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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Leopard Seal Tries to Feed Baby Penguin to Photog:

Sea Lion Dies of Sexual Exhaustion . . .

Sea lion dies of sex exhaustion

2009-07-22 09:19

Sea lion Mike has died of exhaustion after over-exerting himself during the mating season in an animal park in Nuremberg, Germany. (Nuernberg Tiergarten, AFP)

Berlin - A male sea lion from California called Mike has died of exhaustion after over-exerting himself during the mating season in an animal park in Nuremberg, Germany, the city said on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old father of 12 offspring through three different females - Farah, Tiffy and Soda - showed signs of tiredness at around midday on Monday, the southern city said in a statement.

"Mike could no longer get out of the pool and was brought ashore by staff. The extremely weakened animal was treated by a vet but died from acute heart failure around 15:30 (1330 GMT)," it said.

"Mating season is a common time for fatalities when bulls often stop eating for days to devote themselves fully to mating. For sea lion bulls with a harem this is the most exhausting time," it noted.

The statement added that Mike's offspring can be found in zoos as far afield as Berlin, Spain and the Netherlands, and that the 285kg animal was so "good natured" that people could touch him.

"He will be remembered fondly by visitors of the animal park for his appearances during shows in the dolphinarium where he had close contact with the dolphins," it said.

The record age for a sea lion in captivity is 30. In the wild they have a life expectancy of 17.

Best Zoo Advertisement . . .

Yes, I want to go to the Copenhagen, Denmark Zoo!

The Old Westerns . . . and their stars

Statistics for the past decade

McClatchy Washington Bureau

Posted on Tue, Dec. 29, 2009
A plethora of numbers traces a decade of change

last updated: December 30, 2009 06:39:17 PM

WASHINGTON — Numbers are one way to measure where you've been and where you're going. In the first decade of the 21st century, numbers show that
the U.S. has grown in population but that its per household earnings, adjusted for inflation, have declined. The trade deficit has increased with China, but declined with Europe. The number of Republican public officials has dropped and so has the average approval rating of the presidents. Exxon Mobil has replaced Microsoft as the most valuable U.S. company. The number of college students has dropped, and cell phone use has skyrocketed.

Here are other statistics that trace the changes that took place in the last 10 years. Constant dollar calculations were made with the Bureau of
Labor Statistics' inflation calculator, found at


Population 279,295,000 (1999); 308,150,087 (2009)

Hispanic percentage 11.7 (1999); 15.1 (2007)

Black percentage 13 (1999); 12.3 percent (2008)

Source: U.S. Census Bureau


Registered voters 183 million (1998); 189 million (2008)

Republican governors 31 (1999); 22 (2009)

Democratic governors 17 (1999); 28 (2009)

Republican state legislators 3,442 (1999); 3,234 (2009)

Democratic state legislators 3,882 (1999); 4,073 (2009)

Female members of U.S. House of Representatives 60 (1999); 78 (2009)

Female members of the U.S. Senate 9 (1999); 17 (2009)

Openly gay U.S. members of Congress 3 (1999); 3 (2009)

Millionaires in the Senate 30 (1999); 67 (2009)

Millionaires in the House 66 (1999); 170 (2009)

Lobbyists registered with Congress 13,233 (1999); 13,426 (2009)

Members of Congress with Twitter accounts 0 (1999; Twitter was created
in 2006); 210 (2009)

Average presidential approval rating (percentage) 57 (1999); 49.8 (Dec. 10, 2009)

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Roll Call, Committee for Responsive Government, Center for Responsive Politics.


Number of federal executive branch employees 1.778 million (1999); 1.977 million (2009, estimate)

Total federal debt $5.606 trillion (1999); $12.9 trillion (2009, estimate)

Total federal budget $1.733 trillion (1999); $2.932 trillion (2009)

Gross tax collection by Internal Revenue Service $1.769 trillion (1999);
$2.745 trillion (2008)

Top individual tax rate: 39.6 percent (1999); 35 percent (2008)

Income subject to top tax rate $283,150 (1999); $372,950 (2008) In 1999 constant dollars $283,150 (1999); $288,586 (2008)

Number of taxpayers paying top marginal tax rate 864,129 (1999); 1,060,714 (2007)

Sources: Office of Management and Budget, Internal Revenue Service,
Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator


Dow Jones industrial average 11,497.12 (Dec. 31, 1999); 10,547.83 (Dec. 28)

U.S. work force 139 million (1999); 155 million (2009)

People over 65 still working 4 million (1999); 6 million (2008)

Households receiving Social Security 27.1 million (1999); 30.6 million (2008)

Number of two-income households 37.5 million (1999); 39.3 million (2008)

Unemployment rate 4.2 percent (1999); 10 percent (November 2009)

Jobless workers 5.7 million (1999); 15.4 million (November 2009)

Unemployed workers not included in jobless number because they haven't looked for work in the past month 1.1 million (1999); 2.3 million
(November 2009)

Median household income $44,900 (1999); $50,303 (2008) In 1999 constant dollars $44,900 (1999); $38,924 (2008)

Median sales price for existing homes $138,000 (1999); $172,700 (2009) In constant 1999 dollars $138,000 (1999); $133,000 (2009)

Median sales price for new homes $161,000 (1999); $212,000 (2009) In constant 1999 dollars $161,000 (1999); $163,265 (2009)

Number of foreclosure proceedings 450,000 (1999); 2 million (2009, estimate)

Banks seized by Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. 8 (1999); 133 (through Dec. 11, 2009)

People living below the poverty line 32.8 million in 1999; 39.8 million in 2008

Poverty line for a family of four $17,029 (1999); $22,025 (2008) In constant 1999 dollars $17,029 (1999); $17,043 (2008)

Federal minimum wage (hourly) $5.15 (1999); $7.25 (2009) In constant 1999 dollars $5.15 (1999); $5.58 (1999)

