Friday, May 20, 2011

T-minus one and counting -- 'til the end of the world as we know it - or maybe not...

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Traffic Cops

Think the one-dimensional cop is a total stereotype? Not in Neenah, Wisconsin! When this little town in America's Dairyland was faced with a recent rash of speeders, police decided to enlist the help of Hot Off the Presses: Traffic Cops!

the help of some cardboard cops. And while they obviously can't write tickets, these officers apparently do scare drivers into slowing down. As an added bonus, they don't require medical benefits, donuts or overtime pay, and they're biodegradable construction makes retirement a snap.

Here is a truly magical moment from 
It's the part of the move/play where Mother Superior turns to Maria and says... 
"What is the problem you can't face?"
This one's for you Brendan

Cheeky Seagull
Lazy Cat

If you've ever wondered what all those strange modes on your camera do,
 this may answer your questions.

Ah they just don't write songs like that anymore. [sigh]

Oh the cruelty of friends 
who are graphic designers

 Neal McCartland
Everyday life of gay boys in South Africa who still shop at J.C. Penny's. 
And no, that's not his hand in my pocket!!

I still think the original picture is pretty amazing though.

See? You should never run with scissors.

Okay, you have two choices - laugh or be 
horrified. It's totally up to you.
It has always been this way between 

A Voice from the Past
When I was a teenager, many, many moons ago, I used to listen to to a radio DJ named Dick Summer broadcasting from WBZ in Boston. Boston was a heck of a long way from Sudbury, Ontario, Canada but my transistor radio pulled in the signal like it was coming from around the corner. Dick's late night show helped me get through a rather tormented adolescence. About four years ago I ran across his name on the Net and decided to send him a note and it went like this...

Hello, Dick,
I just discovered a reference to you on the Voicetracks page. That took me on a little stroll down memory lane. Back in 1963, I was a geeky teenager, but had the good sense to be a big fan of your late night radio show. Most evenings, when I was supposed to be studying, I listened to my 7 transistor Sony radio, tuned to WBZ. I enjoyed your running feud with "Juicy Brucey" Bradley, the lame Swifty jokes, the grape jokes, the elephant jokes, the shrewsbury/sandwich debacle and so much more. I still remember all this stuff with great clarity.

I wrote to you once and you read my letter on the air. I think you probably did that because it came from Canada -- Sudbury, Ontario -- rather than because of the great prose. Anyway, I was thrilled. -- Hey, I was only 16 and a total deweebazoid, so it didn't take much.

Anyway, my writing did improve and that's what I eventually did for a living -- newspaper & magazine work and now international NGO editing. But I must tell you, your on-air Edgar Allen Poe readings had great influence upon me. They got me into doing some horror fiction writing of my own -- scary stories for grown-ups. 

Now, I just gotta ask one last question though. My 60th birthday is looming on the event horizon so I have to ask about that picture you have on the site. It's a great one but is it current? Have you had some really amazing nip/tuck work done or do you have a portrait up in the attic? Just curious that's all. 

And, just for old time's sake, here's my favorite grape joke. What's purple and lives in Monaco? ...Grape Kelly! But I suppose you already knew that...

 Today, Dick Summer is not only involved in broadcasting over the airwaves but also "narrowcasting" on the Web. His "Good Night" podcasts will tell you bedtime stories; give you a verbal back rub and tuck you in for a good night's sleep. His readings will also put a smile on your face. You can subscribe to his bedtime podcasts here. Thanks for the memories, Dick!

Critter Bridge
I know, I know, they have these things in British Columbia too, but this is simply a great picture. It's the turnoff from Banff to the # 1 highway leading to Calgary. The Alberta government had to build this crossing for the animals (especially the elk), because this was the location of their natural crossing before the highway was built, and there had been far too many road accidents involving large animals. It didn't take the critters long to learn this was their "road." By the way, their 'access road' is covered with grass and some trees, to make it as natural as possible. Good stuff!

