted those four years studying something useless like philosophy or English.

We’ve filled the job; our call for resumes is just a legal formality.

You’ll need it to replace three people who just left.

You’re walking into a company in perpetual chaos.

You’ll have the responsibilities of a manager, without the pay or respect.

Management communicates, you listen, figure out what they want, and then do it.

Freethinkers Anonymous May Have Side Effects

May 15, 1998

Thanks to a recent change in legislation, drug companies are now allowed not only to advertise their drugs, they’re allowed to tell you what they are for as well. Why they couldn’t do that before is a mystery to me, but it’s nice to finally understand that the giant hot air balloon carrying a piano player cures allergies, that putting your hand over your mouth when you burp may be a sign that you suffer from bizarre gastrointestinal disorders, and that attractive couples walking along the beach at sunset no longer need to worry about their genital herpes.

Then come the special disclaimers. First there’s "Consult your doctor or pharmacist." I don’t know about you, but my pharmacist thinks the number of times he failed his school exams is hilarious, and occasionally stares off into space then yells out, "Where did all these pills come from?" Then there’s my favorite part: "Side effects are generally mild, and may include headache, drowsiness, sneezing, skin rashes, muscle aches, watery eyes, ear wax drainage, difficulty concentrating, violent behavior, diziness, hallucinations, hair loss, and brain hemorrhages." My diagnosis is: the commercials are worse than the disease.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

Interesting Trivia

  • In Cleveland, Ohio, it’s illegal to catch mice without a hunting license.

  • Dr. Seuss coined the word "nerd" in his 1950 book "If I Ran the Zoo"

  • It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year’s supply of footballs.

  • Thirty-five percent of the people who use personal ads for dating are already married.

  • There are an average of 178 sesame seeds on a McDonald’s Big Mac bun.

  • The world’s termites outweigh the world’s humans 10 to 1.

  • Pound for pound, hamburgers cost more than new cars.

  • The 3 most valuable brand names on earth: Marlboro, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser, in that order.

  • When Heinz ketchup leaves the bottle, it travels at a rate of 25 miles per year.

  • It’s possible to lead a cow upstairs…but not downstairs.

  • The Bible has been translated into Klingon.

  • Humans are the only primates that don’t have pigment in the palms of their hands.

  • Ten percent of the Russian government’s income comes from the sale of vodka.

  • Ninety percent of New York City cabbies are recently arrived immigrants.

  • On average, 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens every year.

  • In 10 minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all the world’s nuclear weapons combined.

  • Reno, Nevada is west of Los Angeles, California.

  • Average lifespan of a major league baseball: 5 pitches.

  • Average age of top GM executives in 1994: 49.8 years. Average age of the Rolling Stones: 50.6.

  • Elephants can’t jump. Every other mammal can.

  • The cigarette lighter was invented before the match.

  • Five Jell-O flavors that flopped: celery, coffee, cola, apple, and chocolate.

  • According to one study, 24% of Iawns have some sort of lawn ornament in their yard.

  • Internationally, Baywatch is the most popular TV show in history.

Disclaimer: Thinkers Anonymous is in no way affiliated with Freethinkers Anonymous, nor do we support that organization. In its long history, Freethinkers Anonymous has supported thinking, and studies have shown that thinking, even to excess, can be a very healthy activity. -CW

Are YOU a problem thinker?

It started out innocently enough. I began to think at parties now and then to loosen up. Inevitably though, one thought led to another, and soon I was more than just a social thinker.

I began to think alone – "to relax," I told myself – but I knew it wasn’t true. Thinking became more and more important to me, and finally I was thinking all the time.

I began to think on the job. I knew that thinking and employment don’t mix, but I couldn’t stop myself.

I began to avoid friends at lunchtime so I could read Thoreau and Kafka. I would return to the office dizzied and confused, asking, "What is it exactly we are doing here?"

Things weren’t going so great at home either. One evening I had turned off the TV and asked my wife about the meaning of life. She spent that night at her mother’s.

I soon had a reputation as a heavy thinker. One day the boss called me in. He said, "Skippy, I like you, and it hurts me to say this, but your thinking has become a real problem. If you don’t stop thinking on the job, you’ll have to find another job." This gave me a lot to think about.

I came home early after my conversation with the boss. "Honey," I confessed, "I’ve been thinking…"

"I know you’ve been thinking," she said, "and I want a divorce!"

"But Honey, surely it’s not that serious."

"It is serious," she said, lower lip aquiver. "You think as much as college professors, and college professors don’t make any money, so if you keep on thinking we won’t have any money!"

"That’s a faulty syllogism," I said impatiently, and she began to cry. I’d had enough. "I’m going to the library," I snarled as I stomped out the door.

I headed for the library, in the mood for some Nietzsche, with NPR on the radio. I roared into the parking lot and ran up to the big glass doors… they didn’t open. The library was closed.

To this day, I believe that a Higher Power was looking out for me that night.

As I sank to the ground clawing at the unfeeling glass, whimpering for Zarathustra, a poster caught my eye. "Friend, is heavy thinking ruining your life?" it asked. You probably recognize that line. It comes from the standard Thinker’s Anonymous poster.

Which is why I am what I am today: a recovering thinker. I never miss a TA meeting. At each meeting we watch a non-educational video; last week it was "Porky’s." Then we share experiences about how we avoided thinking since the last meeting.

I still have my job, and things are a lot better at home. Life just seemed… easier, somehow, as soon as I stopped thinking.


