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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.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Daily Drift

American Freedom Train led by Southern Pacific GS-4 Daylight steam locomotive # 4449, in a foggy night time view at the Uceta Railroad Yard in Tampa, Florida, December 1976 by alcomike43 on Flickr.
Coming at you!
Today our readers have been in:
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Athens, Greece
Jerudong, Brunei Darussalam
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Puck, Poland
Kota Bharu, Malaysia
Kabul, Afghanistan
Cape Town, South Africa
Geneva, Switzerland
Kuantan, Malaysia
Manama, Bahrain
Klang, Malaysia
Tripoli, Libya
Alor Setar, Malaysia
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Ballitoville, South Africa

Today in History

1099 Members of the First Crusade witness an eclipse of the moon and interpret it as a sign they will recapture Jerusalem.
1568 Ferdinand, the Duke of Alba, crushes the Calvinist insurrection in Ghent.
1595 Henry IV's army defeats the Spanish at the Battle of Fontaine-Francaise.
1637 American settlers in New England massacre a Pequot Indian village.
1783 Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier make the first public balloon flight.
1794 The U.S. Congress prohibits citizens from serving in any foreign armed forces.
1827 Athens falls to Ottoman forces.
1851 Harriet Beecher Stow publishes the first installment of Uncle Tom's Cabin in The National Era.
1856 U.S. Army troops in the Four creeks region of California, head back to quarters, officially ending the Tule River War. Fighting, however, will continue for a few more years.
1863 The Confederate raider CSS Alabama captures the Talisman in the Mid-Atlantic.
1872 The Republican National Convention, the first major political party convention to includes blacks, commences.
1880 Wild woman of the west Myra Maybelle Shirley marries Sam Starr even though records show she was already married to Bruce Younger.
1900 British troops under Lord Roberts seize Pretoria from the Boers.
1940 The German army begins its offensive in Southern France.
1944 The first B-29 bombing raid strikes the Japanese rail line in Bangkok, Thailand.
1947 Secretary of State George C. Marshall outlines "The Marshall Plan," a program intended to assist European nations, including former enemies, to rebuild their economies.
1956 Premier Nikita Khrushchev denounces Josef Stalin to the Soviet Communist Party Congress.
1967 The Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan begins.
1968 Sirhan Sirhan shoots Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy after Kennedy's victory in the pivotal California primary election.
1973 Doris A. Davis becomes the first African-American woman to govern a city in a major metropolitan area when she is elected mayor of Compton, California.

Retro Photo



Rennie Adoption Manual

With the many requests that we post this again piling up we thought sure, why not.
So, here without further ado ... one of our most beloved posts:
Rennie Adoption: A manual

Congratulations on your decision to adopt a Rennie! Many of these fascinating creatures are in need of good homes where they will be loved and cared for. While keeping a Rennie can be expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes confusing, the results can be well worth all the effort. A well turned out Rennie who is happy and healthy is amazing to watch in action. The guidelines below will help you care for your new charge, but they are only guidelines. Every Rennie is quite unique and you should get to know your Rennie's personal quirks, preferences and skills.

The most important step in caring for your Rennie is selecting the right one. Rennies come in many varieties. You will find them of both sexes, and in every imaginable size, color, age, health and plumage. But, far more important than their physical differences are the differences in their personalities. Every Rennie has a very unique set of skills, preferences and attitudes, and you need to take these into consideration as you make your choice.

If you have a nervous condition, a Daredevil Rennie is not for you. Likewise, do not adopt a Fighter Rennie unless you have a large yard in which he or she can chase around other Rennies with a sword. If you have small children in the house, you might prefer to adopt a Rennie other than the Arms Collector, and if you like your nights silent, keep in mind that Stitching Rennies are known to stay up quite late, whirring away at their machines, punctuated by occasional loud bouts of cursing.

Food & Drink
Once you have selected a Rennie and brought him or her home, your first concern may be, "What do I feed this strange creature?" Luckily, most Rennies are not picky about what they eat, and indeed, will consume with relish most anything you offer them. Do not be afraid to offer your Rennie exotic or strange foods. They have a highly devolved sense of adventure and will likely at least try whatever it is. Keep in mind, that through some strange quirk, your Rennie will enjoy almost any food more if it is presented on a stick.

