#68 - More People Whose Asses Are Wider Than Their Shopping Carts

As you know, I'm compiling a photo essay depicting people whose asses are wider than their shopping carts. Here are some new samples from my collection.

This ass isn't all that wide, but it's shiny!

This is the 14-point trophy buck of PWAAWTTSCs.

No one is immune! Although sometimes, it's not ass bigness, but cart smallness.

#76 - Doody Free: Ethics, Environmentalism and the Disposal of Dog Poo

Being an environmentalist—or just socially responsible—takes work, thought and, not infrequently, money. And while everyone (almost) publicly acknowledges the need to undertake the extra effort, when I walk my dog every day (almost) I have to wonder how much of this acknowledgement is just lip service? You see, in my opinion—an opinion formed on countless treks around the same 10 or 15 blocks—nowhere in society is the type of unmonitored, self-motivated commitment that environmental responsibility requires so closely mirrored as in the way people collect and dispose of their dogs’ poop.

Being confronted with a stinky, occasionally amorphous, hunk or pool of steaming dog poop in the late evening is one of the prickliest ethical questions with which a sizeable percentage of Americans wrestle every day. You see, if you live in a quiet area, or when you’re taking a late walk, there’s virtually no oversight out there. The only thing compelling you to clean up that repellent mess is your commitment to civic responsibility and your belief that when we all Do The Right Thing society functions better.

I am not a religious person, but I don’t imagine your major holy figures directly address dog poop disposal in their various scriptures. I suppose it’s probably covered in some kind of blanket statement—do unto others, etc…—but here’s what I do know: Judging by the amount of uncollected dog poop festooning the lawns around my neighborhood, a lot of people, god-fearing and non, are not living up to generally accepted standards of civic responsibility.

Because, frankly, dog walking is a bit of a boring chore, I have done a good deal of quality cogitating on my responsibility towards the irresponsibility of people who have preceded me at popular pooping spots. For a long time, my policy, upon encountering an uncollected poop close to a poop under my jurisdiction, was to pick up both poops.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to collect two poops in a lone bag, and the Orphaned Poop Collection Project occasionally had, shall we say, disastrous results. For a while, I abandoned the OPCP entirely, but recently I had an experience that caused me to reevaluate my philosophies on the matter.

I was, as you’ve probably guessed, walking my dog. And he, as you’ve probably guessed, pooped. However, what was interesting about this particular poop was that it landed right on top of an orphaned poop! When I say right on top, I mean right on top. No part of my dog’s poop extended beyond the edges of the pre-existing poop and none of it was in contact with the ground.

So, standing there in the flickering of the streetlights, here was the question I had to answer: Was I obligated to pick up this non-terrestrial poop? Or, as it basically occupied ungoverned, borderless territory, like the tax free zones at airports, had I, via my long karmic association with the OPCP, finally earned a “Doody Free?”

I circled the poop several times to discern whether my portion of poop presented any danger to foot traffic in excess of that poised by the original deposit. In the end, I decided if someone, say, a jogger, was running swiftly by, it might be possible that the “second floor” my dog had contributed would increase the odds of a “top graze,” however, shoe contamination by orphaned dog poop mostly occurs via a downward placement of the foot and as the top poop did not increase the circumference of the danger zone, I concluded I had zero liability in this capacity.

So, a very slight increase in danger to joggers, versus the fact that I’d picked up a couple hundred hunks of poop on behalf of my neighbors in the past…

My pops is a jogger. I picked them both up.

But honestly, barring that kind personal connection, I’m not sure I would have. With no one watching, and were I not naturally given to over-speculate on life’s minutiae, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have left that double poop out there for someone else to deal with. And looking at the lawns in my neighborhood, and the state of the world, I increasingly get the haunting sense that a lot of people don’t even think twice about leaving their fellow man to clean up their dog poop—or their industrial waste, or their financial garbage.

Environmentalism and social responsibility are Choose Your Own Adventure Books we read on a daily basis. I always considered the goal of those books to keep reading and trying new choices until I’d weeded out all the mundane endings and death traps and found that one Ultimate Storyline that lead to glory. But honestly, looking at all the shit lying around, I feel like a lot of people are content to succumb to a rattlesnake bite on page 43.

(This story was written for Alternative Earth Magazine. Please check out their fine collection of comfy, inventive and entirely sustainable organic Peruvian cotton clothing. I'm probably wearing some right now!)

