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Updated: 06/28/02

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"Dead Until Dark"
by Charlaine Harris


thunderstorm weather

Friday, 28 June, 2002

There is joy in Mudville. Or at least in Edinburgh. The hapless chicken hypnotist whose plight I mentioned a few days ago has developed a bit of a cult following in, of all places, Texas. A group of engineers from Austin, upon reading that the Alaskan poultry therapist lost her bicycle in an Edinburgh thrift shop, took up a collection and have raised $525 to help her buy a new bike and resume her troupe's tour.

"There's been tons of layoffs here, Austin's been hit pretty hard with the technology sector, so we're just looking to do something to cheer ourselves up," software engineer Lawrence Hartley, who started the impromptu fundraising, told Reuters.

Hartley said he and his friends had identified with Harris after reading that her star act consisted of hypnotizing chickens and making them play the piano.

"We're all pretty much not quite normal. We identify more with a chicken-hypnotist than with the normal world," he said.

[Sadly, I can understand this.]

Telemarketers. Bane of the quiet dinner hour. But an interesting story out of South America where a telemarketing call saved the life of a stranded hiker who was trapped in the Andes mountains when a blizzard began. He pulled out his cell phone only to discover that his prepaid minutes were up.

Leonardo Diaz, the Colombian mountaineer, slowly begins freezing to death, surviving for 24 hours with his only warmth coming from

[This cracks me up...]

carefully measured dozes of brandy. Then suddenly, at above 12,500 feet, Leonardo Diaz hears a familiar ring. Out of nowhere, a phone company solicitor is calling on his cell phone, asking if he would like to buy more time.

"We called him to remind him that his cell phone was out of minutes. He said it was the work of an angel, because he was lost in the (Andes)," said Maria del Pilar Basto, the Bell South operator who called Leonardo. "We thought it was a joke, but he insisted, and it was true."

Basto called for help, and she and other operators kept ringing Leonardo to keep him awake and help ward off hypothermia. He was able to keep talking to her until rescue teams arrived seven hours later -- with the frigid temperatures acting as natural recharger for his two cell phone batteries.

"I remembered that when I was a boy I put batteries in the freezer," Diaz said in a newspaper interview describing his late May adventure. "So, I took off (the dead) battery and flung it into the snow. After half an hour, it was working again."

So, important safety tips:

1) Don't automatically hang up on telemarketers.
2) Remember that batteries can be recharged in a snowbank.
3) Always carry a flask of brandy when hiking in the Andes.

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"Hmm! Brandy! Ya-ha! Throw more brandy!
Throw brandy!!"

-- Jack Lemmon in
"The Great Race"

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