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August 16, 2008

Werewolves of London? How about the surgical vultures of Milwaukee?


Strange days indeed in my old home town.

Long story short: Half a dozen turkey vultures with wingspans up to six feet (top) have set up shop on the ledges and windowsills of Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin, where they favor the pre-op rooms on the third floor.

Here's Jim Stingl's July 23, 2008 Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story with more.

    Vultures prey on surgery patients’ peace of mind

    This is probably not what you need to see just before going into surgery — vultures loitering outside the hospital window.

    “I’ve had patients tell me, ‘Doc, it’s not very reassuring,’ ” joked John Kroner, a surgeon at Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin.

    Up to a half dozen turkey vultures are spending their days on ledges and windowsills of the three-story glass and brick building at 575 W. River Woods Parkway in Glendale, which is along Port Washington Road, south of Hampton Ave.

    You’ll never see a TV commercial showing vultures circling a hospital. (“We help our patients to carry on, while our vultures help themselves to carrion.”)

    But everyone here is getting a kick out of the visitors, which showed up about three weeks ago after ignoring the building the past 17 years. Pairs of birds have been given names by the staff, including Ricky and Lucy and Obama and McCain.

    For the record, just about everybody gets out alive from an orthopedic hospital, so these buzzards are wasting their time. Then again, maybe you’ve seen the vulture on the poster saying, “Patience my (you-know-what). I’m gonna kill something.”

    The birds are brownish with bald red heads and have a wingspan up to 6 feet. They favor the pre-op rooms on the third floor.

    “He sat right there for like 20 minutes,” Carole Vaughner said, pointing to the window. The Milwaukee woman was about to undergo knee surgery, and here’s this buzzard keeping a hungry eye on her and pecking at the glass. But it didn’t worry her in the least.

    “One lady was actually kind of upset about it. She thought it was a bad sign,” said nurse Cathy Burns.

    Tatiana Ivanova, also a nurse at the hospital, said her husband didn’t believe they had vultures at the windows. She had to prove it to him with a photograph. A lot of the employees and patients have been taking pictures.

    Even The Nurturing Nook day care that shares the building has been enjoying the vultures. As I listened to owner Therese Ciofani talk about how much fun it’s been for the kids, I couldn’t shake that Hitchcock image of birds multiplying on the playground equipment outside. But they never get that close to the ground, she assured me.

    If you’re a vulture, Orthopaedic Hospital is conveniently located near the Milwaukee River and the roadkill-rich I-43 freeway. Plus, you have Solly’s across the street, and you know all those butter burgers are going to take someone down eventually.

    The vultures possibly have a nest somewhere on the building, or they’re just using it to roost and rest, said Scott Diehl, wildlife manager for the Wisconsin Humane Society. They probably weren’t attracted by the hospital’s mirrored glass, but they’re intrigued by their reflections.

    “It doesn’t surprise me that they’re hanging out in a human-made structure,” Diehl said.

    Todd Heikkinen, director of physical therapy at Orthopaedic Hospital, said some have theorized that the recent flooding had something to do with the birds’ sudden occupancy of the building. Even the hospital’s chief executive officer, Brian Cramer, has been checking Wikipedia to learn more about these feathered guests.

    Turkey vultures pose no danger to humans, though they have been known to engage in projectile regurgitation of semi-digested meat when threatened. That’s an experience you wouldn’t soon forget.

    Come fall, these migratory birds will head south.

    Meanwhile, this hospital will remain abuzz over buzzards. If you have a chance, get your carcass over there to take a look.


Full disclosure: When I was a boy I delivered the morning Milwaukee Sentinel (it later merged with the afternoon Journal) before school.

Those were some brutal winters — especially at 4:30 a.m. in sub-zero temperatures in the dark.

[via Marcus Reimold and Jon Haas]

August 16, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Strap Bands Chair — by Yahïa Ouled-Moussa


I want one.

Here's Blaire Dessent's January 8, 2008 post from coolhunter:

Strap Bands Chair

Paris-based designer Yahïa Ouled-Moussa has a way with reinventing old clothing or fabrics into funky and functional design objects. He studied interior architecture in Paris, but it was through a job with a French cabinet-maker who specialized in restoring period furniture that he developed his passion for furniture and design. Ouled-Moussa transforms sturdy vintage French linens, army sacks or antique porcelain tea sets into stylish smocks, small sitting stools and bound sculpture.


