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


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Dumb People (but They Vote!), Medical Signage and
Why the Chicken Crossed the Road

Plus unanswerable questions, Ohio geography and
blonde casino secrets.

You're only as old as you feel. . . Just 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 the kitchen.

"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, 'Uh, Pacific.'

"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 diary@desertexposure.com.

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 diary@desertexposure.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 involved.)

"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 Ludd, to 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 it.

"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 box?

"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 adage:

"'He who has a Tait's is lost.'"

The joke's on us. . . Not just another blonde joke, this submission from Grumps may surprise you:

"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 diary@desertexposure.com. Remember, the best submissions get one of our new 10th anniversary mugs—an exclusive collector's item we expect to see on eBay any day now.

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