And on the topic of critters... meet Douwlina

     Her name is Douwlina. She tips the scales at a delicate 990 kilos and is madly in love. The object of her affection is Marthinus van der Merwe, a rather atypical South African twenty-two year-old. “Ja,” he laughs, “she lives on my parents’ farm and thinks she’s my girlfriend. I really don’t know what she thinks she is, but I do know for sure, she doesn’t have any clue she’s a rhino. Actually, she’s afraid of the other two rhino we have. She won’t go anywhere near them.” 
     However, Douwlina’s confusion about her identity is well justified. She was raised by a sheep named Bonnie and has always been in the company of humans. Unfortunately, three years ago, her first brush with mankind was not a pleasant one. Less than a day after she was born, her mother was killed by poachers leaving the infant rhino an orphan. “She was about 48 hours old when Dr. Douw Grobler, a wildlife veterinarian, found her wondering alone. He brought her to the Kapama Endangered Species Centre, near Hoedspruit. She was very weak but they managed to save her. She was named Douwlina in honour of him.” 
     It seems poachers are paid up to $(US)10,000 per kilogram of rhino horn but the retail value for the processed product can soar to as much as $54,000 per kilo. Although rhino horn is just compressed keratin fibers, the same stuff that makes up hair and fingernails, it is nearly 100% pure and a prized ingredient used in Chinese medicine. 
     Currently, the call for rhino horn is on the rise and sadly most of it, available for sale, comes from South Africa. This spike in demand has been attributed to a so-far unidentified Vietnamese government minister who recently claimed he was cured of cancer after ingesting a potion containing rhino horn. While clinical evidence remains inconclusive, this testimonial has had devastating repercussions in South Africa where, since mid 2008, more than 200 rhino have been poached – 38 of them inside Kruger National Park! 
     Rhino poaching takes place all over Africa,” says Juanita Ungerer, General Manager at the Kapama Endangered Species Centre. “Where there is game, there will be poachers. According to the Anti-Poaching Unit in South Africa, there are approximately 14 000 white rhino and less than 4 000 black rhino left in our country.
     Conservationist, Pelham Jones says: “Rhino poaching has been problematic in southern Africa for a number of years now. Rhino herds are spread out over a large number of properties; we have a very good road system and communication systems are well developed – all these factors work to the advantage of the poacher.”
     “...When we got her, she was about a year old but she has grown a lot since then,” says Marthinus. “Now she is about 1.4 metres tall and 2.4 m. long. But even when she was “little,” she still seemed very big. When she first came to the farm, I was really scared of her. It was my mom who was the brave one and started getting close to her, talking softly and gently touching her. Douwlina responded well to that and liked it even better when we started hand-feeding her apples and crunchy vegetables. Then, my mom started giving her mud baths, sort-of like how a rhino mama would do it and that was it. We were in.
     “I spent a lot of time on the farm that summer and Douwlina and I became best friends. We got to know each other really well and eventually, she was following me wherever I would go. I think she fell in love. She was my shadow. I would go jogging with my dog and she’d follow behind. And soon, she was jogging right beside me, like she would have done with her mother. She runs pretty fast for a big girl. I’ve been told they can sprint short distances at 45 kilometers per hour. I would like to be able to do that!
     “Rhinos have really poor eyesight,” he explains. “And their eyes are on either side of their heads, so I don’t think Douwlina sees the world like we do. But she has a good nose. She can sniff you out no matter where you go. I remember going to one worker’s house on another part of the farm. I hadn’t been over there in a long time and I know for sure she had never been there. Yet, not long after I got there, Douwlina showed up and surprised everyone.
     “She also recognizes the sound of my car’s motor. When I was in university, she would be the first to know I was arriving home and would run to the gate to meet me. But now, because there is so much poaching going on, security has had to be adjusted. We have installed two new and very tall electric fences, one encircling the other, around our property.  
     “Rhinos are not supposed to be particularly friendly but Douwlina is,” Marthinus continues. “She is shy and a bit timid but she’s still quite social. She likes to meet people as long as they don’t make any sudden moves. Sometimes people forget she is a wild animal and that makes the whole situation quite unpredictable. What makes her potentially dangerous is the fact that she is not aware of her size or her strength. If she did hurt anyone, it would be an accident. She is not at all aggressive like a white rhino is supposed to be.” He grins. “When she gets frightened, she tries to hide behind me or my mother. It looks pretty funny...
     He stops for a moment, obviously remembering and then he chuckles. “I should explain, our house on the farm has an outside court and my bedroom opens onto it. Another thing is the door swings out onto the stoep, not inward like most doors do. Sometimes in the evening, I would lie on my bed talking on the phone, and she would sleep in front of my door. The problem is she snores really loud and – well – she farts a lot and the rhino kind are really stinky. There I would be – not able to hear the phone and in a room with no air. I would try to wake her up but this girl goes into a coma when she falls asleep. So, with her body leaning up against the glass doors, I would be stuck inside.
     “Other times, she would lean too heavily against the glass and it would break. We replaced a lot of glass and doors during that first year. Finally, I discovered the only thing that really spooks her is a flyswatter. Now, when I want her to get away from the door, or make her leave me alone, I just swipe the flyswatter through the air. The noise scares her and she runs away. Sometimes, I still have to chase her with it to make her stay away.
     “Another time, we were having supper in the dining room instead of having a braai out back and Douwlina tried to get into the house to be with us. But, because she was so wide, she got jammed in the kitchen doorway and it took a lot of hard pushing to get her out. With all the commotion, she got scared and that only made things worse. We finally got her un-stuck but I don’t remember if we ever finished supper.”
     Without a doubt, life with a rhinoceros who thinks she’s a sheep or maybe even a human presents a lot of unusual challenges but the van der Merwes wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Romance Novels I'd like to see 
at the supermarket check-out.
I think a lot of us can agree that a large number of romance novel covers are pretty damn silly and are just asking to be ridiculed.  The artwork almost writes its own jokes. So, take a look at the following "reimagined" covers. 

