It pays to complain

February 28, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Story from Australia

I HAVEN’T played a contact sport for a while but I’ve found something just as exhilarating to satiate the competitive blood lust. Writing letters to corporations that sell whitegoods has opened up a whole new world of pleasure for me and I urge you to embrace it as a lifestyle option.

Once you get used to the fact that it’s a game, that you can’t be half-hearted about, that no quarter is given and there is no time limit, you are in for a treat.

I’ve just completed an epic 18-month contest with the company that made my fridge, which has provided hours of amusement and incredulity.

But the first time I realised there was sport to be had engaging multinational corporations was when the washing machine disintegrated. It was a brand that markets itself as being robust and longer-lasting than its competitors and made no bones about charging heaps more.

When the repairman came to have a look at it, he said the drum had come out of alignment and had pounded the innards to bits. He said the machine should have been serviced regularly to guard against the problem. It was out of warranty and if I wanted it fixed it would cost $900 to rebuild.

I checked the manuals that came with the machine and nowhere did it say someone should keep an eye on the drum in case it went rogue. So I wrote to the boss of the Australian arm of the manufacturer and expressed my disappointment at being sucked into believing his company’s spiel that their stuff would last forever. I told him that his useless washing machine was now sitting in my driveway and asked him to come and take it to the dump.

Meanwhile, I went and bought another brand of washing machine. This one lasted about three weeks before it seized up. Loose coins had killed it. The technician fixed it under warranty but he was back about two weeks later. Same problem.

He said that this model of machine was prone to disablement from loose coins and, because I had been warned about it, I had to pay for the second repair, which I did in a fog of rage.

As soon as the technician departed with my cheque, I wrote them a letter. Surely, I said, the most common thing that is likely to happen when you put on a load of washing is that there will be loose coins in a pocket and, in an age when we can take pictures on Mars, why can’t you design a washing machine that doesn’t get stage fright over a 10 cents piece? I want a refund for the repair and I want a machine that knows what it is doing, I said.

I didn’t expect anything to come from either letter, but I felt good sending them. Next thing I knew, I had two spanking new washing machines. The makers of the first one indeed came and picked up the dud from my driveway, rebuilt it and sent it back with an apology and a thankyou note for alerting them to the oversight in their manual.

The makers of the second one got someone with an impressive title to ring me and tell me that they had stopped making that model because of its coin phobia and a super-duper version was on its way to my house. That was fun. Two-nil to Gibson.

When I bought a new fridge a couple of years ago, it was damaged upon delivery. The doors were dented. The company agreed to replace the fridge immediately. When the second fridge arrived, it was also dented, this time in a side panel. I spoke to the company, said the fridge worked fine, you couldn’t really see the dent, so why don’t you just give me a credit for the cost of a replacement side panel? I was thinking $200 max. The fridge cost $3000.

“We’ll do something for you,” the woman said, and then she and her colleagues did their best to forget me. What followed was 18 months’ worth of phone calls and letters reminding them that they said they were going to “do something for me” and I was really curious to know what that was.

In the end, they gave me another new fridge. I got it last month and this time they came with four hefty blokes to get it up the stairs. Try time!

I can’t wait for my dishwasher to cark it.

Original story here

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THE NEWS

Odd news from around the world

Do Frenchmen have small willies? “Two hunks of actors have reportedly clashed over the sizes of their manhood. On a night out with Paris-born Olivier Martinez and his partner Halle Berry at LA’s Chateau Marmont, proud Scotsman Gerard Butler began jesting about “effeminate Frenchmen” and their failings in the trouser department… “Gerard began mucking around, bragging about Scotsmen and the size of their packages. He was joking that he could wear kilts and no undies because he was a “real man”, and that other Europeans wouldn’t be able to pull a kilt off. “As the conversation continued, he got more lewd – and funny – but Olivier got less and less impressed. After one gag too many at his expense, he stood up and confronted Gerry. Olivier was red in the face and gesticulating wildly [How French!]. So Halle told them both to lighten up.”

Fake Indian pilot: “An Indian pilot who allegedly landed a passenger plane on its nose wheel faked documents to obtain her licence and had a record of poor landings, newspapers reported Sunday. Parminder Kaur Gulati, who has had the licence revoked, “used the nose wheel to touch down instead of the rear landing gear” at the end of a commercial flight from New Delhi to Goa last month, the Times of India reported. An inquiry into her performance then revealed she had landed planes incorrectly between 10 and 15 times, Indian media said, citing information from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Gulati, who works for budget carrier IndiGo, was found to have forged papers to get her airline transport pilot licence (ATPL). “We have revoked her licence. The pilot seems to have obtained an ATPL by submitting forged documents,” director-general of civil aviation Bharat Bhushan told the Times. “We are going to file a police complaint.” The DGCA is probing how she got her licence having failed the examination seven times”

A hardworking Chinaman: “PING HAN was a successful small business owner – he ran an insulation business, a travel agency, an interpreting service, a migration agency and also managed several rental properties. The problem was he did it all while working at his “proper job” – as a RailCorp clerk. Mr Han was fired after 14 years working for RailCorp when his bosses found out the extent of his moonlighting. He lost an appeal this month to the Transport Appeals Board for using his employer’s time and resources to run his stable of small businesses. The tribunal heard evidence that while Mr Han was “not derelict” in his duties to RailCorp but he was “more frequently engaged in his personal documents” than work-related activity.”

