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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

All the things I can't live without... but just didn't realize it until now!

I love air travel... always have. But I am usually so busy reading or looking out the window that I just don't have time to check the contents of the seat pocket in front of me. Last time I did, I realized some airlines don't have barf bags in there anymore. That puts a lot of pressure on a person, you know.

On this last trip, I decided to look again. And there it was... the current issue of SkyMall... my" FREE COPY--TAKE IT. WE'LL REPLACE IT!" Who can resist? It was literally jam-packed with so many wonderfully-imagined products. A person could look through WalMart for a lifetime and never find these hidden gems, reserved, I believe, for the elite... the beautiful people who actually fly through the air, in the special section of the plane referred to as 'coache,' such as 'moi.'

Opening it to a random page (page 10, actually) I saw something for healthier stress relief that would alleviate stress and tension. Relax away migraines and more, without drugs, with our Head Spa Massager.

Its patented Italian design (those Italians think of everything) incorporates Japanese engineering...  (from the same people that brought you invincible nuclear power plants) but that's not the best part. It is suitable for any age and you can use it anytime, anywhere! (exclamation point is mine, for excitement.) You'd think this would cost a fortune. Not so. I'm ordering 3 or 4 (Christmas is right around the corner... our local department store already has decorations and pre-holiday sales) for the low price of just $49.95 (plus tax, shipping and handling, of course.)

Might also get the Military ZOOM binoculars so I can see the color of an Eagle's eye... from a mile away! (Spoiler alert: blue.)

There were Leonisa body shapers (va-va-voom!) for every body style. I know they work because the illustrations had green arrows around all the body parts that "shape." Prices range from $34.99 to $79.99. That expensive one shapes from knees to chest so you know it's good.

Yes They have other stuff just as great... A golf bag with detachable cover that instantly converts into a fairway cooler for 'you-know-what'; an analyzing "SwimSense" performance monitor... You might not swim like an Olympian but now you can train like one!; a four-foot aged bronze replica of le Tour Eiffell (Eiffel Tower, to the lesser, non-French); a shelving system that holds up to 2,262 CDs, 936 DVDs, 528 VHS tapes, or 465 Disney tapes--in 76" cherry triple (beautiful simulated wood); something that looks like a microwave for shoes that prevents the spread of bacteria, fungus and bad odor; and of course, much, much more.

Are you an aspiring attorney who lacks only passing the bar to defend an axe murderer? Well, don't sweat it. This "Passing the Bar" game is not only fun but educational. it is The perfect gift for law students and lawyers. Now how simple is that?

This is cute. The Bigfoot, Bashful Yeti Tree Sculpture. Imagine the delightful shriek of surprise when the kids see that! It is either that or The Peeing Boy of Brussels Statue and Fountain... nearly four feet tall! You won't be disappointed, I promise.

Go ahead and sleep in late this weekend, your dog has a yard of his own ... with this neat Porch Potty (premium grade)--which looks like a poor man's indoor putting green-- for only $279.99... or, Potty train your cat faster than most people can potty train their kids, just $49.99.

I also want THE LARGEST WORLD MAP MURAL! They say it is a scaled down version but I don't know. What does '1 inch equals 1 inch' mean? Sound rather 'biggish' to me.

Saving the best for last, have you ever had to fly to an important meeting... or someplace where you had to be at your sharpest when you got off your 6 a.m flight? How can you look sharp with so little sleep? The only answer: nap on the plane. The only solution: The SkyRest Travel Pillow. Think of the respect and awe you will gain from your fellow passengers as they take notice: "Look, I'll bet he's a business tycoon resting so he will be sharp for some important life-or-death meeting when he gets off the plane."

You may think this is funny but I just can't live without 'em. You know the old song: "How do you keep em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?"You say you are too young to know that song? Then just shut-up!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One good tern deserves another... and other ridiculous puns and dribble (literally and figuratively) and, special added attraction: Those Brits! this case, another world record.

It is confirmed... the arctic tern, weighing just .05 oz, is the longest migrator on earth. This little bugger covers 44,000 miles in a year... and if it were driving a Chevy, in just five years, the car would have 220,000 miles on it. Think of the trade-in value on that. In a lifetime--for a tern, perhaps 34 years--it would fly the equivalent of three round trips to the moon.

Then there is the momma polar bear that swam for nine days across the frigid Beaufort Sea to reach an ice floe 426 miles offshore, according to researchers at the U.S, Geological Survey in Alaska. Obvious conclusion by those in the know... she was probably bear-y bear-y cold. She did lose 22 percent of her body weight... and her cub, who did not survive the journey.

Scientists also have discovered bass in U.S. rivers that are intersexual--that is, exhibiting both male and female sex characteristics. These large mouth and small mouth bass are thought to have been altered by pollutants in the water. Initial evaluation says "while there is cause for concern, there's no cause for panic." But if this is one of nature's precursors, what if humans drinking the water are so affected. Hmmm! More of 'he said--she said' when we are talking to ourselves.

