November 2011 - Posts
Thanksgiving is over and we have all hopefully not only thought about what we're thankful for, but also expressed it. It is all too easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget about what matters most. This is what spurred Candy Chang to turn the side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood into a giant chalkboard, where people could write on the wall and remember what matters most to them.
Stenciled with the sentence, "Before I die I want to ___________," the wall in artist Chang's New Orleans neighborhood became a space where people wrote everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. The project, and the question, were inspired by the loss of a loved one in Chang's life, and it transformed a neglected space into a constructive one.
The project has been recreated in cities all over the United States and the world. Chang plans to compile photos of the walls into a book to help "celebrate the hopes and dreams of our communities with each other."
There have been so many requests for help to recreate the project that Chang created a Before I Die toolkit, which you can find at www.beforeidie.cc. When you go to the site, click on "Let's make more!" and you'll find the toolkit. The kit includes step by step instructions, as well as a stencil and chalk, and chalk holders. The kits sell for $75.
The latest wall in the U.S. was set up in New York City, and bore wishes ranging from "become a WNBA player" to "stop the guns." The wall has been up for eight weeks, and is scheduled to come down today.
"Before I die transforms neglected spaces into constructive ones where people can discover the aspirations of hose around them. What desires do you hold dearest? What is your greatest ambition? What do you want for those you love? Here you can share your individuality with the city," a plaque next to the wall reads.
It's Cyber Monday, and that means big deals for consumers who shop online. But it also means big steals for scammers and thieves – so consumers are being warned to be extra careful.
Whether you are shopping from your home computer or using your smartphone, there are some things you should avoid altogether.
• Untrustworthy websites and pop-up screens. You should try to shop only at sites that have a brick and mortar presence, or that you are already familiar with, instead of using those whose reputations you are unfamiliar with. Type in the retailer's web address and start it with "https" to make sure it is secure.
There will be pop-ups aplenty on Cyber Monday, you can be sure, and if you click on one and enter your personal or financial information, you could be giving away your information to a thief. If you have security software installed on your computer, you will likely be warned – but just to be sure, don't click on any pop-ups or provide your information via any unsolicited request.
• Too-good-to-be-true deals will appear everywhere as well. The most popular gifts this season will be offered in abundance, at unbelievable savings. These gifts will be used as scams linked to malicious sites that will spread viruses or steal your information.
• During the holidays, people are in the giving spirit, and opportunities for charitable giving are plentiful. But don't be fooled by fake online charities. Be sure your research any online charity before you give, and don't provide your financial information before you are sure of the charity's legitimacy.
• Criminals will also be looking to scam you on your smartphone via apps. There are already an abundance of shopping apps available, but these seemingly helpful apps could be malicious and transmit your phone's data. This goes for holiday screensavers and e-cards as well.
Keep your eyes open and use your common sense. Remember: It's always best to use the old adage, "When in doubt, don't."
An Ohio man with a history of drug charges apparently got carried away by the spirit of Christmas – so much so that he broke into a home and put up their Christmas decorations.
A woman was visiting her neighbor's home when her 11-year-old on called to say he'd come home to find a strange man on the couch. The woman immediately called 911.
The guy had entered through the back door, lit some candles and put up the family's Christmas decorations. He'd been lying on the couch, watching television and enjoying his handiwork when the child came home and found him.
The burglar apologized, saying he was leaving, but police arrived and placed him under arrest. He also apologized for scaring the child.
We were surprised that this was all the guy did, considering police reports said the burglar was high on a designer drug known as "bath salts." This recreational drug comes in powder and crystal form, like bath salts, hence the name. Users snort, inject or snort the powder or crystal. The high the drug creates comes with severe agitation, and violent and psychotic behavior.
At least 28 states have banned this drug, which is typically sold for $25 to $50 per 50-milligram packet at convenience stores and head shops under names like Aura, Ivory Wave, Loco-Motion and Vanilla Sky.
Jobs site CareerBuilder conducted a survey and found that leaders of companies like to part their hair on the right.
Of the 561 hiring managers surveyed, the majority said they also bring their own lunch from home, drive sport utility vehicles and wear business casual attire to the office.
Thirty-six percent prefer their work clothing to be navy blue, while 26 percent wear black and 8 percent prefer brown or gray.
Thirty-two percent said they don't drink at company events, while 26 percent sip wine, and 22 percent drink beer, as 18 percent partake of mixed drinks, 5 percent drink martinis and 3 percent go for shots of liquor.
We're pretty sure that 100 percent of the unemployed would agree that instead of spending time and money on this type of survey, the jobs site would be more useful if it spent those resources helping people find jobs and protecting them from fraudulent job offers that lead to identity theft.
Get on that, will you?
Our military personnel fight for our freedoms every day, and we should say thank you. We should thank the veterans who have served in the past. And we must raise our children to be appreciative of those who sacrifice so much for their country.
Justin Timberlake went to the Marine Corps Ball with a fan who asked him to go with her via YouTube. He agreed, and has said the experience made him humbled, and he thanked the Marines for sharing the night with him, and for their service to America. He encouraged Americans everywhere to show some love to military personnel, no matter where you are.
A Marine recently showed his love for his son by getting his company to sing a special song for the toddler. Enjoy this video and remember to thank a soldier.
They just don't come any dumber than this guy.
According to reports, police in Ogden, Utah snagged a bank robber by…wait for it…following his footprints in the snow. The prints led the cops right to the apartment where the robber was hiding with the money.
The 27-year-old man walked into the Alliance Credit Union last Saturday, just 5 minutes shy of 1 p.m. He handed the teller a note and left on foot after getting the money he requested.
The man made a full confession, and was charged on one count of first degree felony robbery.
How could he deny it?
What do you think of when we say the word, "corduroy?" We instantly see images of pipe-smoking professors wearing jackets with leather patches.
Whatever images the word conjures up for you, celebrate it today, because it is Corduroy Appreciation Day. This year's celebration apparently has corduroy fans coming, well, unstitched because when you write out Nov. 11 as 11/11, it looks like corduroy. Really. Seriously. They are ecstatic about that.
There will apparently be celebrations all over the world in honor of this special fabric, in places like New York, Washington, London and in South Africa. Because, you know, the african people are famous for their love of corduroy.
Each city will celebrate in its own way, but the New York " 'roy ragers" will require that those attending the celebration wear at least three items made of corduroy. Oh, you mad fools.
Corduroy enthusiasts do admit, however, that the noise corduroys make when a person walks is not exactly one of its best features. But there are some who consider it a mating call to other corduroy fans.
Science has even taken on the problem, as one scientist has invented "Cordarounds," a brand of cords where the wales – or ribs – run horizontally. Oh, the sacrilege.
But the inventor, Chris Lindland, says the horizontal cords are more aerodynamic. "You can get somewhere three nanoseconds faster in our cords than the traditional kind," he said.
So here's some Freaky Friday fun for you: Imagine a room full of scientists, some wearing horizontally-ribbed corduroys, others wearing the traditional cords, racing against each other to test Lindland's theory. Wait for it…think on it…ponder it…
It's "They Said What?!" Thursday, and we searched for this week's most memorable quotes. Here's our faces…
• You have to start with Rick Perry. In this week's presidential debate, the Texas governor appeared to go brain dead. He promised to eliminate three federal government agencies and then couldn't name the third one. "It's three government agencies when I get there that are gone: Commerce, Education and the um, what's the third one there? Let's see…" Perry, who has said he's not a good debater, never did come up with that third agency. He simply said, "I can't think of the third one. I can't. Sorry. Oops."
• Brett Ratner was all set to produce the 84th annual Academy Awards, when he put his foot squarely in his mouth. Ratner used a gay slur when asked a question about filmmaking, saying "rehearsing is for fags." Eddie Murphy, set to host the show, subsequently pulled out of the hosting gig, and the powers that be are once again accepting job applications.
• Ashton Kutcher didn't speak, but he somehow managed to tweet himself into having his foot planted firmly in his mouth. Kutcher defended Joe Paterno after he was fired, following his inaction in the scandal surrounding JoePa's former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, who has been charged with sexually assaulting young boys. To make it worse, Kutcher is an outspoken advocate against child sexual exploitation. To make it better, he later tweeted that he didn't have all the facts and apologized for his error.