Girls Scouts banned from selling biscuits outside home of founder: “Girl Scouts are no longer able to sell their famous biscuits outside the historic US home of the woman who founded the organisation almost a century ago. A complaint last year ended the long-time practice of selling the biscuits on the public footpath outside the home of Juliette Gordon Low at the busy intersection of Bull St and Oglethorpe Avenue in Savannah, Georgia. Peddling on a public footpath is a violation of a city ordinance. The home is a National Historic Landmark open for tours. City councillor Van Johnson said he thinks the city council should consider a variance to allow temporary sales during biscuit season, which usually happens in the first few months of the year.” “Let’s be reasonable. Let them sell their biscuits.”

Fish pedicure craze in Britain: “A surge in the number of people getting fish pedicures on the high street has prompted a health warning. Experts are worried that the latest beauty craze – offered in scores of salons – could spread infection and disease. The treatment involves customers dunking their feet in tanks to have their dead skin nibbled away by scores of Turkish miniature toothless carp. But it has been revealed the pedicures using the garra rufa fish – which have been banned in 14 states in the U.S. – could spread infection from person to person through open wounds. Salons say they use UV-lit tanks which are constantly filtered to keep them clear of disease. But the therapy’s opponents say that unlike usual salon rules, which compel staff to throw away or sanitise tools after each use, the epidermis-eating fish are too expensive to discard.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

Not a good motto

February 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Even for an excavating company

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THE NEWS

Odd news from around the world

Britain’s Mr Average spends 11 years in front of the TV and 10,500 hours in the pub: “Britain’s Mr Average will spend 10,585 hours in the pub, 11 years in front of the TV and learn to cook just four meals in his lifetime. Research out yesterday claimed the typical British man will sleep with nine partners over a lifetime and waste one month looking for socks. Mr Average is 5ft 10inches tall, weighs 175lbs (12.5 stone/79.8kgs) and earns £28,270 a year. Each year he will spend £570 a year on designer clothes, £1,144 on beer, more than £2,001 shopping online, £2,189 on gadgets and £417 eating out. But it seems that modern men are feeling guilty about their lazy lifestyles because they will say sorry 1.9 million times during their lifetime.”

British bureaucrats build “Green” schoolroom (above) that can’t be used: “Eco-campaigners who built a classroom powered by the sun believed they were paving the way for the future. Instead they have been taught a valuable lesson – there is not enough sun in North London to sufficiently heat their building. It boasts laudable green credentials and is made from sustainable wood, sheep’s wool and soil. The roof is made of mud and grass and it has its own ‘rain pod’ and solar panels. But there is snag – its solar panels only provide enough energy to power a few lightbulbs. As a result the classroom is bitterly cold and uninhabitable for lessons. The Living Ark was built at Muswell Hill Primary School, North London, at the cost of £25,000. Local councillors, at Labour run Haringey council, who were behind the initiative, opened it with great fanfare in December as a beacon of their climate change policy.”

Woman trapped for six hours after office block collapsed in New Zealand earthquake marries fiance who dug through rubble to find her: “Three days after being dragged frightened and dirty from the rubble of the Christchurch earthquake, Emma Howard walked down the aisle in a flowing wedding dress. Emma, 23, married Chris Greenslade in a church ceremony in a Christchurch suburb, pushing aside memories of lying trapped in a foetal position for nearly seven hours in the collapsed Pyne Gould Corporation building. Accountant Miss Howard huddled with six co-workers, using mobile phones to illuminate areas they thought might be safe. And she didn’t know that her fiancé was outside, digging through the rubble with his bare hands after she had sent him a text message saying where she was.”

There’s a frog in my fridge!: “A woman preparing last night’s dinner lost her appetite when she went to the fridge and found a… tropical tree FROG. Donna Hunt, 32, screamed as the creature leapt onto the kitchen floor and hopped about as her husband Steve, 46, scrambled around trying to catch it. It is believed the frog was concealed among the groceries she had bought earlier in the day from Tesco’s and put in the fridge. ‘My husband was very excited, he loves animals. But I was absolutely terrified.’ The couple believe the frog had been hiding in either the strawberries, mixed salad or celery which they had bought at Tesco in Quedgeley. The couple called the RSPCA and an officer collected it today to take it to an amphibian specialist.”

Earliest surviving Monopoly set fetches whopping auction figure: “The earliest ever version of the board game Monopoly has sold for a whopping £90,000. The set was one of 5,000 made in 1933 by Charles Darrow, the purported inventor of Monopoly, and is the only one to have survived to this day. The dog-eared set is made out of a piece of oilcloth and is in the form of the original circular shape that is 33 inches in diameter. Atlantic City’s street names were used for the original Monopoly board game. The board game made many of its streets – such as Pacific and Pennsylvania Avenues – famous far beyond the city confines, and also created affection in the minds of game aficionados across the country. Heating engineer Darrow drew and coloured in the playing surface using pen and ink and made the little hotels and houses from strips of pine wood moulding. He also devised and wrote the rules of the game – a carbon typescript of which was included in the auctioned set.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

School howlers

February 26, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The following questions were set in last year’s GED examination
These are genuine answers from 16 year olds

Q. Name the four seasons
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar

Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink
A. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists

Q. How is dew formed
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire

Q. What causes the tides in the oceans
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight

Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on
A. If you are buying a house they will insist that you are well endowed

Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election

Q. What are steroids
A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs

Q.. What happens to your body as you age
A. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental

Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery

Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes
A. Premature death

Q. What is artificial insemination
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow

Q. How can you delay milk turning sour
A. Keep it in the cow

Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorised (e.g. The abdomen)
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts – the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I,O,U..

Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie

Q. What does ‘varicose’ mean?
A. Nearby

Q. What is the most common form of birth control
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium

Q. Give the meaning of the term ‘Caesarean section’
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome

Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor.

Q. What is a terminal illness
A. When you are sick at the airport.

Q. Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature?
A. Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and they look like umbrellas

Q. Use the word ‘judicious’ in a sentence to show you understand its meaning
A. Hands that judicious can be soft as your face.

Q. What does the word ‘benign’ mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight

Q. What is a turbine?
A. Something an Arab or Shreik wears on his head

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THE NEWS

Odd news from around the world

Boy falls from a mini-bus at 60mph and survives: “The nine-year-old was returning with teammates from a water polo carnival. His mum was behind the wheel when he clambered over a seat, lost his balance and tumbled head-first out of a large window. As she hurried to reach Rex, Ms Shumack thought she was running to her dead son. But Rex not only survived but escaped serious injury. He had a rod inserted in his femur, several minor fractures and about 120 stitches. A Wagga Wagga school teacher trained in first aid, Ms Shumack immediately began assessing his injuries and applying pressure to stem the “massive” bleeding. The third vehicle to arrive less than 90 seconds later was a highway patrol car. Rex was rushed to Dubbo Base Hospital where he was stabilised and placed in an induced coma before being flown to Sydney Children’s Hospital at Randwick.”

UK woman stages 30-hour standoff with parking inspector: “A British woman was celebrating after beating a £110 ($180) fine in a 30-hour standoff with a parking inspector. Jessica Davey, 22, from Salisbury, in southern England, barricaded herself in her Renault Clio for more than a day after parking inspector Anthony Brindley booted her vehicle despite its valid parking permit, the Salisbury Journal reported. “I couldn’t afford to pay him, and I didn’t see why I should, so I decided to stay with my car until he took it [the boot] off so he couldn’t tow it away,” she said. Mr Brindley – who said Ms Davey needed to pay the fine because her permit was on her dashboard, not her windshield – also stayed at the scene, hoping she would concede. Ms Davey sat in her car all day Monday and took the clamp off herself around midday local time Tuesday when Mr Brindley left the scene – 30 hours after she first discovered that her car was immobilised.”

Voodoo sex ritual causes fatal fire: “Fire marshals say candles around a bed in a voodoo ceremony in New York City that included sex ignited linens and clothes, causing a fatal apartment fire. The blaze began around 6.40pm local time Sunday when a woman visited a fourth-floor apartment in Brooklyn and paid a man $US300 to perform a ceremony to bring her good luck. A city official says the man was known in the neighbourhood as a priest and the two were having sex when the fire started. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. Instead of calling emergency services, the man tried to put out the fire using water from a bathroom sink but the fire spread. A 64-year-old woman was found dead and 20 firefighters were injured.” [Some luck!]

British Keystone Kops launch anti-burglary campaign… and police station is BURGLED hours later: “When police launched a high-profile anti-burglary campaign with the motto ‘Close it, Lock it, Check it’ they hoped to stamp out the crime by encouraging householders and business owners to be more vigilant and look after their own premises. It was a shame then that the force failed to heed its own wise words, leading to red faces all round when just hours later one of its own police stations was burgled. An intruder apparently sneaked through an open window and got into their offices in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Shortly after the break in, police arrested a 31-year-old man nearby on suspicion of burglary. A Suffolk Police spokeswoman confirmed that items which might have come from the station were seized from him following the incident on Wednesday.”

Before and after photos show how drug addiction takes devastating toll on faces of users: “These shocking before and after images reveal in stark and simple terms the cost drug addiction takes on the human face. ‘From Drugs to Mugs’ is the follow up to the controversial 2004 ‘Faces of Meth’ release which highlighted the effects of methamphetamine use. Released in the hope that they will make kids think twice about ever touching drugs the pictures show how addicts have lost teeth and scratched their skin to the bone. The new photographs show the first arrest of a drug user partnered up with a picture taken in some cases only three months later. They have been put together by the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon and now include users of all hard drugs including cocaine, heroin and meth.” [More pix at link]

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

Doubletalk?

February 25, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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THE NEWS

Odd news from around the world

Squirrel meets transformer and Virginia locality goes dark: “In a sizzling display of sabotage, a daredevil or just plain dim-witted squirrel brought down a Vienna power transformer Thursday morning, and with it the electricity of 2,700 residents and a handful of traffic lights. Around 7:00 a.m., the tiny adventurer made it through fences, over barriers and past barbwire, oblivious to the bold-faced signs warning that electricity discriminates against no person — or critter. He leapt onto the Dominion Power transformer — a giant green box — and reached for his thankless prize, a mess of wires packed with high-voltage electricity. “Electricity looks for the fastest way to the ground. That squirrel became the fastest way to the ground,” said Le-Ha Anderson, a Dominion spokeswoman. Its flow of electricity interrupted, the transformer and another piece of equipment caught fire. And around Vienna, coffee quit percolating, hair dryers quit drying and stop lights went black. The squirrel did not survive”

Robot hummingbird spies unveiled: “A hummingbird-shaped spy drone that could fly undetected into enemy positions has been unveiled in the US. The Nano Hummingbird has a wingspan of 6.5 inches and weighs 19 grams, less than an AA battery. … Pentagon contractor AeroVironment claim they have accomplished a technical milestone never before achieved — controlled precision hovering and fast-forward flight of a two-wing, flapping wing aircraft. Army chiefs hope to use the drone’s tiny camera to spy on enemy positions in war zones without arousing detection and eventually deploy it into both rural and urban environments”

