Thursday, May 31, 2007

Poor choice

Each day 119 people die on the roads and highways in the United States, more than 40,000 a year. That means that every 15 minutes, someone learns that a loved one has died in a traffic accident. In the early hours of April 29 2007, the family of Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock 29, learned that he was killed while driving an SUV in St Louis. He had sadly joined those statistics.

On May 24 2007, Dean Hancock of Tupelo MI and Josh's father filed suit in St Louis Circuit Court in regards to his son's accident. While no damages were specified at filing, there are plenty of defendents. Mike Shannon's Restaurant, owned by the longtime Cardinals broadcaster along with his daughter, Patricia Shannon Van Matre who is the restaurant manager. Other defendents include Eddie's Towing, the company that owned the flatbed tow truck that Hancock struck, tow truck driver Jacob Edward Hargrove and Justin Tolar, the driver of the stalled car that was awaiting towing.

The lawsuit claims that Hancock was a regular at the restaurant bar and had gone there not long after the completion of a day game. In the 3 1/2 hours he spent there, he was handed drinks and allegedly was never without a drink.

To further distribute the blame, the lawsuit claims that Tolar was negligent in allowing his vehicle to reach the point where it stalled on the highway and for failing to move it out of the way of oncoming traffic. Hargrove has been included in the lawsuit for failing to remove the vehicle from the road in a timely fashion. Police have said that he arrived on the scene minutes before his truck was struck by Hancock's SUV while the lawyer for Dean Hancock claims that he may have been there for up to 15 minutes.

"Were the police contacted? Why weren't flares put out? Why was the tow truck there for an exorbinant amount of time?" asked Keith Kantack, lawyer for Dean Hancock.

This may seem all fair in the loss of someone so young but some of the other facts in this case according to Police Chief Joe Mokwa include Josh Hancock having a blood alcohol content of 0.157 at the time he crashed his rented Ford Explorer into the tow truck. In addition to this, he was speeding, using a cellphone, wasn't wearing a seat belt and 8.55 grams of marijuana and a glass pipe were found in the vehicle after the crash.

Kantack has stated that others may be added to the lawsuit in the future but declined to speculate as to who they would be. May I suggest a few others then? Why not add the person Hancock was talking to on the cellphone, since they did not tell him to stop driving and take a cab. The rental company for not having installed ignition interlock technology on the SUV which would have prevented Hancock from starting it and driving drunk. The seatbelt manufacturer for not having developed a system that would have made sure Hancock was wearing it at the time of the crash. At this rate, why not also add anyone who Hancock may have observed growing up, taking a drink or two as having set a bad example for him and the alcohol manufacturers and distributors for making it available to him so readily.

The bottom line is that a family has lost a son far too soon and that the only blame there should be is upon Josh Hancock, who knew when he had the first "free" drink in his hand, it was his choice as to what the mature and correct decision was. I am sorry that the Hancock family has lost a son but they should also be very thankful that no one else was harmed in the accident.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Doing the math would have been easier

There are always those times when a conversation turns towards what age everyone is. This is evidently what happened around 10pm May 27 2007 in a mobile home on the 1200 block of Paseo Derecho in San Antonio TX.

Two cousins there began to argue about who was the older of the two. Now logic would say, compare your birthdates or driver licenses if you want to be sure no one is being dishonest. Drinking alcohol tends to cloud logic, so the cousins began to fight it out Texas style. One of the cousins grabbed a pitchfork and that is when their 53 year old uncle stepped in to break it up.

It came to a halt quickly when one of the nephews stabbed his uncle in the arm with the pitchfork, EMS was called and they transported the wounded uncle to Methodist Hospital with non life threatening injuries. The pitchfork wielding nephew was arrested on charges of aggravated assault and the other cousin will not be charged with anything.

This could all have been handled much easier if they had just done the math and I think that if there is a next time, their uncle may decide to just let them duke it. The math though may have been a challenge as evidenced by the recent showing of spelling on protest signs there.

"Home improvement" brings big returns

When you ask a real estate agent how best to make your house more valuable, few, if any will tell you to add some toxic waste to it. Evidently though, in West Hartford CT, that does the trick in doubling your house value.

One night in October 2005 when a weeklong rainstorm dumped over a foot of rain, the main sewer run by the Metropolitan District Commision overflowed and dumped its contents all over Elmfield St and the homes along it. The fire department came out to help the residents pump out their basements but when they reached the home of Linda Gilnite and started pumping, they abrubtly stopped. What they thought was just water was in fact, raw sewage. The four feet of "water" kept rising, completely filling the basement, creeping up into the first floor and knocked over the heating oil tank to add about one hundred gallons of floating oil to the mess.

Gilnite is still fighting the MDC for compansation but now, she is also fighting the new property assessment. In October 2005 her home was assessed at $72,870 and after the October 2006 reassessment it has changed to $138,400.

"My house is worth nothing, " she said

Not only is that Gilnite's opinion but it is also the opinion of a realtor who gave her a written estimate for her home of a bit over $200,000.... only after it is decontaminated. There is no point to even trying to sell it before then. Gilnite went to town hall to appeal her case and she recalls the assessor scratching out prices until he admitted he didn't know how much to say the house was worth. The original document is not in her file but a scanned copy of it was later found and even though it is a little hard to read, the words " the house is contaminated and unsellable" can be made out.

On April 2 2007, Gilnite received a letter from the Board of Assessment Appeals saying " the Board has decided there will be no change to the assessment."

I bet everyone else in town wishes they had half their home flooded with heating oil and raw sewage. For no more effort than watching a weeks worth of rain, they too could have their house value double.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Let "are" kids walk

About a dozen seniors from Trimble Tech High School began their protest on Thursday at 8:30 am in front of the Fort Worth Independent School District headquarters. They represented the 613 Fort Worth TX seniors who did not pass the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exam and would not be allowed to walk across the stage during their class's graduation ceremonies.

Not all the school districts ban such students and school officials have said that if they pass a retest in July, they can participate in a seperate commencement cermony held in August. This TAK exam was not a surprise "pop quiz", both the students and parents knew that it had to be passed in order for them to receive their diploma.

While I do feel a bit sorry that these students will miss out on a milestone in their young lives, it was of their own making, they failed the TAK exam. When you show up to protest though, making the statement that those students who failed the exam should be seen on the commencement stage as equals to those who did pass the sure to showcase the fine job the school system has done in educating you.

