Sunday, April 29, 2012

A grenade found at an Easter egg hunt?!

It must be true...
I read it in the tabloids

Lindsay Lohan is selling her clothes to raise money. A source close to the troubled actress, 25, says she is in such dire financial straits that she recently took “a truckload of designer clothes, shoes, and bags” to a popular Los Angeles vintage-clothing store and sold them for $14,000 in cash. Lohan’s recent legal difficulties and multiple stints in rehab, the source says, have left her with “zero income and a shed-load of bills.”

A man who won a stair-climbing race in a Los Angeles skyscraper has been stripped of his title after surveillance footage showed him taking the elevator. Miguel Larios, 31, who worked in the building, appeared to have set a new course record when he climbed the 62-story Aon Center skyscraper. But his fellow competitors said they’d been skeptical of Larios’s performance even before he was revealed as a cheat. “He wasn’t sweating a lot,” said Mark Trahanovsky, 53.
“We knew he did not have the physique of an elite stair-climber.”

A British toddler hunting for Easter eggs found an unexploded World War II hand grenade instead. The 3-year-old was participating in his preschool’s annual Easter egg hunt in rural Somerset when adults noticed him standing on a brown, egg-shaped object. Closer inspection revealed the object to be a hand grenade, and a local army bomb squad was called to perform a controlled detonation. “It looked like an Easter egg,” said parent Stuart Moffatt, “but it was a hand grenade.”

Don't want a hangover in Vegas? The answer is here!

A new mobile medical unit is patrolling the streets of Las Vegas, providing intravenous fluids to people with wicked hangovers. With packages starting at $90, Hangover Heaven treats patients with a “proprietary blend” of fluids, vitamins, and medications that the company claims can “drive the toxins out of your system and get you tuned up to enjoy your stay.”

Good Week/Bad Week 4/20/12

Good week for....

Family ties, after Charles Ferguson of Greer, S.C., said he would ignore local officials’ order that he get rid of his pet goat, Yogi, even though he faces fines and jail. “That’s like asking me to get rid of one of my kids,” Ferguson said. “It’s not gonna happen.”

Never giving up hope, after Monika Moser of Germany was reunited with her cat 16 years after it went missing. A hiker found the cat, which apparently had been living in the woods the entire time.

Laura Penny, a British journalist, after heartthrob actor Ryan Gosling grabbed her just as she stepped into the path of a New York City cab. “I literally, LITERALLY just got saved from a car by Ryan Gosling,” Penny tweeted. “Literally. That actually just happened.”

Bad week for...

Ozzie Guillen, manager of baseball’s Miami Marlins, after he alienated much of the team’s fan base by saying he “loved” and respected Fidel Castro. Guillen begged for forgiveness and was suspended for five games, but Cuban-American groups say they won’t stop protesting until he’s fired.

Stealing technology, after Raymond Jefferson was charged with stealing $17,000 worth of merchandise from a Radio Shack in Chicago, including a GPS device that police used to locate him.

Swallowing your own medicine, after Henrik Ismarker of Stockholm complained to police that too many cars were speeding on a street near his home. The next day, he was caught in a police speed trap there. Ismarker said he was “embarrassed,’’ but “very satisfied with the police response.”

Some good news for a change! 4/20/12

One of the stars of the John Huston film The African Queen was restored to its former glory this week—the titular 30-foot riverboat that ferried Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn up the Congo in the 1951 movie. Lance and Suzanne Holmquist of Key Largo, Fla., spotted the 100-year-old boat sinking into disrepair in a marina near their home. Having leased it from the son of its original owner, the couple gave the vessel a $60,000 refurbishment and will maintain it as a charter boat for tourists and movie buffs.

A quick-thinking middle school student in Milton, Wash., saved his classmates from a terrible accident this week by taking control of his school bus after its driver suffered a heart attack at the wheel. After the ailing driver slumped in his seat, Jeremy Wuitschick, 13, sprang into action, steering the vehicle to the side of the road and bringing it to a halt. The driver remains in grave condition, but thanks to Wuitschick’s heroism, his young passengers are fine. Wuitschick now plans to learn CPR in case another emergency strikes. “When something major happens, I always look back to see what I could have done better,” he said.