Value of a dollar $1 (1999); 77 cents (2009, in constant 1999 dollars)

Top CEO salary $569.8 million (1999, Michael Eisner, Disney Corp.); $556.9 million (2009, Lawrence Ellison, Oracle Corp.; $428.9 million in
constant 1999 dollars)

Average CEO compensation for Fortune 500 companies $8.4 million (1999, then the Fortune 800); $11.4 million (2009; $8.78 million in constant 1999 dollars)

Market capitalization of Exxon Mobil $281.6 billion (2000); $353.5 billion (Oct. 23, 2009) In constant 2000 dollars $281.6 billion (2000); $281.4 billion (Oct. 23, 2009)

Market capitalization of Microsoft $281.9 billion (2000); $250.2 billion (Oct. 23, 2009) In constant 2000 dollars $281.9 billion (2000); $199.2
billion (Oct. 23, 2009)

Estimated worth of Bill Gates, the richest American $85 billion (1999); $50 billion (2009, $38.5 billion in constant 1999 dollars)

Value of U.S. exports $965.88 billion (1999); $1.83 trillion (2008) In constant 1999 dollars $965.88 billion (1999); $1.41 trillion (2008)

Value of U.S. imports $1.23 trillion (1999); $2.52 trillion (2008) In constant 1999 dollars $1.23 trillion (1999); $1.95 trillion (2008)

U.S. trade deficit $265.09 billion (1999); $695.94 billion (2008) In constant 1999 dollars $265.09 billion (1999); $538.51 billion (2008)

Total trade with China (imports and exports) $94.9 billion (1999); $296.24 billion (through October 2009) In constant 1999 dollars $94.9 billion (1999); $228.14 billion (through October 2009)

Trade deficit with China $68.7 billion (1999); $188.5 billion (through October 2009) In constant 1999 dollars $68.7 billion (1999); $145.17
billion (through October 2009)

Total trade with European Union (exports and imports) $354.8 billion (1999); $453.9 billion (through October 2009) In constant 1999 dollars
$354.8 billion (1999); $349.56 billion (through October 2009)

Trade deficit with EU $45.2 billion (1999); $47.7 billion (through October 2009) In constant 1999 dollars $45.2 billion (1999); $36.73 billion (through October 2009)

U.S. car and light truck sales 16.89 million (1999); 9.376 million (through November 2009)

U.S. automakers' market share 69 percent (1999); 44.6 percent (through November 2009)

Number of workers making cars 169,800 (1999); 88,900 (October 2009)

Auto manufacturing jobs by state Michigan: 94,200 (1999); 31,100 (October 2009) Ohio: 39,700 (1999); 14,600 (October 2009) Kentucky:19,800 (1999); 8,600 (October 2009) Indiana: 9,000 (1999); 10,900 (October 2009) Texas: 5,800 (1999); 9,300 (October 2009) Alabama: 2,400 (1999); 11,000 (October 2009)

Sources: Interactive Data Real-Time Services, Bureau of Labor
Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau, National Association of Realtors,
Mortgage Bankers Association, Forbes magazine, National Automobile
Dealers Association, J.D. Power and Associates,;
Stern School of Business, New York University, Federal Deposit Insurance
Corp., the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation


Percentage of households with land-line telephones 96 (1998); 91 (2005)

Percentage of households with cell phones 36 (1998); 71 (2005)

Factory sales of cell phones 30,667 (1999); 90,698 (2009)

Average annual household cell-service expense $210 (2001); $606 (2007) In constant 2001 dollars $210 (2001); $518

Number of text messages sent in December 2.1 billion (2003); 110.4 billion (2008)

Total Internet retail sales $5 billion (fourth quarter 1999); $32 billion (third quarter 2009)

In constant 1999 dollars $5 billion (fourth quarter 1999); $25 billion (third quarter 2009)

Number of homes with cable TV 69 million (2000); 62 million (2006)

Number of homes with satellite TV systems 11.7 million (2000); 28 million (2007)

Average monthly cost for basic cable $28.92 (1999); $44.28 (2008) In constant 1999 dollars $28.92 (1999); $34.26 (2008)

Number of AOL subscribers 18.6 million (first quarter 2000); 5.4 million (third quarter 2009)

Number of digital TVs and monitors sold 121 (1999); 35,414 (2009)

Average price of a digital monitor $2,443 (1999); $688 (2009) In constant 1999 dollars $2,443 (1999); $530 (2009)

Number of personal computers sold 14,900 (1999); 27,945 (2009)

Average price of a personal computer $1,100 (1999); $590 (2009) In constant 1999 dollars $1,100 (1999); $454 (2009)

Number of laptops sold 7,248 (2003); 18,738 (2009)

Average price of a laptop $1,155 (2003); $623 (2009) In constant 2003 dollars $1,155 (2003); $530 (2009)

Number of satellites in orbit 623 (1999); 1,002 (2009)

Number of countries with manned space programs 2 (1999); 3 (2009)

Minutes of Skype Internet phone calls 0 (1999; Skype was founded in 2003); 3.1 billion (third quarter 2009)

Number of contributors to Wikipedia 0 (1999; Wikipedia was created in 2001); 85,000 (2009)

Number of entries on Wikipedia 0 (1999); 14 million in 260 languages (3,120,633 in English) (2009)

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, AOL, Consumer Electronics Association,
Harvard Center for Astrophysics, Skype, Wikipedia, Bureau of Labor
Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator.


