The truth about cows, Gucci and recycling

Monday, October 31, 2005

Q: The "Dennis the Menace" cartoon of Oct. 15 reminded me of something I was taught and I've wondered about for years. Is it true that if one wishes to successfully milk a cow, they must always approach the cow on the cow's right side?

A: "No, that's not true, we milk cows on either side," said Cape Girardeau's Mildred Kirchdoerfer of Kirchdoerfer Dairy, who double-checked the answer with her family just to be accurate. "It doesn't make a difference if you handmilk a cow. There is a myth out there, though, and I don't know where it started, maybe because in the old days most people milked on the right side because they were right-handed.

"Several years ago we had a cow-milking contest at the farm, and some kids with 4-H did a videotape and sent it to the TV [channel] Nickelodeon. One of the kids went to the show, and the newspaper did a story about the contest, which included a photograph of Melvin Gately milking a cow from the left side. Well, Melvin took a lot of ribbing about not milking from the right side, and it became a big joke for a long time in Speak Out and for people who contacted Melvin. But, no, it doesn't matter. You can milk a cow on either side."

Q: Is it true that a Katrina hurricane victim used their FEMA money card to buy a Gucci purse?

A: According to several online reports with reputable news agencies who verified the facts, yes, expensive purses were bought with the cards provided by FEMA and distributed by the Red Cross. But they were Louis Vuitton purses, not Gucci. Cost per purse was in the $800 range. There may have been Gucci purses purchased as well, but I have not seen corroborating data verifying that information. Somewhere in cyberspace, commentary about the purchases morphed from Vuitton to Gucci. What is clear is that many items commonly thought of as "luxury" were acquired with the emergency cards.

Q: I have taken plastic bags used to deliver the Missourian that are marked recyclable to the recycling center and they do not take them. One young man who works there told me they take only the bags with two handles like the grocery bags. I wonder if you can find out why they do not take the Missourian bags.

A: There is a chance that you talked with someone at the recycling center before the plastic recycling program was finalized and it was still unclear what could be recycled. According to Pam Sander, public works administrative officer, "The plastic sleeves that are put on newspapers are acceptable in our 'plastic bag' recycling program. These plastic sleeves may be put in with the plastic shopping bags for curbside collection or brought by residents to the city's new recycling drop-off facility at 2007 Southern Expressway.

"Accepted in the city's residential recycling program are: Plastic shopping bags (most all of them display the recycling symbol with the number '2' in the middle) and the plastic newspaper sleeves (most all of them display the recycling symbol with the number '4' in the middle) only. No other types of plastic bags are accepted at this time, and especially important to note: No trash/garbage bags."

Jon K. Rust is publisher of the Southeast Missourian. If you have a question, e-mail factorfiction@semissourian.com or call Speak Out (334-5111) and identify your call as a question for "Fact or Fiction?"

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