Monday, January 31, 2011

Turn off your cell phones, people!

Short rant today about people and where and when they use their cell phones.

Went to see "The King's Speech" this weekend and it was a great film but that's not the issue here. As anyone who has seen the film will attest, it's an intense story line requiring attention.

It's always amazing, to me at least, how people are attached to their cell phones. I'm surprised that users haven't been afflicted by some type of physical condition as a result of walking with their head down glued to the phone screen. For me, the "icing on the cake" was when using a public washroom, the person in the cubicle next to mine was carrying on a conversation, making plans for the evening. I mean - for heaven's sake - what happened to peeing in private! But I digress.

At the half-way point in the movie, the sound of a ringing phone suddenly reverberated throughout the theatre. Since it was an electronic ring and definitely not in the context of the time period being the 1930's, a bright electronic light emitted from one of the seats drew attention to a cell phone user. The ringing went on for at least 15-20 seconds followed by loud boos and yells to "turn it off!" - and the theatre turned dark. Not five minutes later, the ring of the cell phone was heard again followed by even louder yells from movie watchers, but this time the cell phone user actually had a conversation with...whoever.

Manners people - manners - and common courtesy! You're in a movie theatre and not at Starbucks!

Surely, there has to be some type of cell phone etiquette or rules by movie-plexes and/or repercussions for people who can't live without their cell phones for a mere two hours. Perhaps movie theatres and/or chains should actually fine the offenders to discourage this type of behavior. To their credit most theatres flash a message on the screen prior to the film asking people to turn them off and for the most part, people do obey. Turn off your cell phone, people and guess what! Perhaps you will even enjoy the movie!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why do toads cross the road?

Driving on highways, it's not unusual to spot signs depicting the presence of deer and other "average" critters in the vicinity, to avoid collisions between man and nature. However, it appears that drivers living in Carmarthenshire, Wales, have to watch out for something slightly smaller. Much smaller.

Talk about your tunnel vision!

Warning signs have been installed on two Carmarthenshire roads to help - wait for it - toads looking for love, to cross in safety. Go figure! Seems that Burry Port and Ammanford roads in this town, bisect areas registered as important migration sites.

Carmarthenshire council put up signs every Spring warning motorists to drive carefully to avoid colliding/squishing hundreds of the toads that make their way accross the intersection. Everyone gets involved including volunteers, who assist in the process by collecting the toads in pails and transporting them to the other side. Can't say that I'd be anxious to retrieve toads but then that's just me. In order to draw attention to the fragility of the situation, important breeding sites are being registered with national wildlife charity "Froglife" as part of its Toads on the Roads mapping scheme and signs erected to help publicize migration routes.

Froglife has mapped more than 700 crossings using satellite technology, via website Google Earth, including active routes staffed by volunteers in Wrexham, Ceredigion, Powys, Neath Port Talbot and Newport.

Wow - all that technology in order to ensure that these toads bring forth and multiply!

Conservationists hope to use the data to learn more about toads' migration routes and any problems encountered crossing roads during their breeding season in spring. Additionally, toad tunnels were built last year to help the amphibians avoid a busy crossing.

This leads one - me - to wonder who builds said toad tunnels and what is their height. Do they span accross the road or along side? Anyone know?

The two Carmarthenshire crossings are among 43 toad crossings being introduced nationwide this year. Here is a photographic image of what the toads look like in a toad tunnel, doing what the tunnel was created for:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pet people

As a former pet owner I shouldn't be surprised at the degree to which people are attached to their pets. We shared our life with a cute-to-us but weird-to-others mixed (to say the least) dog for fifteen years. She warmed her way into our hearts during a visit to the local SPCA with the idea - not necessarily the act thereof - of of adopting a pooch. In order to make her presence known she stuck her front paw out of the cage as we walked by, causing us to stop in front and comment "awwwwww..." Changing paws a few times to underline her desire/desperation to go home with us, our resistance was weak and the rest, as they say, is history. It took more than five years to even be able to talk about her when she was gone, without my eyes welling up with tears and a period of nose-blowing.

Some people would rather be an adoptive "parent" to a pooch, as is the case with a family member. As the caregiver/slave to her daughter's lap pooch, she admits to being a 'grand-dog' care-giver. In a recent Facebook posting, she shared her feelings admitting to a friend, "I am dog crazy...we had our dog growing up but now I have my Grand Dog, Winston, to dote on! The older I get...the crazier I become...Go figure!"

