Archives for May 2006

The Errand Boy

This is a fictional account of a person called The Errand Boy. He was a poorly educated but somewhat street savvy Joe with a chip on his shoulder and a carton a day smoking habit. The Errand Boy knew a million stories and they were always better than whatever it was you told.

If you talked about a favorite childhood memory you could be sure that The Errand Boy had a better story than yours. If you talked about places you had seen you could be sure that he would add his own two cents. He hadn’t traveled all that much or lived in all that many places, but that didn’t stop The Errand Boy from telling you about how much better his experience was.

And heaven forbid the conversation turned to women. The Errand Boy knew more and had had more women than Hugh Hefner, Casanova or any Don Juan. In his mind he was truly legendary. He didn’t dream about dating Playboy Bunnies because he had done that. He didn’t wonder what it was like to date strippers because he had done that. Orgies, twins, best friends, mother/daughter, whatever…It just didn’t matter because The Errand Boy had a better story than you did. All you had to do was ask him.

The Errand Boy was good in a bar. Give him a smoke and a beer and he was much happier because that really was his speed. He loved to tell jokes and believe me, no one laughs harder at their own jokes than The Errand Boy.

There are many tales that could be told about The Errand Boy but few would give you as much insight into his character as this one.

One day The Errand Boy went to a small cafe and ordered a couple of slices of pizza. The Errand Boy sat outside and enjoyed a very plesant meal at a small table. As he finished eating he took a napkin and wiped a small patch of grease off of his chin and then stood up. He took a moment to primp himself and then turned around to march off.

As he turned he made a point of avoiding the trashcan that had been conveniently placed nearby so that the diners could dispose of their trash. Some people would think that this would have reminded him to pick up his own trash, but not The Errand Boy. Oh no, that is not his style.

Instead he stepped around the trash can and began to walk away. As he did an employee of the cafe ran outside and yelled out “what about my tip” but what he was really saying was “why can’t you clean up after yourself.”

The Errand Boy had a smart response to his plaintive cry and said “here is your tip, don’t buy Enron.”

And now you know a little bit more than you probably care to know about The Errand Boy.

New Orleans Sinking

“WASHINGTON May 31, 2006 (AP)— Everyone has known New Orleans is a sinking city. Now new research suggests parts of the city are sinking even faster than many scientists imagined more than an inch a year.

That may explain some of the levee failures during Hurricane Katrina and it raises more worries about the future.

The research, reported in the journal Nature, is based on new satellite radar data for the three years before Katrina struck in 2005. The data show that some areas are sinking four or five times faster than the rest of the city. And that, experts say, can be deadly.

“My concern is the very low-lying areas,” said lead author Tim Dixon, a University of Miami geophysicist. “I think those areas are death traps. I don’t think those areas should be rebuilt.”

The blame for this phenomenon, called subsidence, includes overdevelopment, drainage and natural seismic shifts.

For years, scientists figured the city on average was sinking about one-fifth of an inch a year based on 100 measurements of the region, Dixon said. The new data from 150,000 measurements taken from space finds that about 10 percent to 20 percent of the region had yearly subsidence in the inch-a-year range, he said.

As the ground in those areas sinks, protection from levees also falls, scientists and engineers said.

For example, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, built more than three decades ago, has sunk by more than 3 feet since its construction, Dixon said, explaining why water poured over the levee and part of it failed.

“The people in St. Bernard got wiped out because the levee was too low,” said co-author Roy Dokka, director of the Louisiana Spatial Center at Louisiana State University. “It’s as simple as that.”

The subsidence “is making the land more vulnerable; it’s also screwed up our ability to figure out where the land is,” Dokka said. And it means some evacuation roads, hospitals and shelters are further below sea level than emergency planners thought.

So when government officials talk of rebuilding levees to pre-Katrina levels, it may really still be several feet below what’s needed, Dokka and others say.”

So the question is, what are they going to do about it.

Scientists Say Arctic Once Was Tropical

This was kind of interesting.

Scientists Say Arctic Once Was Tropical

WASHINGTON May 31, 2006 (AP)— Scientists have found what might have been the ideal ancient vacation hotspot with a 74-degree Fahrenheit average temperature, alligator ancestors and palm trees. It’s smack in the middle of the Arctic.

First-of-its-kind core samples dug up from deep beneath the Arctic Ocean floor show that 55 million years ago an area near the North Pole was practically a subtropical paradise, three new studies show.

The scientists say their findings are a glimpse backward into a much warmer-than-thought polar region heated by run-amok greenhouse gases that came about naturally.

Skeptics of man-made causes of global warming have nothing to rejoice over, however. The researchers say their studies appearing in Thursday’s issue of Nature also offer a peak at just how bad conditions can get.

“It probably was (a tropical paradise) but the mosquitoes were probably the size of your head,” said Yale geology professor Mark Pagani, a study co-author.

And what a watery, swampy world it must have been.

“Imagine a world where there are dense sequoia trees and cypress trees like in Florida that ring the Arctic Ocean,” said Pagani, a member of the multinational Arctic Coring Expedition that conducted the research.

Millions of years ago the Earth experienced an extended period of natural global warming. But around 55 million years ago there was a sudden supercharged spike of carbon dioxide that accelerated the greenhouse effect.

Scientists already knew this “thermal event” happened but are not sure what caused it. Perhaps massive releases of methane from the ocean, the continent-sized burning of trees, lots of volcanic eruptions.

For the full story click here.

Rocky 49 Set to Debut in 2027

I am a creature of habit and routine. Much of what I do is predicated upon behavior formed many years ago in a galaxy far far away, at least that is what I claim. My mother says otherwise, she calls me rigid. But she is from Chicago and has this funny idea about pizza so what does she know anyway.

Anyway, this morning I read that the movie industry is working on Die Hard 4. I was pleased to see this because it is a small variation on their recent habit of remaking old sitcoms/movies. Why would I ever be interested in new ideas when I can see 17 versions of the Dukes of Hazzard.

In case you are wondering, Rocky 49 is going to star Sylvester Stallone as an aging former champion who decides to lace on the gloves for one last fight. Rumor has it that he’ll be pitted against Julio Cesar Chavez or Roy Jones Jr.

Haveil Havalim Reminder

Bloggers and Bloggerettes,

Just a reminder that I am hosting the post Shavuout Haveil Havalim. If you have posts that you want me to include be sure to send them in via Blog Carnival, Conservative Cat or talk to jack at