Thursday, September 29, 2005

Does everything have a dollar value?

The handcuffs dug into his wrists. He'd been left waiting so long with his hands fastened behind his back, after being shoved in the back seat of the squad car. The cops were in the house, gathering evidence.

He'd be lucky if his hands could ever perform surgery again, what with being stuck in these barbarian restraints. He was innocent; couldn't they see that? And a surgeon, for Gawd's sake, wealthy in his own right, why would he steal jewelry? He just wanted to save the heirloom from being sold into the open market. That girl had no appreciation for its historical worth.

"I'm so glad you caught that scoundrel," May Worth's daughter, Ellen, told the officer. "I don't understand why a successful doctor would stoop so low as to steal Mother's ring."

"Well, it appears he did. Maybe we'll find out why in court," the policeman replied. "We're taking him down to headquarters now."

The next morning, Dr. Adams stood before a grim Judge Wellington. That man had missed his morning coffee and his day had gone downhill from there.

"Well, Dr. Adams, it seems you have a penchant for fine jewelry." The Judge scanned a stack of papers before him. "And you plead guilty to the charge of grand larceny."

"Yes, sir. I took the ring."

The Judge studied him, his eyes searching for some explanation concerning such outrageous behavior on the part of a successful surgeon. "I don't understand," he said. "Why?" 

Dr. Adams looked at the Judge with wide eyes that registered disbelief about the situation. "It began with the lady, 'May.' Well, maybe it began with my car which broke down. I had patients scheduled for surgery that morning, and I had to get to the hospital, so I took the bus."

"So?" the Judge asked.

"Well, I got a seat next to May, the old lady. Such a sweet woman she was, really. She told me about her family and how proud she was of them all. A true family enthusiast if ever I saw one."

"I don't understand where this is going, Dr. Adams."

"Well, that was when I noticed her ring, Such a beautiful item. I commented on it, and she explained how it had been passed down for  generations in her family. She pointed out each pearl and emerald to make sure I saw how well made and beautiful it was. And she regaled me with stories concerning her ancestors and the ring. Wonderful stories..." The doctor's eyes glazed over as he recalled the memories.

"Dr. Adams!" The Judge's voice brought the good doctor back to the present.

"I found that I loved the ring. I studied it on her finger and I could sense her entire heritage in that beautiful piece of jewelry. I could imagine ladies in the 18th century wearing it to Presidential balls, or Victorian relatives wearing it to the Opera, or even May herself wearing it as she did, everyday, to pay tribute to her ancestors. She told me she planned to will it to her daughter, because she felt the girl would treasure it and pass it on to her daughter."

"Well," the Judge replied while flipping through papers. "I see May Worth did exactly that, and upon her demise the daughter took possession of the ring." He paused and looked up to make eye contact with Dr. Adams. "And that is where you come in--stealing the ring last night from the daughter."

"Yes, I did. Because the daughter doesn't deserve it. She put an ad in the paper to sell it. I saw the ad myself. She was willing to release that heirloom to the highest bidder."

"And what business is that of yours, Dr. Adams?"

"Well, Sir. Do your papers there tell you I was at May's side when she died. There on the bus, she had a heart attack not long after showing me the ring."

"Yes, I see that here."

"She died in my arms. I gave her CPR, but alas, I couldn't revive her." The doctor paused; his eyes welled. "When a doctor loses a patient, especially a sweet woman like May, it is painful. We may be doctors, but we are human beings, too."

"Understood, but you still haven't explained what got into you to try and steal that ring."

"Well, I went to the funeral, and I didn't like the daughter from the start. When I tried to discuss the history of the ring with her, she scoffed and told me she wanted money, not jewelry. That was when I realized she would probably try and sell it. You can imagine my dismay when I spied her ad in the Gazette."

"I still don't see where it is any of your business."

"Oh, but it is! When you hold someone's life in your hands, you must consider their dying wishes. May said to me with her last breath, 'Make sure she takes care of my ring.'"

"So you take care of it by stealing it? Are you crazy, man?"

"I only meant to take care of it myself, since she didn't intend to."

"Dr. Adams, why didn't you simply buy the ring?"

"Because I wouldn't sell it to him." May Worth's daughter, Ellen, stood  in the back of the room. "This man has an unhealthy obsession with my mother's ring."

