Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chemical Conversions

During Cubby’s trial (see my previous post) I listened to a lot of testimony from a bunch of chemists. And of course Cubby is a chemist, and I can’t avoid listening to him day and night.

One of the things the chemists talked about was the idea of conversion of “stuff” when a chemical reaction takes place. The DA had suggested that explosives poisoned or polluted the ground when they were set off. However, the experts disagreed.

Chemistry professor Ken Williamson explained that a successful explosion converts substantially all the solid explosive into gas and energy. There’s little or nothing left on the ground. That got me thinking . . . what are some other examples of chemical conversion we see in daily life but never really think about? Allow me to present a few here . . .

Insect Conversion

When a bug flies into your electric zapper, you witness a reaction that takes electricity plus solid matter (the bug) and converts it into sound and light energy, a mix of gases, and debris. Experts believe that approximately 40% of the original insect mass remains as solid debris on the ground beneath the zapper, making this a pretty inefficient reaction.

But it’s nowhere near as bad as the next one . . .

Gasoline conversion

That’s what happens when you drive your car. The gasoline in your tank reacts with the outside air within the engine. When that happens, energy is released. Some propels the car down the road. Other energy is wasted as heat. And then we have the chemicals that come out of the reaction . . .

You read a lot about emission control in cars, where pollutants are measured in parts per million. We’ve come a long way in controlling those byproducts – hydrocarbons, carbon monoxides, and oxides of nitrogen. But the biggest polluter of all is totally unregulated, even today. That’s the greenhouse gas, CO2, which is now accepted as a key player in global warming.

When gasoline burns, its carbon and hydrogen separate. The hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water, and carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2). Raw gasoline is about 87% carbon and 13% hydrogen by weight. That means there’s about five and a half pounds of carbon in every gallon of gas.

When burned, each atom of carbon from the gasoline combines with two atoms of carbon from the air to make CO2. Since oxygen molecules are a bit heavier than carbon molecules, the result is twenty pounds of CO2 for every gallon of gas that’s burned.

That’s a lot of CO2, isn’t it? Three or four hundred pounds for every tank of gas.

Propane is better. Propane only makes twelve pounds of CO2 per gallon burned. So you can feel good about using your gas stove instead of your car, whenever you have a chance.

Coal is worse. And that’s what’s burned in many of our power stations.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s lesson in applied chemistry.

Now for a public service announcement . . . .

I will be speaking at the Agawam Public Library this Wednesday evening at six. They are opening a new autism resources section. I hope to see some of you there, and when you come, I’ll be happy to point out the chemistry section where you can look up reactions on your own.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cubbys Day in Court



Some of you have asked about my son and the recent case in District Court.

It all started with those famous Aspergian Special Interests. In my son's case, the interest was model rockets, when Cubby was seven years old. We filled tubes with vinegar and baking soda, and launched them beside the house.

From there, Cubby quickly progressed to Estes models and electrical igniters, launched from the big field by the Umass stadium. By the time he was twelve, Cubby made his own rockets from scratch. That’s where most kids stop. Not Cubby.

He became fascinated by chemistry. In particular, he was enthralled by what chemists call “energetic materials,” a fancy terms for explosive stuff. Cubby learned how to make rocket fuel, and then, how other explosive compounds are constructed. He sent rockets half a mile into the air. Few middle school kids do that. I was proud of his technical skill.

As you can imagine, I was also a little troubled, because I didn’t want him to get hurt. However, I considered my own experiments at his age, and how they came out, and his obvious love of science. I did my best to help him learn safety, and it worked. He never got hurt, nor did he hurt anyone else.

He had fun with compounds like flash powder, which I’d used in special effects thirty years before. However, I bought the flash powder. Cubby made it. By the winter of 2007, Cubby knew enough to make high grade explosives, and he could do so from ordinary hardware store chemicals. He set his sights on college, and a career as a chemist. He wanted to learn all he could.

He devoured all the chemistry texts he could find. His ability to sweep in new knowledge is similar to my own, and it was interesting to watch.

That winter, he put some videos of his test explosions on Youtube. They weren’t much, really, compared to what many of my generation did as kids. They were no more than capfuls of explosive set off on the ground, in the woods. It was pretty tame stuff compared to what I remembered from my own childhood. However, 9-11 had happened and the climate was different.

You better take those down, I warned him. But he refused, and at age 17, I wasn’t really sure I should force the issue. After all, he was almost an adult. I know my own Aspergian special interests, and how driven I was, at his age. He was the same way.

The videos did him in. One day, while Cubby was in class at HCC, the ATF and State Police came calling. By nightfall, it was all over the news as they descended on his mother’s house, where he had a basement lab.

Cubby called to tell me the news, and I headed right over. I drove to his mother’s in a state of high anxiety. I met agents from the ATF, who said, “You have a very smart kid, but this stuff is dangerous.” After getting over their initial concern, they seemed to take a liking to Cubby. It was obvious that he wasn’t a danger to society, and he knew exactly what he had and where it was.

One of the agents said, The ATF gets one or two cases like this every year, with mad scientist teenagers. It’s a refreshing change from outlaw bikers and pipe bombs. I could see his point. Before they left, the ATF people said the Federal government had no further interest in Cubby. They were satisfied that he wasn’t a threat to anyone.

The state police were satisfied he wasn’t a threat too, but as they say, the
decisions for them are up to the local DA. And that’s where they left it. They packed up and went home. Cubby was very distressed and worried. So was I.

A reasonable DA would have interviewed Cubby, to see what was going on. After all, DAs are there to prosecute crimes, and crimes require criminal intent – something Cubby did not have. So far, scientific curiosity is not against the law.

Cubby certainly felt terrible about all the trouble he'd caused. He even apologized on the evening news. However, no one in goverment saw fit to listen, or talk to him. He was stuck.

The DA - seeing the television reporters, and the potential for headlines - filed felony charges without ever speaking to Cubby. In fact, they announced the charges to the media before giving his attorney the courtesy of a phone call. That made their game – their true motives - pretty clear, in my opinion.

That’s how they played it, every step of the way. Innuendo and inflammatory remarks. All the while, at the request of the lawyers, I kept quiet. I held my tongue right up to the trial, in Northampton’s Superior Courtroom Three.

The prosecutor paraded an army of witnessed through the court. Chemists from the FBI. Agents from the ATF. Bomb squad investigators from the state police. We heard, in great detail, all about the explosive compounds he had made, and the household chemicals he made them from. We also heard that every chemical he bought for his lab was perfectly legal and totally unregulated.

What we didn’t hear was one bit of evidence that Cubby had anything more than an interest in science. We didn’t hear a word about malice. We didn’t see a single shred of property damage. In fact, the prosecutor could not even identify the spots in the woods where Cubby set off his test blasts. The court had to take his word for it.

And yet the crime he was charged with was malicious destruction of property. So far, chemistry alone isn’t a crime. Why were we even there? The trial lasted four long days.

Amazingly, the prosecutor had never even met Cubby before the arraignment. Wouldn’t you think a responsible prosecutor would have a duty to explore his thinking, in an unusual case like this? Yet she never said a word to him before he took the stand in his own defense. As soon as he did, she went on the attack. But her innuendo and accusations finally failed her, as she stood before the jury.

You left high school because you didn’t have any friends, didn’t you! The prosecutor shouted baseless accusations at Cubby, her face twisted in a venomous mask. What was wrong with her, I wondered? Cubby answered calmly. No, he said. I left because I was bored with the classes. I have lots of friends. I wanted to take college courses. Behind him, the court was packed with his supporters who gave silent lie to her words.

A few moments later, she said, . . . you had a hundred pounds of explosive on your shelf. No, Cubby said. You’re wrong. It was a hundred grams, not a hundred pounds. Big difference. And the slip – intentional or not - wasn’t lost on the jurors, as Cubby sat there being his peaceable geeky self.

I couldn’t tell if she truly believed Cubby was a monster, or if she was blinded by the potential for headlines and the opportunity to build her own career on the back of a gentle teenager. It was very sad to see her base urges collide with the court's search for truth, especially when I considered that DA’s office is supported by my own tax dollars.

It took the jury less than three hours to return a verdict. Not guilty on all counts.

Meanwhile, real criminals go free in this town. Crack is sold in our schools, and burglars loot the homes. The money spent on this case might have made a real difference, applied to issues like that. But will it happen, or will justice and public safety take a backseat to petty career advancement? I'm not the only one who thinks an overhaul of that office is long overdue.

After all, these are the same prosecutors who brought us the Pottygate scandal. All I can say is, Google it and you'll see what I mean. A Grand Jury invstigation for the theft of the DA's private bathroom key? Have we got our priorities right over there??

