Friday, November 30, 2007

The Amateur Ombudsman Answers Your Queries

Letters, we get letters. Many of them are from the angry, the incensed, the outraged. Some are from helpful people who wish to discuss the minutiae of comma placement and whether or not Sixth South should be spelled "600 South." And, sometimes, both cases hold true and there are letters from people who are outraged about comma placement.

But then there are letters from the curious. They want to know things. They want to know what we think; sometimes they think that we know something.

In an effort to be more helpful to readers of Salt Blog, I would like to present some answers to a few of the burning questions of our time. There are two real questions and one red herring. See if you can spot the fake:

Dear Amateur Ombudsman,

Are you aware of any German/American or World War II-era organizations in the Salt
Lake Valley?

Dear Catharine,

It’s a bit difficult to imagine what you’re looking for here. As far as I know, many war heroes still hang out at the VFW; perhaps that might be a good place to look. I imagine they’d like somebody new to talk to or play dominoes with. And, don’t worry—some people from that generation may appear to be all grouchy and racist and horrible to be around, but I’ve watched enough TV to know that, once you get past that gruff exterior, each and every one of them has a valuable life lesson to teach you.

However, if you’re more into historical reenactments, why not put up a flyer at a local comic book store? Historical reenactments are pretty geeky, and so are comic-book stores. Probably, there’s some overlap there. You might try Dr. Volt’s Comic Connection (2043 E. 3300 South) or Black Cat Comics (2265 Highland Dr.). Be sure and ask management before posting flyers if you can't find a bulletin board or some other obvious location.

Finally, if you simply have a thing for Germans, you can get a tasty sandwich at Siegfried’s Delicatessen (20 W. 200 South). If you play your cards right, you could be sprechen Sie Deutsch with a hot Teutonic in no time!

Dear Amateur Ombudsman,

What if you were skydiving and your chute didn't open and you knew you were going to die? Would you die before you hit the ground? Can your body prepare you for this type of thing, or would you be awake right up until impact? Thanks, hope you can find an answer.

No, thank you, Jen. I had practically stopped having those recurring plummeting nightmares until I started thinking about your letter.

There are two methodologies which occur to me whereby I might answer your question. The first would be for me to jump out of an airplane with one of those anvil-chute things holding a tape recorder, carrying on a running commentary about my impressions of my last moments and impending doom. If you were able to recover the tape and play it back, it might give you insight as to just when I lost consciousness—that is, if you were to trust me implicitly and not suspect that I might purposefully screw up the results by, say, clamming up out of a sense of pique. After all, you were the one who sent me falling to my death in order to satisfy your idle curiosity.

The second method, which I favor strongly in this case, is by thought experiment: I understand that, at high speeds, the circulation of blood in the human body is affected so that the subject loses consciousness. According to Wikipedia, the terminal velocity of a human body in free-fall is about 200 mph. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve gone faster than that in airplanes and the only thing that might have made me lose consciousness was an excess of screwdrivers.

However, maybe things are different when the air is rushing past your ears and you’re panicking as the ground rushes up toward you, and there’s no in-flight movie or SkyMall to distract you from your plight. In this case, you might pass out before you hit the ground in which case, good on you. I wouldn’t count on it, though.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much your body could do to prepare you for the inevitable, Jen. In any case, whether you’re awake or not, the cause of death is likely to be impact with the Earth. Kind of makes you wish you hadn’t given up smoking, eh?

Dear Amateur Ombudsman,

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?


Dear Kyle,

Just three—but why anyone would want to break through the delicious cherry-flavored Pop in order to expose the vile, waxy, brown Tootsie inside is beyond me.

(Brandon Burt)

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