"You are Ellen Worth?" the Judge asked. "Step up here, please."

"Yes, that may be true, Miss, but he makes an interesting point. Why are you so anxious to sell it?" the Judge asked.

"With all due respect, do I have to answer such a question?"

"Yes, I think you do. Would you take the stand, please, Ms. Worth," Judge Wellington instructed.

The young lady complied, grimacing as the bailiff asked her to take an oath on the Bible.

"Ms. Worth, I am simply curious why you see no value in this ring as an heirloom."

"I simply have no interest in that sort of thing. Life is meant to be enjoyed, why should I sit around and look at a silly bauble like that when it could buy me a lot of happiness."

The Judge studied her with a sad expression. "I find it disappointing you put so little importance on your heritage, Ms. Worth. I'm sure your mother would be appalled."

"My mother was always appalled at my behavior, so this won't surprise her, Your Honor." Her deep, sharp voice cut through the courtroom like a knife.

As the girl spoke, Dr. Adams sat rigidly in his seat, his disapproval obvious.

With a sigh, the Judge continued, "You are dismissed, Ms. Worth. There is nothing left to do but hand the ring over to you then, and continue with this case against Dr. Adams.

"Nothing would make me happier, Your Honor." The girl stood to leave.

"I'm sure you feel that way, Ms. Worth. There is one other item I want to do. I have sent for an antique dealer who also has experience as a museum curator. He will establish a value to the ring to help me in the sentencing of Dr. Adams."

Ellen Worth stood still. "Your Honor, that really isn't necessary. I have had the ring appraised. I did so in the course of trying to sell it. I was told it is worth $20,000."

"That may be so, Ms. Worth, but I am obligated to use the court's specialist in these matters."

Ellen's face wrinkled in disapproval. "Well then, Your Honor, may I be excused from court. I have things to attend to."

"Certainly, Ms. Worth. You may pick up the ring later today at the Police Station."

"Thank you."

* * *
Mr. Perkins, the antique dealer, fumbled into the courtroom, lugging a huge brown book. He nodded to Judge Wellington. 

"I see you have arrived, Mr. Perkins," the Judge commented.

"Yes, Your Honor." Mr. Perkins busied himself removing his drab brown coat and arranging the book on a table.  "I have some astounding information about the ring."  He lifted the book up to reveal on one of its worn, yellow pages a photograph of the jewelry.
"Please take a seat and be sworn in, Mr. Perkins." 

That being done, the antique dealer, anxious to make his announcement, opened to a new page in the large brown volume he had carried in so carefully.

"Your Honor, the first thing I would like to report is the value of the ring, which is quite high. In fact, thirty years ago, it was valued at $30,000. Today it is worth $200,000." His eyes opened wide and his teeth gleamed in a broad smile.

"My word! Are you certain?" The Judge shifted in his seat to lean closer to Mr. Perkins, as though that would clarify the situation.

"Yes, Your Honor. Here is the interesting part though. This ring, which was originally designed for and owned by a German aristocrat in 1705, went missing from our local museum thirty years ago. We had received it as part of a personal collection when the owner at that time died. Mr. Tibbles, the famous banker, willed it to the museum  upon his demise."


"It is a museum piece, Your Honor. And it was presumed to be stolen thirty years ago when it became missing without a trace. The police searched and searched but never solved the case."

"Well, how did it end up with May Worth?"

"Your Honor, I checked the old records. May was employed at the museum thirty years ago. The most obvious conclusion is she stole the ring, although I have no proof, of course. I'm surmising she only showed it to people years later when it was long forgotten."

"But she told me it had been in her family for generations," Dr. Adams blurted out.

"No. That may have been her story, but it just isn't true."

Judge Wellington stroked his chin as he pondered the situation. Then he startled and looked to the bailiff. "Bailiff, have you been able to contact Ellen Worth since she left the courtroom?"

The officer shook his head in a dubious fashion. "Your Honor, she is nowhere to be found."

"I see. I have a feeling we will never find her." Judge Wellington shook his head in dismay.

"So what are you saying? You are telling me that sweet old lady told me a lie," Dr. Adams asked.

