Don’t look now, but the crazy stuff is still out there…and I don’t mean snow. That fickle pair, Punxsutawney Phil and Buckeye Chuck have predicted six more weeks of winter, so it’s pretty “old hat” by now ( a phrase that has transitioned from meaning something fairly pornographic in the 1700’s to just being considered a slangy way of saying “uninteresting, predictable, trite or old fashioned” by 1911—an interesting evolution in itself).
Exhibit A : From the R-C, a short piece taking note of the fact that some dude out hunting water fowl was in stable condition, awaiting more tests in a Baltimore trauma center after a dead goose—apparently shot by one of the hunter’s companions—fell from the firmament and clocked him a good one, rendering the fearless Nimrod unconscious. The plummeting honker knocked Robert Mulheimer out and caused head and facial injuries. According to police, Mr. M knew little beyond his name when he came to. The goose, being dead, didn’t even know that much.
Exhibit B : A plane carrying 85 plumbers on a Norwegian Airlines flight to Hamburg, Germany, was forced to change plans and return to Norway because of the non-functioning of the toilet. One of the passengers remarked that they would have been happy to do the work themselves, except that it required working outside the aircraft and at 10,000 ft., this was really not feasible. It was, however, ironic enough to elicit a few chuckles from the crowd.
Exhibit C : City maintenance crews in New Orleans are not looking forward to the upcoming Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) festivities. One report stated that some 46 tons—that’s 93,000 pounds—of beads have been pulled from clogged catchbasins along the five block parade route of the major site of celebration. This problem was exacerbated by the recent flooding which washed about 7.2 million pounds of general debris into the storm sewer system. Authorities are considering installing “gutter buddies”—some sort of barrier at intake points—to reduce the probability of the backup getting any worse. These strings of gaudy beads, known as “throws” are part of the general hoot-n-holler that goes on during this run-up to Lent, when things are supposed to get ‘way more austere until Easter. Get your paczki (pronounced “poonch key”, more or less) ASAP. After Ash Wednesday, they are verboten, if you’re going by the foody rules. Of course, you can just hit a bakery anytime to get a jelly doughnut…and you don’t even have to be Polish.
Anyway, they must be sympathizing with the street crews and maintenance folks in Minneapolis after the Super Bowl. Aside from the crowds in the stadium and in the streets and all of the “throws” they might be pitching around—hats, shirts, mittens banners, etc.—there are the bits of flotsam and jetsam abandoned by the 69,000 or so passengers that flooded the Minneapolis-St.Paul airport, AND the street-closure barriers to be removed, on some streets, not until Tuesday. And did you get a look at the bucketsful of streamers and confetti and suchlike being thrown all over the place at the end of the game? Martha Stewart and I could offer tips for tidying. That will require shovels and industrial-strength vacuums , for sure. I’m betting that Martha has one. I could use one.
At least they’re not dealing with a “fat burg” like the officials in west London did, where there is a concentration of eating establishments—notorious for improperly disposing of cooking fats—and the waste products met up with other “waste products” to form a giant plug, some forty meters long and weighing 10 tons. The plug actually burst the 30-inch sewer line and will require something in the neighborhood of $56,000 to replace. When the package says “flushable”, don’t believe it; you could wind up with your very own fatburg to deal with.
Nor do they have to clean Crisco off the lampposts, as the crews in Philadelphia are having to do after their futile attempt to keep Eagles fans from climbing up them in their misguided attempts at celebration.
Exhibit D : A new study, says The Week, suggests that rats got a bad rap about spreading the Black Plague (C.E.1347-1351). It has long been believed that the bacterium Yersinia pestis was spread by fleas, rats and lice, killing off about one third of Europe’s population—25 million people, more or less. It was probably the world’s best-known—maybe first—pandemic, at least until the “Spanish” influenza epidemic that ravaged the world from 1918 to 1920 (The name follows the custom of naming whatever disease is raising havoc on somebody—anybody—else; the Spanish called it the Neapolitan sailors’ disease). Scientists at the University of Oslo fired up their computers and found that the spread of the disease had a lot more to do with fleas and lice on humans than any other mathematical model.
Now aren’t you glad that you know that?
Sure, you are.