Ever hear of Dan Magness? This guy, 26, just set the Keepy Uppy (that's the official name) record by keeping a soccer ball off the ground without using hands or arms for 250,000 touches! Yeah... and he did it 'on the road' bouncing 36 miles in 14 hours as he toured all five of London's Premier League stadiums. I'm not overly impressed with many world records, but this one is kind of awesome. Just staying awake and on his feet is something. Of his quarter-million touches without one miscue, 25 percent were with his feet, 70 percent are with his head (which may explain something) and 5 percent were with his knees.

Those Brits! Ever read London Review of Books, a pretty heady publication for the high end literary crowd of England? While it can appear a quite stodgy, there are always the classifieds to add a touch of dash. A few recent 'eye openers:'

  • While you're reading this, I'm taking a photograph of you from outside your window. Later today I'll put it in the scrapbook I'm compiling of our love. The heading will be "Day 1."
  • Sexually, I'm not like Switzerland at all, even though live there. Monolingual M, Lausanne-based, seeks F for the usual shenanigans.
  • As a child, my fontanel never joined up properly. So I must insist on wearing a helmet during intercourse. Other than that it's all systems go.
  • Ulcerative gingivitis prevents me from eating tomato-based products and using tongues when kissing. It doesn't matter--I hate tomatoes!
  • Female, 34. All own limbs. Seeks man with low priorities.
  • A while back I wrote a bunch of really angry ads here directed at you after you left me and went back to your idiotic ex-boyfriend. I want you to know that I regret none of them. I'd do it again and I still hate you.
  • This is how I want to seduce you--using meaningless words in a column of fools before a theatre of idiots. Write immediately and be upon me.
Those literati just slay me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Noteworthy people you haven't heard of... or, awkwardly gramatic... of whom you haven't heard.

So what's the big deal about Ray Townsend who died recently at 97? Ray did something hardly any one of us do... he invented the first practical mechanical hog-skinner! And that means...?

Well, it means hot dogs only cost a buck or so. His Frank-a-Matic, introduced in 1962, revolutionized the way skinless hot dogs were made. Left-over meat parts are ground and stuffed into temporary casings (the small intestines of sheep--really) to hold them together as they are cooked... then, Townsend's machine would remove the casing from the dog... so fast it would make your stomach swim--30,000 per hour! See? That's how hot dogs became, not only every-man's meat byproduct but 'production-line-manufactured' cheap.

Townsend was a busy guy. He also developed some flight instruments for the Learjet, adjustable weights to the golf putter so golfers have something more to tinker with and a fish skinner that would clean the fish, remove the head and fins, and tidily skin what's left.  He did exercise machines and treadmills too... in all, 127 different inventions. But the Frank-a-Matic remained his favorite. Or, as my mother-in-law would seriously say, "Who doesn't like weenies." Really, she said that.

Then there is Gil Meche.  Gil had a five-year, $55 million contract to play for the Kansas City Royals. As sports salaries go, he deserved it. He had a good arm, a good head and the prospect of becoming a pretty good pitcher. But--and isn't there always a BUT--he hurt his pitching shoulder.

He had every right to sit out the year and take home his guaranteed $12 million salary. Injuries are one of the risks that every major league ball club must take to sign the talent. Meche, however, lives by another credo. "I was making a crazy amount of money for not even pitching. Honestly, I didn't feel like I deserved it." He would rather spend the time at home with his wife and kids. How archaic is that?

For every sports fan who has lived and died by the success of the 'star' on their favorite team... for every sports fan who has watched or been forced to root for a multi-million-dollar crybaby... or someone who gets in trouble with the law... or is involved in a scandal of one kind or another...or someone who insults fans, is on steroids and/or is a total jerk... or any combination of these and more... and still pulls down the big bucks without delivering or even showing gratitude to the fans or the people who pay his salary, I have one word for Meche:WOW! What a powerful reminder of happy endings. Thanks, Gil, for showing some old fashioned humility, moral balance and class. Nice to know there are those of you out there.

Two more class acts: Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg gave up $16 million when he retired in 1994, when 16 million was like... a billion today, saying he could no longer perform at peak level. He later returned to play two more (sub-peak) seasons.

Pat Tillman also turned down a $3.6 million offer to play pro football for the Arizona Cardinals after 9/11 and joined the Army to fight for his country instead. He was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan.

Then there is Jack LeLanne, exercise guru and fitness fanatic, who recently died at 96. When asked once if he ever thought about dying, he said, "No. Dying would be bad for my image."

LaLanne was an impressive pioneer of the physical health boom we enjoy today. He started the ball rolling on a national basis, comparing himself to Billy Graham by saying that diet and exercise were America's salvation. And he is probably more right than some think. Too bad more people don't listen. But then, like Billy Graham would likely admit, there is still work to be done.

Never a wallflower, LaLanne was more than happy to show the world what exercise and diet could do. His feats were impressive:

1954 Age 40: Swam the length of the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge underwater with 140 pounds of equipment, including two air tanks… an undisputed world record.

