Sunday, September 28, 2008

World Stone Skimming Championships

More than 200 people are expected to compete in the World Stone Skimming Championships being held on the Scottish island of Easdale on Sunday.

The event is open to anyone, with heats in four categories: adults over 16, over 60s, girls and boys aged 10 to 15 and the under-10s.

Stones must be no more than 3in, formed of Easdale slate and bounce no less than three times within the boundary.

Skims are judged on the distance thrown rather than the number of bounces.

The World Stone Skimming Championships were started up in 1983 by Albert Baker.

It was not held again until 1997, when it was resurrected by the Easdale Island Trust as a fundraising event.

Tea and biscuits for all arrivals

Every person flying into Britain will be offered a free cup of tea and a biscuit in an ambitious, if eccentric, plan to make the country more cheerful.

The hope is that tourists, and travellers returning from holidays, will be able to banish dark thoughts of a delayed flight, poor weather, and global financial meltdown if confronted with a free cup of English Breakfast tea and a plate of Jammie Dodgers.

The man behind the idea is Mark Price, the managing director of Waitrose.

He has persuaded airports operator BAA to run a week-long trial in November at Terminal 5, offering 5,000 cups a day to travellers in the arrivals hall. Visit Britain – the tourism agency – has agreed to back his campaign, which could see all airports across the UK offering the traditional British mix of milky tea and quirky biscuits in time for the London 2012 Olympics.

Mr Price said: "What could be more welcoming that a cuppa and jammie dodger or Garibaldi? When everyone seems so miserable about the economy, I am sure a cup of tea would put things in perspective."

Before the plan goes ahead, Waitrose needs to decide which style of biscuit they will offer to in-bound travellers. "I am very fond of a Garibaldi, or bourbon, but neither is a very good dunker."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Human Jet crosses Channel

Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy successfully crossed the English Channel using his homemade jet-propelled wing Friday, the first man to perform the feat. Rossy leapt from a plane more than 8,800 feet or a mile and a half from the ground, before firing up his jets.

He made the 22-mile trip from Calais in France to Dover in England in a little under 15 minutes.

He began the Friday flight just before 1207 GMT; by 12:15 GMT, Rossy was above British soil and looped over onlookers before opening his parachute, with his wings still strapped to his back. He touched down in a field near the famous white cliffs of Dover.

"It was perfect. Blue sky, sunny, no clouds, perfect conditions," Rossy said. "We prepared everything and it was great."

The trip across the Channel was meant to trace the route of French aviator Louis Bleriot, the first person to cross in an airplane 99 years ago.

The lighthouse was the site of Guglielmo Marconi's experiments with radio telegraphy in 1898. Bleriot used the white building as a target during his pioneering flight, the building's manager, Simon Ovenden, said.

Several hundred spectators rushed to greet the pilot, trying to take photographs with cameras and cell phones.

"It's a remarkable achievement, we saw the climax of his attempt as he came down to earth with his parachute. It's been an exciting afternoon," said Geoff Clark, a 54-year-old onlooker from Chatham, in Kent.

The carbon composite-wing weighs about 121 pounds (55 kilograms) when loaded with fuel, and carried four kerosene-burning jet turbines that kept him aloft. The wing had no steering devices -- Rossy moved his body to control its movements.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Warner Bros lose Hari Puttar case

A court in the Indian capital Delhi has rejected a lawsuit filed by Hollywood company Warner Bros against the makers of a Bollywood film Hari Puttar.

The makers of the blockbuster Harry Potter films said the title of the Indian movie was too similar. The court said Warner Bros could have brought the case three years ago and said readers could easily distinguish Hari Puttar from Harry Potter.

The court decision means the film can now be released in India. Mirchi Movies, the makers of the Bollywood film, said Hari Puttar had no connection with the Harry Potter movies.

Mirchi told the court that Hari was a popular Indian name, and Puttar meant "son" in Hindi and Punjabi.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Goggle ban

A swimmer has been banned from his local pool because of his unusual goggles.

Roland Grimm, right, in his late 60s, said: “I’m very upset because it seems mad. I’ve used these goggles in more than 100 pools and no one else has ever complained. After you’ve been swimming for 40 years all over the world you know what works best for you and what’s safe.”

Gary Dark, manager of the leisure centre in Swiss Cottage, northwest London, said the goggles were a health and safety risk because the glass was not shatter-proof and the nosepiece could cause breathing difficulties.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Jet-pack cow

LOGAN, Utah --Bessie is cleared for takeoff. A sculpture of a cow wearing a jet pack and leaping over a crescent moon will go on display this month in front of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

Artist Michael Bingham won a $3,000 commission last summer to create a "flying object" and decided on the airborne bovine.

"I read about the commission in the paper and was thinking about things that I could make fly," Bingham said. "I saw these cows and thought, 'These are the least likely animals or objects to fly.' Then, I pictured the jet pack and that was it."

Bingham is shuttling the sculpture around the city of Logan before it goes on display in Salt Lake City.

"I'm on a local board for public art and we're hoping this will be a good conversation starter about public art in the valley," Bingham said.

The cow is life-size and has a jet pack -- complete with flames shooting from it -- on the animal's back. It will be perched on a 15-foot pole when it goes on display in front of the downtown Salt Lake City theater.

"Most people will walk by and go, 'Oh look, a flying cow,'" he said. "They won't realize the thousands of hours it took to make this cow fly."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Hendrix guitar fetches $500,000

The first guitar torched on stage by Jimi Hendrix has been sold for £280,000 a London auction of rock memorabilia.

The Fender Stratocaster, burnt at the end of a show in north London in 1967, was bought by collector Daniel Boucher from Boston, Massachusetts.

"It was something I wanted to have," he told the BBC after the sale. "I decided I would go the distance to get it."

The instrument was only recovered from a garage last year and still bears the scorch marks of Hendrix's performance.

"It's one of a kind from one of a kind," said Mr Boucher, who described Hendrix as a "unique person" who "changed the game".

Water theft

A 26-year-old forklift operator at Zephyrhills Water Company, Florida, was arrested Saturday at work, accused of stealing $50,000 worth of bottled water from his employer.

Over a six-week period, Michael Gordon Fernandes and another man who has not been arrested yet, swiped five truckloads of bottled water from Zephyrhills Water, a division of Nestles Waters North America Inc., according to an arrest affidavit.

Fernandes would load pallets intended for the warehouse at 4330 20th St. onto a tractor-trailer owned by the co-defendant who would take the water to an "unknown destination," according to a report.
Zephyrhills Police Officer Timothy Claussen said Sunday he couldn't reveal where the water ended up or any other details of the case since the investigation is ongoing.

Fernandes, of 5442 Braddock Drive, reportedly told police he was paid $500 per truckload and he did it to help support his family.

He was booked into the Land O' Lakes Jail on a grand theft charge but was released later Saturday after posting $10,000 bail.

Coach Obama?

A London businessman has bet 10 pounds ($18) that Barack Obama will replace Alan Curbishley as manager of the West Ham football team.

British bookmaker William Hill agreed to offer odds of 10,000-1 to the unidentified customer despite no one really believing the potential 100,000 pound prize will ever eventuate.

One possible reason the bet was laid lies in rumours that Obama has been a fan of the club since visiting Britain five years ago.

However, William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe told AP that the bettor simply wanted to show his American friends and clients a betting slip with the US presidential candidate's name on it.

"We offered 10,000-1 as he is probably more concerned with winning a slightly higher profile job for himself at the moment," Sharpe said. "But if he loses out on that one and the position is still up for grabs, you never know."

Fake surgeon sentenced

A French court has sentenced a doctor to three years in jail for posing as a plastic surgeon and endangering patients by operating on them illegally in a derelict Marseille clinic.

Michel Maure went on trial in June accused of luring hundreds of patients to the dirty premises under false pretences between 2002 and 2004 and carrying out painful, unhygienic operations on them.

Maure was also sentenced to pay a €75,000 fine and to compensate his victims, about 100 of whom had complained of disfigurement and permanent damage to their health.

He went on the run while the court prepared its ruling and was arrested in Spain on August 19 after being spotted on a luxury yacht. Spain is expected to hand him over to France within days.

Maure was a qualified doctor but not a trained plastic surgeon. He was struck off the list of recognized French doctors in 2007 over his activities at the Marseille clinic.

French media have reported that the disgraced doctor had proclaimed himself "one of the greatest surgeons in the world."