Making gaseous women everywhere swoon, George Clooney admitted he has a weakness – farts. "Even the idea of a fart makes me laugh. I have iFart on my phone," the actor said.
The Duggars have done it again. Literally.
News broke this week that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar are expecting their 20th child. We should not have been surprised. The show is called, after all called "19 Kids and Counting." The series began airing on Sept. 29, 2008.
The couple's last child, Josie, was born at 25 weeks in December 2009 after Michelle was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and had to have an emergency C-section. She weighed just over a pound at birth, but is doing fine now.
If you've been under a rock and are unfamiliar with this famous family, here's the breakdown. They live in Tonitown, Ark., and originally appeared in several TLC and Discovery Health one-hour specials, which focused on their lifestyle and the size of their family. The current incarnation of the show continues this legacy, and has added in the family life of their eldest son, Josh, and his family.
Jim Bob and Michelle have been outspoken about their dislike of contraceptives, and their choice to allow God to determine the number of their children. The couple are conservative Christians.
Critics have said that after the issues with the last pregnancy and subsequent early birth of Josie, the couple should have said that 19 was enough. But the couple disagrees, choosing instead to celebrate this pregnancy, just as they have all the others.
Some have criticized the couple not only for the size of their family, but also for seeming to give their older children too much responsibility in caring for their younger siblings. The biggest criticism has been, however, that because of the size of the family, that they are a "drain" financially on society.
But the Duggars are debt free and live in a home they built themselves. Michelle stays at home with the children and home schools them, while Jim Bob, who works at home in real estate, also spends a lot of time with the children.
As for giving the children responsibilities, the couple maintains they are raising their children to be responsible and capable parents and citizens.
But we don't think the Duggars spend much time worrying about what the critics have to say. When would they have time?
Well, it's now official. What nerds and fans of the Star Wars franchise have known forever – that George Lucas is a genius visionary – is finally backed with proof.
Astronomers have found a planet like Tatooine in the films, proving that planets with two suns do exist. Just like Lucas portrayed in the movie.
Scientists at NASA and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute have informally named their discovery Tatooine, although its official name is Kepler-16b. Researchers used an orbiting Kepler telescope to detect the planet as it crossed in front of its two suns, about 200 light years from Earth.
The planets two suns go around each other every 41 days, and the planet's year – the time it takes to complete an orbit around its two suns – takes 229 days.
But the scientists say there is no way there would be any life on the planet, due to its size and distance from its suns.
Then again, there was a time when no one thought planets with two suns existed. No one, except George Lucas, that is.
Cue the Star Wars theme song.
People are "occupying" here and there, ever since Occupy Wall Street began. But there are some places no one wants to occupy. Here's our top 10, and although the occupy movement has been a U.S. thing, we expanded our list to include locations throughout the world.
1. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – Located in the Pacific Ocean and also called the Pacific Trash Vortex, this spot contains high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other debris. No. You would not want to occupy here.
2. The Izu Islands in Japan – There are two towns and six villages there, and although there are people who actually live there, the stench of a thousand farts, as it is known, keeps most other visitors away. If you do venture there, be sure to carry your gas mask, so you'll fit in. Residents there are required to keep one on them at all times.
3. The Door to Hell in Turkmenistan – This gaping hole was discovered by geologists in 1971, filled with natural gas. Scientists set fire to the hole, thinking it would go out in a few days, but it continues to burn to this day. It's a helluva spot, but not one you'd want to occupy.
4. Alnwick Poison Gardens in Alnwick, England – Usually when one things of English gardens, one thinks of posies and roses. But this garden is full of plants that can kill – by design. Plants featured in this unusual garden include belladonna, tobacco and mandrake. And if you wanted to visit the cannabis section of the garden, bear in mind that it's behind bars. Not likely you'll get to occupy there.
5. Asbestos mine in Quebec, Canada – Despite the fact that this stuff causes cancer and a variety of other diseases, you can visit this site, which is still operational. The tickets are free. You have to supply your own biohazard suit, though.
6. Ramree Island in Burma – This swamp is home to thousands of saltwater crocodiles, as well as malaria-carrying mosquitos and venomous scorpions. Sounds lovely, eh?