In England at Christmas time, a man was threatened with a fine for afixing posters of his lost dog on trees, in the middle of the night. That's how desperate dog owners become in being re-united with their best and lost friend.

Statistically, Canadian pet owners would rather deal with their furry friends than other people, according to a recent study by Harris/Decima. A study revealed that 53 per cent of Canadians who own pets find them more reliable than people. Ninety per cent of Canadians talk to their pets and one-third have confided their deepest, darkest secrets to Fido or Milo or Hero.

Furthermore, 73 per cent believe pets can sniff out illness.
- Women more likely to confide in pets (33 per cent) than men (18 per cent).
- 44 per cent would bring their pets to a hotel if allowed.
- 86 per cent believe pets can help lift a bad mood.
- 82 per cent of retirees (65 plus) feel less alone in their home because of pets.
- 67 per cent believe their pets help to keep them active.

The survey was conducted for Purina and its pet connection website,

What does all this mean in the scheme of things, you might well be asking yourself. We need our pets as much as our pets need us. Or to put it into perspective: "Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms" (George Eliot) Ain't that the truth!

Friday, January 21, 2011

France receives hamster alert and warning

Don't get me wrong - I'm very much aware and in favor of preserving endangered species on planet earth. It seems that species once common and plentiful are becoming scarce and in danger of extinction. Then we have hamsters. Not just any hamsters mind you, but the Great Hamsters of Alsace. Go figure!

The French government was warned by a EU legal adviser that it must make a greater effort to protect endangered hamsters living near Strasbourg in Eastern France. Perhaps the warning might have come as a surprise or even shock as it did to me, having never realized there was a difference in hamster species. I figured one hamster is the same as another. The cute rat-like creatures live their lives in cages (at least a lot of them do) and spend their free time working the wheel. But I digress.

If France doesn't heed the warning, the country could be fined if the European Court of Justice rules that it has failed to heed a final warning from the European Commission in 2008. The root of the problem is that their numbers are dwindling and a mere 298 burrows were found in 2010, a drop from 1,167 in 2,001. Hamster numbers are calculated on the basis of one hamster per burrow. Perhaps - pure speculation on my part - some hamster family members were out at the time a count was conducted.

According to EU Advocate General, Juliane Kokott, "if agro-environmental measures were put in place, in 2008, to protect the Great Hamster, they are incomplete at this stage." In other words - my interpretation - if France was making an effort to conserve the hamster, it wasn't obvious. Ms Kokott's opinion has been handed over to judges and in most cases the judges accept the advocate general's opinions and the court's rulings are binding on EU member states. In the recent past, France had been called upon to do more to "combat the agricultural practices and the urban sprawl that are destroying the animal's natural habitat". Furthermore, France failed to fulfil its obligations under the EU directive on conservation of natural habitats.

The hamster, which can grow to 10 inches (25 centimetres) long, has a brown and white face, a black belly and white paws. In old times, the paws were much prized by farmers who made them into trinkets. It wasn't that long ago that people used to hang rabbit paws on key chains.

So what if anything, is your "average" French farmer doing in the way of helping the situation, you may well be asking yourselves at this point. Not much it appears.

They (the farmers) farming in the region have planted maize (corn)instead of the hamster's favourite crop - alfalfa. What can one say or write? If the farmers don't cooperate, who will? Then again, should farmers focus on raising crops dedicated to hamster preservation? What about mice? Or bunnies? Or deer?

Given the state of starving humans all over the planet, hamsters perhaps don't receive the level of attention they require. For your 'regular' people, there are plenty of hamsters available in pet shops. There is a photo of the Strasbourg hamster here, in case you happen upon one in your travels:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ricky Gervais - funny or profane? Last words

This year's Golden Globe awards are a memory already but the sting lingers on. It appears that the Globes host, Ricky Gervais, is still experiencing the re-bound effects of what many believe to be over-the-top insulting remarks about the various celebs/nominees.

Let us remember that this isn't the Oscars or any of the staid award shows to follow. It's the Golden Globes where the atmosphere is relaxed and anything goes. One presumes that Gervais was hired (again)because of his known ability to quick-quip and powers of observations. This he does well - IMHO - and then some. What is surprising (to me) is the extent to which his commentaries hit home to the celebs and the extent to which they are insulted.

