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    The Me-ow Generation vs. man's best friend

    jknox@tc.canwest.com

    By Jack Knox, Times Colonist August 16, 2009

    A pet cat is being hailed a hero after saving a man from his burning home in Bracknell, England. As black smoke filled Andrew Williams' bungalow, his neighbour's cat Hugo came through a cat-flap and raised the alarm by clawing at the father-of-two's face.

    -- BBC News

    Personally, I think Hugo was just coming in for the kill.

    Smelled the smoke, peeked inside, saw the homeowner wasn't moving, figured he'd snatch the guy's wallet before the fire finished him off. Just bad luck that Andrew woke up.

    It was Hugo's own fault, really -- guess he couldn't resist the urge to get in a couple of swipes while the man lay there, defenceless. Next thing you know, a slightly sooty Andrew is sucking oxygen on the lawn and Hugo is being hailed as a hero cat, which is kind of like being a good Samaritan or bad Rotarian, the exception that runs counter to stereotype.

    That is, cats aren't exactly famous for their selfless devotion to others. The concept of sacrifice is foreign to felines. They belong to the Me-ow Generation. You'd never see a cat take a bullet for the president.

    True, the Times Colonist's Carla Wilson once fielded a call from a reader who insisted that his cat had saved his life by leaping up and performing pussyfooted chest compressions during a heart attack (I'm not making this up), but this claim was written off as a touching, albeit frightening, case of self-delusion. (The guy probably spends his days sitting by the mailbox, waiting for the Nigerian general's cheque to arrive.) CPR? No, Fluffy was just frisking the shirt pockets for cigarettes.

    But dogs! Well, the world is full of heartwarming tales of loyal labs and courageous collies charging to the rescue, pulling babies from the lake, taking on cougars, busting pool cues and backing up their owners in bar fights.

    Admittedly, my own beloved (and, alas, departed) golden retriever Spot would never have raced into a burning building to save me, but at least he would have played fetch with the firefighters (who, it should be pointed out, keep Dalmatians, not Siamese).

    This week, the newspapers were full of stories quoting Stanley Coren, a UBC psychology professor and author of several books on canine behaviour, whose research shows that the smartest dogs have the mental ability of a 21/2-year-old child (whereas the dumbest have the intelligence of a middle-aged husband.)

    Dogs found among the canniest breeds -- border collies, Alsatians, retrievers, poodles -- have a vocabulary of about 250 words and signals, while the least intelligent -- Pekingese, beagles, Afghans, Bush Republicans -- spend a lot of time watching Glenn Beck on Fox News. Dogs can also perform very simple math, which is more than you can say for Gordon Campbell, who kept insisting during the election campaign that B.C.'s budget deficit would be no more than $495 million.

    Whether this makes dogs smarter than cats, I don't know, or care. Cat owners might dismiss dogs as servile beasts, but the attributes that we really cherish in a mutt -- loyalty, friendliness, courage, unconditional love, the ability to remain poker-faced while breaking wind -- are the same that we value in humans.

    "The average dog is a nicer person than the average person," Andy Rooney once said. And affectionate? Check out YouTube's "Randene Neill gets accosted by dog," which was live on Vancouver's Global TV last Tuesday, if you want to see affectionate.

    Perhaps that's why so many of our canine companions have human names. A newly published book, Move Over Rover: What To Name Your Pup When the Ordinary Just Won't Do, lists the most popular choices for dogs, including Max, Molly, Sam, Lucy, Sadie, Cody and a bunch of other names that sound like a Grade 6 roll call. My friend Andy Dunstan just adopted a dog that he called Jack, mostly because it scratches itself in public and drinks from the toilet, which Andy said reminds him of someone.

    But let's give cats their due. In England, they're saying Andrew Williams owes his life to one. He might want to check for his wallet, though.

    Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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    August 18, 2009 -- This Brooklyn man has a unique way to call for his dinner. Andrei Melnikov a computer tech who lives in Midwood, was amazed to discover that when he left his cellphone near his electricity-triggered gas stove, the oven would turn on if he got a call. "It happens like a remote control every time it's close. Sometimes it happens from three feet away," said Melnikov. A Maytag repairman yesterday prescribed an electronic suppressor to block the signal.
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    I'm sure there's a story behind it but none was posted... sad, just...sad.
    Last edited by firecat1; 11-17-2009 at 10:49 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by firecat1 View Post
    I'm sure there's a story behind it but none was posted... sad, just...sad.
    Actually Malahat VFD has a similar story. This goes back to about 2yrs before I joined the unit. The Chief was taking the Brush Truck into Victoria for maintenance, 1978 Dodge Powerwagon 4x4. Apparently it had MANY electrical and mechanical faults, and it was about to experience its final.

