Fasten Your Seatbelts

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Good morning. This is your column captain speaking. We are scheduled for takeoff shortly after this brief announcement and will reach a cruising speed of around 250 words a minute, perhaps faster if you're on your second cup of coffee.

While a few bumps can be expected along the way, we're looking for generally smooth sailing and will reach our destination in about 500 words. There will be no beverage service.

I just wanted to say this up front to reassure readers who may have heard about the United Airlines pilot who, according to the USA Today, abruptly canceled a flight after telling passengers he was "too upset to fly."

Wow, talk about things you don't want to hear your pilot saying.

"Good morning. I got pretty loaded last night. Would anyone like to join me in the cockpit for a little ‘hair of the dog'?"

The passengers, understandably, were upset, but it could have been worse. He could have made the announcement during the flight:

"Good morning, this is your captain speaking, or perhaps I should say your former captain. You know those safety demonstrations you always ignore? Well, you picked the wrong day to snooze because I'm really upset this morning and have decided I'm in no condition to fly. Thank you for flying United."

I promise never to strand you like that, even if I'm upset after my team blows it in the fourth quarter.

And now on to our first stop today, an exciting headline from the World of Science: "Scientists find childbirth wonder drug that can ‘cure' shyness."

Yes, after years of painstaking research, scientists have finally discovered beer.

OK, so it's not beer, but there's still a question: Do we really want to cure shyness? Don't we already have enough people on cell phones talking about their private lives in public?

In a bookstore, I recently heard a man discuss his very personal marital problems over the phone. He could be heard all over the store. I think he was hoping Dr. Phil would stop by to offer advice.

Oops, sorry for the turbulence there. Please remain in your seat until further notice.

Our next stop this morning is Maine, which, thanks to the environmental movement, is blessed with rivers so clean, so pure that they breed vicious black flies capable of sucking a 200-pound man's blood dry in 15 seconds.

This is an exaggeration, of course, some men last as long as 20-25 seconds, but it's another lesson on why it's not a good idea to mess with Mother Nature, especially if Mother Nature is polluted enough to keep the flies down.

Just kidding! Of course, we all want nature to be pristine, just not so clean as to be a veritable fly factory.

Just kidding again! I love flies, and so do Maine-iacs, who sometimes refer to the bloodsucking little monsters as their state bird. They even have something called the Maine Blackfly Breeder's Association, whose motto is, "We breed 'em, you feed 'em." Absolutely true.

And now we've arrived at our destination. You are free to move about the kitchen.

Thank you for choosing this column, and have a good day.

© 2008 King Features Synd., Inc.

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