Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Of Lawn Mowers and Women

I decided to replace my lawnmower this week. The old one had worn out and was wheezing more and more. It was taking me longer to coax it into doing what I needed than it sometimes took to do the actual job.

And then it hit me. Lawn mowers are not unlike women:

Some of them you walk behind and some of them are built for riding.

Some of them are wonders of form-over-function and some of them aren't so great to look at but still know how to please a man.

The older they get, the more attention they require but when they are new, you can't keep your hands off of them.

When they are new, their bags are firm and tend to stand up on their own. As they age, use tends to soften them and gravity makes them sag.

Most of them are eventually high maintenance.

As a general rule, the more expensive ones will give you greater initial satisfaction but are fully capable of doing the neighbors, also. The cheaper models, though less attractive, aren't as likely to be borrowed as often.

And, eventually, there comes a time when you just have to dump them.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

. . . and thanks for all the fish!

When I was a child, I remember my grandfather telling me, "Johnny, go on and get out of here, now!" He always smelled like old cigarettes and cheap whiskey. And he read paperback westerns.

When I was a little older, I had a crush on my fourth grade teacher. I used to hang out near her on the playground and stay after school to help tidy up the classroom. One day, she looked at me and said (and I'll never forget this), "You know, I could squash you like a bug."

As a result, I learned early and frequently not to over-stay my welcome. But the timing is crucial. You have to get people familiar enough with your antics to be mildly amused, or perhaps entertained, without rousing that "Oh, it's you again" look. I seldom get it right.

Today is the one year anniversary of Escape Velocity. When I started blogging a year ago, I wasn't sure where I wanted to go with it. I did have a couple of goals for myself, though. I wanted to develop the discipline of writing every day. Between this blog and other projects I have written well over 600 pages this past year. I also wanted to try a few different writing styles and techniques which I have accomplished with varying degrees of success.

However, I didn't realize at the time how much of myself I would put into the project. Both in personal discipline and my own inner psyche. I have never been to therapy, having slipped through the official crack of "offender" status, but I now see the benefit of "spilling your guts." It is cathartic.

And I never missed a day. There were times that I would look back and wonder at how I had found enough to write about for four months straight and how could I possibly find enough to say for another eight months? But, for 365 days, every single day, no matter what was going on in my life, hung over or clear headed, fit or hurting, I wrote.

I wrote about things that amused me and things that annoyed me. I told stories of the old west and the far flung reaches of space. I exercised and exorcised demons. I tried my hand at drama, poetry, whimsy, humor and outright lunacy. I adopted various voices and personae. And, through it all, I had fun.

I hope you did, as well.

What is the future for Escape Velocity? I honestly cannot say. I do know I won't be posting every day. I have been putting my novel off for too long already and I need the daily discipline I have developed here to see it through. Unfortunately, I don't have time for both.

But I am not leaving. I will still be an occasional visitor to these pages (like many of you). And I will have things to say. I have a feeling I'll be leaving for a long time.

So, before you can say, "Johnny, go on and get out of here," I will probably be back. But not for long because you "could squash me like a bug" after all.


This is not the end. This is not even the beginning of the end. It is, instead, the end of the beginning


Saturday, March 24, 2007

(Losing) Your Mind in Detroit Rock City

There were two interesting stories about Detroit, Michigan this week. The first one was affordable housing.

Houses Cheaper than Cars in Detroit -- DETROIT (Reuters) - With bidding stalled on some of the least desirable residences in Detroit's collapsing housing market, even the fast-talking auctioneer was feeling the stress.

"Folks, the ground underneath the house goes with it. You do know that, right?" he offered.

After selling house after house in the Motor City for less than the $29,000 it costs to buy the average new car, the auctioneer tried a new line: "The lumber in the house is worth more than that!"

The second story was:

Michigan Congressman says Parts of Iraq are As Safe as Detroit -- DETROIT -- A Republican congressman who said parts of Iraq are no more dangerous than Detroit is drawing criticism from the mayor's office and the Michigan Democratic party.

During an interview Monday with WILS-AM in Lansing, Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, said the returning troops he has talked with "indicate to me that 80 to 85 percent, in a conservative fashion, of (Iraq) is reasonably under control, at least as well as Detroit or Chicago or any of our other big cities. That's an encouraging sign."

I guess the moral of the story is: Cars are still too expensive in Detroit.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Headline Roundup

These are the headlines for Friday, March 23, 2007:

  • Cops Say: Dad, Son Took Turns Molesting Boy
  • Woman Impaled in Face with Pipe Survives
  • College Students Face Rising Costs for Contraceptives
  • Houdini May Have Been Murdered
  • Texas Women Lied about Kidnapping Because They Broke Curfew
  • Illegal Immigrants Must be Arrested Six Times Before Prosecution
  • Off-duty Chicago Cop Beats Up Female Bartender
  • American Idol Fan on Hunger Strike Until Sanjaya Gets the Ax
  • PA Man Convicted of 971 Sex Crimes for Abusing Girl for a Decade
  • White Couple has Black Child, Sues Fertility Clinic
  • Teacher Accused of Affair with Student Who was Shot to Death Attempts Suicide

And I used to think I had problems.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pet Killer Shocks America!

