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Terrorist plots sprouting in almanac pages

January 20, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

Earlier this month, the war on terrorism took an ominous turn, then the government, according to The Associated Press, warned police to "be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning."

Police warned 18,000 police agencies to beware of people carrying almanacs, saying they could be used for "target selection and pre-operational planning."

Guess the Old Farmers aren't as harmless as had been generally assumed. But are they sure they didn't mean "pre-operational planting?"

"It's OK, Qdai, we missed them with the car bomb, but we got them with the soybeans."

Frankly, I believe this warning is good, because it places suspicion squarely where it belongs: On Oliver Douglas from the show "Green Acres." He always was mumbling about one almanac entry or another.

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And you notice he never really grew much, right? That farm was a front for something. And that tractor looked as if it had been imported straight from Pakistan.

"Green" obviously was a reference to America's color-coded, terror-alert chart. Code Green - trying to fool us into thinking everything was good to go. And "Acres" was a thinly disguised reference to the capitalistic system of private property and free enterprise that they wish to tear down.

Even Oliver Douglas' name, when pronounced by Eva Gabor, came out "Ah-lee-vah."

Ah-lee.

Ali.

Nice try, "Mr. Douglas." Isn't it true you had plenty of access to fertilizer for all your bombs? Isn't it true they were chemical fertilizers? Isn't it true you were the original Chemical Ali? Isn't it true?

I have my doubts about Mr. Haney, too.

Unfortunately, I have no time to pursue the old television-show line of questioning because we have trouble closer to home. And I say this because I am sitting here looking at a copy of the "Hagers-Town Town and Country Almanack."

If you thought the war on terrorism was someone else's concern, listen to this headline that I am taking directly from page 42 of the Hagers-Town almanac: "Fresh silage can contain a deadly threat to health."

Humph. Is that supposed to be a warning? Or do you suppose it could be a suggestion?

If the Washington, D.C., Metro system suddenly finds its ventilation ducts clogged with mounds of chopped corn, we'll have our answer.

And on pages 38 and 39 you will find these innocuous-sounding "tips":

"Sprinkle Jell-O powder lightly on newly planted seeds to prevent disease. Use any flavor but lemon."

"Use an old mailbox to store garden tools ... Place on a short post near the garden and stop running back and forth for forgotten items."

"Terrorists have shown an interest in acquiring crop dusters."

Aha! It all comes out in the wash, doesn't it? Any terrorist who is not asleep or an idiot can put these three "tips" together, and pretty soon they will be flying off in a crop duster with mailboxes stuffed with box cutters, deluging our towns and hamlets with noxious, nondisease-preventing clouds of lemon Jell-O.

I'm sure there are many other obvious indictments hidden in those scandalous pages, but truth is, I became so absorbed in reading the Hagers-Town almanac that I forgot my prime directive of ferreting them out.

It's quite the interesting little book. There are quite a few neat tidbits - for instance, did you know the phrase "raining cats and dogs" came about because domestic animals used to sleep in thatched roofs for warmth and when it rained hard they grew slippery and fell out onto the floor?

It is so handy that from now on I plan to keep one with me at all times and - hey! Get your hands off me, John Ashcroft!

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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