It's a sick world when Germo attacks

Nothing warms the heart around the holidays like the vision of laughing children playing in the snow, drinking hot chocolate, sending wish lists to Santa Claus or Chanukah Charlie, and wiping their boogery noses with their grody little hands and then touching everything in sight. But it doesn't have to be that way. No, it can be worse, especially if those kids are singing the G-E-R-M-O hand-washing song at the top of their lungs. Yes, just in time for Hand Washing Awareness Week, December 7-13, (which is as important as Christmas in some cultures, though less commercial), Denver's Deirdre Byerly has released a book called Follow That Germ, "featuring an adorable tyke named Ollie and his wily arch nemesis, Germo." Byerly's company, 3E Health Ed Tools, also sells Germo temporary tattoos, a CD, a game, a poster, and coloring and activity sheets for parents and teachers.

The only way to get rid of Germo? Washing your hands. "Everyone kind of likes Germo," Byerly says about the villain, who is green, but cute like a baby chick. "Some of the kids are nervous about sending him down the drain, but we assure them that he likes it down there and is joining his friends." But those of us who paid close attention to the first annual Global Handwashing Day back in October already know the importance of hand washing. So what's the difference between the two — besides six days and a lot of soap? The first was founded to prevent a global pandemic; the latter was created to teach people in other countries to use soap.

All of which makes us wonder: Can the GERMO song be translated into other languages? Perhaps, but we shouldn't be taking Byerly's advice, anyway, since women are grodier than men, according to a new University of Colorado study. Yes, as any man who's gotten a case of the cooties can attest, women have more bacteria on their hands than men. Although the researchers weren't sure why, they did caution men on holding hands with the fairer but more germ-infected sex.

Sounds like someone's got a date with Germo.

Pay up: Remember that parking ticket you got five years ago when it was snowing and you didn't feel like walking the four blocks to the office, so you parked illegally? And how you shoved it in your glove box and then forgot about it for months, only to find it again and forget once more? Remember how you pitched it when you sold your car, figuring the City of Denver would forget about it, too?

Well, it hasn't. In 2005, the city hired Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson to find you and make you pay what you owe, you punk. And since there is no statute of limitations on parking tickets, says Public Works spokeswoman Christine Downs, the city has all the time in the world. "We didn't have a way of getting the money in the past," Downs says. "We are supposed to be watching out for the city's money, and that is what we are doing."

The oldest violation? A $10 ticket from April 1988. It could belong to anyone: Denver Broncos running back Sammy Winder, savings-and-loan entrepreneur Neil Bush, Channel 9 weatherman Stormy Rottman. Whoever it is will get a sweet deal — because the city only doubles the fine if you don't pay your ticket after twenty days, not twenty years.

For more on the city's parking-ticket conquests, go to Got Scoop? Contact [email protected].