Average annual estimated CO2 emissions worldwide (tons) 23.4 billion (1999); 29.9 billion (2007)

United States: 5.97 billion (1999); 6.01 billion (2007) China: 2.91 billion (1999); 6.28 billion (2007) Europe: 4.42 billion (1999); 4.69
billion (2007)

Average U.S. vehicle gasoline consumption in miles per gallon 27.5
(1999); 27.5 (2009)

U.S. oil consumption (barrels per day) 19.519 million (1999); 19.498 million (2008)

China oil consumption (barrels per day) 4.364 million (1999); 7.831 million (2008)

Europe oil consumption (barrels per day) 16.03 million (1999); 16.147 million (2008)

Species protected under the Endangered Species Act 1,189 (1999); 1,322 (2009)

Number of people in the world without safe drinking water 1.1 billion (2000); 884 million (2009)

Number of days of unsafe air in Los Angeles 152 (1999); 112 (2009)

Area of the Arctic ice cap (square miles) 2.48 million (September 1999); 2.07 million (September 2009)

Sources: Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency


Number of active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) 1.1 million (1999); 1.4 million (2009)

Defense budget (including supplementals) $270.5 billion (fiscal year 1999); $680 billion (fiscal year 2010) In constant 1999 dollars $270.5 billion (fiscal year 1999); $524 billion (fiscal year 2010)

Percentage of new recruits who graduated high school 98 (1999); 73.8 (2009)

Number of troops based in Germany 65,540 (1999); 53,960 (2009)

Number of troops based in South Korea 36,000 (1999); 28,500 (2009)

Authorized strength of U.S. military Reserves (National Guard and
Reserves) 877,000 (1999); 847,900 (2009)

Number of troops based in the country with the largest U.S. military presence 65,540 (1999, Germany); 115,000 (November 2009, Iraq)

Minimum pay for a major in the Army $31,349 (1999); $48,322 (2009) In constant 1999 dollars $31,349 (1999); $37,214 (2009)

Minimum pay for a private first class in the Army $13,417 (1999); $19,796 (2009) In constant 1999 dollars $13,417 (1999); $15,245 (2009)

Number of Air Force bases in the United States 72 (1999); 68 (2009)

Number of U.S. military commands 8 (1999); 10 (2009)

Number of U.S. aircraft carriers 12 (1999); 11 (2009)

Russian military spending in constant 2005 dollars $14.04 billion (1999); $38.23 billion (2008)

Chinese military spending in constant 2005 dollars $21.62 billion (1999); $63.4 billion (2008)

U.S. arms sales to developing countries (constant 2007 dollars) $22.67 billion (2000); $12.16 billion (2007)

U.S. market share of arms sales (percentage) 59 (2000); 34 (2007)

China's market share of arms sales (percentage) 1.8 (2000); 9 (2007)

Sources: Department of Defense, Military Pay Chart, Stockholm
International Peace Research Institute, Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
Inflation Calculator


Percentage of science and engineering Ph.D.s granted by U.S. universities that went to foreigners 33 (1999); 42 (2009)

Number of private high school students 1.278 million (1999); 1.319 million (2008)

Number of public high school students 14.638 million (1999); 15.397 million (2008)

National high school dropout rate 5 percent (1999); 3.5 percent (2007)

Number of students enrolled in four-year colleges, full and part time 11 million (1999); 9.6 million (2008)

Number of full-time students at four-year colleges 7.913 million (1999); 7.981 million (2008)

Number of African-Americans enrolled in four-year colleges 1.4 million (1999); 1 million (2008)

Number of students enrolled in two-year colleges 4.201 million (1999);
3.397 million (2008)

Enrollment in traditional black colleges 270,641 (fall 1999); 312,248 (fall 2008)

Salary and benefits of the highest paid college president $878,222 (1999, Harry C. Payne, Williams College) $1,598,247 (2008, Shirley Ann
Jackson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; in constant 1999 dollars, $1,236,713)

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, National Center for Education Statistics,
United Negro College Fund, Chronicle of Higher Education, Bureau of
Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator.


Average U.S. life expectancy 76.7 (1999); 77.9 (2007)

Men: 73.9 (1999); 75.3 (2007) Women: 79.4 (1999); 80.4 (2007)

U.S. infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births) 7.1 (1999); 6.77 (2007)

Global child mortality rate (deaths before age 5 per 1,000 live births) 87 (1999); 65 (2009)

Life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa (years) 46 (1999); 51 (2009)

Number of new AIDS cases in the U.S. 41,356 (1999); 37,041 (2007)

Number of AIDS deaths in U.S. 17,982 (1999); 14,561 (2007)

Diagnosed diabetics in the United States 11.1 million (1999); 17.9 million (2009)

Number of births to unmarried women in the U.S. 1.307 million (1999);
1.642 million (2006)

Number of Trojan condoms shipped in the United States 340.992 million (1999); 552.672 million (2009)

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF, Diabetes
Association of Greater Cleveland, Trojan.


Average movie ticket price $5.08 (1999); $7.46 (2009) In constant 1999 dollars $5.08 (1999); $5.75 (2009)

Percentage of U.S. households that watched the top-rated television show 18.6 (1999, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"); 14.4 (2009, "American Idol")

Number of Roman Catholics 28 million (1999); 23.9 million (2007)

Number of Jews 2 million (1999); 1.7 million (2007)

Number of American homes without indoor plumbing 1.436 million (1999);
1.259 million (2007)

States that have legalized medical marijuana 5 (1999); 13 (2009)

Registered marijuana users in California 0 (1999); 37,236 (2009)

Number of states that permit same-sex marriage 0 (1999); 6 (2009)

U.S. prison inmates 2,026,596 (1999); 2,304,115 (2009)

Number of homicides in the United States 15,530 (1999); 16,272 (2008)

Number of U.S. executions 98 (1999); 51 (as of Dec. 14, 2009)

Sources:, Nielsen, U.S. Census Bureau, Marijuana Policy
Project, Department of Justice, FBI, Death Penalty Information Center.


