Monday, November 24, 2008

Ark. man left the phone at a McDonald's; he's now suing for $3 million. Guess why?

Here's some food for thought: If you have nude photos of your wife on your cell phone, hang onto it.

Phillip Sherman of Arkansas learned that lesson after he left his phone behind at a McDonald's restaurant and the photos ended up online. Now he and his wife, Tina, are suing the McDonald's Corp., the franchise owner and the store manager.

The suit was filed Friday and seeks a jury trial and $3 million in damages for suffering, embarrassment and the cost of having to move to a new home.

The suit says that Phillip Sherman left the phone the Fayetteville store in July and that employees promised to secure it until he returned.

Manager Aaron Brummley declined to comment, and other company officials didn't return messages.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stick added to the National Toy Hall of Fame - Weird Facts

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The lowly stick, a universal plaything powered by a child's imagination, landed in the National Toy Hall of Fame on Thursday along with the Baby Doll and the skateboard.

The three were chosen to join the Strong National Museum of Play's lineup of 38 classics ranging from the bicycle, the kite and Mr. Potato Head to Crayola crayons, marbles and the Atari 2600 video game system.

Curators said the stick was a special addition in the spirit of a 2005 inductee, the cardboard box. They praised its all-purpose, no-cost, recreational qualities, noting its ability to serve either as raw material or an appendage transformed in myriad ways by a child's creativity.

"It's very open-ended, all-natural, the perfect price — there aren't any rules or instructions for its use," said Christopher Bensch, the museum's curator of collections. "It can be a Wild West horse, a medieval knight's sword, a boat on a stream or a slingshot with a rubber band. ... No snowman is complete without a couple of stick arms, and every campfire needs a stick for toasting marshmallows.

"This toy is so fantastic that it's not just for humans anymore. You can find otters, chimps and dogs — especially dogs — playing with it."

Longevity is a key criterion for getting into the hall, which the museum acquired in 2002 from A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village in Salem, Ore. Each toy must not only be widely recognized and foster learning, creativity or discovery through play, but also endure in popularity over generations.

While dolls have been around since ancient times, the Baby Doll with its realistic newborn features emerged in the late 18th century and has been through hundreds of incarnations. Today's models can crawl, drink and even talk via voice-activated commands.

"It is generally thought of as lovable and cuddly, even if it can doze off or cry during play," said Susan Asbury, an associate curator. "Toy designers have spent decades making it ever more lifelike and true to form. ... It promotes imaginative play and brings out the nurturing side in all of us."

The first skateboarders in the 1950s cruised walkways on California beaches trying to match the speed, turns and tricks performed by surfers they watched offshore.

Apart from being fun, practicing ollies, grinds and primos "promotes individualism ... artistic expression and it's also very athletic," skateboard icon Tony Hawk said in a video message played at the induction ceremony.



Saturday, September 27, 2008

Weird Facts: In the 1990s, your family came for dinner. Now they're moving in.

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The number of parents, siblings and other relatives who live with adult heads of households grew 42% from 2000 to 2007, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Leading the way: parents, up 67%, to 3.6 million.

The figures suggest it isn't only elderly parents moving in. The number of parents under 65 in these households increased by 75%, and those 65 and older were up 62%. Both groups outpaced the increase in the number of people in family households overall, which is up 6% since 2000.

"This is just a major trend," says Stephanie Coontz, a family history professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., who directs research at the Council on Contemporary Families.

Coontz suspects that a host of factors — among them higher housing costs and the nation's struggling economy — are prompting families to combine expenses. Also, intergenerational households are more common among the country's growing number of immigrants, she says.

But Coontz also notes that parent-child relationships are closer now than in the past. The downside, she says, is the emergence of the so-called helicopter parent who may hover too closely, but the upside is a tighter bond between generations and, in many cases, closer friendships between grown children and their parents. "I don't know how many of my students have told me, 'This may sound weird, but I talk to my parents more than I talk to my friends.' "

The average size of both families and households grew from 2000 to 2007, the data show, after shrinking slightly in the 1990s. The average family in 2007 had 3.2 people, up from 3.14 in 2000. The average household, which includes those in which someone lives alone, had 2.61 people in 2007, up from 2.59 in 2000.

Among other factors changing households:

• A 40% increase in the number of other live-in relatives, including the head of household's mother-in-law or father-in-law, to 6.8 million.

• A 24% increase in the number of live-in brothers and sisters, to 3.5 million in 2007.

• An 8% increase in non-relatives, including unmarried partners and roommates, to 6.2 million.

• Alaska had the highest percentage change in parents living with householders, up 167%. South Dakota had the lowest, still up 7%.

The Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey collects data from about 3 million U.S. households each year.

[Via - USAToday.Com]


Friday, September 19, 2008

Scientists to use satellites to count kangaroo rats | Weird facts

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FRESNO, Calif. — Scientists plan to use satellite photos to count Giant Kangaroo Rats, the first-ever monitoring of an endangered species from outer space.

Scientists will examine images taken from the same satellite used by Israeli defense forces to find the circular patches of earth denuded by the rats as they gather food around their burrows. From that they plan to get the first-ever accurate population count of the rodents, a bellwether for the health of a parched plains environment.

By comparing the photos to 30 years of satellite images being released this month by the U.S. Geological Survey, researchers hope to better understand how the population has fluctuated in response to climate change and as the arrival of state and federal canal water turned the arid San Joaquin Valley into a patchwork of intensely cultivated farms and forced Giant Kangaroo Rats to concentrate on higher ground.

The information will help scientists determine when cattle might be used to reduce nonnative grasses, allowing the rats to more easily find food.

This study using satellite technology is taking place on the vast Carrizo Plain, a 390-square-mile desert grassland 150 miles southwest of here that is home to the most concentrated remaining populations of kangaroo rats.

The technology replaces trapping and tedious airplane fly-overs as a means of taking census.

"It allows us to more quickly recognize whether populations are declining where we want them to exist," said Scott Butterfield, a biologist with of The Nature Conservancy. "If they go below a threshold, that is when we would consider intervening."

Giant Kangaroo Rats, nocturnal rodents so named because they hop on back legs, adapted to their desert environment by extracting moisture from seeds and in their nasal passages from the humid air they exhale. For food, they pile seeds from native grasses in circles outside their burrows, which provide shelter for the endangered San Joaquin antelope squirrel and blunt-nosed lizards. Their fat five-inch bodies are a favored source of food for the endangered kit fox.

High rainfall encourages the growth of taller nonnative grasses, which overrun the shorter grasses that kangaroo rats depend on for food. Less food means fewer offspring. When kangaroo rats decline, so do the endangered native plant and animal species that depend on them for survival, the researchers say.

Determining at what point rainfall affects foraging will help the U.S. Bureau of Land Management establish grazing policy to control nonnative grasses and encourage a healthy kangaroo rat population.

"Without them the entire ecosystem would go out of whack," said Tim Bean, a doctoral student with the department of environmental policy and management at the University of California, Berkeley. "It's fairly rare for something so small to be a keystone species. It's easier to track, say, bison."

Farming has taken 90 percent of the kangaroo rat habitat since the middle of the last century.

The Carrizo Plain National Monument is California's largest remaining undisturbed tract of grasslands similar in biology and geography to the San Joaquin Valley, and it supports many plant and animal species that once thrived on the valley floor.

"Carrizo is like a Yosemite for grasslands, and there are decisions people are learning to make to manage it in a way that preserves its natural state," Bean said. "Since the kangaroo rat is so important to its function, we've got to get a handle on it."

[Via - WRAL]


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Weird Facts: Slovakia's women's ice hockey pummels Bulgaria 82-0

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BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) -- With more goals than minutes in the game, Slovakia's women's ice hockey team claimed an amazing 82-0 victory over Bulgaria in Olympic qualifying.

Slovakia outshot the Bulgarians 139-0 during the 60-minute game, played in Latvia. The margin of victory is a record for a women's International Ice Hockey Federation-sanctioned event.