Your Rennie requires large quantities of water. Your Rennie will want large quantities of liquor. There is a very fine balance between the two that you must find to keep your Rennie (and in cases of more belligerent Rennies, yourself) happy and healthy.

Rennies are very affectionate creatures, and will often cuddle and love on you for treats. Favorite treats tend towards chocolate or nice liquor, though your Rennie may have different favorites. Recently, several varieties of Rennie have devolved a taste for Sushi, so you may wish to try that as well.

While your Rennie may seem to have inexhaustible supplies of energy, they need a good nights sleep like any other creature. When they are having fun, but are exhausted, usually at the end of a faire day, they may behave much like a 4-year-old, insisting on staying up and playing, "just a few more minutes." It is advised that you be firm with your Rennie and insist that they come home and go to bed. It is also advised that this will almost never work, and when it does, Rennie goodbyes have been know to take upwards to two hours at a large gathering. Sit down near the door and have another drink.

Rennies take great joy in grooming both themselves and others and can take hours to prepare in the morning. Rennie females, in particular will often need the help of others in preparing for the day. While they may seem inconsequential or frivolous to you, each pin, knot, and accessory is very important to your Rennie. When your Rennie is being slow in the morning, exhortations of "Hurry up!" will not speed matters along. "What can I hold/tie/pin/pull/lace?" will work much more efficiently.

That being said, by the end of that self-same day, your Rennie may be unrecognizably dirty, disheveled and grungy, though likely quite happy. While Rennies appreciate and enjoy a shower or bath every day, like sleep, this is not always something they feel is required. If your Rennie shows no inclination to bathe after a long day, helping them undress and drawing a bath or starting the shower for them may encourage them to get clean.

Please note that your Rennie will take great joy in all their clothing and accessories, and will constantly want to be adding to the horde. Every once in a while, please go through all your Rennies "garb" with them and help them to let go of pieces they no longer wear. Promising to donate the pieces to another Rennie will help ease the pain of separation, as will offering to replace it with something the Rennie likes better. New garb can work as a treat even better than chocolate or liquor.

Under no circumstances get rid of anything from a Rennies garb without their knowledge and permission unless you want your sweet happy Rennie to instantly transform into Furious Rabid Fighter Rennie and attempt to take of your head.

Communicating with Your Rennie
Rennies are extremely intelligent, and will likely understand everything you say, possibly in several languages. It is far more likely that you will not understand your Rennie when they are speaking in BFA, Gaelic, Romany or some other obscure or not so obscure language. Also, they can get quite animated when speaking about their favorite hobbies or most history. The correct response to almost anything from, "I can't do French seams in the gussets in that camica because the twill is too thick to turn twice," to "Henry VIII and Cardinal Richelieu weren't even alive at the same time, and France and England were at war in 1620! They can't put the Musketeers in England!!!!" is a nodding of the head and saying, "Yes, yes, of course.

There are two terms your Rennie may use frequently that you will need to be familiar with right off. The first is a loud exclamation of "HUZZAH!" This is a Rennie sound of joy and excitement, something you wish to hear often. The second is "privy." Your Rennie is asking where the bathroom is, and you'd best show them quickly unless you want to be cleaning up Rennie messes. Eliminating in garb can be a difficult and time consuming process.

All other terms can usually be picked up with familiarity.

Your Rennie and Play
Rennies have a highly devoloped sense of play and will often play any opportunity they get. The idea of what is play varies greatly from one Rennie to the next, though they will almost always be happier to play in groups. Some may enjoy contact juggling, some fencing, some equestrian pursuits, some computer games. However nearly all Rennies, whether or not they are skilled, thoroughly enjoy the arts of Music and Flirting. Given a good tune and the opportunity to sing, stomp or clap along, most Rennies will be quite happy. Likewise, what may seem to the untrained observer as heavy duty sexual harassment is usually two Rennies who have missed each other's company greeting one another. Unless your Rennie looks truly upset, it is better to leave him or her alone in these situations. See more under the Breeding section.

Your Rennie also loves toys. Amongst Rennies, favored toys may be sharp, shiny, pointy, sparkly, made of wood, leather, metal, pottery or fur. Get to know your Rennie to discover his or her particular preferences.

