Mullet Over


Not everyone is amused by the same things

An electrical engineer from the University of Washington has developed some truly futuristic electronic contact lenses. The devices can feed images to a wearer’s brain. Those images might include a computer screen or the face of a clock or the Periodic Table, etc.  The lenses have reportedly been tested on animals and found to be both safe and effective. I have no idea what a test animal could do with a Periodic Table.

Some very dedicated and scholarly scientists required $3 billion and 13 years of hard work to sequence the 3 billion base pairs encoded in a human genome (task completed in 2003). By 2011, the cost of sequencing an individual’s genome was down to $5,000. In 2012, a biotech company plans to offer the sequencing for $1,000 and promises printed results in three hours rather than the three weeks needed for the 2011 process. Not only can the information reveal one’s ancestry, but it can divulge important health histories and thusly enable physicians to more accurately identify effective medications.

Edward Despard (1751-1803) experienced fluctuating (clean word) fortunes. The man commanded a successful British military expedition in what later became regions of Nicaragua and Honduras. He was rewarded with an appointment as superintendent for the Bay of Honduras, but then things began to go downhill for Eddie. Despard was recalled to London where he got in with a “bad” crowd. He was convicted of plotting to rob the Bank of England and to assassinate King George III. The doomed ex-superintendent became the last man to be legally drawn and quartered (an “unpleasant” experience) in England.

Many schools cancel classes when bad weather occurs. A school in Bellingham, Washington launched a fresh idea during a recent April. Administrators gave everyone a day off for “good weather.” The first spring day that had a predicted high temp of at least 63 degrees (F) and no rain forecast was targeted as a vacation day. Students and faculty were compelled to return after the one-day break (when rain was expected).

Not everyone is amused by the same things. In Denmark, a 43 year old man named Lonka donned appropriate garb, slipped into jail and masqueraded as a prisoner for two days before guards finally noticed him and verified that he did not have the proper documentation for incarceration. The prankster thought the joke was a hoot – at first. An apparently humorless judge provided “proper documentation” and sentenced Mr. Lonka to two months in prison.

Well, celebrate a good weather day some time – and have a great week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at

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Thanks for your time

Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday."
Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

"Jack, did you hear me?"

"Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago," Jack said.

"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.

"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.

"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence in your life," she said

"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important … Mom, I'll be there for the funeral," Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture … Jack stopped suddenly …

"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.

"The box is gone," he said

"What box?" Mom asked.

"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was 'the thing I value most,'" Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom."

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days," the note read.

Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. "Mr. Harold Belser" it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside.

"Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life." A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch.

Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved: "Jack, Thanks for your time! -Harold Belser."

"The thing he valued most was … my time."

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days.

"Why?" Janet, his assistant asked.

"I need some time to spend with my son," he said. "Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!"

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