The man is a comic, peeplz! Perhaps - just perhaps - his remarks hit a little too close to the bone? What did they expect him to do? Read staid material from a cue card, praising everyone? He was there to entertain and he fulfilled this aspect - and then some, IMHO.

Too bad because most likely he won't get re-invited back to host the Globes again (note: recent word has it that he has been asked to host next year's Globes but hasn't decided), however, there are other award shows coming up in which he would be great and add something exciting to the mix - like the Academy Awards. Yawn...

To quote Will Rogers: "Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Golden Globes - Hollywood puts on its best smile

Did you watch the Golden Globe Awards last night? What did you think of Ricky Gervais's acidic/acerbic observations of various Hollywood celebs? Actually, I found him very entertaining although it was visually obvious during camera pans that not everyone agreed.

Watched it for the first hour while waiting for the next installment of Masterpiece Theatre's, "Downton Abbey" (love this series!) and returned for the last half-hour. Seems I didn't miss that much since Ricky's presence was limited in the second half of the show. Hmmmm...wonder why... As usual, the 'thank-you's' by the winners went on and on to the point where you (me) want to scream, "shut-up, already!" Really, your average person really doesn't know or care who was responsible for elevating the star to the winner's circle or the people involved in making the film/TV series.

One of the more interesting - at least for me - aspects of watching any award show is the reaction of those nominated who didn't win. There is the fixed smile and the applause but one has to admire their brave personna. Inside they could be thinking: "that stupid blah-blah - she/he didn't deserve the award. I should'a won! Wait 'til I speak to my agent!" Just speculating.

Another favorite part of all award shows is the fashions and general "look." Local plastic surgeons must be working day and night before all award shows judging by the lack of aging on the s*t*a*r*s. Not a frown line, skin creases or bags under the eyes could be seen, anywhere. Mind you, at least big lips were in short supply, thank goodness. Personally, I love the dresses and am aghast at how anyone can walk in those beautiful-looking but most likely painful to wear, shoes. All part of the "the look" one assumes so that we viewers will sigh and wish that we were among the glitterai.

The Golden Globes is the kick-off for the plethora of award shows that will follow. Somehow, they don't seem as relevant as they once did. Still, they're the only means in which to get a glimpse of our favorite celebs playing the role of celebs. And it's about the fashions...

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Darn - my Virgo is now in Leo...or something since Ophiuchus entered the planetary system

I'm confused, which is nothing new for me. All my life I've been a Virgo with some of the virgo-ian qualities attributed to the sign. Now it appears that I've been wrong. Actually, many people are in the same predicament ever since Ophiuchus entered the picture.

One Park Kunkle, a board member of the Minnesota Planetarium Society, is of the opinion that the moon's gravitational pull has caused the Earth to slowly wobble on its axis, shifting the stars alignment by approximately, one month.

Did you feel a wobble? Neither did I!

According to a LiveScience article, astrological signs correspond to the position of the sun within the constellations as they appeared more than 2,000years ago. In a Time on-line piece, there is some background information provided on Ophiucus.

"The constellation Ophiuchus represents a man wrestling a serpent, dividing the snake's body in two parts. It is the only sign of the zodiac linked to real men, sharing traits with Imhotep, a 27th century BCE Egyptian doctor, and biblical Joseph.

Like Imhotep, Ophiuchus is considered a healer of men and a doctor of medicine or science. He seeks higher education and enlightenment. He is expected to achieve a high position in life."

So there you have it. 'O' as I now call him having problems pronouncing his real name, was one of the good people. So where does this leave we mortals? Depends how strongly one believes in astrology and its influence on humans. Could a mere wobble change the course of one's future, that is the question - or issue. Here is the new table of astrological signs plus the newcomer:

Capricorn: Jan. 20 to Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16 to March 11.
Pisces: March 11 to April 18.
Aries: April 18 to May 13.
Taurus: May 13 to June 21.
Gemini: June 21 to July 20.
Cancer: July 20 to Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10 to Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16 to Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30 to Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23 to 29.
*Ophiuchus: Nov. 29 to Dec. 17.
Sagittarius: Dec. 17 to Jan. 20.

This leaves one - me - to wonder if about my belief in my Virgo-ian qualities are really me. According to Astrology-online, Virgo-ian traits are "precision, refinement, fastidious love of cleanliness, hygiene and good order, conventionality and aristocratic attitude of reserve. They are usually observant, shrewd, critically inclined, judicious, patient, practical supporters of the status quo, and tend toward conservatism in all departments of life."