Pet Food Manufacturer Can't Explain Deaths -- WASHINGTON — The pet food linked to the deaths of 16 animals has shown no signs of contamination, the manufacturer says, and the company cannot explain why the cats and dogs developed acute kidney failure and died.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Paul Henderson, the chief executive of Menu Foods, said Wednesday the company was looking at a single ingredient. He wouldn't identify it, but the Food and Drug Administration has said the investigation was focusing on wheat gluten.

Our hypothesis is that it is that ingredient that in fact represents the highest probability as to the cause," Henderson said. "But we have been unable to prove that through scientific information."

"However, based upon Al Gore's book The Inconvenient Politician: 'The most illogical, inconvenient and expensive solution will often garner the most attention.' I'm not sure how that applies to this situation but it does sound kind of thoughty, doesn't it?"

"Anyway, back to this pet food situation: We're not sure what the problem is. Take this warehouse, for instance. We ship to both of our businesses from this location. These boxes marked Wheat Gluten 76767 (a pet food supplement) are shipped to our pet food factory at 27 Bear Road, Smallville, Illinois. These other boxes marked Wheat Gluten 67676 (a pesticide) are shipped to our farm supply factory at 27 Boar Road, Smallville, Illinois. There's no way they could get mixed up."

"But, sir . . ."

"Nope, No way. We'll just have to keep on looking. It's too bad, though, that wheat gluten idea was pretty good."


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Second Time Around

A couple of years ago my wife and I renewed our wedding vows. It was a lovely ceremony on a Jamaican beach. I still have sand in my favorite pair of wingtips.

I have always wondered about the practice of "renewing" your vows. Do they get that "not so fresh" feeling of Maxi-pad fame? Is there some kind of expiration date that men are unaware of? If there is, I understand why women would want to keep that a secret from us. Maybe it's like a statute of limitations. You know, like when the penalty for a stupid youthful indiscretion runs out?

Regardless, we fixed a problem that I never knew existed.

I remember wondering, at the time, if the wedding industry isn't getting enough money from the "first timers." Then I got to wondering if maybe this "renewing your vows thing" had more to do with a female imperative to be the sole focus of every one else's attention every so often and less to do with testing my commitment.

It also occurred to me that we were in an unusual demographic; married for thirty years to the same people. I wondered if the females of committed couples find themselves jealous of their slutty friends who get remarried every few years? That would explain why they would draw attention to a decades-old legal contract that, at times, both parties have wondered "how the hell did this happen?'

Later, when we had gotten back from our Jamaican vacation/matrimonial re-boot, we were making home-made batter waffles one morning, and I began reminiscing about the waffle maker that my Aunt Margie had given us so long ago on our first wedding day.

"What ever happened to that old waffle maker?" I asked.

"It wore out." was her simple reply.

My gaze wandered to the kitchen counter. "That a new toaster?" I mused.

"Uh-huh." she answered.

I looked around a little more. "New coffee maker . . . new toaster oven . . . new dish towels . . ."

And then it hit me. "SON OF A BITCH!" I exclaimed.

"What?" she asked.

"We renewed our vows because our appliances wore out!"


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Graying of America

Report: Over 5M Living with Alzheimer's -- WASHINGTON - More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, a 10 percent increase since the last Alzheimer's Association estimate five years ago — and a count that supports the long-forecast dementia epidemic as the population grays.

After issuing their report, the Alzheimer's Association disbanded, citing poor attendance and "nobody was paying their dues." When the bus for the home finally left, several more attendees wandered in from somewhere wondering where the Dewey for President rally was meeting

Report: Over 5M Living with Alzheimer's -- WASHINGTON - More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, a 10 percent increase since the last Alzheimer's Association estimate five years ago — and a count that supports the long-forecast dementia epidemic as the population grays.

After issuing their report, the Alzheimer's Association disbanded, citing poor attendance and "nobody was paying their dues." When the bus for the home finally left, several more attendees wandered in from somewhere wondering where the Dewey for President rally was meeting

Report: Over 5M Living with Alzheimer's -- WASHINGTON - More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, a 10 percent increase since the last Alzheimer's Association estimate five years ago — and a count that supports the long-forecast dementia epidemic as the population grays.

After issuing their report, the Alzheimer's Association disbanded, citing poor attendance and "nobody was paying their dues." When the bus for the home finally left, several more attendees wandered in from somewhere wondering where the Dewey for President rally was meeting

Report: Over 5M Living with Alzheimer's -- WASHINGTON - More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease, a 10 percent increase since the last Alzheimer's Association estimate five years ago — and a count that supports the long-forecast dementia epidemic as the population grays.

