Monday, July 31, 2006

Hut sells for ¼ £million

A wood beach hut has been bought for £216,000 — by someone who hasn’t even seen it.

The 20ft by 25ft hut fetched almost £100,000 more than expected at auction, a record for that type of property.

Nine people bid fiercely for the 73-year-old building, in a prime location at West Bexington on the Dorset coast.

The hut has two bedrooms, a kitchen, lounge and bathroom plus panoramic views of the Channel.

Its new owner — a businessman in his 40s who wanted to remain anonymous — had been at the auction to buy another place before hearing how beautiful it was. He admitted: “I’ve paid too much for it.”

Estate agent Mark Lewis said: “The reason it has such a high price is simply the location.”

The selling price is £36,000 more than the average house price in Britain.

Caught red handed

New Zealand -- A young Masterton man caught red-handed putting grafitti on a building in central Masterton was taken back to the scene of his crime by police and made to clean up his handiwork.

And as if that punishment was not enough, Ashley Harden Hemi, 19, had to face a dressing down from an aunt who passed by and saw him scrubbing the walls.

Senior Sergeant Warwick Burr said Hemi was writing on the walls of the Printcraft building at 6.40pm on Sunday when he was picked up by a police patrol. He was charged with wilful damage and taken back to the building, where police stood by as he cleaned. Soon after, Hemi's aunt pulled up in a car and demanded to know what he had done.

"She gave him a right dressing down so he certainly brought plenty of attention on to himself."

Hemi appeared in Masterton District Court yesterday and was convicted and discharged.

Unruly drinkers may see Red

NZ - Unruly drinkers will be red-carded off the premises as bars blow the whistle on bad behaviour. At least eight bars in the lower North Island are using yellow and red cards to keep patrons in check.

Dan Keith, owner-operator of the Cambridge Hotel, Wellington, said the bar had been using the cards for about a month. Most drinkers viewed it as "a bit of fun", he said. "But you've got to pick your moment. Not everyone will react in the same way."

The cards outline the bar's obligations under the Sale of Liquor Act. The yellow one politely warns recipients "we feel that you might need to slow down".

The red card states: "It is now time for you to stop!" and signals that the drinker should leave. To counter any remonstrations a red-carded offender gets a free drink – the next time they visit.

Mr Keith said staff would hand out "a few yellows, not many" on the average Saturday night. He had not personally handed out any red cards.

Jason Deane, managing director of Trinity Group which owns bars throughout the lower North Island, said the scheme was gradually gaining momentum and would gain its "true value" once it became more widespread. Other bars had contacted him about the cards. He had got the idea from Hummingbird Cafe and Bar.

Deja vu Golfer

LUBBOCK, Texas - An insurance agent playing in a weekend tournament followed up his first hole-in-one with another one day later.

On the same hole. Using the same club !

"I've never even heard of such a thing," said Jack North, managing director of the Rawls Course where Danny Leake accomplished the feat.

Leake, 53, aced the sixth hole on Saturday with a five-iron from 174 yards out. He aced the same hole with the same club from 178 yards out in Sunday's final round.

Leake, who has a 14 handicap and was seeded in one of the tournament's lowest flights, quickly became the talk of the clubhouse.

"My five-iron is becoming my favourite club," Leake told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, adding he was more than satisfied with his hole-in-one on Saturday and had no thought of repeating the gem.

"I've always wanted to make a hole-in-one, but I'm nowhere near as good a golfer as most of the people (at the tournament)," he added. "That's what make this whole thing crazy. I'll probably never hit another one as long as I live, but I'm OK with that."

Magic contest

Sweden - Cards sailed through the air to the rhythm of Chopin, and a rabbit - predictably - was pulled out of a hat as contestants from China to the Virgin Islands on Monday kicked off the World Championship of Magic.

The prize: lucrative contracts for stage shows in Las Vegas, Paris and Monaco.

Some 156 magicians from 64 countries are taking part in the main event, while thousands of others are performing in public shows, street acts and even workshops.

The performers each get 10 minutes on stage to impress a panel of judges, with the best advancing to a final session on Saturday, when the winners will be decided, said Dag Lofalk, president of the organizing committee.

Seth Engstrom, 18, is competing for Sweden in close-up magic, where magicians use slight-of-hand and small objects such as cards and coins. The other section of the main event is stage magic, with grand illusions involving humans and other props.

"It is always the creative ones who win," said Engstrom of his idea of mixing card magic and Chopin's piano music. "They want you to come up with new ideas."

The contest is closed to the public, but followed closely by the more than 2,500 magicians - from as far away as China, New Zealand, Macau and the Virgin Islands - who have gathered in Stockholm for the event.

The championship began in 1948 and has lately been held every three years.

Magicians use the event to learn from each other - but keep their closely guarded secrets to themselves. The public will get their share of magic, nonetheless, with hundreds of magicians taking part in shows, lectures and workshops, and doing tricks on the streets and in parks, Lofalk said.

"This is the first time we try to open the event up a bit more to the public, to give them a chance to see the acts as well," he said.

Driver: Anyone know the way ?

Passengers on a Virgin rail replacement bus were shocked to be asked if any of them knew the way because the driver hadn't a clue. They laughed when a supervisor asked if any of the 30 on board could give directions.

But they saw he was serious when he added: "It will really help you as your driver is Polish, doesn't speak much English and he doesn't know the route."

One woman who knew ' the way volunteered to sit by the driver and give him directions throughout' the 20-mile journey. Passengers gave her a round of applause when the bus arrived in time for them to make their rail connections.

But some later branded the incident a disgrace.

Stephen Beech, 38, said: "It was lucky there were a couple of local people on the bus and one of them gave the driver directions as he clearly didn't have a clue. "It is disgraceful that a major firm like Virgin can employ a driver who doesn't know the route. Richard Branson should hang his head in shame."

Another passenger, Samantha Jones, 32, said: "I thought it was a joke before I realised the driver didn't know where he was going. It was embarrassing really. I was ashamed to be British. What would a tourist have made of all this? How did this driver get a job?"

Yesterday Virgin Trains said travel firm Fraser Eagle was running a coach replacement service for them over the weekend between Birmingham and Rugby because of track maintenance.

The spokesman said: "Fraser Eagle confirmed the driver on the Coventry to Rugby stretch on Saturday evening had problems communicating with the supervisor as to what was expected of him.

"They are investigating. We would expect the driver to know the route he is supposed to drive."

OI!! Hitler leave your sister 007 alone !

Malaysian authorities have published a list of undesirable titles to prevent parents giving their children names such as Hitler, smelly dog or 007.

Such choices are not allowed, but there is a right of appeal.

The list came as a response to the growing number of Malaysians who are applying to change their birth names.

Malaysia's National Registration Department made the decision after consulting with various religious bodies in the country.

They represented the country's Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Taoist communities.

Traditionally, some groups have given newborns inauspicious names to ward off demons and evil spirits.
Now names like the Hokkien Chinese Ah Chwar, meaning snake, and Khiow Khoo, meaning hunchback, are being ruled out.

So too are Cantonese monikers Chow Tow, meaning smelly head, and Sor Chai, meaning insane.

Members of Malaysia's Tamil community will be discouraged from using the likes of Karrupusamy (black god), and Malays from trying names like Woti, meaning sexual intercourse.

But the ban extends further.....

Parents will not be able to call their babies after animals, insects, fruit, vegetables or colours.

Numbers are also not allowed, so little James Bonds cannot flaunt their 007 status on their ID cards.

Other restrictions stop parents giving children royal or honorary titles as names or calling their little ones after Japanese cars.

How to boil an egg - made easy

The age-old argument over the best way to cook the perfect boiled egg could be a thing of the past thanks to a new hi-tech ink logo going on shells.

After cooking begins, an invisible, temperature-sensitive thermochromic print appears in black to indicate when an egg is soft, medium or hard-boiled.

The eggs, developed by UK assurance scheme Lion Quality, will be sold in three different types of cartons.

The new logos will start to appear on eggs in the next few months.

"We had a lot of inquiries from people which sparked an interest in the industry," said a spokeswoman for Lion Quality.

"We said OK, this is a big issue - people can't even boil an egg."

The best technique has taxed some of the greatest culinary experts in the past.

In a 2005 survey conducted by the magazine Waitrose Food Illustrated, five leading chefs all came up with different solutions.

And in 1998, a TV series presented by Delia Smith included one show concentrating on the finer points of boiling an egg.

Smith said her How To Cook programme on the BBC intended to re-introduce people to the pleasures of cooking and herald a return to basic skills.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Card & Dice Sign

Take 500 decks of playing cards, 1,800 poker chips, 800 dice and more than a few tubes of Super Glue. Add an artist who likes to stack things and mix in some Vegas glitz. "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas," or at least welcome to a life-size replica of the famous sign made out cards, dice and poker chips.