These are okay traits but now I discover that due to the new interloper, I am now a Leo and have these additional qualities, which one presumes replaces the Virgo one's, or maybe in addition to:
"In grandeur of manner, splendor of bearing and magnanimity of personality, they are the monarch's among humans as the lion is king of beasts. They are ambitious, courageous, dominant, strong willed, positive, independent, self-confident there is no such a word as doubt in their vocabularies, and they are self-controlled. Born leaders, either in support of, or in revolt against, the status quo."

My Facebook friend, Pauline, isn't having any of it.
" I was, and remain in my heart and mind, a Libra. I am too old for this sort of drastic change," Pauline commented in her comments.

Neither is Facebook-er, Debbie, who wrote "I won't do it!"

It will be interesting to see if astrologers and newspaper columns that traditionally use the 12 planets will be adding Ophiuchus. Really, it's not so bad in the end. Now there are two signs in which to check how our day will play out. Two futures are better than one. Right?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Will re-make of American Idol be a hit with fans?

As a person who watches American Idol and upon hearing the news of Simon Cowell's departure last year, I wondered if the show would survive his departure. Simon was the judge we all loved to hate and he developed an abrasive personna, which should have turned off viewers, yet it didn't. There was something about the way he criticized and insulted non-talented singers that we all relished because inside, we all would have said the same thing had we been there. Simon spoke for us.

His departure has left a void in the insult department, which the new judges have no intention of filling. According to Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, they would rather use their singing experience to help up and coming artists.

How boring.

The new format of the show set to start on January 19, will focus on searching for an eventual winner, rather than setting up roadblocks along the way. As I wrote: how boring. There will be changes to the format to include an extention of Hollywood Week auditions to cut the semi-finalist field down to 20. Don't know how this is going to go over with the viewers since it will give them a small field of performers from which to choose. The 'Wild Card' finalists will also be included. There will also be no on-line voting.

To be honest, I found last year's show very blah and most of the singers mediocre at best. Surely given the scope of the talent search, there has to be more talent "out there" in the entire U.S.A. When it's all said a done, a lot will depend on the new judges and what they add to the pot in the way of personality. If they all end up indistinguishable from each other, the show will soon get stale and viewers will turn off. Next year Cowell will be bringing his own show, "X Factor" so Idol better establish itself as a front runner now.

So who will be watching AI?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

News you want to know: insects produce less gas

There is nothing like cyber-surfing to find interesting stories and getting educated about stuff one would otherwise never know. Things like edible insects produce smaller quantities of greenhouse gasses than cattle AND pigs. I mean - go figure! Teeny-weeny insects some of which are barely visible to the human eye, to put it bluntly, fart less than people.

Be that as it may, this fact came to light in the Science Daily with scientists of Wageningen University who recently joined together with government and industry to look into whether the rearing of insects could contribute to more sustainable production. Moreover, insect meat could therefore be an alternative to your regular type meat products. Cattle farming worldwide is a major producer of greenhouse gases.

Far be it to criticize the scientific community but speaking as your "average" human, the idea of eating insects somehow has little appeal. In fact, most of us averages find insects worthy of elimination. Let's just leave it at that.

Why they did this is anybody's guess but the research team for the first time quantified the greenhouse gases produced per kilogram of insect product. This leads one - me - to ponder how they accomplished this. Take your ordinary house fly - please - and try to catch it, never mind assessing the amount of gas it produces. Never even occurred to me that insects - well - fart. The gases involved were methane and nitrous oxide (isn't the latter the laughing gas that dentists use for nervous patients?). The results demonstrated that insects produced much smaller quantities of greenhouse gases than conventional livestock. Duh!

An additional advantage of insects over mammals is that they convert their food into meat quicker. Is this information we need to know? There is, however, some interesting facts one rarely thinks about like did you know that a pig produces between eight and twelve times as much ammonia per kilogram of growth, compared to crickets, and up to fifty times more than locusts. Can't speak for others but this is a revelation to me!

Further research is required to ascertain whether the production of a kilogram of insect protein is also more environmentally friendly than conventional animal protein when the entire production chain is taken into account. This makes one - me again - wonder how much money the scientists received for working on this exciting project. The university, by the way, is located in the Netherlands.

