Ross Mackenzie

While on the subject of the young, there's this about their hearing. A company has developed a device that flashes red when an MP3 player, rock group, or chain saw is operating at decibel levels sufficient to cause hearing loss. Says the company's director: "We're so concerned about eating properly, exercising and getting physical checkups, and we're idiots about our ears." Roger that. Now maybe the next invention will be a device that shuts down a rock performance emitting no redeeming value at all.

Modern record for shortest (and sourest) oath of office: Hugo Chavez, at his swearing in following his re-election as Big Brother of Venezuela: "Fatherland, socialism or death - I take the oath."

No sooner had Connecticut's new governor, Jodi Rell, taken the oath of office than she proposed raising the state income tax by 10 percent - plus hiking bus fares and cigarette taxes, as well as phasing out a $500 property tax credit - and this when the state had just notched a $600-million surplus. She mentioned not a word of her intentions while on the campaign trail last fall. Sounds a lot like Tim Kaine, Virginia's governor, who did much the same thing a year ago. But there's a difference: Kaine is a Democrat, Rell a Republican.

Finally, this bulletin from the animal world: bald eagles and gray wolves have come back from the brink. The Bush administration is in the process of removing bald eagles from the endangered species list; they still will be protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. From a low of about 417 nesting pairs across the continental U.S. in 1963, they have rebounded to more than 7,000 nesting pairs now. And gray wolves (1,240 in 1979, more than 5,200 now) have done so well in their protected status after reintroduction into six states that they are undergoing delisting in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Upper Michigan now - and probably will be delisted in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming by the end of the year. Tremendous lessons in wildlife protection.

Ross Mackenzie

Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.

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