Good thinking

December 31, 2008 at 4:57 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Dutch firm has been hired to manage the International Arrivals Building at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport:

The tile under the urinals in the Arrivals Building has that familiar lemony tinge; rubber soles stick to it. Over in Amsterdam, the tile under Schiphol’s urinals would pass inspection in an operating room. But nobody notices. What everybody does notice is that each urinal has a fly in it. Look harder, and the fly turns into the black outline of a fly, etched into the porcelain.

“It improves the aim,” says Aad Kieboom. “If a man sees a fly, he aims at it.” Mr. Kieboom, an economist, directs Schiphol’s own building expansion. His staff conducted fly-in-urinal trials and found that etchings reduce spillage by 80%. The Dutch will transfer the technology to New York.

“We will put flies in the urinals yes,” Jan Jansen says in a back office at the Arrivals Building. He is the new Dutch general manager, the boss as of noon today. “It gives a guy something to think about. That’s the perfect example of process control.”

But a spokesperson for Rudy Guiliani, Mayor of New York, was heard to say, “What do we need with Dutch flies when we have more than enough roaches to piss on?”

Logic

A judge was punishing three men because they had committed a crime. Their sentence was a few years in the desert. He said that they could each take one thing with them.

The first guy decides to take an umbrella, so that he can have shade whenever he wants.

The second guy decides to take a water bottle so that he won’t get thirsty.

Finally, the third guy decides to take a car door.

The judge asked, “Why in the world would you want to take a car door?” The man replies, “Just in case it gets hot, I can roll down the window.”

THE NEWS

British Bank ‘accidentally’ debits man $200bn: “A British man was left in major shock when his bank statement showed him to be 100 billion pounds overdrawn. As if the credit crunch was not hitting Britons hard enough, Donald Moffat was temporarily in deep, deep, deep financial trouble – due to a “technical error”. The 38-year-old, from Irvine on Scotland’s east coast, said his wife noticed the somewhat “major discrepancy of two 50-billion debits” after he logged on to his account online. “When I saw it – I’ve been shaking, I’ve been feeling sick – everything,” the stunned student and part-time care worker told the BBC. “We knew we still had quite a bit left in the account as we checked last night before we went out. “This morning I went out to get a few things then, when I came back, my account was overdrawn by that amount.” Barclays bank said in a statement: “A technical error caused some customer accounts to be incorrectly debited. “The problem was immediately identified and corrected within less than an hour, and all affected customer accounts are now showing correct balances”.

“What are you doing here?” man asks wife at brothel: “A Polish man got the shock of his life when he visited a brothel and spotted his wife among the establishment’s employees. Polish tabloid Super Express said the woman had been making some extra money on the side while telling her husband she worked at a store in a nearby town. “I was dumbfounded. I thought I was dreaming,” the husband told the newspaper on Wednesday. The couple, married for 14 years, are now divorcing, the newspaper reported”.

An underage 60-year-old? “Utah’s stiff liquor laws and crack-on-the-head polices for violators can create a Catch-22 for restaurant owners who invest millions into their business, no matter how hard they try to avoid mistakes. Last Monday, a couple who went into the newly opened Iggy’s Sports Grill in Centerville for dinner and drinks walked out in a huff without ordering after the woman was denied ordering a cocktail because she hadn’t brought her purse and couldn’t produce ID to prove she was of age. She is 60 years old. But here is the restaurant’s dilemma. The owner of the Iggy’s chain lost about $200,000 in potential sales in November because the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission imposed a two-week delay for the opening of the Centerville Iggy’s because an Iggy’s waiter in St. George served a beer to an underage decoy seven months earlier.”

A careless mother who relied on the kindness of strangers: “An off-duty surf lifesaver [lifeguard] who helped resuscitate a woman, 28, on Boxing Day saved the life of a two-year-old girl who was found floating face down at a beach on the South Coast last night. The near drowning occurred on the same day a surfer, 40, died after hitting his head on an underwater rock or sandbar on the Central Coast. The unconscious toddler was spotted in the water about 6pm yesterday at an unpatrolled beach at Tomakin, south of Batemans Bay. Her skin had turned a pale blue colour by the time the lifesaver reached her. “She literally hit the child on the back and cleared the airways, and the child started breathing on her own,” said Andrew Edmunds, of the Far South Coast branch of Surf Life Saving NSW. He said the lifesaver also removed the girl’s four-year-old sibling from the water while their mother was believed to be elsewhere on the beach.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

Notice something unusual?