Bryan Berg, perhaps best known for building a 25-foot castle out of playing cards, broke his no adhesive rule to build the sign for the World Series of Poker.

Berg called the sign, which is attached to a scaffolding of wood and weighs 400 pounds, a "logistical nightmare." It took about 450 hours to complete.

"It's like brain surgery," he said. "I didn't even know if it was possible."

Unlike the original at the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, the replica does not have a flat front. Pockets of its face are left bare so the structure's interior design is revealed. The honeycomb pattern of the cards and their laminated covering catch the light, making it appear the sign is lighted up and shimmering in the desert heat.

It hangs above the stage in the Rio hotel-casino's convention center, where more than 8,500 entrants are competing in the main event of the World Series of Poker tournament.

A graduate of Harvard's Graduate School of Design, 32-year-old Berg began stacking cards when he was 8. At 17, he won a Guinness World Record for the world's tallest house of cards with a 14-foot-6-inch-tall tower. In 2004, he broke his own record with a 25-foot-tall recreation of Cinderella's castle.

What started as a hobby has turned into a career for Berg. He now makes sculptures out of cards full-time.

This is the first time Berg has used glue in one of his sculptures.

When Loctite Super Glue commissioned him for the project, he said he agreed only if the final design "flew, floated or hanged," — something so people could see glue was used.

"I don't (usually) use tape, or glue anything together, and I've never even considered it. I've always been a purist," he said. "I think it's important that I'm up front about it."

How not to be a criminal Pt.43

TRENTON, N.J. — Donald Ray Bilby made it easy for authorities to find him after he sent letters to the FBI and banks threatening to bomb their buildings and send anthrax-laced letters. Bilby, who was serving time at the Somerset County Jail for auto theft, signed his real name and included his inmate number.

"Just when you think you'd seen it all, a case like Mr. Bilby's comes along," U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie said Tuesday after Bilby pleaded guilty in Trenton to a federal charge of false information. "I think it's fair to say we were not dealing with a great criminal mind here."

Bilby, 30, admitted that he sent five letters, each demanding $20,000 be deposited in his inmate account. He told federal agents he needed the money for bail, prosecutors said.

The count carries up to five years in prison, but sentencing guidelines suggest a term of 18 to 24 months.

The letters were sent to the FBI office in Franklin Township, the Secret Service office in Morristown, to the Somerville Post Office, to a Commerce Bank branch in Somerville, and to a Valley National Bank branch in North Plainfield, prosecutors said.

An April 6 letter to the FBI contained a piece of paper labeled "anthrax" and a white powdery substance. It tested negative for anything dangerous, and Bilby admitted today that he knew the powder was not anthrax, prosecutors said.

Bilby, who lived in Bound Brook, is now serving his state term at Southwoods State Prison in Bridgeton.

Text messaging record

Denver: A Utah teen with fingers of fury is once again the speed text-messaging king of the world.

Ben Cook, 18, of Provo, Utah, returned to the top of the cell-phone text-messaging heap Friday at a Denver text-off at a water park, blazing through a 160-character standardised message in 42.22 seconds.

The phrase used for purposes of professional, competition texting is: “The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.”

The feat was recorded on video and scored by an official timekeeper, validating it for Guinness World Records purposes, said Sara Spaulding, spokeswoman for event sponsor Jump Mobile.

Honourable Diploma for 86 yr old

Wyoming: George Allen says he’s not entirely certain of the circumstances leading up to his expulsion from high school in 1935 at age 16.

He suffered a concussion during a football scrimmage.
He knows he went to school the next three days, he said, but on the fourth day was called into the principal’s office at La Junta High School in Colorado and was expelled. “I don’t know what happened,” he said.

But better late than never: After 70 years, Allen has received his diploma under a programme for honourably discharged veterans.

Cool shirt ?

It is the ultimate way to beat the heat — a shirt with its own air conditioning system built in.

As temperatures soar above 35C, it wafts a refreshing breeze around its wearer, whether in the street or an office.

The record-breaking hot weather in Europe this summer has sparked UK companies’ interest in the Japanese invention.

It works by helping the body’s own cooling system. Normally, sweat is produced and evaporates, causing a cooling effect. Clothes interfere with this process by trapping the droplets.

But the shirt, invented by former Sony technician Hiroshi Ichigaya, produces a layer of circulating air which enhances sweat evaporation.

Two fans at the back pump fresh air around the wearer and out through the neck and sleeve ends. Moisture can also pass through the cloth. The 4in diameter fans are powered by AA batteries, which last for several hours, or by plugging into a computer using a USB cable.

The electrical parts can be removed for washing. The only drawback is the balloon effect caused by the air flow.

Ichigaya, now president of the shirt's manufacturer Kuchofuku - whose products range from a blouse for £50 to overalls at £100 — said: “We have had enquiries from Britain and we hope to be exporting in the future.

“It’s true the shirts make you look like a ‘Michelin Man’ but on factory floors people are more worried about being able to do their jobs in comfort.”

One man ‘road-tested" the shirt on a hot, humid afternoon in Tokyo. He reports:

There are obvious disadvantages — the front looks like a body builder with bulging muscles but from behind I resemble Quasimodo.

No to sewage water

A drought-hit Australian town could not swallow the idea of drinking recycled sewage water and rejected the water-saving option in a referendum.

Toowoomba, 140 km west of the Queensland state capital Brisbane, would have become the nation's first town to supplement drinking water with recycled waste water, a practice used in Israel, Singapore, the US and parts of Europe.

In the end, the "yuck factor" meant Toowoomba's 100,000 residents overwhelmingly voted against the idea despite a decade of tough water regulations resulting from the worst drought in 100 years in parts of Australia.

"The majority of the Toowoomba community does not support the indirect potable reuse of recycled water," said Australia's parliamentary secretary for water, Malcolm Turnbull.

"I respect that decision. Reuse of recycled water for drinking purposes in the manner proposed is sustainable and it is safe. But, as I have said many times, it is not compulsory."

If residents had voted "yes", 25 per cent of their drinking water would have come from recycled water in a $A68 million scheme. The water is filtered through a complex membrane in a process known as reverse osmosis.

Turnbull said recycling water was important for Australia as demand was expected to exceed supply from existing water sources in nearly all major Australian cities within the next 20 years.

Smurfs nick a trampoline

NZ - Two blue smurfs were left with red faces on Saturday night after they were arrested by police for stealing a trampoline.

Senior Sergeant Brian Benn told NZPA two drunk 19 year olds, "dressed as smurfs", were seen carrying the trampoline along Richardson Street, Dunedin about 1am.

Smurfs are fictional small creatures who featured in the 1980s television series The Smurfs.

"When they saw the police had noticed them they dropped the trampoline and took off." Mr Benn said police had to track them over several back yards. "Two were located, but a third man got away," he said.

The men will appear in Dunedin District Court tomorrow. The trampoline had been taken from a garden in southern Dunedin.

Con applies to open bar in prison

Springfield, Vt - Town officials have nixed an idea for a jailhouse bar. The Select Board, acting as the town liquor board, rejected an inmate's application to sell liquor from the state prison.

Paul Murphy of Worcester, Mass., is serving time at the Southern State Correctional Facility for aggravated assault, escape and passing bad checks.

He said in an application for a first- and second-class liquor license that he wanted to sell liquor from his home, which he listed as 700 Charlestown Road. That also happens to be the address of the state prison just east of downtown Springfield.

Regardless of the bid to have liquor delivered to a prison, town officials say many portions of the application were left blank.

"We determined that the application was incomplete," said Town Manager Robert Forguites.

Springfield officials were surprised to receive the application. They assumed prison officials would have caught it before it was sent and they believed the state Liquor Control Department also would have stopped it.

Prison officials say they review incoming mail in the presence of an inmate to ensure it doesn't contain contraband. But they don't look at mail sent by prisoners.

And Liquor Control Department officials say they had not received the application. They said they don't conduct a background check on an applicant until town officials have approved. If they'd received Murphy's, they said, it would have been rejected.

1 Millionth Wikipedia entry sabotaged

A railway station in Glasgow's west end has become the unlikely focus of a battle in cyberspace.

An online encyclopedia article about Jordanhill station has had to be given similar protection to entries about George Bush and Tony Blair, after cyber-vandals rushed to deluge the internet page with superfluous and even hoax information.

The entry, on the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, has been changed more than 1,000 times since being created by Ewan MacDonald - a Greenock-based computer expert - in March

The railway station became the one millionth Wikipedia page in English, a milestone in the information service, which is compiled and maintained by volunteers.

After it appeared, the entry was altered no fewer than 44 times within an hour of being created. While most of the changes added more information, including photographs, some were viewed as vandalism and were removed.

The alterations included a hoax paragraph, which claimed that the station had been a link to a magical world, had been used by Germanic tribes "for brewing liquer(sic)" and that it was smaller than a grapefruit.

The frenzy led to the entry having to be protected from changes - a move normally reserved for pages dealing with contentious subjects such as major politicians and religious controversies.

A spokesman for Wikipedia said: "We needed to protect the entry... from the rush of changes. We normally try to avoid closing pages to changes because we believe in making the Wikipedia as free as possible and encouraging contributors to make sure that entries are accurate and up to date."

Ewan MacDonald, 23, who created the page, said he was not surprised by the interest in the one millionth entry.

He said: "I had been about to write up the page anyway, but I heard in an internet chatroom that people expected the one millionth entry to be created later that evening. So when I wrote it, I hung around before finishing it off.

"I didn't engineer it that way but I was angling for it. As it happened there was a burst of new pages about the time I sent mine off, and I was later told mine was the millionth."

He added: "I became interested in the small railway stations around Glasgow because I was travelling round them when I was a student. I became curious about the history behind them all, so I began researching and writing about them."

Tomato face

KYOTO -- A tomato that resembles a disfigured human face has gained attention in the Kyoto Prefecture city of Yawata.

The tomato, which is about 10 centimeters in diameter and weighs about 150 grams, is of the regular "Momotaro" variety, but is about three times the normal size. It was harvested in Yawata from a field owned by 61-year-old farmer Kiyoshi Ueda.

"This is the first one I've seen that has eyes, a mouth and a nose," said Ueda, who has grown tomatoes for over 30 years.

The tomato apparently changed shape after taking in too much water during a period of heavy rain in the area. Some see it as a face that's gone red with anger over a string of scandals in society -- but of course, that's just a guess.

Sex replaces Bible

Christians tuning into their Sunday radio sermons and Bible stories were in for a shock this week when their favourite Californian station suddenly moved to an all-sex format.

After an ownership switch, KFWE-FM radio judged that Christian radio was unprofitable and decided to attract listeners by devoting its attention to sex.

"Christian radio stations never have very good ratings," Jerry Clifton, the new owner of KFWE-FM, said.

Instead, the station broadcast a continuous loop of sexually suggestive music without commercial breaks for a whole week.

"It's got a great signal, but it just wasn't performing," Mr Clifton said.

"All sex radio, all the time," Mr Clifton decided would sell better than Christianity, promoting the station as "porn radio".

Mr Clifton built his play list with the criteria that every song must contain the word sex, such as I Want Your Sex by George Michael, and Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye.

On Thursday, Clifton decided to open up the format to a general vote by the listeners.

"We'll do whatever the people want," he said.

Mr Clifton fielded a handful of angry phone calls, but said the majority of callers wanted the sex radio format.

"Sometimes you've got to rattle the trees to develop a successful format," he said.


A television institution is coming to an end after more than 40 years tonight. The final Top Of The Pops is to be broadcast this evening following a steady decline in viewing figures. Sir Jimmy Savile, who presented the very first programme back in 1964, has returned to host the final show alongside 1970s Dance troupe Pan's People, who used to interpret songs if performers could not make it.

Dave Lee Travis, Tony Blackburn, Janice Long, Mike Read, Pat Sharp, Reggie Yates, Edith Bowman, Sarah Cawood and Rufus Hound - some of the 150 stars who have presented the show are all fronting the final goodbye.

Sir Jimmy signs off one last time on the final - recorded - show, saying: "Don't forget it's number one, it's still Top Of The Pops."

Despite the claim, a poll of TV viewers has found that TOTP has been usurped as the nation's favourite music show.

Later With Jools Holland, which launched in 1992, was voted the surprise favourite.

Another BBC show, The Old Grey Whistle Test, presented by the likes of Andy Kershaw, Bob Harris and Annie Nightingale after it began life in 1971, came third.

It is followed by ITV1's CD:UK and Channel 4's cult alternative rock show from the 1980s, The Tube, which was fronted by Jools Holland and Paula Yates.

Yahoo! Music editor Gareth Bellamy said: "We're really surprised by the outcome of this poll. We were sure that TOTP would be seen as the favourite music programme of all time despite its recent axing. However, our poll has shown that live sets seem to outshine having the latest acts or the best presenters."

The World's Shittiest Shortest Personality Test

Your Personality Profile

You are dependable, popular, and observant.
Deep and thoughtful, you are prone to moodiness.
In fact, your emotions tend to influence everything you do.

You are unique, creative, and expressive.
You don't mind waving your freak flag every once and a while.
And lucky for you, most people find your weird ways charming!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Like a woman scorned ....

It's tough to get people to notice billboards in New York and Los Angeles, but giant signs of what looks like a scorned woman have attracted attention.

"Hi Steven, Do I have your attention now?" the sign reads, and then goes on to call Steven immoral and unfaithful, poorly endowed slimeball ... everything's caught on tape !
The open letter ends with a "P.S. I paid for this from our joint bank account."

Los Angelinos are captivated.

"There's no insinuation that it has to do with any brand, but I wouldn't be surprised if that's not for real. I mean, we're in L.A.," one woman said, looking back at the billboard over her shoulder.

Her friend agreed. "This has got to be a publicity stunt, it's just not 100 percent believable as a personal ad."

On Ryan Seacrest's radio show on 102.7 KIIS FM Los Angeles, people called in to discuss the billboards.

One skeptical caller to Seacrest's show said she didn't believe the message was truly part of a lover's quarrel. She said she'd seen one of the billboards in another location. "I saw one yesterday over on Englewood and Washington," she said.

"Let's then deduce that there was no individual woman who was cheated on here, that this is obviously an ad campaign," Seacrest replied. "That ad agency is having the greatest day of their life."

This billboard is part of a mystery ad campaign for a new cable TV show. It's part of a larger trend of ads that don't look like ads at all. Another example of the trend is the advertising campaign run by Secret deodorant, which looks as if people are posting their deepest secrets in Times Square.

"The key word — and this is what every advertiser is looking for — buzz," said Jerry Della Femina, chairman and CEO of Della Femina, Rothschild, Jeary Partners advertising agency in New York. "They want buzz."

This buzz has a more technical name: viral advertising, so dubbed because the ads spread from one person to another by people talking about them and, in the case of online ads, e-mailing them to friends.

Ad agencies large and small have creative teams dedicated to the viral concept, because these ads are cheaper to produce and because more young consumers are likely to pay attention. Ground zero of viral advertising is the video sharing Web site, which has more daily viewers than MTV.

"It's so deliciously sneaky," Della Femina said. "Most people say advertising doesn't affect me. Well, it does. It does and it works."

But the heavy impact of viral marketing carries a risk. A video clip of a Middle East terrorist blowing himself up in a Volkswagen drew millions of online hits. Even though Volkswagen had nothing to do with the clip, the company apologized after a storm of bad publicity.

Doiley G-strings

No longer able to find customers for their hand-crafted doilies and table clothes, grannies in the tiny Polish mountain village of Koniakow have now turned to using their crocheting skills to make G-strings.

And the business of making the knitted underwear has proved such a success that the lingerie has now been launched on an online shop for people around the world to buy it.

"People aren't only mad about g-strings in traditional white crochet, but also in red and black," Fox News quoted Tadeusz Rucki, who funds the granny g-string firm, as saying.

However, the head of the local Society for Folk Art, Helena Kamieniarz, is not happy with the new business.

"What is being done to our old traditions is a disgrace. The art of crochet is not intended for making such garments," she said.

The crocheted g-strings can be ordered from for around £17 each.

Someone's nicked my carpet ! I think

It became pretty apparent pretty quickly to Brian Capps that someone had broken into his $400,000 Covington home while he was at work. But as he surveyed room after room, everything seemed to be in place: the 60-inch TV, the furniture, his golf clubs.

Puzzled, he stepped into the master bedroom, and something just didn't feel right. "Oh man, what is this?" he remembers exclaiming.

The carpet! Someone had made off with the 3-year-old thick beige one . . . and replaced it with "ugly," but brand-new, frieze carpeting.

He called the Newton County sheriff's dispatch: "I said 'I got a problem. Somebody's broken into my house and stole my carpet.' And before I could get the rest of it out, he started laughing and asking me if I was serious," Capps said.

Sheriff's Deputy Sammy Banks arrived within five minutes, and started laughing. It was the oddest call of his 28-year career. Other deputies radioed in to check with Banks about the carpet caper. They too started laughing.

Capps --- whose family was out of town that day --- had left his garage door slightly raised so his 90-pound black labrador Abby could come and go. ("Some watchdog, huh?" he joked.)

The intruders crawled under the garage door "Indiana Jones-style," then jimmied open the kitchen lock.

"They were pretty determined," Capps said.

While the deputy looked for other tell-tale signs of intrusion, Capps noticed the red blinking light on his answering machine.

"Brian, I think you got my carpet", the message said. Then he noticed the letter taped to the door of the laundry room.

We have made a mistake, it said. Please call. Next to it, the phone number of a Covington flooring company.

The company was supposed to install the new carpeting at a neighbor's house. She lives in a home with a similar sounding address in the same subdivision. And she had left instructions for the crew to come through her garage door and enter via the kitchen.

"We have a sense of humor about it, and we want to make it right," said Brian Burns with the company, Floors & More Inc. "I'm getting calls from my friends now, like 'You know, I'm going to be out of town until Monday and I'd like to come back to some new carpet."

The Capps' family tried to have the company reinstall the original. But it had been tossed, and the line itself discontinued.

That was two weeks ago. Capps plans on asking the company to replace the new carpet in the master bedroom and, for consistency's sake, in the other downstairs bedroom and closets.

"It's a funny story," said Capps, whose house has been on the market for two months, "but I don't think the new owners will go for the mix and match thing."

Bagpipe precautions

Soldiers learning to play the bagpipes have been told to limit their practice sessions to only 24 minutes a day, or 15 minutes when indoors. Pipers will also have to wear ear plugs under the new guidelines brought in by health and safety officials.

The advice, aimed at preventing soldiers from suffering hearing problems, was issued after a study by the Army Medical Directorate environmental health team.Tests showed that outdoors the sound of bagpipes could reach 111 decibels, slightly louder than a pneumatic drill. Indoors, the instrument could reach 116 decibels, or as loud as a chainsaw.

Bagpipes have played a crucial role in Scottish regiments, which have traditionally been led into battle by kilted pipers.

Davy Garrett, who played the pipes in the Army for 12 years and now runs a piping school, said: "This is just another example of the nanny state and one that I am very concerned could ruin the future of piping in Scotland."

Bill Lark, 85, a Black Watch piper who led his comrades into action against the Japanese in 1944, said the rules were "ridiculous".

He said: "The pipes should be played loudly. That's how they inspire soldiers and scare the enemy."

A spokesman for the Army in Scotland said the rules were a "prudent precaution".

Nice one Post Office NOT

A postmaster who was beaten by armed robbers has been ordered to repay The Post office £3,000 :

Dilip Karavadra, 42, was hit repeatedly with a crowbar during the raid in Upper Caldecote, Beds, in December last year.

He said he was asked to pay a £3,000 contribution to the £6,695 stolen as he had moved away from an open hatch.

The Post Office said no final decisions have been made and it is sympathetically looking into the issue.

"I don't want to pay a single penny because I do not see the justice in that. It is ludicrous," said Mr Karavadra, who has run the post office in the village for six years.

Mr Karavadra said if he had blocked the open hatch the armed robbers could then have threatened or harmed his customers to get him to hand over the money.

"If I had not left the hatch open they could have hurt some of my customers. The welfare of my customers is of greater priority," he said.

Good week /Bad week

It's been a good week for :

Kylie Minogue : Her two British shows at Wembley Arena on Jan 2nd and 3rd sold out in 6 minutes flat.

The shows mark Kylie's return after recovering from breast cancer, which forced her to cut short her last tour in 2005.

Fans jammed phone lines when tickets went on sale at 9am. Two further shows were then announced for January 5 and 6, but the demand was so great that the venue's computer system crashed.

The two additional dates have also sold-out so a final two dates have been added on Jan 8th and 9th, bringing her total number of shows at Wembley to a staggering six in total.

Bad week for : Bob Geldof who scrapped two gigs in Italy at the weekend after selling just 345 tickets out of a potential 27000. The Irish rock musician and political activist beat a retreat back to London at the weekend after cancelling concerts in Milan and Rome because too few fans had bought tickets.

Only 45 people turned up on Friday at Milan's Civic Arena for a performance by the 51-year-old singer and songwriter. The venue has a capacity of 12,000.

Is the Captain blind !? yes !

A blind woman has celebrated her 75th birthday by taking the helm of an Irish Sea passenger ferry for part of its crossing from Wales to Ireland.

Blodwyn Phillips has completed a series of fund-raising challenges for charity Guide Dogs.

Mrs Phillips, originally from Whitford, near Holywell, said sailing a ship would "complete the set" after flying a plane and driving cars and a train.

She piloted the HSS Stena Explorer on its Holyhead to Dun Laoghaire sailing.

Mrs Phillips, who has been blind since birth, said she decided four years ago to raise money for Guide Dogs after the charity had been "very helpful" to her.

Conger cuddling

Can it really be disrespectful to swing a dead 20lb fish at a group of men to raise money for lifeboats? Somebody in Lyme Regis, Dorset, thought so and their complaint has now put an end to the 40-year tradition of "conger cuddling" in the town.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has deemed that using a dead conger eel to try to knock down some of its members is "inappropriate".

The event, traditionally held in Cobb Square in Lifeboat Week, is no more.

The eel has been replaced with a mooring buoy. Conger cuddling, which attracts up to 3,000 people every year, is not dissimilar from a game of skittles only it is on a larger scale.

Nine humans prepared to do battle with a huge, slippery eel replace the skittles.

Andrew Kaye, from the RNLI, said: "The whole idea was to raise money for the lifeboat. It has been very successful over the last 40 years.

"I think we raised £26,000 last year during Lifeboat Week and it has been rising year on year.

"An email was sent to the RNLI - we understand someone was upset and thought we were being disrespectful."

The buoy, which has replaced the offending sea creature, had its first outing on Friday.

Lessons on how to hitch-hike

Three Australian men who escaped from prison ended up back in jail after flagging down an unmarked police car to hitch a ride.

The three men, aged 19, 20 and 27, escaped from the Warakirri Correctional Facility in New South Wales on Wednesday night.

Police began searching for them after prison staff realised the men were missing and raised the alarm.

The men were over 200km (120 miles) from the jail when recaptured.

They were taken to a nearby police station and charged with escape and attempt to escape lawful custody.

They have been refused bail and are due to appear in court on Friday.

Beauty cheese scam

Police in Chile are asking Paris to extradite a French woman after a massive pyramid-selling scam in which thousands of people were conned. People were persuaded to buy a powder which they could allegedly turn into "Magic Cheese", said to make skin look younger and to be highly valuable.

The powder, called Yo Flex and costing up to $500 (£270), turned out to be an almost worthless food supplement. More than 20,000 Peruvians and 6,000 Chileans were reportedly duped. Some spent their life savings or borrowed money to take part.

According to the police in Santiago, the suspect, Madame Gilberte van Erpe, or Madame Gil as she has been dubbed by the press, told people that "Magic Cheese" was the latest fashion in France, where women used it as a skin cosmetic to fight the effects of ageing.

The fraud consisted of selling people packs of Yo Flex powder that was said to be the raw ingredient of the magic cream. According to reports, victims of the scam believed they only had to mix the powder with milk, to ferment the "Magic Cheese".

They were told they could then sell the cheese to a company, which would export it to France, where it would be sold on to French women at a premium. The victims were told that they could triple their money in three months.

At the height of the scam, a pack of Yo Flex sold for $500, but chemical analysis determined that the powder was a food supplement used in Africa, with a street value of just $4.

Initially, profits were paid out, but after a while the cheques stopped coming, says the BBC's Jane Chambers in Santiago.

Two Chileans have been arrested in connection with the scheme and a warrant has been issued for Madame Gil's arrest.

The public and politicians have criticised the authorities in charge of the case. They say they were too slow to get involved, causing thousands more people to lose their money.
This is one of the biggest pyramid-selling scams Chile has ever experienced, our correspondent says.

Pluto's namer honoured

"You don't just go around telling people that you named Pluto," says Venetia Phair, nee Burney, 87, a retired teacher in Epsom in Surrey. At least - it seems to me - not unless you did.

If I was the only living person who had named one of the solar system's nine planets, I would probably mention it on every possible occasion. "Two pounds of apples, please. Oh, and by the way, I named Pluto."

That an 11-year-old English girl called Venetia thought up the name while having breakfast with her granddad is perhaps less surprising than the fact that her suggestion became enshrined in the pantheon of the solar system. Granddad, who informed Venetia of the news by reading her the Times's account of the planet's discovery, happened to have a friend who was an astronomer, and he happened to pass the suggestion on to the Flagstaff Observatory in Arizona. They said, "Yeah, why not?", and the die was cast.

This month she has recieved a new accolade for the rest of the New Horizons spacecraft’s voyage to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt beyond, the Student Dust Counter – the first science instrument on a NASA planetary mission to be designed, built and
operated by students – will be known as the Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter
(VBSDC), or “Venetia” for short.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Emergency signs for adverts

INDIANAPOLIS -- State homeland security officials have warned Vermillion County to stop using electronic emergency message boards to advertise fish fries, spaghetti dinners and other events.

Homeland Security, which bought the 11 signs for $300,000, said the county could risk losing federal money. The county has stopped using the signs for the community announcements, and commissioners plan discuss the matter next week.

The president of the County Commissioners said Homeland Security is interfering with local governing.
"We run the county," Commissioner Tim Wilson said. "We make decisions to run the county on what's best for us. Did we misuse (the signs)? Or did we just run the county as we saw fit?"

Local officials say residents enjoyed the advertisements.

The Newport Chemical Depot, which is considered a potential terrorist target, is located in Vermillion County in western Indiana. In the case of an evacuation, the signs could flash routes for drivers to take. The message boards also could be used during floods or other natural disasters.

Using them for ads violates federal rules and could dull the public's attentiveness to the boards, said Eric Dietz, executive director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Local officials said the signs do get people's attention.

Ramon Colombo, director of Vermillion County Emergency Management, said sponsors of a spaghetti dinner fundraiser and an elementary school carnival reported larger-than-normal turnouts after message board ads.

The Cayuga volunteer fire department, where Wilson is chief, used the messages to promote its fish fry.

It's worth looking in dump bins

Electrician Michael Hoskins is not averse to browsing when he drops off trash at the Route 41 dump bin, and a recent visit rewarded his curiosity. Hoskins said he discovered a 188-year-old King James Bible. Now he's fending off offers approaching $1,000 for the find.

"I go up there all the time to drop off my household trash, and there it was," Hoskins told the Danville Register & Bee. "There were three or four boxes of books leaning up against the concrete wall behind the Dumpsters," Hoskins said. "I found the Bible in four pieces, put them together and took it home."

While otherwise intact, the Bible appeared to have fire damage and had watermarks on some of its inner pages. The sheepskin-covered book was printed in Pittsburgh in 1818 and, according to Hoskins' research, is one of less than half dozen copies in existence.

"You can also see where it survived a fire at one time," he said. "I was always told a Bible wouldn't burn and have seen it before in other church and house fires."

Hoskins also looked into the Bible's history and discovered that it belonged to the Enoch family.

"So, I also did research on the Internet and found a descendant of Isaac Enoch listed in the Bible," Hoskins said.

Enoch was born on Jan. 25, 1775, and he and his children are listed on the outer pages.

"I talked to a man named James Lockhart in Coolville, Ohio, and he claims to be a direct descendant of Isaac," Hoskins said.

The two talked for several hours, and 71-year-old Lockhart told Hoskins that he has researched his family genealogy for 40 years and always felt there had to be a family Bible out there.

"I mailed him copies of the family history from the Bible, and he said it helped him fill in some of the gaps in his research," Hoskins said.

With word spreading on his discovery, Hoskins said he's had offers from rare book shops and others, all of which he's resisted.

"No, this Bible has made it through a lot. I am going to hold on to it for now. I will sell for the right price, but $900 is not realistic, not with only six of them left in existence."

His discovery early in July was found amid boxes of literary works on the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. He returned the next day to retrieve them.

"All of the books were gone, and the containers had already been sent to the landfill. So that's where the Bible would have ended up had it not been saved," Hoskins said.

I'm off to the shops in my .. er .. hearse

WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Transport authorities promised swift action Friday after discovering some New Zealanders have listed their cars as hearses to cut their registration fees.

The scam came to light when a Christchurch woman told a local radio station she had paid just $36 US to register her car, instead of the usual $113, by registering it as a "noncommercial hearse" to carry dead animals. The woman's definition of carrying dead animals: taking frozen chickens home from the supermarket.

Other listeners then called in to say they had done the same, NewstalkZB station producer Lesley Murdoch said.

Some 1,500 vehicles are registered under the heading "noncommercial hearse/ambulance," making them exempt from a number of official levies, according to Andy Knackstedt, spokesman for Land Transport New Zealand, the government body responsible for land transport funding.

He was unable to say how many are legitimate hearses being operated by undertakers, how many are noncommercial ambulances and how many might be "fake hearses."

"The dictionary definition of a hearse is a vehicle used to convey coffins, not to convey groceries," he said Friday.

The Transport Registration Centre has already uncovered 40 car owners who falsely changed their registration to that category, Knackstedt said, adding that the agency will be writing to all them.

"People are committing an offence when they do this and could be putting their insurance policy in jeopardy," he said.

Pic of the week

A cleaner walks in a diorama of central Moscow. The 16-metre-wide model is to be auctioned off.

Sign of the times

A woman has been told by police that she must remove a sign on her garden gate that reads "Our dogs are fed on Jehovah's Witnesses" because it is "distressing, offensive and inappropriate".

Jean Grove, a pensioner, has displayed the sign for 32 years. Her late husband, Gordon, put it up after members of the Church banged on their door on Christmas Day 1974.

Mrs Grove, from Bursledon, Hants, said that police officers had taken her details and insisted that she remove the sign. Once they had left, she put it back.

She said the sign was not intended to cause offence and that no one had complained to her about it, not even Jehovah's Witnesses. It was merely a way of showing that she did not welcome their calls.

"It was just a bit of a lark," she said, pointing out that the only dog she had now was a Jack Russell pup called Rabbit, which was too small to savage callers of any religion.

Mrs Grove, 77, said: "If someone had told me they were offended, I would have taken it down. Why should it suddenly be a problem?" She said she kept the sign as a memorial to her husband, who died two years ago after 52 years of marriage.

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "The police put my name and address in their little black book and everything."

Her son, Richard, 53, said his father had become fed up with repeated calls from Jehovah's Witnesses and the visit on Christmas Day was the last straw.

He said his parents used to keep alsatians but they were good-natured and would have licked a visitor to death.

The only apparent visit from the Church since 1974 was when the sign was removed and on that occasion police helped to recover it.

"There's no way we could take the sign down," Mr Grove said. "It is a testament to dad's sense of humour."

Real life Superman

A bystander at a road accident in the US heaved a car clean off a trapped teenage cyclist, possibly saving his life, police say.

City police say 18-year-old Kyle Holtrust was struck by a car as he peddled along a Tucson highway in southern Arizona and was pinned beneath it.

Tucson paintshop worker Tom Boyle grabbed the Chevrolet Camaro car and lifted it, allowing the driver to haul the injured cyclist clear.

"He lifted that side of the car completely off the ground," police spokesman Frank Amado said.

Mr Amado says Mr Holtrust is being treated in hospital, and is expected to make a full recovery.

Local media say Mr Boyle is 1.93 metres tall and weighs 136 kilograms.

"It was outstanding," Mr Amado said.

"It is quite unusual to have that strength."

The man who wanted to be king

The British royal family in the early 20th-century sought advice on whether a former policeman who claimed to be the true heir to the throne could be declared insane, according to government documents released Friday.

The records, released by the National Archive, show royal annoyance with Anthony Hall, who claimed during the 1920s and 1930s to be a direct descendant of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn.

Hall made repeated public speeches setting out his claim to the throne, challenging the then-monarch, King George V, to fight him in court for the right to the crown with the loser to have "his head lopped off."

In a July 1931 letter to the Home Office, the king's private secretary, Sir Clive Wigram, suggested Hall should be institutionalized.

"His Majesty quite agrees that a stop should be put to his effusions but feels that it might not look very well for a man who is obviously demented to get six months' imprisonment," the letter said. "Would it not be possible to keep him under observation with a view to his final detention in an Institution, without actually putting him in prison?"

Home Office official Sir John Anderson replied that while Hall was "eccentric and wrong-headed, he is not so obviously demented or insane that he could be dealt with without recourse to court proceedings."

Palace hopes were dealt a further blow when Hall was examined by doctors, including Dr. Walter R. Jordan, an "expert in lunacy."

Jordan concluded that Hall's actions, "though he should be able to recognize their futility and impropriety, are not absolute proof of unsoundness of mind."

Hall was a thorn in the monarchy's side for years. Repeatedly arrested and fined for using "scandalous language," he persisted in his claim.

In 1931, he published a pamphlet, "Open Letter to King George V," which said that as king he would abolish government and taxes, write off the national debt, create full employment and ensure free health care for all.

Hall eventually stopped making public speeches during World War II, and died in 1947.

Sod's law formula

You're late for work, you've a meeting to get to, you grab a slice of toast on your way but Sod's Law means you drop it butter side down on your suit. Similar scenarios happen to the people up and down the land and it's always blamed on the law of Sod - when things go wrong at the wrong time.

But now a Cardiff University lecturer has produced a mathematical formula behind the "law" and how to avoid it.

Inconvenience and background stress were found to influence if it happened.

Dr Cliff Arnall, a psychologist based at the university's centre for lifelong learning, has already drawn up a formula for the happiest and saddest days of the year.

He calculated out a Sod's Law formula for an insurance company.

During his study he worked out using six factors, based on state of mind and the impact of the task going awry, that preparation was crucial in avoiding being a victim of Sod's Law.
The formula uses:

* Task Importance (Ti)

* Inconvenience, and financial and emotional cost of task not going to plan (I)

* Optimism - the tendency to think everything will work out fine (O)

* Background Personal Stress Levels (Sb)

* Extent of Planning (P)

* Memory - especially for things that worked out well

Using a scale of 1-5 for each factor, the minimum chance of Sod's Law striking is a score of 0.3 and the maximum is a score of 17.5.

Mathematically, it is expressed as:

1/8Ti x I 3/8 + O + Sb
P + M

"There are a number of common mistakes we make when planning a task, all of which contribute towards the likelihood of something going wrong," said Dr Arnall.

"Sod's Law tends to strike in direct proportion to the importance of the task.

"Other factors such as planning ahead and the inconvenience of said task not going to plan are also crucial.

"The formula uses both emotional and organisational factors, because mental impact and the ability to foresee possible problems - and make provisions for these - are the enemies of Sod's Law."

Police nick from nick's tuck shop

Two officers have been arrested as part of an investigation into the alleged theft of several hundred pounds-worth of stock from a police station tuck shop.

The officers, based at Hailsham police station, East Sussex, have been released on bail and suspended from duty while an inquiry is conducted into the allegations.

A Sussex Police spokesman said today that the force's professional standards department, based at headquarters in Lewes, were brought in to investigate amid concerns over "significant stock loss" from Hailsham police station's tuck shop, which sells sweets, crisps and soft drinks.

It is understood that 16 people have been questioned, including 12 officers and four police staff.

The police spokesman said: "As a result of the initial investigation, a number of staff and officers have currently been withdrawn from operational duties pending further inquiries.

"The investigation is in the early stages and the affected staff will be interviewed in due course to determine whether they are involved or not. Two officers have been arrested, bailed and suspended from duty whilst the investigation is conducted."

The East Sussex division of Sussex Police has brought in replacement staff to ensure normal policing service during the investigation, the spokesman added.

Chief Inspector Tony Blaker, Wealden district commander, said: "The integrity of our staff is very important to us and when we identify problems such as this, we act swiftly and positively to resolve the issues.

"At this time there is no indication that any members of the public are affected or will be by the investigation."

Not bottled in Cleveland

CLEVELAND -- A bottled water company has dropped its ad campaign that poked fun at Cleveland. In national magazines, Fiji Water boasted that "The label says Fiji because it's not bottled in Cleveland."

The company has e-mailed an apology, saying the ad was supposed to be funny but clearly didn't meet that goal. Fiji Water had intended to continue the campaign until the end of the year but now says it will stop.

The back of the Fiji bottle contains information about trade winds purifying island water -- water not affected by acid rain and other pollutants, Cleveland TV station WEWS reported.

Cleveland's Water Department was so bothered it ran tests. It said it found the tap water contained no measurable arsenic -- but Fiji Water had much higher levels, though still within federal limits. The department said Fiji water also had higher levels of other contaminants.

The Cleveland Water Department said their test results showed Cleveland's treated drinking water is better quality than Fiji Water.

WEWS-TV held a blind taste test.

"I never had Fiji Water. I thought Cleveland was much more refreshing," one tennis player said.

The taste testers preferred Cleveland water.

"Just not as good as I thought it would be and not worth the price," one man said.

Fiji president Edward Cochran said his company's tests have found much lower levels of arsenic in Fiji Water than Cleveland did. He questions the validity of the city's study, saying it was not an independent test.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Holey shit! Idiot

It was already a bad day for the lorry driver. Firstly, he had found himself travelling along a road weakened by water from a burst main below.

Then the front wheel of his truck had got stuck axle-deep in a hole after the road collapsed beneath the vehicle. As the driver tried to shift his trapped truck, things went from bad to worse.

A traffic warden turned up. And rather than offer sympathy, she issued him with a parking ticket.

A small crowd of astonished onlookers gathered to watch as the driver tried in vain to explain his predicament - but the jobsworth warden just shrugged and told him he could appeal against the fine.

Sue Melkman, who took the picture outside her home in Belsize Park, North London, said: 'It's crazy. There was water everywhere. It was obvious what had happened but she still wrote the ticket.'She wouldn't engage in conversation. All she would say was, "You can appeal".

'It's the daftest decision. How can you give a ticket to someone who's stuck in a hole? The woman must live in a parallel universe. It's so ridiculous.

'Everyone was laughing at her and a few were taking pictures on their phones. I told her she'd be a laughing stock and it would be in the local paper but she didn't reply. She just wrote the ticket and off she went.

'The poor driver tried to reason with her, but what can you do? If they're going to write a ticket they just do it. He took it very philosophically.'

The incident happened last Friday morning after engineers from Thames Water had decided not to put cones around the bulging, cracked patch of road after inspecting it the previous day, Mrs Melkman said.

Bertie brick

A brick used to smash an Oxfam charity shop window has gone on sale on eBay.

The description reads :

Hi There

My name is Bertie Brick, I need a new home and help you can help.

Recently I fell in with the wrong crowd and threw myself into a life of crime. I had a smashing time at the Oxfam Shop in Altrincham, (see pictures).

However, I can now see the error of my ways. Especially since my colleagues crashed out leaving me to take the fall. I wish to go 'straight' and build up my peaceful constructive credentials as just another brick in the wall.

Please help me to raise £600 to post bail and cover the damages. Please bid generously, all proceeds go to Oxfam to help help those less fortunate. Thanks for looking.

With just over a day to go bidding has reached £220.


What do you get a 288-pound man for his birthday? How about 288 pounds of jelly beans?

His family didn't plan it that way, but when Mike Lively became the 1 millionth person to tour the Jelly Belly Center on his birthday Wednesday, he won his weight's worth of the sweet treats.

The 41-year-old Indiana man, who claims he weighs only 278 pounds(20 stone ,125 Kg), said he wasn't planning on sharing his windfall.

"Fork it out to my family and kids," said Lively, a steel worker, when asked what he would do with his prize. "None of the guys at work are getting any."

The factory reached the million-visitor milestone in exactly five years, according to store manager Mary Plebanek.

The tour, which allows visitors to see how the candy is made, is one of the most popular attractions in Kenosha County. It draws about 200,000 visitors annually, almost double the 110,000 people who visit the Kenosha Public Museum on average each year.

Lively, a first-time visitor to the factory, stared at the stack of bean-filled boxes, weighing one-seventh of a ton.

St. Bernard falls on man

WARSAW: A man was bruised but alive on Wednesday after a Saint Bernard dog thrown out a two-story window landed on him as he was walking down the street in the southern-Polish city of Sosnowiec.

The 50kg ( 110lb ) dog was pushed out of the window by its drunken owner on Monday, police said.

"The dog had a soft landing because it fell on a man," said police spokesman Grzegorz Wierzbicki. "The dog escaped with just a few scratches."

"The man was also more in a psychological state of shock than physically hurt," Wierzbicki added.

The one-year-old dog, named Oskar, was placed in an animal shelter while police investigate its owners for animal abus

Bets on pit boy

NEW DELHI - While all of India was gripped last weekend by televised efforts to save a boy who had fallen into a deep pit, bookmakers received $33 million US in bets on whether the child would survive, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

"The timing of the boy's likely rescue was also a matter of intense speculation," the Times of India newspaper quoted an unnamed bookie as saying. Most of the gamblers had expected the boy, who was eventually rescued Sunday night, to be freed that morning, the report said.

Gambling is a popular pastime in many parts - even though betting is outlawed in India - and thousands of Indians apparently saw the drama surrounding the rescue of the young boy, identified only as Prince, as an opportunity for some action.

Prince, who is said to be either 5 or 6, fell into a narrow, 18-metre-deep irrigation shaft on Friday while playing in his village in the northern state of Haryana.

He was trapped for 50 hours before being rescued safely on Sunday, his birthday, by soldiers in an operation that was televised live across India.

Bets poured in Sunday as the rescue efforts were broadcast, the newspaper reported. It did not say whether there were any big winners.

Billions of dollars exchange hands in India each year through a secretive betting system that uses a complex set of codes often uttered only on phones to avoid leaving a paper trail.

Most of the betting is on cricket, but bets are also placed on a wide range of subjects, such as the colours of saris worn by actresses on television soap operas.

Bets have also been placed on the likelihood of Hindu-Muslim religious riots, the newspaper reported.

Collect £200 Swipe your card for £200

If you're passing Go and want to collect £200, better bring a debit card.

A British version of the classic Monopoly board game released this week substitutes a debit card for the stacks of yellow, blue and purple play money long hoarded by children worldwide.

"We started looking at what Monopoly would look like if we designed it today," said Chris Weatherhead, a Britain-based spokesman for Hasbro Inc., which makes the bestselling board game. "We noticed consumers are using debit cards, carrying around cash a lot less."

British players might not be the only ones switching to plastic. Officials at Pawtucket-based Hasbro say they're considering a similar change for American versions.

First offered in 1935, Monopoly offered players a form of financial escapism during the Great Depression. Players become pretend real estate magnates who compete for fictitious property named after real places in Atlantic City, N.J. A British version released that same year featured London neighbourhoods.

In the new British version of Monopoly Here & Now, players type amounts into a palm-sized scanner and swipe their debit cards to seal the deal.

While the change may startle some Monopoly fans, the game has been revised several times before. Consumers can now buy Monopoly editions inspired by the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies, or even a version featuring SpongeBob SquarePants, an animated TV character.

Definatelly nott good PR

A company that sells software to stop spelling mistakes on the internet has had to reissue its latest press release after letting through typing errors.

Canadian company TextTrust, which sells software to eliminate "the negative text impressions on Web sites", had to send out its own statement again.

The release listed "the 16 million we (sic) pages it has spellchecked over the past year".

"It's very embarrassing," said the company's PR representative.

The press release listed words including "independent", "accommodation" and "definitely", which were spelled "independant", "accomodation" and "definately".

But it did not list the word "web".

"I made the mistake, not TextTrust - they do a much better job," said PR manager Pat Brink. "It's certainly egg on the face of this public relations person."

TextTrust said it used a combination of human editors and special spell-checking software to find spelling errors on the web.

Bad paintjob day

Cameron Elliott is so angry at his £88,000 Aston Martin V8 Vantage's paint finish he's daubed complaints on it in orange, purple and green.

Cameron, 38, of Rochdale, drives it bearing slogans: "Like my car? I don't, it's crap, "Wish I'd bought a Porsche".

He wants a refund or a full respray, saying: "People think I'm mad, but the car was unsaleable." & "An official dog" and "Do you like my car? I don't".

A spokesman for Stratstones where he bought it , said it was company policy not to discuss individual customers' problems "because of data protection issues".

A spokesman for Aston Martin said: "We are aware of Mr Elliott's dissatisfaction with the paintwork repairs on his car.

"Aston Martin have offered several options, including repainting the car to his satisfaction, or assisting him in selling it through the dealership network.

"It is disappointing, therefore, that he felt the need to resort to this action."

Nude maze gig

Aa I reported earlier this month about York Maze's Star Trek Maze, a rock band have agreed to strip off to play a gig for a crowd of naturists in it's maze.

Slash Bikini will play for naturists enjoying a special evening at York Maze, reports the York Press.

Band member Randy P Rock III said: "Playing naked is a new venture for the band. Depending on the reaction from the audience, this could be a once only naked performance."

Andrew Welch, from the British Naturism Society, said: "We are delighted that York Maze is hosting this landmark event for naturism, the first time a naked event has been held in a maze."

The naked event at the maze starts at 6.30pm on Saturday, July 29. Non-naturist family members are also welcome.

The Great Texas Mosquito festival

The Great Texas Mosquito Festival is approaching its 26th Annual Festival, scheduled for July 27, 28, & 29, 2006 in Clute, Texas (55 miles southeast of Houston). The festival was started to promote and encourage tourism in the City of Clute. Over the years, the festival has grown tremendously, attracting some 18,000 plus visitors over the three-day event.

Hovering over the festival activities is “Willie-Man-Chew”, the world’s largest mosquito. Willie is a 26-foot Texas mosquito, complete with a cowboy hat, boots, blown up wings and a big stinger. Willie is a favorite of all festival visitors, and he makes a great photo souvenir. Willie also does festival promotions throughout the year at other events.

The Great Texas Mosquito Festival is a three day (Thursday, Friday and Saturday), fun filled, family event. There are numerous contests, such as the Mosquito Chase “Run” (5 KM), Doubles Horseshoe Pitching Tournaments, Doubles Washer Pitching Contest, a Century Buzz Bike & Skate Tour, BBQ and Fajita Cookoff, O’ You Beautiful Doll Contest, Mr. & Mrs. Mosquito Legs Contest, a Mosquito Calling Contest, and many more outrageous events. We also have approximately 100 booth spaces with a variety of foods, along with arts and crafts and more. The carnival provides three days of fun for children and adults.

Wax Jolie-Pitt baby

Barely two months since her birth, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie's baby Shiloh Nouvel already merits its own figure at the Madame Tussaud's wax museum in New York, the museum has announced.

The first baby ever given the honour, Shiloh Nouvel's figure "with Mum's signature pouty lips and delicate features," will be joining more than 200 top celebrities portrayed in wax statues.

Shiloh Nouvel was born to the Hollywood megastars in Namibia on May 27.

While her parents have kept the real Shiloh out of the public eye, at Madame Tussaud's she "will lie peacefully inside a woven bassinet" in her "very own African-themed nursery," near figures of her parents, the museum said in a statement.

"The nursery - painted a pale yellow - also includes jungle-themed curtains, a whimsical chandelier, a white changing table and giant stuffed animals," the statement said.

"Soft African lullabies will be played in the background, and guests can pose for a 'family photo'" with the three figures, said the museum, which promises to send $US1 per photo to the UN children's fund UNICEF.

Jolie has been a United Nations goodwill ambassador for several years.

Aussie PM gets the goat

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has been given a goat for his 67th birthday today.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd says the goat will go to help people in Sudan as a "gift-in-kind" through an aid organisation.

He says while he was in Sudan recently he was told people needed either goats or donkeys.

"I spent 100 bucks and have delivered to the PM's office last night a letter congratulating the Prime Minister on his 67th birthday, with a gift certificate with a picture of a milking goat," Mr Rudd said.

"That will now head off to a village in the Dafur."

World Santa Claus Congress

Some 180 Santas and little elves from around the world wound up their annual congress in Denmark with a parade at Bakken, the oldest theme park in the world.

Despite the sweltering heat - temperatures hit 34 degrees Celsius - the Santas from Europe, the United States and Japan have paraded through the Christmas-decorated park clad in their wintry red outfits.

"Mummy, tell me I'm not dreaming. Those are Santas!" exclaimed a wide-eyed four-year-old named Alexander, one of hundreds of children who turned out for the event.

Bakken, located just north of Copenhagen, has been decked out with, among other things, a giant Christmas tree with glitter-wrapped presents dangling from its branches.

One of the Santas who stood out is the visitor from the state of New York, who wore cowboy boots.

One little boy took advantage of the close encounter personally to give his favourite Father Christmas - the one from Greenland - his wish list.

"I've never seen him before ... It's nice to meet him in the flesh," five-year-old Jens said.

Greenland's Santa was a special guest at this year's conference, since he is recognised by his peers as "the real Santa".

With his long white beard and sealskin boots, he says he has attended the meeting "to see how my assistants were doing and encourage them and give them some good advice".

Congress spokeswoman Vibeke Larsen says for three days this week, the Santas met "to talk about the upcoming Christmas and questions they care about, and to have a good time too".

The Danish Father Christmas, the host of the event, says participants have taken several important decisions, including a ban on presents that were difficult to open "so as not to try children's patience".

The Santas have also issued a plea for more colourful Christmas trees this year, saying the plain green ones are too staid.

Well , look what we found !

RICHMOND, Virginia -- Sometime around 1610, archaeologists figure a thirsty colonist put his brass pistol on the side of a well as he pulled up some water and accidentally knocked the weapon in.

It is conjecture, but it is one explanation for a cache of rare finds they fished up Tuesday from the bottom of a 400-year-old well at an overlooked corner of Historic Jamestowne, a national park.

The items included the Scottish pistol, a man's leather shoe and a small lead plaque reading "James Towne" -- the equivalent of a colonial luggage tag.

Outside Indian artifacts, the items are among the oldest ever unearthed in North America.

"They're the earliest you could find in what is now the United States," explained William Kelso, director of archaeology for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. The group owns approximately 22 acres (8.8 hectares) of Jamestown Island, including the southwestern corner where researchers made the discovery.

The site is in the heart of what began as a military outpost, an area so old that few thought it could be pinpointed, he said.

"It was thought that that site had washed into the river and couldn't be found," he said. "I had an idea it could."

Year-long commemorations are under way to mark the 400th anniversary of the English landing in 1607 and founding of Jamestown, Virginia -- the first permanent British settlement in America.

At its peak, Jamestown would have been home to about 250 settlers and part time residents -- legislators who traveled there for the earliest governmental sessions in Britain's American colonies, he said. A team of 12 archaeologists started digging Monday through what amounted to their trash.

Finds included a halberd, a 17th century ceremonial staff often carried by military sergeants; a hammer; and an intact ceramic bottle called a Bartmann jug or a "bearded man," which was made in Germany and could date back to 1590, Kelso said.

Insects, plant life and even the white oak timber used to line the 15.5-foot-deep well (4.65 meters) will offer further clues of the environment in the colonists' day, Kelso said.

