Category Archives: Laughter Can Be Healing

Various writings of comical intent.



Vermont being a small state, our license plates do not bear elongated combinations of numbers and letters, or at least not yet. As of 2012, we are into a system under which new plates are issued with three letters then three numbers, going alphabetically. If you see a license starting with A, look and see what make and model the car is, because that one has lasted quite a while and might be a reliable brand. B and C are becoming uncommon, D plates aren’t unusual, and E and F are now prevalent.
The strings of three letters have afforded a degree of ongoing comedy. Mom drives a DAD. The computer expert who would never open an email with a .exe attachment, because that would activate a program which might well be malicious, has to open an EXE every day to drive to work. Fearless athletic guys have EEKs or advertise EPTs (early pregnancy test). The thin lady goes around in a FAT. And so on–QED. There was even one C license with which state officials unwittingly saddled someone with a colorful porn term (beyond that, I’m not giving any further details).
Recently there’s been a huge change in my life. I’m no longer driving Rudolph the Red-Nosed Metro, a 1994 Geo Metro that started out as The Tiger Beetle because it was green but acquired its second name when someone backed into the hood and the used hood that was available to make it inspectable was red. Tiny but maneuverable enough to have dodged four times when another car was coming at me in my lane, and great for mileage, it is now doing duty helping an Iraq war veteran get to classes at Castleton State College.
Instead, I’m charging around in a 2004 Subaru Legacy Wagon, which until it merits some other name will go by The Blubaru because it’s dark blue. The dealer did all the paperwork for me to get new plates, which turned out to have the letters FMC.
The combination didn’t immediately bring anything to mind, but I figured there had to be an FMC somewhere in the world, so I went looking on the Internet. Here is what I’ve found so far:
–The Federal Maritime Commission.
–The Free Methodist Church.
–The Ford Motor Company.
–The Fox Movie Channel.
— FMC Corporation, ticker symbol FMC, formerly Food Machinery Corporation and Food Machinery and Chemical Corporation.
— FMC Technologies, an American machinery and oil services technology company, formerly part of FMC Corporation (see above).
— FMC Lithium, still part of FMC Corporation.
— Finlayson Media Communications, a division of Springer Science & Business Media.
–The three-letter code for Five Mile Airport in Alaska.
–Federal Medical Centers in Fort Worth, Texas; Rochester, Minnesota; and Ayer, Massachusetts.
–In Australia, the Federal Magistrates Court; the Flinders Medical Centre in Adelaide; and the Family Movie Channel.
–In Canada, the Force Mobile Command, the predecessor to the Canadian Forces Land Force Command; and the law firm of Fraser Milner Casgrain, LLP; and the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.
–In Egypt’s navy, Fast Missile Craft.
–In Germany, Fresenius Medical Care.
–In India, the Forward Markets Commission.
–In Japan, the Fleet Mail Center in Yokohama.
–In Mexico, the Federacion Mexicana de Ciclismo.
–In Monaco, the Fédération Monégasque de Cyclisme.
–In the United Kingdom, Full Metal Challenge, a televised 2002 Vehicle Competition.
–In aircraft navigation, Flight Management Computer.
–In telecommunications, Fixed Mobile Convergence.
–In electrical work, Flexible Metal Conduit.
–In ammunition, Full Metal Case, another name for the full metal jacket bullet.

And finally, the one that I’d prefer to think my license plate indicates: Fully Mission Capable. Here’s hoping.


(courtesy of the World Wide Web)


A first grade teacher collected well known proverbs. She
gave each child in her class the first half of a proverb and
asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb.

Better to be safe than……………….Punch a 5th grader

Strike while the …………………….Bug is close

It’s always darkest before…………… Daylight Savings Time

Never underestimate the power of……….Termites

You can lead a horse to water but………how?

Don’t bite the hand that…………….. looks dirty

No news is…………………………..impossible

A miss is as good as a………………..Mr.

You can’t teach an old dog new…………math

If you lie down with dogs, you’ll………stink in the morning

Love all, trust………………………me

The pen is mightier than the…………..pigs

An idle mind is………………………The best way to relax

Where there’s smoke there’s……………pollution

Happy the bride who…………………..gets all the presents

A penny saved is……………………..not much

Two’s company, three’s………………..the Musketeers

Don’t put off till tomorrow what……….you put on to go
to bed

Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and…….you
have to blow your nose

None are so blind as………………….Helen Keller

Children should be seen and not………..spanked or grounded

If at first you don’t succeed………….get new batteries

You get out of something what you………see pictured on
the box

When the blind leadeth the blind……….get out of the way

Better late than……………………..pregnant


History Test Answers by Sixth Graders

1. Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

2. Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

3. Solomom had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.

4. The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn’t have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female

5. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people
advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock.After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.

6. In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled biscuits, and
threw the java.

7. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out: “Tee hee, Brutus.”

8. Joan of Arch was burnt to a steak and was cannonized by Bernard Shaw.

9. Queen Elizabeth was the “Virgin Queen.” As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted “hurrah.”

10. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking. Sir Fransis Drake circumsized the world with a 100-foot clipper.

11. The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couple.Romeo’s last wish was to be laid by Juliet.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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. Cyrus McCormick invented the McCormick raper, which did the work of a hundred men. Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis. 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.


5th and 6th grade responses to science questions on tests:

– There are 26 vitamins in all, but some of the letters are yet to be

– Genetics explains why you look like your father, and if you don’t,
why you should.

– Vacuums are nothings. We only mention them to let them know we know they’re there.

– The cause of perfume disappearing is evaporation. Evaporation gets
blamed for a lot of things people forget to put the top on.

– Water vapor gets together in a cloud. When it is big enough to be
called a drop, it does.