Beer no longer a food in Russia: “Beer is to be legally classified as an alcoholic drink in Russia for the first time as the Kremlin forges ahead with the toughest anti-alcohol measures since the fall of the Soviet Union. Beer is currently classified as a foodstuff, which has allowed producers to avoid the sweeping new curbs on alcohol advertising and night-time sales. A Kremlin-backed bill, which passed its first reading in the Russian parliament this week, will abolish beer’s special status. “Normalizing the beer production market and classifying it as alcohol is totally the right thing to do and will boost the health of our population,” said Yevgeny Bryun, of the ministry of health. Russia’s beer consumption has more than tripled in the past 15 years, aided by low prices, availability and lax regulation. It is now one of the biggest beer markets in the world, after China and the United States.” [Sad to see the end of such a sensible regulation!]

Employee checks salary – and finds $3.2m in his account: “What would you do if you found $3.2 million had been deposited in your bank account? Would you (a) withdraw all the money and head to the Maldives? Or (b) tell the authorities you were wrongly paid? A British engineer chose the honest option, repaying the £2 million mistakenly given to him by his employer in Exeter, the BBC reported. The man, who makes turbine blades, was shocked when his £2000 ($3200) monthly salary suddenly increased to £2 million. He reported the mistake even before his employers, manufacturer Alcoa Howmet, realised the money was gone, drawing praise from them.”

Comic traffic signs in Britain: “At first glance, they look like official road signs. But closer inspection reveals they are designed not to give directions, but to make the bored motorists chuckle. These signs, which convey a series of jokes, have started appearing overnight on roads around the Wolverhampton area. Tied to lamp posts and traffic lights, the signs have been amusing motorists and passers-by, although their creator remains a mystery. Driving along Compton Road, drivers can view the sign “Why did the scarecrow win an award?” If they continue down to the junction at Paget Road, the answer is revealed: “Because he was outstanding in his field.” On Willenhall Road, a sign outside The Merry Boys pub declares: “Politicians are like nappies [diapers]“. A few hundred yards down the road at a pedestrian cross, the punchline is displayed: “They should be changed regularly and for the same reason.” But Wolverhampton City Council have not seen the funny side. Although they could not say how many offending signs had popped up overnight, they said they were being removed as and when the highways agency came across them.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

A happy couple

February 24, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Ireland?

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THE NEWS

Odd news from around the world

U.S. appeals court says Md. strip club law unconstitutional: “The federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Maryland strip club law prohibiting employees from being unclothed, showing private parts or simulating sex acts while working at a place serving alcohol is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs, the Legend Night Club and the Classics Night Club, operate adult entertainment establishments in Prince George’s County. In the opinion issued Thursday upholding a lower court’s injunction against enforcing the law, the court said the statute “prohibits a broad swath of expression protected by the First Amendment.” The court, quoting another case, said the law could even affect non-erotic performances like “a political satire, a Shakespeare play depicting young love or a drama depicting the horrors of rape.”

A British moron: “A man who won £9.7million ($15.5m) on Lotto has squandered it and is now an alcoholic, earning £75 ($120)-per-day as a painter and decorator. Nine years after he famously turned up to collect his winnings wearing an electronic tag, 27-year-old Michael Carroll has turned up in a court again for breaching a community order for drink driving, MailOnline reported. Carroll, who has a string of criminal convictions, frittered away almost his entire fortune on wild parties, cocaine, prostitutes, luxury cars, chunky gold jewellery and cash hand-outs to hangers-on. Carroll was finally forced to sell his dream home for a £600,000 ($970,000) loss last August after wrecking it. Ian Graham, defending Carroll, told how his life fell to pieces. “He is an alcoholic, but he has been very honest about his alcohol issues with the probation service. Carroll was spared jail last September after he was caught driving his car while nearly four-times the drink-drive limit”

OK: ‘Thief caught after shoving chainsaw down his shorts’: “A Chickasha man was arrested today after allegedly stealing a chainsaw from a hardware store by hiding it down the front of his shorts, KFOR reported. Police said 21-year-old Anthony Darren Black also stole a dog collar from the Ross Seed Company, and appeared intoxicated. One staff member noticed the strange way Mr Black was walking, but assumed he was handicapped. “I felt sorry for him. I thought the gentleman was crippled,” said Richard Largent. But other employees noticed the chainsaw and chased Mr Black until he dived into a creek – where police arrested him. He was charged with a number of offenses.”

Thief ignores valuables, steals toilet pedestal: “A New York burglar not only went to the toilet – he took it with him. The man broke into a Brooklyn apartment and, ignoring the more typical loot, seized the porcelain throne and staggered off down the block, the Brooklyn Paper reported today. Flush with the success of his crime, the burglar returned to the scene and told his victim, a lawyer: “I’m going to slit your throat,” the report said. A 53-year-old suspect was arrested the next day.”

You can’t park that there!: “Military-nut Nicholas Kravchenko is refusing to move an Army tank, complete with caterpillar tracks, which he keeps parked outside his house. Residents living in his normally tranquil neighbourhood in Wolvercote, near Oxford, have branded the four-ton camouflaged beast an ‘eyesore’. But Mr Kravchenko – a retired Army engineer – has refused to move the giant machine which takes up three and a half normal parking spaces. Today he stormed: ‘I can go out and drive it any time I like. There’s no law to stop anyone having 10 tanks. ‘The council have not said it’s anti-social and the police would have been straight on to me if it was parked illegally. ‘It’s not intimidating, because it’s a square box with a Rolls-Royce engine in it and it doesn’t stick out in the road.’

