In Dubious Pursuit Of A Spot In The Guinness Book Of World Records

Sometimes I wish the Guinness Book of World Records had not been invented.  It seems to motivate too many people to do too many strange things.

Consider Michele Koebke, of Germany.  She’s been wearing a corset for years, trying to make her waistline as small as possible.  And she’s succeeded . . . at least, succeeded in looking freakish.  Her corseted waistline is now a mere 16 inches, and her goal is to get down to 14.9 inches, which would give her the coveted world record.

Of course, her pursuit of the record has caused health problems.  She can’t eat regular meals.  She experiences shortness of breath.  And, she has trouble supporting herself without a corset.

But hey . . . if she makes it, she’ll be in the Guinness Book of World Records — at least, until the next person decides to risk self-destruction in order to beat her record.  What would possess someone to risk their health and well-being for such a dubious distinction?  What does it tell you about a person’s life that they would engage in such ruinous behavior?

A Bomber In The Briny Deep

Who knows what treasures lie deep beneath the ocean waves?  It seems like every week or so salvage operations are hauling up another interesting relics from the past.

The latest is a German bomber that was shot down during the heaviest days of the Battle of Britain, when waves of Nazi planes crossed the English Channel in hopes of bombing the British into submission.  They failed, and in the process enormous numbers of Nazi planes were shot down.

This particular plane, a Dornier Do-17, was shot down over the English Channel.  Rather than falling apart on impact with the water, it came to rest, largely intact, on a chalk bed, 50 feet under the Channel’s surface.  Divers saw it in 2008, and planning to raise the wreck and rebuild the bomber have been underway since then.  The salvage operation is reported to be a success, with most of the aircraft corroded but recognizable.  Experts estimate it will take two years to reconstruct the aircraft so that it can be displayed.

Approximately 71 percent of the Earth’s surface lies under the ocean waves.  What other prizes — Roman triremes, Phoenicians ships, schooners, warships, barges, ocean liners, flooded cities, and fallen aircraft — lie on the ocean floor, waiting to be discovered and yield their secrets about the past?


The Summer Grilling Report

For those of us who associate summer with grilled cheeseburgers eaten on the back patio, brace yourselves:  beef prices recently hit a record and are expected to remain at high levels indefinitely.

The causes seem to be Mother Nature, the domino effect, and the law of supply and demand.  There have been sustained droughts in the cattle-herding states, which makes feed more expensive.  More expensive feed has caused ranchers to cut back on the size of their herds.  And smaller herds mean fewer cattle available to be converted into those steaks, and burgers, and roasts that Americans relish.  With the supply of beef diminished, the price inevitably increases.

Don’t expect to find cheap relief for your beef craving at the local restaurant, either.  They’ve been hit as hard by the spike in prices as anyone.  And don’t be surprised if other meats are more costly — with beef prices hitting the pocketbooks hard, consumers will be looking for alternative meats like chicken and pork to slap on the grill, and the increased demand is causing an increase in those meats, too.

There’s nothing quite like a piping hot, melted cheeseburger straight from the grill on a summer’s day.  This year, though, we may be making do with hot dogs.