"Yes, Dr. Adams. That is exactly what we are saying. But you should be happy. I'm going to drop the charges against you, since the ring was already stolen when you took it. You could have just as easily been trying to take it back to return to its rightful owners."

The Judge paused, tapping his pencil on the desk in a thoughtful motion. "The real criminal in this case was May Worth. And I might add she was the proverbial early bird who got the worm. . .Case dismissed."

And so, she was.

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Scuz, Trees, Penguins, and a Mighty Mouse

I think that's a good idea!
Judge asked to bar use of defendant's nickname -- ``Scuz'' at trial

Another good idea!
Pittsburgh's tree inventory finished and
it's full of surprises

Someone may as well make use of them.
Penguins stay snug and secure in minefields

A Mouse of importance!
Mouse grounds plane for 13 hours

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Friday, September 23, 2005

In  the News...
Plague, New Faces--and I do mean a "new face," Vinegar, and Threats!...

When Mickey is not our friend...
Lab Mice with Plague are Missing

The Ultimate Make-Over
New Face - New Outlook?

I've known guys like this!
Man Threatens Agent

Don't say I never help you do housework! 
A Handy Page on the Many Uses of Vinegar


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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Oh my Gosh! I Love This Program!...

OMG! A sweet romantic comedy, and it's on TV now, in this jaded, tainted, sex-obsessed world of the 21st century. I am in love with a new program I saw last night--How I Met Your Mother. It is a backward-walking story, beginning with the voice of Dad   twenty years from now, telling his children a story of how he met their mother. And we learn how he met a woman in a bar, but that's just the beginning. 

Every one of the four main players is a strong entity in his/her own right. These characters are not particularly hip; they're regular folks whom you wouldn't mind as having friends, the kind of friends you can actually depend on. Lily and Marshall, a cute-as-Christmas school teacher and a lawyer who frankly, is much nicer than any lawyer I've known. (Sorry to my attorney friends--yinz guys are fine, but some of your breed, yikes!). Then there is the main guy, Ted--a regular Joe who lives out his insecurities in front of us with doggedness and humor. Finally, there's Barney, his best friend, played with an edge by Neil Patrick Harris.  Everyone else is snuggly and giggly, so the anal-retentiveness of Barney offsets the others well.

This is a good show. I haven't had such a tingly feeling about an ensemble cast since the first episode of Cheers many years ago.

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Coffee is the Best Medicine...
September 18, 2005
...The Strange Happenings in a Coffee Shop
(A serial. You may start reading at any point in the story.
Why not start with this episode?)

"Oh my Gawd! There goes my inspector, fired just when I got him the way I want him," Rose murmured.

"Oh, no!" I replied. "We can't let that happen." I spoke with defiance, although I had no idea how to stop it.

Our friend, the Inspector, stared at the lady supervisor, his jaw gaping in surprise. "Huh?" appeared to be all he could manage.

"You're fired, mister! I'm giving your route to someone else."

"Please, no! The pancakes here are so good!"

Glaring back at him, the supervisor spoke. "That's the problem, mister! You are too busy eating to tend to your responsibilities as a health inspector. Good Lord, man! We have standards!"

"He is doing a marvelous job!" The clear deep voice coming from the front, resonated through the room. All heads turned to see an imposing figure in the doorway. The tall man filled the frame, or at least it seemed so with the morning light glaring behind him, casting his bold figure in silhouette. "That man is the hardest-working health inspector I've ever seen. He personally tests every pancake for goodness and nutrition."

Yikes! Where did this guy come from? Then I noticed a curious thing happening. As the fellow came closer, his face, shadowed before, now came into the light. "Oh my Gawd!" I murmured. He was the most handsome man I'd ever seen--a broad ready smile, sparkling eyes, high cheekbones, and handsome brown hair neatly combed behind his ears, but long enough to be worn more free and relaxed. I noticed the supervisor staring at the fellow in much the same way as I. A quick glance around the room revealed all the ladies' eyes were riveted on the fellow. The guy was a real dreamboat.

He walked in with bold steps, moving  quickly and with importance. The supervisor watched,  looking wilted and swaying as she stood. 

"Please leave that good fellow alone." he said, walking straight up to the lady. "Don't fire him."

"Okay," she answered in a voice as limp as a wet rag. 

"And you, my sweet, will sit now and have a cup of coffee with me."

