Among the “10 Worst Jobs in Science” in Popular Science’s annual November listing: Harvard researchers in Borneo who catch orangutan urine (in plastic sheets, the way firefighters catch jumpers) for studying reproduction-hormone levels; gear-packing monitors who run toward (not away from) the gases and molten rock of erupting volcanoes (dozens have been killed or wounded); U.S. Geological Survey workers at two picturesque California lakes monitoring “extremophile” microbes that thrive in the most putrid environments (work that one says resembles being surrounded by 100 “extremely flatulent people”); and “human lab rats” such as students employed in an industry-funded University of California at San Diego study for $15 an hour to have pesticides sprayed into their eyes.
SIGNS OF THE TIMES
Erica Salmon, originally a fantasy-football-league “widow” because of her husband’s seasonal mania, has now become mogul of her own fantasy league: of famous fashion designers. According to an October report by the Des Moines Register, managers draft teams consisting of three clothing designers, plus one each designer of shoes, handbags, jewelry and celebrity clothing, and then three celebrities, and they get points daily for the number and quality of name-mentions in Women’s Wear Daily and other fashion and style magazines. As with football leagues, trades are permitted once a week.
LEAST COMPETENT PEOPLE
Shortly after Hurricane Wilma struck Florida in October, officials said 911 operators in Palm Beach County were flooded not only with storm-related calls but with self-imposed injuries. Some of the problems (according to an October Palm Beach Post story): brush-clearing chain-saw accidents; the old “cigarette-lighter-to-check-fuel-level-of-a-generator”; people falling off roofs while making repairs; setting up a generator too close to a window; cooking inside on a charcoal grill; pouring gasoline into a generator while it’s running; failing to respect downed power lines; and stacking items atop a previously “on” electric stove so that, when power resumes, they catch fire.
Police in Twin Falls, Idaho, confiscated almost $1 billion in counterfeit money in October in a doomed scheme in which the loot consisted only of bills of the denomination of $1 million (which does not legally exist); a man from Buhl, Idaho, had tried to give a bank that amount as collateral for a loan. And according to police in Lafayette, Ind., in September, Earl Devine’s counterfeit money was not much better: Though a popular name for $100 bills is “Benjamins” (for the face of Benjamin Franklin), Devine’s $100 bills still had the face of Abraham Lincoln from the $5 bill he allegedly used as a model.
GOING TO THE LORD
In October, a 33-year-old pastor at the University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, standing in a baptismal pool preparing to immerse a parishioner in front of hundreds of congregants, mishandled a microphone and was electrocuted. On the same day in Johannesburg, South Africa, a pastor at the Jerusalem Apostolic Church drowned during a river baptism ceremony when he and the parishioner (who also drowned) lost their footing on rocks in the riverbed. MTW