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2000-2001 Darwin Awards - Hot off the presses!

The Darwin Awards, for those not familiar, are for those individuals who contribute to the survival of the fittest by eliminating themselves from the gene pool -- hopefully, before they have a chance to breed.

  • A young Canadian man from Newfoundland, searching for a way of getting drunk cheaply, because he had no money with which to buy alcohol, mixed gasoline with milk. Not surprisingly, this concoction made him ill, and he vomited into the fireplace in his house. This resulting explosion and fire burned his house down, killing both him and his sister.
  • A 34-year-old white male found dead in the basement of his home died of suffocation, according to police. He was approximately 6'2" tall and weighed 225 pounds. He was wearing a pleated skirt, white bra, black and white saddle shoes, and a woman's wig. It appeared that he was trying to create a schoolgirl's uniform look. He was also wearing military gas mask that had the filter canister removed and a rubber hose attached in its place. The other end of the hose was connected to one end of a hollow wooden tube approx. 12" long and 3" in diameter. The tube's other end was inserted into his rear end for reasons unknown, and was the cause of his suffocation.  Police found the task of explaining the circumstances of his death to his family very awkward.
  • Three Brazilian men were flying in a light aircraft at low altitude when another plane approached. It appears that they decided to moon the occupants of the other plane, but lost control of their own aircraft and crashed. They were all found dead in the wreckage with their pants around their ankles.
  • A police officer in Ohio responded to a 911 call. She had no details before arriving, except that someone had reported that his father was not breathing. Upon arrival, the officer found the man face down on the couch, naked. When she rolled him over to check for a pulse and to start CPR, she noticed burn marks around his genitals. After the ambulance arrived and removed the man - who was declared dead on arrival at the hospital - the police made a closer inspection of the couch, and noticed that the man had made a hole between the cushions. Upon flipping the couch over, they discovered what caused his death. Apparently the man had a habit of putting his penis between the cushions, down into the hole and between two electrical sanders (with the sandpaper removed, for obvious reasons). According to the story, after his orgasm the discharge shorted out one of the sanders, electrocuting him.
  • A 27-year-old French woman lost control of her car on a highway near Marseilles and crashed into a tree, seriously injuring her passenger and killing herself. As a commonplace road accident, this would not have qualified for a Darwin nomination, were it not for the fact that the driver's attention had been distracted by her Tamagotchi key ring, which had started urgently beeping for food as she drove along. In an attempt to press the correct buttons to save the Tamagotchi's life, the woman lost her own.
  • A 22-year-old Reston, VA man was found dead after he tried to use octopus straps to bungee jump off a 70-foot railroad trestle. Fairfax County police said Eric Barcia, a fast-food worker, taped a bunch of these straps together, wrapped an end around one foot, anchored the other end to the trestle at Lake Accotink Park, jumped and hit the pavement.

Warren Carmichael, a police spokesman, said investigators think Barcia was alone because his car was found nearby. "The length of the cord that he had assembled was greater than the distance between the trestle and the ground", Carmichael said. Police say the apparent cause of death was "Major trauma".

  • A man in Alabama died from rattlesnake bites. It seems that he and a friend were playing a game of catch, using the rattlesnake as a ball. The friend - no doubt, a future Darwin Awards candidate - was hospitalized.
  • Employees in a medium-sized warehouse in west Texas noticed the smell of a gas leak. Sensibly, management evacuated the building, extinguishing all potential sources of ignition lights, power, etc. After the building had been evacuated, two technicians from the gas company were dispatched.

Upon entering the building, they found they had difficulty navigating in the dark. To their frustration, none of the lights worked (you can see what's coming, can't you?). Witnesses later described the sight of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket and retrieving an object that resembled a cigarette lighter. Upon operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the warehouse exploded, sending pieces of it up to three miles away.

Nothing was found of the technicians, but the lighter was virtually untouched by the explosion. The technician suspected of causing the blast had never been thought of as 'bright' by his peers.

Submitted by Tim, South Haven, Michigan.

Read last year's winners

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Actual Doctor stories Sometimes the truth is more amusing than fiction:
  • A man comes into the ER and yells "My wife's going to have her baby in the cab!" I grabbed my stuff, rushed out to the cab, lifted the lady's dress, and began to take off her underwear. Suddenly I noticed that there are several cabs, and I was in the wrong one . . ..
  • At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest. "big breaths," I instructed "Yes, they used to be," remorsed the patient . . .
  • One day I had to be the bearer of bad news when I told a wife that her husband had died of a massive myocardial infarction. Not more than five minutes later, I heard her reporting to the rest of the family that he had died of a massive internal fart . . .
  • During a patient's two week follow-up appointment with his cardiologist, he informed his doctor that he was having trouble with one of his medications. "Which one?", asked the doctor. "The patch. The nurse told me to put on a new one every six hours and now I'm running out of places to put it!" The doctor had him quickly undress and discovered what he hoped he wouldn't see, Yes, the man had over fifty patches on his body! Now the instructions include removal of the old patch before applying a new one.
  • While acquainting myself with a new elderly patient, I asked, "How long have you been bedridden?" After a look of complete confusion she answered, "Why, not for about twenty years-when my husband was alive." . . .
  • And of course, the best is saved for last.... I was caring for a woman from Kentucky and asked, "So how's your breakfast this morning?" "It's very good, except for the Kentucky Jelly. I can't seem to get used to the taste," the patient replied. I then asked to see the jelly and the woman produced a foil packet labeled "KY Jelly."

Submitted by Tim, South Haven, Michigan

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A middle school in Oregon was faced with a unique problem . . .

. . . A number of girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of little lip prints.

Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. She called all the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the maintenance man.

He explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night. To demonstrate how difficult it was to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance guy to clean one of the mirrors. He took out a long handled squeegee, dipped it into the toilet and then cleaned the mirror.

Since then there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

There are teachers and then there are Teachers....

Submitted by Polly, Emmitsburg, Md.

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A couple in Sweetwater, Texas had a lot of potted plants . . .

. . . and during a recent cold spell, the wife was bringing in a lot of them indoors to protect them from a possible freeze. It turned out that a little green garden grass snake was hidden in one of the plants and when it had warmed up, it slithered out and the wife saw it go under the sofa.

She let out a very loud scream. The husband who was taking a shower ran out into the living room naked to see what the problem was. She told him there was a snake under the sofa. He got down on the floor on his hands and knees to look for it. About that time the family dog came and cold-nosed him in the butt.

He thought the snake had bitten him, so he fainted. His wife thought he had a heart attack, so she called an ambulance. The attendants rushed in and loaded him on the stretcher and started carrying him out. About that time the snake came out from under the sofa and the Emergency Medical Technician saw it and dropped his end of the stretcher.

That's when the man broke his leg and why he is in the hospital. The wife still had the problem of the snake in the house, so she called on a neighbor man. He volunteered to capture the snake.

He armed himself with a rolled-up newspaper and began poking under the couch. Soon he decided it was gone and told the woman, who sat down on the sofa in relief. But in relaxing, her hand dangled in between the cushions, where she felt the snake wriggling around.

She screamed and fainted, the snake rushed back under the sofa, and the neighbor man seeing her laying there passed out tried to use CPR to revive her.

The neighbor's wife, who had just returned from shopping at the grocery store, saw her husband's mouth on the woman's mouth and slammed her husband in the back of the head with a bag of canned goods, knocking him out and cutting his scalp to a point where it needed stitches. An ambulance was again called and it was determined that the injury required hospitalization.

The noise woke the woman from her dead faint and she saw her neighbor lying on the floor with his wife bending over him, so she assumed he had been bitten by the snake. She went to the kitchen, brought back a small bottle of whiskey, and began pouring it down the man's throat. By now the police had arrived. They saw the unconscious man, smelled the whiskey, and assumed that a drunken fight had occurred.

They were about to arrest them all, when the two women tried to explain how it all happened over a little green snake. They called an ambulance, which took away the neighbor and his sobbing wife.

Just then the little snake crawled out from under the couch, One of the policemen drew his gun and fired at it. He missed the snake and hit the leg of the end table that was on one side of the sofa.

The table fell over and the lamp on it shattered and as the bulb broke, it started a fire in the drapes. The other policeman tried to beat out the flames and fell through the window into the yard on top of the family dog, who startled, jumped up and raced out into the street, where an oncoming car swerved to avoid it and smashed into the parked police car and set it on fire.

Meanwhile the burning drapes had spread to the walls and the entire house was blazing. Neighbors had called the fire department and the arriving fire-truck had started raising his ladder as they were halfway down the street. The rising ladder tore out the overhead wires and put out the electricity and disconnected the telephones in a ten-square city block area.

Time passed ---- Both men were discharged from the hospital, The house was re-built, The police acquired a new car, and all was right with their world ------- About a year later they were watching TV and the weatherman announced a cold snap for that night. The husband asked his wife ifs he thought they should bring in their plants for the night.

She shot him.

Submitted by Betty, Emmitsburg, Md.

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Beet Pulp Safety Warning (aka the famous squirrel story)

People into equine nutrition are notorious for spending their time doing the oddest things. While everyone else has normal nightmares about finding themselves riding in the World stark naked past the press corps, nutrition people fret over whether their carefully thought-out recommendations will make the difference between Muffy the Superhorse winning his next competition in fame and glory, or falling into a dead faint somewhere between being saddled and the starting line. 

In the end, the finer points of nutrition often make zero difference, however, because you generally find out that: a) Muffy won't even touch your carefully crafted ration, much preferring to eat his bedding, the vet's fingers and anything from the Taco Bell menu; b) the moment you finish calculating the Perfect Equine Ration featuring Aunt Tilly's Super Horsey Yums Yums, the feed company goes out of business or is indicted on environmental pollution charges; c) it's all irrelevant, anyway, because the barn manager's favorite phrase is "Well, we've always fed this way and hardly ever lose a horse to colic", and steadfastly refuses to feed anything at all other than His Very Own Secret Recipe, featuring lawn clippings, glazed doughnuts and something that smells a lot like latex.

However, every now and then, you stumble across a feed that horses actually like (at least, after that initial suspicious, "You're trying to poison me, aren't you?" look), is wonderfully nutritious, cheap to feed and still Obscure and Mysterious enough that people feel like they're really on The Cutting Edge in feeding it to Muffy. Beet pulp is like that, and for a long time I thought the only disadvantage to it was the minor inconvenience of having to soak it before feeding. Some folks skip that part, but others revel in making sure everyone else in the barn knows just how conscientious and detail-minded they are about Muffy's nutritional well-being.

However, eventually I knew the true downside to beet pulp would show up, and thought it only fair that I pass it along...

This afternoon I decided to bring some beet pulp pellets into the house to soak, because I wanted to get an idea of exactly how much they expanded in volume during the soaking process. Academic types are like that, pathetically easy to amuse and desperately in need of professional help. I knew they expanded quite a bit, because the first time I'd innocently added water to a five-pound bucket of beet pulp, I'd come back later to find my feed room practically awash in beet pulp, providing a breakfast that every horse within a five mile radius still remembers with fond nostalgia. So in the interest of scientific curiosity, I trundled in a bucket, about three pounds of beet pulp, added in the water and set it in the living room to do its thing. No problem. Research in action.

Well, in our ongoing quest to turn this house into Noah's Ark, we have not only four horses, three dogs, four neurotic cats, a sulfur-crested cockatoo, a cockatiel and assorted toads, we also have William. William is a fox squirrel who absent-mindedly fell out of his tree as a blind and hairless baby two years ago and whom the vet promptly handed off to the only person he knew silly enough to traipse around with a baby squirrel and a bottle of Esbilac into her bookbag. Actually, the trick wasn't in keeping such a tiny creature warm, fed and clean---it was keeping a straight face and looking as mystified as everyone else when William woke up hungry and started pipping for his bottled like a very small, slightly muffled alarm clock.

Invariably, this usually occurred while I was standing in line at the post office, picking up a pizza for dinner or on one memorable occasion, taking a final exam in biochemistry. Being no dummy, William knew a sucker when he saw one and has happily been an Urban Squirrel ever since.

And for those of you that think A Squirrel's Place is In The Wild, don't think we didn't try that...his first Christmas, we thought we'd give him his first lesson in Being a Wild Squirrel by letting him play in the undecorated Christmas tree. His reaction was to shriek in horror, scoter frantically across the floor and go try to hide underneath the nearest border collie. Since then, the only way he will allow himself to be taken outside is hiding inside Mummy's shirt and peering suspiciously out at the sinister world.

So much for the re-make of Born Free in San Dimas. So secure is he about his place in the world that on more than one occasion, I've caught him sitting on his fat, smug little bottom, making faces out the window at our neighborhood (very frustrated) red-tailed hawk---like as not clutching a cashew in one paw and a bit of mango in the other.

Anyway, when I set out the bucket of beet pulp, I may have underestimated the lengths that a young and enthusiastic squirrel will go to to stash all available food items in new and unusual hiding spots. I thought letting William out of his cage as usual and giving him a handful of almonds to go happily cram under cushions and into sleeping dog's ears was sufficent entertainment for the afternoon. After all, when I left, he was gleefully chortling and gloating over his pile of treasure, making sure the cockatoo saw them so he could tell her I Have Almonds And You Don't. So much for blind optimism.

Apparently when the almond supply ran out, beet pulp pellets became fair game and I can only imagine the little rat finding that great big bucket and swooning with the possibilities of being able to hide away All That Food. The problem isn't quite so much that I now have three pounds of beet pulp pellets cleverly tucked away in every corner of my house, it's that as far as I can tell, the soaking-expanding-and-falling-apart process seems to be kinda like nuclear meltdown. Once the reaction gets started, no force on earth is going to stop it.

So when I come back from the grocery store, not only do I find an exhausted but incredibly Fulfilled squirrel sprawled out snoozing happily up on the cat tree, I find that my house smells a lot like a Jamaican feed mill and virtually every orifice is crammed full of beet pulp. This includes the bathroom sink drain, the fish tank filter, in my undie drawer, in the kitty box (much to their horror) and ALL the pockets of my bookbag. Not to mention that in enthusiastically stuffing beet pulp into the air holes of the little box that hold live crickets for the toad's dinner, William managed to open it up and free several hundred crickets into the living room. It's not that I mind crickets springing to and fro, it's just that it sounds a lot like an Evening in the Amazon Rain Forest in here. The cats, on the other hand have never had such a marvelous time steeple-chasing after stray crickets back and forth over the furniture, crunching up the spoils of the hunt (which wouldn't be so bad if they would just chew with their mouths closed), and sicking up the more indigestible parts onto the rug.

I simply can't WAIT to turn on the furnace and find out what toasting beet pulp smells like. The good news is that in case of siege, I have enough carbohydrates hidden in my walls and under the furniture to survive for years. The bad news is that as soon as I try to remove any of this stash, I get a hysterical squirrel clinging to my pant leg, tearfully shrieking that I'm ruining all his hard work and now he's going to starve this winter. (This is despite the fact that William is spoiled utterly rotten, knows how to open the macadamia nut can all by himself and has enough of a tummy to have earned him the unfortunate nickname Buddha Belly.)

So in case anyone was losing sleep wondering just how much final product you get after soaking three pounds of beet pulp, the answer is a living room full. I'd write this new data up and submit it as a case study paper to the nutrition and physiology society, but I suspect the practical applications may be limited.

Off to go empty the Shop-Vac. Again.

Susan Evans Garlinghouse 1997

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More examples of Idiots in Everyday life . . .
  • Idiots at Work: I was signing the receipt for my credit card purchase when the clerk noticed that I had never signed my name on the back of the credit card. She informed me that she could not complete the transaction unless the card was signed. When I asked why, she explained that it was necessary to compare the signature on the credit card with the signature I just signed on the receipt. So I signed the credit card in front of her. She carefully compared that signature to the one I signed on the receipt. As luck would have it, they matched.
  • Advice for Idiots : An actual tip from page 16 of the HP "Environmental, Health &Safety Handbook for Employees: "Blink your eyelids periodically to lubricate your eyes."
  • Idiots in the Neighborhood: I live in a semi-rural area. We recently had a new neighbor call the local township administrative office to request the removal of the Deer Crossing sign on our road. The reason: Many deer were being hit by cars and he no longer wanted them to cross there.
  • Idiots in Food Service: My daughter went to a local Taco Bell and ordered a taco. She asked the individual behind the counter for "minimal lettuce." He said he was sorry, but they only had iceberg.

Idiot Sightings:

  • Sighting #1: I was at the airport, checking in at the gate, when the airport employee asked, "Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?" I said, "If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?" He smiled and nodded knowingly, "That's why we ask."
  • Sighting #2:The stoplight on the corner buzzes when it is safe to cross the street. I was crossing with an intellectually challenged co-worker of mine, when she asked if I knew what the buzzer was for. I explained that it signals to blind people when the light is red. She responded, appalled, "What on earth are blind people doing driving?"
  • Sighting #3: At a good-bye lunch for an old and dear coworker who is leaving the company due to "downsizing," our manager spoke up and said, "this is fun. We should have lunch like this more often." Not another word was spoken. We just looked at each other like deer staring into the headlights of an approaching truck.
  • Sighting #4: I worked with an Individual who plugged her power strip back into itself and for the life of her could not understand why her system would not turn on. 
  • Sighting #5: When my husband and I arrived at an automobile dealership to pickup our car, we were told that the keys had been accidentally locked in it. We went to the service department and found a mechanic working feverishly to unlock the driver's side door. As I watched from the passenger's side, I instinctively tried the door handle and discovered it was open. "Hey," I announced to the technician, "It's open!" "I know," answered the young man.- "I already got that side."

Submitted by Lisa, Damascus, Md.

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Sometimes it DOES take a rocket scientist ...

Scientists at NASA have developed a gun built specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity. The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields. British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed trains. Arrangements were made, but when the gun fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof windshield and smashed it to smithereens, crashed through the console control, snapped the engineer's backrest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin.

Horrified, the Britons sent NASA the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield, and begged the US scientists for suggestions. NASA's response was just one sentence: 

"Defrost the chicken"

Submitted by Lisa, Damascus, Md.

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