Friday, March 28, 2008

Bottom of the News… Friday, March 28, 2008

Good morning my fellow Rotarians… Well, it’s the end of another month and as we head into spring, the warm weather seems to bring out the best in people.

And so, to begin, I want to recognize and thank Bart Woods for filling in as our honorary Rotary Reporter of the bottom of the news last week. He assured me that he would “follow the script” and I’m told he did exactly that. So, Bart, as a token of our appreciation please accept this Honorary Rotary Reporter certificate… (read certificate and give to Bart).

Who Ya Gonna Call? Ghostbusters!

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Johnson County officials have given their informal OK for ghost hunters to check out a one-time insane asylum to see if any spirits live there. The Johnson County Board of Supervisors took the initial action on the request from the local Historical Society, which gives tours of the 153-year-old building.

Brandon Cochran, museum operations assistant for the Historical society, said there have never been reports of ghosts or bizarre happenings at the building and that bringing in a paranormal team is "kind of taking the pre-emptive approach.” Cochran wants an Iowa-based investigative team to come in for one night, but yet hopes they don't find any paranormal activity so the investigation can put to rest any speculation.

As in the movie Ghostbusters, this special team will use thermal imaging equipment and voice recording systems. Biggest concern for the county is potential liability issues before supervisors can formally approve the request.

The building, built in 1855, originally housed insane mentally ill patients and today it houses people with physical and mental disabilities. Officials of the current building do not want the paranormal team disturbing their current residents with their Ghost buster approach. As one county employee noted, “Seems our board in their quest to find “paranormal” activities, seems a bit too paranoid in their approach.”

We have a notable event on this day in history… TMI Accident

The Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurred in Harrisburg, PA, in 1979. Plant operators accidently turned off the water cooling system when a valve failed to close causing a dangerous overheating of the nuclear reactor core, which could have led to a meltdown. A meltdown is the worst case scenario, which is what happened at Chernobyl in Russia in 1986.

TMI was a state-of-the-art reactor lauded for generating affordable and reliable energy in a time of the 70’s energy crisis. Conflicting reports didn’t clarify if the accident was life-threatening, causing the Governor to issue an evacuation of pregnant women and children within a five-mile radius of the plant. Officials tried to calm people’s fears, however, many panicked with more than 100,000 people fleeing the area during the ensuing 48 hours.

President Carter, a trained nuclear engineer, visited TMI with the aim of calming the fears of local residents and the nation. On April 1st it was determined that the accident was minor and that a few plant workers were exposed to unhealthy levels of radiation, but very little radiation had escaped the plant. Nonetheless, the incident greatly eroded our country’s faith in nuclear power. TMI is still shut down to this day and not a single new nuclear power plant has been built since in the United States. FYI, the Chernobyl, Russia accident from half way around the world, actually exposed Harrisburg, PA to more radiation than the incident from Three Mile Island, which was only 10 miles away.

Where did Wireless Phones Begin?

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA: New York scientists recently reported after having dug to a depth of 10 yards recently, that they found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors had developed a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, California scientists dug to a depth of 20 yards, and shortly after, headlines in the LA Times read: 'California archaeologists find traces of 200 year old copper wire and conclude that their ancestors had a high-tech communications network 100 years earlier than New Yorkers.

One week later, in Cedar Rapids Iowa, their local paper, the Gazette, reported that Louie Voleska, a self-taught archaeologist, said he found absolutely nothing after digging as deep as 30 yards down in corn fields near Palo, IA. Voleska therefore concluded that 300 years ago, Iowa had already gone wireless.

And there you have it the Bottom of the News on this Friday, March 28, 2008. ###

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bottom of the News… Friday, March 20, 2008

Reporter's Note: My thanks to Bart Woods for serving as our Honorary Reporter for this week's edition of the news!

Good morning my fellow Rotarians… It is another wild and wacky month as we head into spring. Here are a few examples of people who have had their “brush with the law” so to speak.

Vince Hogg, 45, and Beverley Burns, 42, are notorious in Fife Scotland for their regular “domestic battles” according to a recent report from the local court. In their latest skirmish, Hogg pulled Burns' hair and threw her against a wall.

The prosecutor reported that… "He was angry about the fact a shower was leaking and caused a carpet to get wet,” Hogg pled guilty and got probation rather than jail.

But the prosecutor also told the court that Hogg has to deal with “serious consequences because of his line of work." Hogg has worked for the National Health Service for 27 years, and is "heavily involved" in the Zero Tolerance Campaign Against Domestic Violence. And recently he was promoted to the position of anger management counselor, but that promotion was rescinded after his arrest.

Hogg was suspended temporarily with full pay while he serves out his probation, however, he will return to work at NHS. The judge in the case was concerned that Hogg was taking advantage of the loopholes in "Zero Tolerance" policy and that he did not practice what he taught to kids and adults in his work. It appeared that Hogg, as the maker of rules, did not follow his owning teachings.