"We took it as training," Slovakia coach Miroslav Karafiat said after Saturday's game.

Janka Culikova led Slovakia with 10 goals, while Martina Velickova scored nine. Fourteen different players scored at least one goal.

Slovakia, which also beat Croatia, Latvia and Italy, advanced to another qualifying group with Germany, Kazakhstan and France. The winner will secure a spot at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Bulgaria was eliminated after scoring one goal and conceding 192 in the tournament.

The Slovakian men's team clinched its biggest ever victory against the Bulgarians 14 years ago when they won 20-0.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Weird Facts: Help-wanted ad for nanny: `My kids are a pain'

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weird facts
NEW YORK (AP) - It was an unusually honest ad for a live-in nanny, a 1,000-word tome beginning, "My kids are a pain." But it worked, attracting a brave soul who's never been a nanny before.

"If you cannot multitask, or communicate without being passive aggressive, don't even bother replying," Rebecca Land Soodak, a mother of four on Manhattan's Upper East Side, wrote Aug. 19 in her advertisement on Craigslist.

"I can be a tad difficult to work for. I'm loud, pushy and while I used to think we paid well, I am no longer sure."

This being the age of instant communications, the ad took on a life of its own, making the rounds of parenting blogs and e-mail inboxes and inspiring an article in Thursday's New York Times.

Soodak, a 40-year-old painter whose husband owns a wine store, eventually hired Christina Wynn, a 25-year-old University of Virginia graduate, to take care of Rubin, 12; Ellis, 9; and Shay and Cassie, both 6.

"I made a commitment to stay in the job for at least a year," Wynn told the Times. "I met the oldest child, but not the others, which my mother said was crazy - to accept the job without meeting all the kids. So we'll see." She noted that one of the pluses is that the children are all in school for several hours each day.

Some other excerpts from the listing: "If you are fundamentally unhappy with your life, you will be more unhappy if you take this job, so do us all a favor and get some treatment or move to the Rockies, but do not apply for employment with us."

And this: "Also, if you suspect all wealthy women are frivolous, we are not for you."

And this: "I have all sorts of theories on how to stack my dishwasher, and if you are judgmental about Ritalin for ADHD, or think such things are caused by too much sugar, again, deal-break city."

No word yet on whether a sequel to "The Nanny Diaries" is in the works. Meanwhile, Soodak tells the Times: "I hope she likes it here. I sent the ad to one of my old sitters and she said she felt it was pretty accurate, which sort of stung a little bit."

[Via - MyWay.Com]

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How to Start an IT Consulting Business

IT, or informational technology, refers to the development and use of computer-based technology. This can mean many different things, starting with the design of computer software and ending with the transmission of information over the Internet or via specialized networks. A consulting business can cover several aspects of the industry or focus on just one, depending on your areas of expertise.

granted by: New York IT Consulting

Decide what type of services you will offer. This depends mainly on your knowledge, although it's possible to start an IT consulting business by joining forces with experts in other fields and offering a more comprehensive service. In any case, you still need to make up a list of services offered and a list of services you won't be able to provide (so you can turn down or refer work as soon as you are asked).

Decide what type of IT company you want to start. If you work on your own and freelance for companies, you will have to file your own taxes. If you form a corporation, you will be entitled to tax breaks and government help that you would not have as an independent worker.

Set up a website that looks professional. Have a professional do it for you if you don't have the knowledge, and make sure the site is optimized for search engines. Your website should offer a good view into what your company does, what type of problems you can solve and what the credentials of the people in the team include.

Look for steady work from a single company (or two) rather than small jobs from many different ones. While the small side jobs are great as extras, they may not provide enough income to keep up with payroll and business expenses. Working as an IT consultant for a single company means steady revenue and more peace of mind.

Visit the website of the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) for information on setting up a consulting practice that takes advantage of the latest developments in the industry (see Resources below). The ITAA website also offers data on policy issues and membership opportunities for more direct support.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gunshot victim sues to get prosthetic leg back | Weird Facts

ALLIANCE, Neb. - After being shot five times last weekend, a western Nebraska man had to go to court to get his prosthetic leg back from prosecutors. The Box Butte County Attorney's office gave Val McCabe's leg back Wednesday after a judge ordered it returned.

McCabe, 58, shot during a roadside incident on Friday, was listed in good condition at a hospital in Scottsbluff. Prosecutors wanted to run tests on the leg and the bullet lodged inside.

McCabe, who lost his leg below the knee in a railroad accident roughly 30 years ago, filed his lawsuit Tuesday.

McCabe lawyer argued it wasn't practical for him to replace the specially built, $28,000 prosthesis.

Alliance Police removed the bullet from the leg before returning it. No arrests had been made by Wednesday.

Via -


Monday, September 1, 2008

Weird facts: Nigerian man to divorce 82 wives

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A Nigerian religious leader with 86 wives has accepted an Islamic decree ordering him to divorce all but four of them, local authorities say.

A spokesman for the emir of Bida told the BBC that Mohammadu Bello Abubakar, 84, agreed on Saturday to comply with the decree.

Last week one of Nigeria's top Islamic bodies, the Jamatu Nasril Islam, sentenced him to death.

The sentence was lifted but he was threatened with eviction from his home.

Earlier, Mr Abubakar had challenged Islamic scholars, saying there was no punishment stated in the Koran for having more than four wives.

"I have not contravened any established law that would warrant my being banished from the land... There is no law that says one must not marry more than four wives," the AFP news agency reported him as saying.
Inside "Baba's" house
Many of the wives live three to a room, some have seven children

"All my wives are with children and some of these are people I have married and stayed with for over 30 years. How can they expect me to leave them within two days?" he reportedly told local newspapers.

The former teacher and Islamic preacher lives in Niger State with his wives and at least 170 children.

Niger is one of the Muslim majority states to have reintroduced Sharia punishments since 2000.

Several people have been sentenced to death for adultery by Sharia courts but none of these sentences have been carried out.

[Via - BBC]

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kentucky politician jailed after joke | Weird Facts

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weird facts - Politicians are known for lame jokes. But when Otis "Bullman" Hensley tried a generations-old Appalachian jest on a woman and two girls at the grocery store, the family thought it was downright criminal.

Hensley, who earned notoriety for oddball antics as a longshot gubernatorial candidate, spent three days in jail in this eastern Kentucky coal town last week after being arrested over the wisecrack.

"Jay Leno makes jokes every night and makes millions," Hensley said in his thick Appalachian accent. "I make one joke and go to jail."

He could have faced as many as 10 years in prison, but a charge of attempted unlawful transaction with a minor was dismissed on Monday.

The ordeal began last week when Hensley's wife sent him to a local grocery store to buy ground beef. While there, Hensley encountered a woman with her two nieces, ages 11 and 13. "I offered to trade her a fattening hog for those girls," Hensley said. "I meant it as a joke. I've said it a million times. Most people get a kick out of it."

The woman didn't laugh. Instead, the family obtained a warrant for Hensley's arrest from the local prosecutor, claiming the comment was intended to entice the children into illegal sexual activity.

On Tuesday, the girls' father accepted an apology from Hensley and shook hands with him in a Harlan County courtroom. The man declined to discuss the case with reporters afterward.

Prosecutor J.D. Smith asked the judge to dismiss the charge, saying both sides want to put the matter behind them.

"He absolutely meant no harm," Smith said of Hensley. "It was a joke to him."

Appalachian scholar Loyal Jones said the jest Hensley made has been around for generations and actually is intended as a compliment.

"I've heard many variations of that," said Jones, retired director of Berea College's Appalachian Center. "You might hear 'That's a good looking boy; I'd trade you a pocket knife for him' ... Political correctness has ruined country humour."

In Kentucky, citizens can obtain arrest warrants simply by filing a complaint with local prosecutors. Defence lawyer Karen Davenport said no investigation is necessary for police to make an arrest when the charge involves an alleged sexual offense.

