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Subject: Joel Furr FAQ

This article was archived around: 20 May 2006 04:20:48 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: joel-furr
All FAQs posted in: alt.fan.joel-furr, alt.bonehead.joel-furr
Source: Usenet Version

Archive-name: joel-furr/faq Alt-fan-joel-furr-archive-name: faq Alt-bonehead-joel-furr-archive-name: faq Last-modified: 2000/5/1 Version: 4.9
Joel Furr FAQ Copyright 2000 by Joel K. "Jay" Furr (jfurr@furrs.org) This is the Joel Furr FAQ. It is not provided out of a sense of personal vanity but rather for the purpose its name states: to answer some of the Frequently Asked Questions about me, such as "how'd he get three newsgroups named after him" and such. Many of these questions are sent to me in electronic mail, usually as a result of someone looking for the answers to their questions in alt.fan.joel-furr and not finding them. It would be a good idea to read this FAQ before posting to alt.fan.joel-furr. This FAQ is copyright 1998 by Joel Furr (me) and may not be reprinted in any commercial medium without my explicit and unambiguous permission. This means that you may not re-print it in a magazine, book, newspaper, or multimedia disk, nor re-print it in an online magazine or other commercial website without my permission. All rights reserved. -- Joel Furr Frequently Asked Questions (1) Who is Joel Furr? (2) Why does he have three newsgroups named after him? (3) Who appointed Joel Furr ruler of alt.*? (4) What is it about Joel and lemurs? (5) Was Joel really elected Kibo, or is that just a myth? (6) What happened between Joel and those "Green Card" lawyers in Arizona? (7) What newsgroups is Joel Furr a moderator of? (8) Does Joel Furr sell t-shirts and stuff? (9) Does Joel spend all his time logged in, or what? (10) Is Joel likely to reply if I write to him? (11) What does Joel look like? (12) What's the deal with those funny black floor lamps that point up at the ceiling with the little knobs on the side about halfway up that you turn back and forth to adjust the brightness? Everyone seems to have them these days. (13) Hey, where are the seatbelts? (14) What's the 'soup du jour' today? (15) Is cotton candy a solid or liquid or crystal or what? (16) What's the 800 number for the North Carolina ferry system? (17) Where is Paradise? (18) Hey, what about those French? (19) Is it true that if I jump up off the ground, I'm technically in low earth orbit for as long as I'm in the air? (20) Who's in charge of the weather? (21) What is it with cats? How do they make their legs disappear when they perch on the arm of a sofa, looking content? (22) Does Joel Furr like fish? (23) How 'bout them Dawgs? (24) Is Joel a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or what? (25) What's in those bottles in the back of Joel Furr's refrigerator? (26) Where do bad people go when they die? (27) When's the best time to go to an amusement park? (28) What's wrong with Joel Furr's blood? (29) What is that thing at the bottom of that big glass jar full of water? (30) Will seagulls eat small chunks of pork barbecue? (31) St. Patrick's Day is a festive, cheery holiday wherein we celebrate our Irish heritage, affecting bad Irish accents and wearing green. How does Joel Furr celebrate the holiday? (32) Is it true that Joel Furr's car has a guardian spirit? (33) Hey, isn't that song "YMCA" that they play at baseball games really cool? (34) What's that chunk of powdery concrete atop Joel Furr's bookcase? (35) Does Joel have a wife? (36) What's the greatest cinematographic achievement of all time? (37) What is a Hokie? (38) What instrument did Joel Furr play in the Blacksburg High School band? (39) What does Joel typically say when someone asks him, rhetorically, how he is? (40) What's the best sort of implement to use when eating ice cream? (41) What clubs and organizations does Joel Furr belong to? (42) What's Joel Furr's ethnic and socioeconomic background? (43) Define "good eatins." (44) Joel Furr visited Las Vegas in July 1995 for the better part of a day. How much money did he gamble? How much did he lose? (45) What were the schools in Blacksburg, Virginia like when Joel Furr was growing up there? (46) Where does Carole, Joel Furr's girlfriend, come from? (47) Who is the Official Stooge of alt.fan.joel-furr? (48) What exactly is "hungus?" (49) What is the name of the night manager at the International House of Pancakes franchise on Baxter Street in Athens, Georgia? (50) What is Joel Furr's best category in Trivial Pursuit? (51) Who is Wally? (52) Where can you go in Durham, North Carolina, to get "spaghetti and salmon cakes?" (53) What is Joel Furr's favorite soft drink? (54) How many fingers am I holding up? (55) Do we need more plastic cups? (56) What color should mayonnaise be? (57) What is Joel Furr's astrological sign? (58) What is Joel Furr's Myers-Briggs type? (59) Where are your videos? (60) How is "Furr" pronounced? (61) What is the law? (62) Where do the keys go? (63) What are some of the nicknames that Joel Furr has gone by over the years? (64) What happens when you put a real, formerly alive, ocean-bred sponge back in water? (65) What kind of underwear does Joel Furr wear? (66) Who is the greatest cat of all time? (67) How can I embarrass myself in front of eight thousand people? (68) Why does Joel Furr have so many strange and pointless pictures of himself and his friends on his Web page? (69) What's special about the Duke University parking deck at the corner of Fulton and NC 147 in Durham, North Carolina? (70) What fortune cookie does Joel Furr always get? (71) What is "The Mother of All Rivers?" (72) So, what was it like attending Georgia Tech? (73) What book is Joel Furr currently working on? (74) Who the hell is "Yalin Ekici?" (75) What is the ultimate slow dancing song? (76) Who was President of Joel Furr's high school Science Club? (77) What is the secret of making great Bisquick pancakes? (78) Why didn't Joel Furr wind up in the military? (79) What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to Joel Furr? (80) When did Joel Furr learn to read? (81) What is Joel Furr's ultimate ambition in life? (82) Aren't you cold? (83) What restaurant are Joel and Carole Furr going to open soon? (84) What collectible novelty does Joel Furr have in store for us? (85) What did Wally the gopherlike being do at the 1997 North Carolina State Fair? (86) What does Joel Furr think of the invention known as "the third mouse button"? (87) If Joel Furr were a fruit, which one would he be? (88) Did Joel Furr inhale? (89) Does Joel Furr say "toe-MAY-toe" or "toe-MAH-toe?" (90) Why? (91) Why not? (92) What did Joel's supervisors and co-workers at Glaxo Pharmaceuticals give him on his last day of work, as a going-away present? (93) What boutique are Joel and Carole Furr going to open next door to their new restaurant? The Frequently Questioned Answers (1) Who is Joel Furr? Joel Furr is a writer and trainer who lives in Essex Junction, Vermont. He was born in Roanoke, Virginia on September 20, 1967 and grew up in the nearby college town of Blacksburg, where his father was an engineering professor at Virginia Tech. After graduating from high school in 1985, he attended the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia from 1985 to 1988, earning a bachelor of arts degree in English. Inasmuch as an English degree from a notorious football school hardly qualified him for rapid advancement through the ranks of the American industrial elite, Joel went on to graduate school at Virginia Tech, where he earned a Master of Public Administration degree in about a year and a half and then wasted the next two and a half years pursuing a Ph.D. in the same subject before finally quitting, utterly burned out, in the fall of 1992. During his graduate school years, he spent a lot of time goofing around on Usenet and a few MUD systems, since his graduate assistantship position with the Virginia Tech Department of Public Safety, Health, and Transportation wasn't exactly demanding of his time and since he was expected to spend at least four hours per day in his office -- which happened to have a fast net connection. After dropping out of his Ph.D. program in Public Administration at the end of 1992, he tried and failed to find meaningful work in western Virginia, an economically depressed area with few good-paying jobs. In late 1993, he gave up looking for work in Virginia and moved to Durham, North Carolina, where he had friends and a few relatives. In fairly short order, he got work, got an apartment, and resumed fooling around on the Internet. After a few years of working in relatively dead-end jobs, he met the woman who became his wife, got a real job doing software training, and a whole new chapter in his life, a chapter that did not rotate solely around the Internet, began. In May of 1995, he moved with his wife, Carole, to the Burlington, Vermont area, where he works for a software corporation doing training. (2) Why does he have three newsgroups named after him? The newsgroups, alt.fan.joel-furr, alt.bonehead.joel-furr, and alt.joel- furr.die.die.die, were not created by Joel Furr or by anyone acting on his behalf. Each was created as an act of satire and/or criticism by people who did not like Furr. Alt.fan.joel-furr exists because Joel Furr once created a newsgroup called alt.fan.serdar-argic, angering the infamous Ahmet Cosar, a.k.a. "Serdar Argic." Cosar's infamous alter-ego was responsible for ruining many history-related and culture-related newsgroups such as soc.history and soc.culture.turkish; Cosar liked to post lengthy rants about one of his pet delusions, namely, that in 1914, Armenians had killed all the Turks in northeastern Turkey and in Russian Armenia. This is, of course, the direct opposite of what actually happened, but Cosar, an apologist for the Turkish genocide, was certain that he could convince the world otherwise if he posted megabyte-long rants to dozens of newsgroups per day, lowering the signal-to-noise ratio so far that many posters would desert the newsgroups and leave the field to Cosar and his allies. Furr created alt.fan.serdar-argic to give people who were sick of Cosar's childish pranks a place to comment and discuss what to do about Cosar. Within 24 hours, Cosar had newg rouped alt.fan.joel-furr. Oddly enough, and no doubt to the immense surprise of Cosar, the newsgroup has actually seen considerable use from time to time. (See also question #74, "Who the hell is 'Yalin Ekici?'") Alt.bonehead.joel-furr exists for a similar reason. A user named Paul Hendry once spent a solid two months posting hundreds of messages to alt.config trying to convince the alt.config regulars that the world of Usenet direly needed a newsgroup for fans of lampreys (jawless parasitical fish) to chat. However, he failed utterly because a simple grep of the newsspool showed that the only lamprey-related traffic in existence was on alt.config itself. Hendry, as it turned out later, had been trying to trick alt.config's regulars into rubber-stamping an unnecessary newsgroup. Why he thought this would be amusing is anyone's guess. Hendry finally exhausted Joel Furr's patience, and Furr newgrouped alt.bonehead.paul-hendry. Hendry, in a masturbatory act of excess, then turned around and newgrouped alt.animals.lampreys, alt.animals.paul-hendry, and alt.bonehead.joel-furr. None of the four newsgroups gets any traffic to speak of. Both sides in the affair, in the final analysis, acted childishly. The third group, alt.joel-furr.die.die.die, is not carried much of anywhere and isn't really considered a real newsgroup. It was created by a pseudonymous Netcom user without any evident provocation -- it just "showed up" one day without any obvious justification. Fewer than 10% of sites carry the newsgroup on their system, and the sites that do are generally those sites which have their newgrouping and rmgrouping set on "autopilot," accepting all newsgroups that are created anywhere by anyone. (3) Who appointed Joel Furr ruler of alt.*? No one. In fact, references to "King Joel of alt.*" are showing up a lot less frequently because Joel no longer gives much of a damn what happens in alt.* - so many garbage newsgroups have been created that the alt.