– Mushrooms always grow in damp places, which is why they look like

– Momentum is something you give a person when they go away.

– A monsoon is a French gentleman.

– The word “trousers” is an uncommon noun because it is singular at the
top and plural at the bottom.

– To keep milk from turning sour, keep it in the cow.

– When planets run around and around in circles, we say they are orbiting. When people do it, we say they are crazy.

– For asphyxiation, apply artificial respiration until the patient is

– Thunder is a rich source of loudness.

– One of the main causes of dust is janitors.


Elementary school students’ actual quotes on music:

* The principal singer of nineteenth century opera was
called pre-Madonna.

* Sherbet composed the Unfinished Symphony.

* All female parts were sung by castrati. We don’t know
exactly what they sounded like because there are no known

* Young scholars have expressed their rapture for the Bronze
Lullaby, the Taco Bell Cannon, Beethoven’s Erotica,
Tchaikovsky Cracknutter Suite, and Gershwin’s Rap City in Blue.

* Music sung by two people at the same time is called a
duel; if they sing without music it is called Acapulco.

* A virtuoso is a musician with real high morals.

* Diatonic is a low calorie Schweppes.

* Probably the most marvelous fugue was the one between the
Hatfields and the McCoys.

* A harp is a nude piano.

* The correct way to find the key to a piece of music is to
use a pitchfork.

* I know what a sextet is but I’d rather not say.

* Johann Sebastian 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.




This comes from a Catholic elementary school. Kids were asked
questions about the Old and New Testaments. They have not been
retouched or corrected (i.e., incorrect spelling has been left in.)

In the first book of the bible, Guinessis, God got tired of creating
the world, so he took the Sabbath off.

Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. Noah’s wife was called
Joan of Ark. Noah built an ark, which the animals come on to in

Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night.

The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble
with the unsympathetic Genitals.

Samson was a strongman who let himself be led astray by a Jezebel
like Delilah.

Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened
bread which is bread without any ingredients.

The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, Moses
went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten ammendments.

The seventh commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery. Moses died
before he ever reached Canada. Then Joshua led the Hebrews in the
battle of Geritol.

The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to
stand still and he obeyed him.

David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with
the Finklesteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times.

Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

When Mary heard that she was the mother of Jesus, she sang the

When the three wise guys from the east side arrived, they found
Jesus in the manager.

Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption.

Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do one to others
before they do one to you. He also explained, “a man doth not live
by sweat alone.”

It was a miracle when Jesus rose from the dead and managed to get
the tombstone off the entrance.

The people who followed the lord were called the 12 decibels. The
epistles were the wives of the apostles.

One of the oppossums was St. Matthew who was also a taximan.

St. Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony, which
is another name for marriage.

Christians have only one spouse. This is called monotony.



Associated Press Release

City of Los Angeles School administration officials announced a plan yesterday to make education more practical for their students. Spokesmen said that the new approach to education would start with the subject of math. He sited the following example…

City of Los Angeles High School Mathematics Proficiency Examination

NAME: __________________GANG: __________________

1. Johnny has an AK47 with a 40 round clip. If he misses 6 out of 10
shots and shoots 13 times at each drive-by shooting,how many drive-by shootings can he attend before he has to reload?

2. Rufus is pimping for three girls. If the price is $65 for each
trick, how many tricks will each have to turn so Rufus can pay for his
$800 per day crack habit?

3. Jerome wants to cut his 1/2 pound of heroin to make 20% more profit.
How many ounces of cut will he need?

4. Willis gets $200 for stealing a BMW, $50 for a Chevy, and $100 for a
4×4. If he has stolen 2 BMW’s and 3 4×4’s, how many Chevys will he have to steal to make $800?

5. Raoul is in prison for 6 years for murder. He got $10,000 for the
hit. If his common-law wife is spending $100 per month, how much money will be left when he gets out of prison and how many years will he get for killing the witch that spent his money?

6. Hector knocked up 6 girls in his gang. There are 27 girls in the
gang. What percentage of the girls in the gang has Hector knocked up?

7. If the average spray can covers 22 feet and the average letter is 8
square feet, how many letters can a tagger spray with 3 cans of paint?




Some more notes for the teacher (all are true though names have been changed, spellings have been printed as they were written).

Johnny has been absent because he had two teeth taken out of his

Barry was absent yesterday because he was playing football. He was hurt in the growing part.

Siobhan could not come to school today because she has been bothered by very close veins.

Chris will not be in school cus he has an acre in his side.

Please excuse Seamus Friday from school. He has very loose vowels.

Please excuse Paddy from being absent yesterday. He had (diahre) (dyrea) (direathe) the shits. [words were crossed out in the ( )’s]

Please excuse Tommy for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea and his boots leak.

I kept Liam home because she had to go Christmas shopping because I don’t know what size she wear.

Please excuse Seamus for being absent yesterday. He had a cold and could not breed well.

Please excuse Mary for being absent yesterday. She was in bed with gramps.

Deirdre was absent yesterday as she was having a gangover.

Please excuse Joan, she has been sick and under the doctor.

Maryann was absent December 11-16, because she had a fever, sore throat,headache and upset stomach. Her sister was also sick, fever and sore throat, her brother had a low grade fever and ached all over. I wasn’t the best either, sore throat and fever. There must be something going around, her father even got hot last night.


This is an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal

1. Compaq is considering changing the command “Press
Any Key” to “Press Return Key” because of the flood of
calls asking where the “Any” key is.

2. AST technical support had a caller complaining
that her mouse was hard to control with the dust cover
on. The cover turned out to be the plastic bag the
mouse was packaged in.

