Welcome to The Funny/Alerts Newsletter. Tuesday I was too distracted to put any time into the newsletter and Wednesday I went in for some more testing. A tube that was inserted in my nose and down the back of my throat was used to measure the constricting strength of my stomach valve (a sphyncter-type muscle) and the motility (down-squeezing) of my esophagus. The range for a normal stomach valve is 15-25 inches of mercury (ala blood-pressure cuff) and mine only rated a 4. When my esophagus also turned in a weak response to the swallowing test the technician wasn't surprised. Since my stomach provides little resistance there isn't much need to "push" my food down. But, that could come back after the surgery, once the valve is again closing.
After the large tube was removed, a smaller tube was inserted for me to wear overnight. This one had a pH sensor on the end and plugged into a device that I had to wear for 24 hours. Needless to say, I took Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning off. I was NOT going to work with this stuff hanging out of my face and looking like an escapee from ICU!

Co-Conspirator To Make The World A Better Place

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, all of the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done around here.

And that, my friends, is how company policy begins.

Spam scams: We're still gullible
By Will Sturgeon

The top 10 spam e-mails from the past month have been revealed--as has the fact that the online population is still gullible enough to be targeted with scams and phony promotions, which range from the downright implausible to the outright illegal.

The list, compiled by anti-virus firm Sophos, also reveals that the gullible are still perpetuating one of the more ridiculous e-mail hoaxes ever seen

The top 10 spam e-mails from the past month have been revealed -- as has the fact that the online population is still gullible enough to be targeted with scams and phony promotions, which range from the downright implausible to the outright illegal. The list, compiled by anti-virus firm Sophos, also reveals that the gullible are still perpetuating one of the more ridiculous e-mail hoaxes ever seen. 

Top spot goes to a spam e-mail which goes by the catchy title of JDBGMR. That relates to the .exe file of the same name--the Microsoft Debugger Registrar for Java. The e-mail urges recipients to delete the file, claiming that doing so will offer protection against the Bugbear virus. Needless to say, it doesn't, but will damage your PC.

Another virus hoax doing the rounds warns users of a non-existent 'World Trade Center Survivor' virus. While viruses clearly pose a threat to a system, virus hoaxes have the potential to be just as damaging. A well-crafted and convincing virus hoax can put unprecedented strain on companies' e-mail servers if enough staff are fooled into forwarding it to everybody in their address book. 

Fancy a share of Bill Gates money? Well one e-mail promises that he'll give you $245 for every person you forward it to. Of course it's a hoax but enough people were duped into forwarding it to everybody they know during November to ensure it remains in the top 10 for yet another month. 

Other scams preying upon the gullible includes one e-mail sent to Hotmail users asking them to forward it to 10 other Hotmail users, or lose their account. 

The full top ten for November looks like this (percentages shown reveal total number of reports accounted for by each e-mail). 

1. JDBGMR (22 percent) 
2. Budweiser frogs (11.5)
3. Meninas da Playboy (7.9)
4. Hotmail hoax (5.5)
5. A virtual card for you (5.0)
6. Bonsai kitten (3.5)
7. Mobile phone hoax (3.2)
8. Frog in a blender (2.8)
9. Bill Gates fortune (2.5)
10. World Trade Center survivors (2.1) 


7 honking, screaming, flashing rip-off Red Flags 

TV and print executives, asked to help keep a lid on deceptive advertising, say con artists are too slick. You decide. 
By Liz Pulliam Weston 

Pity the poor media moguls.

The chairman of the Federal Trade Commission last week tried to enlist cable channels, newspapers and magazines in the agencyís fight against deceptive advertising.

Specifically FTC Chairman Timothy Muris wants ďreputable publicationsĒ and broadcasters to stop running ďobviously fraudulentĒ diet and health ads.

The publishers and broadcasters protested that they couldnít possibly be expected to vet every ad that comes their way. Indeed, how are they to know there might be something fishy about a product thatís purported to melt 20 pounds off in a weekend without exercise or dieting, or a potion that promises to cure cancer, diabetes and dandruff all at once?

If itís that hard to spot misleading diet and health ads, imagine how complicated it must be for the magnates to pinpoint deceptive financial advertising. 

So I decided to help. Hereís my list of screaming red flags for media moguls and the financially challenged. Iím sure as soon as the moguls review this list, they will cleanse our airwaves, newspapers and magazines of all such scams:

"Profit by donating your car to charity!"
These ads imply that big tax write-offs await those who donate their junkers and hint that you can somehow be better off financially by giving a car away than you could be by selling it. Thatís never the case, unless youíre willing to commit tax fraud by assigning some outrageously inflated value to your cast-off vehicle. And surely, these ads wouldnít be encouraging that!

Itís also just an oversight, Iím sure, that car donation ads donít mention the tax break isnít available to most people. You have to be able to itemize your deductions to take a charitable write-off, and most taxpayers donít have enough deductions to itemize.

The ads also gloss over how little money actually winds up in charitable hands -- usually less than 30% of the carís value, and sometimes as little as $100. The rest goes to the for-profit companies and junkyards that process the cars -- and that pay for the advertising.

"Incorporate yourself now!"
Reduce your taxes, protect your assets, get new credit, hide money from your soon-to-be ex-spouse! And that's just the highlights of what I learned during two hours at one of these seminars. 

Like most of you, I once thought only legitimate businesses could incorporate, and that not every business should because of the costs and legal considerations involved. But the promoters assured me I could get Uncle Sam to subsidize my personal expenses simply by running them through a corporation. Not only that, but I could hide assets from creditors and deceive credit-card companies Iíd stiffed into giving me new accounts. 

Unfortunately, I was too cheap to shell out the $2,000 for the how-to-do-it videos that revealed all the promotersí secrets, so Iíll never know how to hypnotize IRS auditors into believing that my scam is somehow a real corporation.

"Get rich in your spare time!"
Media moguls know itís entirely possible to "earn $200,000 a year working part-time!" Of course, you have to be a member of some corporate board to pull it off.

Or maybe I just donít realize that promoters of various business franchise opportunities -- vending machines, pay phones, medical billing schemes or good old-fashioned work-at-home programs --are humanitarians motivated only by the goodness of their own hearts. 

Instead of selfishly keeping these great opportunities to themselves, and making all the money, they want to ensure as many people as possible will benefit. Thatís why they advertise -- and collect hefty up front fees before sending you any of the details.

"Erase bad credit!"
No sooner does the FTC stamp out a flock of credit-repair clinics than a new batch scurries in to take their places. If a nuclear holocaust ever does take place, these folks will crawl out from the rocks right behind the cockroaches.

Anyone who knows anything about credit knows you canít erase true, negative items from your credit report or invent a new credit history -- without committing fraud. Thereís also nothing a credit-repair clinic can do for you that you canít do for yourself.

But maybe, in the interests of the First Amendment, we need to provide people with the opportunity to pay $4,000 up front to a fly-by-night outfit so they can discover that for themselves.

"Protect your credit by settling your debts!"
For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and nowhere is that more true than in the world of credit. Pay less than you owe, and your credit rating gets trashed.

Yet many debt-settlement companies insist they can suspend this rule of physics, just for you. These outfits promise that your creditors will be so happy to get paid -- even if itís just pennies on the dollar -- that they wonít take their revenge on your credit report.

The people being told this usually have plenty of firsthand experience dealing with creditors, and seeing just how patient and kind-hearted they can be -- not. Yet they still fall for this scam.

"Guaranteed 16% returns!"
The actual investments change from season to season. For a while it was high-interest mortgages. Then it was viaticals -- investments in life-insurance policies taken out on people who were supposedly dying. "Prime bank notes" were popular for awhile there, too, despite the fact that such investments donít exist.

Hereís a tip for the moguls: Check out the interest rate being paid on a one-year Treasury bill. Thatís what a real guaranteed return looks like. Anything higher and the investor is taking some kind of risk. So you can be pretty sure that any advertiser promising double-digit "guaranteed" or "safe" returns on an investment in this market is operating a scam.

"Join us at the Airport Hotel!"
I have no idea why promoters of dubious schemes so love to push their ideas at airport hotel conference rooms. Fast getaway, maybe?

It would be terribly unfair to label every airport conference seminar a scam, of course. 

Just as it would be awfully wrong to paint all media moguls as being disingenuous when it comes to spotting scams and refusing advertising dollars from con artists. 

So I wonít. No matter how tempting that might be.


Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. They found out that the new baby is going to be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sings to his sister in Mommy's tummy.

The pregnancy progresses normally for Karen, an active member of the Panther Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tennessee. Then the labor pains come. Every five minutes then every minute. But complications arise during delivery. Hours of labor. Would a C-section be required?

Finally, Michael's little sister is born. But she is in serious condition.

With siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushes the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee. The days inch by. The little girl gets worse. The pediatric specialist tells the parents, "There is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst."

Karen and her husband contact a local cemetery about a burial plot. They have fixed up a special room in their home for the new baby - now they plan a funeral.

Michael, keeps begging his parents to let him see his sister, "I want to sing to her," he says.

Week two in intensive care. It looks as if a funeral will come before the week is over. Michael keeps nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. But Karen makes up her mind.

She will take Michael whether they like it or not. If he doesn't see his sister now, he may never see her alive.

She dresses him in an oversized scrub suit and marches him into ICU. He looks like a walking laundry basket, but the head nurse recognizes him as a child and bellows, "Get that kid out of here now! No children are allowed in ICU."

The mother rises up strong in Karen, and the usually mild-mannered lady glares steel-eyed into the head nurse's face, her lips a firm line. "He is not leaving until he sings to his sister!" Karen tows Michael to his sister's bedside. He gazes at the tiny infant losing the battle to live. And he begins to sing. In the pure hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sings:

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray --- "

Instantly the baby girl responds. The pulse rate becomes calm and steady.

Keep on singing, Michael.

"You never know, dear, how much I love you, Please don't take my sunshine away---"

The ragged, strained breathing becomes as smooth as a kitten's purr.

Keep on singing, Michael.

"The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms..."

Michael's little sister relaxes as rest, healing rest, seems to sweep over her.

Keep on singing, Michael.

Tears conquer the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glows.

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don't take my sunshine away."

Funeral plans are scrapped. The next, day - the very next day - the little girl is well enough to go home! 

Woman's Day magazine called it "the miracle of a brother's song." The medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of God's love.

A few weeks later, Michael's little sister was baptized at the Panther Creek Methodist Church.

Idiom Site 


For those of you who don't know, an idiom is a phrase that is natural only to native speakers of a given language. Some examples of idioms that American English speakers use are "absence makes the heart grow fonder," or mentioning that someone is just trying to get "brownie points." Now, if you aren't from America then you might not understand these phrases. Heck, even if you are from America you might not understand all the idioms you hear, and that is why we have idiomsite.com. The idioms on this Web site are separated into alphabetical order, and if you find an idiom you don't know then just click on it to learn more. The great thing about idiomsite.com is that sometimes we know what an idiom means, but this Web site takes that knowledge one step higher by giving us the origin of the idiom, too. Whether you need to look up the meaning of a phrase or just need a fun way to pass the time, then idiomsite.com is a good place to start. 

People go bananas over ape suits
Hartford Courant

In 1913, the French serial master Victorin Jasset loosed the cinemaís first ape-man in "Balaoo," according to "The Encyclopedia of Horror Movies." Remade twice, as "The Wizard" (1927) and "Dr. Renaultís Secret" (1942), the early French fairy tale of a scientistís semi-human simian and the doctorís niece he adores is the prototype of "King Kong" (1933) and even of Tim Burtonís "Planet of the Apes."

The attraction between two species is a recurring theme of horror and fantasy films. "It was beauty killed the beast" remains one of the most memorable lines in movie history, an epitaph for a giant apeís strange adoration for Fay Wray. And today, Burtonís film reportedly sets up a suggestive relationship between Mark Wahlbergís astronaut and Helena Bonham Carterís glamourpuss chimp.

The techniques of "Kong" and "Planet" underline two main strains in the depiction of primates through the ages. The stop-action trickery engineered by Willis OíBrien for the moviesí most famous ape relates to todayís sophisticated animatronic puppetry, while the return to the planet ruled by non-humans delivers a modern variation on the man-in-an-ape suit that has been played for terror or for laughs nearly since the beginning of the medium.

Then, too, there have been real animals on camera, most notably the chimpanzees that provided comic relief in "Tarzan the Ape Man" (1932) and its sequels. But natural performers though they seemed, the chimps cast as Cheetah and other playful monkeys sometimes suffered from disturbing breakdowns because of their training.

Apes can be also be volatile, so costumed actors have mingled with real animals in films such as "Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes" (1984) and "Gorillas in the Mist" (1988). Rick Baker, who created the new breed of ape suits for those films, also devised the makeup and costumes for Burton. (John Chambers won a special Oscar for his work on director Franklin J. Schaffnerís 1968 original.)

The apes in Burtonís film, headed by Tim Rothís evil ape general, are far more dangerous and violent than in the first film. 

But in recent films it has been customary to treat primates as victims or genial sweeties rather than as killers. Real orangutans have become particularly popular. 

Clint Eastwoodís 1978 "Every Which Way But Loose" featured a real simian named Clyde and the 1995 "Dunston Checks In" starred a 5-year-old scene stealer named Sam, as well as Faye Dunaway as a hotel-world Queen of Mean.

Mostly, though, actors have donned big heads and hairy body suits to play apes. Edgar Allan Poeís classic short story has been made at least three times, in 1932 and 1974 as "Murders in the Rue Morgue" and in 1954 as "Phantom of the Rue Morgue" (with Karl Malden at his hammiest). 

And there has been many a film with "Gorilla" in the title, with plots centering on men, or women, in ape suits. (Two of the big names who once donned the hairy outfits are Walter Pidgeon and Anne Bancroft. Where can one get hold of these lost gems?)

Perhaps the entertaining use of a gorilla costume came in Carl Reinerís 1970 "Whereís Poppa," in which George Segal suited up for a scamper across Central Park. 

Oddly enough, the filmís most hilarious performance came from Ruth Gordon, also Eastwoodís co-star in his orangutan pictures. She must have an affinity for going ape.

Happy News

This is a great place to kick off your shoes, sit back, relax, and read a good story. Of course there's lots of stories in the world, good ones and bad ones. With the advent of the Internet, stories and jokes travel around the globe in seconds. You have probably received hundreds of them. 

Well, Happy News has filtered out a few special stories for your enjoyment. Stories that will make you chuckle and stories that may bring a tear to your eye.



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