To cut down on shoplifting in stores, police in Derbyshire, England, have been providing shops with life-sized cardboard cutouts of one of their active-duty policemen that can be on display in the stores.

Anna Gaskell recently picked up 10 cutouts of herself and said "They're very realistic and looking at ten of me was surreal," she said. The program has been a success, with dramatic reductions in shoplifting in stores where the cutouts are set up, conspicuously watching over shoppers.

There was one notable failure in one shop, however; in the town of Belper, a shop had its cardboard cutout stolen – it was the cardboard cutout of a police dog chasing a suspected robber!

When the Anchorage Inn in Rouses Point, N.Y., caught fire, the small town at the extreme north tip of the state called for help from neighboring fire departments. The town of Lacolle, which is located right across the border in Canada (just 8 miles away), sent an engine, but it was stopped at the border by a U.S. Customs official.

"I've been crossing this border for 30 years, and the only question we were ever asked was, ‘Where's the fire?’” said Lacolle fire Chief Jean-Pierre Hebert. This time, however, the firefighters were delayed for as long as 15 minutes while they explained why they didn't have their passports in their bunker gear.

"When you're answering a call at midnight, all you think about is putting on your pants," Hebert said. "You don't think about taking your wallet." Two other trucks behind them, also running with lights and sirens, were also delayed.

Hebert said American authorities promised the "isolated incident" would not be repeated. Too late for the restaurant… it burnt to the ground. One local authority commented that the fire probably did more damage that any fire truck-borne terrorists could have accomplished.

And this is the bottom of the news on this Friday March 20, 2008.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bottom of the News… Friday, March 14, 2008

Top of the mornin' to ya my fellow Rotarians… Yes, it is the weekend eve of the most beloved holidays and that is St. Patrick’s day, which is the coming Monday.

But first, we have a special recognition for Daryl Spivey. Last week, Daryl volunteered for yours truly during my absence, to report the bottom of the news. I was told it was a special moment in time! And some wondered what qualified Daryl to be our reporter and I want you all to know that our crack Rotary Research Team did their due diligence on Daryl because we needed to make sure he had proper credentials and qualifications.

After considerable searching, it came down to two things… Daryl is trained as a FBI hostage negotiator and he has expertise as a family issues mediator. Hey, we figured if he can deal with those two situations then you can present to this group! As one Daybreaker emailed me… “Daryl is a great guy… so why did you do that to him!?” Hey, I asked and he volunteered!

So, Daryl, we have a token of appreciation that reads as follows… "Presented to Daryl Spivey; you are commended for the courage required to stand before your peers in the reporting of the bottom of the news. The Rotary News Team herby bestows upon you the title of "Honorary Rotary Reporter" to thank you for your service above self. (gave certificate to Daryl).

Okay, here are a few things of note regarding St. Patrick’s Day…

It started as a Christian and Catholic holiday in honor of St. Patrick (who was known for driving all the snakes off of the island of Ireland AND later in his life he introduced Christianity to the Irish around 400 AD. It is believed that March 17th is the date of St. Patrick’s death. Today, St. Patrick’s Day is one of the biggest celebrated holidays around the world. As the sign I saw last year in the Guinness Brewery says in Dublin… “Everyone is Irish on March 17th.”

Saint Patrick's Day celebrations in the U.S. were stated by Irish immigrants with the first parade in Boston, MA 1737, New York City, 1756 and Savannah, GA 1813, which last year boasted the largest US attendance at 750,000 people.

As a church holiday it has been celebrated in Ireland since the 1700’s. Last year Dublin’s 5-day festival had over a half a million people attending; Ireland’s total population is just over 4 million, but their festival only started in 1996 as an official Ireland government campaign using the holiday to showcase Ireland’s culture and to spur economic development. Ireland now is encouraging people of Irish decent to return to their homeland during the month on March annually.

The shortest St Patrick's Day parade in the world takes place between two pubs in a tiny Irish village. In the town of Dripsey, County Cork (on SW coast), their parade only runs 100 yards from the Weigh Inn to the Lee Valley Inn. The Postmaster Dermot O`Leary dresses up as St Patrick and they have 30 groups in the parade.

In the US… Chicago dyes its river green, Indianapolis dyes its main canal green and Savannah dyes its downtown city fountains green. At the University of Missouri Rolla Alumni paint 12 city blocks kelly green with mops before their annual parade.

Although Saint Patrick's Day has the color green as its theme, one little known fact is that blue was once the color associated with this day.

Corned beef and cabbage is the most common meal eaten in the US for St. Patrick's Day, even though historically, corned beef and cabbage is an American (rather than a traditionally Irish) meal.

And finally, if you drive on St. Patrick's Day you are 20% more likely to be killed or injured in an alcohol-related crash than on other days. So, be careful this coming Monday and remember to wear green if you don’t like to be pinched!

And there you have it, our Irish Bottom of the News! A top O the morning to ya… on this Friday, March 14, 2008. ###