Category Archives: Lighter Moments

Do You Have Crows in Your Neighborhood?

crowWe do in ours, and they can be noisy from time to time. Here’s a crow story you might enjoy.

About 200 dead crows were found near Topeka, KS. and there was concern that the crows may have died from Avian Flu.

A bird pathologist examined the remains of all the crows, and he confirmed the problem was definitely NOT Avian Flu, to everyone’s relief.

However, he determined that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with trucks, while only 2% were killed by an impact with a car.

Kansas then hired an Ornithological Behaviorist to determine the disproportionate percentages for truck versus car kill. The Ornithological Behaviorist determined the cause in short order.

When crows eat road kill, they always set-up a look-out crow in a nearby tree to warn of impending danger.

His conclusion was that all the look-out crows could say “Cah,” but none could say “Truck.”

Have a nice day.


Farnarkeling is a sport which began in Mesopotamia, which literally means ‘between the rivers’. This would put it somewhere in Victoria or New South Wales between the Murray and the Darling. The word Farnarkeling is Icelandic in structure, Urdu in metre and Celtic in the intimacy of its relationship between meaning and tone.

Farnarkeling is engaged in by two teams whose purpose is to arkle, and to prevent the other team from arkeling, using a flukem to propel a gonad through sets of posts situated at random around the periphery of a grommet. Arkeling is not permissible, however, from any position adjacent to the phlange (or leiderkrantz) or from within 15 yards of the wiffenwacker at the point where the shifting tube abuts the centre-line on either side of the 34 metre mark, measured from the valve at the back of the defending side’s transom-housing.


2012 Bulwer-Lytton Contest Winners!

Several years ago a college friend who lives in New Jersey but whom I have not seen in 50 years introduced me to Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

Most of us are familiar with the the phrase “It was a dark and stormy night…”. What we aren’t familiar with is the rest of the sentence penned by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton in 1830 which reads as follows: “…the rain fell in torrents – except at occassional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

The contest began in 1982 and was/is the realm of a Professor Scott Rice of San Jose State University. The idea is to compose the opening sentence to the worst possible novel. My favorite winner is from 2008. It was penned by Garrison Spik of Washington, DC and reads as follows: “Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped ‘Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, NJ’“.

I think I wrote a blog post last year that talked about this but with the news about economics and such being so pessimistic, decided today was a good day for something a little lighter, something that will end your week on a high note.

Here, then, are some of the winners from the 2012 contest.

Overall Winner
As he told her that he loved her she gazed into his eyes, wondering, as she noted the infestation of eyelash mites, the tiny deodicids burrowing into his follicles to eat the greasy sebum therein, each female laying up to 25 eggs in a single follicle, causing inflammation, whether the eyes are truly the windows of the soul; and, if so, his soul needed regrouting. — Cathy Bryant, Manchester, England

Winner: Crime
She slinked through my door wearing a dress that looked like it had been painted on … not with good paint, like Behr or Sherwin-Williams, but with that watered-down stuff that bubbles up right away if you don’t prime the surface before you slap it on, and – just like that cheap paint – the dress needed two more coats to cover her. — Sue Fondrie, Appleton, WI

Winner: Historical Fiction
The “clunk” of the guillotine blade’s release reminded Marie Antoinette, quite briefly, of the sound of the wooden leg of her favorite manservant as he not-quite-silently crossed the polished floors of Versailles to bring her another tray of petit fours. — Leslie Craven, Hataitai, New Zealand

Winner: Purple Prose

William, his senses roused by a warm fetid breeze, hoped it was an early spring’s equinoxal thaw causing rivers to swell like the blood-engorged gumlines of gingivitis, loosening winter’s plaque, exposing decay, and allowing the seasonal pot-pouris of Mother Nature’s morning breath to permeate the surrounding ether, but then he awoke to the unrelenting waves of his wife’s halitosis. — Guy Foisy, Orleans, Ontario

From Among the Rest:

Corinne considered the colors (palest green, gray and lavender) and texture (downy as the finest velvet) and wondered, “How long have these cold cuts been in my refrigerator?” — Linda Boatright, Omaha, NE

The real problem with the “many universes” interpretation of quantum mechanics is that if it’s true, then somewhere, in some universe, anything you can possibly imagine has already happened, which means that somewhere, another version of me has already finished writing the rest of this science-fiction novel, so I’m not feeling real inspired to do it myself. — Steve Lauducci, Bethlehem, PA

He got down from his horse, which seemed strange to him as he had always believed that you got down from a duck or a goose. — Terry L. Johnson, Tularosa, NM

Her fixed gaze at dinner reminded him so much of an owl that he found himself wondering when she would regurgitate her meal into a pellet and told the waitress they didn’t need a dessert menu. — Leah Sitkoff, New York, New York

About Thomas Edison

You’ve seen them — the stories on the Internet purporting to explain some everyday term or aphorism in some weird way, totally off the wall. Well, we’ll begin with one…

In his laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ, back in the 1870s, Thomas A. Edison was hard at work developing an efficient artificial source of light. (It is not commonly known that his chief assistant was a Native American. Because he had mastered a veritable arsenal of technical skills, his tribal name was Many Hands — a tribute to all that he displayed.)

In 1877 Edison came up with the ideal combination of materials and source of energy.

After many preparations he scheduled a press conference where his new ‘incandescent lamp’ would be announced and demonstrated. The day came, as did many reporters. On the dais, Edison made a speech announcing the new device, and threw back a curtain to display a large glass globe with a filamentous center. He ceremonially flipped a large electric switch and — nothing happened.

There was instant consternation (and some derision) from the attending reporters. His assistant immediately jumped behind the dais and whipped out a screwdriver from his pocket. He worked on something back there and then said, “Try it again, Boss!” Edison once again flipped the switch and the room was bathed in a bright glow that illuminated the entire room.

Edison had done it again! — A whole new and popular invention. But he did not take all the credit for himself. Rather, he spent some time telling the reporters how much of this was a group effort, and singled out his assistant for his last-minute contribution.

So the event was headlined as “Many Hands Make Light Work.”

That’s the story on the Internet and of course you saw it coming. But there is some small amount of truth in it. Edison really did have a Native American chief assistant who made major contributions to the effort. And Edison was indeed grateful to him, and told him that as a reward he could ask for anything he wanted within his power to give him.

Many Hands pondered this for a while, then said he was satisfied with what he had and did not want anything more for himself. “But,” he said, “You know that I come from a small tribe which was displaced and now living in Oklahoma. Being still a part of the tribe, I wonder if you could perhaps do something for them in my name. I propose that they be among the first groups to actually have an Electric Light installed there.”

Edison spent a moment thinking about this, seeing the suitability of it, and realizing the publicity possibilities. So he readily agreed to the proposal.

It took some time to assemble everything, but finally a private train left New Jersey including with it a flatcar loaded with wires, cables, hardware and tools, a large incandescent lamp and a Dynamo. A few days later, the train pulled up onto a siding at the reservation.

It was a broad, treeless very dry plain. Here and there were some ramshackle buildings, obviously dwellings, a few not much better buildings for governmental functions, stores, etc. At the center of the community was a huge circular tent-like edifice. One could see many persons entering or leaving this structure.

Soon, at a meeting in one of the government buildings, Many Hands introduced Edison to the Tribal Council, and he explained to them what he desired to do to honor his assistant. The Council listened attentively. Edison then inquired where they would like to have the light installed.

The Elders spoke privately among themselves for a few moments, then reconvened.

They formally thanked Edison for his offer and accepted it, saying they greatly appreciated the honor done to Many Hands and to their tribe. They said they found they had two considerations to fulfill.

