Jun 21, 2008

Exposed: hundreds of expired products at Rite Aid and CVS

New York State Attorney General plans to sue CVS and Rite Aid stores for violating federal, state and local law that do not permit the sale of expired products.

A statewide sweep by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo found that more than half of CVS stores and 43 percent of Rite Aid stores were selling expired drugs, milk, eggs and baby formula.

In some cases, over-the-counter medication was being sold two years after the expiration date, according to Eric Corngold, the head of the economic justice unit in Cuomo's office.

Expired products were sold at 142 CVS stores and 112 Rite Aid in 41 counties across the state.


Jun 20, 2008

Hypermilers: the new menace on the road?

Ever had a car speed around you going down a hill only to slow to a crawl going up the next hill?

You may have just met a hypermiler.

Hypermiling is the practice of using modified driving techniques to get the maximum mileage possible. The practice is increasing as gas prices soar.

The worrisome part of this story is that an increasingly large group of hardcore fanatics have taken up hypermiling using potentially dangerous methods including shutting the engine off going downhill (making power brakes and power steering nearly useless), drafting behind trucks and coasting through red lights.

Promoted on a growing number of Web sites, hypermiling includes pumping up tires to the maximum rating on their sidewalls, which may be higher than levels recommended in car manuals; using engine oil of a low viscosity, and the controversial practice of drafting behind other vehicles on the highway to reduce aerodynamic drag -- a practice begun a few years ago by truck drivers.

The "advanced" techniques of hypermiling are in addition to well-known approaches including keeping speed down, accelerating gently, avoiding excessive idling and removing cargo racks to also cut down on aerodynamic drag.

During the later years of the old Mobil Economy Run, some drivers even went so far as to sandpaper the bottoms of their feet to increase sensitivity helping them accelerate more slowly and brake more gently. Will hypermiling come to this?

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The Mobil Economy Run was an automobile fuel economy test that began in 1936 and continued until 1968.

The photo above shows a Plymouth Valiant competing in the 1964 Mobil Economy Run.

Cars made in the United States competed in several price and size classes in a test of fuel economy. The cars were driven on cross-country runs through normal traffic.

More on hypermiling here.

Biggest show in tinsel-town: mega-mansions

Mega-mansions are LA’s really big show. It may be Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Holmby Hills or other wealthy areas in Los Angeles County.

Unaffected by the economic woes besetting the masses, the super-rich are going on creating palace-like complexes. One builder says he knows of 20 houses of at least 20,000 square feet in the works.

The article at the link below describes several 30,000 to 40,000 square-foot single family mega-mansions under construction.

"Does anybody need 40,000 square feet?" asks real estate agent Stephen Shapiro of the Westside Estate Agency. "No, [but] these are our current-day aristocrats and feudal leaders . . . and this is what they want."

I can’t imagine how anyone could possibly get by without a gift-wrapping room, florist room, screening room, ballroom, bowling alley, doll display room, billiard room, beauty salon and massage room. And then there are the outdoor poolrooms and cabanas.


Colorado sells Scratch-N-Sniff lottery tickets

A story yesterday in the Rocky Mountain News announced the Scratch-N-Sniff lottery tickets by the Colorado Lottery.

When is a lottery scratch ticket not just a scratch ticket? When it's a scratch, and sniff, ticket. Starting Monday, the Colorado Lottery will begin selling $3 Scented Crossword tickets through lottery retailers statewide. They're available in three varieties: Crossword Bouquet, Chocolate Crossword and Coffee Crossword.


Jun 19, 2008

Over 4000 Chinese babies named 'Olympic Games'

A report on BBC News says that:

More than 4,000 children in China have been given the name Aoyun, meaning Olympic Games, in the past 15 years.

It is not uncommon for Chinese children to be given names of common events and popular slogans - such as Defend China, Build the Nation and Space Travel.

It is not uncommon for Chinese children to be given names of common events and popular slogans - such as Defend China, Build the Nation and Space Travel.

The rise in popularity of the name Aoyun, meaning Olympic Games, is a sign of support for the Games being staged in August in Beijing.