    Chief was almost out of the district when the truck decided it had done its thing and had enough. I dont recall the exact details but there was a fire, electrical, I think.... anyhow, you do that math. It had a REALLY KUUL flame job..... :0
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    I can't believe how stupid people can be and all over a cockroach of all things!

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    British cows on the warpath

    Reuters August 26, 2009

    The deaths of no fewer than four people after being trampled by cows in the past two months has prompted Britain's main farming union to issue a warning about the dangers of provoking the normally docile animals.

    Cows can become aggressive and charge, especially when calves are present and walkers are accompanied by dogs, said the National Farmers Union.

    The union and the Ramblers' Association both advise that walkers release dogs from their leads when passing through a field of cows.

    Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

    Good thing they weren't SHEEP eh?

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    Default Too much time on their hands?

    Groups Ban Words That Might Offend
    By STEVE PENDLEBURY, AOL News

    (Aug. 25) -- There's a gentleman's agreement among language masterminds at some public agencies in Britain that writing this sentence would put a black mark on your record.
    Dozens of taxpayer-funded organizations have ordered workers not to use certain common terms because they might offend some people, according to London newspapers. The National Gallery warned that "gentleman's agreement" is sexist. The same goes for "right-hand man." (Could that be seen as a slap at southpaws, too?)
    Britain's South West Regional Development Agency is among those trying to rub out "black mark," "black sheep" and other phrases that cast black in a negative light. Skills should be "perfected," not "mastered," according to the Learning and Skills Council. Newcastle University even has a problem with "master bedroom," The Sunday Times of London reported.
    Author Anthony Horowitz thinks the push for politically correct language has gone too far.
    "A great deal of our modern language is based on traditions which have now gone but it would be silly and extremely inconvenient to replace them all," Horowitz told the Times. "We know what these phrases mean and we can find out from where they were derived. Banning them is just unnecessary."
    But language constantly changes and author Rosalie Maggio sees nothing wrong with finding alternatives to these troublesome phrases.
    "Almost all of them are cliches," Maggio told AOL News. "They're outdated. They have no more meaning.
    "For me, language that is inclusive or unbiased is actually fresher," said Maggio, whose books include 'The Dictionary of Bias-Free Usage' and 'The Nonsexist Word Finder.' "A 'fireman' could be a guy on a train. 'Firefighter' tells you -- it's an action verb. ... It tells you what they do. A mail carrier carries mail. A firefighter fights fires."
    It's not just the Brits. Americans argued over words such as "snowperson" and "personhole" decades ago, Maggio recalled, with talk radio whipping up the debate over political correctness.
    "It brings back the '80s to me," writer/composer/satirist Christopher Cerf agreed. "I always thought this was a movement that became comical. And though it was well-intended at first, it probably did more harm than good in some ways because it made people make fun of sensitive speech instead of actually trying to be sensitive.
    "There is insensitive speech, but I'm not sure that the example of a 'gentleman's agreement' is really doing a whole lot of harm to the women's movement," Cerf said in an AOL News interview.
    Cerf, who wrote 'The Official Politically Correct Dictionary' with Henry Beard, recalled the story of a Long Island feminist in the 1970s who tried to change her name from Ellen Donna Cooperman to Ellen Donna Cooperperson.
    "And she's a better person for it," Cerf laughed. "Except that she forgot that 'person' has the word 'son' in it."
    People can use whatever words they choose, said Maggio, but there's no reason to fall back on ones that carry "unintended baggage."
    "As a writer, I don't want stupid words like 'spokesperson.' I think it's awkward and lumpy," she said. "How can you have really elegant English and have it be accurate and clear? You have to work a little bit.
    "The right word is a lot of work."
    2009 AOL LLC. All Rights Reserved.
    2009-08-25 16:08:43

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    What's in a (baby's) name: Distinctive tags top common ones

    By Misty Harris , Canwest News Service September 29, 2009

    In what's being called a "revolution in baby naming," unprecedented drops in common names for children are being recorded as parents gravitate toward distinctive monikers aimed at making their kids stand instead of fit in.