Number of countries on which the U.S. has imposed sanctions 9 (1999); 12 (2009)

Total U.N. peacekeeping budget $1.3 billion (1999); $7.8 billion (2009) In constant 1999 dollars $1.3 billion (1999); $6.01 billion (2009)

Number of U.N. peacekeepers worldwide 18,460 (1999); 117,000 (2009)

Number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank 177,000 (1999); 300,000 (2009, estimated)

Population of Russia 146,670,000 (2000); 140,367,000 (2010 estimate)

Sources: U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations, U.N. Department of
Economic and Social Affairs, B'Tselem, Israel Central Bureau of
Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator.

McClatchy Newspapers 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Opera in the Mercado×A2C3 ציה.html

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in Alaska

Christmas trees show up with live 'ornaments'

Out-of-state frogs make it to Alaska; officials urge residents to kill them

Image: Pacific Chorus frog
This Pacific Chorus frog was found in a Christmas tree being sold in Anchorage, Alaska.
Stephen E. Clark / Alaska Department of Fish & Game via AP

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Forget the plastic icicles, brightly colored balls and tinsel.

Some Christmas trees for sale in the Anchorage area are adorned with something truly different this holiday season — live Pacific Chorus frogs.

While the small frogs are very cute, measuring an inch or two with lovely moss-colored green sides and black spots, state officials are asking residents to practice some tough love. If you find a Christmas tree frog, kill it.

So far, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, has received reports of two amphibious hitchhikers. One of them was hiding out on a holiday tree from Washington state that was sold this week at an Anchorage nursery. The frog ended up in the biology department at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

"They identified it as a Pacific Chorus frog," said Tracey Gotthardt, a zoologist with the university's Alaska Natural Heritage Program. The frogs are found from British Columbia to southern Baja California, but are not native to Alaska.

"No one is in panic mode over this but we are taking it seriously," said Jennifer Yuhas, spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

That's because the cute frogs — whose joyful chorus is often used for movie soundtracks — could be carrying some ugly viruses and funguses, including chytrid fungus that is devastating amphibians around the world.

"Our immediate concern is that if a frog does hop out of a tree and they decide to keep it as a pet over the winter, they must keep it forever. We don't want them being released into the wild," Gotthardt said.

Yuhas said it's not that Alaskans are heartless, but it's a matter of protecting our own.

"I know they are awful cute but pets or small children are known to put things in their mouths," she said.

Two methods of disposal cited
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is suggesting two methods of dispatch: death by a dab of Orajel applied to the head (the tooth desensitizer apparently knocks them out for good), or, putting the little critter in a plastic bag and placing it in the freezer.

With temperatures hovering around zero Friday morning, Doug Warner, a spokesman for the state Division of Agriculture, had another suggestion for disposing of the frogs.

"Put it in a jar and put it out on the front porch and that way you won't have to put it in with your Christmas cookies," he said.

Tammy Davis, leader of Fish and Game's Invasive Species Program, said the Alaska Natural Heritage Program will accept live frogs as well. People finding frogs should call 877-INVASIVE.

The important thing is that people don't keep the Christmas frogs, she said.

"That is the whole thing about invasive species," Davis said. "We didn't think zebra mussels would live in the Great Lakes."

Warner said the frog invasion highlights a potentially serious problem in Alaska. While the state requires that trees be inspected for any pests prior to shipment, it is Scrooge-like when dedicating resources to make sure the trees arrive pest-free.

Unlike some states, Alaska also doesn't require that imported trees be mechanically shaken and it doesn't have a shaker of its own.

Davis said she's got doubts about tree-shaking, anyway.

"To my knowledge these trees are bound. Even shaking it, if there is some little critter out there in the branches it is not going to be shaken out," she said. "I have a hard time believing someone is shaking every Christmas tree."

Yuhas also questioned the tree-shaking method for preventing invasive species from finding a new home in Alaska.

"I don't know much about the standards of tree shaking," Yuhas said. "How hard do they shake a tree. Can a frog hang on to a branch?"

But the bomb squad dogs tore him apart

Robber relies on 'bangers'

A Chinese robber threatened to blow up a restaurant with sausages, disguised as explosives, strapped to his body.

Sausage 'bomb' /China Quirky News

The 23-year-old man ate a meal at the restaurant, in Benxi, Heilongjang province, before grabbing the owner's daughter.

He put a knife to her neck and demanded cash from the till - but the restaurateur and other diners overpowered him.

They called the police - but when officers arrived the man, named He, jumped to his feet and revealed his 'explosive' belt.

Police managed to restrain He and took him outside to an open space - and called bomb disposal experts, reports the Huashang Morning Post.

"When they experts arrived, they laughed out loud as they quickly realised the explosives were actually sausages," said a police spokesman.

He said he staged the robbery because he was depressed after splitting up with his girlfriend. He told police he had been "inspired" by the shape of the sausages.

Exciting Indiana . . .

Man builds stagecoach from millions of toothpicks

It took thousands of hours and bucket-loads of patience but a model maker created a life-size stagecoach from 1.5million toothpicks.

Toothpick stagecoach
'Mr Toothpick' Terry Woodling's toothpick stagecoach: 15 years well-spent

Terry Woodling spent 15 years creating the Wells Fargo replica using wooden sticks and glue.

Known as Mr Toothpick, he made models for years but this was his most ambitious project.

It cost him more than £700 but the model was bought for £80,000 by Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

‘I never kept track of the hours I spent working on it, only the years,’ said the 72-year-old from Warsaw, Indiana.

Sit, boy. Boy . . . are you sitting!

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

By Mail Foreign Service
Last updated at 1:57 AM on 24th December 2009

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.


'Giant George' and owner Dave Nasser share a couch together: The four-year-old blue great dane, weighs a staggering 245lbs and measures almost 43ins at the shoulder

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.

Now George's owners, David and Christine Nasser, are awaiting confirmation from Guinness World Records to see if he has achieved the lofty heights.

'He's 42.625 inches at the shoulder,' said David. 'He's very very unique.'

According to David, George consumes 110lbs of food every month, and sleeps alone in his own Queen Size Bed.

David and Christine raised George from when he was 7 weeks old, but never expected him to grow so big.


