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Ask Dale E. Basye, Well-Respected Author of Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go and the Spanking New Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck, Which Is Ideal for Spanking

Dear Dale E. Basye, author of the amazing Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go and equally-if-not-more-fabulous Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck:

I have a strong suspicion that my elderly neighbor has been stealing the koi fish out of my pond at night. She seems to enjoy dishing out foreign delicacies (i.e. Oriental goldfish) to her 13 cats. Are there any methods or tools that I could devise at home that may be able to help me catch her in the act?

Alae Debyes
Rantplod, Ogreno

Dear Alae,

You have a number of low-cost options available to you in detecting, apprehending, and "disposing of" the thief of your beloved, disappearing koi.

1) Fashion a decoy koi using several cups of goldfish crackers, glue, and gold metallic paint. Before the mixture is allowed to set, insert several plaque dye tablets at the core of your faux fish, then sculpt to approximate a fattened, succulent koi. If your neighbor or neighbor's cat boasts vivid, scarlet-stained teeth immediately following a koi disappearance, you are well within your rights to take matters to the next level.

2) Apprehend one of your neighbor's 13 cats for interrogation, taking great care to replace the cat with an exact duplicate.Apprehend one of your neighbor's 13 cats for interrogation, taking great care to replace the cat with an exact duplicate. (Purchase a close approximation at your local animal shelter, then proceed to an animal groomer — which are often fronts for underground pet trading — and, after showing them a photograph of the kidnapped kitty, they should be able to provide a believable twin.) Interrogating a cat is fairly simple once you break past their aloof façade. (Catnip is a cruelty-free way of achieving this end.) Anchovies, smelt, or tuna are effective inducements to getting at the truth, as are balls of genuine wool yarn, squeaky mice, or even brown paper shopping bags. For that rarest of subjects — the faithful cat — harsher measures may need to be employed, such as electro-cat box therapy and/or rubbing their fur the wrong way.

3) Dress yourself in a large, gray-green garbage bag and lay at the bottom of your pond, breathing through a hollow reed, toy flute, or camouflaged Krazy Straw. If someone disturbs the sanctity of your pond, grab him or her by the wrists and pull them into the pond for as long as you deem necessary.

4) Improvise. Have fun! Go crazy! Espionage is about more than just the act or practice of spying or of using spies to obtain secret information: it's about expressing yourself in unique ways. (Though, to be perfectly honest, it is mostly about the act or practice of spying or of using spies to obtain secret information.)

5) Visit Where the Bad Kids Go and buy several copies of my latest book, Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck.

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Dear Dale E. Basye, charismatic author of the underground smash Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go and the astounding sequel Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck:

I recently retired from a powerful world government's espionage organization and have taken espionage up as a hobby for my twilight years. The problem is that I don't get around as well as I used to. I find most windows and ventilation ducts are inaccessible to wheelchairs. Is there any current legislation requiring government agencies to provide special access to spies under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

Beadle Yeas
Darnplot, Goeron

Dear Beadle,

You are in luck: with so many retired Cold War agents firmly entrenched within the arthritic grip of their winter years, governments are beginning to accommodate these seasoned spies with a host of legislative "mobility" acts, most notably the Geriatric Operatives Undeterred by Disabilities Act (G.O.U.D.A.). Many top secret international facilities are being mandated to construct wheelchair ramps or walker/cane-friendly platforms to access sensitive, high-security areas such as restricted data centers, submarine platforms, satellite/warhead kidnapping installations, cryonic storage repositories, and even super-criminal lairs. For sight-challenged agents, seeing-eye dogs are now allowed in most covert operations centers, and microfilm blueprints are now available either in EZ Read Macrofilm or in a Blueprints-on-Tape format, read by Roger Moore. Also in consideration of geriatric operatives brought out of retirement due to budgetary constraints, conveniently located bathrooms, clearly marked signs, oversized keypads, and on-site pharmacies (with $10 co-pay) are being offered in most progressive international intelligence facilities and subterranean testing bunkers. An installation in Holland even offers handy curbside service for delivery of sensitive military data. And for those operatives allergic to certain toxic gases or smokescreens, herbal alternatives (like organic mustard gasses) are becoming available in most black markets (that is, markets of color). For more information, visit Where the Bad Kids Go and buy several copies of my latest book, Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck.

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Dear Dale E. Basye, frighteningly talented author of the not-too-shabby-selling Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go and so-highly-anticipated-as-to-risk-cramping Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck:

Why is milk white?

Bale Ad Eyes
Plantrod, Regoon

Dear Bale,

The eye perceives light and color because of cells in the retina, which contain photosensitive pigments. When a molecule of these pigments is struck by photons, it gives up an electron; enough of these free electrons will cause a neuron to fire, reporting that the cell has received a certain amount of light.

There are three types of cone cells, each of which contains a different pigment, with each pigment being sensitive to a different range of wavelengths, corresponding to red, green, and blue.

White light contains all the colors of the rainbow (which are basically three: red, green, and blue). The International Commission on Lighting has established three wavelengths that correspond to primary colors (700 nm for red, 546 nm for green, and 436 nm for blue) used for color matching. When agents are in the field, these specifications are crucial in agreeing upon the correct identification of hostile technologies. (For example, if one agent describes a munitions laboratory as off-taupe, and another describes it as light almond, miscalculations could ensue, causing greater-than-projected losses of life.) White, as a non-spectral color, is perceived when all three cone types are stimulated by light.

With the unique case of the perceived chromatic properties of milk, the protein casein is abundant in dairy products, as is fatty cream. Fat and casein do not absorb much light and, in effect, reflect any light cast upon them, making them appear white.

So, in essence, that is why milk appears white.

The real concern, however, is "what does your glass of milk taste like?" If your milk has a soapy taste, then someone has slipped a corrosive alkali into your milk.If your milk has a soapy taste, then someone has slipped a corrosive alkali into your milk. If your milk has a metallic aftertaste, then it has been contaminated with high amounts of easily-procured copper, lead, or zinc (for which an effective antidote for the "agent on the move" is a strong cup of coffee). If a strong, bitter, chalky taste is detected, then an enemy agent has spiked your "innocent" glass of milk with Phenobarbital in order to loosen sensitive data from your lips. If this occurs, flick open the filling on your lower left molar and suck out the hidden cyanide tablet to ensure that any high-level information dies with you. Before doing so, please visit Where the Bad Kids Go and buy several copies of my latest book, Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck.

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Dale E. Basye is a writer and creative director for several children's Web sites. He lives with his wife and son in Portland, Oregon. Please visit him on the Web at

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck Used Hardcover $4.95
  2. Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go (Heck) Used Trade Paper $3.50

Dale E. Basye is the author of Rapacia: The Second Circle of Heck

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