Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. A very busy week at work. One of the techs was out too much so they split the sheets with him. That leaves only Pat and I to handle things on the hardware side. The network side of the shop is also down one, but since he was having trouble with even basic stuff they hadn't come to rely on him too much yet.
This week, however, will be very short indeed. With the 4th of July falling on Thursday, the shop is going to be closed Thursday and Friday! Extra short work week; extra long weekend. I'll take that all of that I can get! Of course, that means that we have to squeeze five days of work into three days. I'll be hopping for sure!
I have uploaded medium and large resolution versions of the pictures I posted last week. Just follow the BETTER/BEST link at the bottom of each page to get the file list. Use your browser's Back Button to return from the picture to the list again.
NOTE: The "Better" versions run 81-283K in size, while the "Best" versions go 343-862K. That's a VERY big difference when you don't have broadband (cable/DSL) and must rely on your dial-up connection to squeeze data through your phone line. The "Best" versions are less compressed and will print out nicer, although you pay the price in larger file sizes and longer download times. For example here are some approximate modem D/L times for each:

Medium file (283k)
modem @ 28.8k ~ 1:28 (1 minute, 28 seconds)
modem @ 33.6k ~ 1:14
modem @ 56 k ~ 0:39
broadband ~ 0:03 (3 seconds)

Large file (862k)
modem @ 28.8k ~ 4:29
modem @ 33.6k ~ 3:46
modem @ 56 k ~ 2:00
broadband ~ 0:10 (10 seconds)

Once you have the picture on the screen, I'd recommend that you Right-Click it and select "Save Image As" or "Save Picture As" (depending on your browser) and put it into a separate folder. I like to use My Documents > My Pictures.
After you get your first one you'll have some idea of how long it's going to take to get more. So unless you have the patience of Job and an ISP to match, I'd stick to the standard pictures. Then, again... if you do have a broadband connection, filfre!

Co-Conspirator To Make The World A Better Place

http://www.thepeers.com/ (click on "Monterey Trip" in the menu bar)

The Stella Awards

In 1994, a New Mexico jury awarded $2.9 million U.S. in damages to 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who suffered third-degree burns to her legs, groin and buttocks after spilling a cup of McDonald's coffee on herself. This case inspired an annual award - The "Stella" Award-for the most frivolous lawsuit in the U.S. The ones listed below are clear candidates.

December 1997: Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware successfully sued the owner of a night club in a neighboring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the $3.50 cover charge. She was awarded $12,000 and dental expenses.

October 1998: Terrence Dickinson of Bristol, Pennsylvania was leaving a house he had just finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up, because the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn't reenter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation. Mr. Dickinson found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food. Mr. Dickinson sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of half a million dollars.

June 1998: 19-year old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won $74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbor ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car, when he was trying to steal his neighbor's hubcaps.

October 1999: Jerry Williams of Little Rock, Arkansas was awarded $14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbor's beagle. The beagle was on a chain in its owner's fenced-in yard, as was Mr. Williams. The award was less than sought because the jury felt Mr. Williams who, at the time, was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun and might have provoked the dog.

May 2000: A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania $113,500 after she slipped on soft drink and broke her coccyx. The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson threw it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.
January 2000: Kathleen Robertson of Austin Texas was awarded $780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running amuck inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving little rodent was Ms. Robertson's son.

And just so you know that cooler heads do occasionally prevail Kenmore Inc., the makers of Dorothy Johnson's microwave, were found not liable for the death of Mrs. Johnson's poodle after she gave it a bath and attempted to dry it by putting the poor creature in her microwave for, "just a few minutes, on low". The case was quickly dismissed.

And now, a recent addition.

January, 2002: Police in Vermont stopped a man. After running his name, it came back that there were warrants for his arrest from Florida. Before the police could arrest him, he fled into a nearby forest (in the middle of winter). The police searched for him, but were unable to find him. Three days later, the suspect turns himself in to police and was taken to the hospital with frostbite. He ended up having several fingers and toes amputated. He is now suing the police. Why? The police didn't look for him hard enough! He stated in an interview, 'If they had searched harder, they would've found me'. He's accusing the police of dereliction of duty leading to his loss of limbs.

And you wondered how O.J. got off...

