Line One
On the Lighter Side

It's a 'Salmon-Thirty-Salmon' 
It's not that unusual to see a truck and trailer painted from bumper to bumper, but when's the last time you saw an airliner done up to look like a giant fish?

To help promote the state's fishing industry, Alaska Airlines - with a little help from a $500,000 federal grant - has painted a 120-foot-long giant king salmon across the entire length of a Boeing 737-400 passenger jet.

The jet's name? "Salmon-Thirty-Salmon," of course.

It took a team of 30 painters and airbrush artists a total of 24 days to complete the massive mural - not to mention about 140 gallons of paint, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The money for the project was part of a federal grant to the Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board, a non-profit organization responsible for promoting Alaskan fishing exports.

"There's no question, at least in my mind, that this is the finest airline art ever conceived," Bill MacKay, Alaska Airlines vice president told the Daily News. "People will just be amazed by the detail."

What's next - a speed camera camera camera?
Australian officials are struggling for a solution to a string of vandalism - 74 separate incidents in the past two years, to be specific - that has plagued speed camera locations throughout the country.

The speed cameras - which are used to catch lead-footed drivers in the act - have been "pelted with rocks, hit with sticks, set on fire, covered in graffiti, shot at by guns and smeared by eggs" by passing motorists and pedestrians who don't agree with the big-brother technology, according to Australian newspaper The Daily Telegraph.

So, to help stop the destruction, the Australian Roads and Traffic Authority is using what they think is a common-sense solution - more cameras.

The new camera-monitoring video and still cameras - which, according to The Telegraph, have already cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase and install - are supposedly helping to monitor and catch would-be criminals who just can't help but take their aggressions out on the speed-busting apparatus.

Is it working? Not really.

Not surprisingly, the new cameras have already become targets themselves. Instead of attacking the speed cameras first, vandals are taking out the surveillance equipment before moving on to their original target.

It would be easy to write off all of this camera-on-camera crime as senseless violence, but maybe there's a deeper cause - in the past 12 months, revenue from speed camera tickets in Australia has risen to $54.1 million, The Telegraph reported.

Reach out and touch someone
New Jersey motorists who recently called a toll-free number to sign up for handicapped or animal-friendly license plates learned a whole new meaning for "customer service."

When the state's Motor Vehicle Commission got a new phone number, the agency posted it to its Web site and sent out brochures to more than 65,000 people.

The only problem is, the agency's correct phone number started with an "888."

The prefix "800," which was printed on the brochures, belonged to an, um, less reputable business.

Instead of reaching the state's Motor Vehicle Commission, callers who used the published "800" number reached a phone sex line.   

Odds are, the phone sex operators probably weren't a lot of help to the countless elderly and animal lovers who called looking for license plates.

The Motor Vehicle Commission issued an apology, and is attempting to contact those residents who received the wrong number.

Oh the difference a decimal makes
Maybe they were feeling sympathetic toward motorists paying outlandish prices at the pump. Maybe they were looking to get out of the gas station managerial business. Or maybe $3-a-gallon fuel finally drove them beyond the edge.

Regardless of the reason, two gas station attendants became instantly popular with their customers and instantly unpopular with their bosses after they inadvertently lowered their gas prices to less than 35 cents a gallon.

At Kabredlo's gas station in Lincoln, NE, the store manager sold fuel for half an hour before realizing he'd accidentally entered the price on three pumps at 32 cents a gallon, The Associated Press reported.

The manager of a Race Trac gas station in Hallandale Beach, FL, wasn't quite so lucky.

For several hours, long lines of vehicles filled up at his station with gas priced at 33 cents a gallon - a price that hasn't been seen since the 1960s.   

Local television station WPLG-TV eventually informed the manager of his error.

Astonishingly, not a single customer bothered to tell the manager about the mistake.

Dead but not forgotten
Fishermen and hunters can talk for hours about "the one that got away." But Sam Sanfillippo has created a museum to honor all the animals that didn't.

The Madison, WI, resident - a semi-retired funeral director - has opened what is most likely the world's first and only "roadkill museum," located, appropriately, in the basement of his funeral home.

But Sanfillippo isn't putting squashed squirrels and checkerboard chipmunks on display at the worst moment of their lives. A hunter and longtime fan of taxidermy, he has them stuffed and restored, and then places them into painstakingly elaborate dioramas, including Western bar scenes and dance halls, which he builds from scratch.

In addition to providing a spectacle for children whose relatives are being mourned upstairs, Sanfillippo said his museum has been visited by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford.

"Most of these animals are roadkill," Sanfillippo told the Chicago Tribune. "I feel like I'm bringing them back to life."

Admission to the museum is free, but if the hearse is parked outside, stay away - the exhibit is closed during funeral services.

The Lighter Side was written this issue by Aaron Ladage, staff writer. He may be reached at