Friday, October 31, 2008

Whoa! Are sunscreen sales increasing in Arizona?

There is talk in the Obama camp that Arizona's electoral votes may now be within striking distance on Tuesday. This assessment may be a bit on the over-confident side (although it would be rather hypocritical for the McCain camp to suggest that). Still, I wonder if an increasing number of Arizonans are becoming conscientious about using sunscreen on their necks.

"Trigger" treating

Nowadays, spoiled brats in Denmark reportedly get to celebrate not just Halloween but also a rather similar event named Fastelavn which happens sometime around February. When I lived back in the old country, there was only the traditional Danish event--but that was bad enough. Children get to dress up in obnoxious costumes. Historically, this day was apparently related to the onset of the fasting period,but you would not know it from the words coming out of the bratty mouths that day. Children get a collection of special branches--albeit not quite in the league of Singaporean canes--with which they are allowed to "whip" their poor parents out of bed. In an impudent jingle, they sing out "If I don't get any biscuits, I am going to wreak havoc!" The biscuits, here, refer to special biscuits similar to American raisin rolls. Despite these misdeeds, the children are not sent to bed without dessert or even denied television privileges. They weren't even in the old days. Well, at least they do not need to come knocking on people's doors, disturbing poor innocent neighbors. They are given candy on their canes.

Anyway, when I first came to the United States, I heard of children's Halloween extortion techniques before I saw the term written, so at first I thought the practice was known as "trigger" treating. After all, a lot of children's costumes included toy guns and other intimidating devices, so the idea sounded logical.

If you prefer not be to be disturbed in the future--or if you believe that limited exposure to candy will help build character--you may want to hand out homework assignments rather than candy this year. Children may not remember to do their chores or homework on a daily basis, but the experience of being assigned additional work may be traumatizing enough for the brats to drill into their not particularly pure minds the importance of skipping your home next year.

Well, at least my nephew Thomas--who is really into costumes--will enjoy Halloween. He apparently added a number of new costumes to his already abundant stash several months ago in anticipation of today's event. He may deserve the treat since he is rarely, if ever, sent to the Principal's office. In fact, my sister and brother-in-law don't usually do not have to struggle with the question of whether to chew him out since he reportedly rarely, if ever, misbehaves. Apparently, he actually does his homework without having to be threatened with loss of computer time. Actually, Thomas probably won't be all that aggressive in extorting candy since his grandmother will almost certainly give him all the candy he wants anyway, so he probably won't be that much of a pest to the neighborhood. I wish I could say the same of other children.

Friday, October 17, 2008


CNN today reported that a man had put dog excrement on his neighbor's truck. I realize that this may be sensational, but is it really news?

Suppose that, around the world, 200,000,000 live in such surroundings that, realistically, they might have a neighbor who could have a truck. Then assume that one out of every thousand of these people might be a whacko who might do something--if not the exact same thing--of equal disgustitude once in their lifetime. If these whackos each live an average of 70 years, they will live an average of 27,920.5 days (including the added days provided by leap years).

Now, dividing the 200,000,000 population by the whacko factor of 1,000, we get 200,000 "critical" whackos. Dividing that number by their average lifespan in days, we get an estimae that 200,000/27920.5 = 73.01 events like this would happen every day.

My assumptions might be a little off, but even if I am off by a factor of 10, would something that happens 7.3 times per day be "news?"