April Fools’ Day Videos Good for a Few Laughs

In the spirit of April Fools’ Day, it seems appropriate to share three humorous videos on health care, hounds and howls of laughter.

The first video, ObamaCare – Live Your Carefree Lifestyle, mocks the Patient Care and Affordability Act of 2010 (a.k.a., “ObamaCare”) and is brought to you by the folks behind Freedom Fest, an event taking place July 14-16 at Bally’s in Las Vegas.

The second video, Doggie Dentures, is from across the pond and has to do with a product to make your dog’s life better.

Though it’s a couple of years old, the third video carries a timeless message (i.e., “The Government Can”) from Tim Hawkins, one of my favorite comedians.

If you enjoy this blog and want to keep reading stories like the one above, show your support by using the “Support Bob” tool at right. Thanks in advance for your support!

Census Ads Everywhere, Including Back of the Bus (Update)

Only three days after being “treated” to a $2.5 million Super Bowl commercial touting the 2010 Census as a “Snapshot of America,” I spotted another advertisement for the 2010 Census and took a photo of it (below).

Plastered to the back of a bus I encountered on the way back from St. Louis Lambert International Airport late this morning, the ad caught my attention for something I think is funny, if not ironic.  Did you spot it yet?

Okay, here’s my take:  I was struck by the irony of the date that appears in the lower-right corner of the ad space:  April 1 (a.k.a., “April Fools Day”).  Talk about a double-entendre´ of a message:

Government + Census + April Fools Day = FUNNY!

SEE ALSO (Added 2/12/10): Think Twice Before Opening Door to Census Worker

Postal Service Changes Raise Cash, Fight Hunger

The U.S. Postal Service expects to save more than $100 million annually through a series of cost-cutting steps, but a handful of other steps reportedly being taken by the agency during its economic crisis will raise both cash and eyebrows.

Eighty district offices will be closed, according to a recent news release.  In addition, more than 1,400 mail processing supervisor and management positions at nearly 400 facilities around the country are being eliminated and nearly 150,000 employees nationwide are being given the opportunity to take an early retirement.

According to an unidentified agency source, however, the agency is taking three other steps as follows:

  • The Postal Service will soon begin replacing its familiar red, white and blue outdoor mail receptacles with new coin-operated mailboxes.  In addition to paying for stamps, Postal Service customers will be required to deposit 25 cents into a slot in order to deposit a letter at a mailing location other than their home mailbox. So as not to confuse customers who wait until the last day to mail their tax returns, this program will not begin until April 16 and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2009.
  • In order to lower printing and production costs and boost affinity program revenues, the Postal Service will no longer offer self-adhesive stamps or stamps pretreated with nasty-tasting moisture-activated adhesives.  Instead, customers will be able to choose from a variety of “Flavor-Lick” and “Fresh-Scent Spray” adhesives that capitalize upon unique marketing arrangements with several name-brand companies.  To date, the list of companies said to be partnering with the Postal Service on the “Flavor-Lick” initiative includes — but is not limited to — Coca-Cola®, Listerine® and Red Bull®.  A partial list of the companies said to be participating in the Fresh-Scent Spray” initiative includes — but is not limited to — Dolce&Gabbana®, Glade® and Yankee Candle®.
  • In an effort to help reduce world hunger, the Postal Service plans to phase out traditional wood-based paper envelopes.  In place of them, the agency will offer only envelopes made of rice paper after July 1.  Furthermore, the Postal Service has notified envelope manufacturers and customers alike that the agency will no longer deliver envelopes not made of rice paper after Dec. 31, 2009.

If the measures above are successful, many government watchdog agencies expect the Postal Service to implement several other ideas, many of which were reportedly submitted by third graders.

Truck Shutdown Deemed ’100 percent successful’

“If the politicians in Washington don’t know about it by now, they must be blind or deaf,” said Dan Little, the trucker generally credited with organizing a nationwide shutdown by independent owner-operators and other professional truck drivers. “Now, it’s on their backs. If they choose to let this industry die, it’s up to them.”
After watching news reports and hearing from truckers around the county, the owner of Little and Little Trucking, L.L.C., a cattle-hauling outfit based in Carrollton, Mo., seems genuinely pleased with the results of the April 1 effort.

“My goal was not to shut this country down. My goal was to get this out to the public and the mainstream media,” Little told listeners of XM Satellite Radio’s Land Line Now program during an interview yesterday. “In that sense, I think we were 100-percent successful.”

During a telephone interview this morning, I asked Little what he expects will happen next.

“We have guys that are still shut down, and I will remain shut down the rest of the week,” he explained. “We have guys that are still shutting down.”

As for his own immediate future, he will remain shutdown this week and be on the phone trying to get through to members of Congress and others with influence in Washington.

And what message does Little have for his fellow truckers?

“Hang tight. We’re gonna see where we go from here.”

* * *

See also:

Truckers’ Shutdown Effort Produces Varied Results (4-01-08)

How Will the Trucking Shutdown Impact You? (3-31-08)

No Joke: Truckers to ‘Shut Down’ April 1 (3-28-08)

April Fools Day Prank Picked Up by CNET

Today, I was pleasantly surprised to find my 2008 April Fools Day prank — concocted several weeks ago and posted early this morning at Bob McCarty Writes — mentioned in an article published at the CNET News Blog.

CNET News Blog April Fools Pranks 2008

Writer Jonathan Skilling began his piece, All the April Fools’ news that’s fit to print, with this declaration:

The word of the day is “prank.” Unless maybe you’re one of the ones who got taken in hook, line, and sinker, in which case it’s “doh!”

What followed was a glimpse into the best April Fools Day pranks of 2008. Among them, he included my post, Scientists Harness Kinetic Energy from Keyboards. My day was made! My prank had been mentioned in the same piece as one of history’s all-time great pranks — Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds stunt.

Things only got better when I realized my effort also appeared alongside several high-profile, modern-day pranks, including the following:

My thanks go out to my blogger friends — Monoblogue, Noisy Room and Right Truth — who helped spread the word about this effort. I look forward to pulling off an even bigger and better stunt next year.

How Will the Trucking Shutdown Impact You?

In a post three days ago, I reported on the threatened April 1 shutdown by independent truckers. Today, I take a look at the number of truck drivers likely to participate in the effort, the likelihood of the shutdown getting the attention of members of Congress and the impact such a shutdown is likely to have on both independent truckers and ordinary Americans.

Sunset Truck…by Point-Shoot-Edit

Participation

Realizing it next to impossible to calculate an accurate number of truck drivers who will take part in this extremely serious April Fools Day effort, I’ve opted instead to crunch numbers to determine how many truckers might participate. In order to do that, I must first look at how many independent owner-operators and professional drivers are in the mix. To do that, I turned to one government source and one industry source:

  • U.S. Department of Labor statistics show that almost 1.7 million people “drive a tractor-trailer combination or a truck with a capacity of at least 26,000 GVW, to transport and deliver goods, livestock, or materials in liquid, loose, or packaged form.”
  • The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association counts as members, according to a page of the OOIDA web site, more than 160,000 male and female drivers representing all 50 states and Canada. Collectively, they own and/or operate more than 240,000 individual heavy-duty trucks and small truck fleets.

Based solely on the numbers above, a shutdown by all members of the OOIDA would result in almost 10 percent of the nation’s truckers being parked April 1. And, if you think a 100-percent participation rate would be impossible to achieve, think again.

In an article published March 27, OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston said “…we saw nearly 100 percent of truckers participating in strikes” as part of a larger statement about what he remembered as the desperate days of the ’70s:

“Even back in the 1970s, when we saw nearly 100 percent of truckers participating in strikes, it did not lower fuel prices,” Johnston said. “Short-term relief from the situation then was the result of a temporary implementation of a mandatory fuel surcharge.”

In short, the possibility of more than 160,000 drivers shutting down April 1 is real.

Congress

Dan Little, the Carrollton, Mo.-based operator I interviewed for the aforementioned post, told me his goal in shutting down tomorrow is, first, to get the attention of elected officials in Washington, D.C., and, in turn, generate action on their part to help fix the problems that prompted the shutdown in the first place.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe members of Congress have it within them the ability to address anything inside of a 24-hour period. Additionally, they don’t have as one of their top 435 priorities the needs of America’s independent truckers. Instead, re-election seems to be the top priority of most of the 435 members of Congress.

Impact

In truth, I don’t suspect a shutdown by independent truckers will impact most Americans at all. Instead, I believe the following chain of events will take place:

  • Initially, the shutdown will result in shipments normally hauled by independents arriving one day late or being shipped using alternative carriers (i.e., companies that own large fleets of trucks, buy fuel by the thousands of gallons and, among other things, self-insure their fleets as means to lower costs);
  • After independent truckers realize their one-day effort has failed to bring about the intended results, they will go on a full-fledged strike that will last only as long as their will power and wallets allow; and
  • In much the same way as corporate farming interests have replaced family farming, the days of the independent trucker will come to a screeching halt and those who want to remain behind the wheel will have to be content working for “the man” or finding new lines of work.

Sadly, independent truckers, I think your days are numbered.

* * *

See also:

Truck Shutdown Deemed ‘100 percent successful’ (4-02-08)

Truckers’ Shutdown Effort Produces Varied Results (4-01-08)

No Joke: Truckers to ‘Shut Down’ April 1 (3-28-08)

No Joke: Truckers to ‘Shut Down’ April 1

One Iowa newspaper reporter describes it as “a small, online grassroots effort (that) now appears to have the potential for something bigger.” That “something bigger” is a threatened nationwide shutdown by independent truck drivers — possibly hundreds of thousands of them — April 1.

Though set to take place on April Fools Day, the effort — launched with Dan Little, owner-operator of Little & Little Trucking, L.L.C., a livestock hauling company based in Carrollton, Mo. — is no laughing matter. It began two weeks ago when Little posted an open letter to his fellow independent truckers on USCATTLEHAULERS.com, a web site he set up to give trucking companies like his exposure to prospective shippers anywhere in the U.S.

In the letter, which is still available on the site, he vowed to shutdown his trucking company at 8 a.m. April 1, 2008, and no longer accept loads at any price until such time as the federal government puts into action a plan that will give all owner-operators some help. Components of that plan, as paraphrased from the letter, include the following:

  • Suspension of all federal and state fuel taxes until such time that this economy is back on its feet;
  • Creation of a federal oversight committee to oversee insurance premiums charged for Class 8 truck insurance;
  • Creation of a more-level playing field for all trucking companies by not allowing large trucking companies to self-insure their fleets;
  • Enforcement of federal regulations — that include set maximum amounts for violations — for brokers and shippers; and
  • Standardization of fines from coast to coast.

Little added that he would not return to hauling until “the people we put into office get off their butts and do something to help this Industry.”

He closed the letter by offering his e-mail address — dlittle (a) uscattlehaulers (dot) com — and asking truckers who plan to shut down on April 1 to let him know by e-mail.

It’s important to note that Little isn’t calling it a strike. In fact, during a telephone interview with this blogger this morning, Little emphatically said, “We don’t want a strike,” before adding that many of his colleagues in the world of independent trucking aren’t so quick to agree with him.

He explained that he had received more than a thousand e-mails from truckers who wrote to let him know they are ready to go on strike now. Among them were two drivers associations — both in Florida — with a combined total of more than 100,000 trucks.

While this blogger doesn’t necessarily agree with every component of the plan highlighted above, I do agree with Little and his fellow independent truck drivers that something must be done in order to fix an industry vital to this nation’s security.

If you don’t think this shutdown will impact your life, think about this: The average grocery store maintains only a few days stock of perishable goods and a few weeks worth of nonperishables; therefore, if the shutdown — and, possibly, a strike — lasts longer than three days, you’re likely to feel an impact whether you want to or not.

* * *

See also:

Truck Shutdown Deemed ‘100 percent successful’ (4-02-08)

Truckers’ Shutdown Effort Produces Varied Results (4-01-08)

How Will the Trucking Shutdown Impact You? (3-31-08)