Today’s blog features “A Day in the Life of Surfer Ron—Part I;” Ron being our Contributing Editor, Ron Carmean. The surfing reference in this case has nothing to do with ocean surfing. Say “hang 10” to Ron and he probably envisions ten horse thieves dangling on ropes from a tree limb. Nope, Ron’s surfing is relegated to the Internet where his primary mission is to seek out topics of news and special interests. Today’s blog showcases some of Ron’s recent findings in the news—most of which are kind of off the beaten path. We’ll cover Ron’s special interest exploits in another edition. That said, here’s Ron to explain himself and his surfing prowess in the area of news…maybe make that alleged news.
Ron: Okay, I’ve pick a day at random (9/6/13) as an example of how I go about foraging for news. I usually don’t check local news on the ‘net. I almost always hear what I need on the radio while I’m doing something else. (Two birds with one stone.) Besides, how much time should I spend on local murder, theft, layoffs, assaults, and the latest city crisis before becoming depressed. (I live near Philadelphia and today’s hot item is, as it has been for a long time: who will fund the city schools, and today –no surprise– there is no agreement.)
Also on the radio is National news which usually contains a story about what the Congress and the President cannot agree on. Today, it’s what to do about Syria. That story enlarged itself on 9/6/13. The European Union endorsed a “clear and strong response” to a chemical weapons attack, but didn’t indicate what type of a response they were backing.
Online, I check “Excite News” (http://news.excite.com/). Long ago, I set this up as my home page. It touches upon a dozen or more categories of news (eg, Entertainment, Sports, Health, Business, etc.). You can go elsewhere for the same thing (eg, Google news, CNN news, ABC, Reuters, Fox, etc.). Pick a source that you think covers major and minor, National and International, news to the depth and breadth you’d like. So, what news caught my eye on 9/6/13? Here’s a sampling…
1) Chickens to Retire on East Coast. While egg laying hens are considered too thin for eating, an anonymous $50,000 donation will enable 12,000 chickens from Northern California to fly (commercial?) to upstate New York to retire. They will reside, outside cages, in grassy, wooded sanctuaries. Bingo is optional.
2) Hartford Mayor Tells Chappelle: Try Yoga. Last week, Dave Chappelle responded to Hartford, Connecticut hecklers during his performance by walking off the stage. Chappelle was the headliner at the Funny or Die Presents The Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival which is touring the country. He was heckled as he performed and booed as he left the stage. Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra responded to the situation by saying: “Dave should give the fans what they paid for, stop whining, and try some yoga.”
3) UMass Students Feast on Fruit Salad. Annually, University of Massachusetts students start the school year by feasting on something. This year, 500 students moved from past feeding frenzies of seafood stews and stir fries to eating a 15,000+ pound fruit salad. Students sliced and diced 20 varieties of applies, plus peaches, bananas, berries, oranges, in addition to quince and rambutan. The delicious dish was served in a 15-foot diameter swimming pool.
4) NYC Mayor Hopeful Won’t Stop Trains for Kittens. After other mayoral candidates said they’d stop (Brooklyn) subway lines for kittens on the tracks, candidate Joe Lhota said he would not stop Brooklyn trains for lost kittens. Earlier in the week, power to two subway lines had been cut to allow time to rescue two lost kittens, Arthur and August. The cats were located seven hours later, still with nine lives intact. (Note: Lhota won the Republican primary in NYC.)
5) Typewriters of Famous and Infamous on Display. The Father of a Northeastern University (Boston) student supplied his collection of typewriters for an exhibit on campus. Typewriters used by Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, John Lennon, Jack Kevorkian, and “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski were on view. Campus curator Bruce Ployer said he found the work that had been done on these machines “very exciting.”
6) Egyptians Detain Bird as “Spy.” Egyptian police officers were given a bird (a stork) by a citizen who suspected it was a spy. An electronic device was attached to the bird. A veterinary committee later explained it was a wildlife tracker used by French scientists to follow migratory birds. Since Egypt’s President was overthrown, citizens are highly suspicious of anything foreign. (No kidding.)
7) London Skyscraper Accused of Melting Jaguar. A gleaming, partially completed London skyscraper (aka the Walkie-Talkie) had its reflected, concentrated sunlight considered responsible for melting the mirror and hood ornament of a driver’s Jaguar parked nearby. Said the vehicle’s owner, “it was parked for a couple hours and it’s completely warped.” The sun’s rays also burned a hole in a barber shop’s welcome mat across the street.
8) England’s King Had Worms. Last year, the skeleton of Richard III was found underneath a parking lot in Leicester. Researchers have found that he had roundworms while he lived. It is doubtful they caused his spinal deformity. However, traumatic events (like his death on a battlefield) could have startled the worms, forcing them to “pop out” of his ears and nose after his death. The “quick exit” could have shocked his opponents.
9) Hitler’s Bodyguard Dies. Rochus Misch, who died on 9/5/13 at age 96, was one of two Hitler bodyguards. He held that post from May, 1940 until Hitler’s death by suicide (Misch saw Hitler’s dead body.) in April, 1945. He wrote a book about his life, due for publication in October. Misch said he joined Germany’s war effort to fight Bolshevism, not to support Hitler. The Russian revolution and the rise of Stalin, combined with the popularity of the Communist Party in Germany, caused MIsch to join the SS at age 20 (in 1937). He maintained: “Even late in WWII, Hitler believed a joint effort by England (minus Winston Churchill) and Germany would be successful fighting Russia.” From 1945 to 1954, Misch was a prisoner of war in Russia. He was, at that time, allowed to return to Berlin, where he and his wife opened a shop. He claimed The Final Solution “was never a topic” in his presence and maintained he knew nothing of the murder of 6 million Jews. To the end, he referred to Hitler as “my boss, very normal, not like what is written.”
These news stories are not fictional. Though perhaps my sense of humor plays a (large) part in what news I choose to read and bring to your attention. (Obviously, item #9 was extremely serious and, thus, its larger coverage by me.) News –local, national, or international– is often extremely serious. Finding “lighter” material is necessary, I think, to avoid reaching the end of every day well-informed, but depressed.
Next time, I’ll discuss the “special interests” sites I frequent on the internet.