Friday, April 30, 2010

Louisiana calls on Arizona Minutemen to protect coastline from approaching oil spill

Above: Minuteman Tom Dennisen of Flagstaff, AZ keeps watch along the Louisiana coastline for the Gulf's massive oil spill that is making its way toward the state's fragile shores. "If I see the oil, I'm suppose to call the Coast Guard. I don't have the authority to physically prevent any of the oil from covering beaches or wildlife," said Dennisen, while using air quotes and smiling mischievously. Several thousand Minutemen have made their way to state's bayous.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Senior chokes to death, as new volunteer neglects to remove wheels from meals

Bensalem, PA--A Meals on Wheels volunteer is being accused of failing to follow proper protocol when delivering meals for the nonprofit that is dedicated to senior nutrition. As a result, a 99-year-old senior, whose 100th birthday was tomorrow, choked to death around lunchtime yesterday.

"This is a tough day for all of us here at Meals On Wheels," said Donna Sparre, director of the organization's Philadelphia office, wearing tiel heels made from eels. "Just a sad, sad day."

Apparently, the first-time volunteer, Donna Summers, made two glaring mistakes during her visit to a Bensalem, PA assisted living home yesterday.

"As I was bringing the meal to the door, I got really confused and I couldn't remember if it was Wheels on Meals or Meals on Wheels," said Summers, the volunteer blamed for delivering the meal that ended the senior's life. "I mean, either way I'm suppose to remove the wheels, which I forgot to do. But that mistake is made much worse if the wheels are actually on top of the meals."

In 2002, the organization began placing miniature wheels, made from old car tires, under the meals being delivered as a reminder to the seniors as to who was providing the food. The Meals On Wheels Volunteer Handbook reads, "Between four and seven 3-inch diameter wheels are to be positioned under the meals upon delivery. The wheels are then to be collected and used again for a later delivery. Under no circumstances are the wheels to be placed on top of the meals."

Summers met with the family of the senior, whose name has yet to be released, late last evening. She explained that, yes, when she dropped off the food around 11:45 AM, the wheels were, without question, on top of and not under the meal, a clear violation of proper procedure.

"My mother was a fantastic person. We had a huge 100th birthday celebration planned for her on Saturday," said the senior's son. "She was getting up there in years, but she was totally with it. It surprises me that she didn't notice the wheels on top of the meal. I mean, she gets meals delivered four times a week."

Bensalem Police did report finding two large garbage bags full of wheels in the senior's apartment.

"This is not the first time the wheels were left behind, as she has two or three trash bags full of wheels in her sitting room closet," announced Officer Mary Wilson. "We do believe, however, it is the first time the wheels were left on top of the meals. None of the wheels in the bags have remnants of food."

At first, there were reports that the wheels were confused for donuts, but police have confirmed that the wheels were mixed in with the spaghetti, yesterday's lunch menu, "pretty thoroughly."

"[The wheels] were covered in tomato sauce and the noodles were wrapped around four of the seven wheels," said Officer Wilson. "There's a real good chance she thought they were meatballs, simply because the wheels were on top of the meal. Poor thing."

Sparre said that, despite this being the first such incident involving the miniature tires, she will be contacting the MOW's head office in Alexandria, VA about possibly discontinuing the use of the wheels or making them edible.

Friday, April 23, 2010

On Earth Day, coal mine loader driven by Sun

Shanxi, China--Coal dust drifts across the gray landscape several feet above the the identically-colored chunks that are amassed in piles below. Swirling in the wind, the particles are often carried long distances and, unknowingly, into the lungs of the cramped cities to the east. With the country constructing two coal-fired power plants per week, perhaps more, not many think of the world's most populous nation as a leader in green energy.

It is Earth Day 2010, and the occasion is celebrated in a very unusual way at one of China's numerous coal mines. For one day, several large, polluting pieces of equipment--loaders, bulldozers, dump trunks--are driven by Sun. This is quite a commitment and environmental statement from a company that bases its existence solely on what is widely considered the dirtiest of the fossil fuels.

In 2005, Sun arrived at Xeng Coal Inc. That is, a worker by the name of Kim Sun. Sun immigrated to China from North Korea and, though he hesitates to discuss details of his journey and background, does confirm that he started at the mine five years ago.

"Sun is a laborer. He picks up pieces of coal that have fallen from the trucks or he stands in the back of trucks to help guide the coal in from the loaders," said Hung Zhou, Sun's supervisor, through and interpreter. "On this day for the Earth, we like to see Sun drive the equipment."

On Earth Day, for the past five years, the coal company permits Sun, who has zero heavy equipment operating experience, to drive several of the bulky machinery pieces.

"He's crazy, that guy," said Bae Chin, a fellow Korean immigrant and loader operator at the mine, about Sun, also through an interpreter. "Sun drives my loader. Sun is bright. Sun can power this whole mine one day. Sun is clean. Sadly, coal is dirty and makes it difficult to stare directly at Sun."

"It's pretty funny," said Zhou. "Everyone gets a big kick out of seeing him drive the equipment. It's partly a reward to the other workers, by lightening the workplace mood for one day of the year, but also because of government regulations."

By letting Sun drive the equipment for one day, the company is able to meet the "extremely strict" environmental standards set by the government. When Sun climbs behind the wheel of a large loader, China can claim it is becoming more green with solar (or Sun) energy and making strides towards meeting the Kyoto environmental standards.

"We are very proud to be the only coal mine in China to use Sun to drive dirty diesel-powered equipment," said Zhou.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Guy who leads Iceland just flat out embarrassed

Island country places giant nicotine Patch on volcano, enormous ashtray in middle of ocean

Above: A giant nicotine patch has been placed on the side of the Iceland volcano that has been erupting for several days. The patch has not slowed the smoke, soot or ash.

Reykjavik, Iceland--The President of Iceland is thoroughly embarrassed about the volcano in his country that has been spewing smoke and ash into the atmosphere and creating global disruption for the past several days. The jet stream has carried volcanic debris over the Atlantic Ocean to Europe where it has practically brought the commercial airline industry of the continent to a halt.

"This is just so embarrassing," said President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, pulling his suit jacket up over his face to conceal his identity. "I mean, you talk about the most embarrassing thing that could ever happen ... to anyone."

The Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, has been stranded in Newark's Liberty International Airport for two days after a visit to the United Nations and has been growing more frustrated by the minute.

"I called Olafur [Iceland's President] and I was like what the hell is going on up there," said Stoltenberg, sitting next to several empty Auntie Anne's Pretzel bags and a mound of new cellphone covers. "He's pretty embarrassed, but that doesn't fix the fact that I had a whole ice fishing/cross-country skiing/ski jumping trip planned this weekend with some old college buddies. It's just rotten. How am I going to tell Lars Keggington, Dances with Kegs or Lillehammered that I won't be able to make it? Tell me that."

So ashamed is Iceland, that the small country has issued an "Ashtray Tax" and a "Patch Tax" on its just over 300,000 residents. The tax was used to construct and deliver an oversized ashtray to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and affix a large nicotine patch to the slopes of the volcano.

The ashtray, with a radius of 950 miles, was built last night and put in place this morning with the help of 500 military cargo helicopters borrowed from the United States and Canada. The patch was also placed using helicopters and, later, large pieces of Nicoderm gum were dropped inside the volcano. Nothing has worked.

At first, Grimsson called for all of Iceland's smokers, that were currently using the patch to quit, to donate their supply to the government for this extreme situation. The country's leaders quickly realized that this effort would not be enough to combat the volcano and outsourced the design and construction of a giant patch to nearby Greenland. These same leaders later admitted to watching the movie Patch Adams for ideas on how to build this powerful nicotine patch.

"Just when I thought we couldn't suffer any further embarrassment," said a distraught Grimsson. "We construct a ridiculously-oversized ashtray and patch and ... they don't even work. I picked the wrong week to quit smoking."

The ashtray, which broke away from its countless anchors soon after being positioned, appears to be on a collision course with Portugal.

"Finally, some good news," said Grimsson. "It's Portugal's problem now."

Portugal, which has one of the world's highest concentrations of cigarette smokers, does not appear to be concerned about the mass headed toward its shores.Above: A satellite photo of volcanic soot, ash and smoke carried by winds from Iceland over the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. Iceland has placed a giant ashtray in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, which has been a colossal failure.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Chicago Symphony Orchestra behind jersey misprint

Chicago,IL--The Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) has claimed responsibility for Wednesday night's jersey spelling error in Houston.

On this night, the front of San Francisco Giants' outfielder Eugenio Velez's jersey read San Francicso. Until today, Majestic, the jersey supplier for Major League Baseball, was blamed for switching the "c" and the "s" at the end of San Francisco.

The switching of letters formed CSO, which, conveniently, matched the acronym for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

"We wanted to get the word out about CSO performances to Bay Area residents planning to follow the Giants to Chicago in September," said Barbara Di'Ambrose, a CSO official. "We paid Majestic a lot of money to pull the old switcheroo."

The Giants will be in Chicago to play the Cubs on September 21,22 and 23.

When asked why the "misprint" was done in Houston, five months before the Giants travel to Chicago, Di'Ambrose responded, "I don't know. I, uh ... really don't know. But, I'm certainly going to get to the bottom of this. I plan to question a certain cello player and a certain timpani player guy."

The Orchestra originally requested that every Giants' player wear a misprinted jersey on Wednesday night, however, Majestic felt the fall-out from such a perceived debacle would do the company much more harm than good, even after CSO took full responsibility.

This is not the first time the CSO, a highly respected and award-winning orchestra, has supported an unorthodox marketing campaign. In 2008, several television and radio ads were run in the greater Chicagoland area featuring numerous pianists jokes.

This morning, in an attempt steal some of the publicity, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra also took full responsibility for the incident in Houston, but, an hour later, rescinded the statement giving full credit to the Chicago music organization.

"We like to say that we are CSO, but the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is the real CSO. It was a desperate and weak attempt to bring Colorado's finest orchestra into the spotlight. I apologize on behalf of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra or, CoSO, as it will henceforth be known," said Darryl Livingston, Colorado's veteran conductor.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rowers preparing for possible new neighbor

Above: A rendering of a proposed Schuylkill River oil rig just offshore from famous Boathouse Row. Under this plan, oil would be piped through the rowing houses to waiting trucks on Kelly Drive.

Philadelphia, PA--President Obama announced last week that his administration is planning to open areas along the Atlantic coastline to offshore drilling for both oil and natural gas. The administration also hinted that rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean, and select tributaries, would also be considered for off-riverbank drilling.

This, unfortunately, includes many rivers in the Philadelphia area. The region is filled with gently rolling waterways meandering through cities, small towns and open farmland.

One tributary, however, may be of particular interest to the Obama administration. In 1902, Frederick Von Vonder discovered oil just upstream from the Fairmount Water Works, by drilling--illegal in Fairmount Park--an undisclosed number of feet into the river's murky bottom. The oil was never brought to the surface because of strict park drilling and picnicking rules.

"Listen, we've known for years that there's oil under the Schuylkill River. I knew it. You knew it. Fredrick Von Von-something knew it. Even the thousands of joggers on the river trail knew it," said University of Phoenix head men's rowing coach, Mark Bradley. "It was just a matter of time."

A large oil drilling platform on the scenic river wouldn't happen, if it does at all, for at least two years. But, preparations and plans have quickly began to take form.

Some plans call for pipelines leaving the 200 ft-high platform to pass directly through the boathouses to waiting tanker trucks on Kelly Drive. These pipelines may force rowers to adjust accordingly when prepping shells, returning shells to storage or rowing beneath the pipes.

"I'm not sure why the pipelines have to pass through the boathouses," said Daniel Bettman, a Fairmount Park official. "It just seems like the pipes would get in the way of the rowers an awful lot."

It appears that interruptions from a new oil platform, however, would be minimal once the athletes were upstream.

"All of our regattas are held upstream," said Claire Dorrington, St Joseph's University women's assistant rowing coach. "So races will not be directly affected by the rig or pipes. I just don't think a rig fits in well with the historic boathouses."

Many others have echoed this concern about aesthetics, while some feel that a monstrosity like a semi-submersible rig could fit right in.

Rower David Baneau, with the help of a friend, hoisted a dripping shell onto the top of his black Hummer parked along Kelly Drive. "It's hot today. Shoulda brought my tan Hummer. My wife told me to bring the tan Hummer or the light tan Hummer. I should have listened or, at the very least, brought the white Hummer," he said squinting from the bright sun. "Hell, I've been rowing here for 22 years. An oil rig here could bring a hip new happening vibe to the row, and, if it means lower gas prices, than I don't see how you could be against it."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Buffer profiting heavily from 'Let's Get Ready to Rumble Strips'

Harrisburg, PA--Yes, that was Michael Buffer you just ran over. Well ... sort of. Iconic boxing announcer Michael Buffer has sold his likeness to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for a safety public awareness campaign.

The Philadelphia native has joined with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) to help reduce speeding--a longtime problem, especially near tollbooths--on the state's extensive roadway network using rumble strips. The new traffic calming devices are appropriately called Let's Get Ready to Rumble Strips.

"It took quite a bit of taxpayer money to use Michael's image and catchphrase, but we think it will do wonders to slow vehicles down and, ultimately, save many lives," said Governor Ed Rendell, standing in front of a group of reporters near the entrance of the PA Turnpike's Kittatinny Tunnel.

Thus far, two Let's Get Ready to Rumble Strips have been installed near toll plazas on the Turnpike's Northeast Extension, and a faint and mumbled "Let's get ready to rumble" shout can be heard when vehicles pass over the raised lines at the posted speed.

"Motorists have to obey the posted speed or they will not hear Michael make is famous call," said Rendell. "Everybody wins with Let's Get Ready to Rumble Strips."

So popular are the new rumble strips that California, Florida, Nevada and New Jersey have contacted Buffer about possible installation. Buffer says that he may profit more from encouraging safe driving than he ever will as a boxing announcer.