          Bondi Junction
Issued May 1973 on Canada's Kanata label, 
Bondi Junction was a number one hit in the Great White North. Singer, Peter Foldy was born in Hungary, but grew up in Sydney, Australia. His family emigrated to Canada, settling in Toronto. 

A Gala Party at the Overlook Hotel
You can see some unexpected guests shining through.


Colonoscopies are obviously no joke, but these supposedly true comments made by patients during the exam are hilarious. 
1. "Take it easy, Doc. You're boldly going where no man has gone before!
2. "Find Amelia Earhart yet?"
3. "Can you hear me NOW?"
4. "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"
5. "You know, in Arkansas , we're now legally married."
6. "Any sign of the trapped miners, Chief?"
7. "You put your left hand in, you take your left hand out..."
8. "Jeez! Now I know how a Muppet feels!"
9. "If your hand doesn't fit, you gotta quit!
10. "Hey Doc, let me know if you find my dignity."
11. "You used to be an executive at Enron, didn't you?"
12. "God! Now I know why I am not gay!"
13.  "Should I smile for my Kodak Moment?"
                          And the best one of all...
 14. "Could you write a note for my wife saying that my head is not up there?"  

And finally, another Saskatchewan Joke.

An American couple are standing in an airport terminal in Miami, waiting for their luggage.
The wife happens to notice an oddly dressed man also waiting at the carousel. 
She asks her husband where he thinks the man is from. 
The husband says he doesn't know.
He decides to ask the man and approaches the guy.  
"Where are you from?" he asks with a friendly tone.
"Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,"  the guy replies. 
Puzzled, the husband returns to his wife. 
"Well, where is he from?" she asks. 
"I have no idea," replies the husband. "He doesn't speak English."

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