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24 October 2014

Bellybutton Fluff

Ever wondered what to do with all that spare bellybutton fluff?

Bellybutton fluff, as we all know, appears spontaneously overnight and, if left untreated, can build up to the point where you're carrying three times your normal weight. In such extreme cases it has to be surgically removed. Happily, it rarely gets to this stage, as most bellybutton fluff becomes dislodged through everyday weathering or random gastric turbulence. The residue which remains can easily be removed by hooking it out with your little finger, a cotton bud or a Phillips screwdriver.

But where to put it? That's the issue. Most local authorities will not take it with the household waste, nor do they provide a bin for fluff recycling. The problem has led some people to resort to fly-tipping, and sadly there is now many a rural beauty spot that has been despoiled by great quivering mounds of belly button fluff. Not only is it an eyesore, but it can pollute watercourses and confuse sheep.

A more environmentally-friendly option is to donate it to charity. For the last few years a Red Cross shop in Norwich has been fortunate enough to receive three bin bags full of bellybutton fluff every week. Despite extensive enquiries, they have not been able to find out who is sending it, nor why their shop should have been singled out for this particular honour, but they are keen to get in touch with their anonymous benefactor so that they can ask him to stop it. It's disgusting, they say, and now that their storerooms, kitchen and staff toilet are filled floor to ceiling with the stuff, they have nowhere left to put it.

Fortunately we can now point the phantom Red Cross belly-fluffer to a more grateful recipient of his downy offerings. Fluff for Famine is a new charity which aims to bring relief to famine-struck areas by raising cash from discarded bellybutton fluff. The organisation is barely three months old, and yet it already has four warehouses full of fluff and is anxiously looking to acquire more storage space.

The charity's board of trustees are delighted with progress and have praised the generosity of the public, without whom none of their work would be possible. All that remains is for them to find some way of monetising this bounty and they'll be in business. They've been in touch with the people who collect bottle tops and old stamps, but have drawn a blank. In the meantime they ask the public to be patient and keep sending in their unwanted fluff.


23 October 2014

Furry Feelgood

Is your hamster timid, skittish and reluctant to show its face in company? Does it have difficulty socialising with other rodents? Does your pet get lost in the crowd, feel inadequate or worthless?

Now, all that can be a thing of the past. Here at the Californian Center for Pet Welfare our Furry Feelgood Program can turn you problem pet into a confident, no-nonsense highflier.

The Furry Feelgood system is a series of 12 self-help sessions aimed at hamsters, guinea pigs and small rabbits. Through controlled behavioural analysis, empathetic mood modulation and something else that sounds vaguely sciencey, your pet will learn to harness assertiveness techniques and become successful in a number of social and work-related situations:

hamster
  • During meetings
  • At the golf club
  • At the chiropodist
  • In the fishmonger's

So call now, and very soon your hamster could be popular, confident and earning three times as much as you do.


22 October 2014

Apparently

The word 'apparently' is one of several words that has been stolen from the English language in a daring raid on a secure vocabulary facility in Oxford. Police were first alerted to the theft at about eight o'clock in the evening when a man out walking his dog noticed that the gates to the facility had been forced.

The Oxford storehouse was built in 1882 and the English language has been housed there ever since, excluding the duration of the Second World War when it was removed to a disused salt mine in North Wales for safekeeping. The original stone building has since been augmented with modern alarm systems and a coded locking mechanism. The words themselves are kept in airtight containers - away from light sources which may cause them to fade - except when they are made available for study by academics or loaned to museums.

Police have not suggested a motive for the theft, although it has almost certainly been stolen to order. Most words are currently kept at Oxford but there are still a few in private hands. Original English words are therefore highly sought after, with verbs in particular fetching huge sums. For example, the word 'shatter' recently sold for over three hundred thousand pounds and the irregular verb 'porunk' was listed with a reserve price of half a million by one auction house, until it was subsequently revealed to be a fake.

Adverbs can still fetch a fair amount on the black market and it seems that there is no shortage of unscrupulous collectors who wouldn't baulk at breaking the law to get hold of one. For some time there has been a thriving overseas market for stolen words and it used to be a favourite technique to smuggle them out of the country hidden in the pages of a book. Now, the internet has made such methods redundant and it is a simple enough matter to simply email the stolen word to its recipient. All of which means that the word is most likely out of the country already, and there is probably very little chance of ever recovering it, apparently.


21 October 2014

Today on the Dog Exchange

There was frantic action on the Dog Exchange this morning after a sharp dip in Terriers sparked a run on Airedales, Jack Russells and West Highland Whites. Not surprisingly, Greyhounds got off to a cracking start and gave everyone a good run for their money. Trading stabilised by lunchtime, with Foxhounds putting in a strong showing and there was a steady rise in the unit price of Labradors.

Whippets were bullish but Bulldogs failed to whip up any interest. Pundits were confidently expecting some movement in Bloodhounds during the afternoon, although they remained sluggish throughout the day and only began to show any signs of stirring around teatime.

But today was all about Border Collies. When news broke of high-pressure blowouts during the English National Sheepdog Trials, investors were sent into a spin and trading had to be briefly suspended to prevent panic selling. Hopefully an improved performance tomorrow will prove that there's life in these old dogs yet.

Our tips for the week ahead: Deerhounds are likely to be going cheap, but let sleeping Bassets lie.

Dog Prices


20 October 2014

Robo-Assist

Following the installation of self-service checkouts some years ago, a store in North Shields has decided to go one stage further. The EasySave Megamart has eight such checkouts, although supervisors were always on hand to help customers use them. Now, to further reduce staff costs, these supervisors have been replaced by Robo-Assist, a 'robotic assistant' that can come to a shopper's aid if they are unable to use the checkout.

The store says that customers who experience problems using the self-service checkouts, but who are unable to use Robo-Assist, need not worry. There will be a senior supervisor to help, although the plan is for this senior supervisor to ultimately be replaced by a user-friendly touch screen information panel.

The company has not said what advice they would give to people who have problems using the self-service checkouts, are unable to use Robo-Assist and also find themselves bewildered by the user-friendly touch screen information panel. Probably shop somewhere else, we would imagine.

Such eventualities apparently do not concern the owners of the EasySave Megamart, who are pressing forward with their plans to develop what they call a 'completely automated shopping experience'. In addition to the self-service checkouts, they already have robotic shelf stackers and automatic trolley park attendants. They dismiss any suggestion that a completely automated store is impossible. After all, they reason, three years ago they replaced the manager with a sandwich toaster and as far as they can tell, nobody appeared to notice.


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