7. Yungas Road in Bolivia – Known as the Road of Death, this road goes from La Paz to Coroico, and is legendary for its extreme danger. Roughly 200-300 travelers die on this road each year. The loose rocks that fall and the muddy areas make it interesting to travel, though, not to mention the extreme drop-offs of about 2,000 feet.
8. Mud volcanoes in Azerbaijan – There are hundreds of volcanoes there that spew mud and flames. Flaming mud? Perhaps they could fling this during the Occupy Wall Street thing.
9. The Zone of Alienation in Eastern Europe – This area is located around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster in Ukraine. The area does have a small population, but it is known by the looting that occurs there. Consequently, there is a very strong police presence, so if you choose to occupy there and get out of line, you will be shot. Or die of radiation poisoning. Whichever.
10. Ilha de Queimada Grande in Brazil – Known as Snake Island, this island is untouched, lying due south of Sao Paulo. It's untouched for a very good reason – There are five snakes per square meter, and they are a unique species of pit viper, the golden lancehead. They grow to over a half-meter long, and their poison causes the flesh around the bite to melt. But you can get a permit to occupy if you'd like. It's required.
Now you're glad to occupy Wall Street, eh?
It's Freaky Friday, and that means we usually find some really weird stuff and post it for your viewing pleasure. This week, however, we found some weird and sad stuff.
A 14-year-old in Palm Bay, Fla. has been suspended after he was caught hugging a female friend at school. The hug was mutual, according to reports.
Apparently the school has a no hugging policy. It's the only school in its district with such a policy.
At another school, in Quincy, Mass., administrators have decided to continue fundraising for a senior event despite complaints of vandalism.
The vandalism in question involves filling a resident's yard with pink flamingos and having them pay $20 to "flock it forward" to another resident. The woman who complained after her yard was flocked said the students were being encouraged by administrators and parents to trespass and vandalize.
To make the story even worse, the school's principal said if the woman had simply made a phone call, the flamingos would have been removed quickly and quietly. Instead, she chose to publicly complain and file a complaint.
We are saddened by both of these incidents, but for different reasons. First, in a world where students are worried about bullying in the schoolyard, it shouldn't be wrong when they choose instead to hug. They should not be punished for it, either.
And when an innocent fundraiser riles a person so much that she files a complaint and threatens to sue, it shows just how low people can sink when concerned only with their "rights" – and not with the welfare of others.
If you have a bare bottom in San Francisco, you better be prepared if you plan to sit anywhere.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has approved public nudity restrictions which includes putting covers on public seats before sitting down. The ordinance was approved unanimously, and also bans nudity in restaurants.
Apparently, nudists gather frequently and sit on public benches and other places clothed people would sit. This could be a health issue, according to those behind the ordinance proposal.
We agree with the ordinance and are glad it was passed. We're a little disturbed it was necessary to begin with, but we agree with its passing.
However, we are a little perplexed as to how it will be enforced. Will officers patrol the streets, look for those with bare bottoms, make them stand and, if there's no cover placed where they were sitting, write them a ticket? What will that ticket state? "Bare bum buffets bench?" Would the ticket read that the violator has committed a "booty breach?"
Whatever the case, we find the whole thing funny, and can't wait for the first law suit. And you know there will be one.
Each year since 1947, the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board have given a turkey to the president at a White House ceremony. Presidents have been more likely to roast the bird, rather than give him a reprieve.
But in 1989, President George H.W. Bush pardoned a turkey for the first time. Since then, one lucky bird a year has heaved a sigh of relief as he is pardoned and granted the privilege of living out his days at Mount Vernon.
This year's bird is one of several being raised by Minnesota students near Willmar, Minn. A group of four Future Farmers of America members have been working with the birds for the past five weeks. There are a total of 31 birds. Each bird is carefully cared for and the students have been working to help desensitize them to noise and crowds. This is so the chosen bird won't be scared on the big day.
The president of the National Turkey Federation will pick the lucky birds – two will be chosen to go to Washington and they will stay in a nice hotel. But only one will be pardoned and get to live out his days in the lap of luxury – at least, the bird equivalent of luxury.
The other one? Well, let's just say he won't be cold come Thanksgiving.
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