2008.12.31 A less-than-appetizing end to a really long year

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

What will you remember most about 2008? The election that seemed like it would never end? Or one of the personalities that somehow turned up on the news practically every day, like Britney Spears? Or one of those people like Sarah Palin or Joe the Plumber who almost no one had heard of when 2008 began, only to become a household name you couldn’t avoid by the time the year ended?

Here at Nowhere Road, we prefer to remember some of those stories that didn’t get nearly enough publicity the first time around, like that giant, runaway inflatable piece of “art” in the shape of a mound of dog excrement.

The brainchild of American artist Paul McCarthy, the artwork, named “Complex Sh**,” was on exhibit at a Swiss museum this summer when it was blown loose of its moorings and went on a brief reign of terror. The house-sized display had a safety system in place designed to deflate it in inclement weather, but it failed to work as planned and the dog stuff made an escape.

First, it tore down a power line, then traveled about 700 feet before settling to the ground and breaking a window at a children’s home. Don’t you wish you could hear that 911 call? You know the police had to see this to believe it.

Unfortunately, none of my sources say if any children were in the yard at the time the excrement fell from the sky. I’m sure that was quite a sight for any eyewitnesses.

On a somewhat similar subject, the city of Seattle has ended its experiment in the world of high-tech toilets.

You may have heard of the incredibly expensive, self-cleaning toilets popping up in cities around the world. Seattle joined the trend four years ago when they bought five of the devices at slightly over one million dollars each.

The idea was to provide a clean, convenient rest room facility for tourists and the homeless in Seattle’s downtown. Instead, they became more infamous as handy hangouts for prostitutes and drug users. Further study indicated that they were less cost-efficient than regular public rest rooms as well.

Seattle’s city council finally voted to sell them on eBay, with a minimum of $89,000 each. That strategy failed to attract a single bid. Hoping to spark a bidding war among bargain hunters, the city relisted the toilets, this time with a bargain-basement opening bid of 99 cents per toilet. That move aroused some interest, but not as much as the city had hoped.

One toilet sold for $4,899 while the other four averaged about $1,900 each. The grand total for the five toilets was $12,549. After paying the company it hired to handle the auction, the city of Seattle netted a return of just over $10,400 on its initial investment of $5 million or so.

The buyer? Butch Behn, a Washington state businessman who owns a race car supply business and local race track was the winning bidder for all five units. He said he planned to use two of the toilets at his track and either sell the others or store them for future use.

“It’d probably be good to have a couple around for spares,” Behn told The Associated Press. “We get pretty busy at the track sometimes.” And if you live on a diet of racetrack food, there’s no such thing as too many toilets.

Closer to home, some residents in Columbus, Ohio, received some free salad dressing, courtesy of the T. Marzetti company. It just didn’t come quite the way they might have wished.

Heavy rains in late June combined with discharges from Marzetti’s Columbus facility to overwhelm the city’s storm sewer system, resulting in at least ten basements being flooded with a mixture of sewage, storm runoff and salad dressing.

An EPA spokesman suspected that the factory’s pipes merged with those of nearby homes and aren’t big enough to contain the additional water from a heavy storm. I’ll bet he’s at least a high school graduate to come up with such a reasonable explanation.

And you’re probably all wondering what flavor of salad dressing it was. I’m happy to report that the dressing in question was creamy ranch. 

Makes you hungry just reading about it, doesn’t it? Then go have a snack and join me back here next year. I’ll try to be even more tasteful.

  • Front.tug
    MORENCI pep rallies generally end with a tug of war. The senior class entry, shown above, did not advance to the finals. Griffin Grieder, Alaina Webster, Kyle Long and Jazmin Smith are shown at the front of the rope, giving it their best effort.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Athletic Fields
    SPORTS COMPLEX—Fayette’s outdoor athletic facilities will include three ball fields for summer recreation leagues at the southwest corner of the school. The baseball and softball fields, along with the running track, will be constructed on the east side of the school. Outdoor athletic fields were not part of the new school project from 2007, but voters approved a $1.4 million levy for a school addition and the sports fields last August. Both projects are scheduled to be complete by July 20.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.band
    TROMBONISTS Jake Myers (left) and Max Baker perform Friday at the annual Senior Citizens Luncheon at Fayette High School. The National Honor Society and the FFA chapter teamed up to serve a meal to area seniors and to provide musical entertainment. Both the school band and choir performed. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.

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