What was this case really about? If you think the answer is truth and justice, the easiest place for the DA to find it would have been in an interview with Cubby, back when the whole thing started. I think that goal was lost early on, in the bright lights of the TV cameras. I think this whole case was about naked power and ambition on the part of that prosecutor. I think she saw a chance to advance her career with absolutely no regard to the cost on Cubby, a sweet Aspergian teenager who didn't fully grasp what was happening, couldn't defend himself, and who'd done something unusual that she could build and twist into a wild terrorist threat.

As I said before, it's a very sad commentary on our legal system that a case like this ever went forward. And in this economy, it's even sadder to think of the money we don't have squandered on a case like this when real and pressing problem go unchecked.

One result of the publicity is that Cubby was invited to study at the University of Massachusetts, where he plans to transfer as soon as possible. He’s still set on getting his doctorate in chemistry, but not in energetic materials. He’ll be doing quieter reactions from now on. As his attorney David Hoose said, he’s learned a lot and gotten explosives out of his system.

Actually, his work with me at the TMS lab has gotten him interested in brain science, and the chemistry behind how we think. Who knows where that will take him?

Here's a video from CBS news:http://www.cbs3springfield.com/news/local/46277157.html

Here's the story from our local paper:http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2009/05/jury_weighs_case_against_john.html?category=Amherst&category=Crime&category=South%20Hadley

Monday, May 25, 2009

A walk in the country

Six years ago, Cubby went snowboarding with his Boy Scout troop at Catamount, a small ski area in the Berkshires. I watched the kids zip around for a little while, until I got the notion to walk up to where they were. The kids, of course, weren’t walking up. They rode up, on the chair lift, and boarded down. I set out on foot.

Bad idea.

Within 500 feet I was exhausted. I was gasping for breath, and struggling to keep moving. My asthma kicked up and I could barely breathe. What was wrong with me? When I was Cubby’s age, I’d gone up slopes like that as if they were downhill.

Could I be that bad off now?

I sure was. I worked at a desk, did no exercise, and ate too much. I had become a fat slug.

I decided to do something about it. I signed up with a trainer, and began working out. One of the first things he said was, “Your asthma is just because you are out of shape. You’ll see – when you get fit, it will go away.” I didn’t believe him, but he was right.

Today I can walk till I drop, free of breathing troubles. I’d never have believed it, but my asthma was indeed a sign of my poor health. As I got fitter, it ceased to bother me. Today, what once sent me to the hospital several times a year is nothing more than a minor nuisance around horses and cats.

You may still call me a fat slug, but I'm a pretty strong and fit slug.

For some reason, I remembered that failed walk up a ski slope this weekend. I decided to try it again. For this attempt, I picked the tallest mountain within 75 miles – Stratton, Vermont. I drove up and set out toward the trails. It’s mud season up there, and all the ski areas are pretty much deserted. Stratton was no exception. The lodge was all closed up and the lifts were quiet. I looked up from the base lodge.

That’s no big deal, I thought. I’ll bet I can walk up there in 20 minutes, tops!
Appearances can be deceiving, though. The top isn’t quite visible from the base. It’s a mile and a half in a straight line, two thousand feet up. But I didn’t know that then. I set out up the mountain.



Partway up I saw a white pile. With a start, I realized there was still snow in spots, even though it’s the end of May. I patted my backpack to make sure my fleece was inside. It would suck to get stuck up high if night fell, I thought.



The lift I was following ended partway up the mountain. I looked up to a steep slope to the top.



I looked down. Could I do this? I plodded upward. With every step, I became more keenly aware of the great contributions mules and Land Rovers have made to journeying mankind. I did not have a mule, or a Rover. I just had my legs and a flimsy hiking pole.

The closer I got to the top, the farther I could see. Birds and bears sang in the trees, and I considered the old saying: "I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you!" But today, I had no bait. I was alone with the denizens of the woodland. Luckily, the singing bears deigned to come out and fight. I continued toward the top, unmolested. Hazy conditions kept the Canadian Rockies out of sight, but you can still see a long way in this shot . . .



I finally made it. Here’s the summit of Stratton, empty in springtime.



I realized I now had to do the whole thing in reverse. Clouds were moving in, the day was ending, and the bugs had become vicious. Sunburnt, sore, and bleeding from insect attack, I set off down the slope. Partway down, a dad, a kid and a dog passed me, barely breaking a sweat. I guess fitness is relative.

And here I am, back home to tell you about it. This is a Google Earth view of the mountain



If there's any kind of moral to this story, it's this: You can become fit at any age, and if you do, you can go places you couldn't go before.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Some thoughts on public speaking

One of my friends over on Facebook asked me some basic interview/conversation questions. He asked how I know what to say and when to stop saying it. The answer was more than the one paragraph I can fit on Facebook, so I thought I'd post it here.

I learned the answer from one of the radio hosts that interviewed me when Look Me in the Eye first went on sale. Here’s what he said . . .

When you start talking, imagine a traffic light has just changed in your mind. Green means talk. The light stays green for 30 seconds. At that point, it turns yellow. At 60 seconds, the light turns red.

When you answer a question in conversation you want to be out of the conversational intersection before the light goes red.

At first, when I tried to apply that rule I actually looked at my watch. After a while, though, I was able to integrate the lights into my mind, and I can do a pretty good job without any chronometrical assistance.

That single piece of advice has helped me put a lid on my well-known Aspergian tendency to run on until their eyes glaze over. I’m not perfect . . . I still do that occasionally . . . but I am far better; the best I’ve ever done in that regard.

In addition, I always keep the basic social rules in mind. When someone asks a question about helicopters, I do not answer with a statement about gorillas. A helicopter question deserves a helicopter answer, unless I was talking about water power and some freak asked the helicopter question out of the blue, in which case I would say, “Let’s stick to the topic at hand, righto?”

I always make a genuine effort to understand people’s questions and answer them with something relevant and meaningful. But there are times when I don’t know the answer. It’s been a relief to discover that an occasional “I dunno” does not seem to diminish me too much in other people’s eyes.

The next thing I’ve figured out is how to eliminate useless words. I recorded myself in some early talks and listened carefully. I noted a lot of um, well, and aaah type words. I resolved to eliminate them from my speech, and through focus and concentration, I have been reasonably successful.

I don’t have any special tips for how to do that, but I can say from personal experience that it’s not too hard if you record yourself and listen critically.

I’d like to address one final point: stage fright. People often ask me why I don’t get scared speaking to groups. I think the answer is founded in Aspergian logic

The people in the audience always start with a favorable disposition toward me. So why should I be scared? Attendance at my talks is voluntary; indeed, people have to go out of their way to attend. Who but a friendly person would do that?

In addition, I’m sort of oblivious to the crowd’s disposition so even if they are half-nasty I probably won’t notice. So why be scared?

The final consideration is sheer size. I’m almost twice the size of many attendees. Who’s gonna menace who, I ask? I have yet to be threatened by an audience in modern times. I can think back to playing rockabilly shows behind chicken wire in Alabama roadhouses, but thankfully, those days are gone.

I hope a few people find these tips useful.

Woof.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another neat radio show

I had another neat radio experience today, this one on the Internet. I did what was supposed to be a 1-hour call in show with Tricia Kenney on Blogtalk Radio. However, some other guests called in and joined the show, and it ran to two hours in a really remarkable production. I hope you like it, and tell me what you think:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/embraceautismnow/2009/05/20/Discussing-Autism

I will await your thoughts . . . .

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A visit from the high school car club, and a radio show tomorrow

I've got a new story over on the Robison Service blog about the tenth graders from the Amherst High Car Club. Check it out at http://robisonservice.blogspot.com

These kids are from the same high school I dropped out of, some years back.

I hope you'll join me tomorrow at 1:00PM Eastern Time with Tricia Kenney on Blog Talk Radio at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/embraceautismnow Call in with your questions or comments - the number is 646-716-9663

You can also send comments of questions online, by following me @johnrobison on Twitter.

Woof!

Monday, May 11, 2009

It's a wired, wired world. From Massachusetts to Australia and back again

I'm sitting here at home working on my next book, but I have to take a moment to share this remarkable radio experience . . . . I just did an interview with Deborah Cameron on ABC 702 in Sydney, Australia. A few years ago, most people elsewhere in the world would say, so what? Not anymore.

An hour before the interview, I updated my Facebook status to say I was on the radio in a little while. Then I put the news on Twitter. I put up another reminder half an hour out, this time with a link to the show’s live feed.

Here’s what I said on FB: John Elder Robison will be on Australian radio at 9:45 AM Tuesday, on ABC Radio 702 Sydney: Mornings with Deborah Cameron. Tune in if you're in that part of the world. Some of my ABC shows are available online, too. May is Autism Awareness month in Australia.

I’ve done lots of radio shows, but I never really announced them in that way, and certainly not with Twitter and Facebook chat to close the loop. I wondered what would happen.

This is what I said next: John Elder Robison My upcoming Australian radio show will be streamed live online in 14 minutes at http://www.abc.net.au/sydney/ That’s 7:45PM Eastern time Monday in the USA, 9:45 Tuesday morning Down Under

Right before I went on the show, the radio station’s link to my particular segment came up and I Tweeted and FB’ed the direct link and sat back to see what came of my efforts.

That’s when the phone rang. It was the show’s producer, calling me from tomorrow. It was 7:30 Monday night in my part of the world, but for her, it was already 9:30 on Tuesday morning. And that is a miracle in itself. If you go to Google Maps and punch up walking directions from Amherst, Massachusetts, USA to Sydney, Australia, you will see what I mean.

The walking path probably roughly approximates the path my voice took via a mix of satellite and land lines.

Amazingly, it was as clear as if we were talking in the studio. You’d never know 16,155 miles of space and wire and fiber optic lead separated us.

When the distance rises, Google is a little more careful with their disclaimers. Here’s what they say about this route: These directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, weather, or other events may cause conditions to differ from the map results, and you should plan your route accordingly. You must obey all signs or notices regarding your route.

Some of the steps seem deceptively simple, like this one:

Step 1552: Kayak across the Pacific Ocean
Enter Australia (Northern Territory)
Distance 3,358 mi

It’s lucky it was just my voice on the wires tonight, and not me paddling away.

As soon as I began talking, listeners began messaging me on FB and Tweeting their comments. Upwards of 25 comments came through in a 15 minute interview. I actually could not look at them till the end, so as not to get distracted. Who’d have ever thought technology would complete the circle in that fashion?

I sat in my home in Massachusetts, talking to a radio personality in Sydney whose show was streamed to a listener in western Canada, who in turn messaged me through Facebook. And it happened time and again.

Listeners actually commented on what I said in near-real-time, like this Darwinian who said: Right on! It's not that we don't feel love & can't empathize, we just don't express it the same way others do! Perfect!

Now the show is over, and the listeners (and my friends) talk about it online and even ask me questions, which I try to answer. It’s brought radio to live and spread it in a way I’ve never experienced before.

I’m gonna do this for every radio show, from now on!

Isn’t technology remarkable?

Woof!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Home from Denver

I'm back home again, and I thought I'd share some images of Out West on this fine mothers day evening. Here's the Sixteenth Street Cow, a Denver landmark:



Denver is home to many pointy haired people. Here's one:


Here's another:




One of the highlights of any trip to Denver is a stop at the Union Pacific rail yard:



Another highlight is the world famous Johnson Prarie Dog Ranch. Tasty eatin!




Here's the light rail, which carried me back and forth to my hotel. I was at the Tech center Hyatt, about 10 miles outside of town:



This is the view from the cab. These things go pretty good. They consistently ouotran the cars on I25





This is the O'Fallon Company, Windmills and Pumps



And here's the crowd at the champions for Children luncheon.



The clock tower is said to be world famous, but that could have been the liquor talking.




Thursday, May 7, 2009

On the loose in Denver

My abode in Denver:




This afternoon I spoke to a large crowd at a fundraiser for Sewall child Development Center of Denver. Every now and then I’ll have people I know in the audience at these things. This time, I had my mother’s first cousin Carolyn, who brought me some pictures of our life back in Cairo, Georgia long ago.

The talk went pretty well, and we had some good questions after, including a few from a militant teacher who didn’t seem to thrilled with my treatment of my own teachers back at Amherst High. But what did she know? I figured she was sulky because some student sent her a Reversible Ursula, and she didn’t want to own up to it.

After my talk I went back to Sewall to see the facility, the tykes, and the teachers.

I came away with a few impressions:

The first thing that struck me was that the look of autism that I’ve commented on was visible in children, too. So I don’t just see it in adults. Actually, the similarity between the expressions on some of those tykes and the expressions in my own childhood photos was striking.

The next thing that hit me was how similar the behavior of those kids was to my own behavior, at that long-ago age. I sat and watched them, and remembered my own time at the Mulberry Tree School, when I was the size of today’s tykes. I even bounced and flapped my wings for a few of them. They liked that.


I watched one class of tykes dance, and I heard another bunch sing. All in all, it was a memorable and satisfying visit. Two tykes mistook me for a zoo animal and hugged me, and I almost squashed another one when I bounced in time to another tyke.

Here’s a link to Sewall’s Facebook page.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Denver-CO/Sewall-Child-Development-Center-Inc/62608996856


If the teachers and staff of that place are representative of the changes in tyke management since my Mulberry Tree days, things have gotten a lot better.


After leaving Sewall I walked through downtown Denver. After feeding at the Cheesecake Factory I decided to take the light rail 9 miles back to my hotel. Now, that was a treat. The rail cars are made by Siemens, and they run on modern welded rail set on concrete ties with good stone ballasting. It’s a smooth ride, and on the open stretches, they outran the cars on I-25.
On the way out of town we passed a large Union Pacific rail yard, with a line of old locomotives. Some were covered in very nice graffiti. I rode through three tunnels on the trip, with no sign of residents in any of them. I wonder where Denver’s tunnel people live? It was nothing like New York, where there are obvious signs of colonization everywhere the track descends below the street. Maybe they don’t have tunnel people in Denver.

Here's the street in Denver this afternoon:



I rode the trains a few extra stops for the fun of it. When I got out it was a nice ½ mile walk to the hotel, where I am right now.




Tomorrow I’m headed for Boulder, and Google, where I will meet the team that develops Sketchup and manages their Project Spectrum. We’re going to try and do a video on that for you . . . stay tuned for more.

Monday, May 4, 2009

And now [drum roll] for the shrump roast lovers among you . . .

I have a new recipe.

Long time followers of my blog may recall the Shrump Roast recipe sent to me by Gabriel Leder, a young Aspergian in Washington DC. If you don't remember, I have a link to refresh your memory:

http://jerobison.blogspot.com/2008/01/how-to-make-shrump-roast.html

I should tell you how these recipes came to pass. Last year, Gabriel's mother Lisa purchased my old Repugnatron. The Repugnatron was a device I made from an old garbage disposal and a converted microwave oven to create delectable food treats for my own Aspergian kid. He's older now, and prepares his own food, so the Repugnatron has lain unused for a few years.

The last time we ran it up here, we converted one of my old friend Road Kill Phil's flattened raccons into something very tasty with the color and texture of chocolate mousse. It's quite the machine, that Repugnatron.

She heard about it at an event last year, and to my surprise, made me an offer I could not refuse.

And that wasn't all. She wanted to buy my Ferguson Hair Counter, but I refused to sell that as it's the only one of Col. Ferguson's prototypes left in existance. Anyway, I sold her the Repugnatron, and she's used it on her kid ever since. He seems to be thriving, so there must be plenty of road kill and electricity where they live.

This is her kid's latest creation:

How to Make Bumble-Flump Salad

Step 1: Catch a handful of bumbly gnomes and herd them into a pot full of boiling hot pink and red striped prune juice.

Step 2: Stir your pot with your spare wooden leg until it turns green, purple, blue and black.

Step 3: Find the missing Florida votes from the 2000 election and toss them in the pot while you curse at a hypochondriac.

Step 4: After Pi hours the brew should have exploded, so you can now pick up the pieces, slice them thin and put them in a bowl.

Step 5: Now that you have the bumble of the bumble flump salad go back in time to the G. W. Bush years and spread the rumor to the prez that the flumperdink cabbages have WMD.

Step 6: Bush will then attack the flumperdinks with bombs, guns and tanks. After the flumperdinks are blown to bits, gather the fallen cabbages, chop them into a hash and launch them out of your nose and into the bowl you put the bumble into. You now are 2/3s done.

Step 7: Mix together the complete 1st season of the Simpsons, some fluoride toepaste and your in law's devil horns; stir with their pitchforks.

Step 8: Have the king of France banish the mixture to a blender with margarine so that it will taste of I can't believe it's not butter (for best results get it from Giant) and pour it over your bumble flump bowl.

Step 9: Slice a shrump roast over the bowl of bumble flump salad and then flambé it for 3.1456789 seconds.

Step 10: Feed it to your pet were-pig and then serve him to your dinner guests; they will never bother you again.

If you prepare this and eat it, it may give you immunity to Swine Flu.

And don't forget to come see me this week if you're in Colorado. This Thursday (May 7) I'll be speaking at the Champions for Children Luncheonat the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center, Grand Mesa Ballroom. The following day, I'll be speaking with the Project Spectrum Team - the people who brought you Google Sketchup - at Google's Boulder offices.

Stop by and say hi. There's no need to bring road kill, though. Lisa, Gabriel, and their Repugnatron will not be there.