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December 31, 2009

A year like '09

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2009 in review

Dave Barry's year in review: 2009

It was a year of Hope -- at first in the sense of ``I feel hopeful!'' and later in the sense of ``I hope this year ends soon!''

It was also a year of Change, especially in Washington, where the tired old hacks of yesteryear finally yielded the reins of power to a group of fresh, young, idealistic, new-idea outsiders such as Nancy Pelosi. As a result Washington, rejecting ``business as usual,'' finally stopped trying to solve every problem by throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at it and instead started trying to solve every problem by throwing trillions of taxpayer dollars at it.

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2009 in photos

This is 1 of 120 or so photos from the The Big Picture. See parts 1, 2, and 3.

2009InPhotos.jpg
Before the Iranian election, a supporter of main challenger and reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi forms a heart shape with her hands to indicate her support, while wearing green ribbons - the color of the party, amidst a festive atmosphere at an election rally rally in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, June 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

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Best liar of the year?

Wis. man's bank quip earns him Champion Liar title

MILWAUKEE – A jab at the woes of the nation's banks has been named the top tall tale of 2009.

The Burlington Liars Club bestowed its highest award Wednesday for this line: "I just realized how bad the economy really is. I recently bought a new toaster oven and as a complimentary gift, I was given a bank."

The quip earned Larry Legro of Sun Prairie, Wis., the dubious — but serious — distinction of being the year's World Champion Liar.

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Top 100 videos of 2009

They're broken out one-by-one at Gawker.

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Like Facebook for China

Two Chinese wives spot common husband on social networking site

A Chinese man has been arrested on charges of bigamy after his two wives discovered each other on a national social networking site, China Daily said on Wednesday.

The Mexican national of a Chinese origin, identified as Chang, was arrested last week after one of the wives added her husband's "buddies," including the other spouse, to her contact list on Kaixin001, a Chinese version of Facebook. The two women soon became friends.

The bigamy was exposed when they exchanged wedding photos, featuring the same groom.

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December 30, 2009

Edifice Wrecks

Three minutes of falling dominoes (mostly) - pretty well done.

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A Christmas miracle

Mom, Baby Revived After Dying During Birth

DENVER -- Mike Hermanstorfer was clutching his pregnant wife's hand in a Colorado hospital on Christmas Eve when she stopped breathing, her life apparently slipping away. Then he cradled his newborn son's limp body seconds after a medical team delivered the baby by Cesarean section.

Minutes later he saw his son show signs of life in his arms under the feverish attention of doctors, and soon he learned his wife had inexplicably started breathing again.

"My legs went out from underneath me," Hermanstorfer said Tuesday. "I had everything in the world taken from me, and in an hour and a half I had everything given to me."

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Send in the clowns

The Telegraph's Picture of the day for 17 December 2009

SendInTheClowns.jpg
Clowns pose for a photo during an annual pilgrimage at the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City

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Down at the Road Kill Cafe

Roadkill served in R.I. clubs

SMITHFIELD, R.I., Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A chef at a Rhode Island sportsman's club said he has earned the nickname "Roadkill" due to his signature dish -- venison from the side of the road.

Richard "Roadkill" Bourque, chef for the Smithfield Sportsman's Club, said he is on the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management's list of vendors authorized to retrieve, prepare, cook and serve deer killed on the state's roads, the Providence (R.I.) Journal reported Wednesday.

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Heading out

A Chinese rocket launch filmed from a plane.

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Happy Birthday, you old coot

1 centenarian brother to another: Happy birthday

Travel to Chicago becomes problematic when you're more than a century old and live 2,000 miles away.

But there was no way 101-year-old Charles Keller would have missed Saturday's west suburban bash for little brother George, who was turning 100.

Arranged by his daughter Lynn, George Keller's birthday party at St. Charles' Pheasant Run Resort drew more than 80 friends and relatives from around the nation, including brother Charles, who trekked from Southern California.

"I'm happy I reached it, and I'd really like to make 200," said George, decked out in a gray pinstriped suit, blue shirt and gray striped tie. "I think it's going to become a pretty regular thing for people. Here's two (centenarians) in the same family."

Saturday marked the first time the Kellers had seen each other since Charles' 100th birthday fete in San Diego in May 2007.

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December 27, 2009

The known universe

An impressive clip in a sort of Power-of-Ten style.

Every star, planet, and quasar seen in the film is possible because of the world's most complete four-dimensional map of the universe, the Digital Universe Atlas that is maintained and updated by astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History.

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I can think of worse ways to spend Christmas Eve

Nordic Quack
Sweden's bizarre tradition of watching Donald Duck cartoons on Christmas Eve.

Three years ago, I went to Sweden with my then-girlfriend (now-wife), to meet her family and celebrate my first Christmas. As an only partially lapsed Jew, I was not well-versed in Christmas traditions, and I was completely ignorant of Swedish customs and culture. So I was prepared for surprises. I was not prepared for this: Every year on Dec. 24 at 3 p.m., half of Sweden sits down in front of the television for a family viewing of the 1958 Walt Disney Presents Christmas special, "From All of Us to All of You." Or as it is known in Sverige, Kalle Anka och hans vänner önskar God Jul: "Donald Duck and his friends wish you a Merry Christmas."

Via

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Markets in everything (5)

SnowmenForSale.jpg

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Surprise!

Friends Gift Wrap Apartment In Holiday Prank

CHICAGO -- A Chicago man could be unwrapping the hundreds of Christmas gifts spread around his apartment for days, even weeks.

Trouble is, they aren't really presents. They're his own belongings meticulously wrapped by friends as a prank while he was out of town.

Louie Saunders' packages contain everything from couch cushions to the beer in his refrigerator.

His friend Adal Rifai masterminded the scheme after Saunders gave him a spare key. It took 16 people, 35 rolls of wrapping paper and eight hours to finish the job.

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Shipping the unshippable

Tucson John sent a PowerPoint slideshow about this ship. Luckily, I found it on Slideshare (courtesy of George Martin). It must have some incredible pumps built into it.

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Put your 'Jack Horner' on the dotted line

Risky Pudding: Diners Sign Waiver For Dessert

LONDON -- A London restaurant has asked diners to sign away their right to sue before consuming Christmas pudding, a traditional Yuletide treat that sometimes contains coins or charms.

Neleen Strauss, the owner of High Timber in central London, acknowledged that the idea was a bit silly but she said she would rather be safe than sorry.

"It has created a bit of a stir in the restaurant and people looked at it disbelieving at first," she said Thursday. "I thought it was going to be a pain but decided to do it to cover my backside."

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December 25, 2009

Have a happy Christmas, everyone

This one's a reprise from two years ago. I hope you enjoy it as much as I.

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December 24, 2009

Must be Santa

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The traditional Burning of the Goat

Gävle goat succumbs to flames

Yuletide arsonists have once again successfully set the Gävle goat ablaze. Police received a call around 3am on Wednesday that the Christmas goat in the eastern Swedish town was on fire.

While last year's goat managed to survive until December 27th, this year the 13-metre-tall straw billy succumbed to flames just three days before Christmas.

This was the 43rd traditional straw goat that Gävle has erected in the main city square a few weeks prior to Christmas. It has become a local sport to attempt to burn the goat to the ground.

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Beer bottle band

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Beer bottle evergreen

A giant Christmas tree was made with 1000 Heineken beer bottles. Seen in front of the Nanjing road mall in Shanghai.

HeinekenTree.jpg

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You know times are tough when...

Santa robs Hermitage bank to 'pay elves'

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An armed suspect dressed as Santa Claus robbed a local bank Tuesday morning and told tellers he was doing so to "pay his elves."

At 10 a.m., police said the man, dressed in a full Santa Claus costume complete with a hat, beard and sack over his shoulder, entered the Sun Trust Bank branch located at 4809 Old Hickory Boulevard in Hermitage, just north of Lebanon Pike, and approached a teller.

According to witnesses, Santa was wearing sunglasses and the teller asked him to remove them.

The suspect refused, reached into his sack and pulled out a gun.

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Merry Christmas, Baby

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December 22, 2009

Happy Solstice

I'm a day late - but the upside is that at least the days are already getting longer.

One Moment in Time: The Solstice Seen from Newgrange

Deep inside the world's oldest known building, every year, for only as much as 17 minutes, the sun -- at the exact moment of the winter solstice -- shines directly down a long corridor of stone and illuminates the inner chamber at Newgrange.

Newgrange was built 1,000 years before Stonehenge and also predates the pyramids by more than 500 years.

Lost and forgotten along with the civilization that built it, the site was been rediscovered in 1699. Excavation began in the late 1800s and continued in fits and starts, until it was undertaken in earnest in 1962. It was completed in 1975.

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Thinking big

More details here.

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Merry Christmas, darling

Law firm offers divorce vouchers for Christmas

A London law firm has come up with a 'must have' Christmas present for unhappy couples - divorce gift vouchers.

Lloyd Platt & Co claims to have had hundreds of enquiries since putting the vouchers, which offer couples half-hour or hour-long advice sessions with a lawyer, on sale.

They cost from £125 plus VAT and the firm says it has already sold 54 in three weeks, reports the Daily Telegraph.

Senior partner Vanessa Lloyd Platt said: "Christmas can be a very stressful time for families as we have always seen by the huge increase of people seeking advice in January.

"The vouchers seem to appeal to an enormously wide spread spectrum of people looking for that 'must have' gift for Christmas."

For some reason, that story reminded me of this song.

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Hammer to fit, paint to match

The image and caption below come from a slideshow about building Boeing's new 787 at Fortune.com. (It's pretty interesting, if you like planes.)

Erik sent the picture with the comment, "Ah yes, a generous supply of hammers and tape as part of the toolkit... some things never change, even though this is from the assembly floor [...] for Boeing's new, carbon fiber covered 787 Dreamliner.

"I will always wonder exactly which parts have been whacked and taped into place."

AircraftToolKit.gif
Toolkits are assembled for every job at the Goodrich plant in Everett, Wash.

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Let's hope he's friendly

Check out the pictures of this beast that accompany the article.

Meet 'Giant George' the 7ft-long blue great dane who could be the world's tallest dog

Standing at nearly 43 inches tall from paw to shoulder and weighing a staggering 245lbs could this be the world's new tallest dog?

Pictured here in the parks of Tuscon, Arizona, George, a four-year-old blue great dane, looks more like a miniature horse than a dog.

The gentle giant, who measures 7ft 3ins from nose to tail, could be a prime contender to take the title from the former record holder, Gibson, a harlequin Great Dane who passed away from cancer last August.

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Tape measure master

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Small world

Woman Becomes World's Smallest Mom
Daughter Only 10 Inches Shorter Than New Mother

CINCINNATI -- A northern Kentucky woman has been declared the world's smallest mother, WLWT-TV in Cincinnati reported.

Stacey Herald's husband, Will, told the station that the Guinness Book of World Records has sent them a certificate informing the couple that Stacey is the smallest woman in the world to give birth.

Stacey is only 28 1/2 inches tall. Her youngest daughter, Makaia, was 18 inches long when she was born last winter.

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December 21, 2009

Not the Naughty List!

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It's a tough life in California

Tragic Shortage of Ugly Holiday Sweaters Threaten to Ruin Several Ironic Parties

The phenomenon of Ugly Sweater Parties is fast becoming a holiday staple, but the demand for hideous sweaters may have exceeded supply in one San Francisco neighborhood. Mission District shoppers looking for an acrylic sweater decorated with a giant glitter reindeer head and whimsical antler sleeves, or a sweatshirt with a puffy-painted sunglasses-wearing Santa decorating a palm tree in Los Angeles, were greeted by near empty racks at neighborhood stores yesterday.

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Outsourced

OutsourcedSanta.jpg

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Australian Grinch

Monash University public health expert Dr Nathan Grills says Santa Claus promotes obesity, speeding, drink-driving

WITH his portly belly and a fondness for a brandy-fuelled spin on the sleigh, Santa Claus is hardly the picture of health or safety.

Now his wild ways are catching up with him, with calls for a radical overhaul of his bad boy image. A study by Monash University public health expert Dr Nathan Grills found Santa could be promoting obesity, speeding and drink-driving, and damaging millions of lives.

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Workin' for food

I've never seen the movie Interstate 60, so this amusing clip was new to me.

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An offer that's easy to refue

Ohio eatery offers discount for sandwich tattoos

LAKEWOOD, Ohio – An Ohio restaurant is offering lifetime discounts to people willing to make an indelible display of their love for grilled cheese sandwiches.

Melt Bar & Grilled in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood specializes in spins on the grilled cheese and says anyone with a tattoo of the classic sandwich will get 25 percent off.

The restaurant has hooked up for the promotion with a tattoo shop, which is offering its own discount on grilled cheese designs. John Forgus of Voodoo Monkey Tattoo says he's been getting creative, giving one person a tattoo of Popeye holding a grilled cheese sandwich instead of a spinach can.

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December 19, 2009

Clever tricks

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If one is good, two must be better

I, Robot: Buy your own android double for Christmas

Stuck for gift ideas this Christmas? How about an android moulded in the exact likeness of your loved one? Well that is exactly what's on offer at a chain of department stores in Japan.

The mechanical doppelgangers will be on offer at Sogo, Seibu, and Robinson retailers for the princely sum of 20.1million yen or £139,000.

Electronics firm Kokoro will create two androids to look like their buyers. They already hire out a female robot called the Actroid-Der for special events [...]

The company will create the sitting robot out of silicone with the same face, body shape, hair and eyes of the recipient. Their speech will be based on recordings of the owner's voice.

The android's facial expressions and upper body will be modeled on the movements of the buyer.[...]

Still you will have to be quick if you want to snap one up as only two of the unique machines are on sale. Sogu will accept orders at its 28 outlets over the New Year and will sell them based on a lottery system if there is great demand.

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The only two tools you need

Now in a handy kit at RedneckToolkit.com. This appears to be a real business.

RedneckToolkit.jpg

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And in this corner...

Controversial Christmas Display, Jesus versus Santa

NIPOMO – One Nipomo man's holiday decorations has his neighbors banding together to get it removed.

The display is of Jesus and Santa, the two icons of Christmas. However, Jesus is holding a shotgun over the dead body of Santa Claus.

Neighbors want the display taken down citing that there are children in the neighborhood and they find it disturbing. "I know its freedom of speech, but it's pretty disturbing and there are lots of children, that's our main concern," says neighbor Susana Cruz.

The artist, Ron Lake says that it represents the commercialism of Christmas.

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Commemorating Tiger

The funniest thing I've seen yet on Tiger's kerfuffle.

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The McNuggetini

Mixing Meaty Cocktails With a Shot of Celebrity

JUDGMENT came swiftly from the dozen or so bloggers, friends and cocktail enthusiasts gathered at an East Village bar this month to sample the McNuggetini, a sweet-and-savory libation made from McDonald's menu items and vanilla vodka (hint: rim the glass with barbecue sauce).

"It's disgusting," said Aidan Flax-Clark, an editor from Brooklyn.