In the Hensley case, Davenport said, the arrest was unwarranted because he had done nothing criminal.

In the last two gubernatorial campaigns, Hensley travelled the state with a giant Fiberglas bull on which he attached a sign proclaiming that, if elected, he would "chase the bull out of Frankfort." He received 3.3 per cent of the vote in 2003, his best showing.

[Via -]


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Amtrak train runs out of fuel, 80 passengers stranded for 2 hours

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weird facts
SAN DIEGO - It was the little engine that couldn't - because it was thirsty for fuel.

Officials say a planned quick train trip down the U.S. west coast turned into a long haul for more than 80 Amtrak passengers Sunday night when their Los Angeles to San Diego train ran out of fuel.

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Cole said the train sat for about two hours on the northern edge of San Diego before another engine came along to push it the last several kilometres into the train station.

The train, which had left Los Angeles at 8:30 p.m., didn't get to San Diego until 1:15 a.m. Monday, two hours late.

Cole described having a train run out of fuel as "an unusual occurrence" and said Amtrak officials will be looking into how it happened.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Baby whale seems to think yacht is its mother | weird facts

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weird facts
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- A lost humpback whale calf that bonded with a yacht it seems to think is its mother will likely die within days if it doesn't find another mother to adopt it, a wildlife official said Tuesday.

The 1- to 2-month-old calf was first sighted Sunday in waters off north Sydney, and on Monday tried to suckle from a yacht, which it would not leave. Rescuers towed the yacht out to sea, and the calf finally detached from the boat, but the creature returned to an inlet near Sydney Tuesday morning, New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman John Dengate said.

The calf can't survive without mother's milk for long, Dengate told Australia's Fairfax Radio Network.

"It's probably a question of days rather than weeks," he said. "It's a very grim prognosis."

Artificial feeding would be impossible, so the calf's only chance is to find another female whale to accept it, he said.

"If a lactating female with a calf goes past and this calf approaches that animal it may accept it, but ... it's a very slim chance," Dengate said.

[Via - AP]


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Illinois sheriff does jail time - voluntarily | Weird Facts

weird facts
WAUKEGAN, Ill. - The Lake County sheriff is behind bars — voluntarily.

Sheriff Mark Curran said his goal is to talk to inmates so he can see the jail from their perspective. That way he can try to solve potential problems, such as safety issues, and better understand the inmate experience, he said.

Real inmates bunk together in a cell, but Curran will sleep in his own cell for safety reasons. He was locked up Wednesday.

"I want some introspection but let's be realistic. I'm never going to be able to completely create that scenario," Curran told The Associated Press by telephone from jail.

Curran said he's also trying to draw attention to the fact that jails are overpopulated with the mentally ill, the uneducated and repeat offenders. Rehabilitation needs to be a focus, he said.

So far Curran said he has met several inmates, not all of whom appeared to realize he was sheriff. For those who do recognize him, he said he'll have to work to gain their trust.

"There might be some skepticism amongst them," he said. "You break down the walls as much as you possibly can."

Unlike the other inmates, Curran gets to leave on a date he chooses: Aug. 27.


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How to Compare Different Credit Cards

Before you apply for your next credit card, take the time to compare different cards. By making an informed decision you may save yourself money and frustration in the long run.

Step 1
Compare the current and ongoing interest rates of different Credit Cards before you apply. Though many banks may offer a low introductory interest rate, it is important to know how high the interest rate will increase once that period has ended.

Step 2
Look for additional fees, such as application charges or annual fees. Many times lower interest rate credit cards may be offset by a high annual fees or charges.

Step 3
Check to see if the interest rate differs for services such as cash advances or balance transfers. Many times, the rate may be as much as twice the normal APR.

Step 4
Keep in mind that many credit cards charge you additional fees for purchases made in a foreign country. This is a detail not to be overlooked, especially if you plan to travel or make purchases from overseas vendors.

Step 5
Know what the penalty will be if you charge purchases over your credit limit or make a late payment. These fees may be large and they do earn interest.

Compare the Fringe Benefits

Step 1
Find a card that gives you something in return, such as cash back rewards or airline mileage.

Step 2
Contribute to a cause you care about by selecting a credit card that donates to your university or a favorite charity each time you make a purchase. In many cases, your alumni credit card may serve as alumni dues for your alma mater.

Step 3

Find a credit card to suit your personal style. Many companies are now offering different designs for their credit cards.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Puerto Rico corpse kept upright for 3-day wake | Weird Facts

weird facts
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - A Puerto Rican man has been granted his wish to remain standing — even in death.

A funeral home used a special embalming treatment to keep the corpse of 24-year-old Angel Pantoja Medina standing upright for his three-day wake.

Dressed in a Yankees baseball cap and sunglasses, Pantoja was mourned by relatives while propped upright in his mother's living room.

His brother Carlos told the El Nuevo Dia newspaper the victim had long said he wanted to be upright for his own wake: "He wanted to be happy, standing."

The owner of the Marin Funeral Home, Damaris Marin, told The Associated Press the mother asked him to fulfill her dead son's last wish.

Pantoja was found dead Friday underneath a bridge in San Juan and buried Monday. Police are investigating.

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How to Avoid Common Search Engine Optimization Mistakes

Unless you're a very strange person, you put your website up for the world to see. You want visitors for fun and profit! Why aren’t you getting them? There are lots of answers. The lack of an audience is not one of them. Do you like ray guns? Dinosaur jokes? If the Web has demonstrated one thing, it’s that there’s pretty much no topic that doesn’t have its share of devotees. Let's talk about the mistakes to avoid, step by step.
by California SEO

1. Optimize your coding if your site uses outdated HTML or generally wacky code. Examples include using the bold tag instead of the strong tag, visible HTML tabling, frames and anything else that makes the site look bad, you won't get as many visitors. Comply with the most recent universal HTML standards.

2. Use your titles. Search engines display your titles as links back to your site. If the title says “Index,” that doesn’t tell anyone a thing. Why should they click through? Search engines also give titles a great deal of weight when judging keyword relevance. Don’t stuff your titles with keywords but don’t avoid using them, either.

3. Use social media to promote your site. If your site doesn’t have any social media tools or connections, it’s automatically at a disadvantage. Get a blog, at least. Add buttons that let your visitors report interesting content to social aggregators like Technorati and Digg.

4. Include interesting, well-written content. You can have the most technically search-optimized site in the world, but if real people don’t want to read any of it, it will never improve by much. Search engines want sites that people want to visit. Ethical SEO is as much about increasing this “organic” appeal as good coding. You would think this step would be obvious, but unfortunately, the casual nature of web browsing (You can do it in your underwear!) lulls people into being a bit careless when they put content up.

5. Hire someone if you don't have skills. If you're considering hiring an full-blown SEO firm, see how their other clients rank and have responded to the company's services. Take this guys as an example: California SEO


Saturday, August 16, 2008

UK: Two drunk Russian pilots arrested | Weird Facts

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weird facts
Two Russian pilots who were about to fly a Boeing 767 were arrested at Manchester Airport early today on suspicion they were drunk.

The pair were picked up as they prepared to get in to a 200-tonne empty passenger plane to Moscow.

Security officers alerted police when they smelled alcohol and claim the pair were struggling to stand up as they waited for their jet.

Police went to a hangar where the empty Aeroflot passenger jet was just being towed out after being repaired.

The co-pilots were breathalysed at the scene and sources say they were well above the legal limit for flying.

The legal limit for flying is 20mg of alcohol compared with 35mg for driving.

The pair, 47 and 55, were arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol while acting as crew members.

The jet had no passengers on board at the time and it is understood it was being taken back to Moscow.

The men were taken to the airport police station and later transferred to Cheadle Hulme police station, where they remained in custody.

A security officer told the M.E.N: "They were coming through security when one of the officers smelled that their breath was rather sweeter than it should be. It was reported to the police.

"They went to board their aircraft which was being towed out of the hangar to go back to Russia. It had just had its undercarriage fixed. They were breathalysed.