#75 - Are Our Forensics Labs Truly Underfunded? Or Are the Las Vegas, Miami and New York Branches Hogging All the Funds?

I am not a forensic criminologist. I suppose that’s probably obvious to most of you. I am also not an accountant or an economist. Again, obvious. But I would suggest that it’s precisely because I lack these two accreditations that I’m in a position to solve our nation’s current Crime Lab crisis.

Yesterday, the National Academy of Sciences, the US’s premier scientific body, published a broad study of forensic laboratories around the country. This research found that our crime labs are underfunded, lack a solid foundation in the principals of science and are crippled by delays in analyzing physical evidence. The study chronicled a backlog of 359,000 requests for forensic analysis in one year alone, and also found that fully 80% of crime labs are understaffed.

Now, I know it’s a little presumptuous of me to attempt to untangle a mystery that the mystery untanglers themselves are struggling with, but I submit that these hardworking people may be too close to the problem to see it clearly. The science of criminal forensics is advancing at a breakneck pace. The men and women of the field are convicting criminals and absolving innocents at a rate we couldn’t have imagined only a decade ago. Perhaps staying current with all the new technologies and techniques keeps these honorable crimefighters so busy that they don’t have time to look at the dispersal of funds in their field; or perhaps the labs are so cellular that one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing. But no matter the reason, to put things in an Emperor-has-no-clothes-type statement: I suspect the crime labs in Las Vegas, Miami and New York may be getting more than their fair share of funding.

I’m aware, of course, that these are populous and important locales with healthy criminal populations. But from what I’ve seen, and given the evidence presented in the NAS study, I’d say these three labs have WAY too much money. I mean, in a climate where the labs in Chicago and LA and San Francisco are so cash-strapped they can’t even process basic evidence, is it really appropriate for the head of the Miami lab to wear $1000 sunglasses and drive around in a Hummer made of moon rocks? When the entire West Coast police force is bickering over fingerprint dusting powder, isn’t it a bit unjust that breast implants and Botox are covered by the Las Vegas lab’s HMO?

I mean honestly, even if the CFO of the Miami lab is a cost-cutting savant in the mold of the guy who took the olives out of the airplane salads, is it even possible that he figured out a cost-effective way to have the entire police station constructed out of bulletproof Pyrex and lit from within by green and orange sunlamps? The desks in that place are made of crystal, for goodness’ sake! And in your wildest dreams, can you imagine how the Vegas financial muckity mucks beguiled the home office into building them a $10 million ant farm? It’s a joke!

While I’m blowing the whistle here, I may as well blow it long and hard. The misuse of funds in these labs extends way beyond architecture and insects. The New York lab has these awesome blue lights that can isolate a perp’s DNA if he farted at a crime scene. If a criminal walked by a mirror in his victim’s home they can use Residual Imaging Technology to “rewind” the reflections and nab the guy. They’re following up leads in Europe and China and they have an artificial smelling ap called Bloodhound loaded onto their iPhones for locating victims of kidnapping.

Look, I know no one likes a tattletale, but someone had to speak up. I saw once where the Miami lab used a 3D fax machine to send a murder weapon to New York in about two seconds; meanwhile, the Dallas lab is trying to find someone who still repairs mimeograph machines. I’m sorry, but is human life in Texas and Arizona and Michigan worth less than in New York and Miami and Vegas? It must be. Because those latter three labs are pumping Who songs throughout their buildings and using psychics and ghost seers to solve crimes. It’s like the goddamn Minority Report over there, and it just ain’t right.

#74 - What Does A Guy Have To Do To Get Some Intravenous Hydration Around Here?

I think one day I would like to go to a convention for nutritionists. Not to learn about new vitamins or pick up weight loss tips, but rather to see the colliding of worlds. I’d like to go to the big opening ceremony to see if the nutritionists who want us to drink 10 glasses of water a day have ever met, or for that matter heard of, the nutritionists who want us to eat six servings of fruit a day. And I’d also like to find out if those two schools of assholes are at all acquainted with the other school of assholes who want us to eat five small meals a day.

When I picture this convention it is attended entirely by tall, slim, white-coated Californians with gleaming teeth, lustrous hair and pockets full of raw almonds. They mill about being energetic, pumping each others hands while making forceful eye contact and every single attendee is either drinking water or munching apple slices at all times.