After issuing their report, the Alzheimer's Association disbanded, citing poor attendance and "nobody was paying their dues." When the bus for the home finally left, several more attendees wandered in from somewhere wondering where the Dewey for President rally was meeting


Monday, March 19, 2007

Is it MICROsoft or microSOFT?

I found this satirical Microsoft vs. Apple piece on a site called

Paperclip from Word Quits Microsoft for Apple

The I.T. world was plunged into controversy last night after it emerged that the animated paperclip from Microsoft Word has been headhunted by Apple and has now ‘jumped ship’ to work for the company. Rivalry between the two corporations has increased of late with Apple launching a range of adverts lambasting PCs for being geeky and dull while Microsoft have attempted to win customers back with their new Vista operating system. This high profile betrayal by one of Microsoft’s most trusted lieutenants is seen as a major embarrassment for the company.

The controversy arose when the paperclip – known as ‘Clippy’ – was spotted in the Apple store in Seattle discussing the new MacBook Pro laptops with a store assistant and eventually purchasing one, together with a 4GB iPod Nano. He is then shown stroking the smooth metallic casing of the Powerbook on his way out of the store. When this footage was made public, Clippy announced that he was quitting his $19 million contract with Microsoft and would henceforth be Apple’s new mascot.

‘It’s a logical move for us to make’ stated Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. Clippy is a professional, and his knowledge of laying out letters and punctuation tips is second to none. You may think he’s just an annoying bit of office stationary, but don’t be fooled – this is one high-powered individual with a remarkable vision for business’

Clippy’s former colleagues, Rocky the dog, the bouncing red dot, and the small scientist character refused to comment on allegations that Clippy left after persistent workplace bullying. But Steve Ballmer, CEO for Microsoft, declared himself to be ‘shocked and saddened’ by the news. ‘Clippy’s move is a blow, but his standing with Microsoft was at a low point. He kept turning up to work late, he was often drunk, and he would slump in his chair during board meetings and make lewd comments to the receptionist. Plus he would set the alarm off every time he came through the metal detectors in the lobby. He was an irritating little bastard, to be honest.’

Posted: 19 March 2007 by teambiscuit (photo by red)


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Airport 2007

I was offered a free plane ride this week. I turned it down. I had two reasons. First, when I traveled extensively with my job, my rule of thumb was (because of parking and airport delays) "If it took six hours or less to drive -- don't fly." Secondly, air travel sounds like a cross between a bad Stephen King story and life in Communist Russia.

You never know what some lunatic has planned for your trip and government regulation gives you no choices or recourse in anything. You are essentially the captive of a bureaucratic nightmare and the target of every psychotic nutjob with a chemistry set.

As an air traveler, if you believe that you are being treated unfairly or inhumanely, you are not permitted to complain or get angry about it. At that point, you have become an "unruly passenger"; subject to detention, fines, imprisonment and loss of that little pocket knife your father gave you for graduation 30 years ago.

If you pleadingly reach out to touch the sleeve of the minor bureaucrat (screener, ticket taker, stewardess, etc.) standing between you and the reasonable world -- that constitutes assault. This is where you get tasared, other passengers tackle and kick you, the airplane is turned around and you make the half-hour news cycle, half-hourly, for the next three days. All because you've already read the June issue of Newsweek and the bitch stewardess wouldn't let you trade with someone else.

None of this takes into consideration the 10-hour delays -- after you've boarded the plane; the lack of air conditioning; the overflowing toilets; the lack of food or beverages; claustrophobia; or the other obnoxious people around you. And the over-riding fear that maybe this will be the flight that the towel-heads get their shit together again.

You cannot conveniently carry anything that makes life convenient. You have to remove your shoes and other articles of clothing. You are subject to indignities for which you cannot complain. Many of your personal items are subject to confiscation. And you wait for hours in lines like cattle.

In the mean time, you and everyone around you, are suspicious of you and everyone around you.

** Last week a man from Iraq was stopped before boarding a plane. He had a stick of gum, a small rock and a piece of wire stuffed into his rectum. He said they were there as a "comfort" to him.

** Yesterday, a couple was arrested in the Honolulu airport for posing as police officers. The couple had a third person in handcuffs and claimed to be escorting a prisoner. They tried to board the plane carrying weapons. Fortunately, their paperwork didn't check out and all three were arrested.

** US Airways passengers reported some suspicious middle eastern types to airline personnel and the airline, apparently agreed with the assessment. The suspicious passengers were detained and questioned. It turned out they were Muslim Imams. Now, the six Imams are suing everyone involved, and US Airways is turning over the names of the passengers who originally complained, for the suit . . . After the repeated interminable terminal announcements to report "anything" suspicious.

** Then there was the man who was not permitted to go to the restroom during a one hour Southwest Airlines flight and had to relieve himself in an air sickness bag.