A while back and in the name of science and a TV taping, I ate some chocolate covered grasshoppers. Actually, they were quite good until one of the grasshopper legs became visible after biting into the chocolate. That was it for me! Just thought I'd throw that in since the story focused on insects. thing is and realistically speaking, it's doubtful whether farmers will give up cattle raising et al, in favor of insects. Would love to hear from any insect raisers reading this.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Fast walkers live longer according to study

If it's not one thing, it's another. Now I have something new to worry about. Just came accross a report indicating that the speed one walks could be an indicator of a short or long life span. Researchers have discovered that walking speed can be - notice those words - can be a useful indicator of how long older adults will live.

The first thing that sprung to mind is many older adults a.k.a. seniors, tend to walk slower than younger adults i.e. middle aged and under. People who walk 2.25mph or faster, consistently lived longer than others of their age and sex who walked more slowly.

The results of this study particularly hit home personally, being a slow-ish-type walker.

"We're able to show that a person's capacity to move strongly reflects vitality and health," said study researcher Dr. Stephanie Studenski, a professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

The researchers did emphasize that the aim of the study wasn't to get people to walk faster or to live longer. According to Dr. Stephanie. Our bodies tell us the ideal speed appropriate for us. Actually, my body especially the legs, knees, thighs and right on down to the ankles, tend to send my brain messages to the effect, "slow her down - you're killing us!"

Still more bad news we don't want to know in that a change of walking speed won't lengthen our lives. Dr. Stephanie suggests that we need to address underlying health issues. The researchers showed they could reliably predict the 10-year survival rate of a group of people based on how fast they walked along a 4-meter track.

Track? How many "average" people use a running track, one wonders. Walking speed for those with an average life expectancy was (or is) approx. 1.8 mph, for most age groups of both sexes. So this leads one - me - to wonder how one would assess one's walking speed. Is there some type of mathematical formula or does one have to carry a pedometer while walking to ensure the correct speed? Came accross a piece on the e-How site that provides a formula as to how to calculate walking speed:

The findings were based on analysis of nine previous studies that examined the walking speed, sex, age, body mass index, medical history and survival rate of almost 34,500 people.

There's a lot more statistics and information for anyone interested in the study here:

Still, when it all said and done, walking is a great exercise. For the record, it's amazing the speed my feet travel in a mall, travelling from store-to-store, whenever there's a sale. A person has'ta do what a person has'ta to.

The study is published in the January 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Posting missing cat notice a no-no in Bedford

Cat owners living in Bedford, England, better watch out where they post their "lost cat" notices if their kitty goes missing. Unfortunately, Mike Harding, owner of 7 year old Wookie, who has been missing for 6 weeks, found out the hard way having been threatened with a fine of £1,000 ($1,559 U.S. dollars) for putting up lost posters of his beloved feline on trees and street lampposts. Wookie - love that name - went missing since late November and in an attempt and hope that someone has spotted the cat, Harding posted A4-sizes posters. Upon spotting the posters, the local borough council told Harding that he was committing the dastardly offence of flyposting (this does not mean posting house flies everywhere - Wikipedia defines it here and to remove the posters in 48 hours or face a fine.

Oh the abomination of posting a missing cat poster!

The issue in as far as the council see it, is that the posters were nailed to trees, causing them harm. Why - did the trees complain? Furthermore, (the council) environmental team spotted more than twenty of Harding's lost cat posters, some of which were nailed to eight trees.

Ohmygawd - eight whole trees!

Understandably, an alternative to attaching posters to trees is desirable but perhaps he should be forgiven since he is obviously missing Wookie in a big way. According to a borough council member, nailing a tree pierces the bark, which in turn could allow fungal spores to break down the trees defences, leading to secondary infections. Thing is - this is a cat lover who is desperate to find his cat!

The council communicated in writing to Harding on December 22, warning him to remove said posters by 0900 on December 24. Talk about not having Christmas spirit! The desperate cat owner took them down but it was when he nailed some on telegraph poles and a couple of trees that he received a written warning. In response, Harding ran around on Christmas eve removing posters, finishing the job at 3 a.m.

"I received a call from Bedford Borough Council, which initially I thought was a prank call, asking for my address because they wanted to send me some information. I was expecting information leaflets, but instead they sent a letter warning me that I would be prosecuted if the posters weren't removed."

The council said flyposting was illegal and added it was satisfied the matter had been resolved. Maybe for the council but not for Harding, who still hasn't seen a whisker of Wookie.