Illness, Injury, and Keeping Your Rennie Healthy
For some reason not yet determined by modern science, Rennies seem to have a slightly greater concentration of diseases, which range from irritating to debilitating, than those not of the breed. Common ailments can include hypoglycemia, fibromyalgia, MS, diabetes, osteoporosis and a range of bum knees, trick elbows and the like. These will likely only slow your Rennie down, not stop them completely. Your Rennie and others around him or her are usually well advised on the maladies in the group and will band together to take care of one of their number that is ill or injured, so that they can all return to the fun as soon as possible.

An injured Rennie is for some reason fairly happy. They do like to show off gruesome scars and talk about their gory wounds. Should your Rennie become injured, your best course of action is to simply dress the wound, give them a drink of water and then your Rennie will go back to whatever it was doing. Except in the cases of extreme injury, they tend to be a hardy breed.

To keep your Rennie as healthy as possible, make sure that he or she drinks plenty of water, gets lots of rest and exercise and limit their consumption of fried food on a stick. Keep the supplies for dealing with heat stroke, sunburn, dehydration and hypothermia on hand, as these are the most frequent complaints. Make your Rennie wear sunscreen. He or she will protest this. Make them do it anyway. Make them reapply frequently and when they get burned anyway, make them put on Aloe gel. They will protest this as well. Insist. While Rennies are extremely intelligent, sometimes they're not very smart.

Breeding your Rennie
Nearly all Rennies love children, whether or not they have one of their own. They like to play with children, talk to children and show children things that interest them as adults. The adult Rennies overdeveloped sense of play makes them perfect companions for children, barring a tendency amongst the entire breed to curse. A Rennie child very nearly is raised by a village and may have dozens of Aunties and Uncles not related to them by blood scattered all over the continent.

Despite decades of observation by many interested parties, no one has yet determined a successful program for breeding Rennies. Their sense of high drama, passionate natures, and overly affectionate friendships have clouded the issue so deeply that it is still a mystery how they manage to breed at all. So, should you wish to breed your Rennie, it is suggested that you adopt an already mated pair. Even that is no guarantee of success.

You Rennie may have its own ideas about breeding. The best course of action to take should this happen is to stand back and observe your Rennie closely. In the event of a heartbreak step in and feed your Rennie his or her favorite treats. While this will probably not heal your Rennie, it will make them more pleasant to be around until they find another potential mate.

While the above may make adopting a Rennie seem daunting, it is an enterprise with great rewards. They are attractive, affectionate creatures, who will brighten your life for many years to come. Thank you for your interest.

TSA once again accused of molesting senior citizen

As predicted, the TSA has managed to embarrass yet another senior citizen. The TSA really doesn't appreciate how poorly run the organization is and how costly their attacks on privacy can be for Americans. Their record shows that the system remains easy to beat and they have yet to identify a single terrorist.

Court protects Secret Service agents

The Supreme Court has ruled that two Secret Service agents are shielded from a lawsuit filed by a man they arrested after a confrontation with the viper Dick Cheney.

Mother arrested after 'driving off with newborn on car roof'

A 19-year-old mother in Phoenix, Arizona is under arrest on child abuse and aggravated DUI charges after police say she left her five-week-old baby strapped in a car seat on top of her 2000 Ford Focus and drove off. The child is said to be in good condition and now in custody of Arizona Child Protective Services.

At about 1 a.m. on Saturday, Phoenix police officers got calls from the 45th Avenue and Cholla area, just south of Cactus Road, that a baby was in a car seat in the middle of a road. Phoenix Fire Department officials found the baby and took him to a local hospital. He was "perfectly OK," said Officer James Holmes, spokesman for Phoenix police.

Holmes said the mother, Catalina Clouser, had apparently been smoking marijuana late on Friday night at a nearby park with her boyfriend. At about 11 p.m. they left the park to buy some beer. The boyfriend was arrested on aggravated DUI charges while on the way, Holmes said. An upset Clouser then reportedly went to a friend's house where, she admitted, she smoked more marijuana, Holmes said. By midnight, Clouser left the house with the baby asleep in the car seat.

YouTube link.