    In analyzing the names of some 325 million children born in 1880 or later, investigators from San Diego State University and the University of Georgia found just nine per cent of boys born in 2007 were given a "top 10" name, compared with 32 per cent in 1955; for girls, only eight per cent had a top 10 name in 2007, versus fully 22 per cent in 1955.

    "In another 10 or 20 years, to name your child Jennifer or Jessica or Jason or Justin will seem as outrageous as Gertrude or Myrtle today," says Nameberry.com's Pamela Redmond Satran, co-author of 10 books on baby names.

    "When our first (naming) book came out in 1988, the whole point was to take parents by the shoulder and say: 'Snap out of it! Stop using the same names.' Over the years, they have taken us up on that and done us one better, to the point where we're trying to catch up to what parents are doing."

    This year's celebrity babes include a Sparrow (born to Nicole Richie), Atlas (Anne Heche), Blaise (Olympian Amanda Beard), Ikhyd (singer M.I.A.), and Seraphina (Jennifer Garner).

    A 2007 California State University study, however, reveals people aren't nearly as original as they think, with naming decisions being largely the result of "random copying."

    Only a few per cent of parents are truly innovative, researchers found, with the rest unconsciously borrowing previously seen names parents presume are their own unique ideas. The study authors say this helps explain why the rate of name turnover has remained fairly consistent throughout the last century, despite immigration, new technologies and cultural shifts.

    "You might think we're all individualists now, but our tastes haven't changed that much," says Laura Wattenberg, founder of babynamewizard.com.

    "Yes, there are more eye-popping names. But what you're really seeing are little variations on the same themes."

    Wattenberg notes, for example, that the number of names that rhyme with Aiden in the top 1000 names climbs every year, having come to include such entries as Brayden, Hayden, Caden and Zayden. Each, however, has multiple spellings as parents strive to make the title unique to their child.

    "No name today is Jennifer. And certainly, no name is what John or Mary used to be," says Wattenberg, who describes the phenomenon as a revolution in naming trends.

    "In some ways, the names we think of as 'common' and boring like William or Margaret have something going for them, in that they don't sound like anything else."

    The implications of non-traditional names reach far beyond playground conformity.

    According to psychologist Jean Twenge, co-author of the San Diego State study, society's increasing emphasis on individualism has spurred the quest for unique baby names a post-Second World War trend that's peaked in the last two decades which in turn, stands to foster even higher levels of self-importance in parents' offspring.

    "People who score high on individualism like the idea of standing out," says Twenge, author of The Narcissism Epidemic. "These are the people who give their kids unusual names, and, in doing do, might be building or favouring those traits in their children."

    Canada's top girl names of 2008 (distils multiple spellings)

    1. Emma

    2. Mikayla

    3. Sarah

    4. Sophia

    5. Maya

    6. Danica

    7. Emily

    8. Ava

    9. Isabella

    10. Lily

    Canada's top boy names of 2008 (distils multiple spellings)

    1. Ethan

    2. Aiden

    3. Lucas

    4. Kaden

    5. Jayden

    6. Nathan

    7. Logan

    8. Noah

    9. Liam

    10. Jack

    Source: BabyCenter Canada

    Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

    How about K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Studpid)? Giving your kid a "funny" name is to invite beatings severe for school mates, followed by years and years of therapy.

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    Alrighty then ...

    Dave the dog has died, lying in state until weekend cremation

    By Judith Lavoie, Times Colonist

    September 30, 2009 7:09 AM
    Comments (8)
    StoryPhotos ( 1 )

    Malcolm Connors and his dog Starlit have a visit with the Connors' other dog , Dave, who died Sunday. The dog is lying in state in the family living room until Saturday
    Photograph by: Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist

    Dave is stretched out on his dog bed, beside the couch in the living room, looking as if he's exhausted after a hard day running in the fields beside Elk Lake.

    Malcolm Connors, owner of the large collie cross, talks to Dave before heading off to work and then brings the dog up to date on family activities.

    But, despite the lifelike pose, Dave is dead.

    "He looks content," said Connors, reaching down to pat his companion of 12 years.

    "I have been telling him how much I will miss him in my life and I believe he does hear. He knows I am here. I am convinced of that," he said.

    Dave died unexpectedly Sunday afternoon, after playing outdoors with Connors and Starlit, the family's second dog.

    "It was a bit of a shock," said Lizzie Connors.

    So, as with the Connors' previous three dogs, Dave is lying in state in the living room until he is cremated Saturday afternoon at Glory Bound Pet Crematorium in East Sooke.

    The body is surrounded by cedar and fir boughs, topped with flowers and his dog collar is laid out beside him.

    "I know it's not for everyone, but I think it is important that we have this time together. We just find it helps us," said Connors.

    There is a slight smell developing as Dave lies in state.

    "But it doesn't bother us. There are worse things in life," Connors said.

    The family is spending more than $400 on an obituary in the Times Colonist and, as has been done for their previous cats and dogs, Connors is creating a special book of handwritten memories, photographs and memorabilia.

    The walls of the neat Saanich home are covered with photos and stories about their dogs and cats and, in the bedroom is a row of urns.

    Other pet owners seem to agree that mourning is important and, after an obituary appeared for their previous dog, Pal, cards and letters of condolence poured in from strangers.

    On Saturday, Connors will accompany Dave to the crematorium and wait until the ashes are put into an urn.

    "Then I will drive him home again. He will never be alone," Connors said.

    The next problem will be lifting Starlit's spirits.

    Starlit has been lying beside Dave's body and seems depressed, Connors said.

    To make matters worse, this week the three-year-old dog is having a $5,000 knee operation and then has to be confined for four months.

    "So, I have moved my bed downstairs and a table and a chair for me to watch TV so I can be with her," Connors said.

    jlavoie@tc.canwest.com

    Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist
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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

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    I read that one earlier today too. It was a bit "close to home" as Niki is 14 now, and his hips are proving to be unreliable for him and he doesn't like the cold and the rain much, except when the neighbours dogs are outside.

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    From baby deliveries to unexpected deaths, Mike Bowes, a 911 dispatcher from Quincy, Massachusetts, has handled a wide range of emergency calls.
    But Monday night, the 44-year-old received an unexpected call from his neighbor: His own house was on fire. The 911 call came in about 10:45 p.m. Monday, a little more than an hour before Mike Bowes' shift ended.
    My neighbor's house just blew up, the caller said. "What's the address?" Mike Bowes asked patiently, just as he did with every emergency call for the past 11 years with the Quincy Police Department. The caller frantically relayed the address, Bowes' home address for 20 years."It was shocking," Mike Bowes said. "I thought she was kidding. It's a long shot. I mean, what's the chances it will be your house?" Out of 90,000 people who reside in Quincy, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, Mike Bowes' was the home in flames, and he had answered the emergency call.
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    Question Eerrr... Ummmm Ya. Ok.

    UF Emergency Plan Includes Zombie Attack In case zombies take over your campus, this is what you should do

    By TODD WRIGHT Updated 12:41 PM EDT, Fri, Oct 2, 2009

    The motto of the Boy Scouts is to always be prepared. Well, get the University of Florida its Apocalypse badge.

    Along with hurricane evacuation, natural disasters and nuclear fall out, the university also wanted students to be prepared in the event the undead ransacks the campus. Yes, a Zombieland attack.

    So on its Website, the school posted its "Disaster Preparedness" manual, with zombie attack as simulation exercise No. 5.

    "It is clear that international media have begun paying increasing attention to the possibility of an outbreak of zombie behavior spectrum disorder. Likewise, major metropolitan police agencies are starting to pay attention to the possibility of zombie attacks and are addressing citizen notification concerns," read part of the six-page instructions.

    It also included how to identify a possible zombie outbreak and a handy "Infected Co-Worker Dispatch" form. The manual never mentioned if classes are canceled though, so that's kind of a bummer.

    The rest of the rules read a lot like how you would defend a dorm against a panty raid, only the raiders want your brains and not your Tim Tebow underwear.

    The manual included tips on proper weaponry against the undead (no garlic please). And possible routes of escape were also explored.

    Alas, school officials determined late yesterday that the joke "didn't really belong" on the site, according to UF spokesman Steve Orlando, and it was taken down.

    Copyright Associated Press / NBC Washington First Published: Oct 1, 2009 2:23 PM EDT

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    *walking away shaking my head...*

    Ay Carumba! Bart's mom Marge brings her blue hair to the cover of Playboy
    Fri Oct 9, 4:54 PM
    By The Associated Press

    CHICAGO - Marge is about to do something Homer might not approve of.


    Playboy magazine is turning over its cover to the matriarch of Springfield's first family: Marge Simpson.


    It's a first for the magazine, which has had everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Cindy Crawford to the Girls of Hooters and even the likes of Jerry Seinfeld on the cover. But it's never had a cartoon character before.


    Marge and her pile of bright blue hair are set to grace the cover of the November issue of Playboy. It will hit the newsstands October 16.


    Marge isn't going to bare all, though, as the magazine says there will only be "implied nudity" in the three-page pictorial.


    New CEO Scott Flanders says the idea is to attract readers in their 20s to a magazine where the average reader's age is 35.
    Last edited by firecat1; 01-13-2010 at 06:26 AM.

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    Default Ooo Darwin. Where Art Thou?

    German mooner dragged half naked along platform

    Reuters

    BERLIN - A German man mooning at railway staff in a departing train got his trousers caught in a carriage door and ended up being dragged half naked along the platform, out of the station and onto the tracks.

    The 22-year-old journalism student shoved his backside against the window of a low-slung double-decker train when staff forced him off in Lauenbrueck for travelling without a ticket, a spokesman for police in the northern city of Bremen said.

    "It's a miracle he wasn't badly hurt," the spokesman said on Monday. "This sort of thing can end up killing you."

    Instead, dangling by his trousers, the man got pulled along for about 200 metres, all the while managing to keep his legs away from the wheels of the train.

    The ordeal ended when a passenger pulled the emergency brake. Rescues services were called in, causing rail services between Bremen and Hamburg to be suspended for over an hour, delaying 23 trains.

    The man -- unharmed except for cuts and bruises -- now faces charges of dangerous interference in rail transport, insulting the train staff, and may face sizeable a compensation claim for the delays he caused, police said.

    "He was full of remorse when I talked to him," the spokesman said. "And he advised others not to try the same thing." DO YA THINK???

    Copyright (c) Reuters

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    Funny story, but only because no harm was done, and a bunch of pilots got to log more "air time".
    ===

    Colorado 'balloon boy' found alive in home attic

    By Kieran Nicholson and Howard Pankratz, The Denver Post October 16, 2009 3:18 AM

    Reuters FORT COLLINS, Colo. A six-year-old Colorado boy thought to be missing in a runaway balloon has been found alive at his home.

    Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden told reporters Thursday night that Falcon Heene never got on the experimental balloon before it slipped its tether and went soaring thousands of metres in the air.

    "He was found in a box in the attic above the garage," Alderden said.

    Falcon's father, Richard Heene, told reporters Thursday that one of his other sons videotaped the boy climbing into the balloon's gondola but, unknown to the family, the boy exited the balloon before it took off and spent much of the day hiding in an attic.

    "He said he was hiding in the attic because I yelled at him. I'm really sorry I yelled at him," Heene added, his voice catching as he hugged his grinning son in front of the cameras.

    "Scared the heck out of us."

    Officials searched the home and neighbourhood, but the initial search did not turn up the boy.

    Alderden said it's not uncommon for children to hide when they learn people are looking for them because they don't want to get in trouble.

    The incident started Thursday morning in Fort Collins, about 100 kilometres north of Denver, when it was reported that Falcon got into the balloon-like craft built by his father, and it came loose from a tether.

    The Larimer County Sheriff's Office said the "homemade flying saucer" was made of plywood and string and was never intended for flight.

    Bob Licko, 65, a neighbour, said he was leaving home when he heard commotion in the backyard.

    He said he saw two boys on the roof with a camera, commenting about their brother.

    "One of the boys yelled to me that his brother was way up in the air," Licko said.

    Licko said the boys' mother seemed distraught, and the boys' father was running around the house.

    Officials from Larimer, Weld and Adams counties worked all Thursday afternoon with the Federal Aviation Administration, and with help from a local TV news helicopter, to track the balloon.

    It was aloft about three hours, sometimes drifting as high as 2,400 metres.

    The balloon travelled about 80 kilometres during its flight and hit estimated speeds of about 50 km/h. At times, it gained altitude, then dropped as it flew in and out of rising thermals.

    It made a soft landing in a farmer's field. When Falcon was not found with the balloon, a massive ground search for him was launched.

    Larimer County asked people to be on the lookout for Falcon. Crews on the ground asked for all-terrain vehicles, four-wheel drive vehicles and horses to help search working farmlands and hilly pastures.

    Firefighters and police from various departments were searching wide areas in both Larimer and Weld Counties, keeping track of "grids" as they moved along.

    Margie Martinez, spokeswoman for the Weld County Sheriff's Office, said during the flight that officials were not sure the boy was still in the balloon, because it was impossible to look into the basket during flight.

    Richard Heene is an amateur scientist based in Fort Collins. He and his partners call themselves the "psyience detectives."

    Heene is a storm chaser who collects data to prove that rotating storms create their own magnetic fields.

    He began his research in 2002 with lab experiments, then moved on to dust devils. In 2005, he flew a plane around Hurricane Wilma's perimeter. He took the Denver Post with him while chasing storms in 2007.

    Heene and his wife, Mayumi, also have sons Ryo and Bradford.

    They were featured on the ABC-TV series, Wife Swap.

    In a promotion for one of the Heene episodes, Wife Swap described the family this way: "When the Heene family aren't chasing storms, they devote their time to scientific experiments that include looking for extraterrestrials and building a research-gathering flying saucer to send into the eye of the storm."

    Read more at www.denverpost.com

    Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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    Berlin brothel cuts rates for 'green' customers
    By MARY MacPHERSON LANE, Associated Press Writer

    Friday, October 16, 2009 (10-16) 06:51 PDT BERLIN, Germany (AP)

    Part of Berlin's red-light scene is going green. One bordello, hoping to stave off falling demand in the economic crisis, has begun offering discounts to customers who pedal bicycles to the door.

    "It's very difficult to find parking around here, and this option is better for our environment," said Thomas Goetz, who owns the brothel Maison d'Envie, or House of Desire.

    Local residents in Prenzlauer Berg a part of former East Berlin now home to scores of trendy boutiques, restaurants and clubs had staunchly supported the Green party in recent elections and have welcomed the bordello's offer to emphasize the environment.

    The bordellos in the capital of Germany, where prostitution is legal, have seen business suffer with the global financial crisis. Patrons have become more frugal, and there are fewer potential customers coming to the city for business trips and conferences.

    But Maison d'Envie has seen its business begin to return since it began offering the euro5 ($7.50) discount in July, Goetz said.

    To qualify, customers must show the receptionist either a bicycle padlock key or proof they used public transit to get to the neighborhood. That knocks the price for 45 minutes in a room, for example, to euro65 from euro70.

    Those who arrive on foot, however, are out of luck.

    "We haven't found a way for people to prove they have walked here," Goetz explained.

    Other brothels have tried different incentives to cope with the economic downturn. One Berlin bordello offered a flat-rate for an unlimited time before officials' concerns over prostitutes' rights and cleanliness in the club forced them to rescind the offer.

    The 450,000 prostitutes working in Germany, some 10,000 of whom are in Berlin, have the same legal rights and social benefits as people in other professions.

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    Didn't Mythbusters cover this a few years ago when they hung a kid half this one's age underneath thousands of balloons with maybe twice the helium volume and STILL couldn't get liftoff?
    Though I would have been responding with everyone else,I would have commented on how the balloon wasn't acting like it had any load in it.
    I could be wrong but couldn't the NG helo have touched its rotor wash onto the balloon and pushed it down some until someone on the ground could have grabbed a tether and hauled it in?
    I was skeptical when I heard "His brother said he climbed in the balloon..." and immediately wondered "How old is the brother?Kids can make up fanciful stuff,you know."

    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7 View Post
    Funny story, but only because no harm was done, and a bunch of pilots got to log more "air time".
    ===

    Colorado 'balloon boy' found alive in home attic

    By Kieran Nicholson and Howard Pankratz, The Denver Post October 16, 2009 3:18 AM

    Reuters FORT COLLINS, Colo. A six-year-old Colorado boy thought to be missing in a runaway balloon has been found alive at his home.

    Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden told reporters Thursday night that Falcon Heene never got on the experimental balloon before it slipped its tether and went soaring thousands of metres in the air.

    "He was found in a box in the attic above the garage," Alderden said.

    Falcon's father, Richard Heene, told reporters Thursday that one of his other sons videotaped the boy climbing into the balloon's gondola but, unknown to the family, the boy exited the balloon before it took off and spent much of the day hiding in an attic.

    "He said he was hiding in the attic because I yelled at him. I'm really sorry I yelled at him," Heene added, his voice catching as he hugged his grinning son in front of the cameras.

    "Scared the heck out of us."

    Officials searched the home and neighbourhood, but the initial search did not turn up the boy.

    Alderden said it's not uncommon for children to hide when they learn people are looking for them because they don't want to get in trouble.

    The incident started Thursday morning in Fort Collins, about 100 kilometres north of Denver, when it was reported that Falcon got into the balloon-like craft built by his father, and it came loose from a tether.

    The Larimer County Sheriff's Office said the "homemade flying saucer" was made of plywood and string and was never intended for flight.

    Bob Licko, 65, a neighbour, said he was leaving home when he heard commotion in the backyard.

    He said he saw two boys on the roof with a camera, commenting about their brother.

    "One of the boys yelled to me that his brother was way up in the air," Licko said.

    Licko said the boys' mother seemed distraught, and the boys' father was running around the house.

    Officials from Larimer, Weld and Adams counties worked all Thursday afternoon with the Federal Aviation Administration, and with help from a local TV news helicopter, to track the balloon.

    It was aloft about three hours, sometimes drifting as high as 2,400 metres.

    The balloon travelled about 80 kilometres during its flight and hit estimated speeds of about 50 km/h. At times, it gained altitude, then dropped as it flew in and out of rising thermals.

    It made a soft landing in a farmer's field. When Falcon was not found with the balloon, a massive ground search for him was launched.

    Larimer County asked people to be on the lookout for Falcon. Crews on the ground asked for all-terrain vehicles, four-wheel drive vehicles and horses to help search working farmlands and hilly pastures.

    Firefighters and police from various departments were searching wide areas in both Larimer and Weld Counties, keeping track of "grids" as they moved along.

    Margie Martinez, spokeswoman for the Weld County Sheriff's Office, said during the flight that officials were not sure the boy was still in the balloon, because it was impossible to look into the basket during flight.

    Richard Heene is an amateur scientist based in Fort Collins. He and his partners call themselves the "psyience detectives."

    Heene is a storm chaser who collects data to prove that rotating storms create their own magnetic fields.

    He began his research in 2002 with lab experiments, then moved on to dust devils. In 2005, he flew a plane around Hurricane Wilma's perimeter. He took the Denver Post with him while chasing storms in 2007.

    Heene and his wife, Mayumi, also have sons Ryo and Bradford.

    They were featured on the ABC-TV series, Wife Swap.

    In a promotion for one of the Heene episodes, Wife Swap described the family this way: "When the Heene family aren't chasing storms, they devote their time to scientific experiments that include looking for extraterrestrials and building a research-gathering flying saucer to send into the eye of the storm."

    Read more at www.denverpost.com

    Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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    No news, but an incredible picture

    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

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    Ok, the first photo I was thinking "Man thats a silly way to park your truck." then I got the 4th, showing the bridge......... EEKK

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    Authors shine a light on Fido's eco-pawprint

    Reuters October 23, 2009 1:09 AM

    They're faithful, friendly and furry -- but under their harmless exteriors, dogs and cats, the world's most popular pets, use more energy resources in a year than driving a car, a new book says.

    In their book Time to Eat the Dog: The Real Guide to Sustainable Living, New Zealand-based architects Robert and Brenda Vale say keeping a medium-sized dog has the same ecological impact as driving 10,000 kilometres a year in a 4.6-litre Land Cruiser.

    Calculating that the modern Fido chows through about 164 kg of meat and 95 kg of cereals a year, the Vales estimated the ecological footprint of cats and dogs, based on the amount of land needed to grow common brands of pet food.

    "There are no recipes in the book," Robert Vale told Reuters, laughingly, in a telephone interview.

    "We're not actually saying it is time to eat the dog. We're just saying that we need to think about and know the [ecological] impact of some of the things we do."

    Constructing and driving the jeep for a year requires 0.41 hectares of land, while growing and manufacturing a dog's food takes about 0.84 ha -- or 1.1 ha in the case of a large dog.

    Meat-eating swells the eco-footprint of dogs, and cats are not that much better, the Vales found.

    The average cat's eco-footprint, 0.15 ha, weighs in at slightly less than a Volkswagen Golf, but still 10 times a hamster's 0.014 ha -- which is itself half the eco cost of running a plasma television.

    By comparison, the ecological footprint of an average human in the developing world is 1.8 ha, while people in the developed world take 6 ha.

    With pets' diets under the control of owners, how can their unsustainable appetites be trimmed?

    Convincing cats and dogs to go vegetarian is a non-starter, the Vales say.

    Instead they recommend keeping more sustainable pets, such as goldfish, hamsters, chickens or rabbits.

    The book's playful title, and serious suggestion that pet animals may be usefully "recycled," by being eaten by their owners or turned into pet food when they die, may not appeal to all.

    Off-putting as the idea may be, the question is valid given the planet's finite resources, Robert Vale said.

    "It's not just about changing your lightbulbs or taking a cloth bag to the supermarket," he said.

    "It's about much more challenging and difficult issues," he added. "Once you see where [pets] fit in your overall balance of things -- you might decide to have the cat but not also to have the two cars and the three bathrooms and be a meat eater yourself."

    Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

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    Man pleads guilty to DWI in motorized La-Z-Boy

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 (10-22) 18:17 PDT Duluth, Minn. (AP)

    A Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to driving his motorized La-Z-Boy chair while drunk. A criminal complaint says 62-year-old Dennis LeRoy Anderson told police he left a bar in the northern Minnesota town of Proctor on his chair after drinking eight or nine beers.

    Prosecutors say Anderson's blood alcohol content was 0.29, more than three times the legal limit, when he crashed into a parked vehicle in August 2008. He was not seriously injured.

    Police said the chair was powered by a converted lawnmower and had a stereo and cup holders.

    Sixth Judicial District Judge Heather Sweetland stayed 180 days of jail time Monday and ordered two years of probation for Anderson. His attorney, David Keegan, did not immediately return a call for comment.

    Information from: Duluth News Tribune, www.duluthsuperior.com

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    the Snopes article is entertaining...

    http://www.snopes.com/food/prepare/camel.asp
    Last edited by firecat1; 01-13-2010 at 06:27 AM.

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    Question Pic-a-nic Basket Or Mini Van. Can You Tell The Difference?

    For Yosemite bears, dinner arrives in a minivan

    Sunday, October 25, 2009 (10-25) 10:50 PDT Yosemite National Park, Calif. (AP)

    What's bigger than a picnic basket and even better than one in the eyes of black bears that live in Yosemite National Park? A study published this month in the Journal of Mammalogy says it's minivans driven by families with children who leave behind a trail of spilled juice boxes, Cheerios and coolers carrying other snacks.

    Park scientists have found that the bears tore up minivans more frequently than other types of vehicles. It found that minivans represented 29 percent of the 908 vehicles torn into by bears between 2001 and 2007, even though they made up just 7 percent of the cars that visited Yosemite.

    The researchers investigated the relationship after noticing that bears seemed to target that particular vehicle type.

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    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, cp.org, Updated: October 27, 2009 3:32 PMPuck Naked: US team gets penalty time for playing 'strip hockey' at practice
    BOISE, Idaho - An Idaho junior hockey team was banished temporarily from a city ice rink after players engaged in a game of "strip hockey" - shedding a piece of uniform every time a practice shot missed its mark.

    As redress for last Wednesday's incident, Boise forbid the Idaho Junior Steelheads team from using Idaho Ice World for four days; one 17-year-old player who shed his underwear briefly was suspended until next week. In addition, police are investigating, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

    Doug Holloway, Boise's recreation superintendent, says rink employees told him the shootout drill went like this: "If they missed a shot, they had to take off a glove. If they missed another, they had to take off another glove. And so on, and so forth."An adult whose young daughter was on an adjacent rink saw the 17-to 20-year-old Steelheads skating in their skivvies and complained to a city hotline.

    Rink employees who also noticed the scantily clad skaters urged them to cover up.

    Police who were alerted on Thursday are now looking into whether Boise's public decency laws were broken by the incident.

    "The investigation is pending," said Boise Police Department spokeswoman Lynn Hightower.

    The city forbids people from showing their buttocks in public, largely to curb erotic dance parlours. Exemptions include dance, ballet, music or dramatic performances, or artistic displays; nudity during hockey practice isn't on the list.

    John Oliver, the Idaho Junior Steelheads owner, wasn't at the practice where the players held the "strip shootout."

    But an assistant told him the players were emulating a professional team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, whose members held a similar shootout last week where they discarded pieces of equipment after failing to score.

    Internet videos show a Lightning right winger, Martin St. Louis, stripping to his long, dark shorts and shirt; the Junior Steelheads apparently went further, with some disrobing down to their sports briefs. At least one 17-year-old player doffed his underwear completely, to "moon" another player.

    That teen was also punished by the team, Oliver said.

    "His behaviour didn't live up to our player code of conduct," said Oliver, whose squad plays in the Western States Hockey League against opponents from Arizona and California.

    The Junior Steelheads' suspension from Ice World ends Wednesday, when the team will be allowed to return.

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