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

Government

February 23, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Government, as Reagan once said, is not the solution to our problem; government IS the problem.

It produces legislation of thousands of pages which no one reads or could completely understand if he did.

Remember the things many of us learned in school?

* The Pythagorean Theorem: 24 words

* The Lord’s Prayer: 66 words

* Archimedes’ Principle: 67 words

* The Ten Commandments: 179 words

* The Gettysburg Address: 286 words

* The Declaration of Independence: 1300 words

Compare those with the US Government regulations on the sale of cabbage: 26,911 words.

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THE NEWS

Odd news from around the world

Man dies during three-day gaming binge: “A Chinese man in his 30s has died after a three-day gaming binge at an Internet cafe outside Beijing, during which he did not sleep and barely ate. The incident highlighted the country’s ongoing battle to stamp out internet addiction, which affects tens of millions of Chinese, according to researchers. The man, who was not identified, slipped into a coma this week in the cafe on the outskirts of the capital and was rushed to a nearby clinic, where he died shortly after, the Beijing Times said. He had spent more than 10,000 yuan ($1500) over the past month on internet gaming and had barely moved from his computer for a three-day period, the report said.

Stolen parrot may talk his way out of trouble: “A chatty parrot stolen as part of a $4000 bird theft may be using his distinctive phrases to talk his way out of trouble. Valuable eclectus parrot Elliott was among $4000 worth of exotic birds stolen from a Werribee pet shop Animal House at the weekend, the Geelong Advertiser reports. Along with a fondness for saying his own name, Elliott also enjoys calling for his owner Connie, and has a wide vocabulary including the phrases: hello, how are you?, good night, gentle, naughty and good boy. Owner Connie Borg bought Elliott for $1000 when he was 12 weeks old, and has kept him as the shop pet for eight years. She said Elliott would likely stay quiet of out of stress at first, but would eventually start speaking. “It will be so sad being in the shop without him,” Mrs Borg said. “I just want him back.”

Parrot found in a hen house sounds like a CHICKEN: “A flyaway parrot has been reunited with his owners after surviving the bitter winter by apparently sheltering in a chicken coop. Jack the blue-fronted Amazon began to cluck when he was found – thought to be a sign that he had set up home in a heated hen house as he searched for his owners. The 12-year-old bird vanished for 66 days after he flew out of an open door at Jerry and Irene Williams’s home in Prenton, Wirral, on November 21. After making it through the coldest December for a century, he was then found perched on a fence outside a tropical aviary at Chester Zoo, some 15 miles away, towards the end of January. Andy Woolham, the zoo’s head parrot keeper, said: ‘I could tell he was ravenously hungry so I enticed him down with a grape. ‘No parrot can resist a black grape.’ He said Jack would have been killed by the cold had he not apparently found shelter and food in a poultry shed.”

Welcome warning for men: The wristband that alerts husbands if wives are suffering from PMT: “It’s a gadget that could help make men a bit more understanding at certain times of the month – or at least give them advance warning of a partner’s sudden mood swings. A wristband has been designed to change colour when a woman is suffering from pre-menstrual tension. It works by monitoring subtle changes in a woman’s body temperature during her monthly cycle – and has been dubbed ‘Help for Husbands’ by inventor Karl Dorn. Although married to wife Claire for 16 years, the father of two said the idea came to him after chatting to male friends at the pub or football matches and hearing about their domestic woes. He estimates they would sell for a few pounds and would feature a small thermometer that responds to variations in temperature by changing colour.”

Why soap and water is the best cure for a grazed knee: “It will be welcome news to any child who has squealed and squirmed while a caring parent dabs stinging antiseptic on to their cuts. Washing playground wounds with soap and water may be more effective than applying antibiotic creams, according to a study. The researchers originally intended to compare two antibiotics commonly used to treat skin infections to find out which was more effective. After cleaning and dressing the wounds of 191 patients at a children’s hospital, they gave each child one of the treatments at random – but found that the choice of drug made no difference. Within a week, 95 per cent of the participants had recovered completely, regardless of which antibiotic they had received. The researchers concluded that the secret to successful healing was proper wound care and cleaning, not antibiotics.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

100 best first lines from novels

February 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Following is a list of the 100 best first lines from novels, as decided by the American Book Review, a nonprofit journal published at the Unit for Contemporary Literature at Illinois State University:

1. Call me Ishmael. – Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

3. A screaming comes across the sky. – Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973)

4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. – Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. – Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. – Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. – James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. – George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

10. I am an invisible man. – Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

11. The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. – Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)

12. You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. —Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

13. Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested. —Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925; trans. Breon Mitchell)

14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. —Italo Calvino, If on a winter’s night a traveler (1979; trans. William Weaver)

15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)

16. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. – J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

17. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. – James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

18. This is the saddest story I have ever heard. – Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915)

19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. – Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759n1767)

20. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. – Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)

More here

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THE NEWS

Odd news from around the world

Escaper found – on television: “A con man has finally been arrested in Romania after a decade on the run – after getting a job as a TV show anchorman. Viorel Plescan, 35, went on the run in 2001 and managed to escape capture by getting married abroad, and then adopting his wife’s name to become Viorel Andrei. He was arrested when Romanian police investigating a minor traffic offence linked Viorel Andrei to the on-the-run Viorel Plescan – and discovered to their amazement he was the anchorman on a prime time TV programme. He was wanted by police in Galati over cheque fraud but fled to Piatra-Neamt, a town 150 miles away. He must now serve eight years in jail for the conviction he got in 2001. In addition, police are now investigating him for using a false identity.”

Boy catches fish bigger than himself: “Nine-year-old angler Riley Vallance took on a barramundi that was bigger and heavier than himself and still managed to reel in a world record catch. “I battled the fish for 20 minutes, it was a big struggle for me,” the Year 4 Yungaburra State School student said. “My arms are still sore three days later.” Riley, who weighs in at 25kg and measures 131cm, managed to master a massive 27.6kg barramundi that measured 132cm after playing the fish into submission during a weekend competition at Lake Tinaroo. Now the Mission Beach Game Fishing Club, which ran the event, is applying to have Riley’s catch listed as a small fry (eight to 11 years) world record.”

Rolls-Royce develops electric car: “Rolls-Royce used to boast that at 60mph in one of their cars, the loudest sound was the ticking of the clock. Now the world’s best known luxury car is about to become even quieter, with the launch of the first fully electric model to bear the famous Spirit of Ecstasy mascot. The one-off Phantom is being built to gather research data that could eventually lead to customers ordering their own all-electric Rolls-Royce. The firm, based at Goodwood in West Sussex, says that project 102EX is crucial to informing future decisions on alternative “drivetrains” – or propulsion systems – for Rolls-Royce cars. Engineers will use the Phantom, which normally costs from £285,000, to establish whether they can develop a commercial model which can run long enough to be of use and can operate in extreme weather conditions, which are known to effect battery performance.”

Christmas tip banned as a ‘bribe’: “Members of a bowls club in Norwich have been warned not to tip ground staff as it could be an illegal bribe. Sprowston Parish Council asked members to stop their traditional Christmas gift of supermarket vouchers as it could breach the Bribery Act 2010. Club secretary Derek Walker, 76, said: “I was incredulous, quite honestly. Taking it to its logical conclusion you wouldn’t give a tip in a restaurant.” The letter from the parish council came with an invoice for the year’s hire fees, reports the Daily Telegraph. It said: “Whilst the good intent of some clubs to reward our staff for their work is appreciated, with the introduction of The Bribery Act 2010, it is requested that this practice ceases as it places this employee in a difficult position.”

Tampa mom makes son wear sign announcing 1.22 GPA: “A Tampa mother is defending her decision to stick her teenage son on a street corner with a sign that says, among other things, “GPA 1.22 … honk if I need education.” Ronda Holder says she and the boy’s father have tried everything to get their 15-year-old to shape up academically. They’ve offered help, asked to see homework, grounded, lectured him and confiscated his cell phone. James Mond III’s indifference at a school meeting last week was the final straw. The next day, Holder made the sign and made her son wear it for nearly four hours. Experts criticized the move as humiliating and ineffective, and someone reported Holder to the Department of Children and Families. Holder insists she’s fighting for her child’s education.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

Religion in India is different

February 21, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hindu priests hold a replica of the Cricket World Cup trophy during a special prayer organised to seek blessings of Hindu god Lord Ganesha for the victory of the Indian cricket team in the tournament, at the Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai. Cricket is India’s most recent religion but the old gods can still help

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THE NEWS

Odd news from around the world

‘Ass cam’ catches butt oglers: “New Zealanders Jessie Gurunathan and Reanin Johannink rigged up a camera to covertly record men’s reactions as they walked the streets of Los Angeles, posting the resulting footage on video-sharing site YouTube. “If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind your back, we’ve figured out a way to bust people, so checkout ass-cam,” Johannink says in the clip. The video, titled “Rear View Girls”, shows some men making blatant double takes to ogle the women, while others, including a man with his arm around his girlfriend, are more surreptitious. Even a man dressed as Jesus sneaks a look, as do skateboarders and cafe customers. Gurunathan denied the clip intended to show men in a bad light and said they planned to repeat their cheeky prank in other cities around the world.”

Cow is a champion swimmer: “Australian distance swimming has a bright new star . . . Danette the wonder cow. Danette is the Murray Grey cow that survived an epic 95km swim during the January floods. After being swept away by the torrent that raged through the small property owned by Veronica Nutley, at Patrick Estate, near Lowood in the Brisbane Valley, on Tuesday, January 11, Danette was found three days later bobbing at the mouth of the Brisbane River near Luggage Point. Volunteers from the Cabbage Tree Creek rescue group found Danette and towed her to shore after her marathon journey, in which she somehow dodged the currents, sunken obstacles and sharks to whom she would have resembled a 600kg all-beef patty. Brisbane council workers used the tag inside Danette’s ear to identify her, but were still in a state of confusion about how she got there when they rang her owner.”

Allergic to love: “When Charlotte Davies met her future husband there was an instant attraction. Unfortunately for her, there was also an instant reaction – on her skin. Within weeks of meeting her soulmate, her eyelids erupted with eczema and her eyes had swelled to the size of golf balls. Experts concluded that the euphoria she felt when she was with boyfriend, accountant Dean Strohm, was being played out on her skin. She was allergic to love. She added: ‘Dean told me he’d love me with red panda eyes or not, but I felt mortified. ‘I felt like my body was putting Dean to the test, because even though my heart told me he was The One, it was as if my body wanted to see if he really was a good as he seemed. ‘If he loved me after my eyes had turned into a bright red tomatoes literally within days of meeting him, then I’d know his love was true.’… ‘When Dean asked me to marry him my eyes swelled up again because I was so ridiculously happy’, she said. She said: ‘In December we got married and the eczema started to get a lot better. Perhaps my hormones calmed down and I just felt more relaxed once we were married, but it certainly seems to have cured me.’