She realized the baby was missing when she reached home. That's when Clouser called her friends and asked them to trace the route she had taken. The friends ran into the officers who had already found the baby. Clouser arrived there shortly thereafter and was arrested, Holmes said. On a Twitter account that appears to belong to Clouser, her only mention of Friday's incident is "A cop just drove my car home. What an awesome night."

Man fell asleep while stealing car radio

An alleged car burglar was arrested when Post Falls police found him asleep in one of the cars he’s suspected of robbing.
Jason D. Hill, 33, was found inside the car at around 4:20 a.m. on the 3800 block of East Second Avenue. Hill was wearing gloves and appeared to have been removing the stereo from the car he fell asleep in, a news release from the police department said.

Police also found another stolen stereo, along with burglary tools, wallets and a cell phone. Police determined that several vehicles in the same parking lot had been robbed and the items found on Hill, along with items found inside the car, belong to the other victims, the release said.

Hill also had a felony warrant out of Washington state for attempting to elude police. A separate stolen vehicle was found a short distance away. Hill was booked into Kootenai County jail on suspicion of auto burglary, possession of stolen property, possession of a controlled substance and being a fugitive from justice.

Five Famous Movies That Shamelessly Ripped-Off Obscure Ones

Turns out these types shenanigans have been going on for decades. Shame on you, Hollywood types we never respected to begin with.

The only problem with a remake is that they don't actually credit the obscure movie they are remaking (or, you know, pay them for the rights).

The Color Schemes of Higher Education

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune posted the history of the graduation cap and gown, and included a color-coding for the tassels that attach to the traditional mortarboard hat. The American Council on Education has recommended tassel colors for college graduates that indicate what discipline one’s degree is in. Here’s a sample:
Apricot: Nursing
Brown: Fine arts, including architecture
Citron: Social work
Copper: Economics
Crimson: Journalism
Dark blue: Philosophy
Some colleges follow the recommendations or come up with their own variations on the idea, and others follow completely different schemes.

AIG CEO: "Retirement ages will have to move to 70, 80 years old"

Says the guy who made $7 million last year (and the year before) running a bailed out company from his comfortable European seaside "villa" as he calls it. It's just a little too easy for blowhards like him to propose everyone else working that long while he's raking in millions, with millions more to come upon retirement.
How do people like this overlook the lousy conditions of everyone else, so often? People like this somehow manage to also overlook Wall Street's responsibility in this latest economic crisis. How convenient.

More from Bloomberg:
American International Group Inc. (AIG) Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche said Europe’s debt crisis shows governments worldwide must accept that people will have to work more years as life expectancies increase.

“Retirement ages will have to move to 70, 80 years old,” Benmosche, who turned 68 last week, said during a weekend interview at his seaside villa in Dubrovnik, Croatia. “That would make pensions, medical services more affordable. They will keep people working longer and will take that burden off of the youth.”

Showing Up in Swimwear and Other Job Hunting No-Nos

With just one-third of companies planning to hire in 2012, you'll want to make sure you avoid these job hunting mistakes to maximize your odds of success. 
 By Elaine Pofeldt

With just one-third of companies planning to hire in 2012, you'll want to make sure you avoid these job hunting …Some job hunting gaffes are obvious -- or at least they should be.

For instance, you don't want to talk trash about your last boss, even if the ogre is known in the industry for hurling paperweights in meetings.

And unless you're interviewing to be the next Sports Illustrated cover model, you certainly don't want to show up for an interview in beach attire. That's what one failed banking industry applicant recently did, mentioning she was on her way to a weekend jaunt, according to New York City executive coach Andrea Nierenberg.

But there are some mistakes even conscientious job seekers make that can derail them. With just one-third of companies planning to hire in 2012, according to compensation researcher PayScale, you'll want to make sure you avoid these mistakes to maximize your odds of success.

Mistake No. 1: Fixating on Your Resume

You obviously don't want to send it out with typos and coffee stains, but obsessively editing it and formatting it for weeks will put your search behind schedule.

"Recruiters and employers skim the resume," says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a partner in the career coaching firm SixFigureStart in New York City. Once you've got a clean resume, dive into sending it out.

Mistake No. 2: Applying Through HR

Your resume is likely to get buried in among the other ones that applicants have submitted through "official" channels, say experts. Discretely let colleagues know you are looking for a job, so they can introduce you to their highest-level connnections at companies where you'd like to work.

"If you have a contact for a senior person, use that contact -- no matter what," says Albany, Calif., career coach Simma Lieberman. It's the best way to get an interview quickly. (Obviously, you want to be very careful about sharing the news that you're on the hunt among current coworkers).

Mistake No. 3: Winging the Conversation

Know exactly what you'll say if an interviewer asks you standard questions such as what you know about the company or why you're interested in working there. Don't just trust yourself to think up an appropriate answer on the spot, when you're likely to be nervous.

"Have a few top-line comments prepared," says Nierenberg. And make sure your points are very concise, she adds. It's more important to listen than to crow about your accomplishments.

Also find out in advance with whom you'll likely be meeting, so you can prepare adequately and research each person online. "I know one CEO who told me a candidate came to interview with her for a senior-level position," says Nierenberg. "The candidate looked at her and said, 'What is your role here?' The CEO said, 'I think we're finished here.'"

Mistake No. 4: Mentioning the Wrong Credentials

Today's employers want to know that you are a producer who delivers concrete results that will help with overall company goals. So, for instance, you probably won't catch their eye if you mention you have a particular skill, such as using a particular customer relationship management software. Lots of other people probably know how to use it, too.

However, you will definitely get noticed if you can truthfully say you cut costs in your department by $1 million a year or brought in an account worth $750,000. "Differentiate yourself," says Ceniza-Levine.

Don't be afraid to be creative in how you get your key selling points across. "One of my clients who just got a job as a manager of a hotel chain sent an incredible slideshow of why they should hire her," says Lieberman. Wouldn't you want to hire someone like that?

Mistake No. 5: Failing to Put Your Phone Away

It should go without saying that you should not answer your mobile phone during an interview -- but it's worth repeating because so many people do it anyway, says Nierenberg. And when you're sitting in a lobby waiting for an interview, don't play music or watch a program on your iPhone. "That looks really unprofessional," Ceniza-Levine says.

Mistake No. 6: Poor Clothing Choices

Sometimes these are painfully obvious: don't come to a bank interview dressed like you're ready for a day of fun in the sun, for example. Other times, the mistake doesn't become apparent until it is too late to fix.

Wearing flip flops to an interview with the intention of changing into dress shoes in the restroom can backfire. "When you walk in, sometimes you'll see the person you're interviewing in the lobby or going up the elevator," she says. Then it'll be too late to change -- and you'll start off on the wrong, er, foot if everyone else in the office is wearing formal, closed-toe footwear.

If you're a woman, check out how you look in camisoles worn under a suit jacket to make sure there's no unintentional va-va-voom effect. "You have to know what people are going to see if you lean over," says Ceniza-Levine.

Mistake No. 7: Taking Your Foot Off the Gas

Many job seekers slow down their interviewing the moment it seems like an employer is getting interested in making an offer. But that's exactly when you should be revving up your search to get other offers, so you can compare, says Ceniza-Levine.

What happens if the hiring manager who just interviewed you wasn't all that interested after all -- or goes out of town on vacation? "All of a sudden, you've put your search on hold for a month," says Ceniza-Levine. Keep up the pace. You'll be glad you did.

The Investing Answer: Prepare, prepare, prepare, and be as professional as possible. Practice answering interview questions. Research what a prospective employer does and who the power players are. Use your connections to see if you know anyone at the company. Above all, don't be happy with just getting the interview. Keep working and preparing until you've closed the deal. That will make all that time that you've invested in preparation absolutely worth it.

Editorial Comment

Tips for Resolving a Complaint

By Mary Schwager
Who hasn't been in a situation when they feel like they've been duped, ripped off or unable to get any customer service satisfaction with resolving their complaint?
I've been there. It can be infuriating. When it comes to making sure my bills are paid on time, I'm an obsessive compulsive. So when I got some weird voice mail one-day saying, "This is Mrs. Jones from the collection department at the hospital. You have an unpaid $15 copy from a doctor's visit and we're about to send it to collection, please call us," I flipped out. Seriously? Some bill under twenty bucks that I never even got a reminder about is going to tank my credit score?
Shaking with anger, I called the number "Mrs. Jones" left. A customer service rep answered and after giving her all my info, she couldn't find the bill or any outstanding amount. Thinking this person was an idiot, I requested a supervisor. I was told, "No supervisor is here, I'm sorry."
At this point I'm even more furious. All I could think was if I don't put a stop to this there was going to be the dumbest ding to my credit rating ever. So I blurted out, "Get me Mrs. Jones, she left the message, she must know what this is about!!!"
There was a pause on the other end of the phone. Then silence. Then I heard the customer service rep's hesitant voice say, "Um, well, miss, we're all named Mrs. Jones here, that's the collection call code name." After hearing that, I wasn't sure if I should burst out laughing or start screaming. You know that old phone commercial jingle that sang "Reach out and touch someone"? I wanted to "reach out and shake someone" I was so mad. I finally got it resolved. But looking back at the situation let's just say I still can't believe my doctor's office isn't sending me materials on anger management classes.
'Don't Carve the Turkey with a Chainsaw' 'Don't Carve the Turkey with a Chainsaw' So what IS the best way to resolve these types of situations? Author of Don't Carve the Turkey with a Chainsaw: Resolving Family Conflict, certified mediator and psychologist Roger Frame, PhD aka: "The Conflict Whisperer," has some tips on how to navigate these frustrating situations that make you want to pull your hair out!

8 Tips for Resolving a Complaint

1. Make sure that the customer service representative you are talking to has the authority to make the changes you desire. If they don't, don't waste your time. Immediately ask to talk to someone who does, or his or her supervisor. Sometimes they will not want to get their supervisor. They may get a less favorable rating if they send too many cases to their supervisor. You need to insist on a supervisor. They cannot help if they don't have the authority to make a change.
2. Start with your facts. What happened that was unsatisfactory, when, where, etc. Try to keep your rage under control here. This is not the time to vent. "Your product is inferior," is not a fact. It is an opinion. "When I try to turn on your product, nothing happens," is a fact. Stick to the facts.
3. Ask for their interpretation of the situation. There may be an alternative explanation you hadn't considered, and listening to their side will make them more willing to listen to your interpretation.
4. Provide your interpretation and what you want them to do about it.
5. Ask them what they are prepared to do to remedy the situation. If their answer is unsatisfactory, ask to talk to a supervisor. Supervisors are frequently more attuned to public relations and may be more willing to help.
6. If the supervisor is also unwilling to help, consider what other sources of leverage you can use, and what are you willing to use. Consider positive and negative repercussion that could come from using them. What sources of power do you have?
  • Position Power: Do you know someone who could influence the decision because of thee position they hold?
  • Reward Power: Can you show how they benefit by meeting your needs?
  • Penalty Power: Can someone penalize them if they don't comply? This might include regulatory agencies that oversee their industry.
  • Referent Power: Generally this involves celebrities or other influential people they want to be like.
  • Expert Power: Bring in outside experts, even some frequently used in court testimony
  • Communication Power: Your ability to persuade, and convince the decision maker to your point of view.
  • Networking Power: Spreading the word over the Internet. This can be positive or negative feedback. I know someone who tweeted about an impolite airline attendant. By the time they finished their flight the attendant apologized. Someone from headquarters had been monitoring tweets about their company.
7. Consider outside intervention or mediation, such as the Better Business Bureau or your state Attorney General.
8. If nothing else works, consider the best alternative to a negotiated settlement.

Awesome Pictures


 Isle of Skye, Scotland
photo via geology
Isle of Skye, Scotland

Railfest week in the UK

British people! Did you know that it is Railfest Week at your National Railway Museum? And did you know that that means you can get up close and personal with (and even go for a ride on) an amazing variety of vintage and modern trains, plus special talks, music, and theater shows? Among the attractions: Giant, rail-based snow plows, a sail-powered rail car, and beautiful historic engines that have gone through extensive restoration.
This, for instance, is Sir Nigel Gresley (of course he is), a steam train from 1937.
Railfest Week

Japanese tourists flocking to visit Britain's rapeseed fields

It could be any Japanese coach trip to Britain- except that this stop is to see the brilliant yellow of fields of rapeseed. The unlikely attraction is proving such a hit with Japanese tourists that a holiday company has started offering tours of the UK’s rapeseed fields. The firm started the tours after noticing how passengers on some of its coach trips would cram to the windows when passing the dazzling yellow fields to take photographs. It now offers trips to East Lodge Farm on the Gloucestershire – Worcestershire border, where visitors are allowed to walk among the crop. The tours are already proving popular. The target number of 20 farm visits this summer will be exceeded and 70 are planned for next year.

Each coach load – which usually has 49 tourists on board – is charged £49 by the farm. After a walk in the fields, the visitors are given a tour of the farm’s press and bottling site, where the crop is made into oil for the table. They then return to the bus to continue a tour of the region’s more traditional tourist destinations, such as Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford. It is part of a six day coach trip organized by, Miki Travel,that also takes them to Windermere, in the Lake District, Haworth, in West Yorkshire – known for its association with the Bronte Sisters – Chester, Liverpool, the Potteries and London.

Junko Daimon, 43, who visited the farm last week with a coach load of visitors from Osaka, said: “We normally stop at castles and old towns and villages. This is the only field we have stopped at and it is a nice change. It has been very popular – a beautiful sight.” Katsunari Okayama, 56, added: “I didn’t expect a sight like this. We expected it to be cloudy and grey.” Ayako Uchida, 48, added: “It is very beautiful. In Osaka, you do not see fields like this.” Ikuo Shibuya, director of Miki Travel, said: “We tell people the UK is a very colorful country. We wanted to do away with the grey, rainy image. That is the image that people have had of Britain, although that is now changing. “People are showing great interest in this tour. They like to come to England for the natural beauty now.”

The tours have a limited time frame, though, as the yellow flowers drop off around this time of year. However, after a gap of around three weeks, the visits will resume – when the farm’s linseed crop sprouts its blue flowers. The plant (Brassica napus), a member of the mustard or cabbage family, which derives its name from the Latin for turnip, rapa, provokes strong opinions among many in the UK. Its critics argue that it triggers allergies, requires too many pesticides and that its lurid color has robbed the summer countryside of its traditional, golden hue. This year has seen record levels of the crop cultivated in Britain, as a result of growing global demand. Around 735,000 hectares are being grown this year – up six per cent on last year – and it now covers around 17 per cent of the UK’s arable farmland.

There's a photo gallery here.

The Attack Of The Killer Fans

Fan death is a widely held belief in South Korea that an electric fan left running overnight in a closed room can cause the death of those inside. Fans sold in Korea are equipped with a timer switch that turns them off after a set number of minutes, which users are frequently urged to set when going to sleep with a fan on.

No one seems to know why this belief persists, given that its position as a medical condition is dubious. There is some speculation that it has its origins in 1970s efforts by the South Korean government to curb energy use. The natural tendency is to write it off as some kind of crackpot belief.

Dangerous foods

 Don't eat these at home
This gorgeous spring weather triggers so many thoughts and emotions. It could make you daydream about weekend beach getaways, lolling around in a hammock, fresh produce - hey, isn't rhubarb in season? A fresh pie sounds just delicious - and wouldn't it be so much prettier if you included a few of those lovely leaves? Don't do it, unless you're ...

Innovations That Will Change the Way You Live

Which clever inventions will shape life in the next few decades? The editors of the New York Times have 32 suggestions, including a monitor that reduces eye strain and improves your posture:
If you slump down when you’re typing on an ErgoSensor monitor by Philips, it’ll suggest that you sit up straighter. To help office workers avoid achy backs and tired eyes, the device’s built-in camera follows the position of your pupils to determine how you are sitting. Are you too close? Is your neck tilted too much? Algorithms crunch the raw data from the sensor and tell you how to adjust your body to achieve ergonomic correctness. The monitor can also inform you that it’s time to stand up and take a break, and it will automatically power down when it senses that you’ve left.
Read the rest at the link. Which one do you think will have the most impact on your life?



Pay up and die, sucker.

death and fine

So, they're saying not only will it kill you it will kill your wallet as well!

