Friday, September 19, 2008

Football player inspires teammates, fans

I usually don't post my sports stories on this blog, but the one I wrote today for the DMN really isn't much about sports, and it has received a lot of response.

It's about a high school football player named Shawn Baldwin who had his best game ever about five hours after his mother's funeral. I traveled to Eustace, TX, to talk to him and his teammates on Wednesday and wrote up this column.

It's Captain America! Wait, no it's not

"Man in American flag cape scales library, descends to crowd of waiting police"

Not surprisingly, it happened at a college. This photo kind of makes me miss my days in college, although I don't remember anyone scaling the library while draped in a flag.

I guess we just weren't that patriotic at the University of Arizona. Here's some more details from an observer:
Collin Czarnecki, a junior journalism major, witnessed the scene from his Eddy classroom. He said that the caped man rappelled with a rope off the back side of the library and tried to flee by bike from a motorcycle policeman, but had his cape caught in the spokes and failed to escape on foot.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Texting and driving under the influence

I guess this is mildly surprising to me, but it makes sense. Researchers have determined that texting behind the wheel is more dangerous than driving while under the influence of alcohol.

When you're under the influence of alcohol, your steering might be affected. But when your texting, you don't even have hands to steer. You probably should be charged with a DWI (Driving While Idiotic).

What you really want to watch out for is the person texting while drinking and driving.

'80s reminder: Eat a balanced breakfast

Back in the '80s, as some of you probably remember, there was a terrible problem sweeping the nation:

Children not having a balanced breakfast.

I, too, was affected. Many, many times I would simply have a bowl of Cheerios and forget to have toast, some assorted fruit and juice. It just didn't fit into my schedule of waking up 20 minutes before school and making it there before the bell rang.

However, I do remember a public-service announcement reminding me of the importance of breakfast. It features some kind of -- well, I don't what it is, but it's wearing a hat -- talking to us about the grumbling in our tummies.

Here it is:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

AIG has the strength to take an $85 billion donation

So now the government is bailing out American International Group:
In the most far-reaching intervention into the private sector ever for the Federal Reserve, the government stepped in Tuesday to rescue American International Group Inc. with an $85 billion injection of taxpayer money.
Hey, it's just $85 billion, and with that money, AIG will have the strength to be there!

Well, this time, anyway. But the commercial below was just a little misleading, huh? AIG wasn't going to prevent any nightmares.

Unemployment and cattle prods

During this political season, maybe it's time for new ideas. I wonder if this one from Australia would be popular over here:
An Australian politician has used his first speech to parliament to call for unemployed idlers to be stung with a cattle prod to get them to work.
That will get some people moving.

(Note: I thought about writing that will get people "moooooving," but then thought it was just stupid. So please forget that I even mentioned it.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This is no way to travel

Here's a frightening image:
A man riding in the back of a pickup and holding a mattress was seriously injured when the truck hit a bump and sent the man and mattress airborne, Grand Prairie police said.
According to the story, there was a similar incident last year.
Two men who were sitting on a piece of plywood in the back of a pickup were injured when the plywood flew out of the truck with them on it.
Amazingly, neither misadventure involved Johnny Knoxville.

Do the dishes or else

So you don't want to do the dishes tonight? Want your significant other to do all the work?

Well, make sure you know your special someone well. Otherwise, you could get bitten and have a picture frame broken across your face.

Oh yes, and you could be attacked with a sword.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Here comes three-ply T.P.

With the economy showing more signs of being in the toilet, it's probably the perfect time for this:

The unveiling of three-ply toilet tissue.

According to this story, "a team at Georgia Pacific's Innovation Institute in Neenah has come up with a three-ply version of its Quilted Northern product."

It took a TEAM to come up with that?

Also from the story:

"The company touts the toilet tissue as "ultra-soft" and says it plans to market the product to women 45 and older who view their bathroom as a "sanctuary for quality time."

Humor Me: This might not be a drill

By MATT WIXON

When I was in elementary school, Sparky the fire dog would visit occasionally. He was 6 feet tall, bumped into desks, and, in a strange coincidence, wore the same shoes as our P.E. teacher.

But the kids at Horizon Elementary, home of the fightin' Panthers and the occasional lice outbreak, took Sparky seriously. After all, he and his fellow firefighters brought along a message about fire. How quickly it could spread, how destructive it could be, and how a fire could happen at our house, even when we were sleeping.

Yes, Sparky and company pretty much scared the bejesus out of us.

Take, for example, the "stop, drop and roll" thing. It was fun to practice, because rolling on the ground would turn into rolling into each other, which would turn into somebody knocking over a desk. That would turn into a teacher screaming at us and Sparky raising his paws to his cheeks -- creating the international mute-mascot hand signal for "Oh my!"

But then we would realize why we were stopping, dropping and rolling. We could be on fire. It was a traumatic moment, even before we endured the fire-danger filmstrip that included a charred teddy bear.

Thankfully, Sparky and the firefighters did give us ways to protect ourselves from fire. Most important, they said:

"If you ever hear an alarm, get out of the building right away."

It was a message we were sure to follow. At least until we became adults. Cynical, jaded adults who don't believe in Santa Claus, visible underwear or that fire alarms mean impending doom. That's certainly the case when alarms sound in office buildings.

If we're at work, perhaps in the middle of drafting an important memo on corporate use of highlighters, we need more than a fire alarm to set off our alarm bells. We need to see fire engines. And smoke. And employees fleeing with their favorite office supplies and incriminating photos of the boss.

Last year, I heard alarms go off in several office buildings, including the one where I work. The response was always the same. No fear. No panic. Just a few irritated people asking, "How am I supposed to get any work done with these stupid alarms blaring?"

Which is a good point. It is hard to get work done with the alarms screaming in your ear. And the work environment really deteriorates when the sprinklers go off and your computer begins to melt.

That's more reason to leave the building, but everyone just keeps working. We figure the alarm is being worked on, or that somebody accidentally triggered it, or that cellphone ringtones are getting louder and more annoying. Few of us seem to worry that the alarm may suggest, you know, A FIRE. That's why, if there ever really is a fire, the only survivors might be the people taking cigarette breaks outside.

Before that happens, I hope office buildings will replace their alarms with something more alarming than a shrieking siren. Something that will really get people moving, like this announcement over the loudspeaker:

"Attention all employees: Leftover bagels from an executive meeting are available in the parking lot across the street."

That will get people to the exits quickly. In fact, there might be injuries if cream cheese is mentioned. And if the fire is spreading rapidly, the announcement could include bagels and donuts -- and perhaps a promise that the first 10 people in the parking lot won't have personnel evaluations this year.

Empty promises, yes. But even if employees are bitter, they will be safe. And if Sparky were here today, he would tell you that being safe is the most important thing. Or at least he would point to a chalkboard that said it, and then bump into a few desks while leaving the classroom.

Sparky was right, so let's not disappoint him. We all want to be safe, and nobody wants to run extra laps during P.E.

***
To be on the list that is sent out when a new column in posted, e-mail mwixon@dallasnews.com. Have a great week.