Dumb People (but They Vote!), Medical Signage and
Why the Chicken Crossed
Plus unanswerable questions, Ohio geography and
blonde casino secrets.
You're only as old as you feel. . .
as we were recovering from one of those "significant" birthdays,
Doctor Diane reminded us of the fun of aging with this:
"A couple in their 90s are both having problems
remembering things. They decide to go to the doctor for a checkup.
The doctor tells them that they're physically okay, but they might
want to start writing things down to help them remember.
"Later that night, while watching TV, the
old man gets up from his chair. His wife asks, 'Where are you going?'
"'To the kitchen,' he replies.
"'Will you get me a bowl of ice cream?'
"'Don't you think you should write it down
so you can remember it?' she asks.
"'No, I can remember it.'
"'Well, I'd like some strawberries on top,
too. You'd better write it down because you know you'll forget it.'
"He says, 'I can remember that! You want
a bowl of ice cream with strawberries.'
"'I'd also like whipped cream. I'm certain
you'll forget that, so you'd better write it down!' she retorts.
"Irritated, he says, 'I don't need to write
it down, I can remember it! Leave me alone! Ice cream with strawberries
and whipped cream—I got it, for goodness sake!' Then he grumbles into
"After about 20 minutes, the old man returns
from the kitchen and hands his wife a plate of bacon and eggs.
"She stares at the plate for a moment and
says, 'Where's my toast?'"
Dumb and dumber. . . These
tales of stupidity in our times are brought to us courtesy of Rudy,
who reminds us that "These people vote!" Indeed they do:
"Some guy bought a new fridge for his house.
To get rid of his old fridge, he put it in his front yard and hung
a sign on it saying: 'Free to good home. You want it, you take it.'
For three days the fridge sat there without even one person looking
twice at it. He eventually decided that people were too untrusting
of this deal. It looked too good to be true, so he changed the sign
to read: 'Fridge for sale, $50.' The next day someone stole it.
"While looking at a house, my brother asked
the real estate agent which direction was north because, he explained,
he didn't want the sun waking him up every morning. She asked, 'Does
the sun rise in the north?' When my brother explained that the sun
rises in the east (and has for some time), the agent shook her head
and said, 'Oh, I don't keep up with that stuff.'
"I used to work in technical support for
a 24/7 call center. One day I got a call from an individual who asked
what hours the call center was open. I told him, 'The number you dialed
is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.' He responded, 'Is that
Eastern or Pacific time?' Wanting to end the call quickly, I said,
"My colleague and I were eating our lunch
in our cafeteria, when we overheard one of the administrative assistants
talking about the sunburn she got on her weekend drive to the shore.
She drove down in a convertible, but 'didn't think she'd get sunburned
because the car was moving.'
"My sister has a lifesaving tool in her car.
It's designed to cut through a seat belt if she gets trapped. She keeps
it in the trunk.
"My friends and I were on a beer run and
noticed that the cases were discounted 10 percent. Since it was a big
party, we bought two cases. The cashier multiplied two times 10 percent
and gave us a 20 percent discount.
"I was hanging out with a friend when we
saw a woman with a nose ring attached to an earring by a chain. My
friend said, 'Wouldn't the chain rip out every time she turned her
head?' I explained that a person's nose and ear remain the same distance
apart no matter which way the head is turned.
"I couldn't find my luggage at the airport
baggage area. So I went to the lost luggage office and told the woman
there that my bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry
because she was a trained professional and I was in good hands. 'Now,'
she asked me, 'has your plane arrived yet?' She also votes!"
Your own accounts of
stupidity in our time are of course welcome at Desert Diary, PO Box
191, Silver City, NM 88062, fax 534-4134. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pondering the imponderables. . . We
offer below our first-ever crossover from the Letters page to Desert
Diary, which ordinarily considers things more frivolous than the carefully
wrought comments of our letter-writing readers. In our February
2006 Letters column, however, reader Randy
L. Clark was
inspired by an earlier Henry
Lightcap column (you see how these chain
reactions start?) to submit a lengthy analysis of the question, "Which
came first, the chicken or the egg?" In our editor's riposte to
reader Clark, we blithely suggested that perhaps he could next answer
the eternal puzzle, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" Much
to our surprise, that's exactly what he did. Since this conversation
has veered far from Letters column material, we're appropriating Randy
Clark's missive for these pages. Other readers are, of course, invited
to submit their own solutions to this and other puzzles of the ages—write
PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, fax 534-4134 or email email@example.com.