December 30, 2008 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

They are the finalists in an Australian beauty contest. And they look normal! They are not the bony stick insects who normally pass as beautiful in the media. Background here

THE NEWS

Bank robber leaves behind name and address: “A US man allegedly robbed a Chicago bank using a threatening note written on the back of his pay slip, which was printed with his name and home address. Thomas Infante of Cary, 40, Illinois, walked into a Fifth Third Bank at 5.50pm on Friday and handed a teller a note that read “Be Quick Be Quit (sic). Give your cash or I’ll shoot”, according to an FBI affidavit filed on Monday. The teller gave the man about $US400. The robber left behind his demand note, written on a torn half of the pay slip. Investigators found the other half of the note – with Infante’s name and home address – outside the bank’s front doors. The pay stub showed Infante was paid $US165.99 by Jewel Food Stores on October 23, the FBI said. “It’s fairly unusual that we see something that specifically stupid,” FBI spokesman Ross Rice said. Infante was arrested at his home and later admitted the robbery, the FBI affidavit said.”

Smoking is often a very powerful addiction in China: “A chronic smoker blew himself up when he lit a cigarette while using an oxygen ventilator to help him breathe. The 75-year-old man was admitted to the Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong on Sunday with severe facial burns after lighting up in his home while the ventilator’s plastic tubes were still running to his nose. The man relies suffers from lung disease, caused by his smoking, and relies on the oxygen tank to stay alive. The South China Morning Post reported the man’s doctor said the man knew he shouldn’t smoke while the ventilator was going, but took the risk because his cigarette craving was so intense.”

Rebirth for quirky old French bike: “If you want to turn heads with your wheels in Paris you don’t have to splash out on a flashy car. Lately I’ve noticed people drawing looks when they ride by on new Solex bikes. For those who weren’t around France before the 1990s, the Solex was a funny little motorised cycle that enjoyed immense popularity as cheap transport. Its quirkiest feature was the little petrol engine perched above the front wheel. When it was engaged, a disk on the motor rubbed against the bike wheel, giving it power. They made a noisy buzz while proceeding at a few miles per hour. The Solex, affectionately known as the Soufflex (roughly puffer), was a symbol of the post-war era like the 2CV Citroen or the bulbous Orangina bottle. To use the usual clich,, it was a true Gallic icon. It was ridden by rural shop-keepers and Paris students and it featured in films with Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Jacques Tati. Steve McQueen rode one when he was in France making Le Mans in 1971. Between 1946 and 1988 Solex sold more than eight million of the “bicycle that goes by itself,” as its 1960s adverts called it.”

A Japanese response to the financial crisis: “Concocting a gadget for every occasion is nothing new in Japan – electronic gizmos have been drafted into the retail scene to combat everything from the demographic timebomb to an obsession with the supernatural – but now, as recession sweeps through the economy, mauling exports and plunging once-mighty companies into the red, the gadgetry has been tailored to suit what the Japanese Government has called an “unprecedented financial crisis” and an emerging national mood of intense parsimony and thrift. TaxiWalker offers the newly penniless Japanese “salaryman” all the nostalgic fun of having enough money to go everywhere in a taxi, but without the driver, the car or the expense. Based on a simple pedometer, the device attaches to an ordinary belt and measures the number of steps taken by its owner and the distance that he or she has walked. The machine is precisely calibrated to reflect the fare scheme charged by an official Tokyo taxicab: Y710 (o5.30) for the first two kilometres and a further Y90 for every additional 280 metres travelled. Night-time surcharges apply. The idea is to offer the growing ranks of embittered pedestrians an accurate sense of how much money they are saving through their daily trudgings”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

Divided by a common language

December 29, 2008 at 5:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

American language as observed by a Brit

Michelle Obama just sent me an email wishing me “Happy Holidays” and asking me to give money “to causes that are especially meaningful to me and my family” (food banks and deployed troops – not the Obama campaign this time). She doesn’t mention Christmas at all, instead talking vaguely of “a time to celebrate our blessings, the new year, and a new era for our country”. The term “Happy Holidays” is certainly one that grates on this British ear and I confess it’s not the only one. Every day, I have to navigate the common language which, as George Bernard Shaw put it, divides our two nations.

