The Woe in Wolfsburg

The woe in Wolfsburg’s palpable; the Menschen are distraught.

They thought their ruhmreich factory could never have been caught.

The city council freezes all the spending in the town,

 and Mitarbeiter drink their Bier with such a sober frown!

This blow to German Stolz is unexpected and so heavy.

(I’m just glad that I have always driven an old Chevy.) 



Hand-Holding Couple Cheats Death by Lightning.

(Claremont, CA)

The Los Angeles Times reports a teenage couple was saved from possible death by lightning strike, because they were holding hands:

“Dr. Stefan Reynoso, who examined the couple afterward, said their hand-holding may have saved them from being hurt or killed.

“It helped to diffuse the electrical current that ran through their bodies,” Reynoso told reporters.”

The Times also reported on one Emily Davis, 31, a  “Bay Area woman struck by lightning during a rainstorm last Monday who apparently escaped serious injury, with the only side effects being sore teeth and a metallic taste in her mouth. Lightning, though, apparently strikes twice in Davis’ family. She told NBC that her great-great-great-grandfather died after lightning hit him while sitting on a horse in Missouri.”

I always suspected that sitting astride a stallion in the Show Me State might prove fatal. Now I have historical confirmation.

To perk up this picayune piece, I may add that the National Weather Service says that chances of you being jolted by a bolt from the blue are 1 in 500-thousand; and that about 60 deaths are reported each year as a result of a direct lightning strike.

And in the south of France, mineralogists have discovered that lightning even rearranges granite at the atomic level. Yikes!

Discovery News explains:  “Previously, scientists had known that lightning could cause some changes in rocks, in part by increasing their temperature. When lightning hits sand, for example, it melts the grains, which fuse and form glass tubes known as fulgurites. Scientists took samples from the rock in southern France, cut and polished them, and then examined them under an optical microscope. They found that the black outer layer of the fulgurite had a black, ceramic-like glaze that was extremely porous, due to the lightning’s heat when it vaporized the rock surface.”

I call dibbs on this discovery for a Hollywood movie about rocks struck by lightning that mutate into living things that invade a supermodel convention and wreak havoc with the bikini strings. I have tentatively entitled it “Invasion of the She Stones!”

Now don’t get all hide-in-the-basement on me when it comes to being struck by lightning. Wild Backpacker gives us some reassuring information on dodging the bullet, or, in this case, the spark: “Lightning strikes are preceded by a sensation of tingling or by your hair standing on end. If you have this feeling and are in or near a thunderstorm, your body has likely sent what is called a positive streamer. If this sudden charge connects with the electrons pooling beneath the storm clouds, lightning will strike you or within a very close proximity. If you feel this sensation, immediately crouch on the balls of your feet and hold your breath so as to not breathe in the superheated air that surrounds a lightning bolt.”

And, FYI, Ben Franklin may not have been the originator of the lightning rod. Seems there is a Leaning Tower of Nevyansk in Russia, with a working lightning rod on top that was installed approximately 25 years prior to Ben’s discovery of how to tame the lightning. No one knows who put it up . . .

(Cue the spooky theremin music . . .)


When it comes to lightning I can do without its charms.

I do not wish to be embraced in its electric arms.

Whenever stormclouds head my way, with bolts out of the sky,

I pull the covers overhead and try hard not to cry.

Perhaps my fears to you are just a subject for the mocking —

 the day will come when you find out the subject is quite SHOCKING!


Airline Price Gouging Investigated by Transportation Department

(Washington. July 24. 2015.)

The Transportation Department has decided to investigate alleged price gouging by 5 airlines after an Amtrak derailment in May, the second time recently that the Transportation Department has looked into the industry’s competitive practices.

The investigation is looking at the five biggest U.S. airlines: American Airlines Group Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., Southwest Airlines Co. and JetBlueAirways Corp.  The time period involved is immediately following the derailment in a Philadelphia suburb on May 12, which killed 8 persons and disrupted train service for several days along the bustling Northeast corridor. The Transportation Department will be looking into the prices on airfares in the Northeast corridor.

Secretary Anthony Foxx of the Transportation Department is quoted as saying they have authority to look into unfair trade practices by airlines, and to put a stop to any illegal price gouging.

(Wall Street Journal)


The Wright Brothers decided long before old Kitty Hawk

that they would gouge their customers, or leave ’em all to walk.

And so today the airlines carry on this fine tradition.

At finesseing customers, each one’s a great tactition. 

They do not fly with angel’s wings; on that I’ll lay good odds.

Whene’er I buy a ticket now I think they’re fiendish frauds!




Magna Carta’s Resonance

King John sat down at Runnymede to sign a piece of paper

that ever since has caused the world to wrangle and to caper.

Was Magna Carta really the big deal we like to think —

or was it, in it’s context, just more royal rinky dink?

Either way this parchment proclamation resonates

with people who want law to rule above their kings and fates.

from an article in the New York Times