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August 18, 2006

Best catalog cover of the year


Just arrived — Fall 2006.

August 18, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Should Commercial Airline Pilots Receive Combat Pay?


Just now, reading an account of today's "incident" in which a commercial jetliner declared an onboard emergency and diverted to the nearest airport — escorted by a jet fighter — in order to put the plane on the ground ASAP, I got to thinking about the new world of air travel, where all the alarms have been set to hair-trigger sensitivity.

Yesterday's Washington Post report of Wednesday's event, in which an unruly passenger aboard a United Airlines flight from London to Washington, D.C. "prompted the pilots to declare an emergency and head for Boston," contained information that might affect how a pilot handles an on-board disturbance.

    Consider these two paragraphs from the story:

    The emergency declaration triggered an escort of two F-16s from Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, said Master Sgt. Anthony Hill, spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado Springs.

    Hill said he could not provide operational details about scrambling the jets but said that in such situations, fighter pilots are sent to identify, shadow and escort the aircraft. "They don't have the authority to fire on an airliner," Hill said. "That comes from a narrow line of authority at a much higher level."


Why doesn't that make me feel better?

In effect, it seems to me, declaring an emergency puts a commercial plane into a position where it is potentially in the crosshairs of the Air Force.

Choosing to divert and put the plane down without declaring an emergency, then, would protect the crew — and passengers — from being fired upon.

I'm not a pilot nor do I know a thing about flying.

But there are those among you, reading this, who do.

Your thoughts, please.

August 18, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Coca-Cola commercial v AARP: Two powerful forces enter — but I know which one's gonna leave


Last night, while I was enjoying the Giants-Chiefs game (did I mention that there are NFL exhibition games on TV tonight, tomorrow, Sunday and Monday night? I am so stoked... but I digress), a new Coke commercial came on.

We're in the day room of a nursing home: lots of old people sitting around, staring into space and not doing a whole lot.

An attendant enters, with a tray full of bottles of ice-cold Coca-Cola.

She goes up to one man and says, "Mr. Hall, would you like a Coke?"

Mr. Hall — who, with his white hair and all appears to be in his 70's and born and bred in the U.S.A. — replies, "Never had one."


Say what?

Not likely.


From that point on I was paying very close attention.

The attendant gives him a bottle, he takes a swig and all of a sudden we're in his mind, visualizing what he's experiencing: he's calling his wife to tell her he loves her, he's diving off cliffs, all kinds of stuff that he clearly would do had he the chance to do it all over again — but he'd never tried to, see?

All I saw was Coke using a man with Alzheimer's disease as a convenient stepping-off point for its message, that Coke is something you've got to have.

"Never had one?"

Gimme a break.

I didn't like it one bit.

And I don't have Alzheimer's nor do I have a relative with it.


Just wait till this commercial makes its way up to the top floor corner offices at the AARP.

How do you spell "firestorm?"

Watch it for yourself and tell me if I'm too sensitive.

But you better do it soon 'cause I'm here to tell you it's not going to be running for long.

How did this commercial make it past past Coke's in-house review?

Call this one "While You Were Asleep At The Switch In Atlanta."

August 18, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

'Port-O-Jet — World's Only Jet-Powered Outhouse — To Attempt World Speed Record'


That's right — you read correctly.

The big event takes place tomorrow night, Saturday, August 19 at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Long story short: "One of the most unique vehicles on four wheels [above], the standard-size portable toilet — which began life as a Country Classic model from Wisconsin-based Hampel Corporation — has been fitted with a Boeing jet engine and is capable of straight-line speeds approaching 50 mph."

Be there.

I know I will.

"Burn off that quarter-mile" doesn't begin to do this justice.

Paul Stender designed and was the first driver of the mighty john, which made its debut at the very same Lowe's Dirt Track in 2002.

Since that time it's been tricked out and is now piloted by Mike Terry of Bloomington, Indiana.

Can't hardly wait until he assumes the position.

Wait a minute....

And I sure hope they had the foresight to get Cedric the Entertainer to shoot off the starting gun.

That Budweiser commercial where he leans against the Port-A-John —while his babe's inside taking a whizz — only to see it teeter and then go tumbling down a hillside with her inside, is a classic.

August 18, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Attention teacup collectors (you know who you are): Teacup Exchange #6 is ON


New York blogger and teacup enthusiast Beth Stellato runs this wildly popular affair.

