Thursday, November 30, 2006

NO THANKS: Animals I'd Take a Pass on Being

The belief in reincarnation has probably been with humanity since the dawn of our ability to identify ourselves as being unique among other creatures. The march of religion has kept our association with other wildlife at arms length during much of this time - oftentimes to the point of insisting we are not, ourselves, animals. Strange how it is then, that when so many of us fantasize about reincarnation, we often wish ourselves to be some other creature besides a human being.

And that's fine, I suppose, as long as the creature imagined is a cute, cuddly puppy, or a majestic golden eagle. But what about the more ugly, less savory creatures of the wild? If we actually do become other animals in some "next life," would we necessarily have a say in what we were to become?


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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Man on Crack Almost 'Gator Snack

Okay, this story amused me (hey, sorry) not because a man was attacked by an alligator, but because he happened to be naked (the man, that is) and high on crack cocaine when he was targeted as a meal. Would it be far-fetched to assume that perhaps the man thought he could rassle with the 'gator? People have done dumber things.

Man Saved from Alligator Attack

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Western Mass. History & Genealogy

Every once in a while, I like to type in a few keywords at Google just to do a curiosity search on a given topic. But rather than just check out the links on the first couple of pages of search results, I'll scroll down to the "Results Page" menu at the bottom of the page and choose page 9 or 10 - maybe even page 20. Sure, the pages back that far tend to be largely irrelevant to the subject you are researching. But every now and then an interesting website sneaks out of the chaos of the WWW. I found the Western Massachusetts History and Genealogy website, maintained by Laurel O'Donnell, on page 10 of a Google search of "western Massachusetts." Here's the link, below.

Western Massachusetts History and Genealogy

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Crocs Endangered by Global Warming - Or Something Else.

This just in from the "Global-Warming-Will-Wipe-Out-All-Life" Department: Due to the planet Earth's warming over the past few decades - a phenomenon apparently unheard-of in geological and biological history - the Family Crocodylidae, known to us herpetological simpletons as crocodiles, who have been around since the dinosaurs, and who have seen more climate change than Suzanne Somers did passing through her 40s, could very well be doomed to extinction in a region of southern Africa.


According to the LiveScience article: "Crocodile gender is determined by temperature during incubation. Nest temperatures of 89.6 to 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit (32-33 Celsius) result in males. Anything warmer or cooler produces females. Temperatures typically vary from the top of a nest to the bottom, producing both genders."

So what?
More: "A difference of 0.5 - 1º [Celsius] in incubation temperature results in markedly different sex ratios," said Alison Leslie, of South Africa’s University of Stellenbosch. "More female hatchlings due to the cooler or hotter incubation temperatures could lead to eventual extirpation of the species from an area."

My God! What could be the cause of this?!
Scientists generally agree that the planet is warming and will continue to do so for decades to come...
"If that increase actually takes place … it's going to increase the temperature of that incubation," Leslie said. "I think global warming is going to have a huge effect."

And so that's why crocodile populations have dwindled?
Well.... "Crocodile populations have dwindled dramatically in Botswana, due to overexploitation by hide hunters and conflicts with nearby communities."

So... what are you saying, Alison?
Leslie: "Even though crocodilians have been around for millions of years, and as important as these creatures may be in the systems they occupy, they are a much understudied species."

But Alison, uh... what's this article about then?

[...busy signal...]

Global warming is a real phenomenon.Whether it will be catastrophic to life on earth is highly questionable. The planet has gone through several severe climate changes in its history without life being extinguished. Species go extinct and are newly-discovered every year. It's called Nature. It's called Evolution. In the case of the African crocs mentioned above, Ms. Leslie herself even admits there are several other causes for their loss in numbers. Global warming may very well be a contributor, but it is by no means the sole culprit. Localized species are always in danger of dying out because of their occasional inability to adapt to local changes. That has been the case since long before humans walked the planet. The issue of global warming is contentious enough without agenda-seeking scientists making premature statements. Let's get the facts on these species before we go around declaring the cause of their endangerment to be our favorite environmental issue.

- Read The Article Here


Monday, November 27, 2006

Missing Person Bill Smolinski Video

The below-linked video is from an episode of "The Early Show," shown this past November 20th. It's a report on missing Connecticut resident Billy Smolinski, whose story was featured at the Rogue Journal earlier this year. Bill has been missing since the summer of 2004.



Saturday, November 25, 2006

"Shoot him, Sara! Shoot!!"

Finally, women are aiming guns at something other than us guys.

This just in from Reuters: The number of women hunters is on the rise. Yes, it's true: Chicks who dig snuffing out wildlife are increasing their numbers. That's very good news for the hunting industry - which now even makes guns designed specifically for women (shorter stocks), although not such good news for vegans. Personally, I know of only one female hunter here in Mass., but since I myself don't hunt, I'm sure there are plenty more unbeknownst to me roaming about in the Western MA hinterlands. There's just something about a woman in camouflage that really looks attractive to me. Call me nutty.

An excerpt from the story:
"During the 1980s, we saw a pretty good increase in women hunting, which flattened out in the 1990s," said Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Responsive Management, a research firm specializing in outdoor recreation trends. "And now there seems to be an increase in the past three or four years."

One recent study by the National Sporting Goods Association estimates more than 3 million women now hunt, accounting for about 16 percent of the nearly 21 million active hunters in the United States.

You can read the rest HERE.

Here's a nifty website for you female hunters or hunter-wannabes out there. You can even shop for stuff.

Here's a couple of hunting stories from the ladies:
- Hometown Buck
- Jessica's First Time

Personally, I think the more people shooting deer the better - especially in the Western MA-Springfield area, where the bothersome beasts have been known to wander onto the streets. It's a bad car wreck waiting to happen. Plus, deer meat tastes really good. I think they should sell it in supermarkets. Strange that they don't...


Friday, November 24, 2006

"Dear Naomi..."

Anyone with any spare time on their hands can always swing by the "My Life Unveiled" weblog, where our blogger host's heart bleeds eternally (well, at least since last June) for his lost love, Naomi. His drippy letter is just what a bored web surfer may be looking for.

Or not.

Here's the link:


Mark Mythbuster

I love "The Mythbusters" program on the Discovery Channel. Urban legends suck, and I appreciate it when other folks take the time to research commonly-held beliefs so that they can rain on everyone else's parade (just like I do). Ha!

Mark Alamed, over at the Steel Sings Cold weblog, delivers such a blow to wanna-believers of the Black Friday myth. Check it out here.

Sorry, shoppers (and retailers). See ya near Christmas!

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A Springfield Story - Part Three

"A Springfield Story - Part 3" is now up at the NERJ.

excerpt: "The Council has largely the same makeup now as under the administration of Mike Albano. Voters apparently were unconcerned about their role - or lack of one - in influencing the way business was conducted under a city government now under the legal microscope of the FBI. Most people love to pass blame around in these parts, but for the Springfield City Council, there appears to be none to be had."


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Hey, What's the Poop?

Burrowing owls inhabit the wild from Canada to Chile, and I'm willing to bet that hardly anyone reading this post has any idea that they actually surround their nests with the poop of other wildlife. What a factoid!

Why in the name of Carmen Electra would they do something like that?

Well, there was one theory that said the reason was one of egg security: the poop perimeter was there to ward off snakes and other predators. But researchers then found that the number of nests being raided were the same whether the owl nests had poop surrounding them.

The next theory suggested that male owls ringed their subterranean abodes with fecal matter in the hope of attracting female owls. That's a strange theory, and in an effort to move on without getting into fringe lifestyles, I'll just say that that particular theory was canned, too, after researchers discovered that the male owls lined their nests with dung only after they had already hitched up with an owl-babe.

Finally, then, the truth was revealed: The clever owls use their crap collections to lure in unsuspecting prey such as dung beetles, who themselves just can't get enough of another creature's doo-doo.


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Springfield's Crooks Keep Falling

Ah, Springfield. The heads just keeping rolling. Next up is Fred Swan, brother of business-as-usual state Representative Benjamin Swan. Naturally, Ben had no idea his brother was involved in such nefarious dealings, and is no doubt deeply disturbed to know that his kin is now a confessed crook. Sadly for taxpayers, Fred's role in setting up over $900,000 in contract bid-rigging deals at a local clinic (which he headed) only allows for a 12-to-15 month prison sentence under federal guidelines. Ho-hum.

For those of you New Englanders out there not schooled in Springfield, MA, local politics, this is just another day at the office for the Feds here.

- - - - - -

Springfield Republican:

Ex-head of clinic pleads guilty

SPRINGFIELD - Fred Allen Swan, a prominent activist and brother of state Rep. Benjamin Swan, D-Springfield, pleaded guilty yesterday to participating in a bid-rigging scheme involving more than $900,000 in contracts at a taxpayer-financed clinic he managed for a decade.

Adding another name to the roster of public figures snared in a local corruption probe, Swan pleaded guilty to nine felony counts arising from his tenure as the $144,000-a-year director of the Springfield Southwest Community Health Center.


Monday, November 20, 2006

of Drugs & Subs

I have to admit, at first seeing the below headline, the first thing I thought was, "well, here's another black eye for the military." My very next thought was, "how the hell did they get all that crap on board without anyone knowing?"

Duh for me. It's not a military submarine, dufus.

Sometimes I'm just a stupid...

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3.3 Tons of Cocaine Found on U.S.-Bound Sub

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Nov. 20) - Tipped off by three PVC pipes mysteriously skimming the ocean's surface, authorities seized a homemade submarine packed with 3.3 tons of cocaine off Costa Rica's Pacific coast.


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Update on Missing Person Smolinski

For more Info on the Billy Smolinski case CLICK HERE.


On Sunday evening November 19 William (Billy) Smolinski Jr. will be briefly aired on "Without a Trace" approximately somewhere into the middle of the show 10 - 11 PM eastern time on CBS. William (Billy) 31 years old at time of disappearance has been missing since August 24 2004 last seen in Waterbury, Connecticut.

The following morning, Monday, November 20 on CBS "The Early Show" 7 -9AM eastern time there will be an interview taped with Billy's dad,(William) mom,(Janice) and sister (Paula). During the segment there will also be an interview with the FBI. Please tune in
to view.

If anyone knows anything please call The Office of the FBI New Haven Connecticut, 203 777-6311 or

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Some Women are Allergic to Sex

Medical studies have shown that some women are indeed allergic to sex with men. This is a disturbing notion, for sure, but I myself have been a strong advocate for the prescribed treatment for this disorder.

Story excerpt:
Women can be allergic to sex with men, but doctors are finding women can overcome this allergy through regular sex combined with treatments derived from semen.

"It's really a very rare condition, but it does happen," allergist and immunologist David Resnick at New York Presbyterian Hospital told

To desensitize a woman's immune system against semen, doctors can either apply diluted samples of semen to a woman's vagina every 20 minutes, gradually increasing the concentration over the course of several hours, or the women can receive allergy shots containing small amounts of semen over the course of several weeks. Both techniques require sex two or three times a week to train their immune system.


"Earth To Bill" Blog

Hi - welcome to my new weblog! Actually, it's not really new, just a redesigned and renamed version of my original blog, The Rogue Review. You'll find some of my more memorable posts from that blog relocated here, and any new posts will all be at this weblog. The Rogue Review will be available as an archive for a few months still, but I will no longer be making new posts there. So Update Those Bookmarks!!

Here's the addy -

Stop by anytime ;-)

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A Patriots Day to Forget

Well, I went down to Foxboro on Sunday to see the Patriots play the NY Jets. It was my birthday, and I was looking forward to celebrating it in the stands at Gillette Stadium.

A certain victory, I was sure.

Sunday morning came and I met up with my three buds - Dave, John, and Chuck - for the long drive out. We had to go in Dave's car because the rest of us all had SUVs (John had a pickup) with no passenger room.

If only Dave knew what was coming.

I was seated in the back passenger seat, John was seated in the rear driver-side seat, Chuck was in the front passenger seat, and Dave of course was driving. So we're heading to Foxboro and we're about a half mile away from I-495 South when suddenly the right-lane traffic comes to a stand-still. It seemed that everyone was going to the same place (the game) and we all needed the same exit. And that was too bad for Dave, because just a couple of seconds after we stopped, Cruel Fate arrived at the scene.

Two young guys were driving in a car waaay back behind us, and apparently they hadn't noticed that the traffic had stopped up ahead of them. John was the first to turn his head and look behind us: "Loook out!" he called out.


Fortunately for everyone involved, we were all wearing our seatbelts and no one got hurt. Honestly, the very first thought I had immediately after the violent jolt was, "Great, now we're going to miss the Patriots game."

After recovering our senses, we all got out and went to see if the guys in the car behind us were okay. They were fine - their airbags had deployed as advertised.

Surprisingly, our car sustained survivable damage: A bent rear frame, a bent trunk lid, and a few other bruises. It was drivable, and we could continue on with it. The young guys' car was much worse off, however, and they would be hitching a ride with the wrecker.

As we waited for the State Police to show up, it started to rain. So I retired to the car to read the newspaper and stay dry.

A state cop showed up and filed a report. Dave was really shaken up about his car getting hit - but what the hey, the other guy got the ticket and Dave's getting his car fixed for free. So we all loaded back into the car and once again we were on our way...

We managed to find a parking spot fairly close to the stadium in a huge dirt lot about a half-mile away. We were still an hour early, so we popped open the trunk and took to drinking some beers.

Then the rain really started to come down. Chuck - who is a season ticket holder - later remarked that that downpour was the hardest and longest drenching he had ever endured at a game (Chuck: "this is unbelievable!"). I had brought a rain suit, myself, and John and Chuck had each brought rain gear, so we stood out there drinking suds as it poured like hell. Unfortunately for Dave, he had neglected to bring any rain gear at all, so he stood out there and got soaked as he chatted with us. Finally, after he had got soaked entirely through, I insisted that he retreat to the car, which he grudgingly did.

After Dave got back in the car, I remarked to John; 'You know, it's almost like God is looking down at Dave and saying, "Fuck you..."'

The rain let up just after the game started. Unfortunately, the Patriots played like crap and the Jets decided to play very well that day, so we watched in mild disbelief as our 10-and-a-half-point favored Pats got beat by Gang Green. As we all herded our way down the ramps to leave the stadium, fans from both sides were talking smack. The Jets fans, predictably, were chanting, "J-E-T-S - Jets! Jets! Jets!" While one Pats fan - a rather attractive young lady - fired back, "J-E-T-S - Suck! Suck! Suck!" - and complimented her chant by flipping the Jets fans the bird.

Typical Sunday at the game, you know.

If you've never been to Gillette Stadium before, I strongly suggest you check it out if you ever get the chance. It's a great stadium. This was my second visit, and I was just as impressed as my first visit. The bathrooms do suck, though. And the beer was $7.50 a whack.

I would have kept my game ticket, too, but by the time I got home, it resembled some kind of white paste (it got soaked as I carried it through the gates on the way in).

We managed to get home without any further drama (as the driver, Dave did not drink the whole day). I remember, too, an astute observation that Chuck had made just prior to the game while we were drinking in the parking lot: It's funny how when someone cuts us off or drives slow in front of us, the middle finger flies up and all manner of foul insults flow from our lips. But when we're in a serious accident, our first instinct is to get out and check to see if the other guy is all right.

Well, at least it's that way for some of us out there.

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Check, Please...

I have issues with restaurants. Well, it's really only two issues. But they are biggies...

Certain restaurants have their very own unique traditions, and folks will often return to their favorite eateries because of them. That's nice. Then there are what I call "common practice" traditions. These are the traditions that nearly all restaurants feel the need to follow - as if by some secret rule. Not being a worldly man, I'm sure there are many common practice traditions that have escaped my impatient notice. But there are two in particular that rarely fail to annoy me when I encounter them. The first one is the best known to restaurant-goers everywhere: You are stuffing your mouth full of food when the waiter/waitress comes by and has to ask you, "How is your food?" You can barely speak, of course, so most often you simply shake your head or give them the thumbs up, or some other labored response. Then they turn right around and ask you how everything was at the end of your meal, anyway. Why do restaurants insist on this practice? I can think of no one I know who enjoys this happening to them. Who could possibly want the waitstaff to ask him questions while his mouth is full of food? If there is a problem with the food, you would say something, no? And if you are just too shy or polite to say anything on your own, the chances are good that you're still not going to complain when they ask you if the food stinks.

So just let me eat my meal, please. I'll answer all of your questions later.

The second common practice is probably less noticeable, unless you're a single person, such as myself. You're finishing up your $11.89 meal, you've got a $20 bill on the table, and you ask for your check. The waitress brings it over, sets it down - and then quickly walks away! You have to act fast and quickly speak up in order to prevent her from darting off, otherwise you've got about a ten minute wait before she finds her way back to you. And you haven't even got your change back, yet.

This seriously annoying practice probably exists because they want to give you some time to calculate your tip, or - if you are a party of two or more - figure out who owes what portion of the bill. But really, when you are dining alone and you have your money out to pay, can there be any doubt in any waitstaff's mind that you wish to pay and leave NOW? As far as calculating the tip goes, I've already decided how much the tip will be before my food even gets to me: If the meal is $8.00-to-$14.00, you get $2.00. If it's $15.00-to-$20.00, you're getting three bucks. (Keep me waiting too long to cash out, and those amounts can be lowered.) I don't eat anywhere that costs me much more than that.

Nine out of ten times, when a patron asks for his check, he his indicating that he intends to leave. So why piss him off when you're just minutes away from a satisfied customer?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Springfield City Dump

If the city is serious about changing its image, then that change needs to begin at the homes. The city government can be blamed for a host of failings, including being permissive of illegal dumping throughout run-down areas of the city. But it is the residents themselves who should take the largest blame for the trashing of our neighborhoods. The city needs to fine, and fine heavily, those homeowners and/or tenants who allow dumping on their street-fronts. We all know they are responsible - if they weren't, they would have reported it. They're just waiting for the city to come by and pick up their old furniture for free. Meanwhile, it is true that the city cannot be everywhere. But when street-front dumping like that pictured below takes place, their job would seem to be fairly easy. There is no excuse for this type of trash littering our streets. Springfield has a bad reputation, and this garbage isn't helping it any.

105 Central Street:

Rowhouses, corner of Maple & Central:

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George the Monkey

The little doll on my shoulder is George the Monkey. He's one of those throwing monkeys that cry out when they hit something. I named him George, but you can name your monkey whatever you like.

No, I'm not on drugs.

Support Our Troops

I found this nice young lady on a fitness modeling website. (I don’t know how I find these things.)

Her name is Rebecca Povolish. I’m not sure if she’s combat ready, but I’m fairly sure there’s plenty of our guys in Iraq and Afghanistan who wouldn’t mind her being embedded in their unit.

Oh, Rats!

I've just read this story from Masslive about sewer rats overrunning a local town, and it actually brought up fond memories of a pet rat I used to own about ten or so years ago. You know, not all rats are bad rats. Some can even be kind of cute. Domestic rats are often called "fancy rats", and they come in a variety of colors and color combinations. I had bought my rat, Homer, at a pet store in Enfield, CT. Pet stores sell rats fairly cheap - about five bucks or so - because folks use them for snake food. Truth be told, rats are actually quite tame as pets, very clean, and very intelligent. They are said to be smarter than the over-rated hamster. I've owned both a hamster and a rat, and I can honestly say I preferred Homer, my rat. The only downside to having a rat (or a hamster, for that matter) as a pet is that rats don't live very long (about 2 years, on average).

So the next time you hear about how bad rats are, try to keep in mind that there's some good rats out there, too.

Earthworms Are Easy

I have mostly vague memories of my years at Somers High School (Somers, CT), dating back into the late 1970s. But even so, certain vivid pictures do manage to break away from this time-induced blur. Many of those pictures, predictably, came from biology class. Mrs. Santaniello was our biology teacher, and she was without question one of the least squeamish persons I have ever met in my life. (As coincidence would have it, Mrs. Santaniello's husband would one day be my orthodontist when I needed to get braces. I have no fond memories of wearing braces, but my teeth still look pretty good, so I got that much out of them.) Mrs. Santaniello rarely spared us the gruesome details of biological living. I remember thinking to myself - male chauvinist that I was - "How can a woman be so casual about carving up wildlife?" Fortunately for us beginners, however, our first dissection subjects were probably one of the most boring, unsympathetic animals on earth: the common earthworm.

The common earthworm (or "night crawler", from the species Lumbricidae terrestris) has a very basic internal structure, with a teenie-weenie brain, a ventral nerve cord, and eight pairs of aortic arches (hearts). Earthworms are hermaphroditic, having both testes and ovaries for breeding (although they cannot self-reproduce). Lowly that he is, Nature didn't bother giving the earthworm a set of lungs or gills, and gases are instead exchanged via its own skin. [resource]

Earthworms are easy to dissect, which makes them ideal for novice anatomy students. Simply slice them along the middle of their bodies (length-wise), pin back their flesh, and wa-lah! - the interior of the earthworm is before you. No head to cut off, no arms or legs to sever, and no rib cage to saw through. Thinking back, I can't remember anyone ever protesting our classroom dissections (though I'm sure some individuals might have refused), so I imagine it wasn't the big controversial deal that it appears to be today.

Other than their academic utility (or for use as fish bait), earthworms rarely garner much interest from most folks. Humans have found heroism in dogs and dolphins, silliness in otters, notoriety in snakes and sharks, and nobility in eagles. Even the insect world has found celebrity with the legendary Jiminy Cricket. Alas, there are no such famed earthworms in our human history (unless you count "Squirmin' Herman"). One would certainly hope that when we do meet up with the aliens, they find a better use for us than the earthworm has found thus far.

Earthworms are also remarkably easy to draw, which made them a favorite of mine a few years back in my failed attempt at making some spare cash as a cartoonist.

(click images to enlarge)

After the earthworms, our biology class later moved on to the more popular frog dissections, which were a bit more complicated. Of course, it wouldn't be high school without somebody slicing off a few chunks of frogleg meat and stashing them in some poor unsuspecting kid's tuna fish sandwich in the cafeteria.

Ah, the memories.

A Mother's Anguish: Searching for Bill Smolinski

The families of many missing persons are searching for answers. They want their loved-ones returned to them - to know of their fate. And very many of them want us to know that they will not give up in their search. But theirs is a lonely quest, too, because few of us can understand what they are going through.

From the Waterbury Observer's John Murray:

"A Mother's Anguish", an informative article on the ongoing search for Bill Smolinski, who has been missing since 2004. Click Here for the story (pdf).

More on Bill:
- "What Happened?" (Waterbury Observer, 03/2006)
- The latest news from


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For those of you out there who are new to the Internet or who are otherwise unknowing of the many dangers that lurk out there, I give you The Dangernet:

The Scam is On
Paypal keeps sending me e-mails warning me that my account has been suspended, and that I need to click on the provided link and log-in to verify my account information. Once a week or so, I get an e-mail from Chase Bank asking me to click on their link and log-in to update my account information. And just what is the deal with those e-mails that arrive with completely indecipherable subject lines? We're supposed to open those?

Yes, I do have a Paypal account, but it is not under the e-mail address from which I am receiving notices. And although I once did have a Chase credit card, my account was paid off and cancelled over a year ago. In any event, new Web-surfers should understand that if a company wants information from you - especially account information - they are not going request that you click on a link in an e-mail. They will either snail-mail a request to call them, call you directly, or request that you visit their website on your own, indirectly. Having you click on a link that sends you to a bogus website is a common Internet scam referred to as "phishing". Some of these fake websites look exactly like the sites they are duping. Even experts can be fooled. Spare yourself the hardship: If you get an e-mail from eBay, or PayPal, or any other company you do business with and they ask that you click on a link and enter account or user information, DO NOT DO IT. Call or visit the company's website yourself (outside of the e-mail).

I'm an America Online user (spare me the mud-slinging!). I get occasional e-mails from "AOL Support" asking me to click on a link and login to verify my User Name and Password. Well, duhhh, if I'm online and reading my e-mail, then they already know my user name and password - I just gave it to them when I logged in. People fall for that one, too, unfortunately.

Thanks for the Virus, Sally
You get an e-mail from a friend of yours who jusy loves passing around jokes and funny pictures to everyone in her address book. She's sent you many things, and you know she would never send you a virus. But have you asked yourself where she gets those funny jokes and pictures? What's attached to the attachment? People pass things around the Internet like the wind blows. She could be unknowingly passing a virus around. And you could be, too: So far in 2006, one in every 141 e-mails has been infected with a virus. So take a few seconds to scan e-mail attachments for viruses before opening them - even if you know the person sending them. Right-click on the attachment, and if you have anti-virus software - and you better, the "Scan for viruses" option should be there. Yes, I know, it's a pain. Okay then, don't do it. I live in Springfield, MA, I charge $50 to scan for and remove viruses, and I can be reached at this URL:

Thanks for your money!

Speaking of virus alerts: Neither Microsoft nor any anti-virus software maker (McAfee, Norton, etc.) sends out e-mail alerts across the Internet warning of virus threats. They post threats at their websites and/or provide updates and patches for their customers. If you receive virus alerts or information via your e-mail, the chances are excellent that they are either hoaxes or viruses themselves. They may even be phishing scams, sending you to a fake McAfee site, for instance, for a "virus fix". Sucker.

Allow Me to Introduce Myself
It begins thusly:


Yes, people still fall for this one - despite the fact that a version of this scam has been around since the 1920s.

Enough said.

Fwd: Forward This - JERK
Whether it's a "Hunting for Bambi" promotion, a chain letter about a missing persons alert, or a "good luck" letter that will damn any person who doesn't pass it along, we've all seen these messages in our e-mail box, and a great many of us have passed them along. Many sound terribly sincere, and a few are just so danged funny we can't help but pass them on to our friends. But it's spam, folks. Junk mail. And everytime you click the "Forward" and "Send" button, you become a part of the problem.

Here is a directory of these annoying messages.


The Internet can be a great tool for finding information on merchandise, travel rates, long-lost friends, or even English Ivy. But when it comes to surfing the Web, the old X-Files credo should always be kept in mind: Trust No One.

Runaways Are Missing People, Too

There is a sense, I feel, that oftentimes when folks hear the term "endangered runaway" their minds turn away from the idea of a person gone missing as the result of foul play, and instead tend to think of the child as a willing individual who has simply gone off on his or her own to "see the world" (and so tough luck to them). But it should be considered that not all cases categorized as an "endangered runaway" may be the case of a child willingly running away on his or her own. Indeed, for most children, this is probably not the case. We know that child predators are out there - both on the streets and online - seeking to gain the trust of youngsters. So it could well be that very many runaways have been enticed to leave their homes by such offenders. So we should not turn away, less concerned, simply because a child is categorized as merely a runaway. Because it is still true that they are very young, and they have no life experiences to draw upon. And for those who have gone off with predators, they have been deceived into thinking things that are not so. And they will be abused.

My unsolved missing persons page, R-Files, does not post the profiles of endangered runaways. But this is not because I think they do not qualify, nor because I don't think they are in mortal danger. The truth is, there are just far too many endagered runaway cases for a single person to profile (and update) while also maintaining multiple sites. Plus, other sites already perform this service, and do it much better than I ever could.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the vast majority of all missing persons cases in America today are runaway children. I've mentioned this to a few people, and I've received a typical "Oh, well then.." in response. It's almost like a sigh of relief. "Ahh, so, they're not really missing..." But children do not run away because all is well in their lives. Chances are, they are upset, confused, distraught, and quite possibly under the emotional influence of another who means them harm. And if they are running away from an abusive family environment, they will still be no safer alone on the streets.

They need our help. Whether we agree with their motivations or not, runaways are missing people, too.


Not Just Any Ol' Mixer Will Do

I was stirring creamer and sugar into my coffee one morning when it suddenly struck me how nobody (to my knowledge) has ever made money selling electric coffee stirrers. You know, something like an electric toothbrush, only instead of a brush on the end, it would have a spoon. Here’s my version of an electric coffee stirrer, below.

That got me to thinking about mixers. All mixers, of course, are not built the same – since they all mix up different substances, of whatever kind. Yes, the actual act of mixing may be the same, but the tools we use to do the mixing differ greatly. Sometimes, we even have more than one kind of mixer for the same material.

Take food mixers, for example. There is the hand mixer, which is used to mix up, say, cake batter or dough. But there is also a stand mixer, which is set on your countertop or table, for mixing the same said batter or dough. The difference, you ask? Stand mixers are more expensive, but deliver a much better finished product. Also, when you’re kneading dough, you’ll appreciate the machine doing all the work once the dough starts to get real thick and dense. When looking to buy a stand mixer, be sure to get one with “planetary action”, so-named because the rotating beater itself moves around the bowl, much like a planet spins on its axis as it orbits the sun.

One day, far into the future, I predict stand mixers will have an important role to play in the A.I.-machine takeover of the earth.

Staying in the kitchen, we sometimes need to chop, hack, and mix together various fruits and vegetables to create our culinary masterpieces. This was once a tedious chore - but no more! The food processor has changed the way we manage our time in the kitchen. Coming out in the early 1970s, food processors come in many varieties, and they help us in chopping, slicing, and mixing fruits, veggies, nuts, or meat. I don't personally own a food processor (although I do own a hand mixer that has never been outside of the box - see below). The fact is, us non-cookers generally don't spend our money on such appliances. We do all of our food processing after we've eaten.


Juicers are a very specific breed of mixer. Their sole purpose is to make juice. That's it. (Hence the name.) Because of this limitation, I think they're a rip-off. Now, I'm not talking about citrus juicers (see mine, pictured above). I understand we need a tool that will separate the juice of citrus fruits from the rind and seeds. I'm talking about these hulking appliances that mulch, mince, and chop-chop-chop anything that grows from the ground into some kind of soupy-goopy liquid so you can (if you want to, I guess) drink it. How gross. Check out the one pictured below. I think it looks like a robotic weapon from Star Wars: You top-load a laser shell, and then a death ray shoots out the barrel.

Personally, I have no use for such monstrosities. I'd just toss my goodies into a blender and whip 'em up, then pass the concoction through a strainer, if need be. Better yet, there's always the Big Y.

And what of the venerable blender? That multi-purpose mixing tool that has been around for what seems like ages. They used to do just about all the things that all the other kitchen prep-appliances now do for us. But nowadays, we mostly use them for making frozen margaritas. I still use my old blender as a general-purpose kitchen tool, though. It's a Waring Futura II 7-speed model, and I've had it for about twenty years. The blades are kind of dull, but it can still make a milkshake.

Speaking of blenders, one of my favorite Joe Cartoons is Frog in a Blender. (Just follow the prompts and watch the blood fly!)


Of course we need to mix and mash up a lot of other things besides food, and for these non-edible materials we have a larger set of tools to choose from: mixers (again), mulchers, and chippers. Construction companies and landscapers find these tools necessary to get their work done, but homeowners sometimes find these tools convenient (and cool) to have around, too. Portable cement mixers are handy to have around if you own more than one home or you own rental property. Otherwise, though, most people simply get by with a wheel barrel and hoe. Mulchers are good to have if you have a large garden or field of vegetables. You can use either straw or your neighbor's leaves that fall into your yard each year as mulching material. And then of course we have the renowned wood chipper. Nothing sounds as efficiently grisly at getting the job done as one of these babies when they're put in action. Hearing those blades rip into and obliterate sticks and branches like so many toothpicks - and knowing they'd do the same to our bones - is enough to make a thinking person take a step back after slapping the "ON" switch. We do this also, I suppose, because we all know that wood chippers have been known to be used for more sinister purposes, too. Workers at a California egg farm found them particularly useful in getting rid of a few thousand live chickens. And for some reason, murderers have been known to occasionally use them after performing their fell deeds on humans. I've always thought that strange, though, since then the killer has to get rid of not only the remains, but also anything soiled by the mess - and also the wood chipper itself. (Modern forensics makes trying to clean away the evidence a futile effort.) It would seem to make more sense just to bury the body. But then, murder is a senseless act, so...


Finally, there are certainly many other kinds of mixers out there - drink mixers, sound mixers, gas mixers (medical), fuel mixers, and so on into infinity. We'll always invent more mixers, I'm sure, as soon as we discover more stuff that looks, tastes, or works better when mixed with other stuff. After all, where would we be without our wooden spoons and wire whisks? The world would be a different place. Imagine baked potatoes for dinner on Monday. Then baked potatoes for dinner on Tuesday. And on Wednesday, more baked potatoes for dinner. Of course, there would be no wedding cakes or brownies. No ice cream. The Soviet Union would have won the Cold War. A googol other things would have overtaken us, as well, I imagine.

Think about that the next time you're stirring your morning coffee.

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Cows Owe Us - Big Time

Have you ever looked at a cow? I mean really looked at one of them? They just look back at you, blankly - kind of like Forest Gump. They’re all stupid, of course, just like we’d expect them to be – except if you’re in with the PETA folks, that is, who think all animals are sentient beings. But I hardly think that cows could be given any credit for heavy brain work. Cows are so dumb, in fact, we have to build robots of them as spy tools because, unlike dolphins, we can’t train them to get the job done.

Actually, I’m being a bit sexist, here. "Cows" are, as you know, female cattle. Their younger virgin sisters are known as "heifers". Male cattle are called either "bulls" or - when neutered - "steers". Whatever. As long as they come medium-rare with green beans and mashed potatoes, aye?

Dairy cattle live out their lives just moping around, chomping grass, a thought-cloud parked over their heads with a big question mark set in the center of it. Beef cattle have a different, less savory fate in store for them, of course, but since they’re dumb, anyway, I doubt that they care too much.

Like all other farm animals, it never even occurs to cattle that they are actually owned by humans. Interesting factoid: the word "cattle" is actually derived from the French word "chattle", which means – believe it or not – "possession". How about that? Their entire species is named after servitude. Nature has been cruel.

But not as cruel as it could have been. After all, where would cattle be today if it weren’t for us humans wanting them around? Think about it: Cattle have no credible defense mechanisms – like spines or poison fangs, or whatever. (Sure the guys have horns, but those are only useful against matadors with big red capes.) They can’t run fast. And they’re too dumb to think their way out of trouble (although some humans do share that sad trait). In fact, if it wasn’t for our fences penning them in, they probably would have all walked off cliffs or been eaten by wolves by now. There are an estimated 9,000 breeds of cattle roaming the earth today. Do you think there would be such numbers and diversity (progressive keyword!!) without our interference – I mean, intervention? I don’t think so. Cattle used to be used for hauling our stuff around, but horses have pretty much taken that job away from them in modern times. Nowadays, they are raised primarily for beef and milk (cattle are the largest livestock providers worldwide for both). All fifty states in the U.S. have cattle farms, and although Americans only have 10% of the cattle in the world, we provide 25% of all its beef. (Brazilians come in second to us as Kings of the Slaughterhouse.)

Yes, cattle have their uses – and that’s why we make sure there are plenty of them. They can pull heavy things for us, they taste good (especially over a grill), and we can milk them ‘til the you-know-what come home. One day, perhaps, the animal rights freak show just might get their wish and we’ll all stop eating and milking cattle. We’ll open up our pens and let them all wander free. Most will die away – if not from wild predators, then from starvation – and their population will shrink to about the same numbers as gorillas or hippopotamuses (two other animals the world has no use for). Nobody will want a cow as a pet (the stupid thing again). We might keep them around for their manure, but so many other animals can poop, too, I just can’t see that as being a factor in the Cattle Special Interests lobby. In fact, with Mad Cow and other mischievous bovine diseases plaguing us from time to time, we may just purposely thin the herds down to manageable sizes, putting them on remote nature preserves somewhere in Colorado or New Jersey.

But for now, cows provide 70% of the calcium in the U.S. food supply, and most Americans would agree that for at least a couple of days out of the week, beef is what’s for dinner.

It’s the least they could do for us.

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Related Story: "Carnivorous and Proud"


Human Chicks Simply Better

Nature has a way of creating an environment that is conducive to the procreation of species. Lucky for us male humans, we've got some seriously good looking counterparts in our women. (And thank God we're mammals, too!) Just think what it would be like to be a jellyfish, guys. Let's take a look-see at what our male counterparts in some other species have to look forward to, below:

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Yes, these two squirrels can be sexually distinguished. But you have to either pick them up or hope for a chance view (like this couple provides) to determine which is which.

When we get to fish, it gets worse. Yeah, they kind of look a bit different. But it's certainly nothing to get excited about (unless you're a fish, I guess).

Then we have the snake species. In the photo below, the female Garter snake is the much larger one shown (ego buster, dudes!). Other than that, please tell me the difference. They don't even have appendages of any kind for groping.

And what about space aliens? Sure, I guess if some human artist drew one up, a female alien could look pretty sexy. But in reality, since any alien beings would have completely different DNA makeups, it's entirely unlikely that us human guys would look lustily upon any visiting female alien. Just for ha-ha's, here's a photo of the dreaded "greys" of alien abduction lore. Why the heck these folks ever evolved to be gender neutral I will never understand. It's frightening to even think about.

Now let's take a look at human beings. There is just no mistaking which is which here. Of course, being humans ourselves, we are a little biased.

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There is an unending debate about the merits of beauty: Should it be judged alone, or as a part of the whole? In the case of women, I've found it interesting how us guys are strongly urged (by women) to ignore the outer ugliness of some women and simply appreciate their "inner" beauty instead. But men don't buy girly magazines so we can marvel at the pictured-woman's ability to convert fractions to decimals. So it will always hold true that outer beauty does matter greatly - at least when it comes to initial impressions. (It is true that there are many women who readily acknowledge this, except when they are hanging out with their ugly friends.)

Let's conduct a brief experiment: Guys, take a look at the photos, below. Which do you find more pleasing to the eyes? I'm going to guess the majority of you are eyeballing the photo on the right. (That was my favorite, too.)

Now, ugly people are not bad people, and this is not an ugly-bashing story. But looks do matter - a lot. And, rightly or wrongly, women are especially judged by their looks. The good news is, most women are pretty. Some less so, some more so, but almost all women have average looks.

Like most men, I like to look at pretty women. In fact, I don't like being anywhere where women are not around. And that's the way nature wants things to be - it tends to keep the species moving along. It's true, some women can be annoying. But you've gotta take the bad with the good. Below is a photo of an ugly woman protesting at a Hooters club. She is annoying.

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Women have been working to empower themselves for generations. Depending on where they were born, some have been more successful than others. In Islamic states, women are in a bummer situation. That's why many of them have opted to protest their plight, like this group in Iran did. And these chicks in Afghanistan aren't exactly thrilled wih Allah, either. I also happened upon a nifty site called "Women Thou Art God" that celebrates the power of womanhood. It is, of course, hosted by a woman, and its content is meant for women visitors. But there are a few topless photos there, too, for us guys. The site tackles such topics as the worship of women, the natural superiority of women, and asks the question, "Is there sex in Heaven?" The site is visually impressive and well designed. It might help to have a fast Internet connection, though.

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I've always felt that it's important for us to remember from whence we came: the wilderness of our ancestors. I found this Naturist site where folks feel the same way, only they choose to explore the hinterlands sans clothing, just like the other animals of this earth. I've never actually been to a nudist retreat, and I'm not so sure I've got the nerve to ever check one out. But I'll admit, the thought has crossed my mind. New England has a few, including Berkshire Vista in western Massachusetts, and Solair in Connecticut.

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Finally, I'll conclude by stating that my opinions are soley based upon my own human perspective, and I readily acknowledge that, from the viewpoint of many other animals, I may indeed be mistaken about the superiority of our females. Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.

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Live Your Life

We ask ourselves what is most important to us in our lives. Is it our family? Our fortune? Our fame? We number our friends and acquaintances, and we judge others’ lives by the mourners who attend their funerals. But how do we truly measure our own existence? How do we gauge our own individual worth? When each life is lived so uniquely – a singular presence that is witnessed by others only once in history, how does one quantify something so rare as the person who shares our eyes, looking back to us through the mirror?

We hope to trust ourselves even as we measure the trustworthiness of others. We hold those around us suspect until such time as familiarity eases our concerns. And so we may be rewarded or betrayed. For we share common hopes and we have common dreams, but some of those things may be stolen from us by others who have no care or bother. One day, though, they too will see no tomorrow, and they will be left hopeless. Or so we tell ourselves, anyway.

Our vanities shield us from harsh truths, and our modesties govern our egos. Yet neither prevents others from judgments and conclusions about who each of us are, or our places in life. We may only hope to protect ourselves, or project the image we long for others to see and judge us by. But in so doing, we inevitably live the lives others choose for us, at least in some measure, for we have adapted ourselves to be judged less harshly by others. Some such considerations are necessary so that we may lead productive, responsible lives. But there times when these considerations overwhelm us, and they control our lives in such ways that we fear to live our lives in any manner that may offend others. And so then we are theirs, because in little ways, we are living their lives, based upon their perceptions rather than our own.

We should share our unique lives with others, and let them share their uniqueness with us, so that we may each know the rareness in one another. And so then we will know that there are other lives, whether close or far away, that are important like our own, and that we may all share the same desires of living.

Live your life for as long as you are given, and allow others to live theirs, too, so that one day - when there is no tomorrow for each of us, we may say to ourselves that we shared our own lives in this world, and we witnessed others do the same.

Let's Be Unreasonable, Shall We?

UFOs are everywhere. People from all walks of life, from every region on Earth, have witnessed them. To deny their existence is to deny the Sun, the air, and the very ground we walk on. Few actually doubt that there are unexplained phenomena in our skies. Meteor showers were a mystery to us for ages. And how long have people looked up in awe at the Northern Lights, convinced of some hidden meaning?

Yes, I believe in the existence UFOs. I believe there are indeed Unidentified Flying Objects out there. But unlike many, I believe these UFOs are either aircraft of some kind, natural atmospheric occurrences, or hoaxes. Everyone who knows me - or has read this weblog for a time - already knows I'm a skeptic by nature, so I won't dwell on the boring reasoning that influences my own way of thinking. Rather, let's just go for a Fun Ride!

Have you, or anyone you know, ever been abducted by space aliens? Well, if you think so, then you are not alone! Here's a handy-dandy website to meet up with fellow abductees:

If you need wellness treatment after your ordeal, you can try out the various alternative medicine outlets available online today. There's also the crystal healing option for the metaphysically inclined. And I would be remiss if I didn't provide a link to that all-powerful healer, the magnet. (I would be even more remiss if I didn't include this link as well.)

Paranormal research is serious business to many folks out there. Hundreds - if not thousands - of people have dedicated their lives to writing books and hosting conventions for other folks who have nothing better to do with their money. The International Society for Paranormal Research is there for any willing takers. They offer investigations, clairvoyance classes and testing, and ghost hunting expeditions. (I took particular note of the clairvoyance testing at $1450!) ADVISORY NOTE: This website seems to be dated (circa 2004), so no promise as to the group's current state of affairs.

Doing some browsing for ghost hunting equipment, I came across this page, which features various instruments for measuring such ghostly phenomena as movement, temperature changes, and electro-magnetic field fluctuations. (Oh my!) Why can't they just sell a camcorder that focuses correctly and doesn't shake when you use it?

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[ INTERMISSION: As a big Scooby-Doo fan, I offer this link that has the lyrics to the Scoob theme song. (And yes, I've known the lyrics myself for years.) ]

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I looked up gremlin websites, but came across this PBS webpage instead: Gremlins: Faces in the Forest. I know, they're just monkeys. But some of them do look like little gremlins.

There was a time, I suppose, when a vampire was a vampire (except for Dracula). But nowadays, we can run into all sorts of vampire types, including Living, Blood, and Psychic versions. By the way, have you ever noticed how female vampires are almost always incredibly sexy to behold? Really, if it wasn't for the death thing, what guy wouldn't want to have sex with a vampiress? (Yes, I know: gay guys. But for them, there are these vampires.)

While we're on the subject, hack movies about dead people and demons (Jason, Freddy Krueger, etc.) are NOT the same as chomp movies like Jaws and Anaconda. People, after all, do get eaten by animals. And you can avoid killer animals by avoiding where they live. But how does one avoid a homicidal ghoul? (For the record, it should be noted that as of this date, not one confirmed kill has been recorded at the hands of a ghost or demonic possession. Of course, that may very well be because spirits tend to hide their tracks so well!)

People have been believing in the supernatural since human eyes first witnessed a sunrise. Let's face it: biological living is B-O-R-I-N-G. Where are all the fairies? (insert obvious joke.) Where are all the unicorns and elves? And if I do lose a loved-one to death, why can't I speak with him again? I want to!

Birth, sex, work, and death. I quit smoking for that?

Somebody buy me a beer.

Finally, for those of you who insist on being reasonable, I give you a few links to websites of the scientific nature: Live Science; Discover Magazine;; The American Medical Association (sorry, no voo-doo cures there); and for you die-hard skeptics out there (like me),

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Jungle Fever

I just spotted a little news article from yesterday's online edition of the Boston Globe: Apparently, the ancestors of chimps and we humans may have gotten a little lovey-eyed in our early stages of species development, which is a little eewwy just to think about - unless of course you're into bestiality, in which case the story may instead be inspiring.

Quoting the Globe article: ''I find this terrifically exciting and important work," said David Pilbeam, a Harvard paleontologist.

Hmmm. Bestiality, indeed....

You can check out the story yourself HERE. And I suppose it's worth mentioning, in case I've grossed-out anyone reading this blog, that the article is talking about ancestors of chimps and humans, not the modern versions around today. We were, after all, pretty stupid back in the early stages of our existence.

The article goes on to mention that it may also be possible that we modern humans are the end result of inter-species breeding with early pre-chimps, which might be stretching genetic credibility a bit. (It's too bad, though, that the X-Files couldn't have picked up on the chimp-human thing instead of that silly, over-used alien conspiracy premise.)

In Other News...

Photo: Marco Barelds
From the Associated Press: SLOTH BEARS actually ate a macaque monkey as horrified zoo visitors looked on in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Says the article: Ignoring attempts by keepers to distract it, the bear climbed onto a horizontal pole, and, standing stretched on two legs, "used its sharp canines to pull the macaque, which was shrieking and resisting, from its perch." The bear then brought the animal to a concrete den, where three bears ate it.

No, I am not shocked that animals ate another animal in plain sight of humans. What is interesting to note is that sloth bears don't usually eat larger animals, such as that monkey. (Their diet is primarily termites, fruits, and other vegetation.) Which leads me to wonder: how well fed were those bears? Or perhaps it has to do with their captive habitat. Whatever. All I know is that an innocent monkey is dead now, and those sloth bears have some explaining to do to PETA. >:-
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Missing: 2,300 Men and Woman Every Day

Just when you think it's perfectly safe to travel around on your own...

I stopped by the Crime Library website and read up on some rather sobering statistics: In 2005, over 850,000 Americans were reported missing. That's about 2,300 a day. The article also talked about something that I have noticed for quite sometime - that the vast majority of nationally reported cases appear to be those of "damsels in distress", such as Natalee Holloway, whereas male or even minority abductions in general go largley unreported by the national media. It's not so much that I think it would make a difference in finding the abductees (since almost all of these crimes are localized), but rather that it perhaps leaves a false impression that most people gone missing are adult women.

But of the over 800,000 reported cases in 2001, all but 50,000 involved juveniles. Of the adults, more than half of those reported missing were males. (The racial demographics appeared to be roughly equal.)

According to the article, the rise in reports of missing persons since 1980 (when 150,000 were reported) is attributed to both an increased population and increased police interest in these types of cases. Even so, police at times appear reluctant to involve the media in their investigation, which in many criminal cases is understandable. But in a missing persons case, I am not so sure. I tend to believe missing persons cases should be broadcast and printed everywhere they occur - and as soon as possible. If there is even an infinitesimal chance that an abductor may panic and let his victim go, that chance should be taken. The broadcasted news alerts may even serve to "humanize" the victim in the eyes of the abductor if he or she were to see that broadcast, for it is one thing to abduct a nameless, anonymous stranger, but perhaps a more difficult thing when that person has a name, a history, and a family. And if the abductor does know the victim, then knowing the heat is on may compel him or her to cut loose and run. In any event, the record of victims being released by their abductors out of good will alone is grim, as the over 800,000 missing persons cases a year can attest.

The article is well written and is a good read. You can check it out by clicking here (NOTE: there are chapter links at the bottom of the page for more pages of the story). The story also talks about Brianna Maitland's case, one of our own here in New England. Brianna's family has a website for her HERE.

Here is a listing of missing children (18 and under at the time of their abduction) for the state of Massachusetts. Once there, you can search other states by clicking "Home" on the top menu.

I have occasionally talked with folks about such matters as unsolved abductions and missing persons, and it still surprises me just how many people honestly feel that something like that could never happen to them. They simply have no interest in the matter - or they think I'm strange for bringing it up. What's even more unsettling to me are the number of times I have talked with women who have said, quite confidently, that they would never "allow" such a thing to happen to them ("I'd kick their ass if they tried!"). Defiant claims of violent resistance and retaliation ("you've never seen me pissed off before...") seem to insulate people from the idea that they, too, might be stalked and abducted one day. But if a man like Bill Smolinski, from Waterbury Connecticut, can slip away from our eyes, then what woman can honestly brush off the possiblity of an assault by a person who is determined to take her away by force? Perhaps it is only a matter of tough talk masking a true understanding of the predators that lurk out there. Or perhaps many of us simply choose to live in denial. Or perhaps I'm just strange for bringing the matter up. I cannot know for sure.

We should take nothing for granted when we venture out alone. A few weeks back, some friends and I were out golfing when we all noticed a hawk soaring majestically overhead. Suddenly, the hawk swooped down right before us and snatched up an unsuspecting squirrel. The squirrel escaped the hawk's grasp, but not its own fate: It was fatally wounded, and the hawk simply perched on a nearby branch and waited for its prey to die. Human predators can lurk for days - sometimes months - before making a move on their own unsuspecting prey. One day you're out gathering food (or shopping) for your family, the next day everyone's wondering what ever happened to you.

It happens to 2,300 men and women every day.

Mind Games and the Star Children of Terra

In 1997, a bold group of adventurers set out on a quest to rendezvous with an alien spacecraft that was trailing behind the comet Hale Bopp. They believed that the time had come to shed their earthly human shells to become the star children they knew they were all destined to be. - Either that or a bunch of misguided fools had just committed suicide for nothing. You tell. And how many of us ridiculed – even laughed at – the Heavens Gate followers who so confidently laced up their Nike sneakers, dropped a few bucks in their pockets, and then poisoned themselves (working in shifts) to hasten their journey to the stars?

They must have been nuts.

Then we dutifully prayed that their lost souls would be delivered safely into Heaven as we sifted through the morning paper to check out our horoscopes. But that’s okay. It seems we all have our own superstitions, whether it’s the fear of catastrophic pole shifts and other "Earth Changes", or the forever-warned approach of Judgment Day. After all, didn’t Nostradamus predict these things were going to happen? Sadly, some of us are willing to die for our own beliefs – to achieve some kind of spiritual Good, while still others are willing to kill for them. And that’s not okay.

I think, initially at least, the Internet was a boon for fringe astrological cults, dark conspiracy advocates, and New Age pseudo-religions. People may not have blindly fallen for their teachings and proclamations, but many still went to their websites out of curiosity and a sympathetic willingness to hear them out. For many people, they simply wished to keep an open mind about other people’s belief systems. But I think that way of thinking lends legitimacy to these groups – at least in the eyes of the "open-minded" among us.

Want a taste of what’s still out there? Below is a very partial listing of what these groups have to offer. Many of them will come off as being quite serious and knowledgeable about their ideas and predictions. But all reasonable folks should see these whack-job sites for the silliness they truly represent.

The Enterprise Mission

Galactic Diplomacy


The Universe People

The Nibiruan Council


Amazingly, there are people out there who will actually buy audio tapes and books from these sites. It’s strange to think that would be so. But even Charles Manson has his admirers. And it's also true that there are websites out there that are not so obvious in their dubiousness. Check out the CSETI Homepage, which many folks might confuse with the real scientific site, the SETI Institute. Until you read on a bit, that is, where they talk of alien visitors and government conspiracies.

As for me, I stopped reading my horoscope over fifteen years ago. Astrology is a dreamy-eyed sham. I’m sure many of you will disagree, and that’s okay. Feel free to spend your dollars on those natal charts and palm readings. Even con artists have to make a living.

Astronomy is the real science of the planets and stars. Here’s some planetary distances for you to consider the next time you think Neptune’s alignment with Jupiter caused you to get pregnant (or for you guys, caused you to get someone pregnant). The Earth is approximately 93 million miles away from the Sun. For reference, that’s measured as 1 astronomical unit. Going past little Mars and the asteroid belt, we come to Jupiter, which is 5.2 astronomical units (AUs) from the sun (that’s 93 million x 5.2). Next up we have Saturn, which is 9.5 AUs from the sun. Think that’s far away? After Saturn, things start really getting distant: Uranus is over 19 AUs away from the sun. (Yes, that means that Uranus is as far away from Saturn as Saturn is from the sun.) And then there is Neptune, which orbits the sun from 30 AUs out there, and tiny Pluto, which is about 39 AUs distant. Still farther out are two small, newly discovered worlds, Sedna and Xena. Now, these are incredibly long distances we are talking about here – even for such large bodies as Jupiter and Saturn. The gravitational attraction of the person standing next to you is greater than anything those planets together could render.

So, you may ask, what about the Moon and the violent effect it seems to have on folks when it is full? Actually, the Moon is no larger when it is full than when it is one quarter. (Don’t laugh – some people think that is the case!) Its phase is merely the angle at which sunlight hits its surface as it orbits the Earth. And though it’s true the Moon’s distance to the Earth varies, the phase of the moon and its distance to the earth are not in any way related. A full Moon can be either at its closest distance to Earth or its farthest. Personally, I think there may be more crime and other "activity" during a full Moon simply because the nighttime is so much more illuminated, and so it’s easier to see and move around. (The "full moon" effect, by the way, is still very much debated in scientific circles, so one should not consider this effect as being a unquestioned "fact".)

Unfortunately, even with the most reliable, well-known scientific and astronomical facts at our fingertips, there will still always be those who simply choose to believe in the paranormal and spiritual state of our universe. For these believers, science cannot be trusted. The Council of the Enlightened Fathers said so. And that’s too bad.

Even in the modern Scientific Age, wishful thinkers abound.

Five years ago, give or take a month or two, I logged on to the online dating service for the very first time. And was I ever thrilled to be there! Women by the thousands were at my fingertips. At last, my perfect match was within my grasp! When I first joined up, I had visions of weekly dates, spontaneous love affairs – perhaps even a cheap, one-night stand or two!

Then I discovered the all-important search filters: distance, age, height, body type, and more. This narrowed down my list of potential mates significantly. But even so, I remained optimistic. (Only as weeks slipped into months did I realize that the biggest filter of all was me.)

Women, after all, are the reason why us men breathe air (and why, unfortunately, some of us have stopped the practice). Give me a smoke-filled bar crowded with women-folk over a man-only stag party any day. At least at the bar I’ve got a shot.

Sadly, the thrill of left me after about a year of very few exchanges. Today, most of the women I see listed there are the very same ones I saw when I first logged on. I’ve come to feel I know them – that we share a common bond. There’s "BeezeMe" and “Nyerchick” and “summerdaze”. Yes, they’re always smiling when I greet them, even though they always have the same thing to say about their lives. (You know you’re a veteran of "The Match" when you click on profiles just to see if they’ve been updated recently. In my case, I'm always hoping they're lowering their requirements.)

The online version of questing for mates is different than the person-to-person approach. In up-front encounters, you would at least chat for a moment before finding an “out”. Online, however, it’s common to simply ignore those who try to say “hello”. Out of all the dozens of e-mails I’ve sent out over the years, I think I’ve had a “no thanks” response only twice. Of course, I’m not going to fib: I’m guilty of the no-response snub myself. But since everybody does the same thing anyway, I don’t feel guilty.

A few of observations I’ve made about the ads I’ve read from the ladies: Most overweight women consider their body type to be “average”. Most women say they are searching for a man who is honest, smart, financially secure, has a good sense of humor, and who is not into “head games”. Since 90% of the men alive today think they are that kind of guy, the list of respondents has really not been narrowed by much. Short women, 5’ 2” or shorter, absolutely must have a guy who is at least six inches taller than them. Strangely, women of average height (5’ 5” or so) or taller are not nearly as picky about height, with most settling for a guy who is a mere inch or two taller than them. Perhaps this is because men only come so tall. Short women may feel they need a much taller guy to protect their little bodies from other, less attractive tall guys.

According to their ads, every woman on the face of this earth loves walks on the beach. Most women enjoy dining out, picnics, long walks, watching the sunset, and “cuddling” on the couch (what us men refer to as “foreplay”). A surprisingly good amount of women-folk say they enjoy watching baseball and/or football. (Note to the girls: we don’t care if you like to watch those sports - we’re still going to be out watching the games with our buds.)

Most women write their personal ads as if they were talking to another woman – like one of their friends: “I’m looking for the fantasy – the honest man who cares about the little things, and who keeps in mind that a woman should always be treated like a lady. A man who sends me flowers for no reason, and who will respect me as a person and shower me with his affection…

Ooo-la-la-laa, lali-dali-la la! Good grief.

Most folks are under the false impression that people join online dating services because they can’t get a date in the “real world”. But that is only true for us guys! Most women go online just to get outta the ‘hood. They’re being more selective in their search by expanding the gene pool. The homeboys just aren’t cutting it.

Women of course get far more responses than us guys do. That must be flattering. I myself send off electronic “winks” every week or two and actually take the time to write an e-mail about once a month. (It used to be more frequent, but I’m a veteran of The Match and the new members are few.) Some women get so many responses they forget who they are corresponding with. This has happened to me twice. (She: “We just talked about this the other day.” Me: “No, that was the other guy you were talking to.”) But that’s no big deal. It is, after all, a singles place.

My one beef is with women who fail to read my ad – in its entirety – before writing to me. More than a few times I’ve had responses from women who didn’t know a.) I work nights, b.) I’m short, and c.) I live in Massachusetts, dear, not South Carolina. All of these things are stated quite clearly in my ad, but still somehow manage to get missed. I talked with one girl via both e-mail and by phone for over a month (she was down south for a time) before I happened to make casual reference to my height (5’ 4” - as was she).


Yes, after years of being on, things have pretty much slowed to a crawl. Most women have probably already filtered out my ad from their personal searches. I actually let my membership lapse last month. But then I received an e-mail notification that somebody I had written to two months back had actually responded. I had to re-up my paid membership in order to read the reply – but what the hey! – somebody out there liked me! I wrote her back, thanking her for her response, and telling her a bit more about me.

Never heard from her again.

Oh well. Another three months at The Match. Maybe I’ll logon and see what “SunForMe” has been up to lately.