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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You know that teaching someone to fish is better than serving one up to them.
Feeding the hungry is wonderful and important, but teaching them a skill that can keep them from ever being hungry again is far better.
You've got what it takes to do that now -- maybe for quite a few people -- and they're willing to learn.
Sit them down and teach them what they need to know.
Some of our readers today have been in:
Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Coffs Harbor, New South Wales, Australia
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Quebec, Quebec, Canada
Caracas, Distrito Federal, Venezuela
Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador
Oldenburg, Niedersachsen, Germany
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Kuala, Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia
Leipzig, Sachsen, Germany
London, England, United Kingdom
Skopje, Aracinovo, Macedonia
Silkeborg, Arhus, Denmark
Waalwijk, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands

as well as Scotland, and the United States in such cities as Smithfield, Durham, Camp LeJeune, Gaffney  and more

Today is Sunday, July 4, the 185th day of 2010.
There are 180 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
International Drive Your Studebaker Day

Today happens to be the United States 234th Birthday

Happy Birthday America


Little-Known Fourth of July Facts

The Fourth of July celebrates some aspect of American Independence.
Know which?



Facts About The Declaration of Independence

Five/Ten Facts About The Declaration of Independence

The original Declaration of Independence
To help you celebrate the Fourth of July, here is a list of 5 Obscure Facts About the Declaration of Independence, namely:
  • There was no "United States" in the Declaration of Independence
  • Jefferson was upset that slavery was edited out
  • The youngest signer was 26-year-old Edward Rutledge and the oldest was 70-year-old Benjamin Franklin.
  • Richard Stockton was the only one that ever recanted his oath (after he was captured by the British)
  • Bargain hunter bought an old copy of the Declaration of Independence at a flea market for $4, and sold it for more than $8 millions.
And here are 5 more facts:
Thomas Jefferson: Called Americans "Subjects"
Historians have always wondered about a smear under the word "citizens" in an early draft of the Declaration of Independence. They've wondered if Jefferson had written "our fellow patriots" or "our fellow residents." Using a spectral imaging technology, researchers revealed the truth: Jefferson had a Freudian slip and wrote "subjects" instead of citizens.
"Seldom can we re-create a moment in history in such a dramatic and living way," Library of Congress preservation director Dianne van der Reyden said at Friday's announcement of the discovery.
"It's almost like we can see him write 'subjects' and then quickly decide that's not what he wanted to say at all, that he didn't even want a record of it," she said. "Really, it sends chills down the spine." (Source)
The Original Declaration of Independence: Faded and Rolled Up
You'd think that the original Declaration of Independence - the very document that founded the United States of America - would be treated with respect. Well, it is now. It is stored in special, bullet-proof encasement made of titanium with gold plated frames and filled with inert argon gas to prevent decomposition, but that wasn't the case right after it was signed (see the faded and beat up copy above).
According to historian Pauline Maier, who wrote American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, explains:
It wasn't taken care of very well in the early years. It was sort of rolled up, carried around with the Second Continental Congress. And then the State Department kept it, and if people came, they'd pull it out and show it to them. None of this, you know, enormous--What do they call it?--at the Library of Congress--argon caskets, you know, these heavy metal, glass cases that have gas in them without oxygen so that the documents don't decompose. And the Library of Congress keeps them sort of in a refrigerator. It's the most precious documents--none of that.
I mean, they just pulled it out and showed it to you, the real thing. And then they got tired of pulling it out, so they pasted it up on a wall in what was then the patent office, and there it remained for 30 years near a very bright window. It faded. And they spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out what they could do with it. Modern preservation techniques are really a quite recent development. (Source)
Handprint on the Declaration of Independence
Indeed, there is a handprint in the bottom left corner of the Declaration of Independence. How it got there isn't known, but historians think that it was because it was handled so casually in the early days of the Republic.
You can download a high-resolution image of the Declaration of Independence at Archives.org's Charters of Freedom: Here
It Was Not Written On Paper
It wasn't written on hemp either, despite the insistence of your pot-smoking friend. The Declaration of Independence was written on parchment, which is basically treated animal skin (typically sheepskin). It was inked with iron gall ink, which is made by combining fermented oak marble galls with ferrous sulfate.
The Back of the Declaration of Independence
Yes, there actually was something written in the back of the Declaration of Independence. But instead of an invisible map like in the Nicholas Cage blockbuster movie National Treasure, it only said "Original Declaration of Independence, dated 4th July 1776" at the bottom of the document, upside down.