But I don’t mean simple Americanisms like stroller (pushchair), diaper (nappy), ladybug (ladybird), Mom (Mum), entree (main course), Santa (Father Christmas), takeout (takeaway), pre-owned (secondhand), mad (angry), chill (calm down), Santa (Father Christmas) etc etc but the phrases that really make you want to go postal. Here are the top 10 that, after nearly seven years here, infuriate me most:

1. “Happy Holidays.”
Translation: “Merry Christmas but I realise you might be Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Bahai, something even more exotic, agnostic or Godless and I don’t want to offend you.”

2. “Have a Nice Day.”
Translation: “I would like you to have a pleasant time today” or “I hate you” – or anything in between.

3. “You’re welcome.”
Translation: Meaningless Pavlovian response to thank you.

4. “Do the math.”
Translation: “Work it out yourself, stupid.”

5. “Let’s visit with each other.”
Translation: “We should spend time together.”

6. “How are you today?”
Translation: “We mean nothing to each other, but let’s pretend.”

7. “Good luck with that.”Translation: “You have no chance at all.”

8. “Oh my gosh!”
Translation: “I fear you may feel that taking the Lord’s name in vain is blasphemous.”

9. “Can I use your bathroom?”
Translation: “I would like to use your lavatory.”

10. “Not so much.”
Translation: “That’s completely wrong.” Used on me in classic fashion by a Clinton aide back in February.

Post above recycled from here . See the original for links etc.

THE NEWS

Stunt to impress girl backfires: “A Swedish man’s attempt to impress his date went horribly awry, as he ended up setting himself on fire and going into shock. The 33-year-old man also faces allegations of endangering the public as he recovers from serious burn injuries in a hospital in Vastervik, Sweden, The Local reported. The unidentified man’s girlfriend said he was attempting a stunt when he poured gasoline over his arm and set the fuel on fire. “It obviously didn’t go well. He burned his arm and other parts of his body and was in a state of shock,” Kalmar police spokesperson Reine Johansson said. “Don’t ask me what the point of the trick was supposed to be.” Police said that the man will likely need specialized care at the burn clinic of Linkoping University Hospital.

A real Aardvark: “Amani is the Detroit Zoo’s newest aardvark, born Dec. 8 to mother Rachaael and father Mchimbaji. The zoo is awaiting a DNA test that will conclude the gender. “This baby can only be described as hideously cute,” said Scott Carter, director of Conservation and Animal Welfare, in a statement today. “Rachaael is a first-time mother and is showing great maternal instincts.” Amani (Swahili for “peace”) was born 23 inches long, about 3r pounds and hairless, with ears pointing 4 inches from its head. It has more than doubled in size. Due to the animal’s clumsiness and poor eyesight, vets and zookeepers are helping Rachaael raise Amani to prevent injury. Zoo visitors won’t get to see Amani until the spring, when it will join the zoo’s other aardvarks. The aardvark is an African mammal whose name derives from the Afrikaans word meaning “earth pig.” [So they do exist outside telephone directories, crossword puzzles and Scrabble!]?

Tardy air traffic controllers fired after planes left circling: “Five air traffic controllers who were late or absent from work a day after Christmas were suspended after two flights were forced to circle a southern airport because no one was manning the control tower, Philippine civil aviation officials said. A Philippine Airlines jet from Manila with 156 passengers arrived early on Friday morning at Zamboanga city’s airport but was forced to circle for nearly 30 minutes before being allowed to land, said Ramon Atilano, PAL’s Zamboanga manager. A smaller, Cebu Pacific airline turbo plane from Cebu city that arrived minutes ahead of the PAL flight had to land on its own, Zamboanga airport manager Celso Bayabos said. Bayabos said the tower was not manned for 40 minutes. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it has suspended five controllers and ordered an investigation into the incident. Those found liable could face administrative sanctions, it added. It was unclear if they also could face criminal charges.”