The honest appraisal didn't faze Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark, a pair of winsome drinking buddies from Los Angeles who have ridden the McNuggetini to cult status on the Internet and are now hoping for more. Like the archetypal 1950s housewives from whom they borrow their fashion sense, the two smiled gamely through the criticism.

"It's fine once you get past the barbecue sauce," Ms. Hardstark, 29, said of the drink, part chocolate shake, part Chicken McNugget. "It tastes just like a White Russian, but with meat."

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December 17, 2009

Crazy Canadians

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North versus South

This story comes from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Ladue is a St. Louis suburb.

SouthButt.jpgThe North Face sues Ladue's The South Butt

The North Face made good on its threat to sue The South Butt.

The international apparel maker filed a federal lawsuit in St. Louis late last week alleging trademark infringement by The South Butt, a Ladue-based company started by a teenager to make fun of The North Face name.

The South Butt does not appear to be backing down from the fight. "We embrace the litigation," said St. Louis attorney Al Watkins, who represents The South Butt. [...]

The South Butt was started in 2007 by Jimmy Winkelmann, now 18 and attending the University of Missouri at Columbia.

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Top 25 Most Ridiculous Uses of Photoshop

At buzzfeed. Here's Kim Kardashian before-n-after.

KardashiansCellulite.jpg

H.T. Danilo

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Bah, humbug indeed

Anglican 'Santa' barred from giving gifts to children at detainee centre

It started out as a well-intentioned attempt to bring festive cheer to some of society's most neglected members – the hundreds of children who each year are caught up in the UK's asylum system.

But when the Anglican church's leading expert on Father Christmas, dressed as St Nicholas himself, arrived with one of Britain's most distinguished clerics to distribute presents to children held at the Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre in Bedfordshire, things took a turn straight out of Dickens. [...]

In a red robe and long white beard, clutching a bishop's mitre and crook, St Nick – in real life, the Rev Canon James Rosenthal, a world authority on St Nicholas of Myra, the inspiration for Father Christmas – gently protested that he was not a security threat, but to no avail.

Then as St Nicholas, accompanied by the Rev Professor Nicholas Sagovsky, canon theologian at Westminster Abbey, attempted to bless the gifts, the increasingly angry security guards called the police. The resulting ill-tempered and surreal impasse between church and state was videotaped by asylum seeker support groups and could become an internet viral hit.

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A doggy surprise

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Unanswered questions

From Slate's Explainer - the list of unanswered questions is pretty long. The two below are ones I picked

The Questions We Never Answered in 2009
Digging through the bottom of the Explainer mailbag.

God knows there's been plenty to explain in 2009. We answered questions about a new president, a continuing economic crisis, a global flu pandemic, and the battle in Congress over health care reform. We also made time to figure out when drunks started wearing lampshades, how prostitutes pay their taxes, and how much cash a politician can cram into an Apple Jacks cereal box. [...]

As always, we're counting on you to tell us which of these unanswered questions most deserves its own column. The top vote-getter will be designated the Explainer Question of the Year for 2009, and a response will be posted in the next few weeks. [...]

# I have always wondered who played the characters of the Wicked Witch of the West's monkey army in Wizard of Oz. Were they the same little people who played the munchkins or am I missing something here? It's no big deal, but I have always wondered. [...]

# How many human female eggs would it take to make an omelette?

Via

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December 16, 2009

6 iPhones

Yann Tiersen, who wrote the score for the movie Amélie, plays one of the songs from it on 6 iPhones.

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It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing

Spanish fan calls police over saxophone band who were just not jazzy enough

Jazzman Larry Ochs has seen many things during 40 years playing his saxophone around the world but, until this week, nobody had ever called the police on him.

That changed on Monday night however, when's Spain's pistol-carrying Civil Guard police force descended on the Sigüenza Jazz festival to investigate allegations that Ochs's music was not, well, jazz.

Title ref

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Says it all

2Big2Fail.jpg
The original owner of the 2BG2FAIL license plate, Robert Kindler, a vice chairman at Morgan Stanley who is one of the firm's top mergers and acquisitions advisors, has a new license plate! [...]

Kindler [...] whose jokes on Wall Street are legendary – when he worked at JPMorgan, he had shirts made up mocking the firm's slogan: "One Firm. One Team. Bribe a Leader." — sent me his old 2BG2FAIL license plate in the mail. It came with a note saying that he had ordered the plate as a satirical reminder that "no one is too big to fail."

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Competition for the Christmas Truck

What beats a Christmas Truck in Des Moines? How about a Snow Globe Car in Houston. (Video at the link.)

Woman Makes Car Christmas Snow Globe

Rachelle Brown's car looks like a snow globe on four wheels. Not many people can see the lights on her home at the end of the road, so she takes the lights with her.

Brown said, "Not many people get to see our decorations, and we love our decorations, and so this way we go drive around and get to see everybody's joy by bringing the lights to the road."

It started with an inverter to power the lights and it grew. Now there are about 100 Christmas lights, just as many cotton balls and enough white stuff to cover a queen-sized bed. Even the window sills have a coat of snow.

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A funny goof at WalMart

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Second thoughts

Money Robbed From Pa. Bank Mailed Back

WEST NEWTON, Pa. -- Someone mailed an envelope filled with money to a western Pennsylvania bank that was robbed earlier this month, and the FBI suspects it was either the repentant robber or an acquaintance of his. [...]

The FBI won't say how much the robber took, but say the money in the envelope was about 80 percent of the amount stolen. It was separated into stacks of $5s, $10s, $20s and $100s.

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December 15, 2009

Hulkmania

A nicely done tilt-shift stop action clip of pro wrestling. I imagine it took a lot of work to put this clip together.

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Welcome to Hannibal

Home town of Samuel L. Clemens himself.

After car runs out of gas, Hannibal couple pushes it downhill ... into gas station

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- A Hannibal couple's car that ran out of gas and was being pushed to a gas station missed its mark at 7:15 p.m. Sunday and crashed into Abel's Quik Shop at 100 Shinn Lane.

There was damage to the front of the building and its glass door, according to Hannibal Police Capt. James Hark, but no one was hurt.

The 49 year-old man was inside the car attempting to steer and his 42-year-old wife was pushing when the car started down an incline to the business.

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The way a truck ought to look

ChristmasTruck.jpg
Like Isaac Newton and gravity, The Christmas Truck was the results of one man's sudden inspiration. Kris Marshall was hauling a generator and a few strands of Christmas lights to his church in a $50 used truck. He simply combined the two and The Christmas Truck was born.

It's amazingly nontechnical, it's literally just lights taped to a truck. According to Marshall "It's not very scientific, it's a hideous site in the daylight, there's black tape and wires in the daytime." But at night it's amazing. Marshall has used eight trucks and added dozens of strand since, though it's always a 2WD Chevy/GMC with a regular cab and eight-foot truck bed "the way a truck ought to look."

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Home sweet home

Octopus Makes Armor From Coconut Shells

SYDNEY -- Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelter -- unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal.

The scientists filmed the veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selecting halved coconut shells from the sea floor, emptying them out, carrying them under their bodies up to 65 feet (20 meters), and assembling two shells together to make a spherical hiding spot.

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Chistmas Light Hero

Christmas lights meet Guitar Hero.

Tip o' the hat to Scott

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Better late than never? (2)

Man, 93, Adopts 64-Year-Old Foster Son

A 93-year-old Iowa man who took care of his foster son for decades has officially adopted the 64-year-old foster as his own, KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, reported.

Steve Bevelheimer said he left his home when he was just 14 years old. His father was an alcoholic and his stepmother abused him, he said. [...]

After three nights in jail, the state took him to Lee and Ellen Bevelheimer's home.

Steve Bevelheimer never left. He became like a real son to the couple.

Lee Bevelheimer, whose wife died 20 years ago, said they decided to make an adoption official because "sooner or later, if you wait too long, they'll put you in a hole in the ground, and it's goodbye Charlie."

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December 14, 2009

Slow close up

An eagle owl landing - shot at 1000 fps with a Photron SA.

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A missed opportunity

Motorized Bar Stool From DUI Fetches $1,125

NEWARK, Ohio -- The bidding on eBay topped out at more than $1,000 for a motorized bar stool that an Ohio man rode right into an arrest for drunken driving.

The online auction ended Sunday night with a winning bid of $1,125 for the contraption Kile Wygle crashed in March in the central Ohio city of Newark. [...]

The bar stool was listed on eBay by the county, which had seized it and planned to use the sale proceeds toward back child support owed by Wygle.

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More Facebook funnies

A collection of The Funniest Facebook Snafus.

FacebookDrySpell.jpg

Via

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Mayhem in the market

Salami battle in supermarket leaves Germans in hospital
Two Germans needed hospital treatment after they fought a pitched battle in a supermarket with salamis used as clubs and a chunk of Parmesan cheese brandished like a dagger.

The fight took place in the western city of Aachen when a 74-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman both laid claim to a shopping trolley on Saturday.

As the pensioner wrestled the cart from the hands of his rival, her 24-year-old brother stepped forward and floored him with a punch.

Together with their 53-year-old mother, the brother and sister then took the trolley into the supermarket. But the OAP [old age pensioner - JdJ] came round and followed them to the cheese counter.

He clubbed the younger man with a salami as his mother tried to fend him off with a sharp 4lbs piece of Parmesan.

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Hanukkah Flash Mob

This was in Jerusalem last month.

And a Happy Hanukkah to Steve & family in San Diego.

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Our apartment was so small...

And only $857 per square foot.

Cozy-crazy couple makes tight all right in the city's tiniest studio

If they can make it there, they can make it anywhere.

Zaarath and Christopher Prokop -- and their two cats -- live in the smallest apartment in the city, a 175-square-foot "microstudio" in Morningside Heights the couple bought three months ago for $150,000.

At 14.9 feet long and 10 feet wide, it's about as narrow as a subway car and as claustrophobic as a jail cell. But to the Prokops, it's a castle.

TinyApartment.jpg

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December 12, 2009

Blow up your TV

Some good old boys having a big time with firearms. Check out the hog leg one of them uses.

Man Bets Against Saints, Gets TV Shot To Bits

NEW ORLEANS -- A Louisiana man who bet against the New Orleans Saints has lost his 60-inch high-definition, flat-screen TV to a backyard firing squad, but he also became an Internet star.

Wayne A. Spring told his friends that if New Orleans beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday, anyone who wanted could come to his house and shoot his television. [...]

Things were looking good until the Saints tied the game and sent it into overtime.

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The AMA on health care

The American Medical Association has weighed in on the new health care proposals.

  • Allergists voted to scratch it but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.
  • Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it.
  • Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve.
  • Obstetricians felt everyone's laboring under a misconception.
  • Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted.
  • Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!" while the Pediatricians said, "Oh, Grow up!"
  • Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness.
  • Radiologists could see right through it.
  • Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing.
  • Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow.
  • Plastic surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter..."
  • Podiatrists thought it was a step forward but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea.
  • Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas.
  • Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.
  • In the end, the Proctologists decided to leave the entire decision up to the a**holes in Washington.

H.T. Jeff

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Oddly specific

A whole site dedicated to all those funny pictures of signs.

OddlySpecific.jpg

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The next bubble

The Next Bubble: The Looming Crisis in Books About the Financial Crisis

Some time soon the market is going to peak, perhaps as early as this month, and then there is a terrible crash ahead. Which market? The next bubble, of course: Books about the financial crisis.

As the following graph shows, there has been an explosion in books published about the ongoing financial crisis. From just two books published per month back in June of 2008 we have spiked all the way to 20 financial crisis books per month, even touching 26 books per month briefly. (Note the S&P 500 over the same period is shown in red for comparison.)

Via

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Good advice

This would scare you out of year's growth.

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At least he didn't have to eat 'em

Grits are sort of the American equivalent to tofu but with a little more texture.

La. Woman Arrested In Grits Attack On Boyfriend

BOUTTE, La. -- A Louisiana woman is charged with getting back at her sleeping boyfriend after a fight by scalding him with a pot of boiling grits.

Sheriff's deputies say 44-year-old Carolyn Brown caused second-degree burns on the man's face and arms.

Brown was booked on a second-degree battery charge.

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December 09, 2009

Time-lapse weather

This is pretty cool - watch the storms roll off the west coast of Africa.

This visualization shows clouds from a simulation using the Goddard Earth Observing System Model, Verison 5 (GEOS-5.). The global atmospheric simulation running at 7 km per grid cell covered the period from August 17, 2009 at 21 zulu, through August 21, 2009 at 21 zulu, every 30 minutes.

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Just in time

Boise firefighters rescue boy whose tongue was stuck to metal pole

Memo to children — and adults for that matter — everywhere: Don't try to emulate Flick from "A Christmas Story." Ever. Your tongue will get stuck to a metal pole when the temperature is -2.

Boise fire officials were able to help a boy whose tongue was stuck to a metal fence pole outside the Fairmont pool near the corner of Milwaukee and Northview streets Tuesday morning. Firefighters didn't ask him his age but said he was probably 10.

The boy is OK, Boise Fire Capt. Bill Tinsley said Tuesday morning. [...]

"I've been doing this 20 some years and this is the first (tongue frozen to pole call) I've had," Tinsley said. "Poor guy."

A woman driving by the pool saw the boy standing there, figured out what was going on, and called 911 a short time after 8 a.m.

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Snow transportation

New:

Old (this clip is silent):

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Holy cow

Holy Cow! Calf Born With Cross Birth Mark

STERLING, Conn. -- A holy cow in Connecticut, perhaps? Or maybe a divine bovine?

A calf with a white marking on its forehead in the approximate shape of a cross was born last week at a dairy farm in Sterling, a small rustic town on the Rhode Island border.

Owner Brad Davis told WFSB-TV he thinks the marking may be a message from above, though he's still trying to figure out what that message might be.

The mostly brown calf is half Jersey, half Holstein. Neighborhood children have named it Moses.

Moses? Sounds like a teaching opportunity about the difference between the Old Testament and the New.

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New drug interdiction program

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You could have some fun with one of these

Robot dinosaur goes walkabout

A £60,000 remote-controlled dinosaur robot has gone missing from a Walking with Dinosaurs show in Mexico.

Walking with Dinosaurs show /PA pics

It was the first time an exhibit has been stolen from the show, which has toured worldwide and been seen by more than four million people.

"Only in Mexico! How it happened, we don't know. We don't even know if whoever stole it knows its value," said Karla Arroyo, a spokesman for the show.

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December 08, 2009

The rings of Earth

A speculation on what Earth would look like with rings. I wish the author had taken seasonal effects into account too, but all the views shown here seem to assume the Earth is at an equinox. Think what the ring shadow would look like (on half the globe) at a solstice.

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Ho, ho, no

Naked Santa statue not popular with Texas
A Texas homeowner who put a naked statue of Michelangelo's David dressed as Santa has been forced to give his nude Santa more clothes - after complaints from his neighbours.

Barry McBee, of Big Spring, Texas, insists he was just trying to raise a smile from passers-by when he added a Santa hat and white beard to the 5-foot-tall replica of the Renaissance statue.

Unfortunately, within a fairly short time, parents started calling Big Spring city officials complaining that their children were asking why Santa was naked.

'I just like to shock people to make them laugh, kind of break the monotony around here,' said McBee, who owns a wide variety of garden ornaments, mostly stored in his garage. 'I just bring them out occasionally.' [...]

Sjogren left McBee a voice mail last week, requesting that he put more clothes on David.

McBee relented after his friends teased him as well, putting a pair of black and white faux-velvet shorts, with a Christmas bow, on the statue.

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The Tetris God

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Mystery at Kmart

Kmart Workers Open Tin Can, Find $10,000

DES MOINES, Iowa -- When employees of a Des Moines Kmart store finally opened a red tin can that had been sitting on the customer service counter for four days, they got a $10,000 surprise. The can contained $10,380 in assorted bills. Employees called police after opening the can Friday. [...]

The store manager declined to identify himself and referred all questions to police. Telephone and e-mail messages left Monday for a Kmart spokeswoman were not immediately returned.

The investigation into where the money came from is continuing.

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Storm trooper search

StormTrooperSearch.jpg

Via

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I don't think I'd argue with him

Hulk wants his toilet seat back

LOS ANGELES - The drama surrounding Hulk Hogan's divorce continues. The former wrestler claims his now-ex-wife stripped the home the two shared.

In court documents, obtained by TMZ.com, Terry Bollea accuses Linda of pillaging a variety of valuable items from their Pinellas County home, including chandeliers, a tanning bed, a wine rack, fixtures, bathtubs, speakers, and most importantly, "the wooden antique toilet seat from the guest house."

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December 07, 2009

Home dentistry

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Make it so

Branson unveils spaceship that will launch civilians into heavens

Computerworld - The man behind Virgin Records and Virgin Atlantic Airways is launching a new venture that's out of this world.

Literally.

Virgin's founder, British billionaire Richard Branson, is throwing his entrepreneurial muscle behind a company that will offer private citizens the opportunity to travel into outer space -- for $200,000. Known as Virgin Galactic, the company plans to formally unveil the world's first manned commercial spaceship, SpaceShipTwo, in the Mojave Desert later today. [...]

The new spacecraft is set to be unveiled as darkness falls this evening at the Mojave Air and Spaceport, according to Virgin Galactic. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson are expected to christen the spacecraft the "Virgin Space Ship (VSS) Enterprise."

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Best Christmas decoration ever?

Rob sends this picture of The Best Christmas Decoration Ever.

BestXmasDecorationEver.jpg

Here is the story that went along with it.

Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after two days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever. Great stories. But two things made me take it down.

First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by.

Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn’t realize that it was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of the many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn’t take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard.

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How to dispose of evidence

Local Goodwill Receives a Pricey but Illegal Donation

Tis the season for giving, and as donations pour into thrift stores, a local Goodwill received a $1,500 donation. The only problem is, it's illegal in stores and on the street.

Imagine the surprise on an employees face who opens a water jug and finds one pound of marijuana. That's exactly what happened Friday at the Goodwill on Colgate Drive in Marietta.

A two gallon metal water jug was donated to Goodwill, but Marietta police say when employees opened it, they found four bags of marijuana that together equal about a pound.

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Doing the Mona Lisa

Danilo sends a couple of clips about unusual ways to copy the Mona Lisa. Here's a group who used 4,000 cups of coffee. A pretty low-res image, but still recognizable.

And here's someone else who used MS Paint.

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Is there a problem, officer?

Missing Aussie man found at pub

A TASMANIAN man at the centre of a two-day missing persons operation in New Zealand has been found drinking in a bar and oblivious to the search.

Michael Craig, known as Mick, had been last seen on security footage stumbling out of a South Island pub in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Mr Craig, who is in New Zealand for a fishing trip, was finally located at another bar, in nearby Christchurch, yesterday night unaware of any concern over his disappearance.

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December 06, 2009

Mechanical sculpture

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No tannenbaum, no tannenbaum

Poole — the town with a Christmas tree that you can wipe your feet on
The £14,000 Christmas "tree" is designed to stay upright in a strong wind

When is a Christmas tree not a Christmas tree? When it is a giant cone covered in what appears to be green doormats.

Shoppers stared in bemusement at the mysterious object that landed in a shopping precinct in Poole, Dorset, this week. Some compared it to a giant traffic cone, a witch's hat or a cheap special effect from an early episode of Doctor Who.

The 33ft structure turned out to be their Christmas tree, designed according to the principles of health and safety, circa 2009.

Thus it has no trunk so it won't blow over, no branches to break off and land on someone's head, no pine needles to poke a passer-by in the eye, no decorations for drunken teenagers to steal and no angel, presumably because it would need a dangerously long ladder to place it at the top.



There's a photo of this monstrosity at the link.

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Bad attitude

No prize in the neighborhood decorating contest for this one.

BadAttitudeSanta.jpg

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Just generally awesome

22-year-old's mayoral bid rests totally on awesomeness

Even low-budget mayoral candidates can be 'awesome.' Just ask him.

Among the 11 people who want to be mayor of Minneapolis are three people who claim Democratic Farmer-Labor allegiances, one Socialist Worker's Party candidate, a Libertarian and a man from something called the Edgertonite Party, which believes in communism, that the region should secede from the United States and that Laura Ingalls Wilder is God. [...]

Then there is the fledgling candidacy of one Joey Lombard, a 22-year-old unemployed musician who lists his "political party or principle" as "Is Awesome."

On his Facebook page, Lombard counsels that voters "just fill in 'Joey Lombard is Awesome' as your first choice for mayor, and leave the rest of the ballot blank, it's that simple!"

I called Joey Lombard and asked him what makes him awesome.

"Just in general," he said. "Everybody I know thinks so."

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They got it

See more funny videos and TBT Videos at Today's Big Thing.

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Crazy elf

He should have just filed a grievance.

'Elf' Jailed Over Dynamite Hoax On Ga. Mall Santa

MORROW, Ga. -- A man dressed as an elf is jailed after police in Georgia say he told a mall Santa that he was carrying dynamite.

Police say Southlake Mall in suburban Atlanta was evacuated but no explosives were found.

Morrow police arrested 45-year-old William C. Caldwell III, who was being held without bond Thursday in the Clayton County jail. He was not part of the mall's Christmas staff.

Police say Caldwell got in line Wednesday evening to have his picture taken with Santa Claus.

Police say when Caldwell reached the front of the line, he told Santa he had dynamite in his bag. Santa called mall security and Caldwell was arrested.

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December 03, 2009

Hi, Mom!

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Seven guides for online dating

The people at OkCupid.com have run a statistical analysis on the messages their members exchange and they find some interesting results.

Online Dating Advice: Exactly What To Say In A First Message

Ok, here's the experiment.

We analyzed over 500,000 first contacts on our dating site, OkCupid. Our program looked at keywords and phrases, how they affected reply rates, and what trends were statistically significant. The result: a set of rules for what you should and shouldn't say when introducing yourself online. This is the second post of our statistical investigation into the optimal online dating message; a note about how we protected user privacy is here.

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More better juxtaposition

Twitter-fed billboard backfires for local TV station when anchors appear next to gang rape reference

MOBILE, Ala. -- An attempt to add a live Twitter breaking news feed to a digital billboard in Mobile backfired for local television station WPMI-TV when the words "Three accused of gang rape" appeared next to smiling photos of 3 of the station's on-air personalities.

ThreeAccused.jpg

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Markets in everything (4)

Somali sea gangs lure investors at pirate lair

HARADHEERE, Somalia, Dec 1 (Reuters) - In Somalia's main pirate lair of Haradheere, the sea gangs have set up a cooperative to fund their hijackings offshore, a sort of stock exchange meets criminal syndicate. [...]

One wealthy former pirate named Mohammed took Reuters around the small facility and said it had proved to be an important way for the pirates to win support from the local community for their operations, despite the dangers involved.

"Four months ago, during the monsoon rains, we decided to set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 'maritime companies' and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking," Mohammed said.

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Matrix in Legos

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December 01, 2009

If at first you don't succeed

Man Robs 2nd Bank After Failing 1st Attempt

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia police and the FBI are looking for a man who robbed a bank less than two hours after a failed robbery attempt at another bank.

The FBI says the unidentified man entered a Sovereign Bank branch in South Philadelphia Monday morning, told an employee he had a gun and demanded cash. But the man ran off before getting any money.

About two hours later, the FBI says the same man entered a Wachovia Bank branch in the Juniata Park section of Philadelphia. He threatened a bank employee and ran off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

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Going West

A cleverly done stop-action clip from New Zealand.

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Mandatory gratuity

Couple Busted for Refusing to Pay Tip
Patrons claim service was so bad, they had to get napkins and silverware for themselves

If you’re frustrated by poor service at a restaurant, think twice before you decide to not tip. You may be in for a bit more than just a dirty look from the waiter.

"Nobody, nobody wants to be forced to pay a tip or be arrested for terrible service," Leslie Pope said when her happy hour ended in handcuffs.

Pope and John Wagner were hauled away by police and charged with theft for not paying the mandatory 18 percent gratuity totaling $16 after eating at the Lehigh Pub in Bethlehem, Pa. with six friends.

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Foodscapes

Carl Warner has a site featuring his photography of food. Click on the green Foodscapes box at left.

Foodscape.jpg

(It's a Flash site and it wants to set your browser window to your screen width -- not maximized -- so be warned.)

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Atonement

The wicked man flees though no one pursues...

Thief Gives Iowa College $500, Seeks Forgiveness

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- An anonymous letter with $500 and a plea for forgiveness sheds some light on a long-forgotten crime at an Iowa Catholic college.

The writer admitted stealing a portable radio from a teacher's lounge at Clarke College in Dubuque in 1955. The writer tried to make amends by slipping five $100 bills into the mailing sent last week to college president Sister Joanne Burrows.

It seeks forgiveness, saying the money was to be used by current faculty.

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Mega cute

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