Magnificent: George measures more than 7ft from nose to tail and tucks away 110lbs of food every month


With size comes problems: The giant great dane barely fits in the back of his owner's SUV

The couple eventually had to move their aptly named dog out of their king sized bed, when he grew too large for the three of them to share the same sheets.

Dr. William Wallace of the Buena Pet Clinic in Tucson, who witnessed the documentation necessary for the Guinness record, said: 'In my 45 years of experience working with giant breed dogs, without question, George is the tallest dog I have ever seen.'

David is currently rushing to get that necessary documentation into Guinness as other dog owners are coming forth claiming the record.

As they wait for the results to come through, George is busy occupying himself with his new found stardom and even has a Facebook fan page and Twitter accounts for his adorning fans.

It appears as though the sky's the limit for this mammoth hound.


Paws for thought: George's giant feet dwarf his owner Dave Nassar's hand. Last August the worldís tallest dog, Gibson, a harlequin Great Dane, passed away from cancer

Animals on Aisle 5

Was that Rudolph who just crashed into Palm Harbor Publix?

Suncoast Animal League

The animal was taken to Brooker Creek Preserve north of the shopping center, where its legs were untaped, eyes uncovered and he was released.


Published: December 23, 2009

Updated: 12/23/2009 03:48 pm

PALM HARBOR - Oh, dear.

Rudolph made an early visit to his neighborhood grocery this afternoon, barging in the front door and creating quite the ruckus inside the store.

"I was standing by the pharmacy and it came flying in. I thought it was a dog at first,'' said Steve Jarrett, the Publix store manager at the Shoppes at Boot Ranch, 500 East Lake Road. "But then I noticed it was a reindeer or a deer.''

The male deer, sporting a small set of antlers and weighing about 150 pounds, ran between the checkout lines as holiday shoppers scrambled. He slipped on the tile floor and crashed into a display featuring – get this – pet toys.

Managers and workers and whoever else could help converged on the deer, putting a Publix apron over his eyes and taping the front feet so he could not do any more damage.

"If we had let it loose, it would have been out of control,'' Jarrett said.

So with a deer – red nose or not -- on the floor in a grocery right before Christmas, word travels fast. Soon kids and adults alike were coming from all directions of the shopping center to see the spectacle. Cell phone cameras and videos were everywhere.

"Everybody in the whole plaza came over,'' Jarrett said. "Kids were yelling at us to 'get off Rudolph, you're hurting Rudolph.'''

Marie Blaine, who works at My Pet Animal Hospital in the same shopping complex, saw the deer as she was walking to a drugstore a few doors down.

"I turned the corner and there was a deer in front of Radio Shack heading my way," Blaine said. She said she could almost see the headline" "Two days before Christmas, Marie gets run over by a deer in front of work.''

Still, that didn't deter her. As the deer rammed into various glass store doors, she went back inside the veterinarian's office to grab a slip leash. She envisioned somehow getting the leash on the animal and then coaxing him safely into one of the exam rooms.

The deer had other ideas.

"Everybody was running at him,'' she said of a crowd who had gathered to try to help before the animal went into the store. "He was so startled and so disoriented that he just ran and ended up in Publix.''

"It was amazing,'' Jarrett said. "We have a lot of people telling us that we should put a sign on the door that Rudolph visited here today.''

Rudolph's visit didn't last for long however – about 20 to 25 minutes.

Rick Chaboudy of the Suncoast Animal League responded to the scene. He said the deer appeared to be about a year and a half old and had been struck by a car just north of the shopping center prior to the Publix incident.

Between the collision with the car and it being breeding season, when deer can exhibit wacky behavior, this male was way out of sorts, Chaboudy said. Not to mention way out of place.

The deer seemed to be OK other than some minor head trauma, Chaboudy said. The animal was taken to Brooker Creek Preserve north of the shopping center, where its legs were untaped, eyes uncovered and he was released.

"He got right up and off he went,'' Chaboudy said.

After all, Rudolph has a busy night on tap Thursday.

The Dog Droppings, however, are perfectly safe . . .

Http _xF8FF__xF8FF_www.joshreads.com_xF8FF_images_xF8FF_09_xF8FF_12_xF8FF_dtm_3

OK to bicycle nude . . . but wear a helmet!

Nude Kiwi cyclists warned over helmets

CYCLING starkers might be okay in New Zealand - but just make sure the cops don't catch you without a helmet.

Two Kiwi men wearing nothing but their birthday suits have been issued with a warning for riding without protective head gear on a jaunt around a sleepy New Zealand seaside town.

Senior Constable Cathy Duder was patrolling Whangamata, a beach resort in the North Island, on a quiet Monday night when she came across the two nude men, both in their early 20s.

"They were more shocked than I was, trying to cover up their bits and pieces with their hands," Senior Constable Duder told AAP.

When asked for an explanation, the pair replied that "they wanted to experience total freedom".

"And I said to them 'the way you're heading, you're going to experience total confinement'," the officer said, laughing.

She said the men appeared decidedly sober.

"They didn't seem drunk at all. That's what worried me," she joked.

Senior Constable Duder issued them with a stern warning for not wearing helmets and then sent them directly home.

"I suggested that they stay on their bicycles and not get off because they were managing to discretely hide their bits and pieces," she said of the men she described as "very fit".

When delivering the helmet warning, she said, she couldn't help but be reminded of a deadpan joke that recently catapaulted another Kiwi cop into internet super-stardom. Auckland police dog handler Guy Baldwin was captured on camera interviewing a shifty late-night carjacker who claimed he was merely out to buy a meat pie at the local servo.

Baldwin's replied: "Three o'clock in the morning, that pie has probably been in the warming drawer for about 12 hours.

It will be thermo-nuclear - always blow on the pie. Safer communities together," he said, using the long-standing New Zealand Police slogan.