Patriotic song's surprising inspiration

Each year, the Fourth of July is celebrated with a tune that really isn't about America.  

Non Sequitur

Non Sequitur

American Psychosis

What happens to a society that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion?

The United States, locked in the kind of twilight disconnect that grips dying empires, is a country entranced by illusions. It spends its emotional and intellectual energy on the trivial and the absurd. It is captivated by the hollow stagecraft of celebrity culture as the walls crumble.

Spy case offers Cold War nostalgia

The FBI sting on an alleged Russian spy ring takes Americans to a bygone era, one veteran reporter says.

Charmed Four Times

Once, twice, three times a Texas lottery millionaire - now it's four. Joan R. Ginther, a native of Bishop, Texas, made her fourth appearance on Monday at lottery headquarters in Austin to collect seven figures, lottery officials said. Ginther, 63, won $10 million, the top prize in Texas Lottery's $140,000,000 Extreme Payout scratch-off ticket she bought for $50, pushing her total wins to $20.4 million.

It was her third time to win on a ticket from a Bishop store, and second one at the Times Market there. "This is a very lucky store," said Bob Solis, store manager. Store owner Sun Bae is the one with the lucky hand, Solis said. "Sun sold both the winning tickets to the woman."

The store, which sells about 1,000 lottery tickets daily, now is eligible to receive a bonus of $10,000 for the second time. In 1993 Ginther first won a $5.4 million share of an $11 million Lotto Texas jackpot for a ticket bought in Bishop. She opted for annual payments of $270,000 (excluding tax charges) for 19 years. The cost of her lottery ticket could not be determined.

On year 13, while visiting Bishop to care for her father in 2006, Ginther won the top prize of $2 million in the Holiday Millionaire game thanks to a $30 scratch-off ticket. Ginther requested a lump-sum payment of about $1.5 million, after the 25 percent taken by the commission for taxes. In 2008, she collected a $3 million prize in Millions and Millions, another scratch-off, at the same Times Market where she won this week. That scratch-off ticket's cost also was not reported.

Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
Master the art of the barbecue with these tips from professional cooks and food writers.  

World Cup Soccer

Argentina's spirited coach has words with German fans after his team's humbling loss. 
Bad behavior by soccer players leaves a stain on the sport, a writer says. 

Tibetans May Represent Fastest Case of Human Evolution

Tibetan monks
Tibetans live at altitudes of 13,000 feet, breathing air that has 40 percent less oxygen than is available at sea level, yet suffer very little mountain sickness. The reason, according to a team of biologists in China, is human evolution, in what may be the most recent and fastest instance detected so far. [...]
If confirmed, this would be the most recent known example of human evolutionary change. Until now, the most recent such change was the spread of lactose tolerance — the ability to digest milk in adulthood — among northern Europeans about 7,500 years ago. But archaeologists say that the Tibetan plateau was inhabited much earlier than 3,000 years ago and that the geneticists’ date is incorrect.

Buddha says ...

Vietnamese flock to see termite 'Buddha'
Thousands of Vietnamese have converged on a rubber farm after the discovery of a termite's nest resembling the image of Buddha. "Police and local authorities asked them to leave but others keep coming," said Vo Van Cuong, spokesman for the Rubber Company of Ben Cat.

He said thousands of people from southern Binh Duong province and neighboring areas had rushed to the forest site since Wednesday.

The 40cm tall nest resembles Buddha sitting in meditation. "According to rumors, it's the sacred land of Buddhism, and they have come here to pray," Mr Cuong said.

"I think it is a very good omen presented to us from above and that's why many people have traveled a great distance to come here and worship the Buddha," a local resident said.