All in all, I think I am going to change my rule of thumb for air travel. "If I can possibly get there any other way, during my lifetime -- don't fly."


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Just Another Day in the U.S. of A.

I like stories about funny stuff. Like the one I read years ago about Bill Clinton giving nuclear technology to North Korea. I remember saying, at the time, "This has got to be a joke. North Korea is just going to make nuclear weapons the first time nobody's looking."

Now the North Koreans are firing test missiles and testing nuclear devices. We are in tense five party talks with North Korea and we are counting on Communist China to reason with them. This is the same Communist China who, along with Russia, has been vetoing U.N. Security Council resolutions to make Iran stop the same activity.

Thanks, Bill.

Other stuff going on: Judge: D.C. Madam Cannot Sell Client List -- WASHINGTON — A federal judge ruled Friday that a former escort service owner cannot sell phone records and other documents that could be used to publicly identify thousands of her clients.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey
, 50, has said she planned to sell the list of up to 15,000 client phone numbers and other records to a news organization to help raise money for her defense. The alleged "D.C. Madam" ran Pamela Martin and Associates, an upscale escort service in the Washington area, for 13 years before it closed in August.

Palfrey's civil attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, said Friday he does not believe the judge's order bars him from distributing copies of the phone records for free.

Have you ever seen such a public case of blackmail? "I'm (ahem) trying to raise money for my defense . . . and I have nothing to sell but this little ol' list . . . and it would be soooo embarrassing for the Senator's/Legislator's/FBI Agent's/Police officer's/Judge's name to be connected to this unpleasant situation . . . That's right, make it out to CASH. Thank you, Darlin', I just knew I could count on you!" ( $ x 1,500 = ?)

Police Arrest 7-year Old Boy for Riding Bike on Sidewalk -- BALTIMORE -
Police arrested a 7-year-old boy, handcuffed him and hauled him down to the station house on a charge of riding a dirt bike on a sidewalk.

Then, according to his mother, Gerard Mungo Jr. was handcuffed to a bench and interrogated before being released to his parents.

Why, in the hell, are the authorities wasting time and tax dollars harassing 7-year olds when serial killers are nabbing these same kids, every week? Go break up some real crime, Barney.

And finally:

Teacher's Sex Tryst Leads to Teen's Death --
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — In a tragic twist to a familiar story, a teenager who had sex with his married 30-year-old teacher was fatally shot outside the woman's home, and authorities have charged the woman's husband.

Authorities are unable to establish a motive but speculate, privately, that the dead student was an habitual dirt bike rider and that they are looking into sealed court records. The teacher and her husband were not hurt in the incident.


Friday, March 16, 2007

JetBlue vs. Mother Nature

JetBlue Cancels 215 Flights Due to Storm -- NEW YORK - JetBlue canceled 215 flights Friday because of a winter storm on the East Coast, aiming to avoid the days of cancellations and criticism that followed a storm last month, an airline spokesman said.

THIS JUST IN: Scientists are guardedly optimistic that they have found a way to reverse the Global Warming trend. Nigel Fitzwilleybothom, renowned climatologist and phone prankster, reported his newest findings. "We have found a direct correlation between the cancellation of JetBlue flights and cold, wintry weather. Looking back at actual data and based upon computer models, we are not only able to link these two, seemingly non-related, events but we can safely predict, with a 99% certainty, how it will go in the future."

The assembled cadre of news reporters were stunned into silence. Somewhere in the back of the room a chair scraped. In another part of the room someone coughed.

"So, um . . . " continued Mr. Fitzwilleybothom, "Since everyone knows 'you can't do anything about the weather' we added a scenario to the computer model whereby we manipulated the JetBlue flights, instead. Due to the previous linkage of these events, our new model showed a following weather pattern. To put it in layman's terms, if we cancel enough JetBlue flights we could end Global Warming."

The silence continued . . . a cricket chirped . . . a dog howled in the distance. And then one man began to slowly clap . . .

. . . but he was autistic.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

I Got the Fever!

I have discovered eBay. Well . . . not exactly discovered it. I mean, other people actually cut their way through the jungle with machetes and braved the harsh desert sun of the internet. I just kind of sat on my ass and poked at my keyboard. Others before me did all of the heavy lifting.

Having said that, I still feel like shouting, "Hey everybody, I discovered eBay!"

It all started out innocently enough. I was looking for a book. It was an out of print book that I have had in paperback and I wanted a hardback copy. eBay had it. Up until now I always kind of avoided eBay. I had noodled around it once or twice and I didn't like the idea of bidding against other people for stuff. I am more of a "buy it now" kind of guy.

So I bid on the book and, after 4 days 17 hour and 38 minutes, I got the book. My joy at getting a book that I have wanted for so long immediately outweighed the nervous frustration of having to wait until the auction expired. I was hooked.