The joke was sadly lost on the young offender, but not others, it seems. The clip has been viewed more than 600,000 times and the phrase "Always blow on the pie" has given rise to rap songs, music re-mixes, a South Park-style homage and a T-shirt range.

Sometimes It’s Better If You Just Give Up

Reported By: trademark Published: December 22, 2009

Sometimes It

Ho Ho Holdup

Santa robs Hermitage bank to 'pay elves'

Posted: Dec 22, 2009 8:23 AM PST

Local News

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.

He demanded money and told tellers if they put dye bombs with the money he'd come back "kill everyone."

He took the money and fled, telling employees and customers in the bank he needed the money because "Santa needed to pay his elves."

The amount of money stolen was not determined.

According to witnesses, the suspect was clumsy and seemed jovial.

No further information was released.

Anyone recognizing the suspect is urged to call Crime Stoppers at 74-CRIME.

A Chinese Christmas . . .

1000 beer bottles christmas tree

December 18th 2009



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

First things first . . .

Man With 5-Inch Knife Stuck in Chest Orders Coffee

Published: December 22, 2009

Filed at 9:28 p.m. ET

WARREN, Mich. (AP) -- A 52-year-old man complained only about the cold weather before walking into a diner with a five-inch knife sticking out of his chest. The unnamed man called a Warren 911 operator on Sunday night to ask that an ambulance be sent to Bray's, an eatery in neighboring Hazel Park. He said he had been stabbed during a robbery attempt half a mile away, then walked to the restaurant and called 911 from a pay phone.

On a recording of the call, the man gives a vague description of his attacker before saying, ''I'm gonna sit down at Bray's 'cause they got a chair and it's cold out here.''

Restaurant employee George Mirdita told The Detroit News the man calmly ordered coffee.

Police said Tuesday that the man is recovering.

Betcha he didn't tip either . . .

Memphis man stiffs cab driver $3,000 after ride from Miami

Lucilo Perez

Lucilo Perez

A Memphis man is to appear in court next month to face charges that he stiffed a Florida cab driver of $3,000 after a 1,600-mile cab ride from Miami.

Lucilo Perez, 52, was charged with theft of services over $1,000. Bond was set at $7,500.

He is to return to court with an attorney on Jan. 5.

Memphis police were called to 147 Stonewall last Thursday by a cab driver for the Flamingo Taxi Co. who said he had driven Perez all the way from Florida, only to learn his fare couldn't come up with the cash.

Perez had told company officials that his wife would pay the $3,000 fare when he arrived on Stonewall, according to the charges. But, when they got here, he told the driver that his wife didn't have the money.

If you can smuggle it here, you can smuggle it anywhere!

Queens man, Chee Chaw, busted for allegedly smuggling 'lucky' bony-tongued Arowana fish into U.S.

Wednesday, December 23rd 2009, 4:00 AM

Authorities charged a Queens energy salesman with smuggling 16 treasured and rare bony-tongued Arowana fish from Malaysia.
Authorities charged a Queens energy salesman with smuggling 16 treasured and rare bony-tongued Arowana fish from Malaysia.

The supposed good luck powers of the bony-tongued Arowana fish didn't work for a Queens man who was charged with smuggling the creatures into New York in his suitcase.

Chee Chaw packed his suitcase with 16 of the rare, valuable fish in water-filled plastic bags when he left Malaysia for Kennedy Airport last April, court papers said.

Authorities say Chaw, 47, bought the fish - which fetch thousands of dollars on the black market - while visiting relatives.

His suitcase got misplaced during a transfer in Hong Kong and arrived in New York on a later Cathay Pacific Flight. Chaw arranged to have it delivered to his home in Elmhurst.

A routine check of the bag revealed the unusual contents - and the feds dispatched a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent dressed up like a UPS worker to Chaw's house.

After Chaw confirmed the bag was his, Agent Paul Chapelle told him the fish found inside cannot be imported without a permit.

"Chaw stated that he thought it was 'bull----' that the fish are protected by the government when 'there are thousands of them,'" Chapelle noted in the arrest warrant.

"Chaw stated that he is a lover of fish, brought the fish into the United States for personal use, and did not plan to sell them."

Sources said that Arowanas - belligerent fish that resemble a dragon in flight - sell for $5,000 to $8,000 in Chinatown and predominantly Asian neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn.

Fans believe the metallic-looking creature "brings instant wealth to those who have him close by," said expert Lillian Too.

Agents recovered four more Arowanas during a search of the alleged smuggler's home. Several of the original 16 died in federal custody.

After an investigation, Chaw was arrested Tuesday and released on a $100,000 bond signed by his boss at Great Eastern Energy, a natural gas supplier in Brooklyn, where he works as a salesman.

He faces up to 33 months in prison. He was arrested once before for smuggling the same fish and paid an $850 fine, said his lawyer, Deron Castro.

Roadkill on the menu . . .

Roadkill served in R.I. clubs

Published: Dec. 23, 2009 at 3:46 PM

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.

Officials said the list was started 35 years ago to prevent the meat from the approximately 1,000 deer killed on the state's roads each year from going to waste. Vendors are allowed to retrieve carcasses that have been beside the road for less than five hours, depending on the season and temperature.

Bourque said he received a recent call in the early morning about a young deer reported dead on the side of Route 95. The chef said he dressed and butchered the animal before putting it in the freezer with other meat bound

for the club's meals.

Best man robs DJ at wedding reception . . .

Police: Best man pulls gun, robs DJ at Houston wedding reception

by Jeff McShan / 11 News

Posted on December 22, 2009 at 10:41 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 23 at 11:22 AM


HOUSTON – Cops hear a lot of crazy stories, but this one may take the cake – the wedding cake, to be precise.

Houston police have been trying to track down a wedding party member who allegedly pulled a gun at a reception and started shooting.

It happened back on October 24th, after Nadia Clay and Terrance Simmons tied the knot.