A truck driver from Somerdale, N.J., has earned a reputation for delivering more than just cargo. Michael Hawthorne has helped bring no fewer than three babies into the world during his time on the road. The midwife’s son first delivered a baby in the backseat of a car in California in 1999. That chance event prompted him to keep a medical birth kit in his cab in case it happened again. Remarkably, it did—once in Maryland in 2010, then again in Texas last month. “I feel like I’m a doctor in a mobile hospital unit on 18 wheels,” he said.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Charity-Help others and get more done Gareth Cook The Boston Globe

There is a simple fix for your hectic, time-starved schedule, said Gareth Cook. “Spend more time doing things for other people.” It may sound crazy to add yet another task to your to-do list, but Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton says that how much time you have matters less than “how you feel about what you can get done.” In a series of experiments, he asked participants to devote time to others—by writing to an ill child, for instance—or to do something for themselves. Those who did a good deed consistently “felt like they had more time.” Even those who stayed late to complete tasks of kindness reported feeling less pressed for time later. The reason is rooted in the fact that “people are extraordinarily bad” at estimating how much time and effort a task will take. We frequently overestimate, which heightens stress. Doing something for someone else shows us “that we can get things done,” and makes us feel effective and in control. However busy we are, it turns out, we can break down our own “potent illusions” simply by lending a hand to others.

Business News-the bottom line 4/13/12

The Quaker Oats man has gotten a makeover as part of owner PepsiCo’s efforts to reinvigorate the brand. The new look for “Larry” involves a haircut and the removal of his double chin, plus a new logo shape and color scheme. “We took about five pounds off him,” says a member of the brand’s redesign team, but left “a little sparkle in his eye.”
The Wall Street Journal

So much for the paperless office. The average American consumes the paper equivalent of five and a half 40-foot trees every year. Belgium, where the EU bureaucracy translates reams of documents into 23 languages, consumes a world-beating 8.5 trees per person annually.

Goldman Sachs said this week that it sold its 16 percent stake in the media group that owns, after New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote that the site ran ads for sex with underage girls.

ExxonMobil, long the world’s biggest publicly traded oil producer, has been overtaken by PetroChina, which hiked its output to 2.4 million barrels a day last year. Exxon’s output fell to 2.3 million barrels a day.
Associated Press

AFA Foods, a Pennsylvania-based ground-beef processing company, filed for bankruptcy this week, saying that the uproar
over the use of the meat filler dubbed “pink slime” had cut demand for its products. A competitor, Beef Products Inc., announced last week that it would temporarily suspend production at three of its plants because of consumer concerns.

Welcome home to Ikeaville
Ikea wants to be your landlord, said Doug Saunders in the Toronto Globe and Mail. The Swedish furniture giant has purchased a 27-acre expanse of “post-industrial wasteland” in East London and plans to start building a chic modern neighborhood there next year. The area, not far from where the 2012 Olympics will take place, will have 1,200 homes and apartments “priced to appeal to a range of incomes,” plus a hotel and office spaces. Many of the streets will be car-free pedestrian zones, and there are plans for a large underground parking lot. Ikea says there won’t be a Billy bookshelf or Swedish meatball in sight, but the company plans to retain ownership and rent out the homes. “We’re just securing our money long-term,” says Harald Müller, of the property-development division. “And of course creating more profits at the end.”

I'm staying away from Nacozari, Mexico!

Death cult
Nacozari, Mexico

Mexico’s cult of La Santa Muerte, or Holy Death, has turned murderous. Police arrested eight people last week, all allegedly followers of the cult, for the ritual sacrifice of two boys and a woman over the past four years. “They sliced open the victims’ veins and, while they were still alive, they waited for them to bleed to death and collected the blood in a container,” said José Larrinaga, a spokesman for Sonora state prosecutors. The cult, which mixes Catholic and indigenous beliefs, has become much less secretive over the past decade, and has spread in working-class neighborhoods and shantytowns until it now numbers some 2 million followers. Before these murders, the cult was not known to practice human sacrifice.

Only in America 4/15/12

Tampa officials have released a list of items considered a security threat during the Republican National Convention in August, including water pistols, masks, and even pieces of string. Firearms are not on the list. State gun laws prohibit any local restriction on the carrying of guns. “If we’d tried to regulate guns, it wouldn’t have worked,” says a city official.

Good week/bad week 4/13/12

Good week for...

Leveraging your position, after Greg Smith, the ex–Goldman Sachs executive who resigned in a highly critical New York Times column, signed a $1.5 million book deal. The book will include more details of the “toxic culture” Smith found so repugnant.

Intellectual property lawyers, after Yahoo filed a lawsuit against Facebook over alleged patent infringements, and Facebook countersued. Previously, Apple sued Samsung, and both British Telecom and Oracle sued Google.

Thrift shopping, after Zach Bodish of Ohio bought a print of a crudely etched face at a thrift store for $14. It turned out to be an original, signed Pablo Picasso print.

Bad week for...

The myth of ‘student athletes,’ after the University of Kentucky won the national basketball championship, and its five starters—all freshmen and sophomores—indicated they’d quit college and file for the NBA draft.

