By RICH FOLEY
Upon reviewing some of my notes and previous columns for the year, 2011 seems to be rather lacking in the weirdness quotient of recent years. To be fair, there were a few interesting moments….
Take, for instance, the Oregon woman who had dental surgery and came to with a foreign accent. Karen Butler had surgery to be fitted with dentures and woke up talking funny. Her dentist said the problem would go away as she became accustomed to the dentures, but that turned out not to be the case.
Well over a year later, Butler still speaks, depending on who is listening, with a British, Swedish or Eastern European accent. After some online research, she self-diagnosed herself with Foreign Accent Syndrome. Only a few dozen cases have been reported, usually after a brain injury.
At least she has working dentures, which is pretty important if you want to eat. And that is exactly what Don Gorske from Wisconsin has been doing-eating Big Mac after Big Mac-for the last 39 years.
Gorske, who has obsessive-compulsive disorder, has missed eating a Big Mac only eight days since eating his first at age 18 on May 17, 1972. On May 17, 2011, he ate his 25,000th Big Mac on the 39th anniversary of eating his first. That’s an average of 641 per year, nearly two per day for 39 years. The Guinness folks declared him a world record holder after he ate a total of 23,000 of the sandwiches.
When his local McDonald’s started giving receipts in 1994, Gorske began saving them to document his consumption. And by the way, the 6 feet, 2 inch tall Gorske weighs 180 pounds.
Arch West, who created the Doritos corn chip, passed away in September at age 97. His family made plans to honor the former Frito-Lay executive by scattering Doritos on his grave before filling it in with dirt. West came up with the idea for Doritos in 1961, but it was six years before the first retail bags hit the shelves.
A September article in the New York Times told of the deliberate burning of natural gas by oil companies in North Dakota. In the western part of the state, companies extracting oil from the Bakken shale field find it unprofitable to build the pipelines needed to bring the gas to market so it is burned off instead.
At night, hundreds of fires can be seen across the prairie. Over 100 million cubic feet of natural gas is burned off each day, an amount the article says will heat 500,000 homes for a day. That means more than the amount needed to heat the entire lightly-populated state is burned off as waste every day.
One of the stranger class action lawsuits filed in recent years was settled in 2011. The suit claimed that certain models of Kenmore and LG refrigerators had a defect that caused the interior light to stay on after the door was closed. Now how do you think this “problem” was discovered in the first place? Did the cottage cheese complain?
The companies have agreed to pay “for repairs necessitated by the actual manifestation of the light remaining on when the door is closed.” What actual trouble was being caused? Were the milk and eggs having problems sleeping at night with that light in their eyes?
Do you have a favorite celebrity you’d like to see on a stamp? In September, the United States Postal Service announced that it was changing its rule requiring subjects of stamps to be deceased and would, starting in late 2012, begin honoring living people on postage stamps as well.
Postal officials hope the move will create excitement and possibly attract younger people to snail mail instead of email. For that to happen, we could end up with some interesting subjects on stamps. Kanye West, maybe? Or Lady Gaga?
It’s a good thing the postal service didn’t come up with this idea 20 years ago, or we might have had Vanilla Ice or MC Hammer on our stamps. The Postmaster General gets to make the final decision on the first living nominee. Maybe he’s a Meat Loaf fan.
I guess upon further review, 2011 was a pretty interesting year after all. And I know I won’t really have to ask Santa for a more fascinating 2012. After all, it’s an election year. And it looks like we’ve got a cast of characters sure to make it a weird one.