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Updated: 02/15/05

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Tuesday, 15 February, 2005

Yesterday: drizzle-flur. Today it is expected to hit 60 degrees here. *huzzah* Of course this reminds me of the conversations I have with Mom about the weather:

Me: "What's your weather like?"

Mom: "It's nice, but cool. Only in the low-60's."

Me: "It's really warm here. Supposed to be 60 today."

[All a matter of perspective.]

That crack team of TSA scanners at Newark airport did it again:

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- A security screener at Newark Liberty International Airport failed to spot a butcher knife in a passenger's pocketbook and was removed from the post for retraining, officials said.

Katrina Bell, 27, had cleared security and was waiting with her sister to board a flight on Saturday morning when she discovered she was carrying a knife.

Actually, that's not the part that I found amusing/scary:

Bell had put the knife in her bag "just in case" before going on a blind date earlier that week, her sister and travel companion, Tikisha Bell Gowens, 30, said in The Sunday Star-Ledger of Newark.

Yikes. What kind of guys is this woman dating that she takes a butcher knife, "just in case?"

[Never mind, I don't want to know.]

Here's a bizarre diving story from the UK. I like the article's headline: Underwater gnome threat 'returns':

A secret underwater attraction that lured several divers to their deaths could have returned, police say.

The "gnome garden" complete with picket fence was removed from the bottom of Wastwater in the Lake District after several divers died a few years ago. It is thought they spent too much time at too great a depth while searching for the site of the ornaments.

Now police divers say there is a rumour that the garden has returned at a depth beyond which they are allowed.

A quick google for "Wastwater gnomes" produces further information.

Divers from all over the country have been coming to Wastwater for years to visit the garden and have tried to keep it quiet. “I’ve seen around 40 gnomes down there but there must be more. They are all over Wastwater,” [said one.]

The police’s North West Regional Underwater Search Unit removed the gnomes, after they were blamed for attracting divers to the murky depths of the lake.But so far they have failed to stop divers adding to the gnome collection.

One gnome is sitting on a wooden aeroplane while another is cemented onto a brick. Another has a lawnmower and one has been affectionately named Gordon.

Plans are also afoot to create a similar gnome garden in Ullswater and divers have been busy creating signposts saying “gnome garden, this way”.

The gnomes can be found near an area known as the Pinnacles, where there are also commemorative plaques dedicated to divers who have lost their lives in the lake.

There’s even a rope leading directly to the garden and precise directions to it can be found on the internet.

Apparently gnomes are not the only things to be found in some of the lakes. A full bathroom with tub, toilet and sink is in one. Wastwater also lays claim to an old PC, monitor and keyboard as well as a full Christmas tree complete with tinsel.

[Gnomes or not, I will not do cold water diving.]

In light of yesterday's story about reducing the need for fossil fuels, here's an interesting related item. Apparently the new hybrid cars are having the desired effect on gas consumption - but that's driving down gas sales and their related taxes:

And that saves him almost $300 a month in gas. It's great for Just but bad for the roads he's driving on, because he also pays a lot less in gasoline taxes which fund highway projects and road repairs. As more and more hybrids hit the road, cash-strapped states are warning of rough roads ahead.

Officials in car-clogged California are so worried they may be considering a replacement for the gas tax altogether, replacing it with something called "tax by the mile."

Seeing tax dollars dwindling, neighboring Oregon has already started road testing the idea. "Drivers will get charged for how many miles they use the roads, and it's as simple as that," says engineer David Kim.

Kim and his team at Oregon State University equipped a test car with a global positioning device to keep track of its mileage. Eventually, every car would need one.

"So, if you drive 10 miles you will pay a certain fee which will be, let's say, one tenth of what someone pays if they drive 100 miles," says Kim.

The new tax would be charged each time you fill up. A computer inside the gas pump would communicate with your car's odometer to calculate how much you owe.

Heh. Like I said, there are all sorts of knock-on effects of reducing our dependency on gas.

[Death and taxes, anyone?]

Quote du jour:

"The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."

-- Will Rogers (1879 - 1935) US actor, lecturer, humorist

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