Purple squirrel baffles experts : “A purple squirrel which appeared at a school has baffled experts who are unable to explain its colour. Teachers and pupils at Meoncross School in Stubbington, Hants, were amazed when they saw the creature through the window during a lesson. Since the squirrel, now nicknamed Pete, was first seen, it has become a regular fixture at the school but no one has been able to say whether the animal has fallen into purple paint, had a run-in with some purple dye, or whether there is another explanation. Dr Mike Edwards, an English teacher, said: “I was sitting in my classroom and looked out the window and saw it sitting on the fence. I had to do a double take. “Since then it’s been a bit of a regular at the school – everyone’s seen it. “We thought it might have been paint or something but then when you look at it up close, it’s an all over coat, not in patches like you’d expect if it had been near some paint. “Its fur actually looks purple all the way through. It’s an absolute mystery.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

Big neddy

December 28, 2008 at 5:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Bruce” (above) is a Shire horse. Such horses were much used in English agriculture before tractors came along. He is big even by Shire standards, however. Story here

THE NEWS

Britain to get bullet trains — 60 years after Japan: “The transport minister, Lord Adonis, is proposing a 200mph high-speed rail service modelled on the bullet trains pioneered in Japan in the 1960s. He believes there is a strong case for building a 20 billion pound high-speed line that would cut journey times from London to Manchester, one of Britain’s most congested routes, from 2hr 7min to just 80min. The plans have been given impetus by a visit Adonis made with Iain Coucher, the head of Network Rail, to Japan last month. “Britain has a lot to learn from Japan about high-speed rail,” the minister said. “In Japan it has been a powerful force for economic regeneration and national pride. It could be the same in Britain.” Adonis’s comments come ahead of a government report, due to be published in the spring, on the viability of a high-speed rail network in Britain… Ministers want to begin work on the new London to Manchester line as soon as possible so that it can be in place within 15-20 years.”

British dogs must not chase and fetch: “Fetch, doggy – but not before listening to some vital safety information. One of Britain’s most eminent vets has warned that dogs suffer as many injuries chasing and catching sticks as they do on Britain’s roads. Owners are being advised that to protect their pets from accidental stabbing or choking, they should never throw sticks. Instead they should use rubber throwing toys or a suitably sized ball. Dan Brockman, professor of small animal surgery at the Royal Veterinary College, has catalogued dozens of serious injuries and infections, almost all the result of animals being stabbed as they rushed after a sharp stick. “When I see people throwing sticks for their dogs in the park I just get so frustrated,” said Brockman. “I want to go and tell them to stop.” His new study, co-authored with Zoe Halfacree, a fellow small-animal expert at the college, will detail some of the injuries suffered by pets when a game of fetch goes wrong.”

Man shot for talking loudly during Brad Pitt film: “A Philadelphia resident, enraged because a family was talking loudly during a film, threw popcorn at a boy and then shot the youngster’s father. James Joseph Cialella Jr, 29, was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and weapons violations for shooting another film goer in the left arm, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Cialella was furious for being disturbed while watching The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which stars Brad Pitt and Australia’s Cate Blanchett. “It’s truly frightening when you see something like this evolve into such violence … that something like this leads to a shooting in a movie theatre,” police spokesman Lieutenant Frank Vanore was quoted as saying. Cialella first asked the talkative family to quieten down and threw popcorn at a boy who was talking to his father. Next, Cialella and the father got into an argument, which turned physical and Cialella whipped out a handgun and shot the man. Police said Cialella returned to his seat and continued watching the film”. [A pity this had to happen but it might teach some people consideration for others]

Horse killed with kindness: “A horse has been killed by kindness after well-meaning passers-by fed it Jaffa cakes, dog biscuits and other ‘treats’. Kemal the Arabian stallion – a breed renowned for their endurance – was found dead in his stable after his health suddenly deteriorated. The 18-year-old horse had been fit and healthy until his final few weeks. For the last year he had been kept in a field next to a public footpath in West Malling in Kent. Passers-by, probably thinking they were doing a good turn, had been over-feeding the stallion. It wasn’t until after Kamal’s death that owner Simon North, realised the animal’s strictly-controlled diet of herbs and carrots had been interfered with by the well-meaning passers-by.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

An American, a Canadian and a Scotsman go to Heaven

December 27, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On a dark and stormy night, an American, Canadian and a Scot were in a horrible car accident. All three were rushed to the hospital, though all three had died before they arrived.