3. Another AST customer was asked to send a copy of
her defective diskettes. A few days later a letter
arrived from the customer along with photocopies of
the floppies.

4. A Dell technician advised his customer to put his
troubled floppy back in the drive and close the door.
The customer asked the tech to hold on. The tech
heard the customer put the phone down, get up and
cross the
room, and close the door to his room.

5. Another Dell customer called to say he couldn’t
get his computer to fax anything. After 40 minutes of
trouble-shooting, the technician discovered the man
was trying to fax a piece of paper by holding it in
front of the monitor screen and hitting the “send”

6. Yet another Dell customer called to complain that
his keyboard no longer worked. He had cleaned it by
filling up his tub with soap and water and soaking the
keyboard for a day, then removing all the keys and
washing them individually.

7. A Dell technician received a call from a customer
who was enraged because his computer had told him he
was “bad and an invalid.” The tech explained that the
computer’s “bad command” and “invalid” responses
shouldn’t be taken personally.

8. A confused caller to IBM was having troubles
printing documents. He told the technician that the
computer had said it “couldn’t find printer.” The
user had also tried turning the computer screen to
face the printer but that his computer still couldn’t
“see” the printer.”

9. An exasperated caller to Dell Computer Tech
Support couldn’t get her new Dell Computer to turn on.
After ensuring the computer was plugged in, the
technician asked her what happened when she pushed the
power button. Her response, “I pushed and pushed on
this foot pedal and nothing happens.” The foot pedal
turned out to be the mouse.

10. Another customer called Compaq tech support to
say her brand-new computer wouldn’t work. She said
she unpacked the unit, plugged it in and sat there
for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen. When asked
what happened when she pressed the power switch, she
asked, “What power switch?”

11. Another IBM customer had troubles installing
software and rang for support. “I put in the first
disk, and that was OK. It said to put in the second
disk, and I had some problems with the disk. When it
said to put in the third disk, I couldn’t even fit it
in.” The user hadn’t realized that “Insert Disk 2”
meant to remove Disk 1 first.

12. In a similar incident, a customer had followed
the instructions for installing software. The
instructions said to remove the disk from its cover
and insert into the drive. The user had physically
removed the casing of the disk and wondered why there
were problems.

13. True story from a Novell NetWire Sysop:
Caller: “Hello, is this Tech Support?”
Tech: “Yes, it is. How may I help you?”
Caller: “The cup holder on my PC is broken, and I’m
within my warranty period. How do I go about getting
that fixed?”
Tech: “I’m sorry, but did you say a cup holder?”
Caller: “Yes, it’s attached to the front of my
Tech: “Please excuse me. If I seem a bit stumped,
it’s because I am. Did you receive this as part of a
promotional at a trade show? How did you get this cup
holder? Does it have any trademark on it?”
Caller: It came with my computer. I don’t know
anything about a promotional. It just has ‘4X’ on

At this point, the Tech Rep had to mute the caller
because he couldn’t stand it. He was laughing too
hard. The caller had been using the load drawer of
the CD-ROM drive as a cup holder and snapped it off
the drive.

14. A woman called the Canon help desk with a problem
with her printer. The tech asked her if she was
running it under “Windows.” The woman responded, “No,
my desk is next to the door. But that’s a good point.
The man sitting in the cubicle next to me is under a
window, and his printer is working fine.”

15. Tech Support: “O.K. Bob, let’s press the control
and escape keys at the same time. That brings up a
task list in the middle of the screen. Now type the
letter “P” to bring up the Program Manager.”
Customer: “I don’t have a ‘P’.”
Tech: “On your keyboard, Bob.”
Customer: “What do you mean?”
Tech: “‘P’ on your keyboard, Bob.”
Customer: “I’m not going to do that!”


The following are a sampling of REAL answers received on exams
given by theCalifornia Department of Transportation’s driving
school (Saturday Traffic School for moving violation

Q: Do you yield when a blind pedestrian is crossing the road?
A: What for? He can’t see my license plate.

Q: Who has the right of way when four cars approach a four-way
stop at the same time?
A: The pick up truck with the gun rack and the bumper sticker
saying, “Guns don’t kill people. I do.”

Q: What are the important safety tips to remember when backing
up your car?
A: Always wear a condom.

Q: When driving through fog, what should you use?
A: Your car.

Q: How can you reduce the possibility of having an accident?
A: Be too drunk to find your keys.

Q: What problems would you face if you were arrested for drunk
A: I’d probably lose my buzz a lot faster.

Q: What changes would occur in your lifestyle if you could no
longer drive lawfully?
A: I would be forced to drive unlawfully.

Q: What are some points to remember when passing or being
A: Make eye contact and wave “hello” if he/she is cute.

Q: What is the difference between a flashing red traffic light
and a flashing yellow traffic light?
A: The color.

Q: How do you deal with heavy traffic?
A: Heavy psychedelics.

Q: What can you do to help ease a heavy traffic problem?
A: Carry loaded weapons.


Questions Asked by Tourists of Park Employees

Denali National Park, Alaska
* What time do you feed the bears?
* Can you show me where the Yeti lives?
* How often do you mow the tundra?
* How much does Mount McKinley weigh?

Price William Sound, Alaska
* While sea kayaking… What elevation are we at?

Yosemite National Park
* Where are the cages for the animals?
* What time do you turn on the falls?
* Can I get my picture taken with the carving of
President Clinton?
* How long is the two hour Valley Floor Tour?

Grand Canyon National Park
* Do you light it up at night?
* I bought tickets for the elevator to the bottom;
where is it?
* Is the mule train air conditioned?
* Are there dining cars on the mule trail?
* What time does old faithful go off? (Remember, this is
Grand Canyon)
* So where are the faces of the presidents? (see above)
* Was this man-made? How did they make it?
* What year did they build this?
* Exactly why did you guys put it here?