Click on this link to see a photo of Wookie in case anyone sees him and his sad owner:

Monday, January 03, 2011

Blackbird update. Arkansas blackbirds met with trauma, findings indicate

Preliminary autopsy results as to the reason behind what is now estimated to be 4,000-5,000 blackbirds that mysteriously fell from the sky in Beebe, Arkansas is multiple blunt trauma to their vital organs, a state veterinarian related to NBC Monday. Initially, it was thought that fireworks were to blame but the latest findings seem to rule that out.

Personally, I'm still going with the alien theory in that visitors from another galaxy or universe or wherever, became lost and having no experience speaking with intelligent earth species, assumed the crows were a good source of information.

Thinking further, though (far too much time on my hands), the new theory makes you wonder what the crows could have encountered that could have caused such a wide-spread death.

As if Beebe and the state of Arkansas don't have enough to worry about, officials are also looking into the reason why approximately 100,000 fish turning up dead in the state's northwest. Dead drum fish were found floating in the water lining the banks of a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near Ozark, 125 miles northwest of Little Rock.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say: it's always something.

Oh the horror of it all! Kate Perry without makeup!

If ever there were two-faced people, it's celebrities or people whose photos are frequently featured as part of news stories. Take comedian/actor, Russell Brand - I'm sure his wife would add 'please!' - who for whatever reason, decided to post his wife, Kate Perry's photo so everyone could see. Celebrities are used to having their images everywhere and in fact, pay people to do this for them. The difference in this situation that Brand had the audacity to post Perry without makeup, and presumably, without her permission or knowledge.

Oh the shock of it all! The horror!

Let's be objective here: Perry is a talented and according to all the photos posted of her, visually appealing. However and one can only presume this, she obviously wants a certain public personna that only face cosmetics can provide.

According to reports, the photo was snapped when she first got up in the morning. I mean, how many of us would be happy if our significant-other snapped a photo and posted it where the world could review? Then again, nobody would probably care because we're not Kate Perry. In this case, Brand tweeted it on Twitter. It was not a tweet move since Perry does not like being seen, ever, sans makeup.

It's rare to see well-known s*t*a*r*s out and about at premieres or fund raisers or anywhere, actually, being themselves, baring their faces for the world to see. When they are caught off-guard doing natural things like shopping, they're usually wearing large sunglasses and hidden beneath layers of clothing.

My reaction is get over it, Kate! Thinking further, perhaps she should wear full makeup to bed, just in case. Maybe Brand wants a before-and-after photo of her.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Still another way to get injured - 1000 falling dead birds

What a way to start off the New Year. This is the type of story that Alfred Hitchcock would have loved, except that it's not fiction. The next time you're going through the town of Beebe, Arkansas, perhaps it would be a good idea not to look up. Or maybe wear a hard hat.

Seems that in excess of 1,000 - wait for it - black birds suddenly and without any prior warning, dropped out of the night sky. Imagine being out on an evening stroll and suddenly being beaned by a blackbird (say that a dozen times fast).

"Excuse me (insert name of person accompanying you on a walk) blank-blank. I know that it rains cats and dogs on occasion but correct me if I'm wrong, here. It appears to be raining crows."

As expected wildlife people are working on finding some reason for them to do so. Maybe they all spotted the same piece of road kill and miscalculated its mass appeal. I mean, it's as good a reason as any but I digress.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission who is in charge of these things, commented that dead black bird reports started filtering in at 11:30 p.m. over a one mile area. An aerial survey indicated that no other dead birds were found in that area. This makes sense since any birds spotting falling or already dead crows would stay out of the area.

Ornithologist Karen Rowe said the birds showed physical trauma, and she speculated that "the flock could have been hit by lightning or high-altitude hail."

Another theory floating around is that New Year's Eve revelers shooting off fireworks in the area could have startled the birds from their roost and caused them to die from stress.

Wildlife officer, Robby King, collected approximately 65 dead birds that will be sent for testing to the state Livestock and Poultry Commission lab and the National Wildlife Health Center lab in Madison, Wis. In the end and according to Ms Rowe, she believes the tests will be 'inconclusive' and doubted that the birds were poisoned.

There's a very simple explanation. Aliens. The same one's that made those intricate corn field designs. Merely a simple case of flying in the wrong direction. This is a Stephen King novel waiting to be written. Wait a minute - hasn't he written a book about this?

For those so inclined, here is a link showing a photo of one of the deceased: