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Freak Temperature Fluctuations Hit Mediterranean City

Don't knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn't start a conversation if it didn't change once in a while.

- Kin Hubbard

Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.

- Oscar Wilde

Residents of Melilla, a Spanish-controlled city on the North African coast, endured a freak weather phenomenon in which the temperature shot up 32oF in 30 minutes and dropped off just as quickly, government officials said.  Then, as they were catching their breath, it happened again.  Each time the sky turned dark and winds gusted at up to 42 mph.  The thermometre first jumped about 8:30am from 73 to 105.8o in half an hour before falling back to the initial level about 15 minutes later.  Then at 10am, the temperature soared from 73 to 100oF.  Government officials said the phenomenon was caused by hot, dry air blowing away a layer of moist sea air over the peninsula, which juts out into the Mediterranean from the coast of Morocco.

Source: USA Today Tuesday 24 July 2001

British Couple Crisscross the World in Vain

Ian Johnstone missed his girlfriend so much that he flew back to Britain from Australia to propose to her.  She had the same idea and flew to Australia.  Johnstone and Amy Dolby missed each other as they sat in the same airport lounge in Singapore at the same time waiting for connecting flights.

Source: USA Today Friday 27 July 2001

Now, Where's That Electric Pan?

Although we own many electric kitchen appliances we rarely use them.


Appliance Own Use
Mixer 99% 17%
Electric frying pan 81% 19%
Drip Coffee Maker 81% 19%
Toaster 85% 14%
Blender 79% 10%

Source: USA Today Tuesday 24 July 2001

Widow Sues over Rotting Spouse in Refrigerator

Los Angeles - A widow is suing the Neptune Society for negligence in the handling of her husband's body, which rotted in a refrigerator compartment for four months after she thought he had been cremated.

Gaye Williams, 52, said a man showed up at her door one night last October four months after her husband Dallas, a former Burbank mayor, died of cancer.  He asked her to identify the decomposed body in a photograph.

The body had no eyes, part of the nose was gone and the skin was peeling away. "I just lost it," she said, recalling that she cried and became hysterical.

Jeffrey Zinder, an attorney for the Neptune Society of Los Angeles, said the North American Crematory in Santa Ana, which contracted with Neptune to transport bodies for cremation, mixed up the paperwork.  However, Richard Crouley, the owner of North American, denied the accusation.

Source: Associated Press, probably about 10 years ago

Lift Decapitates Hero

New York - An act of everyday heroism led to tradegy in the Bronx at the weekend when a welfare clerk was decapitated by a runaway lift in an office building.

Police said James Chenault, 55, had boarded the elevator on the first floor with four female passengers when it abruptly shot up to the second floor.  As Mr Chenault held the door open with his back to allow a woman to get off, a second woman got her foot caught as she tried to step out.  Mr Chenault quickly moved to free her but the lift lurched upward again with the doors still open.  The lift decapitated him, sending his body to the hallway floor.  The car shot up to the 9th floor - a ride of horror for two women on board with the severed head on the floor.

When the lift finally stopped, several workers were left in shock when the doors opened.  "I can't get it out of my mind," said building visitor Diana Garcia, who was waiting on the 9th floor.  "The head was there but the body wasn't.  He still had the Walkman on his head... the earphones."

Four women, including the two in the lift, were taken to the hospital for shock.

Source: The Dominion (Wellington) 9 January 1995

Doletha Morgan, 65, Dies; She'd "Never Met a Stranger"

That's what an obit is supposed to be - a picture, a snapshot.  It's not a full-length biography, it's not a portrait.  It's a quick picture.

- Alden Whitman

Doletha McGill Morgan would have looked good in that pretty blue dress she's saved since 1979 for her farewell rites Thursday.

She had treasured the dress, a Mother's Day gift from a daughter.  "I look good in that dress and if I live to be 100, I still want to be buried in it," she told a reporter in 1987.

Mrs Morgan, 65, of 3200 Leroy Street, died Friday, 31 May 1991, at Carolinas Medical Center.

The family will keep that dress for remembrance and chose instead a lovely pink one, complete with lace, a bow, and flowers.  "Pink, to bring out her colour," daughter Debra Morgan said.  She will be buried in Beatties Ford Memorial Gardens beside her husband, Pink Morgan Jr, who died in 1976.

Mrs Morgan collected pictures and funeral programs of family and friends.  She once estimated she had attended perhaps 100 funerals, and "if I know a family, I feel it's an obligation to go to the funeral," she said.

"She was a kindhearted person and never met a stranger.  If she had it and you needed it, she would give it to you.  She was a mother to everybody," her daughter said.

A Mecklenburg County native, Mrs Morgan was a homemaker and a member of Grier Heights Presbyterian Church.

Funeral is 3:30pm today at Grier Funeral Home.

Survivors are her sons, Sylvester Marion of Kileen, Texas, William Morgan, Paul Marion, James McGill; daughters Mrs Naomi Linder, Ms Geraldine Robinson, Ms Sadie Morrow, Ms Debra Morgan,; brothers Benzell McGill, Hansom McGill, Elezer McGill, Clarence McGill; sisters Mrs Lena Stitt, Ms Pearl Lee, Ms Alberta McGill, Ms Maggie McGill; 14 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.

Source: Charlotte Observer June 1991

How Specs Live Forever

The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches.  That's an exceedingly odd number.  Why was that gauge used?  Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.  Why did the English people build them like that?  Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then?  Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.  Okay!  Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing?  Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that's the spacing of the old wheel ruts.

So who built these old rutted roads?  The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions.  The roads have been used ever since.  And the ruts?  The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots.  Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Thus, we have the answer to the original questions.  The United State standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot.  Specs and Bureaucracies live forever.  So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right.  Because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses.


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