Though the cases described in [this] e-mail are fake, real lawsuits of equal silliness can be found in abundance. An equally impressive list could easily have been compiled by anyone with access to a news database and a few moments to spare. For instance: 

In March 1995, a San Diego man unsuccessfully attempted to sue the city and Jack Murphy Stadium for $5.4 million over something than can only be described as a wee problem -- Robert Glaser claimed the stadium's unisex bathroom policy at a Billy Joel and Elton John concert caused him embarrassment and emotional distress thanks to the sight of a woman using a urinal in front of him. He subsequently tried "six or seven" other bathrooms in the stadium only to find women in all of them. He asserted he "had to hold it in for four hours" because he was too embarrassed to share the public bathrooms with women. 

A San Carlos, California, man is suing the Escondido Public Library for $1.5 million. His dog, a 50-pound Labrador mix, was attacked by the library's 12-pound feline mascot, L.C., (also known as Library Cat). 
In 1994, a student at the University of Idaho unsuccessfully sued that institution over his fall from a third-floor dorm window. He'd been mooning other students when the window gave way. It was contended the University failed to provide a safe environment for students or to properly warn them of the dangers inherent to upper-story windows.

In 1993, McDonald's was unsuccessfully sued over a car accident in New Jersey. While driving, a man who had placed a milk shake between his legs, leaned over to reach into his bag of food and squeezed the milk shake container in the process. When the lid popped off and spilled half the drink in his lap, this driver became distracted and ran into another man's car. That man in turn tried to sue McDonald's for causing the accident, saying the restaurant should have cautioned the man who had hit him against eating while driving.


Shanti Shanti's CD is 'hippest expression of Sanskrit'
By Forrest Hartman

When Sara and Andrea Forman began studying the Sanskrit language, it was simply a way to enrich their lives. It seems fate had more in mind.

It started out as just being a hobby and then we'd have school and stuff as being our main thing, Sara said. Now, Andrea and I are both going to college, and we tell people that college is now our hobby and Sanskrit is our main career.

The sisters from Sparks front the band Shanti Shanti, which has carved a niche by blending ancient Sanskrit chants with original, Western music written by their father, Robert Forman.

Tonight, they'll introduce Reno to their latest album, Three, during a free concert at Esoteric Coffee House and Gallery. It's the most radio friendly collection of tunes that they've produced, and Dad shares the spotlight.

This was supposed to be his record 100 percent, Andrea said. Sara and I kept hearing it and going, 'Oh Dad, you need to add this Sanskrit piece. Oh Dad, you need to do this.' And, 'Can we sing on this?' By the time we got done it was a 50/50 record.

It's also a record that may help the group turn a corner. Shanti Shanti has a deal with New Leaf Distribution, a new-age vendor, but the Formans are hoping to land a bigger distributor that could get their product into mainstream stores. Robert thinks this is the album to do it because rather than wrap Western music around Sanskrit chants, he started with pop tunes, then let Andrea and Sara add Sanskrit elements.

I keep calling it the hip CD, Andrea said. It is the hippest expression of Sanskrit, and this is more for some of those groups that want to book us but they're not real familiar with the spiritual stuff. I've been sending them this CD because this CD is so cool, and it's real L.A. friendly.

The Sanskrit chants the band performs are traditional, but the presentation is such that average radio listeners could warm to them.

It's several thousand year old scriptures, Andrea said, but what we did is we put it in a bed, so to say, that's real hip, with cool drums and that sort of thing.

The album has been available on the Shanti Shanti Web site since early May, but Andrea said the group has been rolling it out slowly. Last week, they performed a series of concerts in the Los Angeles area, including one at the Chopra Center for Well Being in Carlsbad, Calif. While there, they met with Deepak Chopra, the founder of the center and a well-known promoter of alternative medicine.

He was awesome, Andrea said. He talked with us, and he wanted to know our story and he told the audience our story. Then, afterward, he said, 'We have to do a whole lot more concerts together,' and gave us a hug.

The Shanti Shanti story is a remarkable one because Andrea and Sara essentially taught themselves to chant Sanskrit. As a child, Andrea created an English/Sanskrit dictionary by matching up the characters in a book written in both languages. Later, a scholar found that her self- made reference book was 95 percent correct.