May 8, 1998

The rumors aren’t true. Not that I ever believed them. I was suspicious from the first moment that I heard a small meteor had recently hit the Earth, and when I heard it hit in Titusville, I knew it wasn’t true. Titusville, for those of you who don’t know, is a small town in Tennessee, and is home to my infamous Uncle Rupert. The same one who tried to drive to Europe, repaired a neighbor’s air conditioning but blew up her house, and fertilized a kudzu vine, turning an annoying weed into a mutant menace. Actually Titusville is where he and my Aunt Vita live when they’re not hiding out–I mean doing missionary work in Florida. But while the meteor story isn’t true, there was an explosion and a small crater. Uncle Rupert recently overcame his fear of technology and bought a bug zapper. This was a big move for him, especially since he’d heard that bug zappers and six-packs of beer always went together, and Uncle Rupert is a teetotaller. He wouldn’t even take cough medicine until all the alcohol was taken out and replaced with a less sinful combination of morphine, assorted barbituates, and Vitamin K. So he and Aunt Vita were sitting out enjoying their new bug zapper, and Uncle Rupert noticed an earthworm on the ground. Always a curious fellow, he decided to see what would happen when an earthworm and a bug zapper came together. For some reason, the people who design bug zappers have decided that it’s necessary to put a protective metal mesh around the glowing center that electrocutes insects, in case people decide to do something silly, like putting earthworms in their bug zapper. After several attempts, Uncle Rupert realized that he just wasn’t going to be able to throw an earthworm just right and get it through that mesh. Now, with all his experiences with electricity, you would think that Uncle Rupert would use something other than a large piece of wire to move the earthworm into position. The bad news is that Uncle Rupert no longer has a bug zapper. The good news is that his experiment attracted the attention of both Hollywood and the FBI, and there are already large delegations following him to Florida.


During all police investigations it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.

All telephone numbers in America begin with the digits 555.

Most dogs are immortal.

If being chased through town, you can usually take cover in a passing St. Patrick’s Day parade – at any time of the year.

All beds have special L-shaped cover sheets which reach up to the armpit level on a woman but only to waist level on the man lying beside her.

All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French Bread.

It’s easy for anyone to land a plane providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.

Once applied, lipstick will never rub off – even while scuba diving.

The ventilation system of any building is the perfect hiding place. No-one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building you want without difficulty.

If you need to reload your gun, you will always have more ammunition – even if you haven’t been carrying any before now.

You’re very likely to survive any battle in any war unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home.

Should you wish to pass yourself off as a German officer, it will not be necessary to speak the language. A German accent will do.

If your town is threatened by an imminent natural disaster or killer beast, the mayor’s first concern will be the tourist trade or his forthcoming art exhibition.

The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window in Paris.

A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.

If a large pane of glass is visible, someone will be thrown through it before long.

The Chief of Police is always black.

When paying for a taxi, don’t look at your wallet as you take out a bill – just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare.

Interbreeding is genetically possible with any creature from elsewhere in the universe.

Kitchens don’t have light switches. When entering a kitchen at night, you should open the fridge door and use that light instead.

If staying in a haunted house, women should investigate any strange noises in their most revealing underwear.

Word processors never display a cursor on screen but will always say: Enter Password Now.

Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their family every morning even though their husband and children never have time to eat it.

Cars that crash will almost always burst into flames.

The Chief of Police will always suspend his star detective – or give him 48 hours to finish the job.

A single match will be sufficient to light up a room the size of RFK Stadium.

Medieval peasants had perfect teeth.

Although in the 20th century it is possible to fire weapons at an object out of our visual range, people of the 23rd century will have lost this technology.

Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.

It is not necessary to say hello or goodbye when beginning or ending phone conversations.

Even when driving down a perfectly straight road it is necessary to turn the steering wheel vigorously from left to right every few moments.

All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they’re going to go off.

It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting.

A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

If you decide to start dancing in the street, everyone you bump into will know all the steps.

Most laptop computers are powerful enough to override the communication systems of any invading alien civilization.

It does not matter if you are heavily outnumbered in a fight involving martial arts – your enemies will wait patiently to attack you one by one by dancing around in a threatening manner until you have knocked out their predecessors.

When a person is knocked unconscious by a blow to the head, they will never suffer a concussion or brain damage.

No-one involved in a car chase, hijacking, explosion, volcanic eruption or alien invasion will ever go into shock.

Police Departments give their officers personality tests to make sure they are deliberately assigned a partner who is their total opposite.

When they are alone, all foreigners prefer to speak English to each other.

You can always find a chainsaw when you need one.

Any lock can be picked by a credit card or a paper clip in seconds – unless it’s the door to a burning building with a child trapped inside.

An electric fence, powerful enough to kill a dinosaur will cause no lasting damage to an eight year old child.

Television news bulletins usually contain a story that affects you personally at that precise moment.

What about hedgehogging?

May 1, 1998

Earlier this week there was a general strike in Denmark. It may still be going on – I’ve noticed that as far as countries outside the United States, the media here has the short attention span they accuse the rest of us of having. Anyway, this must happen a lot over there because people are preparing themselves for a long haul. Afraid that stores are going to run out of food, they’re buying vast quantities of food and storing it in their houses. In fact, this happens so often they have a term for this. They call it–I swear I’m not making this up–hamstering. It’s taken from the way hamsters store food by stuffing it into their cheeks, and while I have yet to meet a Dane who can put a whole side of smoked salmon into his face at once, it does explain why Victor Borge is sometimes more than a little hard to understand. Anyway, I started thinking that maybe we should start using other rodents as verbs as well. We already have "ferreting", which the Webster’s Dictionary defines as "to search diligently while smelling like cedar chips and musk". So why not say that digging through your friends’ refrigerator because you’re out of food is "ratting"? Actually we also already have ratting–it’s a slang term for giving the police information about someone who’s done something illegal. This comes from the way that a rat, when cornered, will insist that it was his brother Louie who’s been digging in your garbage all this time. Down in the South, we also have the expression "playing possum", which means lying down in front of a speeding car and hoping the driver has insurance. Finally, we come to my own contribution to rodent terms: Sitting in one place for days, shrieking occasionally, and trying to bite anyone who comes near you should be called "guinea pigging". Already you’re probably thinking of people to whom this applies.