Just as they were about to put the toe tag on the American, he awoke and opened his eyes. Astonished, the doctors and nurses asked him what had happened.

“Well,” said the American, “I remember the crash, and then there was a bright white light, and then the Canadian and the Scot and I were standing at the pearly gates of heaven. St. Peter approached us and said that we were all too young to die, and that for a donation of $150 we could return to the earth.” He continued, ” So of course, I pulled out my wallet and gave him the $150, and the next thing I knew I was back here.”

“That’s amazing!” said one of the doctors, “But what happened to the other two?”

“Last I saw them,” replied the American, “the Scotsman was haggling over the price and the Canadian was waiting for the government to pay his.”

THE NEWS

Virgin gives birth to Jesus – really: “Virgin Mary, a 20-year-old Peruvian woman, gave birth to a baby boy on Christmas day and named him Jesus, Peru’s state news agency reports. The baby’s father, Adolfo Jorge Huamani, 24, is a carpenter. Religious Peruvians compared him to Joseph the Carpenter in the Bible. “Two thousand years later the story of Bethlehem is relived,” read the headline about the birth in El Comercio, the main newspaper in Peru, a predominantly Catholic country. The mother, Virgen Maria Huarcaya, delivered the 3.5kg boy, Jesus Emanuel, in the early hours of Christmas at the central maternity hospital in Lima, the capital. “A few days ago we had decided to name my son after a professional soccer player,” the father said. “But thanks to a happy coincidence this is how things ended up.”

Viagra used as CIA ‘incentive’: “CIA agents are offering the potency drug Viagra and other gifts to win over Afghan warlords in the US-led war against Taliban insurgents, the Washington Post reports. Paying for information is nothing new for the Central Intelligence Agency, but officers have started employing unusual incentives to persuade Afghan local leaders to share intelligence about the Taliban’s movements, the Post wrote, citing unnamed sources in the spy service. “Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people – whether it’s building a school or handing out Viagra,” one CIA operative who has worked in Afghanistan was quoted as saying. CIA agents have offered pocket knives and tools, toys and school equipment, travel visas, medical services including surgeries and sometimes the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra for Afghan chieftains, the paper said. The ageing chieftains often have up to four wives and are open to the Viagra pill as a way to “put them back in an authoritative position”. More customary bribes such as cash and weapons can create problems, because guns can fall into the wrong hands and a sudden influx of cash can draw too much attention, agents said. Four Viagra pills transformed the attitude of one influential 60-year-old warlord who had been wary of the United States. “He came up to us beaming,” one official told the Post. “And after that we could do whatever we wanted in his area.”

Eat your breakfast – or lose your virginity: “People who skip breakfast tend to lose their virginity earlier, according to researchers in Japan. In a study of 3000 people, those who did not regularly eat breakfast in their early teens said they lost their virginity at an average age of 17.5, versus an overall average age of 19 for all Japanese. Those who had a morning meal when they were younger had their first sexual experience at 19.4 years. The study, backed by Japan’s health ministry, was aimed at finding ways to curb unwanted pregnancies. It concluded that a stable home life discouraged early sex. “Those unhappy with their parents – such as for not preparing breakfast – may tend to find a way to release their frustration by having sex,” said Kunio Kitamura, head of the Japan Family Planning Association who led the research. “If children don’t feel comfortable in their family environment, they tend to go out.” Young people who start having sex early tended to miss breakfast because they return home late, he said. Japan has one of the world’s lowest birthrates as more young people put off starting families, finding them a burden on their careers or lifestyles. The survey also found that nearly 40 per cent of married couples had not had sex in more than a month. Respondents said they were too tired because of work or found sex to be a pain, according to the study.”

Aftershave rage: “Anger over a poorly selected Christmas gift landed a man in court yesterday after he slashed his wife’s tyres. Danny Flowers, 25, flew into a rage after his “smirking” wife gave him the same brand of aftershave as that worn by his best friend, with whom she had “entered into an adulterous relationship”, his solicitor said. Police told Parramatta Bail Court Flowers threatened his wife Kate, saying, “I am going to kill you and myself”. Flowers admitted he slashed two tyres on his wife’s car. He was bailed to appear in Mt Druitt local court on January 5″.

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

An English TV “personality”

December 26, 2008 at 5:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No sign of traditional British reserve below. Times would appear to have changed in Britain. Jodie Marsh is recorded arriving at her recent birthday party

THE NEWS

Festive foods lead to medical folly for the French: “French hospitals are braced for an upsurge in work over the festive period as revellers injure themselves in the annual struggle with two of the country’s greatest passions – oysters and foie gras. Hundreds of people inflict serious damage on themselves opening oysters at Christmas and new year, while many others cut themselves trying to open tins of foie gras, doctors say. The wounds, which can result in infection, reduced hand movement or the loss of a finger, often require delicate and expensive surgery. The French Health Surveillance Institute said oyster wounds were “an important public health issue for us”. It revealed that 2000 people injure themselves opening oysters every year in France. Forty per cent of the injuries occur in December and January and a quarter between December 24 and January 3. Patrick Houvet, a surgeon at the French Institute for Hand Surgery, said: “In order to open an oyster, you have to cut the very powerful muscle which keeps it shut and so you need to go at it strongly. It’s quite easy for the oyster knife to slip and to end up in your hand.” He regularly saw patients who had cut their tendons, nerves or arteries, or all three, he said.”

Strange boat: “It might look like something out of a James Bond film but this is could be the ocean cruiser of the future. The WAM-V, or Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel, blasts along on two giant inflatable tubes which, according to its designers, let it ‘dance’ with the waves. Powered by twin diesel engines, the spider-like craft can be crewed by just two people as it tackles voyages of up to 5,000 miles. The catamaran has been built by US-based Marine Advanced Research Inc to carry out studies of the world’s oceans. But designers say the vessel could, in the future, be used as a luxury cruiser, a scuba diving boat or a passenger ship for up to 12 people. They say they have already designed, manufactured and tested 8ft radio-controlled models and a 50ft personal craft as well as the 100ft Proteus. A spokesman for the group said: ‘The WAM-V is a new class of watercraft based on a patented technology that delivers a radically new seagoing experience. ‘These ultralight flexible catamarans are designed to allow for a variety of applications and to fit the requirements of specific users, missions or projects.”

Heavy vehicle driver deliberately rams other drivers on British motorway: “A lorry driver who smirked as he rammed rush-hour traffic out of his way on a busy motorway was jailed today for dangerous driving and criminal damage. Victims feared for their lives as Vitezslav Labounek shunted their cars with his 40-tonne articulated truck as he ploughed through a speed-restricted section of the M1 northbound, Derby Crown Court heard. Horrified motorists called police and turned on their hazard lights as the 44-year-old crashed along the route, between junctions 26, near Kimberley, Notts, and 33, near Sheffield, on the afternoon of August 28 this year. One witness likened the incident to a scene out of Duel, the Steven Spielberg film in which a tanker truck tries to ram a car off the road. Three cars were hit, leaving drivers with whiplash injuries and thousands of pounds of damage to their vehicles. Czech national Labounek, of no fixed address, was sentenced to 15 months behind bars and disqualified from driving for three years for a dangerous driving offence described by police as one of the worst they had seen.”

Nasty priest: “A Catholic priest has angered parents in northern Italy by telling their tearful children that Father Christmas does not really exist. Father Dino Bottino, the parish priest of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Novara, let out the secret at a children’s mass earlier this month and was immediately accused of ruining Christmas for the youngsters. But an unrepentant Fr Bottino called it his duty to set the record straight and said: ”I told the children that Father Christmas was an invention. And I would repeat it again, if I had the chance.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

Holiday Eating Tips – For The Sane

December 25, 2008 at 5:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I hate aspects of this time of year. Not for its crass commercialism and forced frivolity, but because it’s the season when the food police come out with their wagging fingers and annual tips on how to get through the holidays without gaining 10 pounds.