I have never seen the day planner of a nutritionist, but if they drink 10 glasses of water, eat 6 servings of fruit and 5 meals a day, I imagine it looks like this:

6:00 eat
7:00 drink
8:00 eat
9:00 drink
10:00 eat
11:00 drink
12:00 eat
1:00 drink
2:00 eat
3:00 drink
4:00 eat
5:00 drink
6:00 eat
7:00 drink
8:00 eat drink
9:00 bed

What else could they possibly have time for?

I try to keep up with the hydration and nutrition demands of these ruthless maniacs, but honestly, my jaw’s not powerful enough to chew all that cud, and unless I hook up some kind of tube system from my wiener to the toilet, drinking 10 glasses of water a day would leave me precious little time for work.

You know who has the right idea? Football players. How many times have you heard that a certain NFL player was “given intravenous fluids at halftime?” Can I get in on that action please? Seems to me, it would be worth a trip to nursing school if I could just learn how to hook myself up to an IV without dying.

I’m tired of forcing myself to gulp down all this water. I’m tired of chewing for myself like a sucker. What I want is a reclining chair with a bag of fluids strapped to it that I can hook myself up to in the evenings while I watch TV. I’d put some Poweraide or iced tea in there, maybe with a splash of pure alcohol and save time and money by cutting out everything from the esophagus up. And while I’m at it, I might want to install a shunt in my belly—a window, like the ones they put in cows at Science Farms. That way I could stick a couple carrots and apples and a hunk of cabbage in there and digest them without having to chew. I’d also like to have a little removable tray installed inside my gut so I could eat fried dumplings, Big Macs and ribs for dinner every night, but remove them from my system before they were digested.

Come on science, catch up with me here. You’re lagging!

#73 - Bigness and Smallness

My pops sent me this series of digital representations of the relative sizes of celestial bodies. So, if you've ever wondered how big the Earth is compared to the sun, or how big the sun is compared to Betelgeuse--the 12th brightest star in the sky, a red giant that forms Orion's shoulder--here's a study guide. I found looking at this almost gave me a sense of vertigo. Not so much because I suddenly understood how tiny and insignificant we all are, but rather because I thought we were pretty smart as a species and now I realize we're drastically underperforming. I mean, when you look at Earth next to Neptune, it looks like a grape next to a grapefruit. So why the hell does it still take 20 hours to fly to Africa? Why have we never captured a giant squid or even filmed one in its natural environment? Why don't I eat more fruit? Damn you Pollux! Damn you Arcturus! We're doing the best we can, but it's hard when you keep staring like that!

Antares is the 15th (!) brighest star in our sky. It is more than 1000 light years away. The next image is a Hubble Telescope ultra deep-field infrared view of countless "entire" galaxies billions of light years away.

And this is a close up of one of the darkest regions of the photo above.

My first question, upon seeing this was, "Do I still have to shovel my driveway?" So I emailed my father, who lives near Princeton University. He replied as follows, "Our neighbor one house removed is Jerry Ostricker. He is the foremost physicist on dark energy, served as provost of Princeton, held Newton's chair at Oxford and is at the Institute for Advanced Studies. He's known for his theories on the universe including consilience, which refers to the ebb and flow of existence--in other words, you're here today and gone tomorrow. He was shoveling his driveway yesterday and I asked him why he felt the need to do it given his theories. He didn't answer."

So... yes?

#72 - Is Partial Compendium Latvian Humor Joke

Yes! Final! Is Partial Compendium Latvian Humor Joke! You Await!

Compile is Chris Connolly, Ky Henderson, Ministers of Latvian Humorological Joke Society of Latvia

Three men are in ship. One Latvian, one Russian, one Lithuanian. Lithuanian take out one bottle wodka. Russian kill Lithuanian, then drink wodka. Then Latvian wait until Russian drink self to sleep, then kill. Is end.

Latvian: Is so cold.
All: How cold is?
Latvian: Very. Also dark.

A fishmonger says to a bootblack, "Are there any more potato left?" Bootblack says, "Yes, one. But it has gone bad." The fishmonger says, "I am very hungry. I have not eaten for three days. I shall eat it, even if it makes me very ill." And bootblack says, "I did not speak truth. In reality, there is no food left. You shall go hungry yet another day, my friend."

Man is hungry. He steal bread to feed family. Get home, find all family have sent Siberia! “More bread for me,” man think. But bread have worm.

Janis: I hope my son does not die during night.
Guntis: What is "hope"?
Janis: Yes. I know what you say.
Guntis: No. I am serious. What is hope?
Janis: In truth, I do not know.