The items were transferred to an onsite lab to be cleaned, examined and eventually displayed at the site's newly opened Archaearium, a museum of history and archaeology at Jamestown.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Manuscripts found in peatbog

DUBLIN, Ireland -- Irish archaeologists Tuesday heralded the discovery of an ancient book of psalms by a construction worker while driving the shovel of his backhoe into a bog.

The approximately 20-page book has been dated to the years 800-1000. Trinity College manuscripts expert Bernard Meehan said it was the first discovery of an Irish early medieval document in two centuries.

"This is really a miracle find," said Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland, which has the book stored in refrigeration. Researchers will conduct years of painstaking analysis before putting the book on public display.

"There's two sets of odds that make this discovery really way out," Wallace said. "First of all, it's unlikely that something this fragile could survive buried in a bog at all, and then for it to be unearthed and spotted before it was destroyed is incalculably more amazing."

Jogger's delight

WASHINGTON -- The nation's capital and dozens of other communities across the country are installing rubber pavements made of ground-up tyres. Officials say they're safer and easier to maintain.

The rubber squares, up to three times more costly than concrete slabs, last longer because they aren't cracked by tree roots or freezing weather. And officials hope that more even pavement will lead to fewer slip-and-fall lawsuits.

The shock-absorbing surface also happens to be easier on the joints of joggers and more forgiving when someone takes a spill.

Rubber pavements are also considered environmentally friendly. They offer a way to recycle some of the estimated 290 million tyres discarded each year in the U.S.

Woman sues her Mother-in-law

LONDON -- Can't stand your mother-in-law? You're not alone. But at least a woman in Britain has the law on her side.

A judge in Nottingham County ordered Gina Satvir Singh's mother-in-law to pay her $65,000.

Singh said her mother-in-law kept her as a virtual prisoner and forced her to do household chores, such as cleaning the toilet without a brush.

Singh and her husband divorced in 2003. But she still won the judgement against Dalbir Kaur Bhakar.

Bhakar denied the charges and said she will appeal.

Don't feed the Bums !

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Another American city has made it a crime to feed the homeless in certain areas. Last week, Las Vegas outlawed feeding homeless people at city parks. Now, Orlando is following suit.

Orlando is trying to keep charitable groups from feeding the homeless in downtown parks. Officials said transients gathering for weekly meals create safety and sanitary problems for businesses.

The City Council voted to prohibit serving meals to groups of 25 or more people in parks and other public property within two miles of City Hall without a special permit.

A group called Food Not Bombs, which has served weekly vegetarian meals for the homeless for more than a year, said it will continue illegally.

The American Civil Liberties Union vows to sue, saying it's a superficial fix that ignores the city's homeless problem.

Two of the city's five commissioners voted against the ordinance, including Commissioners Robert Stuart, who runs the homeless shelter Christian Service Center, and Sam Ings, a retired police officer.

Stuart told The Orlando Sentinel that Orlando is taking a step to "criminalize good-hearted people" who he says are trying to help. He went on to tell the paper that group feedings in the parks had not become unwieldy to the city, as some had claimed.

He said the ordinance says, "Orlando doesn't care," the Sentinel reported.

Ings said that although the commissioners are casting the ordinance as a public-safety issue, it is really an issue of the city wanting to "cover up" the homeless problem.

"We're putting a Band-Aid on a critical problem," he said.The commissioner who pushed for the ordinance, Patty Sheehan, said it was not an "easy day" for her at all. She said the new ordinance against feeding homeless people has been "wrongly cast" as anti-homeless.

"I've been an advocate [for the homeless]," she said. "Even though you'll call me an enemy, I'll still be your friend."

The Sentinel reported that about a dozen downtown residents and business owners spoke in favor of the rule.

But more than three times that amount of people spoke against it. There were 45 speakers from various groups, including a formal declaration from the University of Central Florida's student senate, who opposed outlawing feeding homeless people.

Mayor Buddy Dyer supported the ordinance.

Food Not Bombs said on its Web site that chapters in Venice, Calif.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Orlando, and Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada have been told that their programs should stop or move out of sight.

Ducking hell !

An English village cricket team has narrowly missed out on one of the worst scores ever recorded after they were bowled out for five, with all the runs coming from extras.

No batsman from bottom-of-the-table Goldsborough Second XI managed to get off the mark against league leaders Dishforth, who sent their opponents back to the pavilion in 12 overs.

The visiting side's only runs came from four byes and a leg bye in what is thought to be the lowest score in the 112-year history of the Nidderdale and District Amateur Cricket League in North Yorkshire.

Dishforth made hard work of the reply, losing two wickets themselves in the meagre run-chase.

The Daily Telegraph said Goldsborough's effort was not as bad as English Midlands side Shepstone's XI who were all out for four extras in 1931.

Goldsborough's captain Peter Horseman said: "We could have got a run but the batsman had just been hit on the foot the ball before and he turned down the chance."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Drunk & disorderly 12 yr old mum

A 12-year-old girl who last month became Scotland's youngest mother has been arrested after a night out. The girl, from West Lothian, who has not been named, was detained on Sunday 16 July following a drunken incident.

Lothian and Borders Police said the girl was arrested for a breach of the peace. A report will be sent to the Reporter to the Children's Panel. The girl became pregnant aged 11 after having sex with a 15-year-old on a night out in Edinburgh last August.

Both the girl and the child have since been put into foster care.

The authorities were called in following reports that the girl smoked up to 20 cigarettes a day and started drinking at the age of 10.

The 15-year-old boy admitted a charge of having underage sex at the High Court in Edinburgh last week, having been previously accused of rape. Sentencing for the youth was deferred to 25 August for background reports.

Joint rolling record thwarted

NANCY, France — Police in France said on Tuesday they had thwarted an attempt by a group of marijuana smokers to roll the world's longest joint by seizing a work-in-progress measuring 32 inches in length. It had not been finished because of a lack of tobacco.

"At some point, these young people had wanted to craft a joint of 1.12 meters (3.67 feet) to beat the world record in the discipline and get it officially registered," said a police officer in eastern France.

"We don't know who had the idea. Sometimes ideas are created in an astonishing way," he said.

During an investigation targeting a group of four smokers in the eastern Vosges area of France, police discovered the giant joint containing 70 grams of marijuana resin. It had not been finished because of a lack of tobacco.

One of the smokers of adult age is to appear before a court charged with drug use on October 19. Two minors will appear before a juveniles court on October 6.

Gran Dundee

When woken by a masked man holding a knife, Winifred Whelan screamed and ran downstairs to the kitchen.

Grabbing a giant carving knife, she told the startled intruder "You call that a knife? This is a knife" in an echo of the famous scene in the Crocodile Dundee film when actor Paul Hogan confronted a New York mugger.

As she took on the intruder, her husband grappled with his accomplice.

Recalling the incident on the day the burglars were jailed for the break-in, Whelan told The Liverpool Echo: "I said to the robber 'You call that a knife?' His was around 10 inches long and I had a carving knife measuring around 14 inches.

"I pointed it at his belly and added 'This is a knife!"

The two burglars were jailed last week at Liverpool crown court for the 2005 incident.

Jockey headbutts horse

Stratford: Ace French footballer Zinedine Zidane had a reason for the famous headbutt, but Jockey Paul O'Neill seems to have none. O'Neill will be investigated by the sport's governing body after television replays showed him head-butting his horse, City Affair.

The Horseracing Regulatory Authority made the decision on Monday to hold an inquiry after reviewing TV footage from the incident at the Stratford races on Sunday. "We haven't got a date set, but we are going to go for some time next week , our inquiry day is usually on Thursday" said HRA spokesman Owen Byrne.

City Affair was being unruly in the parade ring, ultimately throwing O'Neill. The jockey got to his feet and grabbed the reins, pulling the horse to him, before lowering the butt of his helmet into it.

Thief nicks Grandpa

Zgorzelec: A thief who stole a brand new BMW when its owner jumped out to buy a bunch of flowers failed to spot his grandad on the back seat.

German Bernhard Massl, 34, left his grandad Falk, 80, guarding his new car while he went into a florist's in Zgorzelec, Poland. But when he returned, his car and his grandad were missing.

Falk, who was found a couple of miles away by police, said, "He didn't notice me at all until I asked him where he was taking me. He was really startled when he realised he was not alone and immediately pulled over to let me out."

The police are now looking for the stolen car and have put out a description of the thief.

Speeding in reverse

Bludenz: A German man has been fined after being caught by a speed camera driving 35 mph in a 25 mph zone while in reverse.

Heinz Erlauf, 42, from Stuttgart was fined 20 Euros after police saw the photo of his Mercedes C Class zooming backwards down a residential street in Bludenz, Austria.

A spokesman for the local police said, That is the first time any of us have ever seen a driver get flashed by a radar while reversing.