"Okay." She followed. I'm not certain her feet ever touched the floor.

"Yay! I don't know who that man is, but I'm sure glad he happened by," Rose said over my shoulder.

"Yes," I replied. I studied the fellow. Something about his movement was familiar -- a movement of confidence, but the gait...I'd seen that gait before.

"Oh my Gawd!" I whispered. A blinding epiphany about knocked me off my feet. "It's Alfred!"
"What did you say?" Rose asked. 

"That's Alfred!"

Rose stared at the fellow. I watched as her eyes widened in recognition. "JO, I think you're right."

We watched Alfred lead the supervisor to a table in the back. He pulled out a chair for her, and next he sat and took her hand in his. The fellow was absolutely debonair!

"I guess that supervisor won't be any trouble from now on." Rose said. Then she added, "Well, you know, two health inspectors in the hand is worth three in the bush." 

To be Continued

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski

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Friday, September 16, 2005

Bulges, Body Parts, and a Man in a Closet

A Land Bulge? What? Me Worry?
Growing Land Bulge Found in Oregon

Errrr, What's For Dinner?
Artist Bakes Edible Body Parts

Sea Lions Make Bad Neighbors!

What a Surprise Behind Door #1!
Police Search for Man in Break-In Case

And Mom Said He'd Never Amount to Anything!
Man Breaks Record for Watching TV

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Short Story...

"Clara, would you comb my hair, please?" Princess Emily asked her servant, Clara Willoby. 

"Yes, Princess!" Clara picked up the brush and ran it through her mistress's shiny red hair. The auburn strands shimmered with each stroke all the way to the young lady's waist. Even more gorgeous than her hair, the Princess's fair face, with huge blue eyes and sweet pursed red lips would steal away the heart of any man. And exactly that had already happened.

Sir Jeffrey Thomas had asked for Princess Emily's hand in marriage. Clara would have liked to feel joy for the Princess, but she could not. Indeed, Clara herself was in love with Sir Jeffrey. She could never hope, however, to gain his love, what with her mousy common appearance, having no features of interest to anyone; and the fact she was a mere servant. Her straight brown hair and tiny listless face hardly made her a desirable companion.

Tall, gallant, and imposing, Sir Jeffrey haunted the halls of the palace daily, at first to merely gain the attention of Princess Emily.  Later, to firm up the friendship and earn her undying affection.

While he loitered near the kitchen, he had spoken many times to Clara as she fetched the Princess's tea and cakes. His deep voice made Clara's blood surge through her veins with excitement. The Prince's wavy brown hair and broad smile sent her heart skipping in her chest.

"And are you taking that food to Princess Emily again today?" he would ask. The sparkle in his blue eyes disarmed Clara every time he spoke to her.

"Yes, Sir Jeffrey!" she would reply,

He would always step forward and remove the tray from her hands. "Let me carry that for you," he would say, shooting her a wink to assure her compliance in their daily ritual.

They would walk together to Princess Emily's quarters. The gallant Prince would talk to Clara as though she were a Princess herself and not a mere servant, discussing the weather and fine points of life in the palace. The maid, indeed, felt like royalty when Sir Jeffrey offered her a smile or his blue eyes met hers. She kept a tiny gray book tucked in her bodice, next to her beating heart, and each evening she wrote about the day's walk with Sir Jeffrey to Princess Emily's room, carefully recording each detail of their conversation as best as her limited writing skills would allow. The little book was Clara's most precious possession.

Deep inside, she wished he would love her like he loved Princess Emily. That dream was dashed each time they arrived at the Royal quarters and he opened the door and slipped in, closing out Clara with nary a word of good-bye. The next day they went through the same sequence. Clara lived for their daily walk to Emily's room with Sir Jeffrey. She knew it was foolish but couldn't help herself.

"Clara, you're hurting me!" 

The handmaiden had forgotten what she was doing, and pushed the brush through Emily's tresses in frustrated strikes against her skull. 

"I'm sorry, Princess!" she murmured. Well, maybe only a little sorry, she thought. It was hard to feel regret when the Princess was taking away the only man Clara had ever loved. Her mind wandered again to his broad shoulders and big hands. With all that strength, he was gentle around women, treating them like china figurines to be moved about with the softest of motions. 

"Clara! Ouch! What is wrong with you today?"

"I'm sorry, Princess! ...May I be excused?"

"Yes, I think that's a good idea. I know my head will appreciate it!"

Clara curtsied and left the room, Running to the cold, dark hallway, she took the worn stone steps two at a time wanting nothing more than to get outside to be alone, perhaps to take a walk in the gardens. As she turned along a corner of the landing she ran full force into Sir Jeffrey. Her face smashed against his chest. It was hard and massive.

"Oh, Sir Jeffrey! I'm sorry!"

"Quite all right, Clara! I was rushing from this direction, too!" 

Clara felt her face getting warm. Oh dear! She certainly could blush redder than red. How embarrassing! She spied Sir Jeffrey studying her with a small smile.

"My goodness, Clara! You are beautiful when you blush!" He leaned forward and cupped her face in his big strong hands. Leaning down,  he touched his lips to hers. 

Clara's heart thump-thumped in her chest; her head swooned, making her worry she would pass out. His lips searched hers in curiosity and hunger. Grabbing her in his arms, he held her close. His kiss lasted and lasted, filling Clara with waves of joy.  She felt like she was melting right there in the hallway.

He pulled away in slow motion, wiping his lip with the back of his hand like he'd just had a satisfying sip of wine. "Thank you, Clara!" he murmured before dashing away and up the stairs from whence she had just come. Had it really happened? Had he kissed her? Clara, still in a trance and wanting more, much more, followed.

Trailing him to the next landing, she saw the Prince pause before opening the door to Princess Emily's room. Clara pulled back in dismay. Just as she had seen so many times before, he closed the door in her face. He was with his true love now, the Princess.

Her heart smashed to the floor and broke apart in jagged pieces, leaving the poor servant with her soul drowning in confusion and hunger for the man she could never have. Standing in silence, finally Clara sighed. "I guess the Princess will want her tea and cakes...after," she murmured.  Turning to return to the kitchen, she paused, removing the little gray diary from her bodice. Taking the book, she tossed it out a nearby open window and walked away to fulfill her duty to Princess Emily.

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

In the News....
Flying Meatballs, Magic Backpacks, and Other Stuff

 Memories of Granny Clampett
Family Refuses to Leave New Orleans

Katrina's Dr. Doolittle
Katrina Leaves Pets in Peril

Some People's Children!
Feuding Families and Flying Meatballs

Parents Who Should Burn in Hell
Eleven Kids Found Locked in Cages

Another One -- the Hell Thing
Woman Charged with Desecrating Graves

I Want One of These!


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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Coffee is the Best Medicine...
September 11, 2005
...The Strange Happenings in a Coffee Shop
(A serial. You may start reading at any point in the story.
Why not start with this episode?)


I pulled back away from the inspector, taken aback by his words. He was in love with Rose and serious about it. 

Considering the situation, I pondered how, as long as he felt that way, the shop was guaranteed a good rating, whether it deserved it or not. Guilt lurked over my shoulder; if I were an honest person,  I would report the Inspector for not penalizing such a dirty restaurant. But I wanted the coffee shop to stay in business more than personal integrity. 

Thinking about it for most of the week, finally on Friday, I spied Rose taking a smoking break in the back. I slipped there to speak with her.

"Rose? Could I talk to you for a minute?"

"Look, I'll clean the restroom. Now quit bugging me about it!"

"No, not that! This is something more important."

"I didn't think you considered anything more important than a clean restroom." Rose grinned at me with her elfish smile.

"No. It's about the Inspector."

"Is he out of pancakes again? I'd better go fill him up." She rose to make a dash for the kitchen. I stopped her. 

"No, Rose! He likes you."

"I should think so. I make the best pancakes in all of Pittsburgh."

"Yes, yes! You do, Rose. The best. But he likes you more than that."

"More than that? Humph! It must be my home fries. They're pretty good, too."

I reached over and turned her face toward me. "Rose, he loves you."

"He what?"

"He loves you. And it seems to me if you want to keep your rating, you'd better make sure he keeps loving you, if you know what I mean."

"Oh my Gawd!" She stared at me, aghast, then continued. "You know, the last inspector was happy just getting free food. Now this guy wants love, too!"

"Rose," I said. "I think he is a basic guy, meaning all you have to do to keep him happy is keep his belly filled with your pancakes. I don't think he'll leave that chair except to go home and sleep."

"Oh, I see." Rose stroked her chin in contemplation. "It'll be just like the old inspector, really."

"Right! He'll never get past your pancakes. So he likely won't bother you romantically at all. I just wanted you to know the whole story."

"Thanks, JO. You're a good friend," Rose said.

Suddenly, voices yelling out in the shop startled the bejesus out of Rose and me. We dashed out in time to see a prim, straight-faced woman standing over the Inspector. With clipboard in position, she pointed her pen at him and bellowed, "YOU'RE FIRED! You haven't been to a single restaurant in your territory all week. Turn in your clipboard today."

To be Continued

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Required Reading for All Americans....

This article should be required reading for all Americans. The truth is staring us in the face:

An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State

Howie's Gone! Where's the Beefcake?.....

Howie got voted off Big Brother last night. Now what are we girls going to have to look at? Nothing left but the ladies. Rats! He will be missed. The remaining contestants are all so Gawd-awful serious. Where will we get laughs and whimsy, like Howie's illuminated Jedi saber in the dark. Oh well.

In the meantime, I'll be rooting for Janie. I know, I know...she is like Marilyn Monroe Reincarnated with the cutesy-pie voice and sexiness; but damn, that girl knows how to play the game. And I do believe she is super-smart--excellent memory and even better physical skills--everything needed to win over most of the people most of the time. The others are jealous of her ability to "manipulate" the men; but honestly, I think she simply knows how to relate to them well. And more importantly, she has the chutzpah to stand up and say, "I can win this challenge," right to their faces. Men can respect a lady like that. Perhaps she grew up with a couple of brothers rather than sisters. I know from experience that helps in dealing with the 
opposite sex. 

As you'll notice, I forgave Howie and Janelle for their blasting crude remarks a few weeks ago. If April and the others have forgiven them, then I certainly can. I'm happy as well because that frees me up to root for Janelle again. Sorry I don't like the others, but I don't see any great skill amongst their ranks; and I believe in skill being the winning factor over simply being there and acting like a nice guy. This is a contest, not a tea party. 

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Barbie, paper bags, exploding chocolate bars & more...

* * *
Things best left to the professionals!
Pilot Crashes Home-Made Plane! 

On a serious note...
Fending for themselves during Katrina

Paper bag stage decor...a bad idea!
Egypt Fire kills 32

Can your job top this?
Pizza firing wins contest.

Those wacky researchers!
Booze for Barbie!

Man rides horse to combat gas prices!

A sweet tooth can kill...
Germans invent exploding chocolate bar

Give this guy a job in FEMA!
Blog of weather nerd gives early warning of Katrina!

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Little Poetry For the Season....
Copyright 2005 JO Janoski...

This form is called a Ya Du.
It has a special rhyme scheme.


Autumn charade,
Leaves in shade dance,
parade in fun
before sun goes,
work done 'fore white snows.

Winds blast from north
sending forth cold
gusts, worthy yells,
warmness quelled. Fall
winds swell, blow out all.


This poem is called a Fibonacci. 
It has a specified number of words per line.


dangling red,
to my kitchen,
sweet intoxicating apple pot simmers,
fruity vapors mixed with cinnamon, oh, and cloves 
fill our home with giddy apple laughter and smiles gloriously spreading to all.         

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

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Monday, September 05, 2005

In the News...
Nude Web Chats, Tomato Fight, and Other Stuff

* * * 

Chinese Researcher Warns of Nude Web Chats

Thousands Take Part in Tomato Fight

Clever Whale Uses Fish to Catch Dinner

National Science Foundation Proposes New Generation Internet

Katrina triggers blogs

More Katrina blogs

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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Ring! Are You Going to Answer That?.....

The alarm started ringing this week. Ring! Did you hear it? Are you going to answer? It's our wake-up call. Do you think the average American will hear the alarm and open his eyes for a new day? Three sobering facts stepped forward and presented themselves this week in New Orleans. 

1. Really bad things can happen to regular everyday people, even in America. We are in deep trouble if we don't learn from this experience. True, we were sorta expecting...well, we tried to understand...things could run amok...that terrorism especially could exact a brutal blow on us with a dirty bomb or a deadly germ, forcing a major city to send its inhabitants running. Some half-listened, while some covered their ears to obliterate the warning in favor of their own political bent against any reason to justify the war. Bottom line: most of us didn't dare imagine it or refused to imagine it. But it happened, and not because of terrorism, this time anyway.  

2. Over-weighted bureaucracies are the most inefficient, disorganized entities imaginable and can fail when you need them most. It's the same problem again. After 911, we discovered incommunicative government agencies failed to predict the attack even though vital information was in their separate hands. Different agencies had different pieces and they never converged their data. In New Orleans, resources were available, but there was no communication between entities to release the food, water, and protections when they were needed. We are in deep trouble if we don't learn from this experience.

3. Our ability to deal with natural or terror-related catastrophes is in serious doubt. We now know the system isn't working. If another major city needs to evacuate, then (I repeat) we are in deep trouble if we don't learn from this experience.

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski 

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Friday, September 02, 2005

 Coffee is the Best Medicine...
September 2, 2005
...The Strange Happenings in a Coffee Shop
(A serial. You may start reading at any point in the story.
Why not start with this episode?)

The next morning I arrived at the coffee shop, notebook in hand and ready for work. I took my place at the counter and studied the faces of this colorful crew--Rose, Brenda, Butch, and the health inspector.

I was surprised to find the health inspector at the shop again, Surely he must have a job to do somewhere else. I watched him dive into a stack of Rose's pancakes. Was I nuts or had he gained weight from the day before? 

The appearance of his long pointy nose had softened, thanks to a bad case of rapidly expanding cheeks. If he kept eating like that, gulping down Rose's creations nonstop, he soon wouldn't fit on any of the tiny chairs in the coffee shop.

I took a seat next to him, spreading out my notebook, pens, and a tiny recorder. I made certain the recorder was off rather than on auto, because I feared his chewing and gobbling would accidentally activate it.

"Nice to see you again," I said.

"Yeah, I guess," he replied stopping in mid-chew to study me. "Who are you anyway?" he asked.

"I'm JO...just another customer."

"What's that recorder about then?"

"Oh, I'm a freelance writer. Thought I'd do a report on this place."

"Mmmph. Well, the food's good." He plunged another forkful of pancakes in his mouth as if to prove the point.

Curiosity took over. What was he doing here again today? "You're the health inspector, right?" I asked.

He stopped chewing and looked at me. "What's it to you?" he asked.

"Well, I mean. You were here yesterday and now you're back again. Are you supposed to be here today again?"

"Are you trying to tell me my business?"

"No, no! I'm just curious."

At that moment, Rose appeared with a pot of hot coffee. She filled his cup as he watched. A small smile curved his lips in a dumb expression of utter fascination.  I came close to choking on my coffee. 

"Oh my Gawd! You're in love with Rose!" I blurted out.

"Ssssh! I don't want her to know!"

"Is that why you're here all the time, because you can't stand to be away from her?"

His face transformed to a bright red all the way to the tip of his pointy nose. He leaned close and whispered in halting phrases.

"I don't want her to know. She probably doesn't like me. If she would reject me, I don't know what I'd do." He looked down to his scruffy brown shoes and murmured. "I've been hurt before."

My heart went out to him. You might find this surprising, but I was a geek when I was young. I was even president of the Latin club. How well I remember being the oddball in the crowd. There and then, I felt his pain.

"Okay. Against my better judgment, I won't say anything to anybody," I said.

"Thank you!" he replied. "It was love at first sight, you know."

To be Continued

Copyright 2005 JO Janoski

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

In light of the desperate situation in New Orleans, I'm laying aside the usual postings today to repeat once more my post from yesterday. If you haven't donated yet, please do so. Give til it hurts... If you have loved ones in New Orleans, perhaps this site will help you connect with them or least hear of their whereabouts:

For the Victims of Hurricane Katrina

Tomorrow, Thursday September 1st, is International Blog for Relief Day. I am urging you to donate to the Salvation Army or  the charity of your choice. Hundreds of bloggers around the world are participating in this effort to raise relief money for the victims of Katrina. Here a list of other charities, news, and ways to help.