Glacier National Park
* What does the park service do with all the animals in
the winter?

Yellowstone National Park
* Does old faithful erupt at night?
* How do you turn it on?
* When does the guy who turns it on get to sleep?
* Where do the animals sleep at night?
* We had no trouble finding the park entrances, but
where are the exits?
* Do we have to leave at night before the gates are closed?
* When do the deer turn into elk?
* Can we eat this? (holding a handful of moose
droppings that look like milk duds)

Grand Teton National Park
* What is the white stuff up there? (pointing at snowfields)

Mesa Verde National Park
* Did people build this, or did Indians?
* Why did the Indians decide to live in Colorado?
* Why did they build ruins?
* Why did they buikd the ruins so close to the road?
* What did they worskip in the kivas — their own made
up religion?
* Do you know of any undiscovered ruins?

Carlsbad National Caverns
* How much of this cave is underground?
* What’s in the unexplored part of the cave?
* Does it ever rain in here?
* How many ping pong balls would it take to fill this up?
* So what is this, just a hole in the ground?

Lake Michigan
* What Ocean is that?
* Are there waves on Lake Michigan?
* But its always to cold to swim in, right? (debateable)
* Wouldn’t it be neat if they built a pipeline so we
could use this water to irrigate our crops in
California (grrr…)

Niagra Falls
* Where can I buy a ticket for the barrel ride?

Appalcaian Trail
* How much further does this trail go (about 1200 miles)

Everglades National Park
* Are the alligators real?
* Are the baby alligators for sale?
* Where are all the rides?
* What time does the two o’clock bus leave?

Edinburgh, Scotland
* Do you have any photgraphs of the castle under
construction? (the castle dates back to parts of the
10th century AD).
* Can we see the original blueprints of the castle?
* Wouldn’t it have been better if they built the castle
nearer the stores?




Notes to the schoolmaster (and they are for real though names have been changed).

Please excuse Mary Murphy for missing school yesterday. We forgot to get the Sunday paper off the porch, and when we found it Monday, we thought it was Sunday.

My son, Sean, is under a doctor’s care and should not take P.E.
today. Please execute him.

Please excuse Maighread for being absent. She was sick and I had her

Dear School: Please ekscuse Johnny being absent on Jan. 28, 29,
30,31, 32, and also 33.

Please excuse the Murphy girls today. They is administrating.

Excuse Neil from P.E. for a few days. Yesterday he fell out of Tree
and misplaced his hip.


A Schoolmaster from a remote rural area was transferred to a school in Bombay. He reported for duty two days before August 15 and, as was the practice in the school, was asked to address the assembly on Independence Day.

Here’s his dynamite speech : Leddies and Gentulmens,
Contemporaries, Children, “This is my first maiden speech. If
small small mistakes get inside my speech, I ask pardon. Stickly
speaking, I wanted to joint your school more fastly, but for the
following reason. Too much time lost in getting slipper reservation in three-tyre compartment. The clerk rejected to give ticket. I put complaint on station master. He said me to go to lady clerk. At first she also rejected. I then pressed her for long time and at last with great difficulty she gave a birth only to my son.
Anyway I thanked the station master because he was responsible for getting birth of my son.
We got independent because of great leaders linke Gandhiji who get-outted all angrezi peoples from India. Tilak said Swaraj is our birth-rate and we shall halve it. Today we all halve our
birth-rate. You children are future dynamic generators of the
Nation. Look into future time only. No backside looking, or
looking at your behind. Be like great like X’ raj Ranjan of
Germany or Presidents like Loosebelt.
You know genius, no? It is one per cent perspiration and ninety
seven percent evaporation. They became great by reading great books. After we finish you here in the school, you can go to
college and get B.A., M.A. and other decrease. Then you can
become great liars in the supreme courts, shattered accountants, or leacherers in college.
The school is like a garden. You are the seeds, school is the soil. We will bury you in this soil, pour water of knowledge on your
heads and one day will become great phools. Many vacancy job come in newspapers. Only yesterday I saw in paper “Wanted for
refuted engineering firm: Generators, highpower condensors” so
and so forth, etc. These jobs may be teknickel, but you can rise.
If you have flare in English, you can become teacher.

I am now ending this fastly. My God blast you! Thank you and
thank God I am finished. Joy Hind!”




Make the Pie Higher
by George W. Bush
(actual statements, rearranged in free verse form by a journalist)

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It’s a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mental losses.
Rarely is the question asked Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the internet become more few?

How many hands have I shaked?
They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.

I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.

Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.
Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize Society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!




The following is reputedly an actual question given on a
University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer was
so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues,
and is now making its way around the Internet.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or
endothermic (absorbs heat)?

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using
Boyle’s Law, gas cools off when it expands and heats up when
it is compressed, or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

“First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in
time. So we need to know the rate that souls are moving into
Hell and the rate they are leaving. I think that we can
safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not
leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, lets look at the
different religions that exist in the world today. Some of
these religions state that if you are not a member of their
religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one
of these religions and since people do not belong to more
than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.
With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the
number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell
because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature
and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell
has to expand as souls are added.
This allows two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at
which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in
Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. Of course, if Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the
increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure
will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it?

If we accept the postulate given to me by Ms. Teresa Banyan
during my Freshman year that, “… it will be a cold day in
Hell before I sleep with you” and take into account the fact
that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations
with her, then #2 cannot be true, and thus I am sure that
Hell is exothermic and will not freeze.”

The student received the only “A” given.




“You A True Elementary School Teacher If…”

1. Do you ask guests if they have remembered
their scarves and mittens as they leave your

2. Do you move your dinner partner’s glass
away from the edge of the table?

3. Do you ask if anyone needs to go to the
bathroom as you enter a theater with a group
of friends?

4. Do you hand a tissue to anyone who sneezes?

5. Do you refer to happy hour as “snack time?”

6. Do you declare “no cuts” when a shopper
squeezes ahead of you in a checkout line?

7. Do you say “I like the way you did that” to the
mechanic who repairs your car nice?

8. Do you ask “Are you sure you did your best?”
to the mechanic who fails to repair your car to
your satisfaction?

9. Do you sing the “Alphabet Song” to yourself
as you look up a number in the phone book?

10. Do you say everything twice? I mean, do
you repeat everything?

11. Do you fold your spouse’s fingers over the
coins as you hand him/her the money at a

12. Do you ask a quiet person at a party if he
has something to share with the group?

* If you answered yes to 4 or more, it’s in your
soul–you are hooked on teaching. And if you’re
not a teacher, you missed your calling.

* If you answered yes to 8 or more, well, maybe
it’s *too much* in your soul–you should probably
begin thinking about retirement.

* If you answered yes to all 12, forget it — you’ll
*always* be a teacher, retired or not!



Perhaps you read about the “Doomsday Vault” for the world’s most vital seeds. Bombproof chambers, set into permafrost on a mountain on the Norwegian island of Svalbard, contain samples of about 250,000 seeds, which could be used to renew the planet after a global catastrophe—kind of a Noah’s Ark for plants, already landed on its Arctic Ararat.
It’s a good example of how interconnected the globe has become, that such a remote region could be tapped for such a vital role. But let’s not forget there’s another locale far in the Far North that contains a much less life-giving entity.
So far no one seems to have mentioned it, but if the Arctic gets too warm, the Blob could reappear. If you remember, this voracious hunk of extraterrestrial ectoplasm was never killed. By accident, someone who tried in desperation to fend the thing off with a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher discovered that the Blob couldn’t take cold. So it was chilled into hibernation, airlifted to Northern Canada, and dropped into presumed oblivion. (For further details, see the movie “The Blob.”)
So there’s the conclusive danger of global warming. If the threat of the Blob getting loose doesn’t motivate the nations of the world to address climate change, what will?


Fleas Navidad

Here’s a very loose translation of the commonly heard Spanish-language Christmas carol:

There are fleas on the dog
There are fleas on the dog
There are fleas on the dog living high on the hog on the dog.

It’s going to be a hairy Christmas…
With the fleas on the dog.

There are fleas on the cat…
There fleas on the cat and they don’t stop at that on the cat.

It’s going to be a hairy Christmas…
With the fleas on the cat.

There are fleas everywhere…
There are fleas everywhere, from the floor to our clothes and our hair.

It’s going to be a weary Christmas…
With the fleas everywhere.





It’s early evening, and I’m at the local bank’s automatic teller machine lobby, doing the necessary paperwork for depositing a check, when four other people enter. Two guys, two ladies, all clearly, from the animated conversation, one group. Since I’m ready to roll and they don’t seem urgent, I go ahead and slot in my card and jab my numbers, first choosing to check my balance, to make sure I have enough on hand to get some cash before the work check clears. In college, I learned from the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world; as a freelance writer, I have learned that freelancers are the unacknowledged bankers of the world.
As the machine blurts out my requested receipt, one of the guys remarks how amazing it is that no matter how many times you use ATM’s, they never seem to make a mistake. Right away the three males are bonded and begin a discussion of ATM’s. How the Postal Service down in White River Junction has all sorts of high-tech handling equipment and still they deliver your neighbor’s mail to you, presumably your missing mail to some neighbor, and somehow manage to cough up stuff two months late. Why don’t they etc. etc. I volunteer that I’m a reporter, and I’ve fantasized for a long time about doing a story recounting (so to speak) exactly what steps a request for cash goes through so that the right amount, and only the right amount, gets transferred out.
“But what I’d REALLY like to know,” I say, as I redo the choices to withdraw some cash, “is how they got Woody Woodpecker in there. Maybe he’s doing the counting. Listen to this.”
Sure enough, as the money comes through, there’s the old familiar “Nyaa-nyaa-nayaa-NYAAAA-yuh! Nyi-nyi-nyi-nyi-nyi-nyi!” And once again, it’s the right amount.
“I think they should use ATM’s for VOTING,” says one of the guys. “Good idea!” seconds his friend. I’m in the midst of offering that Vermont towns have had good results with fill-in-the-oval ballots and counting machines when, in the background, a female voice quietly remarks, “It’s not working.”
“What do you mean, not working?” asks the other lady. “I mean, it’s not working.”
We guys turn, and see emblazoned across the screen a message to the effect that our branch is not operational and its ATM is not available. No one imagines trying to hack through this. Monopoly told us there would be days like this: Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Woody Woodpecker has croaked.
“There’s an ATM at Usamah’s,” one guy says, and they head down Main Street toward the Middlebury Market & Café. Turns out they’re going to the movies, and the theater, also in that direction down Main Street, won’t take credit cards. Briefly I consider asking whether they were planning on seeing “There Will Be Blood, then think better of it.
As I turn along the sidewalk toward my car, one of the other guys yells, “You really DID take it all!” I turn, sigh, and reply, “I just don’t see how I’m going to fit it all into this Geo Metro.”