1955 Age 41: Swam, handcuffed, from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf in
San Francisco, CA.

1956 Age 42: Set a world record of 1,033 push-ups in 23 minutes on You Asked for It, an early TV Show.

1957 Age 43: Swam the treacherous Golden Gate Channel, towing a 2,500-pound cabin cruiser. This involved fighting the cold, swift ocean currents that made the 1 mile swim a 6 ½ mile test of strength and endurance.

1958 Age 44: Maneuvered a paddleboard 30 miles, 9-½ hours non-stop from Farallon Islands to the San Francisco shore.

1959 Age 45: Completed 1,000 pushups and 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour and 22

1974 Age 60: Swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf, for a second time handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.

1975 Age 61: Swam the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, underwater, handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat.

1976 Age 62: Commemorating the “Spirit of ‘76”, swam 1 mile in Long Beach Harbor, handcuffed, shackled and towing 13 boats (representing the 13 original colonies) containing 76 people.

1979 Age 65: Towed 65 boats filled with 6,500-pounds of Louisiana-Pacific wood pulp while handcuffed and shackled, in Lake Ashinoko, near Tokyo.

1980 Age 66: Towed 10 boats in North Miami, Florida filled with 77 people for over a mile... in less than 1 hour.

This man just loved to tow boats!

For 80-plus years, he exercised every day of his life and ate only fish and vegetables. What a guy!

Can't forget Milton Levine, the inventor of the Ant Farm, who died in January at 97. While on a picnic in 1956, he watched a mound of ants at work and thought they were so interesting that they belonged in an aunt aquarium for everyone to be amazed.. everyone except the ants, I guess. "I found out their most amazing feat yet," he confessed, "... they put three kids through college."

Dorothy Young disappeared for the last time this year, at age 103. She was magician Harry Houdini's longtime assistant who took his secrets to her grave.

Last but not least, Eunice G. Sanborn of Jacksonville, Texas died. She was born in 1896 and lived to become the oldest person in the United States at 114. What this means, I say excitedly, is that we have all moved up a notch. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!"

... A direct quote from Mrs Noah as she watched the animals, two-by-two, board the ark...  NOT!

Actually, Dorothy (Judy Garland) said it in The Wizard of Oz when all she had to contend with was a tornado, the Wizard, the wicked witch of the West, a bunch of Munchkins and her friends, a cowardly lion, a scarecrow without a brain and a tin man without a heart. Sounds like my old bowling team.

Anyhow, the subject today is animals...  human and the other kind. And if you want to see how it all began, (evolutionists, you can skip this part) take a look at Robert Crumb's illustrated Book of Genesis. It is truly cool.

Crumb, known for his comic book style and some rather "unusual" drawings and underground comic characterizations, stuck right to the book (that is, The Bible) for this one. Actually, his depiction is from the King James Bible and a 2004 translation called The Five Books of Moses... so Catholics, sit this one out unless you go immediately to confession. As an added bonus, you will finally get to see what God, Adam and Eve and that damn snake look like.

Other big news on the animal front... as told by Associated Press writer Jennifer Quinn who reported it so 'Milnesque:'

When we left them, Christopher Robin was going away, and Things were going to be Different. 

Now, more that eight decades later, a rumor is sweeping the Hundred Acre Wood. According to Owl, who heard it from Rabbit, who heard it from Piglet, the adventures are about to resume. It falls to the bear to pass on the news to Eeyore.

"It's Christopher Robin," said Winnie-the-Pooh. "He's coming back. "

And so it is... after 84 years, the first authorized sequel to A.A. Milne's classic tales, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, is now on sale. Just that thought brings back rich memories of those bed time stories read when my kids were as young as theirs are now.

Alan Alexander Milne, 1882-1956,  was an English novelist and playwrite who gained legendary status as the author of the Winnie-the-Poo series of children's tales and poems. As beloved as his characters in the series were to the children, the stories weren't written for his son... or children at all.  They were intended, he said, for the child within us, as simple lessons of life.

And, looking as some of Pooh's quotes, what lessons they are:

When late morning rolls around and you're feeling a bit out of sorts, don't worry; you're probably just a little eleven o'clockish.

When looking at your two paws, as soon as you have decided which of them is the right one, then you can be sure the other one is the left.

To the uneducated, an A is just three sticks.

Those who are clever, who have a Brain, never understand anything.

Owl hasn't exactly got Brain, but he Knows Things.

If you want to make a song more hummy, add a few tiddely poms.

The more it snows (Tiddely pom),
The more it goes (Tiddely pom),
The more it goes (Tiddely pom),
On snowing. And nobody knows (Tiddely pom),
How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),
How cold my toes (Tiddely pom),
Are growing.

Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering.

Just because an animal is large, it doesn't mean he doesn't want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.

If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.

My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.

It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn't use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like "What about lunch?

If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.

Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

I used to believe in forever
But forever's too good to be true.

I've missed you, Pooh Bear... in more ways than you know.