His "Strap Bands Chair" uses old canvas belts that you may have worn in the 1980s (and that those born in the 1980s may be wearing today) and weaves them onto discarded wooden chairs to create the seat and back. The unwoven part of the belts hang under the seat, giving the piece an added, looser dimension in contrast to the tight weave above. The strap bands chair has been made in shades of pink as well as in a mix of bright yellow, red, blue and orange. There is also a military version which incorporates old canvas military belts in green, brown and beige.

Chairs can be commissioned by the piece or bought directly from his boutique on rue Nollet in Paris’s 17th arrondissement.


August 16, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lost Book Archives


"Through this column, I hope to bring to your awareness the lost books I have found and continue to find. We will share the thrill of the hunt, the satisfaction of the read, and the joy of recommendation. Read away!" — D.D. Shade.

August 16, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mini Handheld Grease Gun


From the website:

    Mini Handheld Grease Gun

    This one is compact — it literally fits in the palm of your hand so it’s perfect for small jobs and won’t take up space in your tool box.

    The push-button dispenser means you have a tool with true one-hand operation.

    3,700 PSI maximum pressure is perfect for use on automobiles, trailers, ATVs, industrial equipment and lawn and garden or farm implements.

    Comes filled with 1.5 oz. of NLGI #2 grease.

    Made in Germany.




August 16, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is the white powder on a stick of gum?


You could look it up.

Now, don't you feel better?

I know I did.

Until my relentless crack research team, unwilling to accept Wrigley's powder formulations as the industry standards, happened on the following:


You could look that up too.

So who ya gonna believe: Wrigley, or Specialty Minerals?

Long ago and far away, in another century and on another continent, I read the following in "Science and Sanity," Count Alfred Korzybski's landmark 1933 text establishing the science of semantics: "When in doubt, read on."

Five words worth remembering.

They've stood me in good stead over the years when puzzled or at an impasse.

Don't just sit there ruminating like a bump on a pickle — move forward.

The world loves movement and detests stasis.

Focus your scanning tunneling microscope on some dead insect next time you happen on one: you'll be amazed at all the activity once you get down to where the real life force happens.

But I digress.

The crack research team read on, and on, and on.

They read so much they finally fell asleep, heads on their desks.

But guess what?

On each computer screen the following appeared:


So I guess you're just gonna have to be satisfied with what they did succeed in finding and, like me, conclude that the white powder on some chewing gum products (e.g., Wrigley's) is sugar or artificial sweetener while others sport limestone.

Perhaps a bookofjoe reader with intimate knowledge of the chewing gum industry will throw us a bone.

Even if it is made of spun sugar.

August 16, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dancing on the Water Clock


Designed by Yukio Hashimoto.


"The time indicated is actually the reversed reflection of a digital LED clock on the bottom of the piece."

[via gnr8]

August 16, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sometimes unintended consequences have pleasing outcomes


I've noticed in recent months that I'm getting more and more emails from readers noting that stuff they've seen here weeks, months, sometimes even years ago suddenly appears elsewhere, in MSM or online, as if it were just discovered to exist.

No attribution, just wonderment at this, that or the other.

I like that.

August 16, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lighted Attach-A-Mag — A rose by any other name...


Okay, so it's a terrible name for a product but let's focus — as it were — on what it does.

From the website:

    Lighted Attach-A-Mag™ — Ideal for Shop Use

    See every detail with this lighted hands-free magnifier

    If you need to see work, projects or anything else on your work bench close up and well-lit, we’ve come across a wonderfully functional illuminating magnifier.

    The large, rimless 2X crystal clear acrylic magnifying lens floats in space, suspended at one edge by a flexible, fully adjustable ball-and-socket jointed arm with simple tension adjustments.

    Two LED lights (powered by 3 included button cell batteries) tucked just beneath the lens project brightly onto the viewing area.

    An articulated clamp with rubber pads securely anchors the unit by firmly gripping the edges of work benches, shop tabletops, books, shelf edges, even irregular surfaces.

    In addition to job site or shop use, it’s a boon for model builders, fly tiers, hobbyists, electronics buffs, bedtime readers and flea circus ringmasters.

    11"L overall with 4¼"Ø lens.


August 16, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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