A Right Balls Up!

New Zealand - A blooper that saw a misspelled Wellington street sign become a national laughing stock has resulted in city council staff drawing up a "red list" of possibly naughty street names.

Residents of the suburb of Highbury managed to see the funny side when a new footpath sign for Old Bullock Rd was erected, mistakenly calling it Old Bollock Rd.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the error was astounding, but feedback had indicated that "everyone had a right old laugh".

"Of course we'll change it ... Clearly our proof-reading and English standards have fallen here."

Mr MacLean said a couple of people, including residents of the wrongly named street, had wanted to buy the sign.

The council had opened the street directory and done an "informal check" of street names that could be easily altered by the misplacement of a a few letters. They included Dorking Rd, Volga St, Wanaka St and Virginia Grove.

The embarrassing blunder came less than a year after a sign for Prince of Wales Park in Mt Cook turned it into Prince of Whales Park.

A Highbury resident said locals were "all for better signage for footpaths", but the name should be spelled right. This is a real balls-up."

Wheelchair robbery

Dallas police today are searching for a man who robbed a 7-Eleven convenience store in his wheelchair, stealing 10 boxes of condoms and an energy drink before rolling himself out the door, authorities said.

The man wheeled into the store in the 8400 block of Park Lane in northeast Dallas around 2 a.m. Wednesday clutching a baseball bat and a knife, said Senior Cpl. Kevin Janse, a Dallas police spokesman.

The man, who appeared to be in his 30s, went straight to the cash register and began beating it with the bat until it opened, Cpl. Janse said.

But he didn’t steal any money.

Instead, he wheeled himself past other customers around the store, grabbing boxes of condoms and an energy drink before leaving, Cpl. Janse said.

By the time police arrived, the man was nowhere to be found. He is described as a black male, 5-10, weighing about 170 pounds.

Police do not have any suspects, but they believe he may be homeless.

Cpl. Janse said he couldn’t recall another robbery involving a person in a wheelchair. He believes the culprit was probably intoxicated at the time.

“This certainly isn’t something we see everyday,” Cpl. Janse said.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Little Gordon

From Little Gordon . com

Collectors Tramp

People calling a federal phone number to order duck stamps are instead greeted by a phone-sex line, due to a printing error the government says would be too expensive to correct.

The carrier card for the duck stamp transposes two numbers, so instead of listing 1-800-782-6724, it lists 1-800-872-6724. The first number spells out 1-800-STAMP24, while the second number spells out 1-800-TRAMP24.

People calling that second number are welcomed by "Intimate Connections" and enticed by a husky female voice to "talk only to the girls that turn you on," for $1.99 a minute.

Duck stamps, which cost $15 a piece, are required to hunt migratory waterfowl. The government uses nearly all the revenue to purchase waterfowl habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. In 2006-2007, the latest figures available, duck stamp purchases brought in nearly $22 million.

This year's stamps, which feature a pair of northern pintail ducks, went on sale July 1 and are good through June 30 of next year. The error will not be corrected until next year's duck stamps.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the program, printed about 3.5 million duck stamps attached to cards with the wrong number. An agency spokeswoman, Rachel Levin, said it would cost $300,000 to reprint them.

"I don't know that it would be worth it to do a reprint," she said Thursday. "That's a lot of money we can be using for wildlife conservation. With all of the needs for conservation, it doesn't make sense to divert money away from an important cause." For those people who like to dial by letter, the card does include the proper 1-800-STAMP24.

"As best we know, it was a typographical error that was not caught," Levin said, stressing that the stamps are still valid.

The agency first learned of the mistake a few days ago, when a duck stamp owner informed them about the glitch. Levin said the agency has not received any complaints.

The error, which was first reported Wednesday by Denver TV station KUSA, is limited to self-adhesive versions of the stamps. The moistened version, which is printed in much smaller numbers, does not come with a carrier card.

The government uses a contractor, Ashton Potter Security Printers of Williamsville, New York, to print the duck stamps. Levin said she did not know whether the error was made by the government or by the company.

Ashton Potter's president and chief executive, Barry Switzer, said that the company was provided with the wrong telephone number.

"We reproduced the wrong number correctly," he said. "We regret this whole situation happened, but we did our job properly."