O Great Wise One: This is driving my friends and me nuts. Why are the trees along U.S. 67/167 being cut at an angle a few feet off the ground? You have addressed the reasons for tree removal but the fact that some trees are lopped off this way poses a question that only you can answer. Help me save my hair! -- Joceil
Dear Joceil: Any hair reference makes us think of Randy Travis, who sang about his girl's hair -- "and if it all fell out, well, I'd love you anyway."
Nonetheless, in an effort to save your hair, we contacted David Nilles of the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
He tells us many of those trees are embedded in fences lining the right of way. The cutting machines have to stay away from the fences so as not to cause expensive damage. The odd angles are because of the grinding heads of the machines. Trees aren't cut down, but ground down.
ArDot plans to keep an eyes on the trees. They may be later trimmed with chainsaws.
Dear Mahatma: I regularly read the articles about traffic fatalities. In those traffic articles, they report on the weather conditions. Why don't they also report on seat-belt use or if the driver was distracted by electronics? This would be instructive. -- Robert in Camden
Dear Robert: Journalism is, in part, the process of putting in some facts and leaving out others. The decision to not include seat-belt information goes back about 25 years and the administration of an editor whose views on the matter were strongly felt. Others now lead the newsroom. Their views may be different. Ask them.
Many factors influence fatalities. May we toss out one finding from a study done under the auspices of the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration?
Traffic fatalities in the United States were studied over a period of 10 years. The study found that alcohol-impaired drivers comprised more than two-thirds of fatally injured drivers killed at night. And that only 26 percent of those drivers were belted. Emphasis added by us.
Bad enough being drunk; add being unbelted, and it's worse. Deadly factor upon deadly factor.
Careful readers will sometimes see in those traffic fatality stories that a driver or passenger was ejected. Meaning they were likely unbelted.
Please also remember that failure to wear a seat belt is now a primary offense in Arkansas, meaning a driver can be stopped for that offense and ticketed.
Dear Mahatma: Do you know the origin of the expression, "nuttier than a peach-orchard boar?" My father explained that hogs would eat peaches on the ground. The rotting of those fruits apparently causes the peach pits to become hallucinogenic. -- Sam
Dear Sam: We used that expression in a recent column. We heard it years ago from the great Jimmie Hughes of East Bethesda in Independence County.
Your explanation is as good as any. Other readers may weigh in.