Loch Ness monster a paddling elephant?

Paleontologist and painter Neil Clark is dampening the hopes of Nessie believers around the world when he says the monster was perhaps a swimming pachyderm.

Clark noticed similarities in the hump-and-trunk silhouettes of swimming Indian elephants and the serpentine shapes of 1930s Nessie descriptions and photographs, such as the famous 1934 image shown as an inset above.

Why would an elephant be swimming in a chilly Scottish lake? "The reason why we see elephants in Loch Ness is that circuses used to go along the road to Inverness and have a little rest at the side of the loch and allow the animals to go and have a little swim around," Clark told CBS News.

And there's one more wrinkle in this elephantine mystery. In 1933 a circus promoter in the area—acting perhaps on inside information that the monster was really a big top beast—offered a rich reward for Nessie's capture, says Clark, a curator at the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery in Glasgow.

Clark's theory is published in the current edition of the journal of the Open University Geological Society.

I don’t believe for a minute that Nessie is an elephant. I also am not convinced that there is a monster in Loc Ness.

Like the bigfoot stories, I’ll believe it when they produce a carcass of the creature.

A giant squid carcass has been found but so far no sea monsters or bigfoot.

Link to the National Geographic paddling pachyderm story here.

Fast food ad pictures vs. actual product

There is a great web site at the link below that shows pictures of various menu items from several fast food outlets comparing the advertising picture to a photo of the actual product.

Two different comparisons are shown below:

Taco Bell Nachos Bell Grande ad picture

Taco Bell Nachos Bell Grande actual photo

Subway turkey and ham ad picture

Subway turkey and ham actual photo

The web site says:

each item was purchased, taken home, and photographed immediately. Nothing was tampered with, run over by a car, or anything of the sort.

It is an accurate representation in every case. Shiny, neon-orange, liquefied pump-cheese, and all.


Jun 18, 2008

Is this a UFO over China?

Is this a UFO filmed over China?

(click on picture to see video)

Man changed his name to ‘In God We Trust’

A school bus driver and amateur artist from Zion, Illinois has changed his name. He can’t wait to begin signing his art work using the new name.

A Lake County circuit court judge approved Steve Kreuscher's (CROY'-shirz) name change petition on Friday.

The 57-year-old's first name was changed to "In God," while his last name was changed to "We Trust."


Patch protects travelers from stomach bugs

E. coli is a leading cause of food poisoning. Now a patch impregnated by toxins produced by the E. coli bacterium can protect against stomach bugs picked up during foreign travel.

US research published in the Lancet medical journal found the patch was 75% effective against diarrhea attacks caused by E. coli among volunteers.

The patch contains the poisons produced by E.coli, with the idea that this primes the immune system to cope better when confronted with the real thing.

Patch-wearers who did fall ill recovered far more quickly, it said.

Stomach upsets are commonplace among people travelling to certain parts of the world, and the symptoms - vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps, can often leave people incapacitated or weak for days.

A UK travel medicine specialist stressed only 40% of diarrhea cases were caused by E. coli.


Retail sales jump by largest amount in 6 months

Retail sales jumped by the largest amount in six months in May as 57 million economic stimulus payments helped offset the headwinds buffeting consumers.

Analysts were surprised by the solid increase in retail sales and noted that sales in April were also revised to show a respectable gain of 0.4 percent, instead of the original estimate that sales had fallen by 0.2 percent.

"Recession? What recession?" asked Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors. "Spending in April and May was solid in just about every category."

Pessimists will say that rebate checks were only giving a temporary boost to spending that would not last, resulting in weaker economic performance in coming months.


Jun 17, 2008

Unicorn found in Italy?

The picture shows a one-horned roe deer born in captivity at the Center of Natural Sciences park in the Tuscan town of Prato, near Florence, Italy.

The one-year-old deer, nicknamed “Unicorn” was born with a genetic flaw. His twin has two horns.

Could it be that a one-horned deer started the myth of the Unicorn, a horse-like creature with magical healing powers that has appeared in legends and stories throughout history?


About those energy saver light bulbs…

Important information about the energy saver light bulbs that, by law, we must all use by 2014.

(click on light bulb to see video)

More eye-opening information here and here.

Minivan sales slowed by gas prices and image

The pickup and SUV sales have sagged but what about the minivan?

Asked recently how the U.S. minivan market has been faring, Nissan's Dominique Thormann had a concise answer -- "It collapsed,"

While the rapid decline in pickup and sport utility sales has been grabbing the headlines, minivan sales have also taken a tumble, falling 20 percent in the first five months of this year.

Unlike trucks, which could rebound once the construction industry picks up, it's unclear if minivans have a future in the U.S. market or if they're being killed off by crossovers and the stodgy taint of the soccer mom image.


Jun 16, 2008

New Boeing 777 buzzing the field

The pilot of this Cathay Pacific Airways Boeing 777 passenger jet flew very low over Paine Field in Everett, Washington on January 30, 2008.

(click on picture to enlarge)

The pilot flew 30 feet above the runways with the landing gear retracted after taking deliver of the new plane.

The pilot was fired for the maneuver

VW Love Bug police car in Tennessee

Blount County, Tennessee has a new police cruiser. It turns out to be a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle.

The Beetle that was turned into a police car has been turning heads.

Assistant Chief Deputy Archie Garner retrofitted a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle to add to the sheriff's fleet of police interceptors, but with a top-end speed of about 70 mph, he's not writing a lot of speeding tickets.

The "bug-erceptor" was seized in a DUI case and boasts a new paint job, sheriff's decals and tags, a siren, radio, barred rear side windows, a side-mounted spotlight and police lights.

The car even has the same number, 53, as Herbie the Volkswagen race car in the movie "The Love Bug."

Garner said the car will be used mostly as a public relations tool for the department, making appearances in parades and at school events.


What are your favorite oxymorons?

The oxymoron we like best is from the Peanuts comic strip when Charlie Brown often said, “good grief.”

Here are a few more oxymorons we like - in no special order:

virtual reality
almost exactly
old news
mutually exclusive
blind eye
ill health
blurry vision
awfully pretty
terribly pleased
constant variable
deafening silence
modern history
act natural

Jun 15, 2008

Silver zink laptop batteries on the horizon

Laptop users may soon get longer battery life from their computers with silver-zinc batteries that promise to last significantly longer than traditional lithium-ion batteries.

The batteries will be available in consumer and business laptops from major PC makers starting in August, according to Ross Dueber, the CEO of Zpower.

Silver-zinc batteries pack more energy than lithium-ion batteries, giving laptops 40 percent more run time, according to Dueber. If a laptop runs for two hours with a lithium-ion battery, it should run for closer to three hours with a silver-zinc battery.

The silver-zink batteries water-based chemistry make them nonflammable. Lithium-ion batteries use dimethyl carbonate, a flammable liquid.

This sounds good but there may be a catch. Since they are not giving out an estimated cost, silver-zink batteries may be pricey.


Warning about electronic espionage at the Olympics

Westerners attending the Olympics may face more than oppressive smog.

National security agencies are warning businesses and federal officials that laptops and e-mail devices taken to the Beijing Olympics are likely to be penetrated by Chinese agents aiming to steal secrets or plant bugs to infiltrate U.S. computer networks.

Chinese government and industry use electronic espionage to "easily access official and personal computers," says one recent report by the Overseas Security Advisory Council, a federally chartered panel comprising security experts from corporations and the State, Commerce and Treasury departments.

There is a high likelihood — virtually 100% — that if an individual is of security, political, or business interest to Chinese … security services or high technology industries, their electronics can and will be tampered with or penetrated.


Most dads unhappy with Father’s Day gifts

An article from last year (see link below) said that more than half of dad’s are unhappy with their Day gifts.

If you think ‘dear old dad’ is easy to please on Father's Day, think again.

Maybe ‘dear old dad’ expects too much. He should know they can’t afford to buy him that bright red Mini Cooper he really wants.

Then again, maybe he just wants a little more than those two painted ties you got for him last year that cost you a buck each at a clearance sale.