You can't be too safe The driver of a United Parcel Service delivery truck was tooling along when he heard a bang from the rear of his vehicle. Fearing the worst, he locked and abandoned the truck, according to the Associated Press (AP), and called 911 from a store near a mini-mall.
Fire trucks and city and state bomb squads in Morgan City, La., evacuated some 10 stores, then went over the truck for six hours before finding the culprit: a blown tire on the inside of one of the rear duals. (Imagine trying to bill your customers six hours shop time for a blowout!)
A UPS spokesman in Atlanta told the AP that the driver ``did absolutely the right thing, though now probably everybody feels a bit chagrined. But hey, after the last weeks and months in the U.S., it's time we had something we could say, `Whew! I'm glad that's all it was.'''
If there's a buck to be made ...
Appalling as it might seem, in the aftermath of the student shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., some scoundrels have been using the Internet to cash in on the carnage.
ABC News noted that a number of Web site operators were reconfiguring their sites by hiding unseen codes in them. So typing the words ``trenchcoat mafia''—the supposed group the Columbine killers belonged to—in an online search engine will bring up links to such sites as one selling Furby toys and another advertising computer repair services. Another begins, ``Trenchcoat Mafia Page,'' then adds in fine print, ``cannot be found.'' It contains a link for something called ``Corky's Blackjack System.''
Web masters pull off the trick, ABC said, by inserting what are called ``meta/tags'' into the hidden Web site codes that most people don't see.
Sound unethical? One guy whose site sells theater tickets tried to justify his use of the trenchcoat link by telling ABC: ``Maybe it's unethical but when you think about it, the Internet really isn't an ethical location. The Internet ethics aren't the real world ethics.'' (Sad if true.)
Can't hum without lessons
AM General, the South Bend, Ind., maker of the Hummer, has set up a driving academy to teach owners how to get the most out of their big sport-brutes. The more cynical vein deep within us senses the fringe benefit of additional dollar signs.
After all, cost for the four-day program is five grand. But wait...you do get pointers on trip preparation, details on the company's history and production, lessons on field repairs, night driving and basic off-road component troubleshooting, and global positioning satellite (GPS) system use. And the course's cost does include a GPS.
We've got a few suggestions AM General also might want to consider for its upcoming Oct. 12 and 26 training sessions. How's about:
Maneuvering your Hummer to find the best parking space at the local shopping mall;
Cleaning your Hummer after you found that parking space by rolling over any vehicle in your way; and its companion lesson: The best way to scrape bugs—uh, make that VWs and other compact cars—off your grill;
Offensive driving techniques, especially when another motorist calls you ``wide load'' or ``road hog'';
Driving with those quirky ``night vision'' goggles—in the daylight;
Plus-sizing your Hummer's tire/wheel package so you can use road grader tires;
Perfecting your Austrian accent to sound just like another famous (guess who) Hummer owner who likes to say: ``I'll be back''; and
Making extra cash by taking neighborhood kids on pseudo ``commando raids,'' which could include removing your license plates, painting the exterior in camouflage and pretending you're in the back woods of Montana.
The road beneath your feet
If you've ever had the urge to grab that dadburn computer of yours and toss it out the window, we have a solution that may provide you with some satisfaction.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has joined forces with the American Plastics Council to promote the recycling and marketing of plastics from electronics, the Associated Press reported. As of
Sept. 1, the state will ban landfilling of computers and the cathode-ray tubes that are in TVs.
Instead, some of the plastic will go into a lightweight, asphalt-type mix made from the plastic of computers, printers, paper trays and scanners. The pothole filler was developed by Conigliaro Industries Inc. of Framingham, Mass., which processes up to 12.5 tons of computer and other plastic housings daily.
Maybe it'll someday replace rubberized asphalt—then they can start using those scrap tires to make computers.
This 'n that
Slip of the tongue—While reporting on the sad news that the co-host of the British Broadcasting Corp.'s ``Crimewatch'' program, United Kingdom journalist Jill Dando, had been assassinated April 26 on her London doorstep, a CBS-TV newsman finished his report in an unfortunate way by saying: ``...So for now, Jill Dando remains dead....''
Before the baby—``It's just what I wanted,'' a mom-to-be gleefully exclaims at her baby shower in a new Michelin North America TV ad. Advertising Age noted that after a 17-year run, the tire maker's New York ad agency, DDB Worldwide, has put the brakes on the well-known ads featuring the ``Michelin baby'' cruising along in a tire. It said the ad campaign needed to evolve.
So the Michelin ad covers the pre-birth? It sort of makes sense, since even the new ``Star Wars'' movie is a ``prequel.'' But will it answer that age-old question: Which came first, the baby or the tires? And aren't tires a shower gift any woman would be happy to get? Yeah, right.
Where size really counts: Maintenance Matters, The Maintenance Council's newsletter, noted the recent merger of nationwide truck stop operations TravelCenters of America (TA) and Travel Ports of America. The new company, it added, ``is a Cleveland suburb.''
Granted, TA's big—but not that big. Actually, it's based in Westlake, Ohio, a Cleveland suburb.
BS warning—The source of the following is said to be ``unknown,'' but the sentiment is udderly on target. Deja moo: The feeling that you've heard this bull before.