* namespace is a hopeless mess and there's nothing that can be done about it. He used to spend a half hour to an hour each day trying to explain to the endless legions of clueless newbies why we didn't need to have sixteen newsgroups on the same subject, or why a newsgroup with a confusing, meaningless name would get zero traffic. It never made a dent in the hordes of stupid-ass bozos who showed up day after day begging for newsgroups only they cared about, so Joel eventually found better uses for his time. (4) What is it about Joel and lemurs? Joel and some friends started telling each other jokes about lemurs on one of the bulletin board systems (the late, lamented vtcosy.cns.vt.edu conferencing system) at Virginia Tech back in 1991. Neither Joel nor his friends knew anything about lemurs except that they were from Madagascar and had big eyes. When Joel and company found out there was a research center dedicated to lemurs just a few hours away in Durham, North Carolina, they promptly went down and visited. The Duke University Primate Center turned out to be a really cool place with woods full of lemurs on the hoof and Joel fell in love with the furry little varmints, especially since they were (and still are) gravely endangered in their native habitat and needed help so badly. Joel started campaigning online for donations to DUPC and continued this activity when he moved down to Durham. If you would like to know more about lemurs, you can visit the DUPC home page at http://www.duke.edu/web/primate/index.html and/or discuss lemurs with fellow lemur fans on the Usenet newsgroup alt.fan.lemurs. (5) Was Joel really elected Kibo, or is that just a myth? In January of 1994, James "Kibo" Parry disappeared from Usenet for a long time, over a month. No one knew where he had gone or what he was up to. Some people cared, some people didn't. Finally, Andrew Bulhak, an Australian net.user, called for an election to replace Parry in the role of Kibo. Bulhak accepted any nomination that came his way, then published a list of candidates and held an open vote via e-mail. When the voting period was up, Joel Furr had won with a solid plurality and almost a majority, with 81 votes; the nearest runner up was Parry himself, with around 30 votes. Parry had returned from whatever it was he'd been off doing halfway through the voting period, but had known better than to denounce the vote for fear of inspiring people to gleefully vote against him. However, once the vote was over, Parry started whining very loudly about it and actually threatened Joel Furr with legal action over Joel's frivolous use of the title "Kibo" in a few Usenet posts. According to Parry, his nickname "Kibo" had actually won him a few endorsement contracts in Boston (primarily for computer stores, apparently with tongue lodged solidly in cheek) and if someone else were also using the term, it would damage his marketability. Inasmuch as Joel had only signed two or three messages with "Kibo," having had better things to do than engage in the sort of idiocy practiced regularly on alt.religion.kibology, he had little use for Parry's whining. It was not as though Joel had actually set out to replace Parry as Kibo in the minds of Internet users - nor would Joel have had the slightest interest in attaining Kibo-like notoriety, since being Kibo is sort of like being the biggest rat in the garbage heap. Nonetheless, Parry was so whiny about it that Joel stopped using the nickname in disgust. As Joel said at the time, "It's ironic that Usenet's biggest jokester cannot take a joke himself." (6) What happened between Joel and those "Green Card" lawyers in Arizona? In 1994, Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel, the so-called "Green Card Lawyers," were probably the most disliked people on Usenet. Their actions -- spamming repeatedly and then managing to convince the mainstream media that they were the wronged parties w hen their messages were erased -- made them extremely unpopular. Consequently, Joel Furr was asked by many people to make a t-shirt satirizing them. (Furr had previously made and sold about 150 copies of a t-shirt satirizing Ahmet "Serdar Argic" Cosar.) When he designed and began taking orders for a "Green Card Lawyers: Spamming the Globe" t- shirt, Canter and Siegel got wind of it and threatened Joel with "severe" legal action unless he removed the term "Green Card Lawyers" from the shirts. Canter and Siegel based their threats on two claims, both legally without a shred of foundation: Claim #1: They had exclusive trademark over the term "Green Card Lawyers," a term they had never used in trade and which in fact they had no rights to whatsoever. Legally, if you want to be able to assert a common-law trademark over a term, you must have used that term in trade. Canter and Siegel had never used that term as part of their business, so they had no rights to it whatsoever. Claim #2: They had exclusive rights to produce or license the rights to produce a t-shirt based on their exploits, and that "several large companies" were already interested in marketing C&S-based shirts. Needless to say, no companies ever produced such a shirt - and in any case, they certainly had no right to prevent someone else from exercising their freedom of speech by producing t-shirts satirizing them. During an exchange of email over the matter, Canter and Siegel betrayed a complete lack of knowledge of the law - or, if you want to ascribe to malice what others ascribed to stupidity, were engaged in barratry, the use of legal threats for harassment reasons. Canter and Siegel said that the concept of "public figures" being considered legally vulnerable to satire was complete nonsense, and they repeatedly asserted their trademark claim over a term they had never filed for trademark over and which they couldn't even claim common law trademark over since they had never used the term in trade. It was easy to see, after a short round of discussions with them, why they'd had to sue to be permitted to resign from the Florida Bar several years ago in an effort to avoid actual disbarment. Furr was panicked after receiving their threats, because although he knew that their claims were absolute garbage, he also knew that he didn't have the financial resources to deal with a lawsuit brought by two lawyers in a state two thousand miles from his home. He considered taking the term "Green Card Lawyers" off the shirts, but first, asked for suggestions and comments from the readers of newsgroups like comp.org.eff.talk and misc.legal. Two days of absolute pandemonium followed. Joel began getting hundreds of offers of free legal help and donations to a Joel Furr Defense Fund. Thankfully, Mike Godwin, Chief Legal Counsel of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, also heard of the matter and offered the EFF's services in the case to defend Furr in any legal matters that did develop. Heartened, Joel publicly said "To hell with the lawyers, the shirts are going forward with the original design, let them sue." Canter and Siegel promptly began claiming that they had never made any threats whatsoever and that it was all a fiction invented by Joel Furr. In later months, after the "Green Card Lawyers" shirts had sold like hotcakes (the result of Canter and Siegel's effort to prevent their sale altogether), Canter and Siegel went around claiming that Furr had actually contacted them first and asked for permission to make the shirts and that they'd just told him to go away and not talked to him again. Since Furr had kept all the email they'd sent him and had it handy to show anyone who asked, this absurd claim was easily disproven. Canter and Siegel went on to publish a book about the Internet entitled "How To Make a Fortune on the Information Superhighway" which, from all accounts, was a pedestrian and rather lame ghost-written Net guide with a sad little chapter or two at the end declaring the authors champions of spamming. They then tried to run a spam-for-hire service which collapsed when no one would sell them net access, and after a few notable fiascoes which introduced the Net to the concept of "disposable accounts" (dial-up shell accounts used for spamming with the full knowledge that the provider would angrily delete the account once the spamming had taken place), Canter and Siegel more or less vanished from sight. What a pity. (7) What newsgroups is Joel Furr a moderator of? None, at the present time. In the past, he was sole moderator or co-moderator of the following newsgroups: comp.society.folklore, alt.folklore.suburban, alt.humor.best-of-usenet, triangle.singles.announce, soc.history.war.world-war-ii, and news.admin.net-abuse.announce (since superseded by news.admin.net-abuse.bulletins). He has relinquished all his moderation duties because married life and his demanding career as a lemur rancher don't allow much time for endless Usenet activities. (8) Does Joel Furr sell t-shirts and stuff? Yes and no. He used to do that a lot, but has more or less stopped now that he has a salaried job that requires a commute and now that he has a wife. When he has time (read: not often, these days) Joel designs various shirts and mugs and stuff and gets a local screen printing firm to make them for him once he's accumulated orders from various people around the world. People read about the shirts and stuff on the Internet and send orders and payment via ordinary postal mail. Joel collects the orders, deposits the checks, and then orders the shirts in the requested sizes and colors from the screen printer. This sometimes takes a few months from the time orders are first collected to the time the last shirt is in someone's hands -- sometimes it takes quite a while to generate enough orders to make ordering a particular shirt cost-effective, and other times, so many orders come in (for example, for the Perl/RSA t-shirt) that it takes a hell of a long time to open and enter all the orders in a spreadsheet so the actual shirts can be ordered. Joel does not charge a profit on the shirts; he prefers that the shirt business remain more or less a hobby and not an actual business. If he were to charge a profit, people would expect a lot prompter service and it'd probably stop being fun. Besides, if a profit is charged, he cannot post notices in related Usenet newsgroups (people resent advertising for profit in discussion- based newsgroups) and sometimes, a few notices to a few newsgroups are necessary to get the ball rolling. However, all that is mostly academic now that Joel has largely retired from doing shirts. (9) Does Joel spend all his time logged in, or what? No. Despite the insults from losers who, when losing an argument in a Usenet newsgroup, say "Hey, get out from in front of your monitor once in a while, bub!" Joel actually spends little time logged in. Having a wife and a demanding job will do that for you. Joel does have a real life, a life that consists of spending time with his wife, reading, going to minor league baseball games, driving, traveling, going to movies, hanging out with friends, and working on his writing. He used to spend a lot of time logged in, back when he was in graduate school (he had a do-nothing graduate assistant position), so people assume this is still the case. (10) Is Joel likely to reply if I write to him? If you write to him and ask stupid, clueless questions like "how do I set up my newsreader? I'm on a Mac," he'll cheerfully ignore you. If you have half a clue and need help, or just want to talk, he can usually find time. If you like talking about maps, travel in the USA, the South, minor league baseball, non-fiction books, and so forth, please write. He's often up late at night and may be around, but idle, when you send email. His preferred email address is jfurr@furrs.org. (11) What does Joel look like? Joel Furr is a 6'2", 210-pound Caucasian male with dark brown hair, a fairly bushy dark brown beard, and brown eyes. He has a very faint Y-shaped scar on his left cheek from a childhood accident. He typically does not have much of a tan because he spends most of his time indoors. When he's not at work, he tends to wear t-shirts or polo shirts, corduroy shorts, and sneakers. He prefers dark colors, such as navy or purple, but rarely wears black shirts because he doesn't want people to come up and start talking to him about "cyber space." He tends to wear his hair in what's called a "professional haircut" -- not too short, but definitely not very long. He prefers to wear his hair fairly short because he tends to perspire heavily in summertime and that makes long hair impractical. (12) What's the deal with those funny black floor lamps that point up at the ceiling with the little knobs on the side about halfway up that you turn back and forth to adjust the brightness? Everyone seems to have them these days. They like it if you have one. In fact, They like it if you have more than one. (If you don't know who we mean by They, sorry; we can't tell you more than we already have.) (13) Hey, where are the seatbelts? There aren't any seatbelts on this ride. (14) What's the 'soup du jour' today? Cream of broccoli. (15) Is cotton candy a solid or liquid or crystal or what? Cotton candy is, technically, one big molecule -- one very long-chain molecule, nonetheless, but one molecule. If you unraveled a cotton candy molecule of typical size and stretched it out straight, it'd stretch from Durham, North Carolina to Key West, Florida. (16) What's the 800 number for the North Carolina ferry system? 1-800-BY-FERRY. (17) Where is Paradise? Paradise can be found in the men's room of the Mardi Gras Bowling Lanes, located on NC 54 between Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (18) Hey, what about those French? For the purposes of the game, the French are goobers. (19) Is it true that if I jump up off the ground, I'm technically in low earth orbit for as long as I'm in the air? Yes. Technically, anytime you leave the surface of the Earth, you're in low earth orbit and the Earth will rotate slightly underneath you. The distance the Earth travels beneath you while you're in the air is too slight to be noticed, but there is a small but calculable orbital effect. (20) Who's in charge of the weather? The current Planetary Weather Supervisor is Mr. James L. Cambias of New Orleans, Louisiana (currently dwelling in Ithaca, New York). You can complain to him when it rains all day with no end in sight, but he rarely acts in a responsive fashion. He has his own agenda and until his demands are met (he insists that the residents of Chapel Hill learn to drive like sane people), he's not going to do anything about the weather. (21) What is it with cats? How do they make their legs disappear when they perch on the arm of a sofa, looking content? They've got little tubes up inside their body that their legs retract into. No one's figured out exactly why they evolved this trait, but the best guess anyone's come up with is that they did it so they could look cool when they perch on the arm of a sofa . (22) Does Joel Furr like fish? No. He hates fish. When he was a kid, he used to eat Fish Filet sandwiches from McDonald's with great satisfaction. This all changed when he had two bad encounters with fish which forever traumatized him. First, at the age of six or so, he happened one summer to be at the house of relatives in Florida who served up a big batch of fried mullet for dinner one night. It looked fairly nasty -- big platters of fried fish with bones and stuff sticking out -- and smelled worse. Joel didn't want to eat any, but nothing else had been cooked for dinner. Squeamishly, Joel ate a few bites, then decided hunger was preferable to eating mullet. Unfortunately, even the few bites he ate were a few bites too many. Joel developed debilitating nausea and a king-hell case of the hives which lasted for a week or so, the result of massive and previously unknown food allergies to mullet. It turned him off on eating fish in general. Second, while visiting relatives in North Carolina a year or two later, he went fishing with an uncle and promptly caught a little orange sunfish, which, in its gasping and wriggling and bulging of eyes and so forth so shocked and startled the young Furr that he dropped his pole and sprinted off, leaving his uncle to release the fish from the hook and put it back into the water. For some reason, this encounter left Furr with a lifelong aversion to fish -- he's not afraid of them but can't stand the thought of touching them, much less eating them -- and the allergy to mullet helps justify his dislike of fish to people who, annoyingly, insist that he'd really like fish if he just tried it. It's a phobia. No, it doesn't make sense. That's what makes it a phobia. (23) How 'bout them Dawgs? Gooooooooooooo Dawgs! Sic 'em! Woof woof woof woof woof! (24) Is Joel a Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or what? Joel is a registered Democrat; this is not to say that he's of a particularly liberal bent, but rather, that he supports the broad goals of the Democratic Party and opposes the "morals-based" legislative agenda of the Republicans. Joel was 13 in 1981 when President Reagan took office. He spent his high school years watching Reagan's insane lies and deranged, senile babblings on the news each night during dinner and, as a result, developed a lifelong antipathy to the twisted Newspeak of the Republican Party. He's not real fond of the Libertarians either, though, because most Libertarians he's known have been so selfish and "it's MY money why should I pay ONE RED CENT to help the POOR"-oriented that he's learned to ignore them. Furr worked for a little over two years in a public library and learned the importance of basic governmental services such as libraries. Libertarians would have you believe that we should ban such services and let for-profit libraries come into being -- never mind the fact that a lot of residents of Furr's hometown in Appalachia couldn't afford basic telephone service much less "luxuries" like a for-profit library. What would happen to the poor in a world where the Libertarian Party has closed down all the libraries (i.e., the creation of an illiterate, ignorant underclass) does not seem to matter to the Libertarians. As someone put it recently, you don't see a lot of poor Libertarians. People only become Libertarians when they decide "hmm, okay, I've made a lot of money, it's time to change the rules so I don't have to share it with anyone or pay for any government services." But anyway, in the end Furr is like many other people in this day and age in that he tends to vote against candidates rather than for them. The Republicans being such odious walking piles of garbage and the Libertarians being so completely out in left field, this means that he typically votes Democratic. (25) What's in those bottles in the back of Joel Furr's refrigerator? The Coca-Cola bottle and the Cobb Mountain Natural Spring Water bottle are full of salt water from the Pacific Ocean off San Francisco, California, collected from the surf near Seal Rock during Joel's vacation to California in July of 1995. The bottle marked "Cuzcatlan" which appears to contain cloudy, stagnant water is actually a bottle of Cuzcatlan "soursop" soda which Joel picked up at a Mexican grocery in Durham out of curiosity and which he decided he might be better off not drinking when he noticed that the ingredients consisted solely of "water, propylene glycol, vegetable gum, and glyceryl abietate." The bottle of Shasta tonic water with about one gin-and-tonic's worth of tonic missing is just that, a partially consumed bottle of Shasta tonic water. It dates from the summer of 1988 and has been with Joel through five apartments and one house. (26) Where do bad people go when they die? Gatlinburg, Tennessee. (27) When's the best time to go to an amusement park? Well, if you ask in terms of when will you find short lines and so forth, experience shows that it's best to go during a full-fledged tropical storm. One day in 1995, Joel Furr went to the "Carowinds" amusement park in Charlotte, North Carolina on a day when Tropical Storm Jerry was approaching and torrential rains were already falling. Joel had come to town to see Warren Zevon in concert that night and had decided to drive down early to visit Carowinds as well. It was raining when the park opened at 10:00 a.m., it rained hard most of the day, and it was still raining when Joel left at 8:00 p.m. The park stayed open throughout the day and there were actually some minor lines around 1 p.m., but most of the day, the lines on the coasters were so short that you could just stay on the coasters and ride continuously for hours. Joel went on something like 30 or 40 coaster rides in one day, then left, soaking wet and chafed all over, to see Warren Zevon. It was not until the next day that Joel and friends (who'd driven down and met him at the concert) read in the newspaper about how Tropical Storm Jerry had brought extensive property damage, flooding, and a few drowning deaths to the Charlotte vicinity. "Oh," Joel said. "That explains why it was raining all day." (28) What's wrong with Joel Furr's blood? Joel has a rare blood trait known as "thalassemia trait" (or, in some references, "thalassemia minor" or "beta thalassemia"), an asymptomatic condition marked primarily by smaller, less mature red blood cells and a different type of hemoglobin from that of normal blood. It is theorized that this condition in some way aids survival in malarial regions, inasmuch as the trait is found primarily in people who live in or trace their ancestry to southern Europe (Italy, Greece, Cyprus, etc.) and south Asia, as well as certain other warm regions plagued by malaria. The trait is only dangerous to those whose parents both had it -- a child whose parents both had thalassemia trait would have a 50% chance of having thalassemia major, a condition that is usually fatal within the first few years of life. Note: this is not the same thing as sickle cell anemia. Joel's father, brother, and sister all have this trait -- but were misdiagnosed for years as having a similar trait known as "hemoglobin C." Medical science of the period 1950-1980 didn't know to look for thalassemia minor unless you specifically told them to, evidently, because Joel, his father, and his sister were all misdiagnosed. The unfortunate side of this is that Joel was treated as a child with iron supplements, which won't do a single thing to help with thalassemia minor, until someone finally noticed they weren't changing anything... and worse, for years he was told that he wasn't permitted to donate blood. Given the zealous manner in which many blood drive volunteers waylay passersby and demand a contribution to the cause, it made life annoying at times to carry a rare blood trait which was on the American Red Cross's banned list. When Joel finally found out, in the mid-1990's, that he did not in fact have hemoglobin C and instead had thalassemia minor, he checked with the Red Cross and was told "yeah, we can accept donors with that condition." Joel has wasted little time since this news -- he's given blood as often as possible since Christmas of 1996, when he first donated. Joel plans to make up for lost time. Interestingly, it turns out that Joel's blood, for all that it has small and slightly different red blood cells, is nonetheless quite desirable to the blood bank people. When Joel got his first donor card in the mail, his blood type was printed on it as well -- and to Joel's surprise, his blood type was the most desirable of all: O Negative... the so-called "Universal Donor" type. (29) What is that thing at the bottom of that big glass jar full of water? A small plastic rubber octopus. It likes it there. (30) Will seagulls eat small chunks of pork barbecue? Apparently not. They ate everything else Joel threw to them, up to and including gravel, but they spit out the pork barbecue. Ingrates. (31) St. Patrick's Day is a festive, cheery holiday wherein we celebrate our Irish heritage, affecting bad Irish accents and wearing green. How does Joel Furr celebrate the holiday? He wears orange. Every year, without fail. Orange. Orange, for your information, is the Irish Protestant color, and while Joel isn't a practicing Protestant either, he figures that an obstinate insistence on wearing orange is a good symbolic protest against the St. Patrick's Day holiday. If anyone has an explanation for why one ethnic group has managed to wangle themselves what amounts to a national holiday for their patron saint, celebrating alcoholism and leading zillions of idiots without a drop of Irish blood in their body to wander around saying "Aye and begorra" one day each year, Joel would like to hear it. And in any case, drunken driving doesn't become okay because it's St. Patrick's Day. Take a damn cab home, or don't go out in the first place. (32) Is it true that Joel Furr's car has a guardian spirit? Actually, yes. A small lemur statue, "Bondo" by name, sits on the rear shelf and theoretically keeps the car and all its passengers safe from harm. (33) Hey, isn't that song "YMCA" that they play at baseball games really cool? Or, to put it another way, isn't it really cool the way minor league baseball teams have taken to playing "YMCA" over the public-address system at every game, leading thousands of idiots who wouldn't know a fielder's choice or a suicide squeeze if it came along and bit them to turn out in large numbers night after night for no other reason than to stand up in the sixth inning and sing a lousy, annoying song that should have been left in the 1970's, in a stomach-turning display of human futility that rivals Catholic family planning efforts for utter stupidity? The answer: "Um, well, no. But at least it does help us identify those who'll be first in line for the public executions when the revolution comes." (34) What's that chunk of powdery concrete atop Joel Furr's bookcase? It's a big piece of the Berlin Wall that Julia Youngman, one of Joel Furr's older sisters, chopped out of the Wall in November or December of 1989 during the big feeding frenzy as the Wall fell. At least, that's what Julia says it is. She came back from Army duty in Europe with a suitcase full of concrete, but for all any of the recipients know, she chipped those chunks off a concourse pillar at Dulles International on her arrival in the USA. No Communists have shown up asking for the chunk back yet, but you never know. (35) Does Joel have a wife? Fortunately, yes. Her name is Carole and he met her in real life at a convention of sorts in suburban Maryland around the end of October 1995, then spent a solid month and a half exchanging email with her before they decided to arrange another meeting to determine whether or not relationship potential was present. Joel visited Carole at her home in northern Virginia in mid-December and spent part of a cold, windy Sunday afternoon strolling around the Mall in Washington, DC. As Carole and Joel were strolling past the Washington Monument, they were accosted by an ABC-TV news crew which was there interviewing tourists about the federal budget crisis which had caused all the monuments to be closed to the public that day. Carole and Joel were happy to mutter darkly about Congressional Republicans for the camera and then went on their merry way, not really expecting to make the evening news that night or anything like that. Wrong-o. Carole and Joel did make "World News Tonight" that night - one of only two tourist interviews from that afternoon that made it onto the air (the other, which came immediately before Carole and Joel's interview, was of a cranky old guy who likewise blamed the idiots in Congress as being responsible for the shutdown). Fifteen seconds of irritated grumbling, tops, but how many other couples can truthfully claim that their first date wound up being nationally televised? Joel and Carole were married in September of 1997; the ceremony was held on Saturday, September 13 in the Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. They honeymooned in south Florida and are now making their home in Vermont. (36) What's the greatest cinematographic achievement of all time? That would be "Repo Man," starring Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton. The life of a repo man is always intense. (37) What is a Hokie? The term "Hokie" has been applied for over a hundred years to members of the athletics teams at Virginia Tech (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, located in the mountains of southwest Virginia), informally for much of that time and formally since the mid-1980's. Virginia Tech, a former military school, originally played under the name "Cadets" and then, later on, switched to the nickname "Fighting Gobblers" because, believe it or not, the members of the football team tended to have prodigious appetites. "Fighting Gobblers" is not exactly the sort of team nickname which strikes fear into the hearts of opponents, so "Hokies" was often used as an informal substitute. In the mid-1980's, under the tenure of head football coach and athletic director Bill Dooley, "Hokies" became the official team name, replacing "Fighting Gobblers," which nonetheless remained plastered across the outside of Lane Stadium ("HOME OF THE FIGHTING GOBBLERS"). Which brings us once again to the question, "What is a Hokie?" We now understand that the term refers to a Virginia Tech athlete, but we have yet to determine where the term came from. It's simple: it's a nonsense word which a student in the 1890's, one O.M. Stull, included in a cheer he submitted to a contest which was being held to pick a new school cheer. Said cheer went something like this: "Hokie, Hokie, Hokie, Hi Tech, Tech, VPI Solarex, solarah Polytech Virginia Ray, rah, VPI, TEAM TEAM TEAM" Okay, so it's a fairly lame cheer, but in the old days, things like that were all the rage. "Hokie" didn't mean anything -- it was simply filler to stretch out the first line so it could end in a word that would rhyme with the "I" in "VPI." Now, Wahoos (the hopeless, hapless denizens of the University of Virginia, a sort of technical and vocational school located in Charlottesville, Virginia) will tell you that "Hokie" means "a castrated turkey." Since you can't really castrate turkeys, you'd think the Wahoos would realize that their retroactive definition makes no sense, but sadly, asking a Wahoo to make sense is usually asking for more intellectual capacity than he or she has got. (38) What instrument did Joel Furr play in the Blacksburg High School band? Alto saxophone. And damned badly, too. (39) What does Joel typically say when someone asks him, rhetorically, how he is? "Paralyzed by fear. You?" (40) What's the best sort of implement to use when eating ice cream? Tiny little wooden spoons, the sort that look like they were cut en masse out of some thin piece of wood. You can get them in large quantities at Francesca's on Ninth Street in Durham, North Carolina. They're fun to eat ice cream with and they're environmentally friendly. (41) What clubs and organizations does Joel Furr belong to? Joel has never been much of a joiner in the sense of signing up for clubs and organizations; he prefers to have his free time to himself rather than having to head out to some meeting each night of the week. He belonged to the Demosthenian Society when he was a student at the University of Georgia and belonged briefly to two professional associations when he was in graduate school but never attended any events or conferences. Joel dislikes the petty politics that plague many organizations and prefers to remain aloof from the madding crowds who use their officership in various organizations as some sort of ego fix. That being said, he has belonged to Toastmasters International, the world's largest public-speaking education organization, since July 1, 1989, and has served in several District Officer positions, including two terms as a Division Governor and one partial term as Lieutenant Governor Marketing in District 66 (central, eastern, and western Virginia) and one term as Public Relations Officer for District 37 (North Carolina). He earned his DTM (Distinguished Toastmaster) award in 1993 after four years of membership and has also received the ATM (Able Toastmaster) Bronze speaking certification. Joel has served as a sponsor for three new Toastmasters clubs (CELCO Toastmasters, #8108-66, ISE Toastmasters, #8976-66, and Bull City Toastmasters, #9891-37) and has served two terms as a Club President (one term with Christiansburg Toastmasters, #3715-66 and one term with Bull City Toastmasters, #9891-37). Toastmasters is the only organization he's ever taken very seriously and that was mainly the result of boredom and en nui during graduate school -- serving as a Toastmasters officer gave him something to do that brought him into contact with people. The organization is worthwhile and has helped many people become better communicators but, sadly, the organization at the state level is often plagued by the same sort of petty politics and infighting that Joel prefers to avoid at all costs. Joel is relatively inactive in Toastmasters these days. (42) What's Joel Furr's ethnic and socioeconomic background? Joel is, to be blunt, highly educated white trash -- the scion of generations of poor crackers in rural North Carolina and Florida. He does not come from any clear-cut European ancestral background -- he's your basic American mongrel, not precisely what you'd call Anglo-Saxon and not precisely derived from the British Isles. At least one great-grandmother was still speaking Dutch most of her life and he does have a blood trait which is predominantly found in peoples of Mediterranean descent. His family, on both sides, has been resident in the rural South for so many years that the country of origin of any branch of the family is mostly guesswork. His earliest known ancestor, one Henry Furr (or, perhaps, Heinrich Furrer), is recorded as having arrived in the Carolinas in 1742, having come from Zurich in Switzerland. However, there are currently no Furrs listed in the Swiss telephone directory so it's anyone's guess as to whether Henry Furr was actually Swiss or whether he had just traveled there from elsewhere before journeying onward to America. In any case, Furr's ancestors, once they reached America, made their homes in the South and generally avoided those states north of the Potomac and Ohio. Furr has, as far as anyone can determine, exactly zero blood relatives who originate north of the Mason-Dixon line. His mother and father grew up in the Depression-era South: his father's father was a textile mill foreman in rural North Carolina and his mother's father was a mostly-unemployed jack-of-all-trades and farmer in a rural area on Florida's Gulf Coast. Both parents came from families where no one had ever gone to college yet both parents not only strove and toiled and studied and made it to college, but did so well that they each received master's degrees (father, in nuclear physics; mother, in botany). Both parents went on to Duke University to work on doctorates -- and that's where they met, in a required language class the morning after Furr's father had put in an all-night shift working on the campus Van de Graaf generator. His father asked his mother, a total stranger at the time, if she wanted to get a cup of coffee. When class ended that day, she followed him out of class and when he got done being confused at the fact that she'd actually followed him, a relationship was born. Unfortunately, only Furr's father finished his Ph.D -- his mother worked on hers for years but stopped just short. Furr's father earned his doctorate in nuclear physics from Duke and was offered a tenure-track position at Virginia Tech, but Tech made it clear that their anti-nepotism policy would prevent them from offering Furr's mother any position at all even if she finished her Ph.D. in plant physiology. Lacking the motivation to finish a Ph.D. that she would not get to use in any meaningful way, Furr's mother never finished her studies. Furr's father, a full professor, worked for many years at the nuclear reactor at Virginia Tech and, when that program was slated for downscaling and eventual closure, moved to the new Safety department to head up Virginia Tech's occupational safety efforts. Furr's mother, on the other hand, spent several years as a bored housewife, taking part in university events as a professor's wife until children finally started to arrive in the mid-1960's. After years spent raising kids and being a housewife, she finally took a job at the local public library -- and, by the mid-1980's, was running the place. Furr's parents both retired in 1995. They did all right for ignorant crackers from the rural South. Furr was born in September 1967 in Roanoke, Virginia (Blacksburg, home of Virginia Tech, had no hospital at the time), but grew up in the college town of Blacksburg, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwestern Virginia. Blacksburg is home to Virginia's largest university but is surrounded by extremely rural parts of Appalachia to the north, south, and west -- the sort of places that have only one stoplight in the entire county. Montgomery County, where Blacksburg is located, was only somewhat less rural, and that was entirely the result of Virginia Tech. You can still go a few miles north or south from Virginia Tech and be right in the midst of darkest Appalachia. Furr does not speak with much of an accent despite growing up in Appalachia, a relatively accent-laden part of the country. This was largely the result of the averaging effect a college town has on the accents the students, faculty, and staff bring with them. With so many competing accents, everyone tends to wind up speaking Standard American before too long. On the other hand, when he wants to, when he's especially tired, or when he's talking to someone with an Appalachian or Southern accent, a muted but nonetheless bona fide cornball Suth'n accent does sneak out. Furr is very proud of growing up in Appalachia in much the same way that residents of Hell's Kitchen have convinced themselves that it's a fine thing to have grown up surrounded by squalor and ignorance. Furr's parents were well-to-do and Furr had ready access to all the books he wanted so he wasn't exactly wading in squalor or ignorance, but he saw both every time he drove out of Blacksburg and into the surrounding countryside. Even so, there are worse places to grow up in than the Appalachian Mountains. The countryside around Blacksburg is rolling and mountainous and beautiful and the Jefferson National Forest starts only two miles or so north of town. Furr feels awkward and out of sorts when he's visiting any part of the country that's especially flat and that doesn't have lots of trees. Trees are important. So in conclusion, it's fairly hard to say what Joel's ethnic group is or say "Joel's a ________." "White trash from Appalachia" is as good a term as any to describe him. He's not a WASP by any means: he's white, but not precisely Anglo-Saxon (though many of his forebears did come from England and Scotland), and he's never been a member of any church congregation at all, much less a practicing Protestant. Thus, he's never invited to join the good country clubs or included on the right mailing lists. C'est la vie. (43) Define "good eatins." "Good eatins" is a term often used in the South to refer to especially tasty, filling food: "Man, them's good eatins" or "Good eatins on that there hog." Good eatins can refer to a tasty cauldron of Brunswick stew, an expertly-barbecued pig, a fried chicken dinner with all the trimmings, or even so prosaic a meal as a bowl of pinto beans with onion on top and a piece of cornbread on the side. One thing that Southerners understand is that food need not be heavily seasoned or cost a lot to be filling and worthy of the term "good eatins." Simple food is often the best kind of food. Case in point: Joel Furr traveled to the mountain town of Galax, Virginia to attend the Galax Old Fiddlers' Convention one August when he was in graduate school, not being a fiddler himself but mainly just wanting to listen to an evening's worth of bluegrass and mountain music. Some friends from graduate school, all Utahns or otherwise Mormons who didn't know much about Appalachia, came along as well. Upon arriving at Felt Park in Galax, the traveling party from Blacksburg hit the midway for food. The Mormons cringed at some of the things being passed off as food by the locals and settled on "fajitas" -- which turned out to be ground beef and Cheez Whiz served hot in a pita pocket -- while Joel Furr instinctively headed for the "Beans" stand. This stand had the longest line at the midway and every man jack in that line was there to get a bowl of pinto beans with diced onion sprinkled on top and a piece of cornbread on the side. Joel toddled away from the stand when he'd received his food and immediately came in for astounded looks of confusion from his friends who could not conceive of anyone waiting in line for a bowl of beans with cornbread. "Them's good eatins," Joel explained, gesturing at the beans with his piece of cornbread. "Uh huh," his friends said, disbelievingly. Joel shrugged and tucked into his beans, enjoying his meal and feeling happy and content when done -- while his friends ate their "fajitas," faces wrinkled with disgust. Bright yellow cheese goo on ground beef, apparently, was not quite the haute cuisine that his friends had expected it to be -- while beans are pretty damned hard to mess up. Evidently, the concept of "good eatins" is unknown among the Latter-Day Saints -- while the rednecks from Appalachia know a good thing when they see it. (44) Joel Furr visited Las Vegas in July 1995 for the better part of a day. How much money did he gamble? How much did he lose? Not one red cent. Knowing that the odds were overwhelmingly in favor of his losing and that it's hard to stop after just one slot machine pull, Joel cleverly left the slot machines and gaming tables completely alone. His time in Las Vegas was spent wandering around the Strip eyeing the other tourists, looking at the lights, sipping a giant Margarita, and finally, going to see a Rockettes show at the Flamingo. Sadly, the 200-foot-tall video screen at the Circus-Circus which Hunter S. Thompson made famous in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was not there anymore. The Flamingo didn't have Neutrogena soap in the rooms either. Apparently Thompson got it all 25 years ago and they never restocked. (45) What were the schools in Blacksburg, Virginia like when Joel Furr was growing up there? Montgomery County, Virginia is a very rural county in the sticks of Appalachia which, for reasons best explained elsewhere, happens to be home to Virginia's largest university, Virginia Tech. The local schools, therefore, had a very split personality. Most of the schools in the county were geared toward the kids of the locals, few of whom had any plans at all to attend college and who wanted vocational and business classes and lots of 'em. The schools in Blacksburg proper, on the other hand, had student bodies that were about half locals and half kids of the Virginia Tech professors, with a small additional population of the kids of the local orthodontists and doctors stuck in the middle and usually identifying with the professors' kids. You might think that the local school system, faced with a large minority population of very bright children, would take some steps to make sure that all the kids got good educations, making sure that each child was presented with challenges and material appropriate for his intellectual level. You might even think that they'd try to put all the really bright kids in some sort of gifted and talented program. You'd be wrong, though -- because Montgomery County intentionally tried to slow the bright kids down so they couldn't be accused of elitism (gifted and talented programs being considered elitist, you see) and so the teachers could teach at the level of the lowest common denominator. To cite but one example, Joel Furr was reading at a second grade level before he entered kindergarten and had advanced so far by the time he entered first grade that he read his entire "Your First Reader" -- which had been intended to last him all year -- on the first day of school. The teachers and administrators at his school, not wanting to have to deal with a child who was four or five grade levels beyond what they were trying to teach the other kids, simply stuck Joel off in a second-grade reading group in order to "challenge" him. Joel's parents were pleased that their son had been moved up to a second grade reading group, but what they didn't know was that the group in question was actually made up of the kids who were considered so stupid and unteachable that they didn't actually do any reading during the reading