Jewish World Review Feb. 11, 2004 / 19 Shevat, 5764

Jeff Elder

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Consumer Reports

The weirdest questions I was ever asked — and answers | Q: What's the weirdest question you've ever received?

A: I LOVE weird questions - the odder the better. If your question appears below, PLEASE don't feel embarrassed. Be proud. Walk tall. You're in the Glad You Asked Pantheon of Quirk.


I'm a big fan of Terry Bradshaw's acting. What are the addresses of those other guys in his commercials? I would like to write them and urge them to perform at Terry's level.


Why does our dog go nuts when a Nextel commercial comes on?


When I put my car-lock remote under my chin it works from farther away. Does my head act as an antenna?


Could you kindly explain how one eats a baked apple?


Shouldn't a video disc be called a VD instead of a DVD?


Where are the little orange strings you used to pull to open Band-Aids with?


Why are there no seams on M&M's?


In the late `40s I bought some cigarettes and there were two pennies in the pack. How did they get there?


Is a mounted deer head an animal, a vegetable or a mineral?


I have always thought that a bullet shot into the sky would not have enough speed on its return to earth to really hurt anyone. Is my thinking faulty? (YES!)


Between them, Ebert and Roeper have four thumbs. Why do they only give "two thumbs up"?


Are there more squirrels than people in the world?

Join the quirky questions club! Send me a flaky entreaty today!


Q: Where's the coldest place on Earth? - Eric Fordley

A: Vostok, Antarctica, holds the record for coldest temperature with 129 degrees below 0. You better wear a sweater in that kind of weather.

The mean annual temperature of Antarctica's interior is 70 below. SOURCE: World Almanac


Q: When was the first time the numbers 911 were used for emergency calls, and why were those numbers chosen? - P.Q. Henderson

A: P.Q., this is a 911 call that someone really made:

"Yes, this is the 7-Eleven, I want to report some juveniles sucking on the Slurpee machine."

And this is another real 911 call:

"Can my woman refuse to let me shower with her?"

And so is this:

"There's a moose running around out here with an Easter basket stuck around his neck."

There's a serious reason you should never call 911 except in a real emergency: Lives are at stake.

But another consideration is: Your stupidity will be recorded for all to admire.

I'll get back to more real weird 911 calls in a moment. But first let's put these goobers on hold and answer P.Q.'s question.

The idea for 911 was born in 1957, when the National Association of Fire Chiefs recommended use of a special phone number for reporting fires.

In 1967, a presidential commission recommended that a calling code be established nationwide for reporting all emergencies. The FCC met with AT&T, and in 1968 the digits 911 were chosen for a few reasons:


It was short, easy to remember and could be dialed quickly on a rotary phone.


It was a unique number, never having been authorized as an office code, area code, or service code.


It met long-range numbering plans and switching configurations of the telephone industry.

On Feb. 16, 1968, state Sen. Rankin Fite completed the first 911 call made in the United States in Haleyville, Ala.

In March 1973, the White House's Office of Telecommunications issued a national policy statement that recognized the benefits of 911 and encouraged nationwide adoption of the emergency code.

By the end of the 20th century, nearly 93 percent of Americans were covered by 911 service. But there are still about 700 mostly small and rural counties that have no 911 service. To get emergency help, residents must call the local seven-digit number for fire, police or rescue, which might require a separate call to find out the phone number.

An estimated 200 million calls to 911 are made in the United States each year.

In the United Kingdom they dial 999 for emergency help - and have since 1937.

Here are some other countries' emergency codes:


France: 17


Denmark: 000


Japan: 119


Brazil: 2815051 (That's catchy.)

It's hard to imagine life without the 911 system. But people abuse it, and this delays critical service to real victims. You can be arrested if you misuse 911 - and you could be responsible for delaying response to a real emergency.

Leland Gregory recorded some unfortunate - but hilarious - 911 calls in his book "What's the Number for 911 Again?" Emergency dispatchers sent him their most ridiculous calls, which include the ones that opened our column.