But first, why did the chicken cross the road?
"When considering why a chicken would cross
a road, we find ourselves dealing with a bird of a slightly different
feather. More precisely, we leave the world of knowledge-set validity
and enter the realm of behavioral analysis and deliberate vs. impulsive
action. Did the chicken have a premeditated, conscious motive for crossing
the road, or was it simply acting upon an instinctive urge? Having
restated the question in proper form, we can now consider a collection
of valid answers.
"Physiological: The chicken crossed the road
because a tiny group of neurons in its brain fired off a series of
electrical charges to a group of muscles in its legs. This forced the
chicken to lurch forward into the road and eternal fame, like some
automated clump of electric meat. (Granted, not a very poetic explanation,
but a masterwork of simplicity.)
"Metaphysical: The chicken never crossed
the road. How could it when the bird, the road and the other side can't
exist as separate entities? All are merely dualistic illusions generated
by a bi-hemispheric human brain incapable of perceiving the singular
nature of the universe. All is one. Ommmmmm.
"Philosophical: 'What the hell, I might as
well cross the road.'
"Circumstantial: The chicken was somehow
coerced. It may have been chased. An attractive bird of the opposite
(or same) sex may have enticed it to cross. Perhaps it was after a
juicy bug. (Forced as I am by nature to contemplate this scenario from
a male's perspective, I suspect either food, sex or both were somehow
"Pragmatic: The chicken crossed the road.
(The older I get, the more this sort of answer appeals to me. Let the
younger generations worry themselves to distraction with details.)
"Oddly enough, the time-honored answer of
'To get to the other side' is the least-likely correct answer. That's
because it operates upon the premise that a creature only slightly
more intelligent than oatmeal (we're talking domesticated chicken;
feral fowl are notoriously wily) made a premeditated decision to cross
a road. More likely, the bird simply experienced a vague urge to cross
and the gods of roadkill permitted it to pass unmolested.
"In anticipation of some innocent soul with a pet chicken named
Henrietta taking exception, allow me the following disclaimer: I too
have seen chickens perform seemingly intelligent tasks. As a boy I witnessed
a circus chicken play the first few notes of 'Chopsticks' on a toy piano.
It had been trained to do so by placing pieces of cracked corn on the
keys. However, when I asked the trainer how long it had taken to teach
his protégé, he replied, 'Almost a year.'
"Ponder that a moment. In the chicken time
continuum, a human year is akin to five or six generations. Imagine
hiring a tutor to teach your child piano in anticipation of your great-great-great-great-grandchild
actually playing! I rest my case.
"But enough of chickens. We didn't really
need them or their metaphorical stroll to discuss deliberate vs. impulsive
action. I could just as easily have used my experiences some years
ago at a liquor-laced Christmas party in Honduras. I had been hired
to do a bit of consulting work for the Standard Fruit Co. in the small
coastal village of La Saba. As the evening's festivities wore on, virtually
all aspects of behavior—deliberate, impulsive or otherwise—were well
exhibited. Chickens were not in attendance.
"Homo sum: nihil humanum
a me alienum puto." ("I
am a human being; I consider nothing human to be foreign to me.") —Terentius
Annals of medicine. . . This medical
yarn (of a sort) comes to us from the email account of Ned
whom any complaints should be addressed:
"Two doctors opened an office in a small
town and put up a sign reading 'Dr. Smith and Dr. Jones, Psychiatry
and Proctology.' The town council was not happy with the sign, so the
doctors changed it to 'Hysterias and Posteriors.' This was not acceptable
either, so in an effort to satisfy the council they changed the sign
to 'Schizoids and Hemorrhoids.' No go. Next, they tried 'Catatonics
and High Colonics.' Thumbs down again. Then came 'Manic Depressives
and Anal Retentives.' Still no good. Another attempt resulted in 'Minds
and Behinds.' Unacceptable again. So they tried 'Lost Souls and Butt
Holes.' No way. 'Analysis and Anal Cysts'? Nope. 'Nuts and Butts?'
Uh-uh. 'Freaks and Cheeks?' Still no go. 'Loons and Moons?' Forget
"Almost at their wit's end, the doctors finally
came up with: 'Dr Smith and Dr. Jones, Odds and Ends.'
"Everyone loved it."
Pondering still more imponderables.
. . These "profound
questions" were passed along by Tigger of Oz—via,
it's important to note, e-mail:
"Can you cry under water?