One was to ensure every member would witness the honor given to Many Hands and the tribe and, from a practical point of view, to have the light placed where it could be of greatest use to the tribe. They’d arrived at a solution but apologized in advance if it seemed a bit impolite…

For the first, they realized there is one thing that every inhabitant of the reservation must do, and because of the arid and primitive conditions of their land, the tribe designated one and only one place to carry it out. That is the communal latrine.

It was that huge tent they saw when they arrived. Being so huge, it was also very dark within. The Elders reasoned that this is the one place on the reservation every resident is sure to visit, and a lamp in such a place not only would remind them all of Many Hands’ contribution, but also provide a much needed service that could only enhance the significance of his contribution.

Edison realized the wisdom of this unusual decision, and readily agreed to install the light up in the apex of the tent. Within a few days he installed the Dynamo, strung power cables up to the main light, and placed a number of other lamps at strategic spots within the tent. There was a ceremony and the lighting system was dedicated and turned on.

Thus, Thomas Edison became the first man in history to Wire a Head for a Reservation.

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest 2011 Results

The most recent annual results from the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. The contest challenges entrants to compose bad opening sentences to imaginary novels and takes its name from the Victorian novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who began his “Paul Clifford” with “It was a dark and stormy night.”

My favorite this year is the following, which received only a Dishonorable Mention in the Crime category, mainly because I have several friends who will identify with this and because it all conforms to my warped sense of humor, which is perhaps as good a reason as any to be awarded a Dishonorable Mention.

The victim was a short man, with a face full of contradictions: amalgam, composite, dental porcelain, with both precious and non-precious metals all competing for space in a mouth that was open, bloody, terrifying, gaping, exposing a clean set of asymptomatic impacted wisdom teeth, but clearly the object of some very comprehensive dental care, thought Dirk Graply, world-famous womanizer, tough guy, detective, and former dentist.

Basil McDonnell
Vancouver, B.C.

Go HERE to get the rest of the 2011 contest results.

Famous Quotes as We Approach the End of 2011

“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.”
— Dr. Lee DeForest, Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television.

“The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.”
– – Admiral William Leahy, US Atomic Bomb Project

“There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.”
— Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.”
— Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
— Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.”
–The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

“But what is it good for?”
— Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”– Bill Gates, 1981

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
— Western Union internal memo, 1876.

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?”
— David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

“The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C,’ the idea must be feasible.”
— A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face and not Gary Cooper.”
–Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in “Gone With The Wind.”

“A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make.”
— Response to Debbi Fields’ idea of starting Mrs. Fields’ Cookies.

“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
— Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”
— Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

“If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can’t do this.”
– – Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M “Post-It” Notepads.

“Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.”
— Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”
— Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University , 1929.

“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.”
— Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, France .

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”
— Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899.

“The super computer is technologically impossible. It would take all of the water that flows over Niagara Falls to cool the heat generated by the number of vacuum tubes required.”
— Professor of Electrical Engineering, New York University

“I don’t know what use any one could find for a machine that would make copies of documents. It certainly couldn’t be a feasible business by itself.”
— the head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox.

“Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.”
— Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse , 1872

“The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.”
— Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

And last but not least…

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
— Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

How the Internet Really Began

In ancient Israel , it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a young wife by the name of Dot.

And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.

And she said unto Abraham, her husband, “Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?” And Abraham did look at her – as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load – but simply said, “How, dear?”

And Dot replied, “I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. The sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).”

Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. The drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.

To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was called Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures: Hebrew To The People (HTTP). But this success did arouse envy.

A man named Maccabia did secrete himself inside Abraham’s drum and began to siphon off some of Abraham’s business. But he was soon discovered, arrested and prosecuted for insider trading.

And the young men did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS.

And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land. And he did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates’ drum heads and drumsticks.

Lo, Dot did say, “Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others!”

And as Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known, he said, “We need a name that reflects what we are.”

And Dot replied, “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.” “YAHOO,” said Abraham. And because it was Dot’s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com.

Abraham’s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot’s drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God’s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything(GOOGLE)

And that is how it all began.