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Updated: 01/08/04

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What's on the nightstand

by Alexandre Dumas

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Thursday, 8 January, 2004

I saw my first Christmas tree carcass lying on the sidewalk today, so you know what that means. Time for the holiday decorations to come down. Luckily, the little rosemary tree is not dropping its needles all over the floor, so my decoration stripping will be far less messy than the owners' of the aforementioned ex-Tannenbaum.

Although the Roomba could probably take care of it! It really is a cool little machine. We ordered a remote control unit for it, and it should be at the condo tonight. There's a whole Roomba message board on Yahoo for Roomba owners - the head of marketing for iRobot (the company that makes them) even participates to get owner feedback and offer suggestions. I think it's kind of like having a pet rock - people seem to be very attached to them and even name them. Popular ones seem to be Rosie (the robot maid on the Jetsons), Robby (from Asimov's "I, Robot"), Ayeka (as in "Aye-Ee-Karoomba"), Dusty, Maid Marian and Edgar (as in "Hoover").

I'm toying with naming mine as well. Here are some of the front-runners:

* Isaac (Asimov)
* Carmen (Electra-lux)
* Hymie (from "Get Smart")

[If I can teach it to bring me foo-foo drinks, I'll just call it "Cabana Boy."]

In case you didn't get enough enjoyment out of yesterday's stupid lawsuit reporting, here's a doozie:

Couple sues Wal-Mart over broken grocery bag

A Mt. Pleasant Township couple wants Wal-Mart to pay for foot and toe injuries they claim were caused by canned goods and condiments that tumbled from an overfilled plastic grocery bag.

According to a two-count civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in Westmoreland County, Brenda and Ronald Sager contend a plastic bag they brought home from the East Huntingdon Township store last month was deficient and overstuffed.

The bag, which contained a 32-ounce jar of Miracle Whip, a 46-ounce bottle of ketchup, three 15-ounce cans of fruit, an 18-ounce bottle of ranch dressing and a 12-ounce bottle of mustard, broke open when the Sagers returned home and started to put away their groceries.

That's when the handle tore and the bottom of the bag broke, the Sagers claim.

The 14-page complaint filed by attorney John Scales claims Brenda Sager suffered numerous injuries including cracked and damaged toenails. Brenda Sager also claims she sustained more serious permanent injuries and other physical problems, such as ligament damage and a broken right foot.

The Sagers contend Wal-Mart was at fault for her injuries. The store, they claim, failed to properly instruct and train its employees to correctly bag products, negligently provided a defective bag, recklessly overpacked the bag by placing in it too many heavy items, failed to double- or triple-bag the purchases, and placed Brenda Sager in a "position of peril."

She is seeking damages in excess of $30,000.

Her husband also is seeking that amount in damages, claiming that as a result of his wife's injuries he has been deprived of her attention and comfort and suffered a loss of consortium.

And the lesson from all this? Never buy Miracle Whip - always go for the real mayonnaise.

[Hellman's actually.]

While serious, I knew the whole Canadian Mad Cow scare would result in some humor. Saw this today from Scrappleface:

U.S. Begins Hoofprinting Canadian Cows at Border

(2004-01-06) -- With the dual threats of terror attacks and 'mad cow' disease dominating the headlines, the U.S. Department of Barnland Security yesterday implemented heightened border security measures, including hoofprinting and photographing of all cows entering the country from Canada.

On the first day of the intensified process, some cows seemed reluctant to place their hooves on the computer screen and to stand for the photo, but Barnland Security officials said the new measures add only about 20 seconds to the normal border-crossing process.

Canadian bovine-rights advocates protested what they called "xenophobic species-profiling."

"Non-threatening holsteins are treated like criminals just because they're cows and they're Canadian," said an unnamed spokesman for the Bovine Civil Liberties Union (BCLU). "All they want is to be allowed to graze in peace and contribute to the U.S. economy as best they can."

[I guess if they prove they have jobs, we grant them citizenship too.]

OK, all those of you who are surprised by this, please raise your hand:

Ohio Woman Admits Lying in Lottery Case

CLEVELAND - A woman admitted through tears Thursday that she lied about losing the winning ticket for a $162 million lottery prize, saying: "I wanted to win so badly for my kids and my family."

Elecia Battle, 40, is dropping her lawsuit to block payment of the 11-state Mega Millions jackpot to the certified winner, her lawyer Sheldon Starke said.

"I wanted to win," Battle said. "The numbers were so overwhelming. I did buy a ticket and I lost it. I wanted to win so bad for my kids and my family. I apologize."

The Cleveland woman had filed a police report saying she lost the ticket, possibly when she dropped her purse outside a convenience store. The lottery dismissed the claim and declared Rebecca Jemison, 34, the winner on Tuesday.

Police Lt. Kevin Nietert said Thursday he expected Battle to be charged with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days to six months in jail.

Here's my favorite part:

Battle apologized to her husband, her lawyer and Jemison, saying she wanted to use the money to help her family and recently laid-off Cleveland police officers.

Oh, yeah, I'm sure that her main thought during all of this was, "How can I help those poor police officers?"


Quote du jour:

"There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."

-- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910) US novelist, journalist, river pilot

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