"How important does a person have to be before
they are considered 'assassinated' instead of just 'murdered'?
"Why do you have to 'put your two cents in'—but
it's only a 'penny for your thoughts'? Where's that extra penny going?
"Once you're in heaven, do you get stuck
wearing the clothes you were buried in for eternity?
"Why does a round pizza come in a square
"What disease did cured ham actually have?
"How is it that we put a man on the moon
before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?
"Why is it that people say they 'slept like
a baby' when babies wake up like every two hours?
"Why are you IN a movie, but you're ON TV?
"Why do people pay to go up tall buildings
and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?
"Why do doctors leave the room while you
change? They're going to see you naked anyway.
"Why is 'bra' singular and 'panties' plural?
"If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why
is there a stupid song about him?
"Can a hearse carrying a corpse drive in
the carpool lane?
"If the professor on 'Gilligan's Island'
can make a radio out of a coconut, why can't he fix a hole in a boat?
"Why do people point to their wrist when
asking for the time, but don't point to their crotch when they ask
where the bathroom is?
"Why does Goofy stand erect while Pluto remains
on all fours? They're both dogs!
"If Wile E. Coyote had enough money to buy
all that Acme crap, why didn't he just buy dinner?
"If corn oil is made from corn and vegetable
oil is made from vegetables, what is baby oil made from?
"Did you ever notice that when you blow in
a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him for a car ride,
he sticks his head out the window?
"Do you ever wonder why you gave me your
e-mail address in the first place?"
Capital pun-ishment. . . We have Retired
Reporter to thank/blame for the following "special
account of early American history":
"A copy of an Ohio map is needed to fully
appreciate the effect one Ephram Tait had on American history. A current
map will do.
"In the late 1700s when the Yankees migrated
west to settle the Connecticut Western Reserve, Ephram Tait decided
to close his successful drafting tool and instrument business in New
Haven and move it west. Tait set up shop in Warren, the seat of Trumbull
County, which, at that time, included the entire Western Reserve.
"Public need and private enterprise in the
opening of the frontier brought many surveyors to Tait's shop for his
fine, English-made sextants, compasses and transits.
"After the northeast section of the Reserve
was mapped, the pace of development increased, bringing surveyors from
Connecticut to help map the development and settlement of these new
lands, starting with the Warren area and lands to the north in what
would become Ashtabula County.
"With this rise in land developments, and
running short of imports, Tait set up a small workroom to make surveying
instruments. He limited his production to compasses rather than the
more complicated transits and sextants.
"Being more entrepreneur than technician,
Tait's compasses were only fair, not to the standards needed for surveying.
But in the rush, surveyors bought what was available.
"Although not obvious at the start, the effects
of Tait's defective compasses are readily apparent by looking at the
most northeast section of an Ohio map. Adjacent to the border with
Pennsylvania, roads in Trumbull and Ashtabula counties are quite regular,
running due north-south or east-west or on 45-degree diagonals. The
map sections of the adjacent counties to the west show roads and highways
to be irregular, with curves and zigzags, apparently due to no two
surveyors having a compass with the same error.
"Local history records show that as people
became aware of the errant compasses, they discovered that some surveyors
never returned from their trails. This led to an early Western Reserve
"'He who has a Tait's is lost.'"
The joke's on us. . . Not just
another blonde joke, this submission from Grumps may
"Two bored casino dealers are waiting at
the craps table. A very attractive blonde women from Newfoundland comes
over and bets $20,000 on a single roll of the dice. She says, 'I hope
you don't mind, but I feel much luckier when I'm completely nude.'
She then strips down completely nude, rolls the dice and yells, 'Come
on baby, momma needs new clothes!'
"As the dice come to a stop, she jumps up
and down, yelling, 'Yes, yes, I won, I won!' She hugs each of the dealers,
then quickly picks up her clothes and winnings and leaves.
"The dealers look at each other dumbfounded.
Finally one of them asks, 'What did she roll?' The other answers, 'I
don't know, I thought you were watching.'
"Moral of the story: Not all Newfoundlanders
are stupid, not all blondes are dumb, but men will always be men."
Your favorite jokes,
eternal questions and even your most painful puns are invited at
Desert Diary, PO Box 191, Silver City, NM 88062, fax 534-4134, email
Remember, the best submissions get one of our new 10th anniversary
mugs—an exclusive collector's item we expect to see on eBay any
Back to top of page.