Man breaks wind, destroys airplane

by John Johnson, staff writer

RICHMOND, VA—In what has been described by local and national officials as “possibly the most astounding flatulatory event in all of recorded history,” pilot William Harper, 41, of Richmond broke wind in his airplane just after takeoff from Hanover County Municipal Airport on Monday afternoon, completely destroying the aircraft.

A Piper Seminole, shredded by a massive fart, sits in ruins Monday inside a hangar at Hanover County Municipal Airport in Virginia.

A Piper Seminole, shredded by a massive fart, sits in ruins Monday inside a hangar at Hanover County Municipal Airport in Virginia.

The 2000 Piper Seminole, capable of reaching altitudes of higher than 14,000 feet, was only at an altitude of three feet when the severely bloated Harper “ripped off the biggest fart I’ve ever heard in my entire life,” according to passenger Jon Kilbourne, 37. “We had just lifted off the ground, when suddenly he pinches one off—loud—and the entire plane just falls apart. Damn, that boy needs to control his gas.” Amazingly, neither Kilbourne nor Harper were seriously hurt.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” said Sandra Metcalf, the National Transportation Safety Board agent in charge of investigating the accident. “I mean, my husband—um, passes gas a lot, but I’ve only ever seen the bedsheets puff out a little. To utterly destroy an aircraft such as the twin-engine Piper Seminole, there must have been some serious pressure built up in that bowel of his.”

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A spokesperson for The New Piper Aircraft Company, Inc. expressed surprise over the incident. “Our airplanes are thoroughly tested and designed to withstand even the harshest of nature’s often brutal forces—updrafts, downdrafts, crosswinds, and severe turbulence,” said Ken Middlefield, customer relations director for Piper. “Unfortunately, one cannot foresee every possible circumstance, and in the case of Mr. Harper, a two to three hundred knot wind originating inside the cockpit far exceeded the structural limits of the aircraft.

Middlefield expressed sympathy over the situation, and said his company would offer limited financial support to Harper, mainly for medical attention. “We’d like to see him seek medical help for his…well, his ass. I mean, come on, that’s just crazy.”

Although the NTSB is still investigating, the cause of the accident has thus far been classified as “pilot error.”

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Should I poison my boyfriend with gasoline?

Dear Mark,

I got a cup of hot chocolate at the gas station yesterday, and when I went to savor its aroma, I noticed it smelled a lot like gasoline. Of course, normally, I like the smell of gas, but not in my hot chocolate. Even worse, it also tasted like gas. Was there really gas in it? What’s the deal?

-Chris Lawrence
Orlando, FL

Mark Klein takes his wife, Laura, out for a cup of hot chocolate.

Mark Klein takes his wife, Laura, out for a cup of hot chocolate.

Every issue, readers from all over write in to ask our featured advice columnist pressing questions about a very specialized field. Whether they hope to resolve a dilemma or find a way out of their quandaries and quagmires, they get their answers here.

Today we are proud to feature Mark Klein, a Boston, Massachusetts, resident specializing in hot chocolate.

Dear Chris,

There’s an old saying that goes, “If it smells like gas, and tastes like gas, it must be gas.” Sometimes, especially at the larger gas stations, the gas pump lines overflow into the hot chocolate machine lines, and vice versa. That’s why so many people are driving around these days with high concentrations of hot chocolate in their gas tanks. But don’t go fretting about all the hot chocolate that’s getting into your engine—after all, your engine will probably long outlive you, especially after you’ve ingested all that gasoline.

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Dear Mark,

Every morning at breakfast, my boyfriend slurps the hell out of his hot chocolate. I’m not kidding when I say he slurps it loud enough to wake the dead. One time, his hot chocolate slurping actually did rouse our next door neighbors from their pre-dawn slumber, much to their extreme dissatisfaction. What steps should I take to get him to “can it?”

-Helen Pendleton
Edina, MN

Dear Helen,

A few drops of gasoline ought to do the trick.

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Woman receives rejection letter from herself

by John Johnson, staff writer

DULUTH, MN-Julianne Cearly, President and sole employee of her newly self-founded greeting card company, Clearly Cearly Cards, received a rejection letter yesterday from Julianne Cearly, the president of the company, in response to several card ideas she had submitted two weeks earlier.

Julianne Cearly chops broccoli very aggressively on her kitchen counter in an effort to cope with her recent rejection.

Julianne Cearly chops broccoli very aggressively on her kitchen counter in an effort to cope with her recent rejection.

“To tell you the truth, this is a little awkward,” Cearly said. “And extremely disappointing, because I really wanted to use my own ideas for my card company. But apparently these high and mighty CEO types can’t be bothered with ideas from the little people.”

Sources close to Cearly are not sure whether this move was simply an inappropriate use of her new-found power as head of her own organization, or an indication of other psychological problems, such as low self-esteem or even split personality disorder.

“People reject their own ideas all the time, either consciously or subconsciously,” said nationally renowned psychologist Jan Nillson. “But actually going to the trouble of sending yourself a letter of rejection? That’s just weird. I’m sorry. But it is.”

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The ideas submitted by Cearly to herself included a greeting card whose front read, “To the love of my life, who loves to take naps,” and when opened, read, “Rest in peace, my love.” Another card was blank on the outside, and when opened, read, “You’re so hard to THANK that I just drew a BLANK.”

“This really puts me in a pickle,” said Cearly. “I’m not sure if I should start soliciting ideas from outside sources, or try submitting my ideas again. My original vision was to have as many greeting card ideas as possible come from within the company. But I guess that’s not going to happen now, is it?” Looking up and shaking a fist toward the ceiling, she went on: “Is it now, Cearly? Is it?”

Cearly, the company’s only shareholder, anticipates voting Cearly off the board of directors “in a landslide” next month.

“I’ll get you, my pretty,” Cearly said of Cearly. “And your little dog, too.”

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I was named after a kitchen utensil

by Timothy Stephen Pike

It was pretty early on in my life that I made a profound self-realization. And that is, my initials are actually a cooking term. If you’ve ever so much as peeked into a cookbook, you’ll know that “TSP,” in culinary lingo, means “teaspoon.” 2 TSP sugar = 2 teaspoons of sugar. 1 TSP sugar = the medicine will go down. Likewise, “TBSP” means “tablespoon.” So if my parents had named me something like Timothy Billy-Bob Stephen Pike, then I would simply be too ashamed to ever tell anyone my real name. This is how I live my life from day to day, with the burden of knowing that my name—my entire identity and reason for being—is basically an insignificant quantity of salt being thrown into someone’s chocolate chip cookie dough recipe.

My namesake.

My namesake.

Speaking of cookie dough, allow me to introduce myself. You already know my name, but what you may not know is that I am a Colorado native. Of course, by “native,” I mean I was born in L.A. But ever since I was an embryo, I had the full intention of coming to Colorado, which I feel qualifies me for native status. In my hometown of Littleton, I attended Heritage High School, which was conveniently located about a mile from my house. “Conveniently,” here, means “too close to drive.” So I always walked to school. Mainly because my parents would never have let me drive—not when they (like all other parents) used to trudge “six miles, barefoot, in the snow” to get to school when they were younger. Except that story got exponentially more melodramatic every time I heard it. I think the last version somehow included acid rain, and I knew if I kept hearing it, it would eventually defy various laws of physics: “Son, when I was your age, I had to shovel my way through seventeen feet of snow to get to school every morning, uphill, for sixty-two miles, with frostbitten hands and feet, through a minefield, while solar flares reached out from the sun, melting my flesh, and that’s not to mention the neighbor’s pitbull who always bit a few fingers off every morning.

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I did take a break from the snow, though, and spent a couple years getting in touch with my roots back in the Golden State—California. Apparently, nowadays, “golden” means “really expensive.” For example, it’s a well-known fact that in San Francisco, there are only two classifications of rent: obnoxious and nauseating. A person apartment hunting on the phone can be overheard saying, “Hmmm…that sounds nice. How much is rent?” (pause) “Well, that’s just nauseating. I was hoping for something down in the obnoxious range.” So I lived in a tiny apartment with five people, and to save money, I had to share a room, which was approximately the size of a dining room table. This made the monthly rent payment a little more manageable, and I even had enough money left over to eat three meals a week.