A River Runs Through It

...it runs through the gardens at Keukenhof in the Netherlands.
(original unknown)

Wave Rock

Wave Rock, near the wheatbelt town of Hyden, is one of Australia's most recognisable landforms. It derives its name from the fact that it is shaped like a tall breaking ocean wave, believed to have formed over 2700 million years ago.

Ten Indoor Plants That Can Eat Insects

Insect eating plants are mostly found in moist and nutrient deficient soil. These plants want to fulfill their need of nutrient so they lure, catch, kill and digest insects.

Some plants are cold-blooded killers. They trick, they seduce, they trap and they devour - all without a smidgen of conscience.

Now that's just Bizarre

Now that's just Bizarre
The woman who only ever eats Monster Munch

Night after night Debbie Taylor lovingly prepares dinner for her family then, as they tuck into their meal she reaches into the kitchen cupboard for a packet of Monster Munch.

Bizarre as it sounds, Debbie, 30, has eaten nothing but crisps for 10 years, and for the past two, beef flavor Monster Munch have been every meal.

Friends and family have tried to persuade her to have a more varied diet, but Debbie insists she can’t eat anything else. Meals out, Christmas dinner, barbecues, even eating the food she cooks for her family are all off-limits.

Debbie takes crisps to ­restaurants. And when her boyfriend Gerald ­Whittington, 55, took Debbie and her son Luke, 10, for a holiday in Spain, he even had to pack a separate suitcase for her Monster Munch.

Hotel chambermaid Debbie from Harlow in Essex, eats six small packets a day or two large bags. She says: “I know it must seem strange but it works for me – I love Monster Munch!

“Gerald and my family have tried everything to get me to eat other food but I’m so used to crisps now there is no way I could tuck into a pizza or fish and chips.” Despite her cheery attitude, Debbie’s severely restricted diet is likely to be an after-effect of the eating disorders that plagued her from a young age.

Roommate settles dispute with antler stabbing

Two Anchorage roommates argued over property and one chose to settle it with antlers. Anchorage Police received a call late Thursday afternoon after shots were heard in the 2400 block of Douglas Street in west Anchorage.

Once police arrived at the scene, they found a person who had been stabbed with antlers.

"As their argument escalated, one of the men picked up a set of antlers off the wall and struck, gored the other man with the antlers," said Lt. Dave Parker of the Anchorage Police Department. Police arrested 29-year-old Jesse Harris on charges of felony assault with a deadly weapon.

Police are not releasing the victim's name and are classifying the dispute as domestic violence. Harris' roommate will need stitches for the stab wounds.

Cat litter box used as a weapon in fight over prescription drugs

A spat over prescription drugs turned ugly early on Wednesday when Rachel Switzer lost a messy cat fight with her live-in girlfriend, authorities said. Enraged that Switzer had refused to give her Roxicodone pills, Kristin Stiehler, 23, banged on the front door of their shared home and broke through the door of their bedroom, where Switzer was hiding, New Port Richey police said.

Then, police said, Stiehler picked up a cat litter box and attacked. By the time the fight was over, Switzer was sprawled on the bed with cat feces on her face, hair and ears and cat litter coating her hair, police said.

Switzer told police she had blacked out after being slapped and choked. The couple have lived together for six months at 5344 James St.

Police arrested Stiehler and charged her with domestic battery by strangulation. More charges may follow after authorities investigate the Roxicodone pills at issue in the argument, Capt. Jeffrey Harrington said. Stiehler is being held at the Land O'Lakes jail without bail.

The Swedish Chef makes Popcorn Shrimp

The Swedish Chef makes Popcorn Shrimp

Bison meat recalled after link to E. coli

A Colorado company has recalled 66,000 pounds of bison meat sold nationwide after federal agriculture officials linked it to E. coli sicknesses.



Five habits that will keep you broke

You can lose thousands of dollars by only paying the minimum on your credit card.  

The Lost Children of Hamelin

You’ve heard the story of the Pied Piper, who lured away all the children of Hamelin because the town wouldn’t pay him for getting rid of the rats. There’s a real story behind the legend, and the town of Hamelin, Germany lives with the events of June 26th, 1284. Contemporary accounts are lost, but writings from the 14th century apparently reference early reports. What really happened to the children of Hamelin? Were they recruited for some crusade? Did they die of the plague? Did they just run away? Or could they have been victims of mass hysteria?
Another episode that shares features with the Pied Piper events took place in 1237 in the town of Erfurt, 271km south-east of Hamelin. A group of children marched in a dancing procession towards Arnstadt, 15km to the south, where they were said to have collapsed with exhaustion. Unlike the children of Hamelin, the Erfurt youngsters were rescued by their parents, who took them back to their homes. Still, some of them were said either to have died or remained afflicted with a permanent tremor.
The events at Erfurt are considered to be one of the first manifestations of the mediƦval phenomenon known as the Dancing Mania (see FT:203:30–34), usually interpreted as a form of mass hysteria related to religious fervour. Dancing Mania was reportedly spread by “the sight of sufferers, like a demoniacal epidemic, over the whole of Germany and the neighbouring countries to the northwest”. [2] Those affected were described as unable to control their movements, or to stop their endless dance, and many were said to have died of exhaustion. As with Hamelin, we have an image of a crowd of children led away by music, perhaps to their deaths.
An article at Fortean Times lays out several possibilities for the disappearance of 130 children from Hamelin. Full Story

Eight Historic Symbols That Mean The Opposite of What You Think

The symbolism of historic icons usually gets simplified over the years, and often co-opted by groups with their own agendas. Along the way, the actual history gets lost, which is the point of this Cracked article 8 Historic Symbols That Mean The Opposite of What You Think. Take, for example, the inverted cross that is sometimes used to symbolize satanism.
If those Satanists had paid attention in Sunday school, they would probably realize that the inverted cross is actually the personal trademark of Saint Peter, the first Pope, and one of the most revered figures in catholic lore. When Peter was martyred by crucifixion he was said to have requested to be crucified upside down because he didn’t feel worthy of dying the same way as jesus. As a result, many dyed-in-the-wool catholics actually consider the inverted cross to be a more acceptable thing to attach to your tacky jewelry than a regular right-way-up one.
And there are seven other symbols that might surprise you.

The Worlds Most Extensive Collection of Historical Weaponry

Home to close to 30,000 pieces of historical weaponry, the Zeughaus Museum in Graz Austria represents the area’s rich military heritage. The museum’s collection includes guns, swords, and armor, including this complete set of armor for a horse.



President Obama Announces $2 Billion For Solar Power

President Barack Obama announced Saturday the awarding of nearly $2 billion for new solar plants that he said will create thousands of jobs and increase the country's use of renewable energy sources.

It's Only The Environment After All

It's Only The Environment After All
The owners of the ship say it can process up to 21 million gallons of oil-fouled water a day. 
It's Not Like We Don't Have Another One

Scientists say oil now in Gulf food chain

Not that it's any of a surprise.

From McClatchy:
Scientists with the University of Southern Mississippi and Tulane University in New Orleans have found droplets of oil in the larvae of blue crabs and fiddler crabs sampled from Louisiana to Pensacola, Fla. The news comes as blobs of oil and tar continue to wash ashore in Mississippi in patches, with crews in chartreuse vests out cleaning beaches all along the coast on Thursday, and as state and federal fisheries from Louisiana to Florida are closed by the BP oil disaster.

"I think we will see this enter the food chain in a lot of ways — for plankton feeders, like menhaden, they are going to just actively take it in," said Harriet Perry, director of the Center for Fisheries Research and Development at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory. "Fish are going to feed on (crab larvae). We have also just started seeing it on the fins of small, larval fish — their fins were encased in oil. That limits their mobility, so that makes them easy prey for other species. The oil's going to get into the food chain in a lot of ways."

Deepwater Horizon: New NASA images from space show oil invading Louisiana wetlands

Images released today from NASA: "Multiple cameras on JPL's MISR instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft were used to create two unique views of oil moving into Louisiana's coastal wetlands."
The left-hand image contains data from MISR's vertical-viewing camera. It is shown in near-true color, except that data from the instrument's near-infrared band, where vegetation appears bright, have been blended with the instrument's green band to enhance the appearance of vegetation. The Mississippi River delta is located below the image center. The slick is seen approaching the delta from the lower right, and filaments of oil are also apparent farther to the north (towards the top). The oil is made visible by sun reflecting off the sea surface at the same angle from which the instrument is viewing it, a phenomenon known as sunglint. Oil makes the surface look brighter under these viewing conditions than it would if no oil were present. However, other factors can also cause enhanced glint, such as reduced surface wind speed. To separate glint patterns due to oil from these other factors, additional information from MISR's cameras is used in the right-hand image.

It's The Economy Stupid

It's The Economy Stupid
Long Term Jobless Wait For Congressional Action
The long-term unemployed have less to celebrate this July 4th weekend with a benefits extension still in limbo on Capitol hill.

Age bias complaints surge in weak economy
After getting laid off from her job at a private school, Joyce Kalivas-Griffin was heartened to see virtually the same job open up at another school in her area.
Broom Hilda

Record low mortgage rates ignored

Rates have sunk to levels not seen in more than 50 years, yet surprisingly few are buying. 

Old technology foils governor's wage order

A top California official says he can't comply with Arnold Schwarzenegger's contested payroll plan.  

Broom Hilda

Broom Hilda

Soothe a sunburn

Most of the best treatments for a painful sunburn can be found in your kitchen.  

Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints
A recent survey rated these stores best, based on price, service, and selection.

Texting while driving

Half of moms admit to texting while driving, with their kids in the car
A recent report showed adults are just as likely as teens to text message while driving. 
That may not be all that surprising, but a new report is: it shows that half of mothers text message while driving should be.

Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning

Would you recognize that someone is drowning if you saw them? Real-life drowning looks nothing like the way Hollywood depicts drowning: the yelling, the arm-waving, the violent panic.
The Instinctive Drowning Response – so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC).
Here is a list of signs that indicate the instinctive drowning response.



Animal News

Colorado man reunited with missing pup
After two months of not knowing where his dog Kia was, Josh Mcvey has finally found her.

Pet Rooster Falls Foul Of Legal System In Michigan
Beaker the rooster can't beat the man. The northern Michigan fowl whose address has been the focus of at least two court challenges is passing on the chance to crow before the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Zoo to bring dead animals back to life, 'Jurassic Park'-style

A zoo in San Diego, California, is planning to use the frozen cells of dead animals in an attempt to bring endangered species back from the brink of extinction. Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and San Diego Zoo have collaborated to create stem cells from the skin cells of a dead drill monkey, an endangered monkey native to Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Cameroon.

The scientists, speaking at the International Society for Stem Cell Research in San Francisco, hope that the "induced pluripotent stem" (iPS) cells thus created can then be biochemically persuaded into becoming sperm and egg cells. They can then be implanted into the womb of another monkey, and will hopefully form a viable fetus. San Diego Zoo's Frozen Zoo project has taken samples from 8,400 individuals of more than 800 species. It is hoped that these samples can be used in IVF programs to improve captive breeding projects.

Jeane Loring, one of the Scripps researchers, said: "You could actually breed from animals that are dead." The team used genetically engineered viruses fitted with specific human genes to reprogram adult skin cells into becoming iPS cells. The process worked in drill monkeys, but failed in white rhinoceros cells, implying that it may be necessary to use species-specific versions of the cells in some cases.

There are also concerns that the reprogramming process can cause the iPS cells to become cancerous. However, other researchers have developed techniques for creating iPS cells without leaving the reprogrammed genes in the new cells. While the process is being used on endangered species, it would be technically possible to use it for extinct animals, using surrogate mothers from other species.



Schoolboys 'ran £8m online fraud network'

Two British schoolboys have been arrested after police uncovered a huge online crime forum. Details of more than 65,000 bank accounts hacked from personal computers worldwide were allegedly sold on an internet site, leading to at least £8 million being stolen from the accounts, goods, wire cash and call sex phonelines.