Here are some more:


A call came into 911 because two couples were going to share a hotel room and there weren't enough towels.


A man called 911 and said: "Please connect me to Switzerland."


Someone called 911 to report that his parrot got out of its cage and was in a tree.


A man broke up with his girlfriend and wanted police to go over to her house and report to him the owners of any cars, other than hers, in the driveway.


A woman called to request a police officer come to her house to change the battery in her smoke detector because she couldn't reach it.


A drunk called 911 to order a pizza.


Someone called to ask what date Cinco de Mayo fell on.


A lady called 911 because of a fight going on in a parking lot. When asked to describe the combatants, she said: "I'll try. There's one man, and he's dressed like Elvis. He's kicking another man who's laying on the ground and screaming `You ain't nothin' but a hound dog.' " Sources: National

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On big mouths:

1. I loved his halftime highlights on "Monday Night Football."

2. What was Joe Jones' 1960 pop music complaint?

3. Many say this shockingly coiffed promoter is bad for boxing.

4. This singer of "The Spy Who Loved Me" literally has a big mouth.

5. Who's knowledge of college basketball almost keeps up with his machine gun verbosity?



1. Howard Cosell

2. "You Talk Too Much."

3. Don King

4. Carly Simon

5. Dick Vitale

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Jeff Elder is a columnist for The Charlotte Observer. Comment or try to stump him by clicking here. If you send him a great question, he'll send you a Glad You Asked T-shirt.


02/05/04: Lightning CAN strike twice; how people got their last names; more
01/22/04: Joke history: The Romans had Top X lists; refreezing raw meat
01/15/04: Rick Springfield's still moot; the wettest land area on Earth; more
01/06/04: The reason behind the coin ridges; where 'baby corn' comes from; more
12/29/03: Can the colorblind see rainbows?; What causes moles? What's the difference between moles and freckles?
12/22/03: It's all lunch to me
12/04/03: The sad poem in a romantic comedy; Why do some coins, like quarters and dimes, have ridges?; more
11/25/03: Diner lingo; How do chickens know what size eggs to lay?; a computer input device is called a mouse, what is the plural?; more
11/19/03: Did Betsy Ross sew the first official American flag?; Do the 9 numbers in our Social Security number have special meaning? Will they run out of numbers or have to re-issue them?; more
11/11/03: How to be a Nielsen rater; Why did Charles Schulz name his comic strip "Peanuts"?; Was Chef Boy-ar-dee a real person?; Why are Georgetown University teams called the Hoyas?
11/05/03: Decoding the laws of buoyancy; What actually happens when you crack your knuckles?; origin of the expression "three sheets to the wind
10/30/03: Buttoning on the 'correct' side; when you breathe on your hand it feels warm, but when you blow on your hand it feels cool?; Why do dogs eat (and enjoy eating) dirt?; more
10/23/03: 'American Pie' explained; Why are tennis balls seamed like baseballs?; more
10/14/03: Origins of comic strips and hush puppies; a college football quiz; dogs that don't bark
09/24/03: Why do snooze alarms go off every 9 minutes?
09/17/03: Glad You Asked: Fun with college football
09/09/03: What's so great about Wiffle Ball?
09/03/03: What kinda wine goes best with heartache?; What did people do before alarm clocks were invented?; which has more caffeine: coffee or tea?
08/26/03: These inventors were just toying with us
08/12/03: Why do wheels appear to turn backward on film?; showdown over high noon
08/07/03: Wood'n you know it? Money doesn't grow on trees; all we are is dust in the wind
08/05/03: Where have you gone, Calvin, Opus and Cow?; fine feathered friend pecking on itself
07/31/03: How a dashing hero became a notorious traitor
07/29/03: Little red caboose rolling outta sight; From my 'I'll be a monkey's uncle' file
07/24/03: Road scholar: A lesson on asphalt; when identical twins marry
07/23/03: The sweet science of Life Savers' sparks; how do Pop Rocks work? ripping newspaper

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