Questioning: Why did chicken cross road?
Answering: I have not seen chicken since I was very young, on my parents' farm. This is before the Cossacks slaughtered them. I can still hear screams of sister as soldiers rape her. But back to question, where did you see chicken? I am very, very hungry.

Man car break down near house of farmer. Take shelter in barn. Find farmer daughter in barn. Oh! Hot stuff! But TOO LATE! Is already rape by soldier.

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Latvian who?
Please open door. Is cold.

Latvian walk into bar with poodle under one arm and salami under other. Eat salami first.

How many Latvian is take screw in light bulb?
Only one. Obtain light bulb is hard part. You have potato?

How is get one-arm Latvian out of tree?
Is no one-arm Latvian! Why you silly? All go Center for Great Peaceful Physical Reassignment. You no ask.

Why six is afraid seven? Because seven have many friend politburo.

Latvian walk into bar with pig on shoulder. Bartender say, “That look delicious!” But pig say, “No. Is Latvian. Taste is similar to dog.”

Latvian walk into bar with mule. Bartender say, “Why so long face?” Latvian say, “I was thinking of my daughter. She has been lie with soldier for potato feed baby. “

Is dead dog in road. Is dead Latvian in road. What difference?
Dog have fur keep warm. Also, freedom. And dog try eat poop for pleasure not just survive. So many thing!

Latvian is rub lamp find genii. Genii say, “What is three wishes?” Latvian say, “I wish potato!” Then, POOF! Potato! Latvian so happy! “Oh! Is potato! Is potato!” say Latvian. Genii ask, “What is next wish?” Latvian is say, “I wish you go away so can enjoy potato!” POOF! Too bad. Also, was only lamp.

Little boy Janis Dipers is get trouble, school. After teacher is beat, make also stay detention all alone. While detention, teacher is get horny! Teacher and Janis is make sex. “Janis Dipers!” teacher shout! “But teacher,” Janis say, “I too hungry for energy do that.”

Three Latvian are brag about sons. “My son is soldier. He have rape as many women as want,” say first Latvian. “Zo?” second say, “My son is farmer. He have all potato he want!” Third Latvian wait long time, then say, “My son is die at birth. For him, struggle is over.” “Wow! You are win us,” say others. But all are feel sad.

Boy: But mother, I no are like grandma.
Mother: Eat anyway. Is no potato.

Latvian walk into bar and say, “I have not eaten for many days. One full beer will be too much for me. How much just maybe one shot beer?” Bartender say, “This is can do for you. Is two centimes.” Latvian say, “Oh. I was hoping it would be less. I do not have that much.”

Is Latvian couple have been marry 60 years! But for long times, is no making sex. For 60th wedding anniversary, wife is buy for husband hooker for the have sex! Hooker is arrive at door one fine day and is say to husband, “Hello! I here give you super sex!” Man is say, “Oh! I will have the soup.” Then hooker is say, “What? You have soup? Why you no told this?”

What are one potato say other potato?
Premise ridiculous. Who have two potato?

How many Latvian is take screw in light bulb?
25. One screw in, 24 ride bicycle generator for 1-hour shift. But time probably better spend search food.

Three Latvian girl are walk down street. One have knife, one have gun, one have window. They are meet soldier. Soldier is ask first girl, “Why you are have knife?” “If you try rape me, I stab!” she say. Okay! Second girl, “Why you are have gun?” “If you try rape me, I shoot!” she say. Okay! Third girl, “Why you are have window?!?” “If you try rape me, I jump out!”

Latvian is capture by cannibals. Cannibals say, “We are kill you and eat you and use skin for canoe. But you may choose means of your death.” Latvian say, “Okay! You are give me fork, please!” But oops! Is forgot how use!

If you are have own sample Latvia Humor Joke, please is send curator Chris Connolly at [email protected]. You are thank.

#71 - Some Culinary Advantages of the Cold Weather Climate

As both the John Henry and the Pythagoras of snowshoveling, I am professionally and personally compelled to keep up with the fight against global warming. However, my commitment to the cause pales in comparison to that of the several hundred protesters pictured below. As a coach I once had said of commitment, "It's like the relationships of pigs and chickens to bacon and eggs. The chickens are interested, the pigs are committed."

And as we're discussing the urgency of preserving the existence of cold on Earth, I thought I'd share some thoughts on the culinary advantages of long, punishing winters. You see, when it doesn't get above 0 degrees for ten days in a row, and you only see feeble glimpses of sunshine for weeks at a time, it's often helpful to contemplate the upside of your situation. So, in the spirit of stubbornly seeking out the silver lining I present...