Here's yesterday's Washington Post story by Terri Sapienza about the unlikely phenomenon that's taken the internet by storm.

Or should I say, "tempest?"

But I digress.

    Trading Teacups

    Attention, teacup collectors (and we know you're out there): For the next week you can sign up to get a random teacup mailed to you from someone you've never met. Huh? Let us explain.

    Back by popular demand, New York blogger and teacup enthusiast Beth Stellato has organized her sixth teacup exchange of the year, a version of the proliferating online swap meets that are linking collectors of all kinds via the Internet. Sign up during the next week, receive the name of another participant, mail off a teacup and get one in return.

    No telling whether you'll get a cup with painted pansies or scattered violets, but for Stellato that's part of the fun. "It's like having someone someplace else scoping out the flea markets for you," she says, "and you never know what [the teacup] will look like."

    To get in on the swap, visit www.justmycupoftea.typepad.com.



How silly can a blogger be?

You don't have time for all the nonsense above.

You want to just sign up and get out.


For you, there's the express lane, right here.

August 18, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Shallow Hal Muffin Top Pan


From the website:

    Muffin Top Pan

    Usually just the tops of the muffins have the chocolate chips, cinnamon sugar or nuts... you know, the good stuff.

    For muffin tops — no bottoms — try this dishwasher-safe, six-large-muffin-top, nonstick steel pan.

    15-3/8" long x 11-1/8" wide.



Go ahead — you know you want one.

For what it's worth, consider Donald Barthelme's observation, to wit: "Guilty pleasures are the only ones worth having."


August 18, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Don't bathe or shower during a thunderstorm — NOT an old wive's tale


Anahad O'Connor, in his superb "Really" feature, appearing weekly in the Tuesday New York Times Science section, is teaching me stuff they never told me in school — medical or otherwise.

This past Tuesday's column explained why mom's warning to get out of the tub during a thunderstorm was right on the money.

Here's the Times piece.

    The Claim: Never Bathe or Shower in a Thunderstorm

    The Facts: It has the ring of an urban legend and seems too bizarre to be true. But the claim that taking a shower during a lightning storm can electrocute you is no old wives’ tale, experts say.

    The basis of the claim is that a bolt of lightning that hits a house or building — even one that is protected against severe weather — can travel through plumbing, into metal pipes, and shock anyone who comes into contact with a faucet or appliance.

    Metal pipes are not only excellent conductors of electricity, but they also carry tap water laden with impurities that help conduct electrical current.

    In the real world, the odds of being harmed this way are extremely minute. But it is not unheard of. Ron Holle, a former meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who tracks lightning injuries, estimates that 10 to 20 people in the United States are shocked annually while bathing, using faucets or handling appliances during storms. “There are a ton of myths about lightning,” he said, “but this is not one of them.”

    In a storm, a protected building acts somewhat like a metal cage. Electricity from a lightning strike is conducted around you and eventually dissipates into the ground. There is no real risk unless you touch something connected to plumbing, electrical wiring or another conducting path.

    Dr. Mary Ann Cooper, who runs the Lightning Injury Research Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said people had been shocked and even killed washing dishes, doing laundry and sitting in bathtubs in storms. A database of these incidents is online at struckbylightning.org.

    The Bottom Line: Lightning can travel through plumbing and shock people.


Tell you what: I'm gonna have to start paying O'Connor if I keep using his stuff.

Memo to file: send him a check.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, lightning in a bottle.

No, that's not right... wait a minute....

OK, I got it now.

I must say I've always scoffed at people who've told me not to bathe or shower during a thunderstorm.

Never again.

Writer Gretel Ehrlich's lyrical, moving account of being struck by lightning and nearly killed near her Wyoming ranch in 1991, "A Match to the Heart,"


is a superb memoir, matching in power and depth William Styron's classic "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness," his finely wrought description of his nightmare descent into near-suicidal depression.

And speaking of dear, departed mom, I'm reminded of Mark Twain's classic observation about his father, to wit:

"When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned."

August 18, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stainless Steel Magnetic Tape Dispenser


How is it that it took so long for this to appear?

From the website:

    Stainless Steel Magnetic Tape Dispenser

    Never go searching for tape again!

    This tape dispenser is a great way to keep your office or message center organized and efficient.

    The carefully crafted, stainless steel magnetic tape dispenser adheres strongly to any ferrous metal surface to keep your tape within easy reach.

    2-1/2"H x 3-1/2"W x 1-1/2"D.




August 18, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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