Everything went off without a hitch, police said, until the best man decided to rob the DJ.

"He steps back, takes it [the gun] and then shoots it in the air," said Kendrick Shepherd, the wedding DJ. "And then comes and pushes me, grabs it and runs out the door and I’m like, did that just happen?"

Shepherd said the suspect grabbed an expensive crystal decanter full of liquor and fled.

Nearly two months later, police haven’t been able to find the gun-toting best man.

They have wedding photos of the suspect whose name, according to the newlyweds, is Johnny Smith.

But the groom told investigators he barely knows the guy. He said he was a last-minute replacement for his cousin, who backed out.

"He says he met him at a basketball court playing basketball," said HPD Detective Jeff Brieden.

Police don’t believe Simmons, and neither does the victim.

"Come on, they know him. They’ve got to," Shepherd said. "You going to let anyone be in your wedding as a best man?"

The couple was forced to testify before a grand jury, but they stuck to their story.

If you recognize the not-so-good best man, please call the police.

Man Accused of Stealing Blow Up Doll

Man accused of stealing blow-up doll

Published: Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 10:22 p.m.

A man accused of shoplifting a blow-up doll from an adult store on Monday was charged with armed robbery in connection with an incident with another patron inside an arcade booth at the store a few hours later.

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office also accused the man of instigating a disturbance at a convenience store, causing a wreck and changing into a woman's jogging suit while stealing a gun. His girlfriend was arrested on allegations that she helped him hide from deputies.

Brett Aaron Sanford, 26, was arrested after he was found hiding under the mattress at the home where he and his girlfriend live with her mother at 13525 N.E. County Road 1471 in Waldo.

Sanford's problems began Monday when he allegedly stole a blow-up doll from the Theater X Adult Super Center at 6810 N.E. U.S. 301 in Orange Heights. Deputies said the theft was discovered later, after Sanford had returned to the store at about 2 p.m.

During his second visit to Theater X, witnesses said Sanford was inside an arcade booth mumbling to himself. Another man offered to help and stepped into the booth to take a closer look at the dollar-bill device, deputies reported. The man told deputies Sanford asked him "Do you see this?" and held up an item that looked like a gun.

The man claimed he did not have any money but offered to go out to his car and get some. Sanford responded by saying, "I don't want to hear that," the Sheriff's Office reported.

The two men got into a wrestling match for control of the gun, the man said, while the store manager called 911.

Sanford was seen leaving in a gray Ford Focus that had significant body damage.

While deputies were responding to Theater X, a disturbance was reported at Tim's Fast Nickel Store at 9905 S.E. Hawthorne Road. Sheriff's spokesman Art Forgey said the instigator in the disturbance later was identified as Sanford, but charges had not been filed against him in connection with that incident by late Tuesday.

Putnam County deputies were called to assist in the search for Sanford and helped Alachua County deputies find his car, which appeared to have been abandoned at 4200 N.E. County Road 234.

Forgey said the car apparently had side-swiped a trailer being pulled by another driver. Following the crash, witnesses said a man matching Sanford's description fled into a nearby wooded area. The incident was under investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol on Tuesday.

Inside the car, deputies reported finding Sanford's driver's license as well as a blow-up doll that Forgey said apparently had been shoplifted during Sanford's first visit to Theater X.

Late Monday, deputies were working a burglary in the area where Sanford's car was found. Forgey said based on evidence at the scene, it appeared Sanford might have changed into a woman's jogging suit and stolen a .22-caliber pistol.

Sanford was arrested Tuesday after being discovered beneath a bedroom mattress by a Sheriff's Office canine named Razor. Sanford's girlfriend, Karilynn Ruth Yoder, 27, was arrested for resisting an officer after she allegedly denied that Sanford was inside the home.

Sanford and Yoder were being held at the Alachua County jail late Tuesday evening.

Kentucky father, son attempt to trade lizard for booze

Kentucky father, son attempt to trade stolen lizard for booze

by Rachel Nix

Posted on December 22, 2009 at 8:43 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 23 at 6:40 PM


(WHAS11) - Two men in eastern Kentucky are facing charges after stealing an exotic pet and trying to trade him for booze.

Last week, David Martt, 44, and his son Harley, 18, walked down a road in Morehead, Kentucky and what transpired over the next couple hours coast them their freedom and has a reptile fighting to save his tail.

The Martts walked into 1st Street Liquors. "They was [sic] just really walking up and down the aisles searching for stuff," said Stella Kegley of 1st Street Liquors. Kegley says after the Martts spent 10 minutes in her store she says they were, “out to steal some liquor".

When they didn't get what they wanted, they went next door. After striking out again, they went a little further, to Eagle’s Pet Landing Hospital.

As Harley Martt made an appointment at the counter with his real name, phone number and address, authorities say his father, David, reached into the aquarium and grabbed “Big”, a 2-year-old bearded dragon.

After putting him under his jacket, David Martt went back up to the counter and talked for a few more minutes before both Martts left.

They then headed to J&B Gun and Archery. Jeff Furnish, of J&B Gun and Archery, says he has seen people try to pawn all kinds of things, but never a lizard.

“So he opened up his jacket. He had the lizard underneath his coat and I said nah, not interested in the iguana," said Furnish.
After the Martts and Big left the gun store, they tried again to swap the reptile for alcohol or anything else.

After failing again, they went home where they met Officer Mike Curtis, of the Morehead Police Department.

“We went and spoke with them for a few minutes and they came across with the lizard after a little bit of discussion," said Curtis, “they had him under a couch in the living room."

Curtis said the Martts really provided no excuse or explanation for their actions.

Harley Martt is out of jail but his father David remains in the Rowan County Detention Center on a $500 bond, about twice the value of "Big" the lizard

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Forming of a Nation . . .

coverby lyle e davis

I find it fascinating to go exploring into the past . . . tracking down and reading the memories of those who have gone before us.