Suddenly, I started thinking about other things I haven't been able to find through conventional shopping methods. Tools and statuary, comic books and lamps, hubcaps and electronics were all within my grasp. And I kept asking myself about each new treasure, "How can I pass that up?"

Then, it occurred to me that I could sell stuff on eBay to help finance my purchases. After all, we weren't actually using all eight place settings, were we? So, I started looking around the house to see what else I could sell. Who knew she would get so emotional over a wedding dress?

So the boxes began arriving. The house was awash in packing materials. Brass bull rings now sat where family pictures once were. Turn of the century tin cars replaced the sewing machine. General Grant's harmonica replaced our set of encyclopedias.

I am also having some very interesting conversations with my wife, nowadays. Things like, "Why do we need another canoe?" and, "What happened to the end tables?"

I admit that sometimes I have a tendency to go overboard on stuff but I believe my participation on eBay is vital to our National economy. And I am currently working on a sweet deal. If I can only figure out how to get hold of my wife's wedding ring, I have my eye on an anchor from a 1938 yacht that Rudy Vallee once rode on.

How can I pass that up?


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not Exactly a Hallmark Moment

New Post-Abortion E-Cards Allow Senders to Show Sympathy, Support -- SAN FRANCISCO —A nonprofit [group] that runs a national post-abortion telephone talk line has unveiled a series of electronic greeting cards that concerned friends and family can send to a woman after she chooses to terminate a pregnancy.

"Women having abortions are calling our line because often they don't have someone to talk to — it's a stigmatized issue," said Aspen Baker, founder and executive director of Oakland-based Exhale. "So the chance to honor and acknowledge someone's experience by calling upon something that is within our social practices and social mores seemed important and could go a long way toward supporting people."

One expresses sympathy, offering the gentle reminder that, "As you grieve, remember that you are loved." Another provides encouragement for someone who "did the right thing." Yet another strikes a religious tone with the thought that "God will never leave you or forsake you."

"We designed them to deal with different peoples' response to abortion. Not everyone is grieving their loss. Not everyone has a relationship with God. Not everyone thinks it is the best thing," she said. "We hope the people who send them take the time to think not only about the message they want to send, but about what is best for the person receiving it and what they need to hear."


And what about what was best for the child's life that was snuffed out?

"HONOR HER EXPERIENCE"? . . ."SORRY ABOUT YOUR LOSS"? . . . Are you kidding me?

One human being decides that her selfish interests are more important than her child's LIFE and she expects a Hallmark card to ease her through her grieving?

Why don't we just go the whole way down the Rabbit Hole and buy little aborted stuffed animals to comfort the dead babies with, while their Mommies grieve?

Only in San Francisco!


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Daytime Timely News Time

You Can't Travel Back in Time, Scientists Say -- WEINENHEIMER, Auckland - The urge to hug a departed loved one again or prevent atrocities are among the compelling reasons that keep the notion of time travel alive in the minds of many.

While the idea makes for great fiction, some scientists now say traveling to the past is impossible.

Our intrepid Escape Velocity reporter was able to sit down with Dr. Fenimore Swissenschlausser, renowned physicist and oboe player. "Dr. Swissenschlausser, why do you think traveling back in time is impossible?"

"Bekoss, I haff been told it by schumone frum der future!"


"No! I'm messing with you. Backwards time travel is impossible because of the nature of existence. Mass and energy do not exist outside of the present and reality is always in a constant state of NOW. The past and the future are only constructs of our minds. They exist only in our imaginations."

"Isn't this all just theoretical?" we asked.

"Just about everything in physics is."

"So, if someone else had another, differing theory about the nature of the universe and time travel, he could be just as right as you are?"


"Then why are you making this announcement as if you have the final word on the subject?"

"I had some extra time on my hands and I didn't want it to build up and ruin my theory." he replied.


Monday, March 12, 2007

At War With Nature

hubris (noun)
DEFINITION -excessive pride or self-confidence, arrogance, conceit, pride, self-importance, egotism. ANTONYM - humility

Mankind believes itself to be at war with Nature. What we cannot tame, we declare to be out-of-control. But in our hubris we still believe we must claim responsibility. Global Warming is one of these conceits.

We are at the end of an epoch (period, time, span) known as The Ice Age. A vast glacial ice sheet extended nearly to our equator at one point. It has been receding for millions of years. During this time Man came upon the scene. From the deepest recesses of our pre-history to the present day, the ice has been receding.

Prior to the Ice Age, the world was a lush paradise with tropical equatorial jungles , vast temperate forests, and greenery at the poles. The oceans have fallen and risen at the advance and recession of the ice. Species of flora and fauna have come and gone. And Man, for his part, has witnessed but a tiny part of the tail end of the process.

The Ice Age was a huge phenomenon, epochal in scope and nature; the very Earth bending to the event that triggered it. An event that has taken millions of years from which to recover. And along comes Man, a gnat on the back of a woolly mammoth, claiming responsibility for whatever it steps on.

