Maryland ranks first in the nation in homicides...

ONE DAY

February 03, 1994

ONE DAY Maryland ranks first in the nation in homicides. The next day Maryland ranks second in the rate of cancer deaths. So don't worry about getting killed in a holdup. You're dead anyway.

* * *

THE RUSSIANS have ice like this all the time. What do they do about it?

Glad you asked. They send little old ladies, some of them littler and older than others, into the streets to chip away at the ice with heavy, three-foot iron picks. Some of the women are aged pensioners, but many are office workers, freed from their duties and set to clear the sidewalks. You see them in semi-stylish, fur-trimmed boots and fur hats, pounding the pavement with vertical, pile-driving motions.

Only women?

Yes, only women. After they break up the ice, the women shovel the shards into trucks to be carted away.

Men drive the trucks.

That's sexism!

We used to think so, too, but after seeing a women hacking

away at her driveway last week in a Loch Raven-area suburb, we've become convinced that it's biological. Our theory is that it has to do with women's lower centers of gravity. Being broad across the hips, women have greater stability while operating on ice. If men, being broad across the shoulders, ever tried to chip ice, they would probably spin out into a nasty fall. The Russians know what they are doing.

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