Statistics on home computers suggest that non-computer-users are becoming a smaller and smaller minority. But still there are millions who remain intimidated by the digital world–unnecessarily, in my opinion. Restructuring desktop computers to be more working-class-friendly would resolve some of these issues, and bring needed dollars to the Green Mountain State at the same time.
So–what would such a device look like?
To start with, don’t keep miniaturizing and flattening and making computers seem otherworldly. Let them look like TV’s, big and ample TV’s that a family would be proud to own. You could even rename the computer “the intellivision,” and avoid all the bad feelings conjured up by a name reminiscent of difficult days with third grade math teachers.
Next, demystify all this stuff about input and output ports. “Serial” sounds like a killer. “Parallel” could make someone think they should be seeing double. “USB” looks too much like some stock that tanked in the company 401K and postponed everyone’s retirement by five years. “Firewire”–heavens, who thought that one up? Even a kid would know that sounds unsafe.
Instead, put all these beasties in things like look like cigarette lighters and call them highlighters or something. Working people know how to live in their vehicles, and know that once the lighter is out, all sorts of things can be plugged in to inflate tires, take better nighttime pictures of wildlife, and so on. Heck, put in a real cigarette lighter as well.
Which brings us to the problem of that little tray that makes a weird noise and sucks in flat discs that at first don’t seem to do anything then go off like two-dimensional fireworks. The way to make all this seem natural and comfortable is actually pretty obvious: call it the cupholder. Put in a real cupholder, and explain in the manual that there’s one cupholder for you, and one for the computer, and both of you like snacks, and the computer particularly likes these flat cracker-y things, and the way the screen changes shows it’s happy. Which is true enough.
A modem–that sounds like something from a fashion magazine. Just shape it like a tin can with a string coming out the back and everyone will get the idea–as well as not being surprised when the blamed thing doesn’t do what you expected.
The hard drive–good name. Don’t change that one. In fact, you could explain that a more powerful hard drive is just harder, like hard cider is harder than cider. Software, on the other hand, sounds too much like the stuff men don’t know women wear under the things they think they do. “Instruction manuals” should do it for the programs.
But the worst problem may be getting real-life, down-to-earth, no-nonsense people to trust an operating system. That sounds too much like something a crooked poker player or sports bar betting pool might use. Or some sneaky billing practice used by one of those specialist professionals who are always charging working people three-figure sums for go-figure jobs.
Just call it the wife. You wonder where you put something in these heaps of data stuff? The wife knows, ask the wife. Need to get from one place to another? The wife already asked for directions. Something has to be put in order, so it looks good? The wife knows how to do such things. Be on good terms with the wife and everything else will be much, much easier.
So there you have it, tech mavens. May you make a million dollars, and employ a thousand people, and finally bring plain common sense to a world that has as many real mirages as virtual miracles.



Writing poetry can be hazardous to your health, and perhaps to others as well. I’ve been fortunate enough to have spent some years writing poems rather than articles, and I can testify that doing so can put the creator in an altered state of mind where he (and possibly she, though I think of women as being more sensible than this) bumps into things, drops things, forgets appointments, and makes all sorts of bizarre mistakes.
A case in point: this morning I was looking out our back window at the Havahart trap, which we had set to catch whatever was stealing the sunflower seeds from our bird feeders, and which had finally caught something the day before.
“Honey, we got something in the trap.”
“What was it?”
“Well, it was gray, and white, and it had two wings.”
“A grosbeak.”
“I saw it at lunchtime, frantically flitting and hopping, so I threw on some clothes and went out and opened the trap, and it flew out. It made a beeline for the woods. Didn’t seem too much the worse for wear.”
“Remember the time we caught the neighbor’s cat?”
This morning, I was making my breakfast, and those two words “hopping” and “flitting” set off a poem—which turned into something about us complicated people wanting the birds to have a simple happiness—which the grosbeak certainly got, because it was damned happy to get out. Meanwhile, I realized, I had poured 10 too many artificial sweeteners into my cereal, acting out of habit as if I were making a full pot of coffee.
Let me reassure you, when this sort of thing happens while I’m driving, I pull over. The Leicester River turnoff, for instance, has seen a LOT of short poems written in its lifetime, and I told the people at the Leicester general store this was among the many public services they had provided the community.
At my alma mater’s graduate school, there’s a lady who first succeeded in slowing light to something like 38 miles per hour, then for an encore managed to stop it entirely before sending it on its way (probably not grateful like the grosbeak, but certainly making a beeline in a different direction). Poets do something like that with their subjects, slowing the stream of life to the point where everyone can perceive it more clearly, then releasing again.
Meanwhile, as a handful of lines get written, hours go by—not to mention whatever was on the calendar for such periods. If there were more people in the household, I’d put up a sign, “Beware: poet at work.”



We live in a new age, in a world where the War on Terror (9-11!) promises to go on and on, perhaps indefinitely. Under such circumstances, it is the duty of journalists to help the general public prepare for emergencies (9-11!), not just by alerting them when we move from Condition Yellow to Condition Orange or Red, but also by clarifying the new language that is facilitating the communications that are all-important for a unified response. Partly this means using certain motivational phrases and symbolic language frequently, so they become second nature (9-11!) in the way that Pearl Harbor did for the Greatest Generation. Also, more characteristic of our own era, there are organizational abbreviations—in a word, acronyms–which need to be integrated into a variety of articles so that they accomplish their goal of easing and speeding communication.
One valuable source for finding and learning acronyms relevant to Vermont is the Agency of Vermont Emergency Management website. Right at the top, there is a clickable link titled “Acronyms,” perhaps an indication of their importance as well as the fact that the term begins with the first letter of the alphabet. Here’s a sample of what you will find at, with commonly known acronyms omitted like ARC for American Red Cross or BISHCA for the Department of Banking, Insurance, and Health Care Administration or VTANG for Vermont Air National Guard:

ARES-Amateur Radio Emergency Services
CCP-Citizens Corps Program
CERCLA-Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability
CERT-Community Emergency Response Team
CFR-Code of Federal Regulations
CHEMTREC-Chemical Transportation Emergency Center
COG-Continuity of Government Plan
COOP-Continuity of Operations Plan
EAL-Emergency Action Level
EAS-Emergency Alert System
ECL-Emergency Classification Level
EMAC-Emergency Management Assistance Compact
EMI-Emergency Management Institute
EMPG-Emergency Management Performance Grant
EMS-Emergency Medical Services
EOC-Emergency Operations Center
EOP-Emergency Operations Plan
EPZ-Emergency Planning Zone
FMA-Flood Mitigation Assistance Program
GAR-Governor’s Authorized Representative
HMGP-Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
HSU-Homeland Security Unit
IAP-Incident Action Plan
IC-Incident Commander
ICS-Incident Command System
ICT-Incident Coordination Team
IEMAC-International Emergency Management Assistance Compact
IEMG-International Emergency Management Group
IFO-Incident Field Office
JIC-Joint Information Center
LEOC-Local Emergency Operations Center
LEOP-Local Emergency Operations Plan; also referred to as the “Local Template”
LEPC-Local Emergency Planning Committee
NAS-Nuclear Alert System
NAWAS-National Warning System
NIMS-National Incident Management System
OCME-Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
ODP-Office of Domestic Preparedness
PDA-Preliminary Damage Assessment
PDD-Presidential Decision Directive
PDM-C-Pre-Disaster Mitigation Competitive Program
PIO-Public Information Officer
PPE-Personal Protective Equipment
RACES-Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services
REP-Radiological Emergency Preparedness
RERP-Radiological Emergency Response Plan
RRP-Rapid Response Plan
SCO-State Coordinating Officer
SEOC-State Emergency Operations Center
SEOP-State Emergency Operations Plan
SERC-State Emergency Response Commission
SHMC-State Hazard Mitigation Committee
SHMO-State Hazard Mitigation Officer
SRAAT-State Rapid Assessment & Assistance Team
SSF-State Support Function
VEPARDS-Vermont Emergency Planning & Response Database System
VOAD-Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters
VTHMRT-Vermont Hazardous Materials Response Team

“This site will be updated frequently,” cautions the website. Nor is it complete: for more acronyms, it advises logging onto This brings up the appropriately named FAAT list, which the Federal Emergency Management Agency describes as “a handy reference for the myriad of acronyms and abbreviations (so far about 4,200) used within the federal government, emergency management and the first response community.” FAAT, for instance, can stand either for “FEMA Acronyms, Abbreviations, & Terms” or “Fully Analytical Aerial Triangulation.”
Since more of these text-message-able shorthand references are being created all the time, FEMA citizens to contact FEMA with any they may have left out–so by now the FAAT list may be longer.
Since it would be impractical to attempt a comprehensive listing here, what follows will be an indicative sampling, picking one to three items from those listed under individual letters of the alphabet:
A 1) Atomic Mass
2) Ampere
3) Activity of Isotope
AA 1) Affirmative Action
2) Allocation Advice
3) Applicant Assistance
4) Approval Authority
5) Atomic Absorption
AAA 1) Agriculture Adjustment Administration
2) American Automobile Association
BAREPP Bay Area Regional Earthquake Preparedness Project
CBQRF Chemical-Biological Quick Response Force
DTAPPS Disposable Toxicological Agent Personal Protection System
ECAPS Enterprise Coordination & Approval Processing System
FANMAP FEMA Automated Network Management Program
GOALS Government On-Line Accounting Link System
HMTUSA Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act
IAFIS Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System
JDISS Joint Deployable Intelligence Support System
KBRM Knowledge-Based Risk Management
LEADERS Lightweight Epidemiology Advanced Detection and Emergency Response System
MEOW Maximum Envelope of Water (or Winds)
NARSAP National Advanced Remote Sensing Applications Program
OCHAMPUS Office of Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services
PPBM Positive Passenger Baggage Match
QBO Quasi-Biennial Oscillation
RMRIWFCG Rocky Mountain Regional Interagency Wildland Fire Communications Group
SALEMDUG State and Local Emergency Managers Data Users Group
TACACS Terminal Access Controller Access Control System
USACHPPM United States Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine
VCU VOLAG Coordination Unit
VOLAG Voluntary Agency
WIN WWMCCS Intercomputer Network (obsolete)
XEDO Xedar Heat Detection Unit
YLD 1) Yield
2) Young Lawyers Division
Z Zulu (UTC)
UTC 1) Unit Type Code
2) Universale Temps Coordinaire (i.e., Coordinated Universal Time)

As you can see by the title of this List of the Month, I have invented my own acronym, using the letters AAA so it will get near the head of the list.
That’s all for now, folks. May all your VA’s (vulnerability assessments) and SN’s (serial numbers) be the essence of Survival Crisis Management (9-11!).

–This was written in 2007, but as of February of 2013, the internet addressed near the end still worked.

“‘Shut up,’ he explained”

“’Shut up,’ he explained.”

In this climate of gaseous bloggery and vacuous news commentary, I have been contemplating the power of proverbs.
In our household, where we share 130 years of combined experience, the most-used saying of the past months has been Pennsylvania Dutch—that is to say, emigrant German. Internet surfers may have observed that the suffix for Germany is dot de, not dot ge, because their own name for the place is Deutscheland. Irene and I share partial Germany ancestry (our dating went double Deutsch, you might say) so when we use the saying, we say it the way a Mennonite great-grandfather might: “Too soon old, too late shmart.”
It’s worth observing how many pithy pronouncements relate to the way human action tends to precede human learning, especially where speech is concerned. Back when I was teaching an Elderhostel poetry course at the College of St. Joseph, we spent one session brainstorming as many sayings as we could reiterating this home truth, and came up with a bundle. Here they are, the collective wisdom of a circle of Elders plus a few I’ve added as a 60-something semi-Elder.