"You could see they weren't right as they were waiting for the plane to be towed from the hangar. They could not actually stand up on their own. They were holding onto the side of the bus that had taken them to the hangar. They were swaying. That's why we got the police involved straight away."

The Aeroflot Boeing 767 remained at Manchester Airport this morning.

A spokeswoman for Greater Manchester Police said: "Police at Manchester Airport arrested two men under suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol while acting as crew members.

"The men, aged 47 and 55, both from Moscow, were arrested at approximately 3.10am today.

"Inquiries are ongoing."

[Via Sighns of the Times News]

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Friday, August 15, 2008

The Brit women cop who worked as 100 pounds-an-hour hooker! | Weird Facts

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weird facts
London, Aug 14 ANI: A Brit female cop has been suspended after her colleagues found that she was working as a hooker.

The 28-year-old serving officer was arrested, along with eight women and six men, by the officers investigating prostitution and police corruption across Greater Manchester, Northumberland, Cleveland, Co Durham and the Scottish Borders.

She offered services as a 100 pounds-an-hour escort on a website.The women cop, who worked for Northumbria force, is one of the so-called Notorious Girls on a website run by Neil Lock and wife Natalie. "It is amazing that a serving officer got mixed up in this. She must have known she was gambling with her career,"

The Sun quoted a source, as saying. "If she is found guilty in a court or of an internal disciplinary offence then she is finished. She could never work as an officer again," the source added.

However, Lock and his wife, both 27, who live in a villa in Galashiels, Selkirkshire, with their two young children, insist that they are not acting illegally. They claim payments to the escorts are for "companionship" only and anything else is "a matter of choice between two or more consulting adults".

[Via World of news]

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Weird facts - Debate coaches lose cool, 1 pulls down his pants

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weird facts
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - An argument between two debate coaches that was caught on video was not the sharp-witted dialogue typically associated with college debate teams. Instead, the two traded profanity-laced barbs and one of them pulled down his shorts, exposing his underwear.

An eight-minute segment of the argument, in which each cursed repeatedly and one student near the camera can be heard crying, was posted on YouTube on Aug. 2 and has garnered more than 100,000 hits.

"In 18 years of taking part in debates, I have never seen an incident like this one," said Gordon Stables, first vice president of the Cross Examination Debate Association, which sponsored the March tournament in Wichita, Kan., where the argument took place.

Stables, who is also director of the University of Southern California's debate squad, said the association was investigating.

In the video, Fort Hays State University debate coach William Shanahan is shown arguing with Shanara Reid-Brinkley, debate coach at the University of Pittsburgh, during the competition's quarterfinals.

The argument, which appears to be at least in part about race, is punctuated with frequent cursing and name-calling. Shanahan, who is white, and Reid-Brinkley, who is black, scream criticisms about one another's body language during students' debates.

At one point Shanahan screams as he jumps up, then yanks his shorts down to his knees and points his rear end at Reid-Brinkley.

Phone messages left for Reid-Brinkley and Shanahan were not returned Thursday. Officials at Pitt and Fort Hays State, a university of about 9,000 students in western Kansas, said they were investigating.



Thursday, August 14, 2008

Weird Facts - Sweet Home Alabama...England?

link of a day - Who is Shawn Casey? Is He For real?

weird facts
LONDON (Reuters) - Council chiefs in Birmingham were left red-faced when they mistakenly used a picture of their U.S. namesake in Alabama on thousands of official leaflets.

Pamphlets about recycling in the West Midlands bore an image showing the skyline of the city in the Deep South.

Under the headline "Thank You Birmingham!," the picture showed office blocks in the U.S. city, rather than its own distinctive Rotunda tower and the curvy Selfridges store.

The council said it had made a mistake, but had no plans to recall the leaflets.

"We accept that the wrong photo was used but the text and detail contained in the leaflet is wholly correct which is the most important message as we strive to further improve our green credentials," the council said Thursday.


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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

R.I. man finds cocaine in used police cruiser | Weird Facts

link of a day - Who is Shawn Casey? Is He For real?

weird facts — A Burrillville town councilor got more than he bargained for when he bought a used police cruiser at auction. Kevin Blais bought the 2004 Ford Crown Victoria in an online auction from the Hartford, Conn., public works department.

He was cleaning it last week when he noticed a cracked area on the one-piece molded seat assembly.

When he removed the seat assembly to clean the floor, he found a plastic bag containing a substance that local police later confirmed was cocaine.

Blais speculates that a suspect stuffed the drugs through the crack to prevent police from finding them. Burrillville Lt. Kevin San Antonio says Hartford police were "apologetic" when he told them of the discovery.

Hartford police spokeswoman Nancy Mulroy said Friday that based on their past experience with drug suspects, Blais' speculation is almost certainly correct.

"It's not unusual that perpetrators or suspects try to hide stuff in the cruisers before they go to booking, where they know they'll be searched," she said.

[Via - WRAL]

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Flu poses greater risk than terrorism | Weird Facts

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weird facts
A flu pandemic poses greater threat to Britain than terrorism, government risk assessment to warn

National Risk Register illustration of the "high consequence risks" facing the UK

Hundreds of thousands of Britons living abroad would return to the UK if there were a worldwide flu pandemic, the government suggests today.

A Cabinet Office report, which identifies a global flu pandemic as the most serious threat facing Britain, says that officials are drawing up plans that would help them cope if some of the 12 million Britons living abroad were to return home to increase their chances of surviving in the event of a worldwide emergency.

The report, the "national risk register", lists all the most significant risks facing Britain over the next five years. The government has published the information in this form for the first time to help organisations and individuals take appropriate precautions.

Gordon Brown promised that the register would be published when he unveiled his national security strategy earlier this year.

The register does not rank the risks it mentions in order of seriousness. But a chart showing risks according to the relative likelihood of them happening and the relative impact they would have suggests that a flu pandemic scores highest when impact and likelihood are both taken into account.

However, the chart does not include the threat posed by terrorists using a nuclear device because there is no historical precedent for this kind of attack.

The report says that flu pandemics occurred three times in the 20th century and that experts agree that there is a "high probability" of another occurring.

The World Health Organisation estimates that between 2 million and 7.4 million people would die globally.

Within the UK, up to half of the population could become infected and between 50,000 and 750,000 people could die as a result, the report said.

"Normal life is likely to face wider social and economic disruption, significant threats to the continuity of essential services, lower production levels, shortages and distribution difficulties," it says.

"The emergence overseas of an influenza pandemic or other widespread infectious disease may result in a proportion of the British nationals who are not normally resident in the UK (approximately 12 million) choosing to return to the UK. Some returning British nationals would not have the means to support themselves and their return would have a short-term but significant impact upon areas in which they settle."

On terrorism, the report confirms that the national threat assessment currently stands at "severe", meaning that some form of attack is highly likely.

"Many of those networks and individuals who are judged to pose a terrorist threat share an ambition to cause large numbers of casualties without warning," the report says.

It says that the transport system seems to be the most likely target for a terrorist attack, with rail and underground stations "popular targets". But, for any individual, the likelihood of being attacked is "still very low".



Friday, August 8, 2008

Weird facts: Police reopen 7,000 cases after DNA error

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weird facts
CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australian police will re-examine 7,000 crimes solved through DNA evidence after a mistake forced detectives to free a suspect wrongly accused of murder.

Police in the southern city of Melbourne withdrew charges against Russell John Gesah, accused in July of the 1984 murders of a 35-year-old mother and her nine-year-old daughter.

"It's obviously an embarrassment and we would rather not be in this position," Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Simon Overland was quoted as saying in Australian media on Thursday.

DNA is supposed to be the most accurate method of proving guilt through evidence samples taken at crime scenes, with the likelihood of matching genetic markers among people said to be around one in 7 billion or greater.

Police last month said a DNA sample taken from the murder scene, where Margaret Tapp was strangled and her daughter Seana raped and later killed, matched Gesah after comparison with 400,000 other DNA profiles on a national database.