Enjoy this week’s offering.

Children of the 80’s

The people who are starting college this fall across the nation were born in 1980.

The Iranian hostage crisis occurred before they were conceived.

They have no memory of a time before MTV.

"New Wave" is their PARENTS musical generation.

Cyndi Lauper, Boy George, the Pretenders, the Kinks, the Sex Pistols — are all old music they have heard of, if they have heard of it at all.

They have no meaningful recollection of the Reagan era.

They were prepubescent when the Persian Gulf War was waged.

If they have heard the name "Oliver North," it was probably as a losing Congressional candidate, or perhaps in some obscure survey history text’s reference, such as might be made to Huey Long or Teapot Dome.

Black Monday 1987 is as significant to them as the Great Depression.

Their world has always included AIDS.

Having not lived through the Disco Scare, they can romanticize the 1970s.

They see "Family Ties" as something middle aged ladies watch.

They watched "Star Wars" years ago, when they were kids — on video.

Atari predates them, as do vinyl albums and cassette audiotapes; they may have heard of an 8-track, but probably never actually seen (or heard) one.

From their earliest years, a camera was something you used once and threw away.

As far as they know, stamps have always cost about 32 cents.

The oil crisis is history of which they probably know nothing — and why anyone WOULDN’T buy a Chevy Suburban is beyond them.

Most of them have probably never seen a real nun, even if they went to Catholic schools.

The Cold War, Perestroika and the Berlin Wall are all historical curiosities to them, as is being scared witless about nuclear attacks with something called "The Day After," which they remember hearing about vaguely.

Dallas is that weird re-run in among the line dancing shows in The Nashville Network.

So is the Dukes of Hazard.

Such a thing exists as "Classical Alternative."

Richard Petty is "Kyle’s dad."

Many of them probably never saw a filmstrip projector, let alone a filmstrip in grade school/preschool.

Sting was in The Police??

They don’t remember when Ahmad Rashad played football, and wasn’t even named Ahmad Rashad.

They never saw the films shown on Mystery Science Theater on late-night monster movie shows like Elvira, Mistress of the Dark and such as serious horror films.

Catch phrases that might mean something: Herb, Where’s the Beef, New Coke.

Their parents had to lift them up to be part of Hands Across America.

They can’t identify most of the artists who performed on USA For Africa’s We are the World (let alone identify that Michael Jackson is INDEED the black guy singing the first chorus, since it looks nothing like him).

Their first computer experience was not on a Commodore 64.

Four words: CB Radio. What gives?

The explosion of the Challenger was not all that significant to their lives, nor do they remember where they were for it.

They’ve never experienced a live, understandable Bob Dylan (though Jakob is cute).

Some had hand-me-down Cabbage Patch Dolls.

It takes them a while to remember what Schoolhouse Rock and Afterschool Specials are.

Where did they watch things like Happy Days, Saturday Night Live, The Muppet Show, and other like shows? Nickelodeon.

Most of us remember TV announcers such as NBA analyst Bill Walton, football announcer Dan Dierdorf, NHL commentator John Davidson and baseball announcer Joe Morgan when they were still active players, and when there was only one series and one issue of sports cards – Topps.

Some of US are getting class reunion forms that have an optional listing for "grandchildren."

We’ve lived through Pac-Man fever – the album and the affliction – and fought to get those mini-arcade games from Coleco.

Zoom was not a verb, and the Electric Company is not where mom and dad pay bills.

We know why Hooper’s Grocery Store is named Hooper’s on Sesame Street.

Iron-ons were all over our clothes.

There was no such things as roller blades – there were roller skates, which were essentially tennis shows with shopping cart wheels flung on at random on a piece of sheet metal. There was also apparently no such thing as skating safety, apparently caused by all parents having a lifetime supply of peroxide and mercurochrome for our skinned knees. Well, except for the times we were at roller discos or dancing to organists instead of disc jockeys playing organ music. And skating in reverse.

These kids, unlike us, had those chic and stylish girl scout/boy scout uniforms, as our handbooks seemed to indicate we’d get merit badges for looking like complete dorks.

The Brat Pack movies – like Outsiders and The Breakfast Club – were the script and soundtrack to our lives. Unlike Pulp Fiction.

Basic Rules For Dogs

VISITORS: Quickly determine which guest is afraid of dogs. Charge across the room, barking loudly and leap playfully on this person. If the human falls down on the floor and starts crying, lick its face and growl gently to show your concern.

BARKING: Because you are a dog, you are expected to bark. So bark – a lot. Your owners will be very happy to hear you protecting their house. Especially late at night while they are sleeping safely in their beds. There is no more secure feeling for a human than to keep waking up in the middle of the night and hearing your protective bark, bark, bark…

LICKING: Always take a BIG drink from the toilet immediately before licking your human. Humans prefer clean tongues. Be ready to fetch your human a towel.

HOLES: Rather than digging a BIG hole in the middle of the yard and upsetting your human, dig a lot of smaller holes all over the yard so they won’t notice. If you arrange a little pile of dirt on one side of each hole, maybe they’ll hink it’s gophers. There are never enough holes in the ground. Strive daily to do your part to help correct this problem.

DOORS: The area directly in front of a door is always reserved for the dog to sleep.

THE ART OF SNIFFING: Humans like to be sniffed. Everywhere. It is your duty, as the family dog, to accommodate them.

DINING ETIQUETTE: Always sit under the table at dinner, especially when there are guests, so you can clean up any food that falls on the floor. It’s also a good time to practice your sniffing.

HOUSEBREAKING: Housebreaking is very important to humans, so break as much of the house as possible.

GOING FOR WALKS: Rules of the road: When out for a walk with your master or mistress, never go to the bathroom on your own lawn.