1. About those carrot sticks. Avoid them. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it’s rare. In fact, it’s even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnogaholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello? Remember college?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. You can’t leave them behind. You’re not going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards, pal.

10. And one final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Reread tips. Start over. But hurry! Cookieless January is just around the corner.

THE NEWS

Funeral crashers: “A group has been caught attending memorial services of people they didn’t know, in scenes straight out of the hit movie Wedding Crashers. The serial mourners gave themselves access to free booze, food and company until being exposed in an elaborate sting. After the death of UK journalist Alan Coren, his daughter Victoria advertised his memorial service in newspapers. But a mysterious email warned her to “beware a certain Terence Jolley”, who often attended services for people he didn’t know. Jolley had applied to attend the service and claimed he had worked with Coren at the BBC. An internet search revealed he was a former magistrate who had been convicted of transport fraud. Further investigation revealed a whole gang who had written to say they would attend the service had given fake identities and addresses. To catch them out, Ms Coren invented a character called Sir William Ormerod and set up a website listing his engineering and arts achievements. Within hours of advertising Sir William’s memorial service, she received emails from “the Hon Terence Jolley and Terence Jolley (Sr)” and four other couples. “We knew him from his work and support of the arts centre,” the Jolleys wrote…. Ms Coren used her evidence to ban Jolley from her father’s memorial service but let the others in the gang attend. “They all arrived promptly at the party afterwards and dug into the sandwiches,” she said.”

Cosmetic surgeon fills his car up with his patients’ excess flab: “If you’re keen to establish your green credentials you can install solar panels or stick a wind turbine on your roof. Or you could become a patient of Dr Alan Bittner. The leading Beverly Hills cosmetic surgeon claims to be saving the planet by using fat removed from clients in liposuction operations to power his 4×4 car. According to Dr Bittner, his patients are more than happy to be involved in the extraordinary eco-friendly scheme. ‘The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel – and I have more fat than I can use,’ he declared. ‘Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly, but they get to take part in saving the Earth.’ U.S. authorities are less impressed and have launched an inquiry into his claims that he is converting the waste fat into bio-diesel – or ‘lipodiesel’ as he calls it. Dr Bittner posted his claims on a website lipodiesel.com, which has since been taken down following the sudden closure of his clinic on Rodeo Drive. He is believed to have moved to South America after several patients filed a lawsuit against his practice for allegedly allowing his unlicensed girlfriend to carry out operations. U.S. business magazine Forbes reported that Dr Bittner used the ‘lipofuel’ to power both his Ford Explorer and his girlfriend’s Lincoln Navigator. Bio-diesel is commonly made from vegetable oils, although half of the U.S. supply comes from beef or pig products. Animal and vegetable fat contains triglycerides that can be extracted and turned into diesel.”

Chicago sheriff baits fugitives with holiday ruse : “The sheriff’s office in Chicago has arrested more than 60 fugitives with a net of holiday cheer. Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Sunday that the suspects were invited to take a retailers’ survey for holiday shoppers at a hotel earlier this month. Participants who brought along a scratch-off card that was included with the survey were promised at least $500. Those who showed up were taken into custody. One man who arrived with marijuana in his pocket was charged with possession on top of his previous charges. The fugitives had warrants for crimes including forgery and aggravated battery.”

Parents mislay child: “The parents of a five-year-old found alone at a Christmas lights display said they accidentally left him there due to having a large number of children. Alexander spent the night with police after he was found alone in Vermont South last night. When located this afternoon, his parents told police they had taken the family in two cars to visit the display and due to having a large number of children with them they accidentally Alexander behind them. A member of the public noticed Alexander standing alone at the display at the corner of Narracan Drive and Ensay Court at 11.30 last night. Police said he was in good spirits and was being cared for by workers from the Department of Human Services. Police said Alexander couldn’t tell them his surname, where he lived or how he got to the Christmas display. Police said he was in good spirits while authorities waited for the family to contact them and was cared for by workers from the Department of Human Services.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

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