The arrested pair, Nick Webber and Ryan Thomas, are thought to have met via a social networking site when they were 16. Police believe the hackers hatched a plot to break into computers with "malicious" programs.

The boys are thought to have made a fortune from the alleged scam. Mr Webber, now 18, is seen wearing designer clothes and posing next to a huge Hummer car on his Facebook page.

The forum is said to have offered American account details for three US dollars, EU ones for $5 and UK ones for $7. Mr Webber, from Southsea, in south of England, and Mr Thomas, now 17, of Seer Green, north of London, were held on suspicion of plotting to defraud and misusing computers. They are on bail.

Drug-smuggling sub

This 30-meter long submarine, used to smuggle huge amount of cocaine, was was seized in Ecuador yesterday. Apparently, a drug trafficking outfit built it in the middle of the jungle. From CNN:
 Cnn 2010 World Americas 07 03 Ecuador.Drug.Submarine 
Story.Drug.Sub.Enp The vessel utilized twin screws and was diesel electric-powered, the agency said. It was about 30 meters (98 feet) long and nearly 3 meters (nine feet) high from the deck plates to the ceiling. It has a periscope and an air-conditioning system. "Traffickers historically employed slow-moving fishing boats, sail boats, pleasure craft go-fasts," said Jay Bergman, Andean regional director for the (Drug Enforcement Agency). "The advent of the narco-submarine presents new detection challenges for maritime interdiction forces. The submarine's nautical range, payload capacity and quantum leap in stealth have raised the stakes for the counter-drug forces and the national security community alike."

Fractured Fairy Tales

Jack and the Beanstalk

Murderer appears in court wearing diaper on face after spitting on jury

An Ohio murderer who spat on a jury returned to court, this time, with a plastic diaper on his face. Neil Simpson appeared in an Elyria court wearing mosquito netting along with the diaper around his head. The convicted murderer told the judge he'd rather be executed then spend the rest of his life in jail.

"I have two ways that I prefer to be murdered, one is to be crucified in front of the courthouse for all to see it, for all the convicts throughout the world, and the other way would be to be stoned to death by the victim's family, to be make them feel better," said Simpson. Simpson was found guilty for the murder of pizza shop owner Dave Kowalczyk in June of 2007 during a robbery.

A jury recommended on Monday that Simpson's life be spared, accepting the defense claim he was raised in a hostile environment. Ironically, their act of mercy came a week after Simpson spit on members of the jury and cursed at them. Kowalczyk's family members say Simpson robbed them of a warm and giving loved one.

Asst. Lorain County Prosecutor Tony Cillo stated in court, "Because at heart your honor, he's nothing more than a coward, somebody that covers his face and walked in and shot a defenseless man at close range. That's the true Neil Simpson, the bravado he shows in court, spitting on the jurors, I've never had the misfortune of meeting a more foul piece of humanity at this point in my life." The judge sentenced Simpson to life in prison without parole.

Woman arrested while driving under the influence of vanilla extract

A Tennessee woman has been charged with DUI after getting baked on baking supplies. Sheriff's deputies suspect 48-year-old Kelly Moss drove drunk after drinking vanilla extract. Moss's car was spotted on Thursday morning outside Arlington Middle School.

The car was straddling both the sidewalk in front of the school and the driveway. Moss was slumped over the steering wheel. According to the arrest record, Moss's speech was slurred and her thoughts fragmented. The arresting officer spotted a partially empty bottle of vanilla extract in the front seat and smelled a strong odour of what appeared to be vanilla on Moss's breath.

David Marbry lives across the street from the school and believes extract should only be used for cooking. "Maybe a cake or something," said Marbry. He said he was relieved Moss's car did not end up in his yard where he usually sits, especially if she was indeed drinking. "Vanilla or anything," said Marbry.

A supermarket receipt found in Moss's car listed two eight ounce bottles of vanilla extract. This was her third DUI arrest.