Letters from the pioneers give us a much clearer picture of the sights, sounds, smells, and life in “the good old days.”

Jumping around, from territory to territory, from state to state, from the United States, as it was then known, to uncharted territory, makes for some fascinating reading:

from a young lady, Blanche P. Waldo, in Minnehaha County, South Dakota:

SIOUX FALLS, Sept. 12, 1878

This September afternoon, Marion, my eldest sister, and Jennie, my younger, sit on the summit of one of the beautiful bluffs of Sioux Falls, a delightful little village in the south-eastern part of Dakota territory. As I gaze around me from this height of 200 feet, or perhaps more, I see our beautiful Sioux River winding its way through a lovely valley, and tumbling over mighty rocks, forming a foaming cataract. Oh! how beautiful the large island, covered with verdure is on this barren prairie. This island contains nine acres of ground, and its principal trees are elm and oak. Sioux Falls is a thriving little place, and as we sit here, we can see the carpenters at work putting up the frames of business houses as well as residences, and the masons venering them with brick. The largest hotel of the place is a large venered building. I smile when I think of the surprise Eastern people manifest as they see the beautiful residences, elegantly furnished of some of our citizens. Before us lies the railroad which was finished through here last month, and on which they are now at work. A great many strangers are coming in every day, some seeking fortunes, and others pleasures; among the latter are six gentlemen, friends of ours, from Evansville, Wisconsin, our former place of residence, surprise us by stepping in upon us unexpectedly. We had a very pleasant visit with them. One mile beyond the depot is the cemetery, on the hillside; it is a beautiful yet lovely spot, and a cherished place for us, because alas! one year ago, we laid all that remained of our beautiful and dearly beloved sister there, and only last month a little niece; just a little while and we too may be laid there. Our home is just at the foot of the bluff, and Marion and husband think it is a pretty place. Now I am no story writer, my friends, but please accept my poor description of my western home.

Blanche P. Waldo

Printed in the Evansville Review, September 25, 1878, p. 3, col. 4, Evansville, Wisconsin

There's more! Read all about it at:

Tough Duty


This account is one of a kind. A powerful one that touches your heart. Tough duty then as it is now.

by Lt Col George Goodson,
USMC (Ret)

In my 76th year, the events of my life appear to me, from time to time, as a series of vignettes. Some were significant; most were trivial...

War is the seminal event in the life of everyone that has endured it. Though I fought in Korea and the Dominican Republic and was wounded there, Vietnam was my war.

Now 42 years have passed and, thankfully, I rarely think of those days in Cambodia, Laos, and the panhandle of North Vietnam where small teams of Americans and Montangards fought much larger elements of the North Vietnamese Army. Instead I see vignettes: some exotic, some mundane:

•The smell of Nuc Mam.
•The heat, dust, and humidity.
•The blue exhaust of cycles clogging the streets.
•Elephants moving silently through the tall grass.
•Hard eyes behind the servile smiles of the villagers.
•Standing on a mountain in Laos and hearing a tiger roar.
•A young girl squeezing my hand as my medic delivered her baby.
•The flowing Ao Dais of the young women biking down Tran Hung Dao.
•My two years as Casualty Notification Officer in North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland.

It was late 1967. I had just returned after 18 months in Vietnam. Casualties were increasing. I moved my family from Indianapolis to Norfolk, rented a house, enrolled my children in their fifth or sixth new school, and bought a second car.

A week later, I put on my uniform and drove 10 miles to Little Creek, Virginia. I hesitated before entering my new office. Appearance is important to career Marines. I was no longer, if ever, a poster Marine. I had returned from my third tour in Vietnam only 30 days before. At 5'9", I now weighed 128 pounds - 37 pounds below my normal weight. My uniforms fit ludicrously, my skin was yellow from malaria medication, and I think I had a twitch or two.

I straightened my shoulders, walked into the office, looked at the nameplate on a Staff Sergeant's desk and said, "Sergeant Jolly, I'm Lieutenant Colonel Goodson. Here are my orders and my Qualification Jacket."

Sergeant Jolly stood, looked carefully at me, took my orders, stuck out his hand; we shook and he asked, "How long were you there, Colonel?" I replied "18 months this time." Jolly breathed, “You must be a slow learner Colonel." I smiled.

Jolly said, "Colonel, I'll show you to your office and bring in the Sergeant Major.” I said, "No, let's just go straight to his office." Jolly nodded, hesitated, and lowered his voice, "Colonel, the Sergeant Major. He's been in this job two years. He's packed pretty tight. I'm worried about him." I nodded.

Jolly escorted me into the Sergeant Major's office. "Sergeant Major, this is Colonel Goodson, the new Commanding Office.” The Sergeant Major stood, extended his hand and said, "Good to see you again, Colonel." I responded, "Hello Walt, how are you?" Jolly looked at me, raised an eyebrow, walked out, and closed the door.

I sat down with the Sergeant Major. We had the obligatory cup of coffee and talked about mutual acquaintances. Walt's stress was palpable. Finally, I said, "Walt, what the hell's wrong?" He turned his chair, looked out the window and said, "George, you're going to wish you were back in Nam before you leave here. I've been in the Marine Corps since 1939. I was in the Pacific 36 months, Korea for 14 months, and Vietnam for 12 months... Now I come here to bury these kids. I'm putting my letter in. I can't take it anymore." I said, "OK Walt. If that's what you want, I'll endorse your request for retirement and do what I can to push it through Headquarters Marine Corps."

Sergeant Major Walt Xxxxx retired 12 weeks later. He had been a good Marine for 28 years, but he had seen too much death and too much suffering. He was used up.

Over the next 16 months, I made 28 death notifications, conducted 28 military funerals, and made 30 notifications to the families of Marines that were severely wounded or missing in action. Most of the details of those casualty notifications have now, thankfully, faded from memory. Four, however, remain.

To read the rest of this story, go here: