Friday, February 29, 2008

Bottom of the News… Friday, February 29, 2008

Good morning my fellow Rotarians… Yes today is one of those rare days… Leap Day, February 29th.

A leap year has 366 days because the actual length of a year is 365.242 days, not 365 days. Leap years are every 4 years with a few exceptions involving century years, like the year 1900. Since the year is slightly less than 365.25 days long, adding an extra day every 4 years results in about 3 extra days being added over a period of 400 years. So, only 1 of every 4 century years is considered as a leap year. Thus 1700, 1800, 1900 were not leap years, and 2100 and 2400 will not be leap years.

The town of Anthony, TX, organizes a leap year festival to celebrate leap year and leap year babies. It proudly calls itself the leap year capital of the world and leap year “babies”, or leaplings from around the world come to its annual parade and festival.

There is also a lot of superstition and interesting tales that abound about leap years and the date itself. For instance, in Greece, people believe it is bad luck to get married in a leap year.

Superstitious Chinese believe that more accidents and mishaps occur during the leap month in the lunar calendar. They also think that children born in that month are harder to bring up. And most Chinese will not start a business nor get married in a February leap month.

In Ireland, women can propose to a man. This dates back to the fifth century when Saint Brigit complained to St Patrick that women had to wait too long for men to propose marriage, and so St Patrick decided that in a leap year, women could take the initiative.

Scotland enacted a law in 1288 (authorized by the unmarried five-year-old Queen Margaret) that allowed women the right to corner a man with a proposal. Men who refused would have to pay a fine in the form of a kiss, a silk dress or a pair of gloves. So, guys, which would you have preferred?

In Australia, over 20 per cent of women support the tradition which says they can propose during a leap year and men are told they cannot refuse such an offer.

In the US a custom was born from the famous comic strip L’il Abner where in the fictional town of Dogpatch, Sadie Hawkins could never attract a husband because she was ugly. Her father set up a day each year when women could literally chase after the bachelors around town in a race. The unlucky guys caught would have to marry the women who nabbed them. While the event was held in November in the comic strip, it evolved into a tradition tied it in to Feb 29. Thus, Sadie Hawkins and WPA dances are popular in late February.

Did you know? • If there were no leap years, after 500 years, we would be celebrating Christmas in August. • The odds of being born on a leap day are one in 1,461, according to The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies. • There are roughly 208,000 leap babies in the United States and 4.5 million in the world.

HOW cool would it be if you were born on Feb 29? You could be 80 and still tell everyone you’ve only celebrated 20 birthdays. Okay to close, here are a few celebrities born on Feb 29…
Dinah Shore, singer and actress
Jimmy Dorsey, American musician and bandleader
Anthony Robbins, motivational speaker

And Superman, according to a Time magazine a few years back, his birthday is on Feb 29. No wonder he never ages!

And there you have it, your once-every-four-years LEAP YEAR Bottom of the News… on this Leap Friday, February 29, 2008. ###

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bottom of the News… Friday, February 22, 2008

Good morning my fellow Rotarians… This morning I am happy to report that the Stella Awards for 2007 were announced this week. You may recall that these awards were inspired by Stella Liebeck. In 1992, Stella, at the age of 79, spilled a cup of McDonald's hot coffee onto her lap, burning herself. A New Mexico jury awarded her $2.9 million in damages.

Ever since, the name "Stella Award" has been applied to any wild, outrageous, or ridiculous lawsuits -- including bogus cases! However, I tell you with great confidence that our crack Rotarian Research Team only seeks out the truth!

2nd Runner Up: Sentry Insurance Company
Sentry Insurance Company provided worker's compensation insurance for a Wisconsin "Meals on Wheels" program. Delivering a meal, a Wheels volunteer (who was allegedly not even wearing boots) slipped and fell on a participant's driveway that had been cleared of snow. Sentry had to pay to care for the volunteer’s resulting injuries. A key point is that the Wheels volunteer did not sue, but rather the insurance company did because they paid the claim and then decided they wanted their money back. So, they sued the 81-year-old homeowner getting the Meals on Wheels service. They could have simply filed for "subrogation" from her homeowner's insurance company, but by naming her in the action they dragged an old lady into court. Ultimately this action reinforces the image of insurance companies only being concerned only about their bottom line and not "protecting" their policyholders from loss.

1st Runner Up: The family of Robert Hornbeck
Hornbeck volunteered for the Army and served a stint in Iraq. After getting home, one night he got drunk, wandered into a hotel's service area (passing "DANGER" warning signs), crawled into an air conditioning unit, and was severely cut when the machinery activated. Unable to care for himself due to his drunkenness, he bled to death.

A tragedy, to be sure, but one solely caused by a supposedly responsible adult with military training. Despite his irresponsible behavior -- and his perhaps criminal trespassing -- Hornbeck's family sued the hotel for $10 million, as if it's reasonably foreseeable that a drunk fool would ignore warning signs and climb into its heavy duty machinery to sleep off his bender.

And the 2007 Stella Winner is… Roy L. Pearson Jr., Attorney & Judge
This 57-year-old Administrative Law Judge from Washington DC claims that a dry cleaner lost a pair of his pants, so he sued the mom-and-pop business for $65 million. That's right, more than $65 million for one pair of pants.

Representing himself, Judge Pearson cried in court over the loss of his pants, whining that there certainly isn't a more compelling case in the District archives. But the Superior Court judge wasn't moved: he called the case "vexatious litigation" (2. brought with intention of annoying: describes legal proceedings put forward on insufficient grounds and with the intention of causing annoyance to the defendant). Pearson was scolded for his "bad faith", and then the Superior Court awarded damages to the dry cleaners.

But Pearson didn't take no for an answer, he is appealing the decision. And he has plenty of time on his hands because he was dismissed from his job and is currently under review to be disbarred. As of last report, Pearson's appeal is still pending. Wow, $65 million for the loss of a pair of pants… That is a true Stella Award!

And there you have it, the top three most absurd law suits of 2007. Truly, the bottom of the news on this Friday, February 22, 2008. ###

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bottom of the News… Friday, February 15, 2008

Good morning my fellow Rotarians… Well, as we all know February is the LOVE month, but for some there may have been some broken hearts yesterday and our first story highlights how an enterprising young woman was able to create an opportunity for romance gone bad…

Requiem to a Valentine: Dead Love Affairs Gain "Obituaries"

New York, NY (AHN) -- Finally, someone has an answer to the age-old question: "Where do broken hearts go?" A 38-year-old radio reporter from New York City created what she thought was a fitting resting place for broken hearts and dead love affairs.

Kathleen Horan (not to be confused with our very own fellow Daybreaker!) said is a website that can serve as an online memory vault where people can make a final record of romances and relationships that have sadly fizzled out. Guests are encouraged to "bury" their burdens by writing or posting "obituaries" to help them heal and move on. Entries may also be kept anonymous.

Horan came up with the idea when she found it oddly comforting to write an obituary about her two-year relationship which had just ended. She adds that it may sound "goofy" to some, but the experience actually made her feel like she could "finally cremate the thing and move on". was launched just this week by Horan and quickly became a hot website with nearly 100,000 hits in the past 3-4 days.

Saudi Arabia Prohibits Sale of Red Roses, Other Red Items for One Week

Saudi Arabia (AHN) -- A traditional symbol of Valentine's Day, red roses, were banned again this year in Saudi Arabia until yesterday, February 14th. The prohibition also includes the sale of other red items such as gift wrappers, hearts, and Valentine’s candy that promotes the romantic holiday.

Shop owners and retailers were advised by the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice to remove all reminders of Valentine’s Day from their shelves earlier this month. The commission believes that these things and Valentine’s Day specifically is considered un-Islamic and (quote) “…leads to relations outside of marriage.”

The prohibition led to a spike in the price of red roses on the underground market. Florists around the country have been delivering flowers in the middle of the night for the past week so they would not be seen during the daytime.

The ban occurs annually; so many couples order red roses a week or two ahead of the holiday and online love greetings have increased as well. Also, many Saudi romantics will fly out to more liberal Middle Eastern countries like Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to celebrate Valentines Day.

A spokesman for the Prevention of Vice Commission said they only celebrate two religious holidays in Saudi; celebrations of all other holidays are banned.

Biscuits Wanted for Attempted Murder (the actual AP headline)

San Diego, CA – Linda Burnett, 23, of San Diego, was visiting her in-laws, and made a trip to a nearby supermarket to pick up some groceries. Several people noticed her sitting in her car with the windows rolled up and with her eyes closed holding both hands behind the back of her head.

One customer became concerned when he passed by the car for a second time about an hour later when he then noticed that Burnett’s eyes were open with a horrified look on her face. He asked her if she was okay, and she replied that she'd been shot in the back of the head, and had been holding her brains in for what seemed like an eternity!

The man immediately called paramedics, who broke into the car because the doors were locked and Burnett refused to move her hands. When they finally got in, they found that Burnett had a wad of bread dough on the back of her head.

A Pillsbury biscuit canister had exploded from the heat, making a loud noise sounding like a gunshot. The explosion caused a wad of dough to hit her in the head and when she reached back to find out what it was, she felt the dough and thought it was her brains. Initially she passed out, but quickly recovered and ended up holding on to her “brains” in for over an hour until she could get help.

My thanks to Jim Angstman for passing on this story, however please know that my censors had to remove all political comments before I could present it to you today in an unbiased fashion…

And that’s the strange, the weird and yet often times true… bottom of the news for Friday February 15, 2008. ###

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Bottom of the News… Friday, February 8, 2008

Good morning my fellow Rotarians… Well, as I mentioned last week, February is considered the “LOVE Month!” So, in honor of St. Valentine and all you hopeless romantics, I thought I’d share a few items on the topic of Love…

First, we flash back to CASEY KASEM’S TOP 10 “Love Songs” of the ‘70’s…

10. I Think I Love You - PARTRIDGE FAMILY
9. I Honestly Love You - OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN
8. Love Will Keep Us Together - THE CAPTAIN & TENNILLE
7. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough - DIANA ROSS
6. My Love - PAUL McCartney & WINGS
5. Best of My Love - THE EMOTIONS
4. Silly Little Love Songs - PAUL McCartney & WINGS
3. How Deep is Your Love - BEE GEES
2. The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face - ROBERTA FLACK
1. You Light Up My Life - DEBBIE BOONE

And now I have a special treat… Our crack research team went to work interviewing family members and childhood friends of a few Rotarians to learn their views on Love & Marriage when they were kids…

"If falling in love is anything like learning how to spell, I don't want to do it. It takes too long." – Steve Carpenter, age 7

"I think you're supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn't supposed to be so painful." – Jim Angstman, age 8

"No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell. Maybe that's why perfume, make-up and deodorant are so popular." – Angie Nowak, age 9

"One of you should know how to write a check. Because, even if you have tons of love, there is still going to be a lot of bills." – Brian Brown, age 8

"I'm not rushing into being in love. I’m having too much fun with skateboards and BMX’s, plus I'm finding fourth grade hard enough!" – Bart Woods, age 10

"A man and a woman promise to go through sickness and illness and diseases together, yech!" – Kathy Horan, age 7

"Being single is better . . . for the simple reason that I wouldn't want to change no diapers. Of course, if I did get married, I'd figure something out. I'd just phone my mom and have her come over for some coffee and diaper-changing." – Sarah Fare, age 10

"Love will find you, even if you are trying to hide from it. I’ve been trying to hide from it since I was five, but the girls keep finding me." – Paul Phelan, age 8

"Most men are brainless, so you might have to try more than once to find a live one." – Michele Boyer, age 11

"Love is the most important thing in the world, but my Dad told me that baseball is pretty good too and I believe him!" – Jon Cushing, age 8

"It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I'm just a kid. I don't need that kind of trouble. "– Pat Shey, age 7

"Once I'm done with kindergarten, I'm going to find me a man!" –Julie Schmitt, age 5

So for you guys who are romantically inept, grab your PDA right now to make a date with your valentine (and make sure you wear clean socks)! And ladies, you may just have to cut your guy some slack because they just can’t help it!

And this is our special Valentine’s edition of the bottom of the news on this Friday February 8, 2008. Thank you!