Three Wise Guys: Prom Tux Quandary, Where Dead Birds Go, Folding a Fitted Sheet

(By Danny Hellman)
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By Joe Heim, Justin Rude and Dan Zak
Sunday, May 25, 2008

Dear Wise Guys:

I just saved a wad of cash because my dad agreed to let me borrow his plain black tuxedo for prom night. However, my date, who will be wearing green, insists that we match. Should I pony up the cash and buy me a green vest to please the lady (I already offered to wear the same dress as her, but she declined the offer), or should I pocket the money so I can afford to eat next year at college?

A High School Senior

Dan: Is your date taking you to the prom, or is she taking the color green? Because if she's more interested in green than in you, just send her to the dance with a dollar bill and go stag with your nice black tuxedo, knowing that you saved $29 of the $30 you would've spent on a vest.

Justin: Or you could take your cues from Lucky Charms commercials, which have taught me that a bright green topcoat is a pretty sharp look when paired with a matching top hat and comically oversize shoes. Admittedly, costume rental doesn't save you any money, but a corsage of clover is probably a lot cheaper than boring old lilies.

Dear Wise Guys:

Where do birds go to die? There are millions of them, and yet we don't see carcasses lying all over the place. I mean anywhere. The only dead birds I see are the unfortunate ones who tempt fate by eating food off the road. Any ideas?


Joe: Bird deaths are actually quite rare. The ones that die are either killed by hunters, charred by power li nes or line-drived by the occasional pro golfer with a vendetta against noisy red-shouldered hawks. (Yeah, I'm talking about you, Tripp Isenhour.) But birds dying naturally? It's almost unheard of. Most of the birds that you see flying around are thousands of years old.

Justin: Why is Joe even allowed to answer questions? Not surprisingly, bird experts have a different take on this. According to Miyoko Chu of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, "scavengers such as crows, raccoons and cats are constantly on the lookout for an easy meal, and they often find dead birds before we do." The size of birds also is a factor. "Small birds can be hard to see when they're lying on the ground around grass, trees or other vegetation, so even insects may consume a small bird before a person happens by," Chu says.

In fact, dead birds (and even live ones) are so difficult to locate that scientists use birders to help track populations in order to estimate the number of annual avian deaths. Each year "hundreds of millions of birds are estimated to die after crashing into windows, and 100 million are estimated to be killed by cats," Chu says. And that doesn't even take into account the much-harder-to-document natural caus es.

Joe: I have a parrot that is 900 years old.

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