Down East 2013 ©
As I may have noted before, I’m fond of skulls. In fact, I carry one with me wherever I go. I find it to be a convenient container for transporting my brain, eyes and other head-related organs.
I also have a skull bank, a skull cookie jar, silverware decorated with skulls and a lovely skull platter, not to mention an assortment of animal skulls that the original owners carelessly left scattered around the woods. In addition, I have a mason jar full of Malibu Barbie heads (it’s a long story, involving ice sculptures, art exhibits, yard sales and beer), which I assume contain Malibu Barbie skulls. I find this collection to be inspiring to gaze upon when I’m reflecting on mortality or just trying to avoid work.
Given my taste in skeletal remains, I was pleased to find a skull among my gifts this Yuletide season. Family members discovered it near their house, and, although they weren’t certain what species it belonged to, they took it home, cleaned it, bleached it and repaired a loose tooth. Then, they mounted it in a classy looking plastic case and put it under the Christmas tree.
I’m pretty sure this particular skull once belonged to a coyote. A Google search turned up all sorts of evidence , such as the “palate length/width ratio” which is greater for coyotes than for wolves or domestic dogs. Of course, I was somewhat hindered in coming to a conclusion on the matter by having no idea what that meant.
Cluelessness also intervened in deciding between coyote and fox, since the “sagittal crest ” and “temporal ridges ” are apparently important in making that distinction. After a few minutes of attempting to read a lot of stuff I didn’t understand, I made an executive decision that the bones were either those of a coyote, a politician (although not Herman Cain, whose skull bears more of a resemblance to a pig) or a canid-like space alien from a planet circling the Dog Star. Any of those work for me.
I must say I’m disappointed in the relatively minor distinctions among the skulls of various species. It’s almost as if whoever made these creatures got a bargain rate on skulls with slight irregularities and slapped them into whatever animal happened to be evolving at the moment, without much regard for those of us who’d have to sort it all out later. I mean, would a little label with the Latin name affixed to the forehead have been too much to ask?
Incidentally, I’m not alone in my appreciation of skulls as gifts. I gave my wife a nice ceramic skull (I got it out of the head of this ceramic guy) for Christmas. She liked it a lot. I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with her not speaking to me for five days.
In other news of the week just past, the University of Maine has instituted new security measures on its Orono campus after it was discovered that terrorists have been eating in the dining halls without paying. From now on, it won’t be enough for someone who wants to get fed at UMaine to merely show a meal pass. Anyone, including enemies of freedom who don’t happen to also be enemies of free lunches, can purchase a fake meal pass on the Internet. So, before diners get to dig in, they’ll have to submit to a full body search.
That won’t help with the fake meal passes, but it’s hoped the terrorists will be too embarrassed by their unattractive physiques to submit to the procedure.
Also, the school is installing hand scanners  that will prevent students from sharing passes. According to university officials, this may be a bigger problem that insurgents in the dessert line. This past semester UMaine sold only four meal passes, but they were used by approximately five thousand students. The hand scanners make it impossible for people who haven’t paid their fair share to gain entrance by trapping their fingers in the machine. The fingers are then reprocessed into mystery meat for the next day’s dinner, producing an additional savings.
Nothing characterizes the holiday season in Maine better than the arrival of the flu . The state recorded its first official case of influenza this week, causing the usual widespread panic. As if that wasn’t serious enough, medical experts say it’s only a matter of time before a new strain of flu arrives here, one that apparently is carried by pigs (and Herman Cain). And, according to this news release I just received, there may be a mutated variation of that disease that’s transmitted by coyote skulls. Symptoms include a tendency to choose inappropriate gifts for one’s spouse.
See, honey, it wasn’t my fault. Please unlock the bathroom door.
Because if you stay in there, you’re going to miss the Crushstation , which is an eleven-thousand-pound truck that looks like a lobster. It was built from high-tech Fiberglas by this guy from Jefferson and his friends so he could compete in the Monster Truck motorsport tour. He told the Morning Sentinel, “No one can work with Fiberglas like the boys up here in Maine can.”
I wonder if they can make Fiberglas skulls. I need to buy my wife a little something to show I’m sorry.
Finally, the city of Portland (motto: More Lawyers Than Prostitutes – But Not By Much) has decided to go ahead with a deal to buy parking meter devices  that don’t require change. The purchase had been delayed because the company that was selling them was caught up in a scandal involving skull smuggling and free dinners at the UMaine cafeteria. Also bribes in the other Portland. The one with the TV show .
But that’s all cleared up now. So get ready to park in Portland (the one without a TV show) even if you don’t have any cash.
All it takes is this implant in your skull.
Al Diamon hopes he finds one of those gizmos in the skull he gets for next Christmas. Then, he can park for free and get no-cost meals at the university. If you can think of other money-saving ideas for this bit of advanced technology, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .