Taking scissors to a dam



Everybody agrees: The 47-year-old, silt-choked Matilija Dam in Southern California needs to come down. Since 1998, Ventura County officials have discussed all the ways this might happen, though nothing ever has. Apparently fed up, unknown monkey-wrenchers recently spray-painted a giant scissors and a dotted line indicating where to cut on the face of the 200-foot dam, reports the Ventura County Star. How did officials react? "It's completely humorous," said the director of the county's public works agency. Absent a giant pair of scissors -- or hands large enough to wield them -- the problem of how to do the job remains. For one thing: What do you do with all the sediment that's built up behind the dam? One solution is to dry up the creek behind the dam, then move the mounds of dirt to the sides to restore the stream. Unfortunately, that would cost more than $140 million, which the county doesn't have.


It was just another invitation to a "gala" to raise money for a worthy cause -- but wait, this one featured an offer that was hard to refuse: You wouldn't have to dress up, drive for an hour, and make nice with a bunch of people who looked only vaguely familiar. Instead, you only had to buy a $50 ticket and then stay home, enjoying "the hottest event of the year that no one will attend." Habitat for Humanity of Montrose County, Colo., called it an "Armchair Gala" and invited donors to celebrate the group's 20th anniversary by relaxing in a favorite chair -- though not before sending in a check. And here's another bargain: You could also invite five lucky friends to a virtual table for just $250.

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