You're doing it wrong

From Russia comes word of an intended suicide bomber who was blown up by a message from her mobile phone provider.

Suicide bombers sometimes are rigged with cell phones, so their handlers can set off the explosions with a text message. Apparently, a bomber was killed at a safehouse when her phone company sent her a "Happy New Year" text message.

The terrorists had planned to explode the bomb at Red Square during New Year's Eve festivities, officials said.

Full story here.


(Almost) all quiet on the home front

After a busy holiday period and a Scrabble visit from my friend Frank, things have slowed down here at our cottage by the sea. I've got my semi-annual head cold, but aside from the honking and coughing, it's been pretty quiet around here.

Lots of excitement on Wednesday morning, though. We got word that my Redding pal Charlie Price was nominated for an Edgar Award for his YA novel, "The Interrogation of Gabriel James." And I had my second encounter with the neighborhood skunk. While I was certainly excited for Charlie, the skunk did more to get up the old heart rate.

One of the great things about our Santa Cruz place is its wide front porch. I like to step out there at all hours of the day and night to sniff the sea air and listen to the waves crashing on the rocks. But the dawn hour, I have learned, belongs to a skunk that forages through the neighborhood.

In the latest encounter, I had just gone outside to check out the sunrise when I heard a scrambling in some dead leaves. I froze. The skunk saw me anyway. He froze (facing me, which I sensed was better). We stared at each other for 30 seconds, eight feet apart. Then he toddled away, taking his time, sniffing around the cars. As soon as he disappeared around a corner, I disappeared into the house. Unsprayed.

From now on, I'm turning on the porch light before I step outside. Give the skunk time to scram.

I told my neighbor about the skunk, and he said we see them from time to time in this coastal neighborhood. Raccoons and possums, too, he said.

Oh, joy.