COUCHES: It is perfectly permissible to lie on the new couch after all your humans have gone to bed.

PLAYING: If you lose your footing while chasing a ball or stick, use the flower bed to absorb your fall so you don’t injure yourself.

CHASING CATS: When chasing cats, make sure you never – quite – catch them. It spoils all the fun.

CHEWING: Make a contribution to the fashion industry. …Eat a shoe.

No, really, it was fascinating!

April 24, 1998

Earlier this week I had to attend a presentation. In other words, I was put in a soft chair in an overheated room with all the lights off while a soft-spoken person at the front of the room put some nice, relaxing slides up on a big screen. It was something to do with money, or how to survive in the event of a governmental collapse, or something like that. I don’t really remember because, as you can guess, I fell asleep. Now, falling asleep in presentations wouldn’t be a bad thing if my brain didn’t have an essentially mischievous nature. After all, I can always get all the information I need from the ominpresent handouts, and who doesn’t like a nap right after lunch? The trouble is my brain works very hard at convincing me I’m still awake. You’ve probably had the experience yourself. Despite all your best efforts, slowly but surely you drift off. You get the usual surreal dream stuff, but there’s just enough of what’s going on around you in there that you don’t realize you’re sound asleep. I happily went on through the presentation completely unaware that I lost consciousness somewhere around "Good afternoon…" and regained it just before, "Are there any questions?" So I didn’t understand why everyone was so surprised when I said, "I understood the variable interest fixtures, but could you explain why right after that you turned into a giant carrot?"


This is from an actual trial in the UK.

A young woman who was several months pregnant boarded a bus. Then she noticed a young man smiling at her she began feeling humiliated on account of her condition. She changed her seat and he seemed more amused.

She moved again and then on her fourth move he burst out laughing. She had him arrested.

Then the case came before the court, the young man was asked why he acted in such a manner. His reply was:

When the lady boarded the bus I couldn’t help noticing she was pregnant. She sat under an advertisement which read "Coming Soon: The Gold Dust Twins", then she moved under one that read "Sloans Liniments remove swelling".

I was even more amused when she sat under a shaving advertisement which read "William’s Stick Did The Trick".

Then I could not control myself any longer when on the fourth move she sat under an advertisement which read "Dunlop Rubber would have prevented this accident."

The case was dismissed.


For a couple years I’ve been blaming it on iron poor blood, lack of vitamins, dieting and a dozen other maladies. But now I found out the real reason. I’m tired because I’m overworked.

The population of this country is 237 million.

104 million are retired.

That leaves 133 million to do the work.

There are 85 million in school, which leave 48 million to do the work.

Of these there are 29 million employed by the federal government.

This leaves 19 million to do the work.

Four million are in the Armed Forces, which leaves 15 million to do the work.

Take from the total the 14,800,000 people who work for State and City Government and that leaves 200,000 to do the work. There are 188,000 in hospitals, so the leaves 12,000 to do the work.

Now, there are 11,998 people in Prisons.

That leaves just two people to do the work.

You and Me. And you’re sitting there playing around on your computer!

Let’s do the twist!

April 17, 1998

I’m afraid this week’s edition was delayed by an unexpected visitor in the area: a tornado. Tornadoes are large swirling masses of wind that leave a path of destruction wherever they go. They don’t, however, drink beer, which is the one thing that distinguishes them from my Uncle Philip. The tornado made several surprise appearances and was greeted by many friendly people who went to get a better look at it while those of us who belong in the gene pool were diving for the nearest basement. The local news missed their chance to interview the tornado, but they did show the same picture of a car buried under a pile of bricks thirty times (in case the original owner was wondering where he’d parked), and had contests to see who could use the word "tornadic" the most times without laughing. Finally a panel of experts came on to wrap things up, to analyze the number of touchdowns and discuss ways the Tennessee Tornadoes could score more on their return visit, plans for computer games, T-shirts, movies, and a discussion of the difficulties in getting a tornado to sign a contract. It all took me back to my grade school days when, with thirty other children, I was marched into a pre-fabricated building on concrete blocks and shown a film of the damage tornadoes do to trailer parks. It was a lot like getting on a plane and being shown "The World’s Worst Airline Disasters" at 15,000 feet.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

35 signs you might be a Yankee

  • You think barbecue is a verb meaning "to cook outside."

  • You think Heinz Ketchup is SPICY.

  • You don’t have any problems pronouncing "Worcestershire sauce" correctly.

  • For breakfast, you would prefer potatoes au gratin to grits.

  • You don’t know what a moon pie is.

  • You’ve never had grain alcohol.

  • You’ve never, ever, eaten Okra.

  • You eat fried chicken with a knife and fork.

  • You’ve never seen a live chicken, and the only cows you’ve seen are on road trips.

  • You have no idea what a polecat is.

  • Whenever someone tells an off-color joke about farm animals, it goes over your head.

  • You don’t see anything wrong with putting a sweater on a poodle.

  • You don’t have bangs.

  • You would rather vacation at Martha’s Vineyard than Six Flags.

  • More than two generations of your family have been kicked out of the same prep school in Connecticut.

  • You would rather have your son become a lawyer than grow up to get his own TV fishing show.

  • Instead of referring to two or more people as "y’all," you call them "you guys," even if both of them are women.

  • You don’t think Howard Stern has an accent.

  • You have never planned your summer vacation around a gun-and-knife show.

  • You think more money should go to important scientific research at your university than to pay the salary of the head football coach.

  • You don’t have at least one can of WD-40 somewhere around the house.

  • The last time you smiled was when you prevented someone from getting on an on-ramp on the highway.

  • You don’t have any hats in your closet that advertise feed stores.

  • The farthest south you’ve ever been is the perfume counter at Neiman Marcus.

  • You call binoculars opera glasses.

  • You can’t spit out the car window without pulling over to the side of the road and stopping.

  • You would never wear pink or an applique sweatshirt.

  • You don’t know what applique is.

  • Most of your formative high school sexual experiences took place within the context of a football game.

  • You don’t know anyone with two first names (i.e. Joe Bob, Billy Bob, Jim Bob, Kay Bob, Bob Bob, Plumb Bob)

  • You don’t have doilies, and you certainly don’t know how to make one.

  • You’ve never been to a craft show.

  • You get freaked out when people on the subway talk to you.

  • You can’t do your laundry without quarters.

  • None of your fur coats are homemade.

Facts of Life

  1. The 2 most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

  2. If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.

  3. Money can’t buy happiness… But it sure makes misery easier to live with.

  4. Deja Moo: The feeling that you’ve heard this bull before.

  5. Psychiatrists say that 1 of 4 people are mentally ill. If you have 3 friends who are OK, then you’re it.

  6. Nothing in the known universe travels faster than a bad check.

  7. It has recently been discovered that research causes cancer in rats.

  8. The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.

  9. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.

  10. The average woman would rather have beauty than brains, because the average man can see better than he can think.

  11. Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. (But: "Wearing the right thing only takes money. Wearing the wrong thing takes initiative."–Ben Elton)

  12. Vital papers will demonstrate their vitality by moving from where you left them to where you can’t find them.

  13. Law of Probability Dispersal: Whatever it is that hits the fan will not be evenly distributed.

Why can’t you fall forward?

April 10, 1998

Spring forward, and fall back. Those are the rules for Daylight Savings Time. For those of you who don’t know, Daylight Savings Time is an ingenious invention that magically kicks in during times of the year when it’s light when you get up in the morning and dark when you come home from work, and makes it so it’s dark when you get up in the morning and light when you come home from work. It’s used in most places, except for hard to reach parts of the globe where civilization has not yet reached, and a large part of Indiana.

But I repeat myself. The advantage of Daylight Savings Time, whether you’re gaining an hour or losing an hour, is that for about three weeks after the change you can use it as an excuse for anything. You can come in six hours late to work, and as long as you say, "Boy, this time change has really got me screwed up," even the strictest boss will be sympathetic. You can blame everything on the time change. Well, not everything. That reminds me – I have a court appearance coming up, but if I miss it, I’ll just say I forgot to reset my watch.

Enjoy this week’s offering.

Things I’ve learned from my children (honest and no kidding)

  • There is no such thing as child-proofing your house.

  • If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.

  • A 4 year-old’s voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.

  • If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound boy wearing pound puppy underwear and a superman cape.

  • It is strong enough however to spread paint on all four walls of a 20 by 20 foot room.

  • Baseballs make marks on ceilings.

  • You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on.

  • When using the ceiling fan as a bat you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit.

  • A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

  • The glass in windows (even double paned) desn’t stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.

  • When you hear the toilet flush and the words Uh-oh, it’s already too late.

  • Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.

  • A six year old can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36 year old man says they can only do it in the movies.

  • A magnifying glass can start a fire even on an overcast day.

  • If you use a waterbed as home plate while wearing baseball shoes it does not leak, it explodes.

  • A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq foot house 4 inches deep.

  • Legos will pass through the digestive tract of a four year old.

  • Duplos will not.

  • Play Dough and Microwave should never be used in the same sentence.

  • Super glue is forever.

  • McGyver can teach us many things we don’t want to know.

  • Ditto Tarzan.

  • No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can’t walk on water.

  • Pool filters do not like Jell-O.

  • VCR’s do not eject PB&J sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.

  • Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

  • Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.

  • You probably do not want to know what that odor is.

  • Always look in the oven before you turn it on.

  • Plastic toys do not like ovens.

  • The fire department in San Diego has at least a 5 minute response time.

  • The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earth worms dizzy.

  • It will however make cats dizzy.

  • Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

  • Kids do know the difference between cigarette smoke and "other" types of smoke

  • A good sense of humor will get you through most problems in life (unfortunately, mostly  in retrospect).

Illegal Aliens?

April 3, 1998

This is true: a senior at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas is taking 64 hours of classes in one semester. For those of you not familiar with the college system in the United States, 64 hours is three times more than the maximum I could have taken in one semester (half-year) at the college I went to, and 21 hours in any subject qualified as a minor (you don’t get a degree but you can speak authoritatively on the subject). This means, though, that he is spending 64 hours a week in classes–give or take a few hours. The University is being questioned for its low standards, but I think they’re not only asking the wrong question, they’re asking the institution when they should be asking the student.

But first consider this: it is possible to take that many hours of classes, even though with twenty-one classes (assuming they’re all three hours except for one which would be four) the cost of textbooks alone would bankrupt Macedonia. Hopefully I have my math right here (I didn’t just get a degree in English because I like to read) but out of classes, he’d have 56 hours a week, or 11.2 hours per day. Subtract–on average–8.2 hours for sleep, and he’d have 3 hours a day to study. That’s not counting Sundays when he’d have practically an entire day–once he recovered from Saturday’s bender, and assuming that he studied Friday, which is why he’d really break loose on Saturday. That gives him about 4.29 minutes per class, or as much as 4.5 if he’s taking a gym class. Let’s say he’s also taking Hiking 101, and, considering the location, Advanced Gambling. He’d have up to 5 minutes per subject. Now, if this guy gets anything about a barely passing grade, the question that should be asked is this: What planet is he from, and should Earth be reconsidering its immigration policy?

Enjoy this week’s checked and approved offering.

The following letters are taken from an actual incident between a London hotel and one of it’s guests. The Hotel ended up submitting the letters to the London Sunday Times!

Dear Maid,

Please do not leave any more of those little bars of soap in my bathroom since I have brought my own bath-sized Dial. Please remove the six unopened little bars from the shelf under the medicine chest and another three in the shower soap dish. They are in my way.

Thank you,

S. Berman

Dear Room 635,

I am not your regular maid. She will be back tomorrow, Thursday, from her day off. I took the 3 hotel soaps out of the shower soap dish as you requested. The 6 bars on your shelf, I took out of your way and put on top of your Kleenex dispenser in case you should change your mind. This leaves only the 3 bars I left today which my instructions from the management is to leave 3 soaps daily. I hope this is satisfactory.

Kathy, Relief Maid

Dear Maid,

I hope you are my regular maid. Apparently Kathy did not tell you about my note to her concerning the little bars of soap. When I got back to my room this evening, I found you had added 3 little Camays to the shelf under my medicine cabinet. I am going to be here in the hotel for two weeks and have brought my own bath-size Dial so I won’t need those 6 little Camays which are on the shelf. They are in my way when shaving, brushing teeth, etc. Please remove them.

S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,

My day off was last Wed. so the relief maid left 3 hotel soaps which we are instructed by the management. I took the 6 soaps which were in your way on the shelf and put them in the soap dish where your Dial was. I put the Dial in the medicine cabinet for your convenience. I didn’t remove the 3 complimentary soaps which are always placed inside the medicine cabinet for all new check-ins and which you did not object to when you checked in last Monday. Please let me know if I can of further assistance.

Your regular maid,


Dear Mr. Berman,

The assistant manager, Mr. Kensedder, informed me this morning that you called him last evening and said you were unhappy with your maid service.

I have assigned a new girl to your room. I hope you will accept my apologies for any past inconvenience. If you have any future complaints please contact me so I can give it my personal attention. Call extension 1108 between 8AM and 5PM. Thank you.

Elaine Carmen Housekeeper

Dear Miss Carmen,

It is impossible to contact you by phone since I leave the hotel for business at 7:45 AM and don’t get back before 5:30 or 6PM. That’s the reason I called Mr. Kensedder last night. You were already off duty. I only asked Mr. Kensedder if he could do anything about those little bars of soap. The new maid you assigned me must have thought I was a new check-in today, since she left another 3 bars of hotel soap in my medicine cabinet along with her regular delivery of 3 bars on the bathroom shelf. In just 5 days here I have accumulated 24 little bars of soap. Why are you doing this to me?

S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,

Your maid, Kathy, has been instructed to stop delivering soap to your room and remove the extra soaps. If I can be of further assistance, please call extension 1108 between 8AM and 5PM. Thank you,

Elaine Carmen, Housekeeper

Dear Mr. Kensedder,

My bath-size Dial is missing. Every bar of soap was taken from my room including my own bath-size Dial. I came in late last night and had to call the bellhop to bring me 4 little Cashmere Bouquets.

S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,

I have informed our housekeeper, Elaine Carmen, of your soap problem. I cannot understand why there was no soap in your room since our maids are instructed to leave 3 bars of soap each time they service a room. The situation will be rectified immediately. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience.

Martin L. Kensedder Assistant Manager

Dear Mrs. Carmen,

Who the hell left 54 little bars of Camay in my room? I came in last night and found 54 little bars of soap. I don’t want 54 little bars of Camay. I want my one damn bar of bath-size Dial. Do you realize I have 54 bars of soap in here? All I want is my bath size Dial. Please give me back my bath-size Dial.

S. Berman

Dear Mr. Berman,

You complained of too much soap in your room so I had them removed. When you complained to Mr. Kensedder that all your soap was missing so I personally returned them. The 24 Camays which had been taken and the 3 Camays you are supposed to receive daily. I don’t know anything about the 4 Cashmere Bouquets. Obviously your maid, Kathy, did not know I had returned your soaps so she also brought 24 Camays plus the 3 daily Camays. I don’t know where you got the idea this hotel issues bath-size Dial. I was able to locate some bath-size Ivory which I left in your room.

Elaine Carmen Housekeeper

Dear Mrs. Carmen,

Just a short note to bring you up-to-date on my latest soap inventory. As of today I possess:

On the shelf under medicine cabinet – 18 Camay in 4 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 2.

On the Kleenex dispenser – 11 Camay in 2 stacks of 4 and 1 stack of 3.

On the bedroom dresser – 1 stack of 3 Cashmere Bouquet, 1 stack of 4 bath-size Ivory, and 8 Camay in 2 stacks of 4.

Inside the medicine cabinet – 14 Camay in 3 stacks of 4 & 1 stack of 2.

In the shower soap dish – 6 Camay, very moist.

On the northeast corner of tub – 1 Cashmere Bouquet, slightly used.

On the northwest corner of tub – 6 Camays in 2 stacks of 3.

Please ask Kathy when she services my room to make sure the stacks are neatly piled and dusted. Also, please advise her that stacks of more than 4 have a tendency to tip. May I suggest that my bedroom window sill is not in use and will make an excellent spot for future soap deliveries.

One more item, I have purchased another bar of bath-sized Dial which I am keeping in the hotel vault in order to avoid further misunderstandings.

S. Berman


March 27, 1998

The other day I saw some taco hot dogs. Seriously. They’re hot dogs that are supposed to taste like tacos. This means product development has gone about as far as it can possibly go, and all we have to look forward to as the millenium approaches are weird combinations and watered down versions of things that were really original innovative ideas a few decades ago. Looking back to the first millenium, though, I found that things weren’t that different.

I can’t tell you how many different varieties of mutton on a stick were tried by roadside vendors trying to cope with lords and ladies who were no longer swayed by traditional advertising, and there were even more different ideas about how to put a horse and a wagon together, remakes of popular plays, and hundreds of troubadors dressed in rags and removed six of the eight strings from their lutes under the influence of the Ennui Movement. Then there was the First Crusade, a big budget blockbuster so wildly popular it inspired endless sequels, spinoffs, and even versions for children. But there, I think, is the problem. A thousand years ago, if you felt apathetic and weary of hype, sarcasm, and apathy, you could run off to a distant land, kill a few heathens, spend some time in a Turkish prison, and it would put things in perspective. What we need now is a new Crusade, and with equal opportunities, more people than ever could fight in them.

But that’s the trouble. Since political correctness has robbed us of all the heathens, who do we go after? Simple: aliens! What if those aliens people claim have been abducting them are real? Once we get past their superior technology and mind-control powers, they’re pretty weak, scrawny little guys, so they’d be really easy targets. Sure, for the ambitious few it wouldn’t be worth it, but think of all the other people whose self-esteem would be boosted by blowing away a big-eyed round-headed heathen. And by the time we got done with all that, people would be clamoring for regular hot dogs. And for the few who still wanted the new and differen’t, there’d be plenty of Martian burgers to go around.

Enjoy these totally new offerings.

I took some clients out to dinner last week, and I noticed a spoon in the shirt pocket of our waiter as he handed us the menus. It seemed a little odd, but I dismissed it as a random thing. Until our busboy came with water & tableware; he,too,sported a spoon in his breast-pocket. I looked around the room, and all the waiters, waitresses, busboys,etc. had spoons in their pockets. When our waiter returned to take our order, I just had to ask, "Why the spoons?"

"Well," he explained, "our parent company recently hired some quality efficiency experts to review all our procedures, and after months of statistical analyses, they concluded that our patrons drop spoons on the floor 73% more often than any other utensil at a frequency of 3 spoons per hour per workstation. By preparing all our workers for this contingency in advance, we can cut our trips to the kitchen down and save time…nearly 1.5 extra man hours per shift."

Just as he concluded, a "ch-ching" came from the table behind him, and he quickly replaced a fallen spoon with the one from his pocket. "I’ll grab another spoon the next time I’m in the kitchen instead of making a special trip," he proudly explained. I was impressed.

"Thanks. I had to ask." "No problem," he answered, then he continued to take our orders. As the members of my dinner party took their turns, my eyes darted back & forth from each person ordering and my menu. That’s when, out of the corner of my eye,I spotted a thin, black thread protruding from our waiter’s fly. Again, I dismissed it; yet I had to scan the room and, sure enough, there were other waiters & busboys with strings hanging out of their trousers. My curiosity overrode discretion at this point, so before he could leave I had to ask.

"Excuse me, but…uh…why, or what…about that string?" "Oh, yeah" he began in a quieter tone. "Not many people are that observant. That same efficiency group found we could save time in the Men’s room, too."

"How’s that?"

"You see, by tying a string to the end of our, eh, SELVES, we can pull it out at the urinals literally hands-free and thereby eliminate the need to wash our hands, cutting time spent in the restroom by over 93%!"

"Oh, that makes sense," I said, but then thinking thru the process, I asked "Hey, wait-a-minute. If the string helps you pull it out, how to you get it back in?"

"Well," he whispered, "I don’t know about the other guys; but I use my spoon."


Drug dealers: refer to their clients as "users."
Software developers: refer to their clients as "users."

DD: "The first one’s free!"
SD: "Download a free trial version…"

DD: Have important South-East Asian connections to help move the stuff).
SD: Have important South-East Asian connections (to help debug the code).

DD: Strange jargon: "Stick," "Rock," "Dime bag," "E."
SD: Strange jargon: "SCSI," "RTFM," "Java," "ISDN."

DD: Realize that there’s tons of cash in the 14- to 25-year-old market.
SD: Realize that there’s tons of cash in the 14- to 25-year-old market.

DD: Job is assisted by the industry’s producing newer, more potent mixes.
SD: Job is assisted by industry’s producing newer, faster machines.

DD: Often seen in the company of pimps and hustlers.
SD: Often seen in the company of venture capitalists.

DD: Their product causes unhealthy addictions.
SD: DOOM. Quake. SimCity. Duke Nukem 3D. ‘Nuff said.

DD: Do your job well, and you can sleep with sexy movie stars who depend on you.
SD: Damn! Damn! DAMN!!!


We’ve all been interviewed for jobs. And, we’ve all spent most of those interviews thinking about what not to do. Don’t bite your nails. Don’t fidget. Don’t interrupt. Don’t belch. If we did any of the don’ts, we knew we’d disqualify ourselves instantly. But some job applicants go light years beyond this. We surveyed top personnel executives of 100 major American corporations and asked for stories of unusual behavior by job applicants. The lowlights:

  1. "… stretched out on the floor to fill out the job application."
  2. "She wore a Walkman and said she could listen to me and the music at the same time."
  3. " A balding candidate abruptly excused himself. Returned to office a few minutes later, wearing a hairpiece."
  4. "… asked to see interviewer’s resume to see if the personnel executive was qualified to judge the candidate."
  5. "… announced she hadn’t had lunch and proceeded to eat a hamburger and french fries in the interviewer’s office – wiping the ketchup on her sleeve"
  6. "Stated that, if he were hired, he would demonstrate his loyalty by having the corporate logo tattooed on his forearm."
  7. "Interrupted to phone his therapist for advice on answering specific interview questions."
  8. "When I asked him about his hobbies, he stood up and started tap dancing around my office."
  9. "At the end of the interview, while I stood there dumbstruck, went through my purse, took out a brush, brushed his hair, and left."
  10. "… pulled out a Polaroid camera and snapped a flash picture of me. Said he collected photos of everyone who interviewed him."
  11. "Said he wasn’t interested because the position paid too much."
  12. "While I was on a long-distance phone call, the applicant took out a copy of Penthouse, and looked through the photos only, stopping longest at the centerfold."
  13. "During the interview, an alarm clock went off from the candidate’s brief case. He took it out, shut it off, apologized and said he had to leave for another interview."
  14. "A telephone call came in for the job applicant. It was from his wife. His side of the conversation went like this: "Which company? When do I start? What’s the salary?" I said, "I assume you’re not interested in conducting the interview any further." He promptly responded, "I am as long as you’ll pay me more."
    "I didn’t hire him, but later found out there was no other job offer. It was a scam to get a higher offer."
  15. "His attache [case] opened when he picked it up and the contents spilled, revealing ladies’ undergarments and assorted makeup and perfume."
  16. "Candidate said he really didn’t want to get a job, but the unemployment office needed proof that he was looking for one."
  17. "… asked who the lovely babe was, pointing to the picture on my desk. When I said it was my wife, he asked if she was home now and wanted my phone number. I called security."
  18. "Pointing to a black case he carried into my office, he said that if he was not hired, the bomb would go off. Disbelieving, I began to state why he would never be hired and that I was going to call the police. He then reached down to the case, flipped a switch and ran. No one was injured, but I did need to get a new desk."

Just a trim, please

March 20, 1998

Well, as you may have noticed, Freethinkers Anonymous has undergone a small cosmetic change. This was done in response to the impending threat of a meteor crashing into the Earth. Nine hours later we discovered that there was no danger whatsoever, but sometimes these changes, once done, are better left alone. In the entire history of humankind, the phrase, "Let’s see what this will do" has done more damage than any meteor.

But I digress.

Before I share this week’s offerings, here are a couple of quick items that seemed appropriate for the occasion:

In a frame shop I saw a picture of a certain former president. Printed underneath it was this: "President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1962. Informal Head Shot." Thankfully there weren’t any pictures of another informal head shot of President Kennedy taken later in the year. Those have all mysteriously disappeared.

Walking across the college campus where I work, I overheard a student say, "Man, to be the dumbest one in your class would, like, suck." Yes, it would, but obviously ignorance is bliss.

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


  1. If it is all the same to you I won’t be coming in to work. The voices told me to clean all the guns today.

  2. When I got up this morning I took two Ex-Lax in addition to my Prozac. can’t get off the john, but I feel good about it.

  3. I set half the clocks in my house ahead an hour and the other half back an hour Saturday and spent 18 hours in some kind of space-time continuum loop, reliving Sunday (right up until the explosion). I was able to exit the loop only by reversing the polarity of the power source exactly e*log (pi) clocks in the house while simultaneously rapping my dog on the snout with a rolled up Times. Accordingly, I will be in late, or early.

  4. My stigmata’s acting up.

  5. I can’t come in to work today because I’ll be stalking my previous boss, who fired me for not showing up for work. OK?

  6. I have a rare case of 48-hour projectile leprosy, but I know we have that deadline to meet…

  7. I am stuck in the blood pressure machine down at the Food Giant.

  8. Yes, I seem to have contracted some sort of attention-deficit disorder and, hey, how about them Skins, huh? So, I won’t be able to, yes, could I help you? No, no, I’ll be sticking with Sprint, but thank you for calling.

  9. Constipation has made me a walking time bomb.

  10. I just found out that I was switched at birth. Legally, I shouldn’t come to work knowing my employee records may now contain false information.

  11. The psychiatrist said it was an excellent session. He even gave me this jaw restraint so I won’t bite things when I am startled.

  12. The dog ate my car keys. We’re going to hitchhike to the vet.

  13. I prefer to remain an enigma.

  14. My mother-in-law has come back as one of the Undead and we must track her to her coffin to drive a stake through her heart and give her eternal peace. One day should do it.

  15. I can’t come to work today because the EPA has determined that my house is completely surrounded by wetlands and I have to arrange for helicopter transportation.

  16. I am converting my calendar from Julian to Gregorian.

  17. I am extremely sensitive to a rise in the interest rates.

  18. I refuse to travel to my job in the District until there is a commuter tax. I insist on paying my fair share.

A timely bit of news:

A man who cut off his head with a chainsaw to prove his manliness and an anti-depressant drug that triggered an orgasm on yawning are among a collection of tales of the bizarre published today.

For 42 years, New Scientist, better known for its reports on research breakthroughs, has been documenting some of the more outlandish feats passed on by the scientific community. Today, it publishes the first collection of these strange tales.

Several concern the lengths to which some men will go to show how macho they are. However, Pierre Pumpille, from Lyon, who shunted a stationary car two feet by head-butting it ("Women thought I was a god," he said from his hospital bed), was outdone by Krystof Azinski, a Polish farmer.

Azinski, 30, had been drinking with friends when it was suggested they strip naked and test their strengths. Initially, they hit each other over the head with frozen swedes but then one man seized a chain saw and cut off his foot.

Not to be outdone, Azinski grabbed the saw, shouted "Watch this then!" and chopped off his own head. Among the patented inventions New Scientist has recorded since 1956 are Hungarian condoms containing a computer chip that plays the Internationale ("Arise ye workers"), a ladder to help spiders escape bathtubs, chocolate shock-absorbers for cars and a toothpaste that glows in the dark and reflects the headlights of motor cars.

The most intriguing, however, is British Rail’s patent in 1970 for a nuclear-propelled, saucer-shaped space vehicle. BR claimed the idea was far less far-fetched than it sounded and that its inventor was experienced in nuclear physics.

Among several verified reports from the animal kingdom is an account of inebriated elephants at Kruger National Park. They worked out how to get drunk by eating huge quantities of marula fruit, drinking large quantities of water and then "jogging" to aid fermentation.

And in a round-up of some of the pointless or redundant warnings printed on products by safety-conscious manufacturers includes one on the back of a packet of Sainsbury’s salted peanuts: "Contains nuts"; a Korean kitchen knife marked "Keep out of children"; a carton of Nytol sleeping tablets carrying the warning "May cause drowsiness"; a Marks & Spencer bread-and-butter pudding with "Take care: product will be hot after heating"; and a car mirror with "Remember: objects in the mirror are actually behind you."

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