Fixer-uppers, after a house in Ferryhill Station, England, sold for $13,125 at auction, making it Britain’s cheapest house. The two-bedroom house is 100 yards from a train track, and features missing ceilings, a destroyed kitchen, and lots of graffiti.

Bragging, after a car with a bumper sticker reading “Why am I the only person on the planet who knows how to drive?” collided with a guardrail on a New York City highway and flipped over. The driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries, including a bruised ego.

Some good news for a change 4/15/12

A real-life superhero is on the loose in Baltimore County, Md. Lenny B. Robinson became a viral sensation last week after video footage of him driving a Lamborghini dressed in a Batman outfit leaked onto the Internet. It has since emerged that Robinson dresses as the Caped Crusader to make hospital visits to sick children in the Baltimore area. The independently wealthy 48-year-old spends $25,000 a year on Batman toys and memorabilia to hand out in cancer wards. “It feels like I have a responsibility that’s beyond a normal person,” said Robinson. “To be there for the kids, to be strong for them, and to make them smile as much as I can.”

Thirty years ago, Jadav Payeng was distraught watching snakes die for lack of shade on a barren sandbar in the Brahmaputra River in Assam, India. He moved to the sandbar, began planting seeds there, and cultivated them day and night for three decades. His efforts single-handedly transformed the wasteland into a lush, 1,360-acre forest now home to elephants, tigers, and rhinos. The 47-year-old may soon have help with the upkeep of his island forest: The Indian government is considering protecting it as a conservation reserve.

When a syndicate of firefighters in the Albuquerque Fire Department won a $10,000 payout in last week’s record Mega Millions lotto draw, the group knew exactly what to spend the money on—a fallen colleague. Firefighter Vince Cordova, 24, has a rare brain tumor that requires urgent treatment by specialists in Los Angeles, an operation that will costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. The firemen hope their donation will inspire others to come forward to help Cordova pay his medical bills, and allow him to rejoin his team.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Talking points for 4/7/12

Outstanding student-loan debt surpassed $1 trillion late last year, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Data from the New York Fed suggests that as many as one in four student borrowers who have begun repaying their debts is behind on payments.
The Wall Street Journal

After an adviser to Mitt Romney suggested that the candidate’s general election campaign could start afresh after the primary—“almost like an Etch A Sketch”—Amazon sales for the toy soared more than 2,000 percent and the stock price of its maker, Ohio Art Co., more than doubled.

BlackBerry has been dethroned on its home turf for the first time. Research in Motion, the Waterloo, Ontario-based maker of the BlackBerry, shipped 2.08 million of its smartphones last year in Canada, compared with 2.85 million iPhones for Apple.

Movie receipts in the U.S. and Canada declined last year, but growth abroad pushed the global tally into positive territory. Movie ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada declined 4 percent, to $10.2 billion, in 2011, but growth elsewhere—particularly in China, where sales increased 35 percent—pushed global film receipts up 3 percent, to $32.6 billion.
The Wall Street Journal

The top 1 percent of U.S. taxpayers reaped 93 percent of the $288 billion in new income created in the course of 2010. Those wealthier taxpayers saw their average income increase by 11.6 percent that year, while the remaining 99 percent received an average of $80 more in annual pay per person than they had the previous year.
The New York Times

Prison tips for Wall St. dummies
When Wall Street analysts get caught passing along insider-trading tips, they often seek “tips of another kind—about getting along in federal prison,” said Michael Rothfeld in The Wall Street Journal. That’s led to a booming “prison-prep industry,” where white-collar criminals can pay for lessons on “coping with strip searches and getting along with a tattooed cellmate named Bubba.” Guides like Patrick Boyce, a former stockbroker who served 11 months for fraud, help slammer-bound clients master prison lingo (a “cheese eater” is an informant), learn new currency markets (stamps and canned fish can be traded), and, most important, understand what not to do. They tell prisoners to always say “excuse me” and to never butt into conversations. And there’s this lesson from “Gator,” Boyce’s 400-pound former cell mate: “Don’t ever sit on another man’s bunk.”

Monday, April 2, 2012

Want to get more political? Here are some great websites! 4/2/12

The Internet... Sites for monitoring your lawmakers will get you started, by identifying your congressional and state representatives according to your ZIP code. Summaries of campaign finance and voting records are included. “analyzes where candidates get their campaign money and how they spend it.” This home site of the Center for Responsive Politics also provides data on lawmakers’ personal wealth. shows you who pays for lawmakers’ trips and which foreign countries are giving them gifts. is run by the Library of Congress and details the bills your lawmaker has sponsored, along with the status of each bill. “ranks lawmakers by the number of days they spoke on the floor and links to each appearance.”
Source: Shreveport, La., Times