Maybe a quick proof read of the sign you wrote and appropriate corrections would have convinced me that failing the TAK exam was not such a big deal.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Today is Memorial Day, not simply one more day of great sales at the mall. It is the day dedicated to the memory and the thanks that is due to all of our service members who have fallen in both times of peace and war.

As you are driving to the mall today, rushing to the grocery store for the last minute BBQ items or heading out to the beach and pass a local cemetary, take just a moment. A moment of your time to notice the flags scattered within, literally thousands nationwide this weekend. Flags that mark the graves of people who set aside time in their life to serve our country and defend the freedom the United States was founded on.

Take just a moment to give thanks for their choice to serve.

For a thoughtful post read.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Let's go to the beach

Those hot summer days when you pack up the beach gear, fill the coolers, check you have enough tanning lotion and pile into the car to drive out to a day of fun and sun. These days, as you are dragging all that gear towards your spot in paradise near the water, you are confronted with the inevitable signs listing what you can't do on the beach. Most of these are pretty common-sense, no pets, glass containers, fires, nudity but in New Jersey, a state that relies heavily on beach tourism in it's economy, there are a lot more things you can't do now.

On Long Beach Island, one of New Jersey's most popular vacation destinations, most of the beachs there now have laws prohibiting people from digging deeper than 12 inches into the sand. It stems from an accident several years ago when a teeneger died when a hole he dug collapsed on him but there is also a new reason for it. More than 1,000 pieces of WW1 military munitions were pumped ashore during a winter replenishment project years after they had been dumped at sea. There is no guarentee that all of it had been removed once authorities discovered what had happened.

In Belmar, there is no gambling, cursing, smoking or changing your clothes on the beach and now you may not "model, draw or depict any obscene or rude figures upon the beachfront." Mayor Ken Pringle said that he can't recall ever getting a complaint about that in 17 years, most are related to the errant fly zones of Frisbees.

In Brigantine, you can't impersonate a member of the beach patrol, which makes sense for the general public's safety. Unfortunately, you also can't "revel, disport or behave in an annoying, boisterous manner emitting loud cries." The borough of Sea Bright prohibits your beach entrance if you are experiencing diarrhea or have had it in the past seven days. I can understand the health issues behind the ban but who is going to be checking for that before you enter the beach and I am very sure that I don't want that job.

In Wildwood you risk arrest if you stand beneath the boardwalk as people walk above and look up through the slits. After a vendor proposed charging people for a camel ride across the "vast" quarter to half mile it takes from the boardwalk to the water in 2000, camels are also banned from the beach there.

"We said no. Our beaches are as wide as a desert, but you won't find any camels on our sand." said Mayor Ernie Troiano
If this were not enough to try and remember when packing those beach items, in Spring Lake it is illegal to possess a spear gun on the beach, although I am still wondering what kind of fish you can spear on the beach. To make matters more complicated, Long Branch prohibits parking a baby carriage on the sand within 15 feet of the beach entrance. I can understand not parking it near the waters edge, but the beach entrance? Would it be blocking the "priority" beach parking there or are they just trying to keep the number of tows needed at a minimum?

Now, not only do I have to expand the list of items that are not to be packed for that great day in the sun but I may have to rethink my idea of Newark being the only reason I don't stop often in New Jersey.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Who is watching

It began last Tuesday with an unattended toddler and ended with the artisans discovering they had twice as much work to do to finish what they had started. Eight Tibetan monks had been pouring sand to create a mandala at Union Station in Kansas City MO as part of a year long tour to raise funds to replace their destroyed temple.

The monks had been halfway to completion of the intricate design and had left for the day, when a security tape shows the young boy slip under a security tape and do a dance throughout the design. His mother evidently had been bringing a package to the post office there and is also seen on the tape. She is seen returning to the mandala, grabbing her son by the arm and then walking out of camera range.

"No problem. We didn't get despondent. We have three days more. So we will have to work harder, " said Geshe Lobsang Sumdup, leader of the group from Drepung Gomang Monastery.

While they may have no problem with the outcome of this, I do. It seems to be a typical behavior today. Not a month goes by when we aren't faced with Amber Alerts and searches for lost children and still, there are those who will leave a child unattended in a public location. Maybe it was easier to leave him where he could be amused and quiet for a few minutes but that is no excuse. Worse I feel, is that the mother did nothing to inform anyone or apologise for the destruction her child obviously did. Another example of not taking responsibility and a poor example for a child to learn by.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Where's my tanning oil?

He was spotted stretched out in the sun, working on his tan possibly and within minutes.... the gate slammed shut. Five or six men jumped in and wrestled his thrashing body and before too long, he lay there with his mouth duct taped shut and was positively identified by City Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

Reggie's days of leisure at Lake Machdo CA had come to an abrubt end in the late afternoon yesterday. He was spotted sunning himself within a pen that had been set up in hopes of capturing him while officials and wildlife experts held a nearby meeting to discuss methods of capturing him.

After the brief wrestling match, Reggie was strapped to a board by firefighters and loaded onto an animal control vehicle for a trip to the Los Angeles Zoo. As has been his method all along, Reggie rode in the style of the celebrity he he is.......... a police car escorted he, news helicopters followed the vehicles and his trip was broadcast live

"He looks like Reggie to me" said Hahn

Reggie seems to have had very poor timing for that sun bathing session but after a couple of months of quarentine, he will certainly be able to enjoy the spotlight again in his new home at the zoo.

my earlier post concerning Reggie

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's only a setback

The orange flames flickered, danced above the Cutty Sark in the dark. This wasn't "flaming shot" night at the local bar but instead, at 4:45am , May 22 the graceful clipper ship Cutty Sark sat in dry dock in England on fire. It took the responding firefighters more than two hours to put the blaze out. By midmorning the fire investigators along with the ship's restoration director, Ian Bell had begun their assessments of the damage.

The Cutty Sark is the world's only surviving extreme clipper ship and had been undergoing a $49 million dollar restoration when she caught fire. Much of her original material such as the teak wood, masts, saloon, deck houses, captain's cabin and 50% of the planking have been in storage since the project began and fortunately escaped the fire.

She is a composite built extreme clipper ship designed by Hercules Linton, displacing 963 tons and slipped into the water on November 22 1869. The extreme clipper was considered the fastest of the commercial sailing ships and the sleek lines are due in part to the composite construction, combining iron frames with the wood hull. The Cutty Sark has survived with most of her original construction and is not only the best survivng example of it but was of exceptional quality before the fire.

She began her service on the China Tea Trade for a couple of seasons before her permanent dry-docking in 1949 as a museum ship. Between that time, she was a regular fast sailer in the Australian wool trade after steam ships took over the tea trade, was a Portuguese training ship, had spent time rerigged as a barquentine and by 1922, was used as a stationary training ship until her dry-docking.

"We're treating this as a suspicious incident", said Bruce Middlemiss, police inspector.

The restoration that was expected to take four years will continue, although the fire may move the completion date further into the future. The Cutty Sark is too exceptional an example of the sleek, fast sailing ships of the past to not restore to her former glory. To be able to stand on timbers that were growing in 1415 and experience real history, not a replica of it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Maybe I should have just made a hair appointment

I am sure that everyone has had an argument with their spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or significant other at some time in their life. Everyone has a different way of handling it as well. Some people work it out, others go fishing, work on the car, go shopping, get their hair done or buy a sexy outfit to get his attention and move past the argument topic.

Sandra Eighmie, 19 of Bristol CT found a more personal and unique way of trying to resolve an argument with her boyfriend recently. It is alleged that they had argued earlier on May 7 2007 and he no longer wanted to speak with her, he chose instead to leave with two other people in a car. Putting distance between the two of them isn't such a poor choice, I feel it is a mature choice to let the heat die down for a bit. Eighmie evidently had another idea for trying to continue to talk to him.

She decided to follow the car her boyfriend was riding in to Willis Avenue in Plainville Ct, which is a two lane road with a grass divider. Evidently, she wanted to make sure they noticed her and would stop so she could continue to talk to her boyfriend. She managed this by driving the wrong way up the road and intentionally hit the car he was riding in, head-on, knocking that car backwards in the road. The driver then threw the car in reverse and managed to drive away. Eighmie caught up to the car again when the driver finally pulled over to inspect what damage may have been done to the car.

It is while the driver was out of the car inspecting it that she rammed the car from behind, evidently in another attempt to get her boyfriend's attention. She was still at the scene when police arrived and found no injuries to the people in the rammed car. Eighmie was arrested, narcotics were found in her purse and in her car but police did not believe that she had been driving under the influence. She now faces charges of failure to drive right, reckless driving, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Maybe a sexy outfit was a better choice to "catch" her boyfriend's attention or maybe it was a day when she should have just gone shopping after the fight.

Monday, May 21, 2007

I do again?

Bishop Anthony Owens, 35 , turned himself into the Gwinnett County jail on April 30 and is now awaiting the decision of the judge as to whether he will serve more time after at least four women have said that he proposed to them. This may sound a little strange but Owens has already served two years in jail for the "small" matter of having 8 wives.

According to police reports, Owens's marrying ways began at age 18 when he married Joanna Hill, 43 in Memphis TN. He said that it was a troubled marriage and a later misunderstanding of Mormon teachings led him to marry Earleen Mabien, 41 in 1992, all without "stopping at go", collecting $200 and divorcing his first wife. From 1995 to 2002 Owens married six other women in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama and it was some of these later wives who alerted police to his bigamy.

The new charges were brought by the four women who now claim he has been spreading his own version of "God's word", telling some of them that God had sent him to them to help them. Owens seems to be a man of his word, proposing to all of them.

Owens has only said that he divorced some of his wives, he just couldn't remember which ones. I would think that could have easily been solved by his just marking it in his day planner.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

They don't have what?

I haven't flown on United Airlines in quite some time but evidently, I must have been missing something. I didn't know that the airlines offered leather seats, well, maybe they do in first class somewhere but not in the economy class I am usually crammed into.

How did I find out that I have been shorted on leather seats? Britney Spears told me, not personally, but the news reports about her did. According to the reports, Spears demanded to get off her schedualed May 18th flight from LA to Miami just minutes before it was due to take off because that plane didn't have leather seats.

I have spent many a flight stuffed in economy class, hoping that they didn't run out of peanuts before they got to my row, trying to remember which overhead bin I had left my bags in and hoping that I did not get the middle seat. That seat where I am stuck between two large people, in back of the screaming baby and a couple of rows from the guy who must have had beanies & weenies for lunch. Now I find out that I could have been booking on a flight that had leather seats after all this time.

There must be plenty of people going to sleep tonight, wishing that their only worry was a lack of leather on the airplane, instead of where they will sleep tomorrow, will their job still be there in the morning or how they will afford medication and food this week. I'm sorry Britney, you delayed the flight for everyone else on that plane like a spoiled brat, people who knew there would be no leather seats to be found there.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

If I can't have it, nobody will

March 5, 2007, a landmark home in East Lyme CT burned to the ground. This past week, owner Richard Shenkman of S Windsor CT was arrested in connection with that fire. Shenkman, 58 and the owner of a Bloomfield CT advertising firm is charged with first degree arson and first degree reckless endangerment.

The fire broke out before 5 am that morning and Shenkman, the only occupent at the time managed to climb out of the house and onto a porch roof with his two dogs and escaped the flames. Neighbors helped them off the roof to safety before the fire department had arrived. One police officer was injured during the rescue, the neighboring house was damaged and if the winds had been slightly different that morning, much of the neighborhood would have burned as well.

Shenkman was taken into custody outside the law office where he was schedualed to attend a deposition regarding his upcoming divorce. It seems that there had been an order to vacate the East Lyme home the morning of March 5th and it is believed that Shenkman started the fire to prevent his wife from taking control of the property.
Now I have to wonder....... there is some logic to thinking "if I can't have it, she can't either" but when you plan on torching a home for that reason, I would suggest leaving the premises before the flames force you and your dogs onto a roof. It also might be a better choice to burn it down sometime long before it is supposed to change hands, not two hours beforehand, just to lead suspicion away from you are the perpetrator.

And what is left of the 115 year old Victorian home that was the center of this dispute?
"It has been transformed into a dirt basement" according to East Lyme Public Safety and Fire Marshal Richard Morris
I think we will have to wait a bit to see who really has the last laugh.

Friday, May 18, 2007

You can sit or help

I am sure most people can remember a time when they ran out of gas and needed a push. Maybe was getting stuck in a muddy field and being the only person not having to scrape the mud off after convincing your friends that pushing you was what was needed to prevent a costly tow.

Somehow, the idea of pushing a train for something other than a Guiness World Record is something i doubt would ever happen in the United States. That is exactly what happened the other day in the Buxar district of Bihar India. One of the largest railway networks in the world is in India and although they carry more than 14 million passengers a day, they are often poorly maintained, leading to numerous accidents or disruptions of service.

I can only imagine the grumbling, swearing and cellphone calls here if a train ground to a halt and the passengers were then asked to assist in moving it by the driver. Get out and push? There would be a field day of threatened lawsuits, complaints of poor service, the fear of a broken heel or torn suit jacket.
Train passengers in India must just have a different view of it though. When the electric train they were riding on halted after losing it's electrical conection, hundreds got off the train and pushed it the 60 yards forward to a spot where it could restart and then hopped back on for the rest of the trip. I guess a "normal commute to the office" is just a bit different than it is here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The fine print

The signs have hung for ten years without a complaint, that is, until now. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation has ordered McGuires Irish Pub in Destin FL to remove it's restroom signs.

"We're not trying to be malicious, it's an Irish joke kind of thing." said General Manager Billy Martin.

McGuire's was faced with closure from the agency with the violation - "Lack of signage porperly designating bathrooms." At the center of the recent complaint are two signs that require some careful reading of the smaller print on them, both have "Ladies" and "Men" in larger print and in smaller, humorous text it is explained that they shouldn't use that restroom as it is designated for the opposite sex.
The complaint was filed by the father of a 15 year old girl who said that a college age man walked in on his daughter, embarressing her and forcing her to leave the restaurant crying.
We may never know why that young man used the wrong restroom, as Martin states that there is a second large sign directly inside, directing patrons to use the correct room. It may have been too much "pub cheer", lack of definative reading skills or simple desperation at the moment. I am sorry this young girl was embarressed and quite possibly the young man was as well, although he did not lodge a complaint but 3,000 names on a petition to restore the signs and 10 years with no complaints seem to support the "Irish joke" meant by them.
Sadly though, I personally know individuals who have made the same "desperate" mistake with clearly marked restrooms.... it would seem that when nature calls, reading skills are ignored at times.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


'Distraught and traumatized as a consequence of the findings at the May 4 hearing...... and her fear of incarceration."
Dr. Charles Sophy, psychiatrist
It seems that Paris Hilton is so emotionally traumatized and distraught that she isn't capable of testifying in a $10 million civil lawsuit that had been filed against her by Zeta Graff. In 2005, Graff filed a lawsuit claiming that Hilton was the source of "vicious lies" being spread about the diamond heiress and actress allegedly attempting to steal a valuable necklace from Hilton's neck.
Ms. Hilton's psychiatrist testified as to how traumatized she has been recently and Superior Court Judge Linda Lefkowitz has now postponed the trial schedualed to begin this month until August of this year. While I am sure that there were many factors taken into consideration for this decision, how upset Hilton is at the moment I think should have very little bearing.
Hilton was convicted recently and sentenced to 45 days in county jail for violating her parole and must go to jail by June 5th. This is hardly a case of using Hilton as an example, she violated her parole stemming from a Sept 7 arrest for reckless driving while intoxicated. She was then sentenced to 36 months of probation, alcohol education and $1,500 in fines. Since that sentence, she has been twice been arrested for driving with a suspended license and it has been found that she hadn't as of the recent hearing, enrolled in an alcohol education program before the Feb 12 deadline.
Hilton is facing "real" jail time but she has been guilty of failing to follow the rather simple terms of her probation. If she thinks that her looming jail time is traumatizing, maybe she should have a chat with a few men who should be "traumatized" by their incarcerations.
Advances in DNA testing has now freed numerous "criminals" , the men Hilton should probably talk with. Byron Halsey was recently released from jail in NJ on $55,000 bail after spending twenty years in jail following his conviction of murdering and sexually assaulting the two young children of his live-in girlfriend. The DNA evidence points to another man, Clifton Hall, who lived in the same rooming house and is now in prison for three sex crimes.
James Tillman spent 18 years incorrectly convicted of kidnapping and raping a woman in CT and has also been released after DNA evidence has shown that he was not the perpetrator of the crime. Alan Crotzer has been released in FL after being sentenced to 130 years for being part of an armed robbery and rapes. Again, DNA evidence has left no doubt that he also is innocent of the crimes.
I can understand that jail will be such a drastic change for Hilton that she is now distraught but she has been found guilty of driving when she could very well afford someone to drive for her. She had ignored the fact that she should have been enrolled in the alcohol education program and I find it very difficult to feel sorry for her. As for the postponed case, she has known that court date would be coming for a couple of years.
Maybe this will be a wakeup call for improving her future behavior but her 45 day sentence pales in the face of what these innocent men faced for years.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Run for glory

He is crouched in the starting blocks, tense, waiting for the shot that will set him running down the track, running to better his personal time, running towards a possible spot on the Olympic team. Oscar Pistorius, 20, of South Africa is not only hoping to post a time fast enough to qualify for his team but also to be the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympics.
Since March, Pistoruis has set record times for disabled athletes of 10.91 seconds at 100 meters, 21.58 at 200 meters and 46.32 at 400 meters and his time of 46.56 in the 400 meters in March earned him a second place against able bodied runners at the South African national championships. These times have not yet qualified him as an individual team member of the Olympic team but those marks would have won him gold medals in the equivalent woman's races in Athen's in 2004 and would qualify him as a member of the South African 4x400 meter relay team so far.

"I don't see myself as disabled. There's nothing I can't do that able-bodied athletes can do." said Pistorius, a former rugby and water polo player who also declines parking in reserved disabled spaces.
Pistorius was born without some of the bones in his lower legs and foot deformities and had both his legs amputated below the knees when he was only 11 months old. He is sponsored by Ossur and runs with the aid of their Cheetah Flex-Foot prosthetics. As such, he has run to multiple gold medals at the Paralympics and set numerous world records as well as competing successfully against able-bodied runners. Those prosthetics are now the center of an international debate: do they simply level the playing field for him, compensating for his disability or do they give him an advantage with what some call techno-doping?
The I.A.A.F. track and field's world governing body has recently prohibited the use of technological aids like wheels and springs and that would disqualify Pistorius from events that they sanction. The International Olympic Commitee allows the governing bodies of various sports to make their own eligibility rules such as those that allowed transgender athletes to compete in 2004, although it can intervene.

"We cannot accept something that provides advantages. It affects the purity of the sport. Next will be another device where people can fly with something on their back." stated Elio Locatelli of Italy, director of developement for the I.A.A.F. He has urged Pistorius to concentrate on running in the Paralympics that will follow immediately after the Olympics.

Robert Gailey, an associate professor of physical therapy at the University of Miami Medical School has said that there is no science proving that he has an advantage, only that he is competing at a disadvantage. Arguments are that his prosthetics afford him a longer stride and more spring forward while Gailey has said that his prosthetic returns only 80% of the energy returned to his leg in comparison to the 240% that a natural legs returns, allowing for much more spring for a normal runner.
The I.A.A.F. has expressed concerns also of his toppling over, interfering with other runners or injuring them. This is suddenly a concern after we have watched competitions for years involving ice skaters losing an edge on a turn and taking down several other skaters in their wake? He certainly runs with disadvantages including: cumberson starts, a lack of knee flex that inhibits his power output, loss of grip on a slick surface and rotational forces that turn his "feet" outwards when running. To counteract some of these disadvantages, he doesn't settle for second best but rather participates in a grueling regiment of training.

"You have two competing issues- fair competition and basic human rights to compete," said Angela Schneider, a sports ethicist at the University of Ontario and 1984 silver medalist in rowing. The danger of acting hastily and without scientific proof of his advantages may mean that "you deny a guy's struggle against all odds - one of the fundamental principles of the Olympics."

After all the years and funds spent to "mainstream" handicapped children within the classroom, educating parents to raise disabled children to live life to their fullest and the technological advances in support of those who are handicapped.... does segregating them from international competition send the loud message that we want you to do your best except when your best may beat the able-bodied? I agree that acting too hastily on preventing Pistorius's dream of an Olympic berth, without scientific evidence to prove he has an unfair advantage, sets not only a poor example but may unfairly deny this man the chance to live his dream.

for more, read

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It's only what?

In the early hours of January 2 2007, the Nageswaran family discovered that it wasn't just fireworks in the neighborhood they had heard but rather something had crashed through the roof and into an upstairs bathroom. Among the chunks of insulation and drywall on the floor rested a metallic looking rock.

Within a few hours of reporting the "home invasion" in Freehold Township NJ, federal aviation agents examined it and ruled that it was not thankfully, the remains of an airline toilet flush nor was it a piece of a plane. The other choices of alien invasion and terroist attack could easily be ruled out as well, which left but one conclusion...... this was a meteorite.

The object, which weighs 377 grams and is about 3 inches by 2 inches in size, was visually examined at the police department by Rutgers University geologist Jeremy Delaney and later by an independent metals expert shortly after it's discovery. Both had concluded that it was a meteorite, one of the approximately 20 to 50 that fall to earth each year. In late April of this year it was brought to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City NY for more testing. After a few hours of examination of the x rays generated with a variable-pressure scanning electron microscope, the elements and composition of the object were revealed.

The object may resemble a rock but it is a stainless steel alloy that doesn't occur naturally in nature. The little golfball sized invader is most likely "orbital debris", the remnents of a rocket, satellite or some other random spacecraft component. What punched a hole into an upscale neighborhood bathroom and briefly enjoyed the spotlight as a rare space rock is instead, just a rather ordinary piece of space junk.

"I'm happy it didn't hit my house." Robert Nalven

All these years after the first steps on the moon, we still get excited to find a little piece of space that has survived the journey to earth. This time though, it appears that a spare wrench may have fallen out of the Millineum Falcon, blazed it's way through the atmosphere and is now destined to be a unique paperweight.


The FBI has gotten another of their Ten Most Wanted thanks to a tip from a Canadian citizen. Richard Goldberg, 61, appeared on that list after being charged with producing child pornography, two counts of possessing child pornography and six counts of performing lewd acts on a child in 2001. He has been on the run for six years and with his capture in Montreal, Quebec, he is facing extradition to the United States and a new charge of unlawful flight.
The authorities in Long Beach CA where he had been charged say that he had gone beyond merely possessing child related pornography, he had engaged in sexual acts with girls younger than 10 years old for 5 months in 2001.

"Goldberg gained the trust of (neighborhood) parents and then befriended their children." according to a June 2002 FBI news release when he was added to their most-wanted list.

Thankfully, someone took the time to check a hunch for the facts and then acted on it. Child molesters do not just happen but rather, develope over time. The image of the "creepy guy" offering candy is no longer true, he is very often someone openly befriending families, surfing the net for pictures secretly and finally acting on his desires. There is no cure for people like this but at least today, one more will be headed to prison where he will not damage another child.

for more read

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Crash & burn?

The ads ran for weeks on EBay, it was the talk of the bidders for a week, now it seems that the sale of a 1969 Charger for 10 million dollars has spun out and crashed. This wasn't any ordinary car, it is owned by John Schneider, the "cute blonde Bo Duke" of the "Dukes of Hazzard" television show.
The "Dukes of Hazzard" still enjoys a loyal following on cable, I doubt for the stunning dialogue and plot lines but rather for the car chases and possibly Daisy's attair. The vehicle is a modified Charger that appeared as the General Lee in the early 80's show. It has been further modified since appearing the show to an over 200mph, roll caged 725 hp Hemi powered beast. Since these modifications, the car was featured in a limited-release movie that Schneider produced, directed and distributed. Schneider had hoped that the sale of this car would raise the funds needed for a sequal to that movie.
The winning bidder, William Fisher, has maintained that he did not place the winning bid and that his EBay account had been hacked. An EBay spokesperson said that there is no evidence as of now. During the auction last week, EBay had contacted several of the top bidders to verify their offers and had disqualified some bids. A winning bid on EBay constitutes a legally binding contract but company policy also allows Schneider to approach the second highest bidder, which may allow the sale to be completed more quickly.

"Guess I'll have to have a bake sale to fund the movie now!" stated Schneider immediately after hearing that the auction was in jeorpardy.

The show typically went through several cars during the filming of each show which over the six year span of it's television life, depleted the number of those cars left for collectors. McKeel Hagerty, president of Hagerty Insurance, a collector car insurance company, stated that there are about 20 production-used Chargers known to exist in reasonably good condition. These are valued between $150,000 to $200,000 but the opportunity to purchase one that has been owned by "Bo Duke" himself would add to it's value. It wouldn't add millions of dollars to it's value he believed.
If the "General Lee" could go for $10 million at auction..... I wonder how much one of Daisy's outfits would sell for?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Neither snow, nor rain.......

Many people have that verse run through their minds when they see the postman trudging through knee-deep snow but do they know that neither fire, nor brimstone will keep him from his appointed rounds. That is exactly what Joshua Witter, 24 of Orlando FL, promises to do with the creation of the Post-Rapture Post, the "post office of the saved."

"Do you want to take the chance that your loved ones will have to suffer through your ascension in Heaven without knowing how you really feel in your heart?" Witter asks on his website.

While some may find his website and offer of post Apocalypse mail delivery shocking or think it is a joke, Witter, an atheist is serious with his offer. As an atheist, he doesn't believe in God, the Rapture or damnation even and is pretty sure that he will be one of the many left behind if there is a Rapture. As he sees it, it will be the job of those left behind to be the postmen of the Apocalypse and he guarentees that should that time arrive, he will deliver all the mail entrusted to him for delivery.
Witter created the website in 2004 after graduating from Syracus University and although it may be seen as satirical, he says it is also very logical. His logic is that if you are a good person and ascend, you may want to encourage others to remain good and join you, sending them a letter is a viable choice.
His site offers letters starting from the basic Class 1 message at $4.99 upwards to a message delivered medieval-style parchment for $799.99. So far, only 11 people have purchased the inexpensive Class 1 letters. He has received a few nasty letters himself and acknowledges that 80% of his mail is "hate mail" while the other 20% appreciate his site or are other atheists offering to take postal jobs.
It would seem that being a postman is still a job people aspire to, even after the end of the world.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

No good deed goes unpunished

Raj Bhandari purchased his Center City WI BP gas station about a year ago and has been offering some of his customers discounts. While his intentions may have been good, he recently has been contacted by the state of Wisconsin's Department of Argriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and informed that his discounts violate that state's Unfair Sales Act.
His offer of a discount card to sports boosters that gave them a 3 cents a gallon discount and offering a discount of 2 cents a gallon to senior citizens seem to be well intentioned. Irregardless of his intentions, the state's Unfair Sales Act requires all stations to sell their gas at no less than cost and that cost includes a 9.18% markup over the average posted terminal price. Violations of this law may result in a civil forfeiture being ordered that can amount to $50 to $500 for the first violation and $200 to $2500 for subsequent violations. He may also be liable for damages claimed but his competitor's by his discounts.
Bhandari said that about 10 percent of his customers have used either the $50 discount cards or took advantage of his senior discount. He will no longer be offering either of those since receiving his letter but he is afraid that his customers may think he is trying to make more money by discontinueing it.
I don't know how much money Bhandari may have lost with his discounts, nor how much money he may have encouraged citizens to give in support of youth sports as boosters. His discount seems to be an offer of goodwill to customers, sadly, one that Wisconsin state law makes illegal. I hope that his customers do understand that it is the law and not his greed that ended this gesture.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A different hobby maybe?

Spring has brought some rather odd sights on the side of the roads in southern Illinois to drivers. Along with the sight of blooming flowers there lies along the roadside, dead raccoons and possums, neatly dressed in bright pet and baby clothes, their nails carefully painted with polish. It would be enough to have some drivers thinking they had been run down on the way to a forest animal prom night or that maybe Thumper and Bambi's pals wouldn't be arriving at that gala movie premeire.
An investigation led to Jessica May, 24 of West Lafayette IN and an SIU-Edwardsville graduate art student. She explained that she is not an animal activist but rather, wondered if people would give more thought to the roadkill if they looked more human.

"I don't particularly find it offensive, but I understand why some people who don't understand what I'm doing could find it that way." explained May.

I understand curiosity but did we really need to know the answer to that question?

One to tell the kids someday.......

Monday night, Ruta Greiciute evidently thought the prank in Vilnius Lithuania with friends was going to be fun. This morning I think she may be feeling that it wasn't such a great idea.
Ruta and two friends evidently thought after an evening of celebrating and drinking, the next best thing to do included breaking into a nearby zoo and climbing into the giraffe exhibit. This all probably seemed like great fun until Solut, a nine year old male giraffe in the exhibit, revealed his difference of opinion.

"This was a very silly thing they did. The scared giraffe could have stomped her to death." said Angele Grebliauskaite, Kaunas Zoo spokeswoman.

The 1.3 ton giraffe flew into a rage and attacked all three trespassing students Monday night. Two of the Kaunas Technology University students escaped unharmed while Ruta evidently stayed for souvenirs. The broken collarbone and nose should remind her for some time now that not all things your friends suggest when drinking are fun.
The police have launched an investigation into how they broke into the zoo and climbed a 10-foot high fence at the giraffe cage. I think it's obvious about the fence....... you put one hand above the other, pull yourself up, repeat the steps until you run out of fence.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Escaping capture

The annual reunion was held last week in St. Louis MO of the Air Forces Escape & Evasion Society. Ralph Patton, a WW II B-17 pilot, founded AFEES in 1964 after returning from a trip to France in which he retraced the route used for his escape. It was during that trip that he met with Mathurin Branchous, the provincial Resistance leader who had a list of names of Americans who had escaped during the war through Operation Bonaparte.
AFEES is made up of airmen who were shot down over enemy territory in Europe during WW II and had succeeded in evading capture to return to their units. There are currently over 1,000 members and is not so much a celebration of the airmen's escape during the war but rather, the opportunity for these flyers to continue to maintain contact with the many people who assisted in their escape. Each year since the late sixties former members of the Dutch and Belgian underground, partisians from the former Yugoslavia and the French Resistance travel to these reunions to be honored for their actions then and meet the airmen they helped to safety.

"It was almost impossible to evade capture in an occupied country without help." said Clayton David, former B-17 2nd lieutenant, "They felt we were risking our lives to liberate them, so they felt they should risk their own lives to try and save us."

Joke Folmer was the young woman who helped David to eventual safety while she was a member of the Dutch underground. It was only weeks after helping him, one of more than 300 people including 120 airmen, that she was arrested and sentenced to death. She was sent to nine different prisons before she was finally liberated and has been attending the reunions for over 20 years.
Of the 47,000 men in the 8th Army Air Force who were shot down during the war, 25,000 were killed and 18,350 were taken prisoner. Only 2,150 of the men escaped, almost all with the help of people they didn't know, people who risked their lives to get them to safety only because they were American airmen. With the formation of the society these airmen can continue to stay in contact with the people many believe saved their lives in WW II.

This truly was a time when ordinary people did extrodinary things.

I'm a thief

Recently, shoppers outside a Wal-Mart Supercenter near Attalla AL were greeted not by tables of youth groups with their fundraisers but instead, by two people wearing sandwich boards. Attalla City Kenneth Robertson Jr had ordered two convicted shoplifters to wear the signs reading "I'm a thief. I stole from Wal-Mart." for four hours each on two successive Saturdays.
Lisa King Fithian said that people outside had commented to her that it was "cruel" for her to wear the sign and maintained her innocence of the charge. Fithian though had chosen to do that rather than serve a 60 day sentence in jail for the conviction.

"The only comments we've heard so far have been positive. Most of them thought it was a good thing." stated Neil Hawkins, store manager.

Hawkins felt that maybe others would think twice about shoplifting there now that they have seen the embarressment that could result in their being caught. A recent Ninth US Circuit of Appeals decision has upheld the constitutionality of a similar sentence in the case of a man convicted of mail theft. That man was sentenced to wear a sign reading "I stole mail. This is my punishment" outside the San Francisco post office. The appeals court ruled that the sentence was reasonably related to rehabilitation, deterrance and public protection and did not violate the defendent's constitutional rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.
We are now centuries removed from the days of using a "Scarlet Letter" to punish and humiliate the guilty but this form of sentence may be seeing a revival in recent years. This may stem from the feelings of some that our current prison system is inadequate in it's mission of punishment or rehabilitation. In the near future, you may notice more sandwich boards proclaiming a person's guilt and quite possibly with the technology available........ we will enjoy them lighting up the night.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Calling Dr. Zira

In Vienna, Austria what seemed to be a small case to protect the welfare of Hiasl has pitted animal rights groups against each other and if it is won, could set a global precedent. The Association Against Animal Factories began it's suit when the animal sanctuary that chimpanzees Hiasl and Rosi have lived in for over 25 years went bankrupt. Donors have offered to help defray the $6,800 a month cost of their food and care but under Austrian law, only a person can receive personal donations. The Association is seeking to have them declared a "person" so that they may have a guardian appointed and be able to receive donations for their care directly.

"Our main argument is that Hiasel is a person and has basic legal rights. We mean the right to life, the right to not be tortured, the right to freedom under certain conditions." We're not talking about the right to vote" said Eberhart Theuer, lawyer for the Association Against Animal Factories

On April 24 2007, Paula Stibbe's petition to be appointed Hiasl's legal trustee was turned down. Judge Barbara Bart ruled that Hiasl didn't meet two key tests: he is neither in an emergency or mentally impaired. Although expressing concern that awarding him a guardian might create the impression that animals enjoy the same rights as humans, she didn't rule that he could never be considered a "person"
Michael Antolini, president of the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals does not back this move and worries about what other legal doors this status would open if granted. The chimpanzees are not homo sapiens, although they share 99.4% of their DNA with humans but they are also not just objects, the only other option the law provides at the moment.
I do understand their legal moves to prevent the chimps, who may live another 25 or more years in captivity, from being sold and moved from Austria, where they are protected by strict anti cruelty laws. There was only one phrase that entered my mind when I first read this story.............

"Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape."
Charlton Heston, as George Taylor, Planet of the Apes

Friday, May 4, 2007

Reggie's back!

"I think people are tired of the war and all the other news right now. People are clinging to this story. Everybody loves Reggie."
Janice Hahn

The security tape was quickly being put up, politicians stood nearby, television crews were setting up their cameras, all while helicopters hovered over Lake Machado CA. Why, you may ask? All this activity meant only one thing, local celebrity, Reggie the alligator had been spotted again after more than 18 months in seclusion.
Reggie made quite a splash there when "he" was first spotted in the summer of 2005. There had been numerous wranglers called in that summer, including groups from Gatorland and Steve Irwin to capture him but the alligator outwitted them to remain the local icon. Reggie is so popular that he is featured in a 2005 children's book by Angi Ma, "Reggie, the L A Gator" which she was busy autographing at the park, as well as other books and songs.
Ex LA police officer Todd Natow and his friend Andrew Brewer had been charged with dumping Reggie after he grew too large for a backyard pool. Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn stated that the city is still trying to collect the $180,000 spent already on public safety, including a 24 hour patrol, relating to Reggie's first appearance, from the two men. Hahn's office is also on the phone in a search of wranglers who might be able to capture Reggie this time and fielding calls for media interviews.
The discussions now center not only on what to do with Reggie but also, is this even the original alligator. Russ Smith, reptile curator at the Los Angeles Zoo is solidly with those who doubt it is the same 6-7 foot long alligator stating "There's no way he could have avoided detection." Tim Williams, alligator expert of Gatorland in Orlando FL disagrees since it is a large lake, 63 acres, surrounded by floating vegetation that would provide a location for Reggie to hide in. Although he said it is a 50-50, toss up, "What would surprise me is if someone else had another 6-7 foot alligator to dump out there."
The advice given now to the city council is to just let Reggie stay unmolested for awhile and try baited traps in the near future instead of wranglers. If any of this is successful, Reggie may well be enjoying life in a zoo afterwards in the near future. Reggie's first day of renewed celebrity ended as he slipped under the water at about 2:30pm.

"I think he is a very, very shy gator"
Felix Quint, Long Beach CA resident

As to where Reggie has been for the past 18 months....... is it possible he was visiting relatives in Florida or just shyly hiding from his fans?

Where is the harm?

On Wednesday, U S District Judge James Robertson, dismissed a lawsuit brought by a doctor against Kentucky Fried Chicken. Dr Arthur Hoyt brought suit against the restuarant chain for not informing it's customers of it's use of trans fats in the preparation of some of the foods it served.
Hoyt failed to show how he had been harmed by KFC's use of this fatty, artery-clogging ingredient and that was the major point that doomed his case. Hoyt also had claimed that customers have a growing understanding of the dangers posed by trans fats to their health.

"If customers are increasingly aware of trans fat, where do they expect to find it if not in fast food restaurants?" wrote Robertson.

This is in sharp contrast to a lawsuit filed by District of Columbia administrative hearings judge Roy Pearson, who is sueing the Chungs, South Korean immigrants who own and operate Custom Cleaners fo the "small" sum of 65 million dollars for a lost pair of pants. For two years Pearson, who is representing himself in the lawsuit, refused any kind of monetary settlement with the Chungs.
Pearson asked them for $1,000 the cost of replacing the whole suit but when the pants were found within a week, they refused to pay him. Since that date, Pearson has refused offers from the Chungs of up to $12,000. How may you ask has he been harmed to the tune of 65 million? It seems that part of his "harm" comes from having to now rent a car and travel more than four blocks from his residence to another dry cleaners and the rest of it lies with his interpretation of D C's consumer protection law.
He claims that two signs posted at Custom Cleaners : "Satisfaction Guaranteed " and "Same Day Service" amount to fraud and has used simple math to multiply 12 violations of the law by 1,200 days and arrived at the figure he is now sueing for. As for the "lost" pants..... they have been awaiting Pearson's arrival to claim them.
I applaud Robertson's case decision, there shouldn't be a reward for claiming fast food is bad for you.... it is a choice to eat there, possibly a poor one at that and to bring a lawsuit forth because of that is indeed frivalous. In the case of the missing pants...... it is far beyond frivalous and not only should it not even be heading to trial, Pearson has proven to me that he has little common sense and his ability to continue practising law should be questioned and challenged.
Sadly, the case of the Chung's is one that occurs far too often.... you may be correct, try and use common sense to rectify a situation but in the long run, you may face losing almost everything.
For more about the Chung's case, read

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Retro crime......

Each year it seems a "new" thing comes back to live again in retro splendor. This past week, the charge of murder by dueling has returned after lying dormant in West Virginia for decades. Steven Simpson, 47 of Gilliam Bottom WV, had been arrested after the April 20th shooting of Dana Martin, 39 on the charge of possession of a firearm by a felon and was out on bond when he was arrested again this week, this time for the charge of murder by dueling.
This all stemmed reportedly, from an argument between the two men that may have been sparked by Simpson's annoyance of Martin, who driving his ATV repeatedly past that residence while helping a woman move. At it's conclusion, one man is dead from his injury and the other faces a rare felony charge that could mean life in prison.

"We've had shoot-out cases, but I can't recall one quite like this where there was an argument, then the people seperated and came back to the very same location, each knowing the other had a gun." stated prosecutor Sid Bell.

The image that may come to your mind quickest is of two gunfighters squareing off on a dusty western street, hands hovering near their holsters and everyone else hiding behind the saloon doors. While this may be the popular image from the big screen, dueling has it's roots much further back in history. Duels existed from the 15th century onwards as a consensual fight to redress a perceived loss of honor by an individual, fought with swords and then by pistols when they were developed. Almost all countries now have made duels illegal as had most of the states in America by the mid eighteen hundreds beginning with the District of Columbia in 1839.

"Each man shot a bullet and gave his adversary a chance to demonstrate that he did not fear death; honor was more important than life." wrote Kenneth Greenberg, author of "Honor & Slavery."

Probably the most famous case involving a duel in America involved Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton in which Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel for the purpose of regaining his honor. Despite it being well known that it had been a duel and dueling was not actually legal, Burr only faced a misdemeanor charge for dueling and a murder charge by the state of New Jersey never went to trial.
Dueling in West Virginia is a felony charge carrying the possibility of life in prison while refusing to duel is a misdemeanor with a penelty of not more than six months in jail or a fine not exceeding $100. An indivdual could use the law still in existance of facing disqualification from office within the state if they have participated in a duel in any manner, thus saving their honor and possibly their life.
Two shots were fired, one man is dead and this case will most probably be handled now by dueling lawyers in a courtroom, in a state that still has several dueling laws still on their books........ laws that reside there mostly forgotten in these modern times. I do have to question not only why a law that prohibits "whistling underwater" was first written in that state but also, why it is still illegal to do so there.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The hidden cost of higher airfares

This summer, travelers will take to the skies and be greeted by the highest airfares since 2000 according to a recent Department of Transportation report. Many will attribute this to the much higher costs of fuel but they may not realize the numerous new ways that the airlines have found to tack additional fees onto the cost of a ticket.
Air travelers have gotten fairly used to paying for food on flights but the "fee-for-all formula" which has proven successful for European carriers is gaining favor with domestic carriers. What does this mean for your costs to travel, you may ask. With an airline such as Skybus, which offers fares as low as $10 each way, you will pay for virtually everything else. This includes $5 for the first two checked bags, $50 for a third bag, $10 for priority boarding and charges for food, drink, blankets and pillows.
Skybus is on the far end of the scale for this fee-for-all formula and many may feel that it is a fair tradeoff for a very low airfare, however, many other carriers have joined them in their own barely hidden additional charges. Fuller flights and fewer of them this year has led to carriers cracking down on the bags you take with you, not by disallowing them but by squeezing a few more dollars from you for them. Spirit Airlines has begun charging $10 for you to check a second bag and $100 for a third one while most other carriers are charging approximately $80 for a third checked bag.
Before you think you can beat that charge by packing more into your two checked bags, you had better drag out the scale. Most carriers allow each of your bags to weigh no more than 50 lbs and if you go over that they will charge $25 or more. Since last summer, some of the airlines including United, Northwest and Alaska, have begun charging an additional $2 for the convieniance of curbside checkin.

"Airlines are constantly in search of new revenue sources" according the Chris McGinnis, editor of The Ticket travel newsletter.

Some of the new sources noticed include having travelers paying for seat assignments and fees charged for not using the internet while booking a flight. AirTran Airways is considering fees for advance seat assignments and charging $10 to $15 for reserving premium seat such as exit rows. Northwest already charges $15 to reserve a prefered seat such as an exit row or aisle in coach and Southwest hasn't ruled out charging for that in the future. A reserved exit row seat on a Virgin Atlantic flight will set you back $75.
The fee-for-all formula also has led to America Airlines to charge $15 for a change in seat assignments unless you have booked your ticket on their Web site. Paper tickets will cost you anywhere from $75 at United, $50 at American, Northwest, Continental and US Airways, to $45 at Virgin Atlantic.
If you plan to call an airline to book a ticket, want to redeem your miles or stop by the airport counter you can expect to pay more. This coercive fee to keep you online is from $5 to $20 and includes $20 to reserve a ticket from United and Northwest at their ticket counters, $15 from United to do that by phone and Continental, United and American all charging $15 to reserve a ticket by phone using redeemed miles.
Lastly, for those eco friendly travelers who have taken their bicycles with them on trans Atlantic and trans Pacific flights for free in the past, in lieu of one checked bag, you will now be paying from $80 to $160 one way, upwards to $320 for roundtrip as of January 2007.
I have to wonder how far this fee-for-all formula will lead........ as far as charging a $5 fee for each use of the bathroom on board?