period but instead were taken down to the gymnasium to play dodgeball (which the local kids called "bombardment") for two hours each day. Joel, not knowing any better, simply played dodgeball some days and other days snuck off to the school library and read on his own. By the time Joel Furr reached high school, the school system had developed three "tracks" for the kids in grades 9-12. You could be in the "vocational" track, the "college-bound" track, or the "honors" track. The college-bound and honors tracks were a lot alike except that the kids in the honors classes were actually presented with less work in an apparent attempt, once again, to slow them down. It came as a surprise to the honors students to find that the college-bound English classes were reading more books and writing more papers than they were. Joel Furr took all the honors classes Blacksburg High School offered -- social studies and English classes, mainly -- and even though he was so painfully bored by school that he rarely if ever took homework seriously (assuming he did it at all), he was always stuck in the honors classes again the next year. Why, you ask, was he placed in the honors classes year after year if he had lousy grades? Simple: to keep him away from the "normal" kids in the college-bound track. That's why all the bright kids were in the honors program -- to keep them from disrupting the "college-bound" classes. At least, that's the conclusion all the bright kids tended to come to, especially after they found out that the "college-bound" classes were in many ways tougher. The honors students tended to get classes where the teacher discussed "fire imagery" in Arthur Miller's The Crucible for days on end. Wheee! In addition to creating the so-called "Honors ghetto," the schools also created a Gifted and Talented program by the early 1980's -- and Joel Furr was, of course, in said program. This meant that he was bused along with all the other bright kids to the high school in the county seat, Christiansburg, one day per year to be shown a day's worth of art films, short films, and films like "The Wizard of Speed and Time." That was it. That was the "Gifted and Talented" program. Uh huh. Gifted and Talented program, my ass. Quite a few of Joel's peers did get decent educations despite the school system and made it into universities like Brown and Duke and the University of Chicago, but Joel simply hadn't cared enough to jump through the hoops necessary to get decent grades. Classwork had been so utterly boring and full of busy-work assignments that he spent most of high school with his nose in a book. He wound up attending the University of Georgia. Thank Heaven for high SAT scores -- with his grades alone, he would have been lucky to get into a community college. (46) Where does Carole, Joel Furr's wife, come from? Carole claims to have been born on the coast of California, near Monterey, in the town of Pebble Beach. After moving from the town of Pacific Grove at age 5, she spent the rest of her childhood just outside Dayton, Ohio, in a town called Oakwood. Since graduating from high school, she has lived in Cambridge Massachusetts), Baltimore, and northern Virginia. She now lives in Durham, North Carolina. This is the version of events made available for public consumption, however - the real truth is far stranger yet. In actuality, Carole is a California sea otter in human form. Her people (the otters), curious about the game of golf which was regularly played by the humans in Pebble Beach, selected her to be sent among the humans to learn this strange game and bring back its secrets. She was left, clutching a putter in her tiny little otter paw, on the thirteenth green at the Pebble Beach golf course in hopes that golfers would discover her and take her among them to learn the secrets of golf. Unfortunately, two humans who were simply touring the golf course happened to stumble upon the little otter girl and took her back to live with them. Over time, she came to resemble the humans she lived with more and more until you can hardly tell by looking at her that she's a sea otter at all. (47) Who is the Official Stooge of alt.fan.joel-furr? That would be Joe Littrell of Amherst, Massachusetts. When Joel Furr was courting Carole in December of 1995, he wanted to send her an East Carolina University sweatshirt anonymously to try to hint to her that she should consider moving to North Carolina. Joel asked for a stooge on alt.fan.joel-furr; Joe Littrell volunteered; Joel sent the shirt to Joe to send to Carole and Joe graciously complied. Unfortunately, when Carole got the package, she instantly guessed who the true sender of the shirt was and never even looked at the return address or postmark until after she'd told Joel "thanks for the sweatshirt" and got asked "didn't the postmark fool you?" Sigh. Okay, so it didn't exactly come off as planned, but Joe Littrell nonetheless earned the title of "Official Stooge." All hail the Stooge; long may he reign. (48) What exactly is "hungus?" No one knows. At least one theory exists that it has to do with the substances crusted on and life forms found growing on Joe Cochrane's bathroom floor, but since all scientists who have attempted to analyze said substances and life forms have gone instantly mad, it seems doubtful that a descriptive term having to do with said substances and life forms would have entered the scientific jargon. At present, therefore, "hungus" must remain undefined. (49) What is the name of the night manager at the International House of Pancakes franchise on Baxter Street in Athens, Georgia? Hector. (50) What is Joel Furr's best category in Trivial Pursuit? Geography. Joel's a serious map junkie; he loves to pore over maps for hours and hours. One of his favorite hobbies is asking people where they're from and then, regardless of what they answer, somehow managing to ask a question that implies extreme familiarity with the locale cited. Given that he's managed, purely by accident, to absorb the names and general locations of hundreds if not thousands of towns and localities around the world as a result of his map-browsing, he can often startle people with this trick. (N.B.: it doesn't work very well when the person in question is expecting it.) It's not really a trick, though -- he really does know a lot about places around the globe and especially about the United States of America. It just seems like a trick to some people who tell him they're from, oh, Brooklyn, and then get asked "Which neighborhood? Flatbush?" The normal assumption is that Joel has been to said locality and knows it well -- when in fact, he generally only knows a few things about each locality and certainly hasn't been to every city in the USA and every country on the planet. Yet. Technically speaking, this "trick" is a form of the carnival skill called "cold reading," practiced by mediums, palmists, and so forth. By acting authoritative, speaking in ominous generalities, and making maximum use of any information the "mark" supplies, they can appear to have supernatural powers. Some "cold readers" are uncannily good. That doesn't mean they have psychic powers. (Neither does Joel.) (51) Who is Wally? Wally is a small gopherlike being who lives under Joel Furr's bed. Neither Joel nor his wife Carole is entirely sure how Wally came to dwell under the bed. Joel and Carole were doing some shopping for home furnishings in January of 1996 and happened to be at K-Mart loading up on paper goods, shelving, various chemicals, and so forth, when it occurred to them that what the apartment really needed was a small gopherlike being. Unfortunately, none of the employees of that particular K-Mart admitted knowing where the "Small Gopherlike Beings" section might be found. Joel and Carole were forced to return home, lacking the small gopherlike being they'd set their hearts on. As it happened, however, a small gopherlike being was found living under the bed a couple of days later, sitting in a small (gopher-sized) La-Z Boy armchair reading a copy of "No Exit" by Jean-Paul Sartre and chuckling to itself. This being answers to the name of Wally and seems hell-bent on gathering all the shoes in the apartment together under the bed where they can be used for purposes unknown. Wally competed on behalf of the Gopherlike Beings team in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. His event was solo kayaking -- this being one of the few events in which beings only one foot tall would not be at a large competitive disadvantage against the humans. He had wanted to compete in gymnastics -- Wally is very fond of brachiating -- but the oversized pommel horses and rings and such were just too large to make that practicable. Wally spent a week or so competing on the Ocoee River in southeastern Tennessee against his much larger opposition and, while he did not bring home a medal, nonetheless made his fellow gopherlike beings proud. Wally's e-mail address is wallyglb@furrs.org. (52) Where can you go in Durham, North Carolina, to get "spaghetti and salmon cakes?" That would be the Pan-Pan Diner, located just off I-85 at the Hillandale Road exit. For reasons unknown, virtually every category of food on the Pan-Pan Diner's menu offers the option of salmon cakes on the side. The menu lists, for example, "pancakes and sausage," "pancakes and bacon," and "pancakes and salmon cakes." Salmon cakes are available as an option on dozens of items, up to and including "spaghetti and salmon cakes." No one knows why. (53) What is Joel Furr's favorite soft drink? Coca-Cola. He always preferred Coca-Cola to Pepsi-Cola when he was a child -- partly because he preferred the taste of Coke to Pepsi and partially because Pepsi's negative attack ads (which attempted to convince people that only squares and idiots drank Coca-Cola) irritated the living hell out of him. This preference for Coca-Cola was reinforced when he was in college at the University of Georgia. Coke machines were everywhere on campus and there wasn't a Pepsi machine to be seen. Coca-Cola's stockholders and founders and such had been very good to the University over the years and accordingly, no one at the university had much inclination to supplant Coke with a competing soda. The Athens community at large seemed to share this sentiment -- it was not unusual to walk into a convenience store and see two- liter jugs of Coca-Cola, stored at room temperature in the middle of the floor, outselling refrigerated two-liter jugs of Pepsi on sale at half the price. Coca-Cola would usually sell out entirely at any given convenience store before any great dents would be made in the Pepsi supply at all. Things reached the point of ultimate absurdity when, in 1986, the Coca-Cola company celebrated its centennial and, to remind us all which side our bread was buttered on, sponsored a special halftime celebration at a UGA football game which featured dancing Coca-Cola cans. Parenthetically, one of the dancing cans of Coca-Cola deflated spontaneously during the show and the person inside went on dancing merrily, apparently unable to tell that the inflated cylinder he or she was wearing was now hanging on him or her like a bright red shroud. Joel finished college a confirmed Coca-Cola addict, sadly, and only through great effort was able to switch to drinking Diet Coke in graduate school. Had he not succeeded in this effort, his two-liter-per-day Coke habit would probably have caused him to balloon to 300 pounds. Thank God for Diet Coke -- Joel remains a healthy 6'2" 210-pounder. (54) How many fingers am I holding up? Six. (55) Do we need more plastic cups? You bet. (56) What color should mayonnaise be? Yellow. Real mayonnaise, e.g. Duke's Mayonnaise, is yellow. (57) What is Joel Furr's astrological sign? If you believe in astrology, Joel Furr would be a Virgo, as he was born on September 20, 1967 at about 4:30 in the afternoon. If you have half a clue, however, you'll know that astrology is a bunch of utter bunkum, a pseudoscience not worthy of the billions of column-inches dedicated to it in magazines and newspapers each year. For one thing, the astrological tables developed millennia ago (to make it possible to generate horoscopes even on cloudy nights) contained errors which, over time, have accumulated to the point that the calculations of which planet is in which constellation are totally off. Evidently, actually going outside and looking at the sky to demonstrate that Venus is not in Aries at the current moment, despite what your friendly local astrologer might say, is too complicated for most people. Furthermore, a moment's consideration of the laws of physics should make it obvious that the obstetrician or midwife has a greater gravitational influence on a newborn child than any planet other than Earth. Finally, actually looking at horoscopes in the newspaper or the more detailed horoscopes you can purchase at supermarket checkout counters will make it obvious that the horoscopes are recycled from month to month and can't possibly begin to predict what will happen to 1/12 of the world's population on any given day. Needless to say, those who are ardent believers in astrology will retroactively interpret the way events actually take place to the benefit of the astrologers: "Well, my horoscope said I would meet a tall dark stranger who would bring me good fortune, and there was that guy who pulled up behind me at the light at the corner of Smyth Avenue and Winderly Street... and if he hadn't come to a stop behind me, he'd have totalled my car, so I guess he brought me good fortune. Wow, my horoscope was right!!!!" Uh huh. (58) What is Joel Furr's Myers-Briggs type? The last time he took the test, he got an ESTP result. The first time he took the test, he got an ENFP result. The E and the P are pretty certain: E for Extroversion and P for Perceiving (how one uses time, etc.), but the other two are indefinite. If you go by the actual personality descriptions in the various books that explain the Myers-Briggs test, the ESTP sounds more like Joel than does the ENFP. If you're not familiar with the test or the books that explain it, look in your local college library. Books include "Type Talk" and "Please Understand Me" but more may have come out since Joel was in graduate school and routinely being subjected to the scrutiny of Myers-Briggs aficionados. Joel can see that the Myers-Briggs has some validity, but still dislikes the emphasis some employers and administrators place on it. Dividing the human race up into sixteen basic personality types smacks of astrological mumbo-jumbo, even if there's somewhat more of a scientific basis to the Myers-Briggs than to astrology. Joel once worked for a man who was so into the Myers-Briggs that he had posted his own Myers-Briggs personality type on an engraved plastic sign on his office door: "You Are Now Entering 'INTJ' Zone." The "INTJ" was in big letters. Really. Once Joel grudgingly informed his boss what his Myers-Briggs type was, it was brought up over and over again for the rest of the two years that Joel worked for that office. A lot of the assignments Joel was given were prefaced by "You're an ESTP, so you'll love this." If an assignment turned out to be something Joel hated to do, he was told, with a big, cheerful smile, "No, you just don't understand it yet. This is exactly the sort of work you ESTP's love to do." Of course, this same boss once turned out all the lights in his office, sat in the dark wearing a hardhat, and muttered darkly to himself about all the North Vietnamese he had napalmed when he was a fighter pilot in Vietnam. Apparently INTJ's are good at napalming people, but they don't like it. (59) Where are your videos? Glassy smile. "I'm sorry, sir. We don't have any videos." Okay, okay, an explanation: when Joel Furr worked for the Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library system in southwestern Virginia, his job was to work the circulation desk, check books out and in, and answer reference questions that patrons brought to the desk or phoned in. Sadly, the clientele of the library were not exactly a bunch of rocket scientists and Joel and his co-workers wound up accumulating a lengthy list of utterly stupid questions that were asked over and over again by various of the local white trash. The most annoying of these was "Where are your videos?" For some strange reason, many of the patrons of the library had gotten the odd idea that a library was supposed to double as a video store and came up to the desk on occasion to ask where the videotapes were kept. You might be thinking "Well, sure, some libraries have educational videotapes and nature videotapes, so what's the big deal?" The big deal was that people weren't asking for educational videotapes or nature videotapes -- they were asking for recent-run movies that had only just come out on videotape in the stores, and when they were told "We don't have any videos," they'd gawk disbelievingly and then ask again to make sure they hadn't heard the librarians wrong. To be completely truthful, the library did in fact have two videos, both training videos the local Cub Scout troops had prevailed on the library system to keep under the desk for any Cub leaders who came by, but other than that, the place had no videos and had no plans to acquire any. With a limited budget, dollars had to be allotted between the bestseller books everyone wanted to read, children's books, books on tape, magazines, newspapers, and then general collection development. There was no money left over for luxuries such as videotapes, much less an extensive collection such as most of the patrons seemed to take for granted that the library must have hidden somewhere. On more than one occasion, conversations similar to this took place at the circulation desk: Patron: "Hi" Librarian: "Hi. Can I help you?" Patron: "Yes, where are your videotapes?" Librarian: "I'm sorry, we don't have any videotapes." Patron: "Oh, so you just have donated videotapes, educational tapes, nature tapes, and stuff like that?" Librarian: "No, we don't have any videotapes at all." Patron: "Oh, right. Well, could you show me where the instructional videos are kept?" Librarian: "We don't have any. We don't have any videotapes at all." Patron: "You mean you don't have any videotapes?" Librarian: "That's right, sir. We don't have any." Patron: "And you call yourself a library?" Grrrrr. (60) How is "Furr" pronounced? Some people pronounce "Furr" as though it was spelled "Fyure" or ""Foor" or even more unlikely pronunciations. The name is actually pronounced exactly as though it had only one "r" -- in other words, like the word "fur" which we English speakers use to refer to the pelt of an animal. (61) What is the law? Not to spill blood. Are we not men? (62) Where do the keys go? The keys go under the sofa. Silly humans! (63) What are some of the nicknames that Joel Furr has gone by over the years? For some reason, Joel Furr has never had a great deal of luck getting people to call him by various nicknames. Joel has managed to get the people at his office to call him "Jay" (which, for some odd reason, sometimes means that he gets called "Jaybird") but none of his friends seem able to make the switch from Joel to Jay. To his family and friends, "Joel" it is and "Joel" it appears it will always be. The only exceptions to this general rule came while Joel worked at the Hardee's on South Main Street in Blacksburg, Virginia from 1984 to 1985 during his senior year of high school and the summer that came after. Having found where the manager of the store kept the label-maker that made the label tape that went on the "Hardee's" nametags all the employees wore, Joel made himself a nametag that said "FLUFFY" and, when that one got old, another that said "STRUDEL." No one to speak of ever noticed, though he minced around as "STRUDEL" for months. Joel is trying to get people to call him "Jay" and is having slow success. You can call him whatever you like; he'll answer to either version of his name. (64) What happens when you put a real, formerly alive, ocean-bred sponge back in water? It comes back to life and devours you. Be warned. (65) What kind of underwear does Joel Furr wear? Until recently, Joel had been wearing plain white briefs -- had been wearing this style of undergarment his whole life, in fact -- but someone whom he feels is worth listening to has convinced him to begin wearing colored Jockey briefs. Any guesses who this might be? His new habiliments have resulted in occasional startled yelps ("Yah!") when he steps up to a bathroom fixture and sees crimson-colored fabric within when he opens his fly. Overcoming the habits of 29 years is not something that can be done overnight. (66) Who is the greatest cat of all time? The greatest cat of all time is Nubbins the Cat, a.k.a. Miss Kitty, Maximum Cat, Cuddles, Cat Nubbins, etc. etc. ad infinitum. Nubbins is a Jellicle cat and is therefore black and white in color. She is a somewhat rascally cat, but she means well. Nubbins is well-known among cats for her furriness, said furriness being of extremely high quality. Furthermore, while many cats are furry, and in fact cats in general are known for being furry, Nubbins takes furriness one step further. She keeps some of her furriness in reserve against the day when, due to emergency conditions or shortages elsewhere, it may be needed. Nubbins is a public-spirited cat. Caution should be exercised when petting Nubbins the Cat. While Nubbins loves everyone and is full of warmth and good cheer, she does at times chastise those who presume too much and pet her when she is not in a pettable mood. Such chastisement rarely leaves permanent scars or crippling injuries, however; Nubbins is a high quality cat. Joel Furr assumes no responsibility for the activities of Nubbins the Cat. Joel Furr accepts no liability for any property damage, personal injury, and/or breaches of national security which may take place as a result of her actions. Caution should be taken when approaching Nubbins the Cat when she is aboard her flying saucer; said saucer is capable of speeds well in excess of Mach 10, but Nubbins is at best an indifferent driver. (67) How can I embarrass myself in front of eight thousand people? If you attend a Durham Bulls baseball game, you can easily embarrass yourself in front of eight thousand people! During the sixth inning of each game, a lucky fan is selected and escorted out onto the field to try to throw a baseball through a hole in a large wooden target held up by two Bulls employees. The fan gets three tries. Most fans miss all three times... the hole is not much larger than a softball, say, and the target itself is held some distance away (usually about fifteen feet). If you get one ball through, you get a free Coke. If you get two balls through, you get a free Bulls cap. If you get all three balls through, you win a television or something. Rest assured that they don't give out a lot of televisions. Since you're actually on the playing surface, just to the right of the first base line in the foul area, you're easily visible from every seat in the ballpark -- and since the toss is done between half innings when the players are off the field, you're the main attraction for as long as it takes to get it over with. The fans boo or groan loudly with each miss and the contestant usually trots off the field, head hung low and feeling really stupid, night after night. If this sounds like something you would like to experience, it's easy to get yourself chosen as the lucky fan. All you have to do is be the first fan through the gates when the ballpark opens at six p.m. on game nights and go straight up to the Bulls employee selling scorecards and programs. The program is the same night after night -- it's a big color tabloid called "Bulls Illustrated." A new edition only comes out three times each season so it's not exactly a hot seller for the average fan. If you're the first or one of the first fans in the gate, you'll be assured of first dibs at the program stack that night -- and to make sure you're the lucky fan, all you have to do is buy four copies of the program. They're a dollar each, so it doesn't cost a lot. Smile broadly and walk away carrying your programs. When you're out of sight of the program stand, flip through the programs and find the signature of the Bulls' radio announcer, Steve Barnes, on the Mutual Drug ad somewhere in the program. Since they want to make sure that they have a "lucky fan" each night, they make sure and stick the signed copy somewhere in the top of the stack, usually no lower than the fourth copy down. By buying the top four copies in the stack, you've assured yourself of having the copy with Barnes' signature. This means that you are the "lucky fan" and can sheepishly report to the Fan Assistance Center during the middle of the fifth inning when they ask everyone to open their copies of "Bulls Illustrated" and look on pag e X for the Mutual Drug ad. The Bulls would probably be annoyed if you did this night after night, but so far no one has abused the opportunity. Anyone can be the "lucky fan" if you arrange things right. If you're going with friends to a game, get there before they do, buy the necessary number of copies of the program, toss all but two of the copies (the one with the signature and one other), and when your friends arrive, say "I bought a program but they gave me two by accident. Here, you can have the other copy" and give the intended victim the signed copy. Wait with concealed glee for the middle of the fifth inning when they ask everyone to pull out their copies, look in yours with feigned innocence, and then clap your friend on the back when he or she finds the signature in his or her copy. Hours of family fun -- and it only costs the cost of a game ticket ($4.50) plus $4.00 for your four programs. (68) Why does Joel Furr have so many strange and pointless pictures of himself and his friends on his Web page? Because people LOOK at them, that's why. There's no picture too pointless and boring that people won't look at it -- and besides, there actually are people who wonder what Joel looks like. The only people who complain are people who do web searches for "pictures," hoping to find pornography for viewing and downloading and instead find pictures of Joel Furr riding roller coasters and Joel Furr playing miniature golf. (69) What's special about the Duke University parking deck at the corner of Fulton Street and NC 147 in Durham, North Carolina? Due to its gargantuan size and excessive lighting, it's visible from orbit. The wattage alone used to illuminate the structure each night would suffice to power the Energizer Bunny for the next six and a half million years. (70) What fortune cookie does Joel Furr always get? "DO NOT LEAVE THIS RESTAURANT. PERIL AWAITS!" (71) What is "The Mother of All Rivers?" Oddly, "The Mother of All Rivers" is a term that has come to be applied to the James River of Virginia. Joel Furr once took a Government Administration class in graduate school; the class was mainly full of students from Furr's public administration department but there were also two students from the forestry and wildlife department, including one guy named John Stanovic. John had spent the previous summer working on a fisheries project on the headwaters of the James River near the West Virginia border. Accordingly, EVERY SINGLE TIME he was called upon to do a paper presenting some proposal, it'd be based on fisheries management in the upper James headwaters. And EVERY SINGLE TIME he mentioned the James in his classroom reports, he wouldn't just say "the James." He'd say "when I was working on the James..." pause for dramatic effect, then continue, "the mother of ALL rivers," and then go on. Every single freaking time. As far as any of the other students could tell, he barely even noticed himself doing this. Listening to this over and over again for the entire duration of a semester will take a toll on you. Consequently, even to the present date, eight years later, Joel Furr cannot help appending "the Mother of All Rivers" to any mention of the James River. John Stanovic, wherever you are, you're going to pay. (72) So, what was it like attending Georgia Tech? Joel Furr didn't attend Georgia Tech, you low-lives. The University of Georgia is the large land-grant comprehensive university located about an hour's drive northeast of Atlanta in the small city of Athens. It's home to programs in liberal arts, sciences, agriculture, human resources, business, law, veterinary medicine, and so on. It's probably best known as the alma mater of Heisman Trophy running back Herschel Walker, but it's also one of the oldest state universities and has a beautiful campus and many distinguished alumni. The University of Georgia is NOT the same institution as Georgia Tech, a.k.a. "The Georgia Institute of Technology". Georgia Tech, a.k.a. "Calculator Maggot University," is a substantially inferior school located in the middle of Atlanta, known mainly for its engineering programs and for being the site of the 1996 Olympics' athlete housing. Georgia Tech students do not bathe, use utensils at meals, or speak in coherent English much of the time. While it is of course rude to mock and make sport of the many inadequacies of Georgia Tech students, care should be taken to note the many ways in which the average Georgia Tech student falls short of the physical, mental, and social perfection exemplified by the average University of Georgia student in order to better distinguish the two schools' students and alumni. (73) What book is Joel Furr currently working on? "The Big Book of Hellish Vengeance." It'll be a coffee-table book suitable for holiday giving. Keep an eye out for it in your favorite bookstore. (74) Who the hell is "Yalin Ekici?" "Yalin Ekici," the loon who fills alt.fan.joel-furr with megabytes of drivel about the so-called Armenian genocide of Turks in 1914, is believed by many to be none other than Ahmet Cosar, the infamous "Serdar Argic" of soc.history and soc.culture.turkish fame. Cosar lost his access at the University of Minnesota in the spring of 1995 (apparently as a result of failing to register for classes two semesters in a row) and was absent from Usenet for a while. He returned with a vengeance later in the year under a new pseudonym, "Yalin Ekici," posting from ephesus@netcom.com. Since this new userid makes frequent reference to "Dr. Argic" and is recycling the old Argic library of propaganda, most people feel that this is none other than our old friend Cosar, back to his usual tricks. Netcom claims to have told "Ekici" to calm the hell down and stop spamming dozens of newsgroups with his idiotic drivel about the evil Armenians, and in fact, Cosar was quiet for a few days after Netcom said they'd reprimanded him. However, the period of quietude did not last long and Cosar returned to posting his idiocy with a vengeance and Netcom has remained mute to all requests for information on what, if anything, they are doing about the situation. Not for nothing is Netcom considered by many to be a less than exemplary member of the Internet community. In addition to posting under the pseudonym of "Yalin Ekici," Cosar also posts under the pseudonyms of "Arif Kiziltug" and "Murat Kutan," apparently in hopes of convincing the world at large that he's not a lone kook. Important safety tip: if you feel compelled to flame him, don't reply to his messages directly. The algorithm Cosar uses to locate articles to follow up to apparently searches for references to the message-id's of his old articles. In other words, he looks for responses to his articles and follows up to these responses with random attacks out of his library of inane propaganda. It seems odd to many that Cosar would go to such incredible lengths for such a bad cause. No one other than him, apparently, sincerely believes that Armenians committed genocide against Turks in 1914. It seems to be a continuing source of frustration to Cosar that, despite his best efforts, we all still go around believing that it was the Turks who did their utmost to wipe out every Armenian village they could find. Even though Cosar's claims are roughly analogous to someone claiming that Jews herded Germans by the millions into the gas chambers in 1939-1945, he goes right on posting, secure in his sick delusions. (75) What is the ultimate slow dancing song? "Nights in White Satin," by the Moody Blues. The meaning of the song is completely irrelevant -- the song was made to slow dance to. "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton is also a fine slow dancing song, but when you actually listen to the words, it's about a guy who gets drunk at a party and has to be shoveled into bed by his wife -- hardly the stuff of great romance. Carole, beacon of Joel Furr's existence and the radiant star who guides him through the day, feels that the ultimate slow dancing song is "Lady in Red," by Chris DeBurgh (better known as the guy who sang "Don't Pay the Ferryman"). She may have a point. (76) Who was President of Joel Furr's high school Science Club? Jimmy Page. Yes, the Jimmy Page. Joel Furr's high school, Blacksburg High School of Blacksburg, Virginia, encouraged membership in the various school clubs by setting aside one morning per month (or thereabouts) for club meetings to be held in lieu of classes. Attendance at clubs was essentially mandatory; if you didn't choose some club to go to, you had to spend all morning being watched a like a hawk in a study hall run by one of the more irritable teachers. Consequently, everyone found at least one club they could endure and attended its meetings each month. Those students who were either not eligible for or not interested in membership in clubs like the Leo Club, the Key Club, or the Fellowship of Christian Athletes had various clubs like the Spanish Club, the French Club, or, yes, the Science Club available to them. Since it was well-known that members of the Science Club got to see Dr. Wightman set himself on fire one day each year, the Science Club was the most popular club in the entire school most years and could count on raking in the lion's share of those students who were not otherwise inclined toward some of the more specialized clubs. The Science Club could be counted on to accomplish precisely nothing all year since each month's program consisted of someone's father (usually a physics or chemistry or biology professor from Virginia Tech) speaking on whatever it was he did for a living ... surface chemistry, nuclear physics, iguanas, whatever. Sitting boredly in the back of the room while someone's dad set himself on fire was as good a way as any to spend a morning but it wasn't the sort of thing that led people to take the club and its mission to encourage the study of science very seriously. Needless to say, it was no great honor to be elected President of the Blacksburg High School Science Club. That's how Jimmy Page got elected President of the Science Club. The first meeting of the year was always the meeting at which club officers were elected, and one year someone nominated Jimmy Page. Since the teacher who was the official sponsor of the Science Club didn't have a clue who Jimmy Page was, she wrote the nomination on the board with all the others and, after his nearly unanimous election, dutifully noted "James Page" down on the officers form that she had to turn in to the school office after the first meeting. Page never seemed to make it to meetings, oddly, so the club vice president always had to call meetings to order. (77) What is the secret of making great Bisquick pancakes? Damned if Joel Furr, or for that matter, ANY of the Scouts of Boy Scout Troop 44, could tell you. Without exception, during the years Joel Furr was a Scout, his troop always took a big box of Bisquick pancake mix along on camping trips (in addition to the other food). This was the case for two reasons. First, one of the Troop's Assistant Scoutmasters was Arthur "Torchy" Walrath, author of the official Boy Scout Cookbook. Torchy could do amazing things with Bisquick and the Scouts always made sure to have the raw materials close at hand, just in case Torchy came along on any given camping trip. Second, Bisquick was sort of a last-ditch emergency ration, just in case something bad happened to the other food that had been brought along. Without fail, something would happen to the bulk of the food -- often, the reason was simple: it was all eaten on the first night in a fit of orgiastic gluttony -- and by the final morning of the camping trip, the Scouts would be reduced to eyeing the box of Bisquick hungrily. Eventually, one would say "Well, this time we know what to do to get the pancakes to come out right" and the Great Experiment would resume. Bisquick, used by calm, sane cooks who are not crazed from smoke, cold, and exhaustion, can be used to make tasty pancakes and biscuits and so forth. On the other hand, the Scouts of Troop 44, indifferent cooks at best (the freeze-dried food they took along was usually eaten cold and uncooked, with a cup of two of water poured into the foil packets in a futile attempt at effective re-hydration) and hardly qualified as "sane" under the best of circumstances... and were usually so enervated by the exertions of the trip that they would double every measure called for on the back of the box and halve the cooking time. If it was necessary to leave out the eggs or oil or whatever because the Scouts didn't have any, then hey, so be it. Strict adherence to instructions was not a skill the Troop 44 Scouts had much familiarity with. The inevitable result was something unworthy of the name of "pancake" -- which consequently became known among the Scouts as a "fritter." Your average fritter weighed in at a pound and a half and was sufficiently dense that fritters became widely feared as weapons; a thrown fritter was dense and solid enough to knock down most anything it struck -- AND keep its shape after impact. Eating an entire fritter was out of the question -- it would have been like trying to put yourself outside an entire sack of Quikrete. A few bites were enough to rid a boy of the pangs of hunger and leave him feeling as though he'd mistaken a sandbag for a Pop-Tart. It was little wonder that the Scouts of Troop 44 were invariably running into each other at McDonald's immediately after returning to Blacksburg and being picked up by their parents at the church; without doubt, the parents of the troop knew without having to be told that their sons would go through the refrigerator like a threshing machine if other food were not found first. (78) Why didn't Joel Furr wind up in the military? Joel wanted to enter the military after graduating from Blacksburg High School in 1985; he even went so far as to apply for and interview for a Naval ROTC scholarship, knowing full well that if he was accepted into the program this would require him to complete a full term of military service after graduation. His older sister, Julia, had already entered Duke University on an Army ROTC scholarship, so Joel was hardly ignorant of what the program required of applicants or what the program would require Joel to do after graduation. It seemed like an excellent opportunity: get his education paid for, graduate, and get to see the world as a member of an honorable profession, serving the United States. Unfortunately, there was this problem... It happened like this: In November of 1984, Joel went down to be interviewed and evaluated by a Naval officer in Richmond, Virginia. The officer interviewed Joel and evaluated whether or not he'd make a good Naval ROTC cadet. Things were going pretty well during the interview -- well enough, in fact, that Joel's father was told, after it was over, that he could 'bet [his] paycheck on Joel getting a scholarship.' Evidently the interviewer thought highly of Joel. Unfortunately, Mr. Furr was being told this as he was half-helping, half-carrying Joel out to the car. Joel had felt more or less okay during the drive down from Blacksburg but had begun to feel feverish during lunch and had started feeling really bad during the interview. About halfway through the scheduled length of the interview, the room started to swim and Joel passed out. The interview was cut short, needless to say, but the interviewer assured Mr. Furr that it wouldn't negatively affect the report on Joel and that Joel was a sure thing as far as a Navy ROTC scholarship went. When the Furrs made it back to Blacksburg, three and a half hours away by car, Joel was running a high fever and was babbling deliriously. He was diagnosed the next day with a full-fledged case of pneumonia. That's right, pneumonia. As diseases go, there may well be worse ones to have, but Joel can't recommend lying on one's back for a solid month, too weak to move, as an exciting laugh-fest. When he was X-rayed the next day at the hospital, he was diagnosed as having one lung more or less entirely full of green goo and the other lung about halfway full. His parents didn't tell him until he was completely recovered that the doctors had thought there was a decent chance that he'd die. Joel recovered in a month or so, spending a solid four weeks in bed unable to do much more than roll over now and then and occasionally swallow whatever liquids his parents thrust at him. It wasn't fun. When he did finally make it back onto his feet and make it back to school, he wasn't exactly in good shape, muscle-wise. Consequently, when the time came a month or so later to take the ROTC physical fitness test, Joel performed somewhere around the fifth percentile of applicants. Spending a month in bed without moving isn't exactly going to tone one's body up to the levels desired by the United States military. Let's put it this way: Joel did not get the scholarship. Good thing Mr. Furr didn't bet his paycheck, eh? (79) What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to Joel Furr? People who know Joel well might think that the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to him was the time he vomited his guts out on the Monument to the Confederate War Dead in the middle of Athens, Georgia's main street, Broad Street, at 5:00 p.m. on a bright, sunny Friday afternoon. And admittedly, that was an embarrassing moment, but it fails to qualify as the most embarrassing moment inasmuch as Joel felt far too ill at the time of the incident to really care if he was embarrassing himself or not. Drinking six beers and six shots of tequila in the space of about seventy-five minutes will do that to you. No, the single most embarrassing thing that ever happened to Joel Furr has to be what happened early one summer morning during the summer of 1988. Joel had graduated from the University of Georgia in June of 1988 and was spending the summer in his home town of Blacksburg, Virginia waiting for his graduate school classes to start up that fall. He tried to find a job that summer but had little luck since no one much wanted to hire a recent college graduate whose main skill was that he could write a ten page English paper in about two hours on the day the paper was due, without having read the book the paper was supposed to be about, and still get an A. Accordingly, he spent the summer lounging about, not doing much of anything. Some days he'd drive up into the Jefferson National Forest, just north of Blacksburg, and float about on the calm and tranquil waters of eight-acre Pandapas Pond, out in the woods of the Forest. He had a black-and-yellow "two-man inflatable raft (not for life-saving purposes)" he'd picked up one summer at Cape Hatteras that served fairly well for one man if that one man happened to be six feet, two inches tall and was fond of lying on his back with a book held open on his chest. Most days, no one much came to the Pond except to walk around the circum-Pond trail and then leave again forty-five minutes later. Once in a while, someone would arrive with a canoe on top of their Wagoneer and spend a few hours paddling around the Pond while Furr floated on his back, ignoring them and reading whatever book he happened to have along. Then came the Day of the Girl Scouts. Joel was lying in the boat, half-drowsing, about nine-thirty in the morning one weekday morning when he heard a tumult from the parking lot and, a few minutes later, saw a platoon of Girl Scouts, probably Juniors, with a harried troop leader in tow, portaging silver canoes down to the Pond. The Scouts paired off and launched their canoes, voyaging out over the still waters of the Pond and chattering amiably as they paddled. This was not exactly the sort of thing Joel had wanted or expected when he'd decided to go down to the Pond that morning. It tended to break the mood something fierce; imagine Thoreau feeling as he did about Walden Pond if some idiots in canoes had routinely showed up and paddled about on days he was feeling philosophical. Joel was not entirely awake, nor entirely in a good mood, and thus he can't entirely be blamed for not foreseeing what happened next. Joel decided he would stand up in his boat and count how many Girl Scouts there were in all -- and if there were more than ten, he reasoned, the Pond could be considered "too crowded" and he would have a legitimate excuse to give up and go home. Standing up in the boat was no problem; the boat was like a big oval doughnut with a flat bottom and Joel could actually stand up in it fairly well and see around the Pond and count, "two, four, six, eight, ten, twelve, thirteen, and one troop leader, yeah, time to split." Just as he was making this decision, the bottom of the boat came free of the side of the boat and he plunged straight down, through the boat, and into the water of the Pond. From an observer's point of view, it must have looked as though Joel suddenly vanished, sucked down into the Pond by something lurking underneath the surface of the water. One moment, he was there; the next, he was gone. His boat began a somewhat slower collapse, its hull integrity destroyed by when the "deck" ripped free of the sides. Joel doesn't like fish. Pandapas Pond has fish in it. With no warning at all, Joel was down where the fish lived, and he didn't like it at all. Much in the same fashion that cartoon characters run on thin air, Joel rose up out of the water and moved like a Jet-Ski for the nearest land, which happened to be the nearby Pandapas Pond island, smack in the middle of the Pond. "Ignominy" doesn't begin to describe it. Here was Joel, soaked from head to toe, hunkered down on an island approximately the same size as a postage stamp like some sort of primeval amphibian gazing darkly over the Carboniferous swamps. There were the Girl Scouts, happily learning the ins and outs of canoe navigation and peering curiously at the spectacle on the island. What was Joel to do? Swim ashore and risk touching Pond fish? Sit there and hope the Scouts or their leader would discreetly come over and give him a lift to shore without asking too many embarrassing questions about what he'd thought he was doing when he stood up in a cheap plastic inflatable boat? As it happened, his bacon was saved when the troop leader noticed his dilemma and paddled the canoe she shared with one Scout over to the island and asked him if he needed any help. "Um," Joel said. History does not record how Joel explained what had transpired nor the manner in which he requested a lift to shore; presumably he managed somehow because in due order he was delivered onto the shore, ruined boat and all, and wished a good day by the over-cheery Girl Scouts. Suffice it to say that when Joel purchased a replacement boat for future nautical endeavors, he concluded that it would be best for all involved if he remained safely seated or supine when aboard and left standing and walking for when he had returned to dry land. (80) When did Joel Furr learn to read? Around age 3, or maybe a little earlier. Joel's younger brother Robin was born in late July 1970, two years and ten months after Joel's birth. Needless to say, the newborn required much care and attention and Joel's parents did not have the time necessary to closely supervise their other son. Consequently, they did anything they could to keep him occupied -- reading him a book and then handing him the book to page through while they attended to Robin. Joel would pore over the books for hours, looking at the pictures -- and, as it turns out, the words. It caught them by surprise when they realized one day that Joel was studying the pages with rather more concentration than one would expect of a child not quite yet three years old who didn't know how to read. "Read that to me," his mother ordered, pointing at a page. Joel did so. He read them the whole book. He had figured out how to read all by himself, based on comparisons between what his parents read to him and the corresponding marks on the pages. This caused Joel some problems later in life when he was light-years ahead of the other kids in kindergarten and first grade -- especially in kindergarten, where he'd already read all the books in the kindergarten library and had very little interest in sitting through storytime just to hear them read through again. It led to some fairly immediate problems when Joel was still a pre-schooler as well. Mrs. Furr did not always watch Joel closely when she was tending to Robin, assuming that Joel would keep busy with one of the dozens of easy-reading books in the house for a few minutes. Joel would read quietly and stay out of trouble -- but, as it happened, there's such a thing as too quiet. On occasion, when Mrs. Furr had heard nary a peep out of Joel for some hours, a feeling of "uh-oh" would come over her and she'd go in search. On one occasion, she searched the house without spotting Joel until she finally chanced to look down under the dining table and found that Joel had used up an entire box of margarine sticks greasing the entire dining room floor. He looked up at his flabbergasted mother and patted the floor proudly. On another occasion, he was found standing with the refrigerator door open, happily dropping one egg after another onto the floor. He had the last surviving egg in his hand when Mrs. Furr discovered him standing above a heap of eggshells and runny goo, beaming happily at his work. "Joel," she said cautiously, "Give me the egg." Smiling agreeably, Joel hurled the egg in her general direction, missing by a few feet. Scratch the remaining egg. On still other occasions, Joel was found standing in front of an open commode, flushing repeatedly and waving "bye-bye" at whatever he had flushed down the toilet this time. Is it any wonder his parents adopted a practice of shoving books under his nose any time they saw him otherwise unoccupied? (81) What is Joel Furr's ultimate ambition in life? Joel's ambition is a simple one: a front porch overlooking a large, grassy lawn, a rocking chair on the porch... and a cane to angrily wave at any neighborhood kids who come trespassing on the lawn. To make the situation perfect, the kids will dutifully shriek "Run, run, it's Old Man Furr!" and vamoose. (82) Aren't you cold? No. Joel Furr routinely goes out in cold weather wearing shorts, a sweatshirt, and maybe a jacket, and feels quite comfortable, thank you... even at temperatures below freezing, and certainly on "cool days" where other people have broken out the sweatshirts and long pants. People in supermarkets and such get cold just looking at him, and inevitably ask "Aren't you cold?" Joel grins amiably and says "Nope. Perfectly toasty. You?" Incidentally, now that Joel lives in Vermont (NORTHERN Vermont, at that), this habit may undergo a little modification come winter. Bare legs aren't liable to constitute a "survival trait" in temperatures below 0 Fahrenheit or in chest-deep snow. (83) What restaurant are Joel and Carole Furr going to open soon? A steak restaurant, to be named "Yesterday's Cow." (84) What collectible novelty does Joel Furr have in store for us? Soft-sculpture crucified Jesus dolls. They'll go over big in the redneck market. (85) What did Wally the gopherlike being do at the 1997 North Carolina State Fair? He helped out at the Colonic Irrigation demo booth. If you were at the fair, you may have seen him. The booth was on the back side of Dorton Arena, near the Highway Safety pavilion. Wally was the small furry mammal who was waving cheerfully at passersby and holding up a rubber tube in what he apparently hoped was an inviting sort of way. (86) What does Joel Furr think of the invention known as "the third mouse button"? Joel Furr hates it a lot. Joel Furr makes his living as a software trainer, teaching Microsoft certified classes in things like Windows NT 4.0 and such, but also training end-user applications like, oh, Microsoft Word and Lotus 1-2-3. Consequently, he sees all ranges of computer users, from those who could practically be teaching the courses in question to those who hold their mouse in the air and wave it around like a television remote control. If there's one thing he's learned as a trainer, it's that you want to avoid overloading users, especially the truly inexperienced novice users who suffer from extreme computer phobia, with unnecessary detail. In other words, there are Things End Users Were Not Meant To Know. When you're training an end user in basic mouse skills, you're doing well to convince them that it's actually vaguely useful to be able to use the right mouse button for certain things. Most of the time, you're only able to get them to realize that one button does one thing and one button does another, and if they've begun to be able to recall which is which, that's about all you can typically expect. It's not that they're dumb - just scared. It's natural to be scared of new things - if humans hadn't acquired that trait, our ancestors would have wound up lunch for the first sabertooth tiger that happened along. Therefore, given how nervous people who've never used a mouse are when they first realize that they've absolutely got to learn how to use one if they want to use their new computer without embarrassment, you don't want to drive them over the edge into shrieking hysteria by informing them that, some of the time, they're going to be expected to understand the function and uses of a THIRD mouse button, especially one that not all mice have and that not all programs even recognize. Anything that confuses the students for no good reason is a Bad Thing. Third mouse buttons are a Bad Thing. Joel has spoken. (87) If Joel Furr were a fruit, which one would he be? If Joel Furr were a fruit, he'd probably be one of those weird "ugly fruits" they sell in the produce department, the ones that no one ever seems to buy and which get progressively marked down each week until they're so old and so cheap that the fruits are practically jumping off the counters and accosting shoppers, begging to be bought. It's not that Joel is necessarily desperate - he has a wife, after all. It's more that if he were a fruit, he'd almost certainly be the kind of fruit no one really knows how to use or what it's for. (88) Did Joel Furr inhale? No. Joel has been in the direct presence of marijuana once in his life and, as it happens, didn't want to be there anyway. Someone who had asthma symptoms off and on throughout his childhood and even on into adulthood generally learns in a hurry not to breathe strange things into his lungs. Consequently, Joel has never smoked a cigarette of any kind, tobacco OR marijuana. (89) Does Joel Furr say "toe-MAY-toe" or "toe-MAH-toe?" "toe-MAY-toe." Except when he's around some of his more countrified Southern relatives, when Joel may occasionally be heard to say "toe-MAY-ter." Or even "ter-MAY-ter." It depends on how redneck he's feeling that day. (90) Why? Because he had too much free time in grad school, and the devil makes work for idle hands. (91) Why not? One supposes he was just too shy. (92) What did Joel's supervisors and co-workers at Glaxo Pharmaceuticals give him on his last day of work, as a going-away present? A case of Budweiser. No idea why. Joel was leaving that last Friday and one of his co-workers, never mind which one, said "Oh, by the way, Joel, we have a gift for you, it's in my car." Joel bemusedly followed her out to her car in the parking deck and stood there, wondering why whatever the gift was hadn't been brought inside and given to him inside at his desk, when everyone standing around snacking on the farewell brownies... only to find out why in short order, as said co-worker reached into her car and fished out one of those cardboard 24-pack "suitcases" of Budweiser. "Here," she said. "We'll miss you. Take care." (93) What boutique are Joel and Carole Furr going to open next door to their new restaurant? A trendy little place, specializing in all things radioactive: power plant parts, low-level and high-level radioactive waste, irradiated rutabagas, maybe a little bootleg U-235. They're going to call it "If It's Nuclear." Stop on by. --- This document may be found on the World Wide Web in a completely HTML-ized format, at the following address: http://www.furrs.org/FAQs/jffaq.htm