Ten Uninhabited Islands & Why No One Lives There

At one point or another, we’ve all fantasized about living on our own isolated island, but while there are plenty uninhabited islands around, you have to wonder why no one has moved in yet. Mental Floss has the scoop on ten uninhabited islands and why no one happens to live on each. For example, Palmyra Atoll can be seen in the picture above:
The U.S. military built an airstrip there during World War II, which has fallen into ruin. The atoll now is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agency, with the exception of Cooper Island, which is owned by the Nature Conservancy. Palmyra Atoll was the setting for a double murder in 1974 which became the basis for the novel and then miniseries called And the Sea Will Tell.

US and European energy supplies vulnerable to climate change

Higher water temperatures and reduced river flows in Europe and the United States in recent years have resulted in reduced ...
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Phosphorus caused burning beach pebbles

A few weeks ago, we brought you news of a lady whose new collection of beach pebbles exploded in her pocket, sending her to the hospital and making a hazmat site of her home. Additional testing confirms that phosphorus is to blame.
The phosphorus on the smooth, greenish-orange rocks is likely manmade, said Kenneth Shea, an organic chemistry professor at the University of California, Irvine.
Phosphorus is found in oxidized form in rocks, but in its pure elemental form can burn when exposed to air. Phosphorous compounds are used in everything from flares to munitions to fertilizer.
"You can't go digging on the beach and find it," Shea said. "It's manmade, and it's pretty common."

A rare celestial sight beckons

Venus crosses in front of the sun today
Odds are we’ll all be gone the next time this dance comes around.The planets Earth and Venus waltz in their orbits at different tempos and at different angles.

Pictures from NASA's Solar Dynamics Laboratory

The video below takes SDO images and applies additional processing to enhance the structures visible. While there is no scientific value to this processing, it does result in a beautiful, new way of looking at the sun.

The original frames are in the 171 Angstrom wavelength of extreme ultraviolet. This wavelength shows plasma in the solar atmosphere, called the corona, that is around 600,000 Kelvin.

The loops represent plasma held in place by magnetic fields. They are concentrated in "active regions" where the magnetic fields are the strongest. These active regions usually appear in visible light as sunspots. The events in this video represent 24 hours of activity on September 25, 2011.

A search engine for social networks based on the behavior of ants

One of the main technical questions in the field of social networks, whose use is becoming more and more generalized ...
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Two dead after venomous spiders invade Indian town

A town in India is living in fear of a swarm of venomous spiders, which last month left two people dead after being bitten. It may sound like a B-grade horror movie, but residents of the town of Sadiya, in Assam state, say that on the evening of May 8 as they were celebrating a Hindu festival swarms of spiders suddenly appeared and attacked them. Over the next few days two people - a man, Purnakanta Buragohain, and an unnamed school boy - died after being bitten by the spiders. Scores more turned up at the town's hospital with spider bites.
District authorities are panicking and are considering spraying the town with the insecticide DDT. Locals say the most terrifying aspect is that spiders appear in swarms and their behavior is highly aggressive. "It leaps at anything that comes close. Some of the victims claimed the spider latched on to them after biting. If that is so, it needs to be dealt with carefully.

The chelicerae and fangs of this critter are quite powerful," head of the department of life sciences at Dibrugarh University Dr LR.Saikia said. Teams of Indian arachnid experts have flocked to the town, hoping to identify the species, but so far they have drawn a blank. They say it could be a tarantula, a black wishbone or even a funnel-web spider - or it could be a whole new species. One thing they agree on is that it is not native to the area as there is no record of venomous spiders in Assam. The black wishbone and funnel-web are native to Australia.

Researchers are also still running tests to find out the toxicity of the spiders' venom. Dr Anil Phatowali, superintendent of the town's hospital, said they had not administered antivenin as they could not be certain the spider was venomous at all.
He also pointed out other factors may have contributed to the two reported fatalities. "All the bite patients first went to witch doctors, who cut open their wounds with razors, drained out blood and burnt it. That could have also made them sick," Dr Phatowali said.

More here.

Crown Starfish

Crown-of-thorns starfish wash up in JapanCrown starfish in mass stranding

More than 800 crown-of-thorns starfish found on a single beach in Japan in January stranded themselves because they starved, say researchers. BBC Nature

Animal Pictures


Mum and bub (by Ami 211)