Dallas-based Travel Technologies Group (TTG), a software developer
for the travel and meetings industries, headed off a possible
sickout anticipated for Wednesday, May 19 -- opening day of the new
"Star Wars" flick -- by purchasing tickets to the premiere for each
of its 75 employees.
On Wednesday, May 12, the day tickets went on sale, the company
dispatched some employees to the Loews Theater downtown to spend
their day waiting on line for the tickets.
Given that TTG's staff consists of scores of techies, this seems
a wise move on management's part. May the workforce be with
Birds are a very big deal with men in Suriname, who carry their
caged songbirds everywhere with them. Walking, biking, riding on
mopeds or paddling dugout canoes, men tote their birds. If a man is
home, the cage is set or hung somewhere on the street side of the
house so that the birds get used to traffic sounds. If the owner is
in a restaurant, the cage hangs near him while he dines.
The reason, as Insider discovered, is that there's a lucrative
trade in trained birds. In fact, songbird competitions are a big
tourist attraction on Sunday mornings in Independence Square in
Here's how it works. Two bird owners set up their birdcages on
the grassy square. Each owner has a chalkboard to tally the number
of times his competitor's bird trills, whistles or shrieks during a
These are small birds called pikolets and
twa-twas. We're not talking screaming eagles. Insider
stood close to the judging area but couldn't hear anything except
the nerve-jarring sound of chalk on slate. A frequent-trilling bird
fetches as much as $35 in the Central Market in Paramaribo.
The ground-zero club
We get lots of review copies of books, so when a box of
outdoorsy-looking titles arrived, Insider figured they'd deal with
camping or hiking or some such.
Uh-uh. From the brown cardboard box, Insider lifted out a
paperback titled "Sex in the Outdoors: A Humorous Approach to
Recreation," by Robert Rose, M.D., and Buck Tilton, M.S. (Globe
Pequot Press, $6.95).
The book is fairly funny in parts. There's an especially clever
section on mountain climbing -- with climbing paraphernalia treated
as if it came from a Frederick's of Hollywood catalog. There is
also a chapter of "Testimonials" that reads like a PG-13 version of
a men's mag's letters-to-the-editor column.
For any "niche" sellers who might be interested, a lengthier
summary of the book's contents appears on the publisher's Web site,
Of skies and limits
As of May 28, drivers in Montana will re-encounter a tradition
that had disappeared for nearly four years: the speed limit. Since
the lifting of federal speed limits in 1995, Montana has been
operating under what it calls the Basic Rule -- that motorists are
to drive in a "reasonable and prudent manner."
With a notable rise in traffic fatalities "involving speed as a
factor" and at the recommendation of the state attorney general's
office, the Montana Legislature took up the issue.
After much backing-and-forthing, according to a spokeswoman for
the state's Commerce Department, law-makers came up with the
following:On multilane interstates, for cars, 75 mph day and night; for
trucks, 65 day and night.On two-lane highways, for cars, 70 day, 65 night; for trucks,
60 day, 55 night.In "urban" areas (word theirs, quote marks ours), 65 across the
Earlier this month, Gov. Marc Racicot issued a statement on the
issue, part of which read: "Unfortunately ... no numerical
[italics his] daytime speed limit ... was interpreted by some as no
speed limits at all."
Among those so misinterpreting the Basic Rule must have been the
folks at Travel Montana's Web site, whose home page at one point
featured a flashing billboard announcing "Big Sky Country ... And
No Speed Limit!"
More Big Sky fun stuff
We had some fun this past winter with Visit Montana's calendar
of sometimes wacky events, but the bureau's latest newsletter shows
the state has some interesting stuff going on in summer as
Here's a sampling (as if anyone ever needed an excuse to visit
Montana):The Duck Race, Libby, June 5. Hundreds of plastic ducks are
placed in Flower Creek, in five heats. Grand prize, $1,000.Buzzard Day, Glendive, June 12. The event celebrates the
buzzards' annual return to Makoshiko State Park. Cookouts, a bike
race and a "poker run" are among the activities.The Matthew Quigley Shoot, Forsyth, June 19 and 20. We expected
the tag line on this one to be something like "Fun for all but
Matthew Quigley." But, no. The name refers to a movie character.
This is a long-range-rifle competition using period and replica
firearms, and many of the 300-plus participants dress in period
duds.Prison Breakout Bluegrass Festival, Deer Lodge, June 26 and 27.
A big old hoedown. We just like the name.Eastern Montana 'Ski Festival, Wibaux, July 2 to 4. That's
right: a celebration of Polish-American culture, with Polish
barbecue and something called a "polka Mass," which gives a whole
new meaning to the term "liturgical music."