Here are some recent examples of Man's hubris:

Global Warming Causes Spruce Trees to Intrude on Tundra -- Rising temperatures fueled by global warming are causing forests of spruce trees to invade Arctic tundra faster than scientists originally thought, evicting and endangering the species that dwell there and only there, a new study concludes.

Tundra is land area where tree growth is inhibited by low temperatures and a short growing season. In the Arctic, the tundra is dominated by permafrost , a layer of permanently frozen subsoil.

The only vegetation that can grow in such conditions are grasses, mosses and lichens. Forests of spruce trees and shrubs neighbor these tundra areas, and the boundary where they meet is called the treeline.

In summer, the permafrost thaws, and the tundra becomes covered in bogs and lakes, allowing a unique habitat for plants. Climate change, meanwhile, has extended the summer warming season and promoted tree growth, causing the treeline to encroach on the tundra.

Spruce trees aren't intruding on the tundra. They are returning to the tundra.

The tundra and the permafrost and the tree growth and the habitat are
adapting to the new conditions presenting themselves as the glaciers continue to recede. Things are getting back to pre-glacial normal. Mankind is NOT responsible for this. We are observing it.

Wind-whipped California Fire Damages Homes -- ANAHEIM, Calif. - Firefighters faced another day of scorching heat and dry weather Monday as they tried to corral a wind-whipped blaze that had already damaged two homes amid what is shaping up to be one of the driest years yet in Southern California.

Stoked by hot dry wind, the fire quickly spread south and west in an unincorporated part of Orange County and threatened multimillion-dollar homes here and in Anaheim Hills, about 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Temperatures hit record highs for March 11 in many spots, including a mid-afternoon 97-degree reading in nearby Fullerton. The city's previous record high for the day was 84 degrees in 1959.

The dry weather comes two years after the region was awash with a near-record 37 inches of rain.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather models suggest that an emerging La Nina pattern of cold water in the tropical Pacific will keep the area dry.

Wildfires, mudslides and earthquakes. And multimillion dollar homes. Then blame it on the exhaust of the poor people driving to work every day. Did you ever think that maybe you are building in the wrong place? So make another self-indulgent speech and wear another ribbon. That'll make a difference.

Cancun, Nature at War Over Beaches -- CANCUN, Mexico - Cancun and Mother Nature are at war again.

Mexico spent $19 million to replace beaches washed away by Hurricane Wilma in 2005, but erosion has shrunk Cancun's sandy playground to the point where waves at high tide lap against some hotel patios.

To bring tourists pouring back after Hurricane Wilma, the ocean floor was dredged to rebuild eight miles of beach, nearly double their pre-hurricane size, and hotels were refurbished.

Just a year after the grand refurbishment was completed, the beaches have shrunk again, from 100 feet to less than 70 feet at mid-tide in the tourist zone, and swimmers are forced to clamber down 3-foot drops in the sand level to reach the water.

Once again, the gnat is trying to steer the woolly mammoth. Man just has to be the master of his environment. Millions of dollars wasted and monumental engineering feats accomplished and Nature has it's way.

Sometimes these things work and sometimes they don't. But the end result has very little to do with the gnat on the mammoth's ass.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Tough Old Ladies

Attack on NYC Woman, 101, Caught on tape -- NEW YORK - For a moment, the man in the grainy video looks like a good Samaritan holding the door open for an elderly neighbor. Then he turns and delivers three sharp punches to the 101-year-old woman's head.

"The next thing I knew, I had a big bang on the side of my face," said Rose Morat, who suffered a fractured cheekbone and lost her purse and $33 to the mugger.

The attack was captured by a surveillance camera in the lobby of her Queens apartment building last Sunday.

That's right Rose Morat . . . You've been PUNK'D!!!

Ashton Kutcher and MTV brings-it-on in a brand new season of PUNK'D! The hilarious show that proves just how trusting and vulnerable some people are! Like little old ladies:

"I'm quite sure that if it had happened when I was younger, I would have been after him," Ms. Morat said. "I'm a very strong woman. I've been that way my whole life."

Yeah? And now you're PUNK'D!!!


After viewing this ad, the Escape Velocity News Team caught up with Ashton Kutcher outside of Demi Moore's Malibu estate. "Mr. Kutcher!" "Mr. Kutcher!" we all shouted to make it seem like there was more of a crowd.

When we got Ashton's attention, we stuck a tiki torch with a sock over it in his face, pretending it was a microphone. "What made you want to PUNK old ladies?" we all shouted at once.

He looked confused until we remembered he always looks like that. So we asked the question again, "What made you want to PUNK old ladies?"

"Because I'm sick of them telling me to 'pick up after myself', to 'sit up straight', where I can go, and who my friends can be!"

"Who is telling you to do all this, Ashton? You're Mom? Your grandmother?"

"I wish! At least I didn't have to sleep with them!" he answered.

"Are you . . ."

"Do you know that when I met her, she and Bruce smelled exactly the same? Chick sweat and Ben-Gay. And, to this day, I still don't know which was which. I even smelled like that for a while!"

"So you . . ."

"So I PUNK'D the old lady in New York. I can't really do her," he nods towards the mansion, "Bruce knows people who break things."

"Why would Bruce Willis still protect Demi Moore?"

"Don't you see?" Ashton practically pleaded. "They still hook up! They dig each other! They just do this, here, so they can be with younger people for the media! It's good for their careers!"

"You mean . . ."

"Yeah," Ashton Kutcher said, hanging his head in shame. "I've been PUNK'D!"


Saturday, March 10, 2007

'Hot' Dogs and Guns

Oklahoma Town Halts Prairie Dog Poisoning -- LAWTON, Okla. - The city agreed to stop poisoning prairie dogs, whose antics have attracted tourists to local park, after outraged residents came to the rodents' defense.

"This is a real relief to me." says City Parks Worker Jason Freely. "Those little buggers are smart and I was running out of ways to poison them. After a while, they were becoming . . . I don't know . . . I guess you'd call it distrustful. They'd be, like, checking the seal on the Prairie Dog Chow bags and smelling their beverages. It would have been a lot easier to just shoot them with a shotgun or wack them with a club when they stuck their little heads out of their holes (like in that game, you know?)."

"Sometimes," he continued, "I think they were trying to poison me back. Stuff''s been tasting funny and stuff. Here . . . does this sandwich smell O.K. to you?"

Bin Laden 50 Today ? -- SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Osama Bin Laden, if he's alive, celebrates his 50th birthday on Saturday, and his friends in the Taliban prayed for his long life.

The rest of us -- not so much.

Appeals Court Overturns D.C. Gun Ban -- WASHINGTON - A federal appeals court overturned the District of Columbia's long-standing handgun ban Friday, rejecting the city's argument that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applied only to militias.

In a 2-1 decision, the judges held that the activities protected by the Second Amendment "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent" on enrollment in a militia.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the city cannot prevent people from keeping handguns in their homes. The ruling also struck down a requirement that owners of registered firearms keep them unloaded and disassembled.

The decision marks the first time a federal appeals court has struck down a portion of a gun law on Second Amendment grounds.

"Who knew?"

"Who knew?" wondered Mayor Adrian Fenty. "Right now, we are wondering what else this Constitution thingy has to say. Up until now, we've been just going by what the media has to say about stuff. Now, we're wondering what else they've gotten wrong."

"Imagine that," he continued, " . . . the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Lordy!"


Friday, March 09, 2007

Michael Jackson's Career Path

Michael Jackson is on some sort of self-promotion tour in Japan and even though he won't sing or dance for anyone, he is willing to show up "briefly" for $3,500 per person. For their money, the lucky attendees get a buffet dinner, several Japanese Jackson impersonators, and get to rub elbows with orphans and handicapped kids. (You knew there would be kids around.)

Wearing sunglasses and dressed in a black-and-gold Roberto Cavalli suit, Jackson appeared on the stage at the end of the six-hour party to read a brief thank you.

"I've been in the entertainment industry since I was 6 years old," he told AP. "As Charles Dickens says, 'It's been the best of times, the worst of times.' But I would not change my career."

"Well, not my career, but maybe I would cut back on molesting little boys as much. But, no, that wouldn't work. I've done everything for the children -- that's where my tremendous drive has come from. So if I didn't have sleepy-time with the little boys to look forward to, maybe I wouldn't have worked so hard on my faggy, crotch grabbing, sequined routines."

"But if I hadn't been so successful career-wise, I wouldn't have had the evil power to simply order "room service" in third world countries. I wouldn't have had the money to build Neverland. I would have had to hang around other people's amusement parks to pick up little boys. And I would have never had the "hush money" to buy off all the parents willing to sell their children to me."

"So . . . I guess the answer is 'I would not change my career'."

"Although I am still working on my face . . ."


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Today's Headlines

Today's headlines didn't need a lot of help from the (ahem) journalists. They pretty much tell the whole story.

Rosie: I Hang Upside Down Every Day to Fight Depression -- NEW YORK, N.Y. -

. . . Yours or ours?
. . . Try not watching The View.
. . . Here. Have another Pizza and a couple more cheeseburgers and tell me all about it.
. . . Look! It's a fat, angry, lesbian, vampire bat!
. . . What does she hang from - an I-beam?
. . . Wow! Crazy, fat chicks have strong ankles!

Parents Beat Up Principal Over Grades -- MILAN, Italy -

. . . That'll teach the boy a lesson!
. . . Parents beat up cop over son's arrest.
. . . Parents beat up priest over son's confession.
. . . Parents beat up other students over dodge ball game.

Woman Sues Doctor After Failed Abortion -- BOSTON, Mass. - A Boston woman who gave birth after a failed abortion has filed a lawsuit against two doctors and Planned Parenthood seeking the cost of raising her child.

. . . And the Mother of the Year is . . .
. . . Is she going to use some of the money for the kid's therapy bills?
. . . Last year she sued a lawyer when her divorce didn't take.

Calderon Vows to Restore Mexico's Appeal -- MEXICO CITY, Mexico - Mexican President Felipe Calderon won't be fighting for migration reform when he meets with President Bush next week. Instead, he will be spelling out what he intends to do to keep Mexicans at home.

. . . He will extend the siesta by 1/2 hour.
. . . He will put two worms in every bottle of tequila.
. . . He will lobby California for an increase in medical benefits.

Schoolgirls Suspended for Saying "Vagina" During Reading of "Vagina Monologues" -- CROSS RIVER, New York -

. . . Second graders suspended for saying "dick" during reading of "Fun with Dick and Jane".
. . . Student suspended for saying "beaver" during reading of "The Last of the Mohicans".

Whatever happened to:
. . . Students suspended for saying "fuck!" when assigned "Moby Dick"?

Drill Sergeant Accused of Forcing Trainee to Dress as Superman, Submit to Sex Acts -- HAMPTON, Va. -

. . . That's funny. I always thought Captain Marvel was the gay one.
. . . Bend steel in his bare hands?
. . . Hey Buddy, what do you say we pretend you're Krypto, next?


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Tidbits and Sperm Samples

Flames Engulf Indonesian Jet, Killing 21 -- YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia - A packed jetliner crash-landed and erupted in flames Wednesday, killing at least 21 people trapped inside the burning wreckage. More than 115 others escaped through emergency exits as black smoke billowed behind them, authorities and witnesses said.

Fire crews could have saved more lives but they were delayed putting out a nearby cow fire. The cows, considered sacred by most Indonesi-ites, could not be reached for comment but are rumored to have been spotted in a nearby black market at $1.99 a pound.

The Daylight Savings Time Bug -- SOMEWHERE IN THE DENUSIAN TIMESTREAM - It seems that all of the pointy head geek-wads are all excited again. Apparently, the early return to Daylight Savings Time (DST) is throwing their tech gadgetry into a tailspin. From computers, to . . . well . . . other computers and stuff, things will not register the correct time.

"This could have disastrous results." says Milo Rastopovich. "Air travel could be delayed, the Stock Market could be volatile, cheating spouses could miss their assignations and be cranky for the rest of the week."

Escape Velocity asked Mr. Rastopovich what could be done in time to divert a disaster of Y2K proportions. "Well, this weekend, on Sunday night going into Monday morning, at 2 AM, you could set your clocks forward one hour."

"That's it?"

"Well, you'd have to do it for your computer and the VCR and the microwave and . . . "

"We do most of this stuff, anyway. This is just three weeks early. What's the big deal?"

"Well, the computer stuff . . . you'd have to do it manually."

"Is that difficult?"

"Well . . . no."

"There you have it, folks, another eight hours of prep time, travel, interviewing, more travel and post-editing time wasted on a nothing story about how we are all going to lose an hour, three weeks early!"

Is this thing off? Good God! What a stupid fluff piece. When am I going to get some meaty news? I spent four years at the Julliard School of Announcacology for this? Setting the clocks ahead three weeks early? G'me a break! So what if most of the pre-programed computers and clocks in the world won't automatically change for another three weeks? So what if there is an hour that will be lost and not recorded by most records and devices? . . . so what if I hate my boss and want him dead? . . . so what if it will be impossible to establish the exact time anything happened during those three weeks because of the confusion? . . . so what if I can use that missing hour to get rid of him once and for all . . . and set up a perfect alibi for the hour before and after . . . and no one would ever suspect . . . so what? . . .

Hey, Joe! I'll catch up with you later. I have to ask the Clock Guy how something works. Yeah. See you later.

Off-duty Northwest Employee Charged -- MINNEAPOLIS - An off-duty Northwest Airlines employee was arrested after a woman on a flight from Seattle complained that the man had ejaculated on her.

The FBI identified the man as Samuel Oscar Gonzalez, 20, of Lakewood, Wash. He was charged in federal court with simple assault, a misdemeanor.

According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, the woman said she was trying to sleep in her seat when the man sat down in an empty seat next to her. She said he touched her, and then got up and left. She then realized what had happened, and told flight attendants, according to the affidavit.

Eeeewwwww! I can just see the trial -- "And, Mr. Gonzalaz, could you please show the jury exactly how you grip your penis when you masturbate? Thank you. Your Honor, I would like the record to show (while my client continues to crank one off) that Mr. Gonzalez is RIGHT-handed and, given the confines of the seating on this particular jet, it is IMPOSSIBLE for him to have ejaculated on this woman if she was seated to his right, as she has already testified! . . . I would like to have the previous witness's testimony stricken, have the bailiff clean up this mess and have it marked as Exhibit #68."