D  e  s  e  r  t     E  x  p  o  s  u  r  e  February 2006

Features

Have Spacesuit, Will Travel
Is space tourism the ticket to success for the proposed spaceport?

For Love and Money
Ivan Thompson, the "Cowboy Cupid," stars in an award-winning documentary.

Connecting the Threads
The Southwest Women's Fiber Arts Collective weaves together area fabric artists.

Blooming in the Desert
"Little Vampire" author and painter Angela Sommer-Bodenburg.

Out of Africa
Festus Addo-Yobo, new director of NMSU's Black Studies Program.

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Before You Hit That "Forward" Button. . . Plus: What a Tool! & Puns for Intellectuals

Not to mention When Jackrabbits Attack, money from God and the Charles Schulz Philosophy Quiz.

The joke's on us (USAF division). . . With a salute to our men and women in uniform, CrownWest passes along this favorite funny:

"A US Air Force C-141 is scheduled to leave Thule Air Base, Greenland, at midnight. During the pilot's preflight check, he discovers that the latrine holding tank is still full from the last flight. So a message is sent to the base and an airman who was off duty is called out to take care of it.

"The young man finally gets to the air base and makes his way to the aircraft, only to find that the latrine pump truck has been left outdoors and is frozen solid, so he must find another one in the hangar, which takes even more time. He returns to the aircraft and is less than enthusiastic about what he has to do. Nevertheless, he goes about the pumping job deliberately and carefully (and slowly), so as to not risk criticism later.

"As he's leaving the plane, the pilot stops him and says, 'Son, your attitude and performance has caused this flight to be late and I'm going to personally see to it that you are not just reprimanded but punished.'

"Shivering in the cold, his task finished, the young airman takes a deep breath, stands up tall and replies, 'Sir, with all due respect, I'm not your son; I'm an airman in the United States Air Force. I've been in Thule, Greenland, for 11 months without any leave, and reindeer are beginning to look pretty good to me. I have one stripe, it's 2:30 in the morning, the temperature is 40 degrees below zero, and my job here is to pump crap from your aircraft. Now just exactly what form of punishment did you have in mind?'"

Modern inconveniences. . . Resuming, at last, our ongoing rant about the downsides of today's technology, Bert of the Burros shares his thoughts about "Computer Horrors":

"There are many things that bug me about computers. One major one is that I can't seem to be able to live without mine. But another that has reared its ugly head is the dreaded 'Forward' function on email. Like the proverbial Christmas fruitcake, this feature allows many messages to have infinite lives, as they are relayed around the world from computer to computer. While my security systems have essentially stopped spam, spyware and the like, most of the remaining messages seem to contain forwards. I receive so many of them that I have been able to categorize them (and their senders) as follows:

"Category 1—These are usually close friends who, upon receiving a forward, and knowing my inclinations, decide whether the forward may be of interest to me BEFORE sending it. Bless them!

"Category 2—This category also consists of friends, but they think everything they like, I should see. The problem is telling them I am not their clone.

"Category 3—This is the serious forwarder. No jokes here, but every 'write your congressman' issue, every religious chain letter, every fund-raising issue, and every tear-inducing story of sorrow, pain and misery just has to be sent out to everyone.

"Category 4—The complicated forward. This one forces me to open an attachment, only to find it too was forwarded and, several openings later, you find out it wasn't worth the effort.

"Category 5—The mass mailer. This acquaintance must not have much to do, but has a massive mailing list, to which he/she sends everything that comes in, usually without even looking at some of them.

"Category 6—The mystery mailer. This is an occasional forward from someone I don't even recognize, on a subject I care nothing about, asking me to send it to eveyone I know.

"So what is the solution? Give away my computer? Not an option as long as e-shopping exists. Shut down email? My family around the country would object. Change my email address/server? I'm going wireless soon so this could be it. Selectively block senders? Also an option. Tell specific forwarders to knock it off? Make anonymous threats?

"I think I'll just send this little tirade to my entire email address list and see what happens."

File what follows under "great minds think alike." Hardly had Bert of the Burros' tirade about email forwarding finished reverberating in our inbox when the following arrived, from Gigi:

"My heartfelt appreciation goes out to all of you who have taken the time and trouble to send me 'forwards' over the past 12 months. Thank you for making me feel safe, secure, blessed and wealthy.

"Extra thanks to whoever sent me the one about rat crap in the glue on envelopes, because I now have to go get a wet towel every time I need to seal an envelope. Also, I scrub the top of every can I open for the same reason.

