Like most writers I keep a notebook. It’s filled with scraps of ideas for articles; material I’ve had to cut out of projects but can’t bear to part with; notes on things I’ve seen; overheard conversations, and so on. Going through my older notebooks I ran across the following pieces…neither of which are my own, but both of which tickle me. And speaking of bears…
In light of the rising frequency of human-grizzly bear conflicts, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is advising hikers, hunters, and fishermen to take extra precautions and keep alert of bears while in the field. We advise that outdoorsmen wear noisy little bells on their clothing so as not to startle bears that aren’t expecting them.
We also advise outdoorsmen to carry pepper spray with them in case of an encounter with a bear. Outdoorsmen should recognize the difference between black bear and grizzly bear dung. Black bear dung is smaller and contains lots of berries and squirrel fur. Grizzly bear dung has little bells in it and smells like pepper spray.
The following circulated on the internet (I believe) during the years of our engagement in Bosnia. Nothing nearly so amusing has come out of Afghanistan.
WORLD NEWS: CLINTON DEPLOYS VOWELS TO BOSNIA
Cities of Sjlbvdnzv, Grzny to Be First Recipients
Before an emergency joint session of Congress yesterday, President Clinton announced US plans to deploy over 75,000 vowels to the war-torn region of Bosnia. The deployment, the largest of its kind in American history, will provide the region with the critically needed letters A,E,I,O and U, and is hoped to render countless Bosnian names more pronounceable.
“For six years, we have stood by while names like Ygrjvslhv and Tzlynhr and Glrm have been horribly butchered by millions around the world,” Clinton said.
“Today, the United States must finally stand up and say ‘Enough.’ It is time the people of Bosnia finally had some vowels in their incomprehensible words. The US is proud to lead the crusade in this noble endeavor.”
The deployment, dubbed Operation Vowel Storm by the State Department, is set for early next week, with the Adriatic port cities of Sjlbvdnzv and Grzny slated to be the first recipients. Two C-130 transport planes, each carrying over 500 24-count boxes of “E’s,” will fly from Andrews Air Force Base across the Atlantic and airdrop the letters over the cities.
Citizens of Grzny and Sjlbvdnzv eagerly await the arrival of the vowels. “My God, I do not think we can last another day,” Trszg Grzdnjkln, 44, said. “I have six children and none of them has a name that is understandable to me or to anyone else. Mr. Clinton, please send my poor, wretched family just one ‘E.’ Please.”
Said Sjlbvdnzv resident Grg Hmphrs, 67: “With just a few key letters, I could be George Humphries. This is my dream.”
If the initial airlift is successful, Clinton said the United States will go ahead with full-scale vowel deployment, with C-130′s airdropping thousands more letters over every area of Bosnia. Other nations are expected to pitch in as well, including 10,000 British “A’s” and 6,500 Canadian “U’s.” Japan, rich in A’s and O’s, was asked to participate, but declined.
“With these valuable letters, the people of war-ravaged Bosnia will be able to make some terrific new words,” Clinton said. “It should be very exciting for them, and much easier for us to read their maps.” Linguists praise the US’s decision to send the vowels. For decades they have struggled with the hard consonants and difficult pronunciation of most Slavic words. “Vowels are crucial to construction of all language,” Baylor University linguist Noam Frankel said. “Without them, it would be difficult to utter a single word, much less organize a coherent sentence. Please, just don’t get me started on the moon-man languages they use in those Eastern European countries.”
According to Frankel, once the Bosnians have vowels, they will be able to construct such valuable sentences as: “The potatoes are ready”; “I believe it will rain”; “All my children are dead from the war”; And “Oh my God, there’s an axe in my head.”
The airdrop represents the largest deployment of any letter to a foreign country since 1984. During the summer of that year, the US shipped 92,000 consonants to Ethiopia, providing cities like Ouaouoaua, Eaoiiuae, and Aao with vital, life-giving supplies of L’s, S’s and T’s. The consonant-relief effort failed, however, when vast quantities of the letters were intercepted and horded by violent, gun-toting warlords.
Nothing like a little heart-warming humor on a frosty weekend