But aside from the cost, California does have a lot to offer: great places to hike and camp, beautiful coastal views, and freeways that resemble long, skinny parking lots. And let’s not forget about what attracted me to California in the first place: the excitement of knowing that whenever I went out of town, there was a chance my apartment might not even be there when I got back. I’m talking, of course, about earthquakes.

Since I grew up in Colorado, the concept of the earth shaking violently about my feet is completely foreign, and unnerving at best. After all, the only Richter scale we have in Colorado is the one in the Richters’ bathroom. Now, don’t get me wrong—we in Colorado still have our fair share of natural disasters to contend with: the occasional blizzard, tornado, flash flood, and those creepy little things that sneak up on you in the night when you least expect it and nip you in the butt. I, uh, could be mixing that up with something else.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “How is any of this hogwash benefiting me?” It isn’t. But if I got you to smile, chuckle, guffaw, snort, or even so much as fall out of your chair laughing, then I’ve accomplished my mission. And as long as you understand that, I’d like to conclude by thanking you, the reader, for taking the time to delve into the inner workings of my being, and I hope you realize that after reading this, you still don’t know a thing about me. So maybe I do have a warped perspective on the world, but so would you if you were named after a kitchen utensil. I look forward to sharing my skewed opinions of life with you so you can hear about what keeps my engine running, who’s behind the wheel, and what we’re about to crash into. And I’m sure that as you read each issue of The Teaspoon Times, you’ll be that much more ready to set your hair on fire and run out of the room shrieking. And now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go bake some chocolate chip cookies.

Timothy Pike is a sempiternal essayist who prefers to take life one nanosecond at a time.

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Invisible man found after three-day search

by John Johnson, staff writer

ATWATER, CA—After an exhaustive three-day manhunt, Harold Stokes, 63, an invisible Atwater man who had been reported missing by his daughter, was found yesterday, apparently in the throes of watching television in his own living room.

Harold Stokes pictured here relaxing in the living room of his Atwater home, where he was found by police yesterday.

Harold Stokes pictured here relaxing in the living room of his Atwater home, where he was found by police yesterday.

“Nobody answered when we knocked on his door,” said Don McFarland, one of the officers involved in the search. “So we peeked into his living room window. We didn’t see anybody in there, but suddenly the TV started changing channels all by itself. Then a few minutes later, when we saw a bag of potato chips float from the kitchen to the living room, we knew we had our man.”

Police chief Linda Poole admitted the search was difficult. “We’ve gotten calls about invisible people before,” she said. “But this particular case was unusual because it seems he was home the whole time. Boy, it sure is hard work keeping track of the invisible.”

Stokes’s 36-year-old daughter, Sheila Branch, who lives in Dallas, reported him missing on Monday. After not hearing from him for nearly a week, she became worried and thought he might have absent-mindedly wandered too far from home and gotten lost, as she said he has done on several occasions.

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“I don’t see my dad too often,” said Branch. “Actually, I never see him. But he usually calls every couple days to ask how I’m doing. When I didn’t hear from him all week, I tried calling him several times but couldn’t reach him. That’s when I started to worry.”

Stokes told police he was not aware he had been reported missing. “I haven’t heard the phone ring all week, but the TV’s been turned up so loud that I—well, didleyhickens, there’s the culprit,” he said, tugging on the phone cord, only to reveal it had come loose from the jack. “One week’s worth of no phone calls, right here.”

Stokes became invisible in 1998 during a medical study gone wrong. Scientists in charge of the study, who were testing a new pain-killing medication called “Invisi-Pain,” allegedly failed to mention that people with certain genetic makeups could experience invisibility not just of their pain in a figurative sense, but of their entire bodies in a literal sense. Stokes sued the following year, but the case was summarily thrown out of court when the judge proclaimed that he and Stokes “just didn’t see eye to eye” on the issue.

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Aluminum cans make great house pets

Dear Jackie,

I am a little concerned about my dog, Rolex. Yesterday, he drank an entire can of cream soda—then proceeded to eat the can. Funny thing is, he actually seemed to enjoy it, and last night he didn’t bark nearly as much as he usually does. Do you think he’s okay?