"Because of your concern I no longer drink Coca-Cola because it can remove toilet stains. I no longer drink Pepsi or Dr. Pepper, since the people who make these products are atheists who refuse to put 'Under God' on their cans.

"I no longer use Saran Wrap in the microwave because it causes cancer.

"I no longer check the coin return on pay phones because I could be pricked with a needle infected with AIDS.

"I no longer use cancer-causing deodorants even though I smell like a water buffalo on a hot day.

"I no longer go to shopping malls because someone might drug me with a perfume sample and rob me.

"I no longer receive packages from nor send packages by UPS or FedEx since they are actually Al Qaeda in disguise.

"I no longer answer the phone because someone will ask me to dial a number for which I will get a phone bill with calls to Jamaica, Uganda, Singapore and Uzbekistan.

"I no longer eat KFC because their 'chickens' are actually horrible mutant freaks with no eyes or feathers.

"I no longer have any sneakers—but that will change once I receive my free replacement pair from Nike.

"I no longer have to buy expensive cookies from Neiman Marcus since I now have their recipe.

"I no longer worry about my soul because at last count I have 363,214 angels looking out for me.

"Thanks to you, I have learned that God only answers my prayers if I forward an email to seven of my friends and make a wish within five minutes.

"I no longer have any savings because I gave it all to a sick girl who is about to die in the hospital (for the 1,387,258th time).

"I no longer have any money at all—but that will change once I receive the $15,000 that Microsoft and AOL are sending me for participating in their special email program.

"Yes, I want to thank you so much for looking out for me that I will now return the favor! If you don't send this e-mail to at least 144,000 people in the next seven minutes, a large pigeon with a wicked case of diarrhea will land on your head at 5 p.m. this afternoon. I know this will occur because it actually happened to a friend of my next door neighbor's ex-mother-in-law's second husband's cousin's beautician."

Need we add that all the above examples are NOT repeat NOT factual, so KFC and UPS and the rest can please call off their attorneys? (Though we ARE still waiting for our $15,000 from Microsoft. . . .) Need we further add that we here at Desert Diary World Headquarters LOVE, simply LOVE forwarded emails—as long as they're funny? Send them along to diary@desertexposure.com.


Your rants about technological troubles are of course also welcome, via the aforementioned email or by postal mail (just don't lick that envelope, for gosh sakes!) to Desert Diary, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062.

Life in a state of nature. . . Departing from her usual habit of sending us jokes, Aironot shares instead this meditation on life in the Mimbres:

"Winter and I'm still at it, wrapped in the awe of wild things here in the Mimbres. Just yesterday morning when I checked the birdbath water, it was frozen. Then I saw something unusual. There was in the ice a very clear hoof print of a deer that had stomped out a hole to get a sip of water. Alone here at this window, I smiled at the smart little critters.

"Later on, I was again hanging over my kitchen sink feasting my eyes on the irresistible view of the mountains. Then I noticed the back door of a house down the way was standing wide open on this cold day. In the same split second that I spotted that, a big jackrabbit—and I mean one of those giant ones with great long ears—went racing across the neighbor's yard as if pursued by invisible and unknown demons. Leaping and bounding, he went hippity-hopping right up onto the neighbor's back porch like a pogo stick, sliding right through her doorway. Mr. Jackrabbit disappeared into the darkness.

"Amazed, I laughed, and even as I guffawed, my wild-eyed neighbor came rushing out the back door—chased, so it seemed, by an equally terrified rabbit. Once outside, one of them went north and the other went south in a matter of seconds. The old house dog just sat and observed this strange affair, same as I. Then, noting the rabbit was gone, the neighbor hightailed it back inside the house, shutting the door behind her, the lock's click echoing across this valley.

"Mimbres. You gotta love it."

Welcome to Home Despot. . . And now, for the handymen and -women out there, JC hammers out this helpful tool guide:

"Drill Press: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against that freshly painted part you were drying.

"Wire Wheel: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws the bolts somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar calluses in about the time it takes you to say 'ouch.'

"Electric Hand Drill: Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age.

"Pliers: Used to round off bolt heads.

"Hacksaw: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

"Vise Grips: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

"Oxyacetylene Torch: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub you want the bearing race out of.

"Whitworth Sockets: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for impersonating that 9/16 or 1/2 socket you've been searching for the last 15 minutes.

"Hydraulic Floor Jack: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new disk brake pads, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

"Eight-Foot Long Douglas Fir 2x4: Used for levering an automobile upward off a hydraulic jack handle.

"Phone: Tool for calling your neighbor to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.

"Tweezers: A tool for removing wood splinters.

"Craftsman 1/2 X 16 Inch Screwdriver: A large pry bar that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog droppings off your boot.

"E-Z Out Bolt and Stud Extractor: A tool 10 times harder than any known drill bit that snaps off in bolt holes you couldn't use anyway.

"Two-Ton Engine Hoist: A tool for testing the tensile strength of everything opposite the handle.

"Aviation Metal Snips: See Hacksaw.

"Trouble Light: The home mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, 'the sunshine vitamin,' which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

"Phillips Screwdriver: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt, but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

"Air Compressor: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 800 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty bolts last over-tightened 58 years ago by someone at ERCO, and neatly rounds off their heads.

"Pry Bar: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50-cent part.

"Hose Cutter: A tool used to cut hoses too short.

"Hammer: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.

"Mechanic's Knife: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks and rubber or plastic parts.

"Dammit Tool: Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling 'DAMMIT' at the top of your lungs. It is also the next tool that you will need."


Your own advice for handyfolks or helpful definitions are of course welcome at Desert Diary, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, email diary@desertexposure.com or fax 534-4134.

Kids say the darnedest things. . . As all those fun tax forms start arriving in the mail, this from Doctor Diane seems particularly appropriate:

"A little boy wanted $100 very badly and prayed for weeks, but nothing happened. Then he decided to write God a letter requesting the $100. When the postal authorities received the letter to 'God, USA,' they decided to send it to the president. The president was so amused that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy a $5 bill. The president thought this would appear to be a lot of money to a little boy.

"The little boy was delighted with the $5 bill and sat down to write a thank-you note to God, which read: 'Dear God: Thank you very much for sending the money. However, I noticed that for some reason you sent it through Washington, DC, and those bastards deducted $95 in taxes.'"

Capital pun-ishment. . . Responding to our (admittedly ill-conceived) call for your favorite puns, Ned Ludd passes along these "Puns for Intellectuals," which we share with sincere apologies:

"A vulture boarded a plane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess stopped him and said, 'Sorry sir, only one carrion per passenger.'

"NASA recently sent a number of Holsteins into orbit for experimental purposes. They called it the herd shot round the world.

"Two boll weevils grew up in South Carolina. One took off to Hollywood and became a rich star. The other stayed in Carolina and never amounted to much—and naturally became known as the lesser of two weevils.

"Two Eskimos in a kayak were chilly, so they started a fire, which sank the craft, proving the old adage you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

"A three-legged dog walks into an old West saloon, slides up to the bar and announces, 'I'm looking for the man who shot my paw.'

"Did you hear about the Buddhist who went to the dentist and refused to take Novocain? He wanted to transcend dental medication.

"A woman has twins, gives them up for adoption. One goes to an Egyptian family and is named 'Ahmal.' The other is sent to a Spanish family and is named 'Juan.' Years later, Juan sends his birth mother a picture of himself. Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal. He replies, 'They're twins, for Pete's sake! If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal!'

"A group of friars opened a florist shop to help with their belfry payments. Everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, so their business flourished. A rival florist became upset that his business was suffering because people felt compelled to buy from the friars, so he asked the friars to cut back hours or close down. The friars refused. So the florist then hired Hugh McTaggert, the biggest, meanest thug in town. He went to the friars' shop, beat them up, destroyed their flowers, trashed their shop, and said that if they didn't close, he'd be back. Totally terrified, the friars closed up shop and hid in their rooms. This proved only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

"Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot his whole life, which created an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him frail, and with his odd diet, he suffered from very bad breath. This made him, of course, a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis."

Pondering the imponderables. . . Finally, we put things into perspective a bit with this via Writer Bill, "The Charles Schulz Philosophy Quiz," as in the creator of the Peanuts comic strip (who taught us that "Happiness is a warm puppy"):

"1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

"2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

"3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.

"4. Name 10 people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer prize.

"5. Name the last half-dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

"6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

"How did you do? The point is, none of us remembers the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers; they are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

"Here's the second half of the quiz. See how you do on this part.

"1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

"2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

"3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

"4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

"5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

"6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

"Scoring the quiz: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who care."

 

Send your deep thoughts, rants, jokes, anecdotes and other fodder to Desert Diary, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, fax 534-4134 or email diary@desertexposure.com. Remember, the best submission each month gets a piece of spiffy Desert Exposure gear!

 

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