Thursday, December 11, 2008

Darwin Awards Winners?

A friend emailed me the message below, captioned "2008 Darwin Awards." It's hilarious, so I'm sharing it with you. I double-checked it with the actual Darwin Awards website ("A chronicle of enterprising demises honoring those who improve the accidentally removing themselves from it!"). The 2008 nominees listed didn't include any of these anecdotes. Perhaps they're from previous years...but the website has so many I didn't take the time to check them all.

So enjoy the stories, whether true or apocryphal, and visit the Darwin Awards website for more tales of unbelievable (and deadly) human idiocy.

"It's not the heat, it's the stupidity."

Subject: 2008 Darwin Awards

It's that time again...The Darwin Awards are finally out, the annual honor given to the persons who did the gene pool the biggest service by killing themselves in the most extraordinarily stupid ways.

Last year's winner was the fellow who was killed by a Coke machine which toppled over on top of him as he was attempting to tip a free soda out.

This year's winner was a real rocket scientist....HONEST!

Read on...And remember that each and every one of these is a TRUE STORY. The awards were bestowed this year by December 6th, 2008 because the panel of judges believed that no one else could do more stupid stuff than these morons did by that time in 2008.

* * * * * * * * * * *

And the nominees were:

Semifinalist #1

A young Canadian man, searching for a way of getting drunk cheaply, because he had no money with which to buy alcohol, mixed gasoline with milk. Not surprisingly, this concoction made him ill, and he rushed to vomit into the fireplace in his house. This resulting explosion and fire burned his house down, killing both him and his unfortunate sister.

Semifinalist #2

Three Brazilian men were flying in a light aircraft at low altitude when another plane approached. It appears that they decided to moon the occupants of the other plane, but lost control of their own aircraft and crashed. They were all found dead in the wreckage with their pants around their ankles (HARD to control light airplanes when everyone moves to one side).

Semifinalist #3

A 22-year-old Reston, VA man was found dead after he tried to use octopus straps to bungee jump off a 70-foot rail road trestle. Fairfax County police said Eric Barcia, a fast food worker, taped a bunch of these straps together, wrapped an end around one foot, anchored the other end to the trestle at Lake Accotink Park, jumped and hit the pavement. Warren Carmichael, a police spokesman, said investigators think Barcia was alone because his car was found nearby. 'The length of the cord that he had assembled was greater than the distance between the trestle and the ground,' Carmichael said. Police say the apparent cause of death was 'Major trauma.'

Semifinalist #4

A man in Alabama died from rattlesnake bites. It seems that he and a friend were playing a game of catch, using the rattlesnake as a ball. The friend -- no doubt a future Darwin Awards candidate -- was hospitalized.

Semifinalist #5

Employees in a medium-sized warehouse in west Texas noticed the smell of a gas leak. Sensibly, management evacuated the building extinguishing all potential sources of ignition; lights, power, etc.

After the building had been evacuated, two technicians from the gas company were dispatched. Upon entering the building, they found they had difficulty navigating in the dark. To their frustration, none of the lights worked. Witnesses later described the sight of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket and retrieving an object that resembled a cigarette lighter.

Upon operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the warehouse exploded, sending pieces of it up to three miles away. Nothing was found of the technicians, but the lighter was virtually untouched by the explosion. The technician suspected of causing the blast had never been thought of as ''bright'' by his peers.

*** Now, to the winner of this year's Darwin Award ***

(awarded, as always, posthumously):

The Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded in the side of a cliff rising above the road at the apex of a curve. The wreckage resembled the site of an airplane crash, but it was a car. The type of car was unidentifiable at the scene. Police investigators finally pieced together the mystery. An amateur rocket scientist ... had somehow gotten hold of a JATO unit (Jet Assisted Take Off, actually a solid fuel rocket) that is used to give heavy military transport planes an extra 'push' for taking off from short airfields. He had driven his Chevy Impala out into the desert and found a long, straight stretch of road. He attached the JATO unit to the car, jumped in, got up some speed and fired off the JATO!

The facts as best as could be determined are that the operator of the 1967 Impala hit the JATO ignition at a distance of approximately 3..0 miles from the crash site. This was established by the scorched and melted asphalt at that location.

The JATO, if operating properly, would have reached maximum thrust within 5 seconds, causing the Chevy to reach speeds well in excess of 350 mph and continuing at full power for an additional 20-25 seconds.

The driver, and soon to be pilot, would have experienced G-forces usually reserved for dog fighting F-14 jocks under full afterburners, causing him to become irrelevant for the remainder of the event. However, the automobile remained on the straight highway for about 2.5 miles (15-20 seconds) before the driver applied and completely melted the brakes, blowing the tires and leaving thick rubber marks on the road surface, then becoming airborne for an additional 1.4 miles and impacting the cliff face at a height of 125 feet leaving a blackened crater 3 feet deep in the rock. Most of the driver's remains were not recoverable. However, small fragments of bone, teeth and hair were extracted from the crater, and fingernail and bone shards were removed from a piece of debris believed to be a portion of the steering wheel.

Epilogue: It has been calculated that this moron attained a ground speed of approximately 420-mph, though much of his voyage was not actually on the ground.

You couldn't make this stuff up, could you?


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Five Writing Strengths

A long time ago Shauna Roberts tagged me for a writing meme: to list five of my writing strengths. It would be easier to list five writing weaknesses, but I finally came up with these:

1. Excellent command of punctuation, spelling, and sentence structure, as well as large vocabulary.
2. Widely read in fiction, especially genre fiction, resulting in broad knowledge of literary conventions and reader expectations on which to draw for own writing.
3. Instinctive grasp of good writing style.
4. Good at analyzing facts and setting them out in readable fashion (a skill more useful in writing nonfiction than fiction.)
5. Ear for lyrical language.

Whew. I'm cringing. Too much training in self-deprecation, not enough in self-praise. Better post this before I change my mind and erase everything!