Some Culinary Advantages of the Cold Weather Climate!
1. Fast Working, Free, Non-Polluting Beverage Chillers!

2. Has your asparagus gone limp? (And I mean that only in the most literal sense.) Try a 20 minute soak in a snow bank; it'll perk right up!

3. Did your son pee on the floor causing your sauce base to scorch as you dealt with the situation? Run outside and sink your pan into a snowbank! It'll probably stop the burning in the time for you to continue cooking as usual, and even if some burnage occurs, you'll be able to scrape the unscorched sauce off the top of the pan and the flavors won't be corrupted. Thank you ghastly, soul-crushing winter from hell!

4. Want to "shock" steamed veggies, sealing in the flavor and color? Hello! Just grab a handful of snow and chill out.

One Culinary Disadvantage of the Cold Weather Climate
If your wife's taken the car and you have to bike two miles to get one, solitary goddamn egg, you have to outfit yourself like Arctic Snakeyes from G.I. Joe.

#70 - I Am the Pythagoras of Snowshoveling

As most people know, I Am the John Henry of Snowshoveling. What many of you will be surprised to learn is that I am also the Pythagoras of Snowshoveling. While I was logging my many, many hours of shoveling a few weeks ago, my trusty Suncast Powergrip clasped in my begloved hands, I started wondering exactly how many tons of the white stuff I would be shifting this winter.

This casual questioning quickly took on momentum until I launched into a full-on quixotic quest to develop a formula by which I could attempt to calculate the total weight of the snow I'm likely to shovel this winter. My search began at the National Climatic Data Center where I learned that over the last half century Madison has averaged 44.1 inches of snowfall (including ice pellets and sleet) per year. Of course, as I and my fellow snow management professionals know, snowfall comes in very different weights and densities. Shoveling sixteen-inches of freshly-fallen, powdery snow can be easier, relatively speaking, than shoveling only six inches of icy slush, and, making maters even more complex, when two snowfalls overlap, the resulting “snowpack” can consist of layers of both light and heavy snow.

Years ago meteorologists attempting to “weigh” snowfall developed the rule of thumb that ten inches of snow would melt down to one inch of water. Since they knew pure water weighed in at 62.4 lbs per cubic foot they could guess the weight of a snowfall based on the depth of the snow on the ground. (Pure ice, as seen here, is about .9% less dense than pure water, which is why ice cubes float in your drink.) Unfortunately, while the 10:1 ratio was nice and easy to work with, it was an ineffective and flawed measuring device.

When it snows in temperatures around the freezing point, the ratio of snow to liquid water is indeed about 10:1. However, as temperatures, flake structure and wind velocities fluctuate, that ratio may range anywhere from the fabulously fluffy 100:1 to the sopping wet 3:1. Here in the US, the ratio is typically between 8:1 and 20:1, and the current countrywide value set by the US National Weather Service for converting snowfall into its liquid water equivalent in the absence of actual snow samples is 13:1.

So, assuming a 13:1 snow-to-liquid-water ratio and an average snowfall of 44.1 inches, how many tons of snow am I fated to shovel every time we overwinter in Madison? Well, let’s do the math: given the weight of water, one inch of average USDA-approved 13:1 ratio snow spread over one square foot of surface would weigh about .42 pounds. So, if you had a 45-foot by 10-foot driveway, or 450 square feet of surface area, a one-inch snowfall would leave you 189 pounds of snow to shovel. And, given our half century-long average snowfall of 44.1 inches, your driveway alone would represent 8,334.9 pounds of shoveling goodness in an average year.

To customize your own shoveling load, simply use this formula:

(Area to be shoveled x .42) x 44.1 = your cross to bear

In some respects all this shoveling is good for us. The US Surgeon General’s Report on Physical Activity and Health in 1996 found that snow shoveling was a good exercise—about the equivalent of running at 9.3 miles per hour. Unfortunately, as snow shoveling is deceptively strenuous, and because cold temperatures can increase the viscosity of circulating blood, snow shoveling is also a common cause of heart attacks.

As for the weight of the snow deposited at the base of your driveway by the snowplow just after you’ve finished the rest of your shoveling: It cannot be calculated.

I used this research for my Madison Mysteries column on the Onion's Madison website. Check it out here.