Silence is golden.

Still waters run deep.

Beware the wrath of a quiet man.

Think before you speak.

Children should be seen and not heard.

Actions speak louder than words.

Make sure mind is engaged before putting mouth in gear.

Speak softly and carry a big stick.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

Talk is cheap.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Mouth flies open, brain slams shut.

The brain begins where the mouth ends.

Loose lips sink ships.

Empty barrels make the most noise.

Not much happens in a small town, but what you hear makes up for it.

The last factory to close in this town will be the rumor mill.

–The volunteer recording secretary added at the bottom, “All above explains why we have two ears and one mouth.”

Vermont’s sayings offer a rich harvest, and no one has done more to assure their survival than UVM’s Wolfgang Meider, author of numerous books of proverbs from around the world (see New England Press, Shelburne). Here is his collection of wise words on the subject of “speech and silence,” from a book that I would guess took its title from a Town Meeting favorite: “Talk Less and Say More.”

Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead.

Few words are best.

Saying and doing are two things.

The belly is not filled with fair words.

Anything worth making is worth saying.

Soft words break no bones.

Say nothing and saw wood.

He can’t speak well who always talks.

A story without an author is not worth listening to.

Deeds are fruits, words are but leaves.

What soberness conceals, drunkenness reveals.

If you have to whisper it, better not say it.

If you can’t say good things of others, keep your mouth shut.

He who thinks by the inch and talks by the yard gets moved by the foot.

A person’s speech reveals the soul.

Silence is prudence.

Nobody ever repented holding his tongue.

A kind word never broke a tooth.

Be silent or speak something worth hearing.

In my own spiritual tradition, the phrase “stink of enlightenment” sometimes gets applied to people who have experienced the liberation of realization but who get carried away with trying to communicate it rather than working to deepen, broaden and apply that understanding with truly selfless compassion. Another phrase that comes up repeatedly is that such “spiritual” talk is the finger pointing at the moon, not the moon itself.

But here in Vermont, we can always wave to each other when one of us drives by. See you around.


This entry takes its title from a Nov. 29, 2003 Nicholas Kristof column in the New York Times, in which he announced the winners of his Name That War contest, from the 4,000 of so people who sent in suggestions.
There were duplicates: Bubba’s War, Burning Bush, Bush League War, Bush’s Folly, Iraqgate, Iraqnam, Iraqmire, Operation Quicksand, Shrub’s War, and The Crawford Conflict apparently arrived by the hundreds. Bushkrieg and Operation Bushwhack Iraq were along the same lines.
Then the true jokesters, one of America’s enduring strengths, got to work. Kristof said he didn’t see why anyone would suggest that Operation Iraqi Liberation should replace the official Operation Iraqi Freedom, until he realized the three initial letters were O.I.L. Another wit suggested Mother of Oil Wars.
There were names that could have titled bestsellers: Bush’s Botch, The Iraq Preemption, The Big Uneasy, The Bush Incursion. One was Biblically literate: Visit Scenic Sodom and Gomorrah. Popular culture, that favorite topic of angry ayatollahs, irate imams and moralistic mullahs, suggested others: Apocalypse Right Now, Mission Implausible: A Job Well Spun, Operation Kick the Dog, Operation Oops, We Did It Again, The Empire Strikes Out, and Trek 2: Wrath of Neo-Khan. Someone familiar with The War of Jenkins’ Ear chimed in with The War of Bush’s Flight Suit, and another offered The War That Cried Wolfowitz.
King George’s New Colony, put in a history buff. Others tapped English history for The Charge of the Right Brigade and The War of the Roves. Vermont’s own Donn Blodgett put together a sophisticated French pun: Coup d’Etats Unis, that wrongheaded country’s name for us being Les Etats Unis (the states united).
Wrapping up the contest, awarded Honorable Mentions to A’bombin’nation, Desert Storm und Drang, Iraq: A Hard Place, Operation Unscramble Eggs, The ‘Raq, Tigris By the Tail, and War of Mass Deception.
The winners, who got 250 dinar notes with Saddam Hussein’s picture on them from Kristof’s last trip to Crisis and Cruel Fates (there’s my own entry, belatedly) were, in the order that he listed them,
–Dubya Dubya III
–Rolling Blunder
–Desert Slog
–Mess in Potamia (Vermonter Will Hutchinson)
–Blood, Baath and Beyond.

That was nearly four years ago. As someone who was draft age during the Vietnam War, here are four ways in which this conflict and that one resemble each other:
–We patrol, they ambush, and our soldiers come back crazed.
–They are willing to give their lives, but our allies aren’t (unless they’re fighting each other).
–It drags on and on and on, against all reason, burning up our resources and threatening to leave a legacy of problems as difficult to solve. (Did you know that to finance Vietnam we had to raise interest rates to attract foreign capital, thus increasing the burden of Third World debt payments, thus inspiring the Oil Producing and Exporting Cartel, whose price hikes devastated us in the 1970’s?)
What might fill the streets with protesters, and possibly bring this wretched affair to an end, is an incursion into another country like Nixon’s crossing of the border into Cambodia (that and the Kent State killings inspired the “Kentbodia” mass demonstrations and other actions). Then there might national consensus “Stop him. Stop him before he does something even worse.”
This administration has already brought us a Blood Baath (Saddam’s party was the Baathists); now it’s time to make sure they don’t go Beyond.

–This was prior to Afghanistan.