Big alligator fish: “It may not have been love at first sight but it was certainly a Valentine’s Day to remember for angler Kenny Williams when he landed an alligator gar that tipped the scales at a world record 327lbs. Williams, from Vicksburg, Mississippi, bagged the fish in Chotard Lake, Issaquena County, using nets to catch it and then grabbing it by the gills to heave it into the boat. Biologists with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks measured the beast at 8ft 51/4ins long, with a girth of 47.95ins, and estimated it to be between 50 and 70 years old. Williams donated his catch to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson, where it will be mounted and placed on display.”

Big egg: “For a free-range hen who just laid an egg more than eight times heavier than normal, Hattie the hen seems remarkably unruffled. The egg weighs a hefty 5.7oz, is three and a half inches long and eight inches in circumference. Hattie’s owner Jeremy Paget, 50, who has been rearing his nine chickens for only six months, said of Thursday’s find: ‘My wife brought it in to me and asked me to close my eyes and said, “I’ve got a present for you”. We were absolutely gobsmacked.’ He now plans to use the egg to make an enormous omelette. The financial consultant, of Four Marks, Hampshire, said Hattie did not seem particularly concerned afterwards.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

A Loch Ness monster in England too?

February 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pictures of a mysterious creature surfacing from Lake Windermere have been hailed as the best ever sighting of the English Loch Ness Monster, or “Bownessie”.

The photograph, which shows an object with three humps breaching the surface of the lake, is said to be the best evidence yet of what some claim is a monster lurking beneath the depths.

It was taken on a camera phone by Tom Pickles, 24, while kayaking on the lake as part of a team building exercise with his IT company, CapGemini, last Friday. Mr Pickles said he saw an animal the size of three cars speed past him on the lake and watched it for about 20 seconds. He said: “It was petrifying and we paddled back to the shore straight away. At first I thought it was a dog and then saw it was much bigger and moving really quickly at about 10mph. “Each hump was moving in a rippling motion and it was swimming fast. “Its skin was like a seal’s but it’s shape was completely abnormal – it’s not like any animal I’ve ever seen before.”

This is believed to be the eighth sighting of a long humpbacked creature – known by local residents as “Bownessie” – in the past last five years.

Mr Pickles’ companion Sarah Harrington, 23, said: “It was like an enormous snake. “I only saw it for a few seconds but all I could think about was that I had to get off the lake.”

The pair were on the last day of a team building residential training course at Fallbarrow Hall, Bowness, Cumbria. They said they had kayaked 300m out into the lake near Belle Isle when they spotted the beast to the south.

Mr Pickles’s picture perfectly matches the description of an earlier sighting from the shores of Wray Castle in 2006 by journalism lecturer Steve Burnip. He said: “I’m really pleased that someone has finally got a really good picture of it. “I know what I saw and it shocked me, it had three humps and it’s uncanny the likeness between this and what I saw five years ago.”

Photo expert David Farnell of Farnell’s photographic laboratory in Lancaster said: “It does look like a real photo but because it’s been taken on a phone the file size is too small to really tell whether it has been altered on Photoshop or not.”

Sceptics remain unconvinced that something so large could exist in the 11 mile long lake. Dr Ian Winfield, a lake ecologist at the University of Lancaster, said: “It’s possible that it’s a catfish from Eastern Europe and people are misjudging the size but there is no known fish as large as the descriptions we’re hearing that could be living in Windermere.

Original story here

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THE NEWS

Odd news from around the world

Doctors discover knife in man’s brain: “Surgeons in southern China successfully removed a rusty 10-centimetre knife from the skull of a man who said it had been there for four years, the hospital said. Li Fuyan, 30, had been complaining of severe headaches, bad breath and breathing difficulties but never knew the cause of his discomfort, a senior official at the Yuxi City People’s Hospital in Yunnan province said. Mr Li told doctors he had been stabbed in the lower right jaw by a robber four years ago. The blade had broken off without anyone realising it, said the director of the hospital’s Communist Party committee’s office who would only give his surname, He. Surgeons had worked cautiously to remove the badly corroded blade without shattering it, Mr He said. The hospital’s website also reported the successful surgery.”

Thieves lose money trying to rob Kansas City gun store: Two men attempted to rob a Kansas City, Missouri, gun store Thursday and ended up leaving with less money than they had when they came in, the Kansas City Star reported Saturday. One of the would-be robbers entered the store around 2:00pm Thursday local time and asked to buy a box of ammunition. When the 65-year-old clerk, who wore a shoulder holster and a handgun in plain view, told the man it would be about $50, the man said he needed to get more money and left. The man returned around 5:00pm with another man and tried to pay with two $20 bills. When the clerk said he was $10 short, the customer pulled a handgun from his waistband and demanded that the clerk hand over the money in the cash register. The clerk was able to tell that the man’s gun was not loaded and pulled his own gun from his shoulder holster. “Before I got mine pointed at him, he ran to the door at, like, 95mph. I’m surprised he didn’t bust the glass out of the door.” The fleeing robbers left the $40 behind.”

