Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wasp nests a problem for nuclear site

A Washington nuclear site now has a new problem. Nuclear wasp nests.

Mud dauber wasps built the nests, which have been largely abandoned by their flighty owners, in holes at south-central Washington's Hanford nuclear reservation in 2003.

That's when workers finished covering cleaned-up waste sites with fresh topsoil, native plants and straw to help the plants grow — inadvertently creating perfect ground cover for the insects to build their nests. Nearby cleanup work also provided a steady supply of mud, which the wasps used as building material.

Today, the nests, which could number in the thousands, are "fairly highly contaminated" with radioactive isotopes, such as cesium and cobalt, but don't pose a significant threat to workers digging them up.

"You don't know what you're going to run into, and this is probably one of the more unusual situations," said Todd Nelson, spokesman for Washington Closure Hanford, the contractor hired to clean up the area under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Energy.

The wasps largely built their nests in a 75-acre area around H reactor, pulling the mud from the bottom of a storage basin that once held irradiated nuclear fuel.

As for the wasps themselves, they're largely long gone — the insects don't reuse their nests when they colonize each spring.

The federal government created Hanford in the 1940s as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb.

The site produced plutonium for the first atomic blast and for the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of World War II, and plutonium production continued through the Cold War.

The work left a mess of radioactive and hazardous waste to be cleaned up next to the region's largest waterway, the Columbia River. The effort is expected to last decades and cost more than $50 billion.

Sounds scary. The sting from a nuclear wasp could cause some very strange reactions.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Fox outed as shoe thief

The identity of a shoe thief has been discovered in Germany and it's a fox.

A forest worker stumbled upon shoes strewn near the fox's den and found a trove of footwear down the hole which had recently been stolen overnight from outside locals' front doors.

"There was everything from ladies' shoes to trainers," said a local police spokesman. "We've found between 110 and 120 so far. It seems a vixen stole them for her cubs to play with."

Although many were missing laces, the shoes were in good condition and their owners were delighted to reclaim them, he said, adding that no reprisals were planned against the culprit.

Perhaps the locals could donate their old shoes to the fox as playtoys for her cubs.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Best selling American car is driven by toddlers

America's best selling American car is the Cozy Coupe. The red and yellow car has been popular with American toddlers for thirty years.

It has sold more than 10 million units in its 30-year history, to become one of the most easily recognized and popular cars of all time, easily landing in the list of top-20 nameplates in history ahead of perennial favourites such as the BMW 3 Series.

It is the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, which began production in Macedonia, Ohio, in 1979, later moving to Hudson, Ohio, in 1985 and is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2009 with a special edition model.

And now it has landed a parking spot at Cleveland's Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum, a prestigious institution that is one of the Top-10 automobile museums in the U. S., according to Car Collector Magazine. The Crawford Museum will house one of the first Cozy Coupes to come off the production line in 1979 as well a 30th Anniversary edition model.

Those cars are sturdy too. I've never seen one stuck on the side of the road.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Toddler falls three stories, only suffers minor injuries

A Nebraska toddler fell three stories off of an apartment balcony and has only minor injuries to his face.

Jacob Bettin, a police spokesman, said 1-year-old Dennis Nimely was playing on the third-floor balcony of an apartment in Omaha's Wentworth Townhomes when he fell through a small opening, KETV, Omaha, reported Wednesday.

The toddler was taken to Nebraska Medical Center for treatment of his injury. Police said no arrests were made.

How lucky was he? Hopefully this reminds everyone that they need to childproof their balconies.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Little League Coach uses players to rob store

A little league coach in Washington took several of his players with him when he broke into a vacant store and stole bolts and lights.

Investigators allege that George Spady Jr. was with his son, a nephew and another player from his baseball team when he broke into a vacant shop and took overhead lights and bolts. The boys were encouraged to assist with the break-in, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Edirin Okoloko wrote in court documents.

Spady, 31, was charged Monday with second-degree burglary, a felony.

Snohomish County sheriff's deputies were called to one of the players' homes after the boy told his stepfather that his coach had taken him along to break into a shop in Arlington, Okoloko wrote.

The stepfather was angry that an adult would use the boys to commit a crime, and, even worse, "that the adult was his son's baseball coach," Okoloko wrote.

The boy told investigators that Spady's son crawled through a vent on the back side of the shop and unlocked the door for his father. Spady, his son and Spady's nephew then went inside and came out with light fixtures and some other items, according to court documents.

The boy told investigators that Spady yelled at him to go inside and grab more from the shop, and told him to hurry up because he saw a truck drive by, Okoloko wrote.

The boy told police he didn't take anything from the shop.

Spady told police he'd driven onto the property to go "four-wheeling" with the boys, Okoloko wrote. He told the sheriff's deputy he didn't see the numerous "No Trespassing" signs posted on the shop, near the driveway and in other locations on the property.

Investigators reported that Spady told them the front door to the shop was unlocked and he couldn't recall if anyone went through a vent to get inside, Okoloko wrote.

Spady was apologetic, the deputy reported.

He admitted taking shop lights and bolts but didn't take anything else; he handed over the lights to the sheriff's deputy. He said he didn't have the bolts with him, according to court documents.

The boys are not expected to be charged with a crime.

In the future the little league should choose coaches that are good role models for it's players.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Dead body is a mannequin

A body that hikers spotted on the side of a cliff in Connecticut turned out to be a mannequin.

Lt. Paul Vance said the object was first spotted and identified as a body Saturday night in West Rock State Park but a specialized ropes team dispatched to the scene Sunday morning discovered the "body" was actually a mannequin, WTNH-TV, New Haven, Conn., reported Monday.

Vance said the State Police Major Crimes Squad was on the scene for about 2 1/2 hours Saturday night and three hours Sunday morning.

I wonder who murdered the mannequin? And what the mannequin did to deserve being thrown off a cliff, perhaps it's an adulterer.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mr. Clucky has to go

Miami officials are evicting Mr Clucky the bike riding rooster much to the shock of locals.

Last week, Buckley was cited by the city's code enforcement department. It explained the rooster must leave town in seven days. The reason: The city prohibits "the keeping, stabling, or maintaining of livestock."

"It's nuts," says Buckley, who considers the fowl a friend. "He's just a cheerful little animal who likes to bike around and meet people, and he's getting shot down for some insane bureaucratic bullshit. It's like, "Alert! Alert! Oh my God, it's a CHICKEN!"

Says Miami Beach Spokesperson Ivette Diaz: "Buckley can file for an appeal of the citation within ten days of the notice with the Office of the City Clerk."

Around 9 a.m. last Wednesday, there was a knock on the door of Buckley's cozy South Beach pad. He says he found a sheepish code enforcement officer at his front entrance. "He told me: 'Don't shoot the messenger. I love Mr. Clucky.'"

The officer then handed him a $75 ticket. It noted that a resident had seen the duo cycling around town, and complained that Buckley "has a rooster and possible other farm animals." (And the award for Biggest Sourpuss goes to...)

Thing is, Mr. Clucky isn't your typical coop-dwelling critter. He has been a grand marshal at the King Mango Strut Parade, has headlined Miami-Dade Earth Day events, and even won "best activist" in City Link last year. And so, Buckley wonders, shouldn't there be an exception?

The duo is not leaving without a fight. Buckley is drafting a letter to the city and has begun plotting a protest. He says he will "stand up and take down city hall if necessary."

So the man rides around on his bicycle with a rooster named Mr Clucky? Only in Florida.