-Jose Carmen
Tampa, FL

Jackie Hardy finishes a scuba diving expedition in the Gulf of Mexico, where she was searching for long-lost aluminum cans.

Jackie Hardy finishes a scuba diving expedition in the Gulf of Mexico, where she was searching for long-lost aluminum cans.

Dear Jose,

Dogs are resilient creatures, and your little Rolex will probably be just fine, but be careful. Sometimes after ingesting that much aluminum, dogs can become restless. Keep an eye on him—if he does anything unusual, like hyperventilates, develops a craving for fresh-baked blueberry muffins, or tries to run for local office, call a vet.

Every issue, readers from all over write in to ask our featured advice columnist pressing questions about a very specialized field. Whether they hope to resolve a dilemma or find a way out of their quandaries and quagmires, they get their answers here.

Today we are proud to feature Jackie Hardy, a Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, resident specializing in aluminum cans.

Dear Jackie,

I have kept a can of RC Cola as a house pet for the last four years, because that’s the only kind of pet my father would let me have. I named him “RC Cola Can.” Anyway, just last week, my mother accidentally recycled him. How can I get over this loss?

-James Claybourne
Davis, CA

Dear James,

Sometimes the best way to overcome the grief that accompanies the loss of a pet is to replace the pet. In this case, just head on down to your local supermarket and pick up a twelve-pack of RC Cola. Although “RC Cola Can 2” may not exhibit the same personality traits as “RC Cola Can 1,” you may find yourself growing quite fond of him in very little time indeed.

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Dear Jackie,

My best friend calls the aluminum can “the best invention since sliced bread.” However, I argue that it is the best invention since peanut butter and jelly. Who’s right?

-Kate Madison
Traverse City, MI

Dear Kate,

Neither of you is right. I’ve done extensive research on the subject and found that the aluminum can is actually the best invention since pourable concrete.

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Facebonk and Hoogle see record traffic levels

by John Johnson, staff writer

PALO ALTO, CA—Two once-obscure online companies, Facebonk, Inc. and Hoogle Corp., have reported a record number of visitors to their websites over the last few years, due in part to the staggering success of two similarly-spelled internet powerhouses, social network Facebook and search giant Google.

Two of the largest internet companies, Facebook and Google, have provided some extra traffic for lesser-known Facebonk and Hoogle.

Two of the largest internet companies, Facebook and Google, have provided some extra traffic for lesser-known Facebonk and Hoogle.

Facebonk, which started out in 1996 as a tree-identification website, quickly outgrew its roots and blossomed into a site where users could create profiles and send e-mail “bonks” to each other.

“The whole concept of friending and building social networks hadn’t been invented yet,” said Todd Germaine, acting vice president of Facebonk. “So people just went around ‘bonking’ other people, because that was the only thing you could do. Then when Facebook came along and offered a means of actually forging friendships, we did all we could to catch up with the times, and after six months, we finally had a way for users to change their screen name.”

But the age of mistyping URLs had only just begun, and as Facebook gained popularity, so did Facebonk. “Initially, when people accidentally arrived at the Facebonk website, they were immediately captivated by the bonking function, and signed right up,” said Germaine. “But now, as membership skyrockets, we intend to introduce new features, like the ability to see other user’s profiles, and before too long—by next year, maybe—a means of logging out.”

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“We probably owe most of our success to fat-fingering,” admits Germaine, referring to how many of Facebonk’s visitors inadvertently end up there with a simple typographical error.

The same goes for Hoogle, which was founded in 1998 and has a somewhat sordid past. Soon after going live as a one-stop-shop for pet monkey supplies, its CEO was arrested for knowingly selling less-than-top-grade bananas as monkey feed. After reexamining their business model, and considering demographic reports showing that very few Americans actually owned monkeys, Hoogle’s product line was broadened to include pet elephant supplies, as well as an array of accessories for giraffe owners.

With Facebook continuing to expand across the globe, and Google offering more online tools and products than ever, Facebonk and Hoogle welcome more and more new, unwitting visitors every day.

According to sources close to the two companies, Facebonk is in preliminary stages of merger talks with Hoogle. The deal would have several legal and regulatory hurdles to overcome, but if approved by the Justice Department, the new company would be an online travel agency, and would operate under the name Hoogabonk.

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