Dog helps save teenage girl from rape in Italy: “A dog helped save a teenage Italian girl from being raped by its master as the canine began barking, eventually leading to the man’s arrest, ANSA news agency said Saturday. The 14-year-old girl from Milan was playing with the dog and met its 40-year-old owner, a father of a six-year-old, in a park in the northern city after skipping class on September 20 last year, the agency reported. The girl accepted an invitation for coffee but on leaving the cafe the man grabbed her neck and tried to undress her. At that moment the dog began barking, distracting his owner. The girl managed to flee after hitting him in the groin. The assailant was identified after a five-month investigation as the girl remembered the dog’s name and identified both the animal and the man in police photos.”

Fictional Ministry of Silly Walks comes to life: “Public bodies have spent tens of thousands of pounds of tax¬payers’ money telling officials how to walk. The Department of Health, HM Revenue & Customs, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Sport England have all paid for the services of Urbanwalks. The company produces walking route guides to encourage employees to become more active. But some of the pamphlets also include advice on how to walk properly. In a section worthy of John Cleese in the Monty Python Ministry of Silly Walks sketch, it advises walkers to keep their head centred and in line with their spine and to ensure their arm swing is natural. It also tells staff that ‘the heel should always touch the ground first with each stride, then the ball of the foot, then your toes – in that order’. Emma Boon of the TaxPayers’ Alliance branded the leaflets ‘patronising codswallop’.”

The world’s biggest family: “He is head of the world’s biggest family – and says he is ‘blessed’ to have his 39 wives. Ziona Chana also has 94 children, 14-daughters-in-law and 33 grandchildren. They live in a 100-room, four storey house [above] set amidst the hills of Baktwang village in the Indian state of Mizoram, where the wives sleep in giant communal dormitories. Mr Chana told the Sun: ‘Today I feel like God’s special child. He’s given me so many people to look after. The family is organised with almost military discipline, with the oldest wife Zathiangi organising her fellow partners to perform household chores such as cleaning, washing and preparing meals. Coincidentally, Mr Chana is also head of a sect that allows members to take as many wives as he wants. He even married ten women in one year, when he was at his most prolific, and enjoys his own double bed while his wives have to make do with communal dormitories.”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

Baby Aardvark with mother

February 19, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

They really do exist outside crossword puzzles

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THE NEWS

Odd news from around the world

Naked sausage thief: “Cheeky sausage stealer caught on security camera streaking naked through retirement home: “A naked burglar was caught on camera making a cheeky getaway from a retirement home’s clubhouse after stealing some frozen sausages. The tattooed man streaked through the Lee County Retirement Community’s clubhouse in Florida in the dead of night, but when residents discovered their breakfast missing they checked the security camera and discovered the naked truth. Local police watched the video and identified the man as Joshua Abernathy, a 34-year-old vagrant. Abernathy was arrested and will appear in court – fully clothed – charged with two counts of burglary and one of petty theft.”

‘Sexy’ sumos pose in advert for car manufacturer: “Perhaps after a betting scam in their sport, they were looking for a quick way to make a bit of money. But these ‘sexy’ sumo wrestlers are the latest attempt by Japanese car maker Subaru to get one over its rivals. In a far from subtle dig at Lexus and Nissan, the car manufacturer’s Canadian arm are advertising its new Forester model using the wrestlers in a series of seductive poses. It is seen as an attack on their competitors, who both released new adverts this week containing bikini wearing models to coincide with the release of American magazine Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition. Website Motor Authority said: ‘Unlike the bikini-wearing models in other ads, you’re not left wondering where the car is. ‘If anything, your eyes seek out the Forester, if only for aesthetic relief.'”

Feline Houdini: “It certainly seems that Ksyusha the kitten has got herself into an impossibly tight spot. But according to her owner she has no problem escaping the glass container, rather like a feline Houdini. ‘It looks like she is stuck, but actually her body is not as big as it looks because of the large amount of fur,’ said Yuriy Korotun, who lives in Moscow. Yuriy said he first realised his pet, a Himalayan breed similar to a Persian, had a love of confined spaces when he heard a commotion in her kitchen one day. ‘I came in to find her in the jar,’ he said. ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes.’”

Nun dubbed ‘Sister Internet’ kicked out of religious order: “For its millions of users all over the globe, Facebook is a fun and harmless way to make new friends and catch up with old ones. However for Spanish nun Maria Jesus Galan, her online activity on the social networking site ended up costing her job – and her home. Sister Maria was apparently asked to leave the religious order where she has resided in seclusion for 35 years because she spent too much time on the website, it has been reported. And living up to her nickname of ‘Sister Internet’ – a moniker given to her by her fellow nuns – the 54-year-old broke the news on her Facebook page. The 14th century Santo Domingo el Real convent in Toledo, central Spain, first got a computer 10 years ago to lessen the need for nuns to enter the outside world. Now living at her mother’s house, Sister Maria wants to use her new-found freedom to see the world. She posted: ‘I would like to visit London and New York.”

Crazy cyclist pedals along busy British road with huge FRIDGE on the back of his bike: “Perhaps he thought he looked cool. But this cyclist probably just seemed strange to fellow travellers on the A1307 in Cambridgeshire as he pedalled along… with a massive fridge on the back of his bike. The domestic appliance was balanced upright on the pannier rack and held on by straps. Passing motorist John Hicks, 38, from Sawston, pulled over with his two sons when he spotted the strange sight on the stretch of road near Wandlebury last week. ‘I don’t know how he managed to balance the fridge on the bike. It caused no end of laughs. It just looked so strange. ‘We heard he was heading to Linton which is a pretty long cycle, especially if you are carrying a fridge on the back of a bike.'”

And don’t forget to catch up with all the Strange Justice before you go.

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