Earlier this year, their mother, Linda Forman, self-published Dreaming in Realtime, a book detailing the Shanti Shanti story.

It's basically our whole family's spiritual odyssey and how it kind of went from a little Sanskrit thing that we did when we were little to being a full-time thing that has completely taken over our lives, Andrea said. This is all that the five of us do.

Within days of introducing Dreaming in Realtime at a concert in Berkeley, Calif., Linda was offered a distribution deal with North Atlantic Books. This fall, the book is supposed to have nationwide distribution including placement in Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores and Costco warehouses.

We performed on Saturday night, and then we got an e-mail Monday morning, Robert Forman said. The publisher saw the performance and had been up until 5 in the morning. He finished the book and already had an offer on the desk, and it was a good one already.

It happened so fast that I didn't have time to get nervous or scared out about it, Linda said. We were still in the flush of just kind of getting everything out there. In a way, that can work to your advantage because if you have a lot of time to think about it, you can almost think your way out of anything and surround it with so much stress that nothing happens.

Robert expects the book, which comes packaged with a four-song compact disc, to expose the group to a brand new audience. That excites Andrea and Sara because both say the primary purpose of Shanti Shanti is to introduce people to Sanskrit, a language they believe has the ability to enhance people's spiritual experiences.

Sanskrit is a language that encompasses all people, Sara said. You know, all religions, all races. You don't have to be spiritual. You don't have to know anything about the language in order to be affected by it. The Sanskrit buzz is pretty powerful. It will penetrate anyone.

JUST A FLESH WOUND: Corey O'Connor, 23, of Toledo, Ohio, was hospitalized after an incident in a bar's parking lot. A witness said she was having an argument with a man when O'Connor attempted to break it up. As O'Connor tried to pull a gun out of his pocket, she says, it went off. The bullet struck him in the leg -- after passing through his scrotum. He was reported in serious condition. (Toledo Blade) ...Everyone agrees it's "serious," yet most seem to laugh at the story.

HE'S HIS OWN WORST ENEMY II: Dennis Cohen, 47, had a problem with his stove, so he decided to fix it himself. He disconnected the gas pipe -- without turning off the gas first -- then went to the bathroom. When he returned, he was pondering the situation when he decided to light a cigarette. The resulting explosion destroyed 10 apartments in his 130- unit complex in Encino, Calif., and left Cohen with second- and third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body. Fire investigators were disappointed that Cohen died before they could interview him a second time to get more details. (Los Angeles Times) ...Such as the answer to their most pressing question, "What are you, some kind of idiot?"

ONLY THE SURLY NEED APPLY: Travel Counsellors, a firm in Bolton, England, needed a catering manager, so it called the local Job Centre to place a help wanted ad. "Friendly person required with a flair for preparing fresh sandwiches," they dictated -- but the Job Centre refused the wording. "It is helpful if employers word their advert in a practical and factual way," Job Centre spokesman said after rejecting "friendly" as a job requirement. "We prefer it if the advertisements avoided the use of personality statements in order to avoid any possible discrimination." Travel Counsellors' operations manager declared the decision "political correctness gone mad." (Bolton Evening News) ...Mad, you say? You'll be hearing from the solicitors for the British Union To Take Heed of the Eccentric And Deranged shortly.

TESTING, 1-2-3: High schools in Palm Beach County, Fla., have instituted a new standardized final exam for history classes. Students are only required to get 23 percent of the multiple-choice answers correct to pass; to get an "A" they only need to get 50 percent correct. The test, designed by the district, was mandated to ensure students have developed "mastery" about the history of women, Africans, African-Americans and the Holocaust. One principal points out that even random answers should net the students a 25 percent score, and by making "educated guesses" they could improve from there. (Palm Beach Post) ...We don't have to worry about the students doing that, though, since they haven't been educated.

THAT'S JUST NUTS: "Squirrel Sleuth Cracks Robbery" -- Reuters headline 

Tommy's Haus of Mail

Tommy, from the radio show "Car Talk", loves to read email on-the-air. Especially if it's wacky. This page is a collection of Click & Clack's best email and dates back to 1996. It even includes The Stella Awards (see story above) and many other overtly preposterous missives.

I could put this stuff into The Funny/Alerts Newsletter every week for years and still never run out of material! You should go today and check it out for yourself. As an example I've included the following: "Children's Books That Didn't Make It" and "The Joys of Being a Teacher":

Children's Books That Didn't Make It

·You Are Different and That's Bad
·The Boy Who Died from Eating All His Vegetables
·Fun Four-letter Words to Know and Share
·Hammers, Screwdrivers and Scissors: An I-Can-Do-It Book
·The Kids' Guide to Hitchhiking
·Kathy Was So Bad Her Mom Stopped Loving Her
·Curious George and the High-Voltage Fence
·All Cats Go to Hell
·The Little Sissy Who Snitched
·Some Kittens Can Fly
·That's It, I'm Putting You Up for Adoption
·Grandpa Gets a Casket
·The Pop-Up Book of Human Anatomy
·Strangers Have the Best Candy
·Whining, Kicking and Crying to Get Your Way
·You Were an Accident
·Things Rich Kids Have, But You Never Will
·Pop! Goes The Hamster and Other Great Microwave Games

The Joys of Being a Teacher

Actual answers and spelling on a 6th grade history test:

1. Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.

2. Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backwards and declared, "A horse divided against itself cannot stand." Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

3. Abraham Lincoln became America's greatest Precedent. Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. They believe the assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

4. Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German half Italian and half English. He was very large.

5. Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

6. The nineteenth century was a time of a great many thoughts and inventions. People stopped reproducing by hand and started reproducing by machine. The invention of the steamboat caused a network of rivers to spring up. Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of the Species. Madman Curie discovered radio. And Karl Marx became one of the Marx Brothers.


BidPickle v1.0 [2.0M] W9x/2k/XP FREE

{Know when they bid} Is that anything like Big Tomato? They make great pizza in Des Moines. Oh, it's BID Pickle. Well, if you happen to be a regular shopper (or even an irregular shopper) on eBay, take a gander at what this program has to offer. It will sit quietly in your system tray and notify you whenever someone else tries to outbid you. If you've ever had to constantly check the active auction page, you'll certainly appreciate this digital time saver. Did I say it was just for shoppers? Well, I lied. Buyers can also use the pickle to keep track of when their item is bid on. I swear, someday I'll sell my collection of sweater vests.
FACT: I've never used eBay to buy or sell anything.


Peace of mind is a click away
David Lipschultz

Behind all the stock checking, weather forecasting and travel coordinating, the Internet is basically a huge database. So it's no surprise that with a mouse click we now can get important, if scary, information, such as whether a prospective employee is a scam artist, a housekeeper is a thief or a baby sitter has a drug record.

Criminal-search sites have sprouted up across the Web, allowing surfers to check police records online. Their existence appears to be aimed at eliminating the laborious, time-consuming process of going to courthouses to search records.

Until now, most sites have supplied a hodgepodge of information from only certain states, making it difficult to do a comprehensive nationwide search. However, Rapsheets.com recently consolidated 33 states into one big database of criminal records and opened its service, originally aimed at businesses, to individual consumers. Now, anyone can pay $29.95 for a single criminal check covering all states and counties on the site's roster. More frequent users can pay a $14.95 monthly fee and get the same search for $19.95.

Tippy Toes Learning Academy of Memphis would have found this to be the deal of the century. In a highly publicized case in April, their van driver crashed, killing himself and four kids, while driving in possession of marijuana. A check to see if he had a record, I found, showed he did indeed have a rap sheet for marijuana use, a fact that would have barred the day-care center from hiring him under state regulations.

The hitch is that even though the site works with more than 50 million records, there are still large gaps. Records for Oklahoma, for example, go back only to 1996, and they're only for prison inmates (other states' records include felonies, misdemeanors and even traffic tickets for the general populace back to 1980). Site spokeswoman Camille Gamble concedes that some records may be missing even in the listed time period. So even if nothing comes up on your nanny, that doesn't prove she's clean. I know people with misdemeanor convictions in Arizona and Colorado who didn't pop up on my search of both states.

But that doesn't mean this service is useless. You can take some solace in the fact that the person in question has no record out of 50 million records from which to search. And consider the alternative: You could hire an investigator who would have to comb through records from state to state. That certainly would cost much more than $29.95.



What would your current frustrations look like from the vantage point of the final days of your life?