Gesah was arrested and faced court, but a later check found the DNA evidence used against him was taken elsewhere and mistakenly tested with samples from the Tapp murder scene.

Overland said every crime solved by DNA in the state since the testing technology was introduced 20 years ago would now be reviewed to check no other bungles had occurred.

"We need to refine our processes and our practices, and that is now happening as a result of this case," he said.

Victorian Law Institute spokesman Michael Brett Young said Gesah had been wrongfully painted as a villain because of police mistakes, possibly damaging public faith in the legal system at a time when corruption scandals were already undermining authorities.

"Really he's been convicted in the court of public opinion due to the actions of the police and the media," Young said on Thursday.

Criminal lawyers said the mistake would almost guarantee future challenges to the accuracy of police DNA evidence.

(Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by David Fogarty)

[Via Reuters]

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

How to Arrange an Art Collection

You've plunked down your hard-earned cash on another acquisition for your home museum. Now take the time to organize and protect your new treasure so that its value will only appreciate.

Read 56 End Collection Chaos. Take an inventory of all items in the collection. Include the title of the piece, artist's name, date of issue, current condition, when and where you purchased it, purchase price and current value.

Look into software to help you organize, catalog and manage collections. One example, Art and Antiques Organizer Deluxe (, is geared toward private and corporate collectors, small galleries, artists and dealers.

Protect artwork from heat sources such as chimneys and vents as well as direct sunlight when choosing display locations. Also beware of humidity and dampness or any area with fluctuating temperatures, such as a doorway or outside wall.

Find proper Art Storage for pieces that are not currently on display or that you'll be rotating in and out of display areas. Avoid basements, attics and garages, which have moisture and temperature issues. An interior closet on the main floor is a good choice. Otherwise, contact special service regarding professional storage.


weird facts: Homeowners use sign to declare neighborhood 'No Ho Zone'

weird facts
FLINT, Michigan -- Fed up with prostitution, one Flint couple posted a sign declaring their neighborhood a "No Ho Zone."

Sherrie Lynn and Russ Palmer posted the mantra on a sign outside their home at corner of Court and Hazelton streets after watching drug dealers and prostitutes doing business on the street and finding hypodermic needles and condoms left in their yard.

"We don't want it here," said Sherrie Lynn Palmer, 48. "There's a lot of really good people around here. I don't want to sit here and let the crime fester."

She said she's been walking her dogs down the road, when vehicles would beep at her, mistaking her for a prostitute.

"It all starts with the prostitutes. It brings everything else," she said.

Sherrie Lynn Palmer, a budding artist, made the sign featuring drawings of eyes watching the street and a dog chasing a prostitute. Russ Palmer, 57, got the idea for the sign after seeing a report on the ozone level.

She now is working on newsign to replace the current one.

The couple has lived in the house for four years. When they first moved in, they opened an antique shop, but the business on the street deterred their customers and they closed the business after having some health problems.

Sherrie Lynn Palmer said the criminals and prostitutes don't live in the area anymore, but they still choose to do their business there and at times throughout the day, she said.

"It would be a relief if it was only at night," she said.

However, there are hopes of cleaning up the streets and the neighborhood.

Since the sign went up in May, there has been less activity on the streets, the Palmers said.

"The area's coming up to what we want. We're just waiting it out," she said. "I think it's a sign of hope."

[Via - MLive.Com]

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How to Get Started In eCommerce To Build An Online Store

The basics for opening an ecommerce website to make money online.

The first step to starting your own ecommerce site will be the product. There are many factors in determining the products you will offer. You must decide what you are interested in, and will remain interested in for the long term. Also, pricing is a major consideration. If you pay too much for items, you'll never see a profit. Shipping times are also key, especially if you are not using a drop shipping company as your supplier.

The next step will be choosing and registering a domain name. Use a name that is short and easy to remember, this will help customers find you and return easily. There are many options for registering your name, such as godaddy, that is very inexpensive.

You site must look professional and be Very Easy to use. Even with the best products at the lowest prices, if your site looks sloppy or is hard to use, you will lose a lot of potential business. So it's time to go and check out the experts: Storesonline Ecommerce Solution. They will most likely solve any your problems so there will be no need to risk it all by relying only on yourself.

With the site, you will need an shopping cart option, whether you use paypal, google checkout, or another company is a decision that will be made after research and looking for features that are needed for your particular situation.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hanks hires armed guard to watch builder | weird facts

weird facts
Tom Hanks' feud with an Idaho builder is continuing to cause tension between the two parties, after the Hollywood actor hired an armed guard to keep an eye on the contractor.

The 'Castaway' star and his wife Rita Wilson recently lost an attempt to sue Gary Storey, the owner of Storey Construction, for $2.5m (€1.6m) over claims the builder messed up renovations on their $10m (€6.3m) home in Sun Valley, Idaho in 2002.

The case was thrown out of court because the couple had already taken the accused to arbitration in 2003, and lost.

Hanks and Wilson plan to appeal the decision, and Storey has been granted permission to return to the site to collect evidence in his defence.

Hanks has employed a gun-carrying guard to follow Storey around at all times when he is on their property - but the move has infuriated the builder after a potentially fatal accident occurred recently.

The stars claim the minder is necessary after Storey once attempted to raid the home at dawn - accusations the constructor has refuted.

Storey's lawyer says: "The other day, the guy (guard) tripped and fell with his gun on him. It could have gone off and had fatal consequences. It is inconceivable that Tom Hanks, who claims to be the voice of the little people, could tolerate this."

[Via Breaking]

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

McDonald's Tests Changes | weird facts

weird facts - McDonald's Corp. is testing modifications to its popular $1 double cheeseburger, and higher prices for the sandwich, as it prepares to change its Dollar Menu by next year.

In an interview, Don Thompson, president of McDonald's U.S. business, said the company has tested ways to make the burger less expensive to make. Some restaurants are selling it with one slice of cheese instead of two, and billing it as a "double hamburger with cheese." Others are offering a double hamburger without cheese. Some are selling the traditional double cheeseburger at prices ranging from $1.09 to $1.19.

The company is also considering expanding what it considers the middle tier of its menu, items ranging from about $1.30 to $2. "We know customers are facing tough times in this economy," Mr. Thompson said.

Launched in 2003, the Dollar Menu has been a key driver of sales at McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants and has helped it ride out dips in consumer spending. But recently, franchisees have complained that the menu has brought too much unprofitable traffic into their restaurants.

The biggest question for the eight-item menu is what to do with the double cheeseburger, considered its anchor. High dairy prices have pushed up the cost of cheese, and McDonald's predicts more pressure because its beef costs will be higher this year. Mr. Thompson said if McDonald's moves the double cheeseburger off that menu, there would still be some type of $1 burger.

Internal sales documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show that, as of late June, sales of the chain's lattes, cappuccinos and other espresso drinks were off their peak in several main markets where they're being sold. Mr. Thompson said "the numbers really don't tell the story."

Lower-priced beverages, including $1.89 iced coffee and a $1 fountain-drink and sweet-tea promotion, have pulled some sales away from the espresso drinks, which range from about $2 to $3. That was something the company hadn't anticipated, he said.

McDonald's overall beverage expansion, adding espresso drinks, smoothies, cold tea, bottled drinks and ice-blended coffee beverages at U.S. locations, is on track to exceed the company's goal of adding $125,000 a year in sales per restaurant, even though it doesn't yet have national advertising behind it, Mr. Thompson said. He sees McDonald's target of the drinks adding $1 billion a year to the company's sales as "definitely achievable." The rollout will be complete at the end of 2009.

[Via - StartupJournal.Com]

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Police ban pets used to 'pick up women' | weird facts

weird facts
SAUDI Arabia's religious police have banned selling cats and dogs or exercising them in public in the Saudi capital, because of men using them as a means of making passes at women.

Othman al-Othman, head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Riyadh, known as the Muttawa, told the Saudi edition of al-Hayat the commission had started enforcing an old religious edict.

He said the commission was implementing a decision taken a month ago by the acting governor of the capital, Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz, adding it followed an old edict issued by the supreme council of Saudi scholars.

The reason behind reinforcing the edict now was a rising fashion among some men using pets in public "to make passes on women and disturb families'', he said.

Mr Othman said the commission had instructed its offices in the capital to tell pet shops "to stop selling cats and dogs''.

The 5000-strong religious police oversees the adherence to Wahabism - a strict version of Sunni Islam, which also forces women to cover from head to toe when in public, and bans them from driving.

[Via - News.Com.Au]

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$5 million doorman fired from his day job | weird facts

weird facts
NEW YORK - A New York City doorman who kept his day job at an exclusive Park Avenue apartment building after winning a $5 million lottery has been shown the door.

Kate Ferranti, a spokesman for the union representing apartment building workers, said Richie Randazzo notified the union's grievance center on Tuesday that he had been fired.

The building management company, Brown Harris Stevens, did not immediately return a call for comment.

Randozzo's father said Wednesday that the letter did not specify the reason for Randozza's discharge. He declined to give his name and said his son was not home.

Randazzo made $40,000 a year as a doorman. He began taking in another $65,000 every three months after hitting the jackpot on May 2. According to published reports, his attendance record was spotty after he won the lottery.

The Brooklyn resident said when he won that he had no immediate plans to change his life, but allowed that he might indulge in a motorboat and a luxury auto.

Ferranti said the discharge will be investigated by Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union as a routine matter.

[Via Sun Sentinel]

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

How to Make More Money with Pay Per Post Blogging

There are dozens of web sites that specialize in bringing advertisers and bloggers together. This competitive industry is called pay per post blogging, and it's taking the internet by storm. Advertisers dish out cash for writers like you to blog about them. It's good exposure for them and the pay is great for the amount of work involved. This article will help you learn how to rise above the competition and produce higher quality paid posts that your sponsors and readers will love.

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Think long term.
Behind the scenes, advertisers rate the quality of your blog posts. If a particular advertiser isn't pleased with the way you handled the job, it could potentially damage any chance you have at getting paid to blog in the future.

So while it may be easy to write a quick post for $5, it's better to invest a bit of extra time to understand what your advertiser wants out of the deal. Read the request completely. If an advertiser says, "A second link to our website would be appreciated, but is not required", go out of your way and create that second link. Do what you can to please them, and they will return with more opportunities for you.

Also, just because you are writing a pay per post ad doesn't mean it can't be a normal blog post that your typical readers would enjoy. Spend some time on the sponsors website or searching the web for information that you can use in your post that also fits the content of your blog. It will make your content more seamless and you'll also have a post to be proud of.

Be honest.
If you've never tried a service or bought a product from the company paying you to blog about them, don't lie about it in your post. It may seem like a good idea on the surface, but think of it this way... your sponsor is paying you for the post. If you lie, they are paying for a false testimonial. This can hurt their company, ruin your reputation as a writer and can get you banned.

Instead, think about reasons why you might use their service or product. How would it help you? How can it help your visitors? Write about these things if you are at a loss for words.

It's a secret.
If you want future work, don't tell your readers that you are writing paid posts. This includes filtering the posts into a "paid post" category, or tagging them as such. You are basically telling your sponsor that you are embarrassed to write about them.

Remember step one. If you write quality blog posts and casually incorporate the ad, it will look natural. There's no reason to be ashamed. You are helping the company to help you.

If you must mention that the post has been contracted, do it in a positive light. Say "Thanks to ______ for sponsoring my blog!" or "A big thank you to ______ for the support. Check out their website!"

Get creative.
Make your posts stand out! If you link to your sponsors website, change the color of their link to make it different from all of the others on your blog. This will draw attention to it, which is what the advertiser wants.

You can also spice up your posts with pictures or clip art. You can find a lot of royalty free stock photos on the web if you search a little. This is easy, and it shows your sponsor that you've put a lot of thought and energy into making your post as eye catching as possible. They will love you for it!

Keep the posts at a minimum.
The paid posts, that is. Your blog should flow seamlessly from post to post. If you mainly blog about celebrities, it would be strange to see a post about Britney Spears and then read about online casinos in the next post and baby formula in the post after that. Keep your sponsored blogging to a 1:10 ratio. That means for every paid post that you do, make sure you've written ten regular blog posts - give or take a few - before you take on another job.

Not only will your visitors stick around to read your posts, but your sponsored posts won't get lost in an ocean of advertisements. Being selective will also force the advertisers to compete for your posts, earning you more respect and of course, more money.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bears eat workers at remote Russian mines | Weird Facts

weird facts
TERRIFIED workers at a mining compound in one of Russia's most isolated regions are refusing to go to work after a pack of giant bears attacked and ate two of their colleagues.

At least 30 of the hungry animals have been seen prowling close to the mines in northern Kamchatka in search of food, where the mangled remains of the two workers, both guards, were found last week.

The gruesome discovery has left their co-workers at the compound in the Olyotorsky district too scared to venture out. A team of snipers, with orders to shoot the bears, is now being dispatched, The Australian reports.

The Kamchatka brown bear is one of the world's largest, with males growing to around 3m and weighing up to 700kg. They can also reach speeds of 48km/h despite their size.

The peninsula, nine time zones east of Moscow and twice the size of Britain, is home to an estimated 16,000 bears.

Environmentalists argue that widespread poaching has caused a fish shortage, prompting the starving bears to become aggressive as they seek out food close to human settlements.

Their arrival has paralysed work at platinum mines owned by the Koryakgeologia company. Geologists refused to leave their compound in Mount Ledyanaya after 20 bears were seen wandering around, while at least 10 animals were spotted at nearby Penisty.

Kamchatka is not alone in facing problems with hungry bears. The mutilated remains of a man were found last month after he was attacked on nearby Sakhalin island, the third person killed by a bear this year.

Last month a woman was mauled to death by a bear that had ventured into the suburbs of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka.

[Via - News.Com.Au]

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Friday, July 25, 2008

The cubicle turns 40 this month | Weird Facts

weird facts
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The oft-derided "cubicle" is turning 40 years old this month.

The open-office style was originally known as the "Action Office," and was introduced by West Michigan's Herman Miller Company in 1968.

Bill Crooks was one of the first people in America to work in a cubicle. He started in Herman Miller's customer service department in 1967, shortly before the Action Office concept was introduced.

Crooks says he was one of the guinea pigs to test the Action Office "and that was the great part because we had the hands on, helped install it, helped the installers install it, and when it was changed, we would work with it. So we really understood the furniture."

Although, Crooks says Action Office was a tough sell at first. He recalls one of the first meetings when the design was introduced to Herman Miller executives. Crooks says, "After the presentation, they showed us this set up of really ugly stuff and I, with all my wisdom thought, that is never going to sell."

But, the concept caught on quickly. Crooks helped many major companies adjust their entire business style using Action Office, including Texas Instruments, Citibank and, "There was another small company out in White Plains, New York I went to. It was called MasterCard...just come into existence."

Robert Propst designed the Action Office to change with the evolving work space. Crooks says, "You also could have a stand up work surface and the sit down work surface."

When Propst explained the need for the Action Office, Crooks says, "They were describing the office changes that were in the future and they were really talking about stuff way out there, like the paperless office."

From reams and reams of paper files, to a computer on every desktop, Action Office has changed with the way we work, and has changed the way we work.

Herman Miller grew exponentially after Action Office was introduced 40 years ago. It's a design many other companies have adapted as well.

[Via - AZCentral]

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

How to Earn More Interest With an Online Savings Account

Is your local bank offering poor interest rate percentages on savings accounts? Do you need the security of FDIC insured savings? Read on to learn how to research and obtain a new Savings Accounts using the Internet.

Tune in to the financial talk show hosts using the websites below on your computer, or your local radio stations. They often will give you the best reliability picture of online savings accounts and their interest rates. You can find a lot of useful info on WaMu website.

Use a search engine such as Google to find online banks quickly. Click the links below to research the more well-known institutions.

When you arrive at the banking websites, they generally have a link that states current APR or interest rate they offer. This will vary over time and could potentially change overnight. Have in mind your goals for the money you will invest.

Shop around on at least two of the websites for the highest interest rates as well as benefits or perks they offer. Choose one that has been around for a few years and has a sound reputation. You could ask your business associates if they have heard of the bank as well. Check out the minimum age, often times they do not have children's bank accounts.

Do not forget to check the weekly newspaper business section for the latest interest rates and special offers just to compare with what you have found online.

When you do decide, you should be able to complete most of the sign up process by phone, Internet or by postal mail.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Weird facts: Wind scatters hundreds of bills as man leaves bank, but good Samaritans rush in to help

weird facts
TORRANCE, Calif. (AP)A dozen bystanders rushed in to help a 70-year-old man after he stumbled leaving a Southern California bank, causing thousands of dollars to scatter in the wind.

Ludwig Geier says hundreds of bills were "gone in no time," flying through the air and littering the First National Bank's parking lot in Torrance on Monday.

Almost immediately, about a dozen bystanders rushed in to help. The machine shop owner says about 96 percent of the money was found.

Geier says he's going to pray for those good Samaritans, adding, "If I could get them together, I'd buy them dinner and drinks."

[Via - Newsday.Com]

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cops arrest woman in alleged restaurant rat scheme | weird facts

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weird facts
APPLETON, Wis. - Appleton police have arrested a woman for allegedly bringing a rat into an upscale restaurant, claiming it was in her meal and then seeking $500,000 to keep quiet.

Sgt. Neal Rabas said the 41-year-old Appleton woman started a claim with Secura Insurance, saying she went to a doctor and had medical expenses.

Rabas said insurance investigators were suspicious so they contacted police.

Bob Doller, co-owner of The Seasons in Grand Chute, said rumors of the incident had negatively affected the business but they had to keep quiet while police investigated.

[Via - Yahoo!News]


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Commission Cracks Down On Bully Doctors | Weird Facts

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weird facts
CHICAGO -- Bullying doctors can make nurses afraid to question their performance, resulting in medical errors, according to a hospital group that announced new requirements for cracking down on intimidating behavior.

Outbursts and condescending language threaten patient safety and increase the cost of care, according to a safety alert issued Wednesday by the Joint Commission, an independent organization that accredits most of the nation's hospitals.

Hospitals will be required by next year to have codes of conduct and processes for dealing with inappropriate behavior by staff, said the group's president, Dr. Mark Chassin. Hospitals without such systems risk losing their accreditation, he said. Powerful doctors mean money for hospitals because they choose where to admit their patients, but they "should not be left off the hook," said Dr. Peter Angood, vice president of the group, which is based in suburban Chicago.

Grena Porto, a nurse involved in the group's efforts, said nurses need to be "appropriately assertive" and feel safe enough to ask a doctor, "Are you sure we're supposed to operate on the right leg, rather than the left?"

Nurses, pharmacists and hospital administrators also can be culprits, but it's the doctors who bully nurses that are the most significant for patient safety, said Dr. Alan Rosenstein, a researcher on the topic.

He applauded the group's action. Rosenstein, medical director of VHA West Coast, an alliance of nonprofit hospitals, surveyed 1,500 hospital employees for a 2005 study published in the American Journal of Nursing, and received comments like these: --"Most nurses are afraid to call Dr. X when they need to, and frequently won't call. Their patient's medical safety is always in jeopardy because of this." --"I have caught myself in the middle of mislabeling specimens after confrontations that have been upsetting." Another survey in 2003 by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices found that 40 percent of health providers said they had kept quiet rather than question a known bully.

Hospitals have pecking orders and are stressful work environments, but "there's a right way and a wrong way to manage that stress," Chassin said.

[Via - KiroTV.Com]


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Man sells soul for $3,800 ... to a pizza joint | Weird Facts

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weird facts

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- A New Zealand man has sold his soul to hell -- Hell Pizza, that is.

The New Zealand pizza chain said Thursday it had struck a deal with Walter Scott, 24, to buy a deed to his soul, shortly after an online auction site that initially agreed to the sale withdrew it from the Internet because of complaints it was in bad taste.

Scott offered his soul on the TradeMe site on Wednesday, saying he had not found it to be much use.

"I can't see it, touch it or feel it, but I can sell it, so I'm going to palm it off to the highest bidder," Scott, 24, said on the sale site.

The auction attracted more than 32,000 hits and more than 100 bids before it was taken down.

TradeMe business manager Michael O'Donnell said the company had received an "overwhelming number of complaints from the TradeMe community."

"A lot of people felt it was offensive even though we thought it was there for good fun," he told The Associated Press. "So the compliance team pulled it."

He said the auction had also attracted many bogus bids -- while the last bid on the site was listed as $3,799, the last genuine bid was $456.

Rachael Allison, head of marketing for Hell Pizza, which has outlets across New Zealand and trades on a naughty image, said the company contacted Scott shortly after the auction was removed and offered him $3,800.

"The soul belongs to Hell, there is simply no better place for it," Allison told The Associated Press. "He was pretty delighted."

O'Donnell had said on Wednesday that Scott's auction complied with TradeMe's rules because a physical object -- the deed of ownership -- would change hands.

In 2001, 20-year-old U.S. university student Adam Burtle tried to sell his soul on eBay, but the auction was pulled after the company ruling that something tangible needed to be exchanged for a viable sale.

Allison said she would fly to Scott's home town of Wanganui on North Island Friday "to pick up the soul -- or at least the deed of ownership."

The deed would be hung on a wall at the company's headquarters in the northern city of Auckland and an image of it posted on the company's Web site.

"We'd love to get his soul in the virtual world -- to keep it immortal," she said.

[Via - CNN]


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Five Things You Did Not Know About Google - weird facts

1- Google spends $72 million a year on employee meals

Link of the day - The Hottest Place To Hook Up

weird facts - Seventy-two million dollars a year -- that works out to about $7,530 per Googler (a term Google uses to identify employees). While the exact details vary depending on location (the Google empire spans the globe), employees at Google's California headquarters, aptly entitled the Googleplex, are welcome to at least two free meals a day from 11 different gourmet cafeterias. As if that weren’t enough, another thing you didn’t know about Google is that in addition to the cafeterias, Google offers numerous snack bars that are chock-full of healthy morsels to munch on.

And that's certainly not all. Is your car in a bit of a rut? Not to worry; Google offers on-site car washes and oil changes. The list of perks for working at Google is never-ending, making it no surprise that it's considered the No. 1 place to work, offering: on-site haircuts, full athletic facilities, massage therapists, language classes, drop-off dry cleaning, day cares, and on-site doctors, just to name a few. Oh, and if your dog is stuck at home and feeling a little lonely, just bring him to work -- Google doesn't mind.

2- Google was originally called BackRub
Like many other booming internet companies, Google has an interesting upbringing, one that is marked by a lowly beginning. Google began as a research project in January 1996 by cofounder Larry Page, a 24-year-old Ph.D. student at Standford University. Page was soon joined by 23-year-old Sergey Brin, another Ph.D. student, forming a duo that seemed destined for failure. According to Google's own corporate information, Brin and Page argued about every single topic they discussed. This incessant arguing, however, may have been what spurred the duo to rethink web-searching and develop a novel strategy that ranked websites according to the number of backlinks (i.e., according to the number of web pages that linked back to a web page being searched), and not based on the number of times a specific search term appeared on a given web page, as was the norm.

Because of this unique strategy, another thing you didn't know about Google is that Page and Brin nicknamed the search engine BackRub. Thankfully, in 1998, Brin and Page dropped the sexually suggestive nickname, and came up with “Google,” a term originating from a common misspelling of the word "googol," which refers to 10100.

The word “google” has become so common, it was entered into numerous dictionaries in 2006, referring to the act of using the Google search engine to retrieve information via the internet.

3- Google loses $110 million a year through "I'm Feeling Lucky"
There's not much to see on Google's main search page, and perhaps simplicity is one of the keys to Google's success. When searching Google, you are given two options: “Google Search” or “I'm Feeling Lucky.” By clicking the former, you are given that familiar list of search results; by clicking the latter, however, you are automatically redirected to the first search result, bypassing the search engine’s results page.

Besides the fun factor, the idea behind the “I'm Feeling Lucky” feature is to provide the user with instant connection to the precise page they are searching for, thus saving them time that would normally be spent perusing endless search results. Sounds harmless enough, right? Not so fast. Because “I'm Feeling Lucky” bypasses all advertising, it is estimated that Google loses about $110 million per year in advertising-generated revenue. So why in the world would any Fortune 500 company not patch such a gaping leak? "It's possible to become too dry, too corporate, too much about making money. I think what's delightful about 'I'm Feeling Lucky' is that it reminds you there are real people here," Google Executive Marissa Mayer told Valleywag, an online tech-blog.

4- Google has a sense of humor
Google also offers full language support for Pig Latin, Klingon and even Elmer Fudd. Anyone else still feeling lucky? Try typing, “French military victories” and clicking “I'm Feeling Lucky.” Behold the result.

Some might remember the “miserable failure” fiasco when one typed those words and clicked “I'm Feeling Lucky,” and they were instantly connected to a biography of President George W. Bush on the White House website. Now, before you jump to conclusions, this trick -- which no longer works -- was carried out by members of the online community through the art of “Google bombing.” Google bombing works because of Google's backlink search strategy.

5- Google scans your e-mails

Nothing in life is perfect -- or without controversy -- and Google is no exception. Google scans your e-mails (at Gmail) through a process called “content extraction.” All incoming and outgoing e-mail is scanned for specific keywords to target advertising to the user. The process has brewed quite a storm of controversy, but Google has yet to back down on its stance.

Google has remained similarly headstrong about other criticisms; in an attempt to remain partisan to local governments, Google removes or does not include information from its services in compliance with local laws. Perhaps the most striking example of this is Google's adherence to the internet censorship policies of China (at so as not to bring up search results supporting the independence movement of Tibet and Taiwan, or any other information perceived to be harmful to the People's Republic of China.

Google Street has further been cited for breaching personal privacy. The service provides high-resolution street-view photos from around the world and has, on numerous occasions, caught people committing questionable acts. Moving from street to satellite, Google Earth has also come under fire from several Indian state governments about the security risks posed by the details from Google Earth's satellite imaging. When all is said and done, there are a lot of criticisms about Google and these few examples merely scratch the surface.

Um, Google does the searching -- anytime, and every time, you search for something on the internet.

It's hard to think of another search engine ever supplanting our beloved Google, but it's anyone's guess as to how the internet will work in the future. Maybe you'll just have to think of something and it will appear. Who knows? Try Googling it.

[Via - AskMen.Com]


Saturday, June 21, 2008

How to Choose a Health Insurance Plan

These days, landing in the hospital for even a few days can decimate your savings account. That's why it's extremely important to consider the cost, the benefits, and the extent to which your family's health needs are met when choosing insurance. Research the various plans that are available, and determine how specifically tailored they are to your family's health needs and financial abilities, to decide on a plan that is best suited to your lifestyle.
Take this company as an example: Kaiser Health Plan .

Sign on with the health insurance provided by your employer: It is likely to be the cheapest option you can find. Your employer's carrier may have more than one option for you to choose from (HMO, preferred). If you're self-employed or if your company doesn't offer insurance, you'll have to search for your own insurance.

Assess your needs, taking into account your current use of health care and your medical expenses for the near future, and decide what services are most important to you and your family. Ask about dependents' coverage. Factor in how much you can afford to spend on monthly premiums and co-payments. If you're single and healthy, your health plan needs will be very different from those of a family with three young children.

Compare benefits and coverage of key items like monthly premiums, deductibles, co-payments, co-insurance rates, costs for seeing out-of-network providers, preventive care, physical exams, immunizations and the like. Other services that are of interest to your family could include fertility services, mental health coverage, nursing care and long-term care.

Ask lots of questions: Are your current providers part of this plan? Do you need referrals for specialist visits? How easy is it to change doctors? What hospitals and facilities can you use as part of the plan? What are the procedures for having emergency room treatment approved?

Find out if benefits are limited for preexisting conditions, or if you have to wait for a period of time before you're fully covered. Some plans may completely exclude coverage of preexisting conditions.

Research whether there is a fair appeals process available if the company denies treatment, and if these appeals are reviewed by an external, independent agency. Is there a high turnover rate among doctors in the plan? Check if the National Committee for Quality Assurance ( accredits the plan; the Pacific Business Group on Health ( also offers information on health plans.

Pick a plan that best matches your needs and priorities based on thorough research. Read all materials and call the health plan representative or conduct Internet research to get any information you are missing. Discuss pre-existing conditions and flexspending plans before making a decision.

Investigate long-term care insurance. The rising cost of health care and elderly care can demolish your savings if you are incapacitated for long. The best time to buy it is when you hit your 40s.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Is Apple Paying Their Engineers Too Little? - weird facts

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weird facts - According to salary information collected by new startup Glassdoor, Apple pays its engineers significantly less than competing companies in Silicon Valley. Apple engineers make $89,000 a year, whereas Google engineers can buy four more Segways a year (pre-tax) with their $112,573 paycheck. Microsoft and Yahoo are closer to Google: both companies pay their engineers $105,000 a year. See TechCrunch’s review of Glassdoor for the data.

I wondered how much of a difference this salary disparity made to Apple’s bottom line, so I took a look at its annual 10-K filings from 2003 to 2007. Each of these reports includes, buried among its 170 pages, Apple’s net income and how much it spent on R&D. For simplicity I assumed that the R&D budget was entirely spent on salaries; this isn’t far off the mark in a hi-tech company like Apple.

If Apple were to pay its engineers the same salaries as Google then its R&D budget would increase by 26%. This amount (26% of the R&D budget) is how much Apple saves each year by paying below-market salaries. I calculated what Apple’s net income would have been if it had paid its engineers the same as Google, and these are the results:


* All dollar values are in millions.
* # Employees - from Apple’s 10-K.
* R&D Budget - from Apple’s 10-K.
* Adjusted R&D Budget - had Apple paid its engineers at the same level as Google, this would have been its R&D Budget.
* Net Income - from Apple’s 10-K.
* Adjusted Net Income - had Apple paid its engineers at the same level as Google, this would have been its Net Income.
* Increase in Net Income - the magnitude by which Apple’s net income was higher that year compared to what it would have been had it paid salaries at the same level as Google.

The Adjusted Net Income is a good estimate, but it’s not completely accurate. For example, the increase in Apple’s R&D Budget would have meant that its expenses are higher, so it would have paid less taxes. But the overall trend is clear.

Here’s the Increase in Net Income in chart form:

In 2003 and 2004, the effect of underpaying its engineers made a huge difference to Apple’s bottom line. In 2003, these savings turned around Apple’s year: from a loss to a small profit. In 2004, they doubled the profit. However, once Apple’s earnings began to skyrocket in 2005, the effect of the R&D savings became much smaller: just 6% of the net income in 2007, for example.

Paying low salaries to its engineers was a lifesaver for Apple during its difficult times. But now that Apple is immensely profitable there’s no more excuse for this practice. In the TechCrunch article mentioned previously, the site’s owner Michael Arrington says: “Apple software engineers make only about $89,000, on average, but they get to create some of the most loved products on Earth.” I’m sure this warms their hearts. But an extra $20,000 a year would make their hearts downright toasty, and their spouses’ as well.

[Via - Hurvitz.Org]

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