Fish whopper: 646 pounds a freshwater record

Caught in Thailand…. Now I know why Siamese cats avoid swimming.

Source: Fish whopper: 646 pounds a freshwater record – Environment – MSNBC.com.

Thai fishermen netted a catfish as big as a grizzly bear, setting a world record for the largest freshwater fish ever found, according to researchers who studied the 646-pound Mekong giant catfish as part of a project to protect large freshwater fish.

via Kristen

Economic lessons with juicy twists

Source: Business 2.0 :: What’s Next :: What the Economists Aren’t Telling You

Money can replace morals. To deter parents from picking kids up late, a day-care center fined them $3 per child for each infraction. But the number of latecomers doubled, because "parents could buy off their guilt," Levitt writes.

Legalizing abortion lessened crime. Levitt presents compelling evidence that Roe v. Wade — in reducing the number of potential criminals born — had a far greater impact on the early-1990s drop in crime than gun control, the strong economy, or improved police tactics.

Semantics sells. In real estate ads, specific words like "granite" and "gourmet" fetch higher home prices, while vague descriptors like "charming" and "great neighborhood" drive values down.

Drug dealing is harder than you think. A crack dealer earning a paltry $3.30 an hour has a higher chance of being killed (1 in 4) than a Texas death row inmate (1 in 20).

Alison Wright’s Brush with Death

Here are some excerpts from a story in Outside Magazine that describes incredible courage and tenacity. Allison Wright is amazing.

In January 2000, while I was traveling through Laos on a Southeast Asia photo assignment, the bus I was riding in was sheared in half by a logging truck. My seat was at the point of impact. The force of the crash instantly broke my back, pelvis, coccyx, and ribs; my left arm plunged through a window, shredding it to the bone; my spleen was sliced in half; my diaphragm and lungs were punctured; my heart, stomach, and intestines tore loose and lodged in—yes, it’s possible—my shoulder. I would have bled to death if it hadn’t been for passersby, including a British aid worker, Alan, who drove me seven hours, bouncing and jarring over potholed roads, to a hospital in Thailand.

AS A DOCUMENTARY photographer and adventure traveler for more than 20 years, I had often been forced to test my limits. Years ago, I covered a brutal revolution in Nepal, when the army opened fire on demonstrators. Dozens of people were shot and killed, and tear gas was flying. I threw my shirt over my face and raced into the crowd. "If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room," I used to laugh to my friends. Now I had to live up to my words. There was no harsher edge than lying eviscerated on the roadside in Laos.

At Aek Udon Hospital, in Udon Thani, Thailand, I underwent numerous surgeries to repair my heart, lungs, and internal organs. My surgeon, Dr. Bunsom Santithamanoth, resutured my arm with more than 100 stitches, trying his best to clean out the innumerable shards of glass and bits of debris that the Laotian kid had left in.

Finally, I was medevacked to Kaiser, and my chart was translated from Thai.

"You realize you should be dead," my doctor there told me.

"Yeah, I’ve heard."

"No, I’m serious," he scolded. "You have to be aware of the extent of your injuries—the sutures inside, the scars outside, the broken bones to heal."

The day I scrubbed the blood off my camera bag was the first time I really cried. It had been three months since the accident, and life seemed intolerable. Insomnia was killing me. When I did sleep, I was tortured by violent dreams filled with lacerated bodies, screeching metal, and, for some reason, drownings. Finally, I decided that though my body might not be functioning, I could at least clear my fogged mind. I ceremoniously flushed my painkillers down the toilet.

Over the next few weeks, I bought every book I could find on alternative healing and studied medical texts in between. I found supportive doctors and incorporated acupuncture, meditation, homeopathic medicine, hypnosis, yoga, Pilates, and massage into my rehabilitation. I tried magnets for my back pain, and even cupping, an ancient Chinese practice used to stimulate blood circulation.

In the past, I’d thrived on jogging, kayaking, hiking, skiing, scuba diving, and yoga. Now, lifting a two-pound weight was a challenge. But I refused to give up. When one doctor told me I’d never have abdominal muscles again, due to all the surgeries, I started doing as many sit-ups as I could. Over the next year, I worked up to more than 1,000 per day.

In the fall of 2001, I managed to jog three miles on the beach in San Francisco. I was so happy, I hugged a startled Vietnamese fisherman.

THERE IS NO END to getting your life back—eventually, you have to come down the mountain. A few months after my climb, I realized that the physical healing had demanded so much energy, the emotional repair work had taken a backseat. My sleep was still plagued by nightmares. I often dreamed that I was with friends in Laos, and they all got on the bus. At the last minute I would become too paralyzed with fear to board, and I’d be left behind.

Exactly three years after the crash, on January 2, 2003, I was back in Thailand on a magazine assignment and got the chance to rewrite the past. I traveled north to the hospital in Udon Thani where I’d spent three weeks and waited patiently in the hallway. At first, Dr. Santithamanoth walked right past me. I stood to get his attention. When I told him who I was, his face lit up.

Link: Alison Wright’s Brush with Death.

Like a Rolling Stone in the Music Business

This article about Bob Dylan’s big break illustrates how well the music business recognizes talent.

Shaun Considine tells the saga of Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone, which was just named greatest rock ‘n’ roll song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine. He was co-ordinator of new releases at Columbia Records when song was recorded in 1965.

He says that the single was almost not released because company executives thought it was too long and because they did not like rock ‘n’ roll (It was this thinking that had led the label to turn down Elvis Presley in 1955 and the first American album by the Beatles in 1963).

Considine took the single to hot new disco in Manhattan and had it played there. A DJ at one radio station and music programmer at another heard song and rest is history.

Link: The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: The Hit We Almost Missed.

Fun Facts

A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

A “jiffy” is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

A snail can sleep for three years.

Al Capone’s business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.

Almonds are a member of the peach family.

An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.

Babies are born without kneecaps. They don’t appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.

Butterflies taste with their feet.

Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds. Dogs only have about 10.

“Dreamt” is the only English word that ends in the letters “mt”.

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

If the population of China walked past you, in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.

If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of 6 months waiting at red lights.

It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

On a Canadian two dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament building is an American flag.

Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.

Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

“Stewardesses” is the longest word typed with only the left hand and “lollipop” with your right.

The average person’s left hand does 56% of the typing.

The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

The sentence: “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” uses every letter of the alphabet.

The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.

The words ‘racecar,’ ‘kayak’ and ‘level’ are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes).

There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

There are more chickens than people in the world.

There are only four words in the English language which end in “dous”: tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous

There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: “abstemious” and “facetious.”

There’s no Betty Rubble in the Flintstones Chewables Vitamins.

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies’ room during a dance.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks; otherwise it will digest itself.

Bigfoot in Virginia?

From Wired Magazine

William Dranginis saw a bigfoot once. It was hairy, a good 7 feet tall, and sprinting through the woods of Virginia. In the decade since that 12-second sighting, Dranginis has dedicated himself to getting another look. To improve his chances, the 45-year-old surveillance and security expert from Manassas, Virginia, bought a 24-foot mobile veterinary unit and converted it into the Bigfoot Primate Research Lab.

So far, Dranginis has spent about $50,000 to outfit the mystery mobile with state-of-the-art gear, much of it custom-built. He mounted a Raytheon NightSight 200 thermal camera on a 25-foot-tall crank-up mast. (The camera can detect an animal in the dark 800 yards away.) He’s also got two night-vision scopes, a surface-to-aircraft radio, and TV monitors that can combine images from roof-mounted videocams into one 360-degree view, or receive feeds from remote cams in the woods. He deploys at least two weekends a month.

And still no second sighting. “Early on, I said if I could just look into the eyes of this thing I would sell all my equipment and get back to my life,” he says. “But my main goal now is to try to establish contact, then push for legislation to protect the areas they inhabit.” You are now exiting Sasquatch territory.

Link Desperately seeking Sasquatch

Holocaust Survival in a Cave

Off the Face of the Earth By Peter Lane Taylor, National Geographic Adventure Magazine, June/July 2004

Over a decade ago, cave explorer Chris Nicola began his investigation into a little-known tale of Holocaust survival. What he uncovered involved 38 Jews, one of the longest caves on Earth, and 344 days without daylight.

In the spring of 1944, a group of 38 Ukrainian Jews emerged weak and jaundiced from a cave they’d used for nearly a year to escape the horrors of the Holocaust. Nearly fifty years later, one caver began his quest to bring their story of survival to life.

In 1993, veteran caver Chris Nicola became one of the first Americans to explore Ukraine’s famous Gypsum Giant cave systems. While there, during an expedition into the tenth longest cave in the world, his team came across two partially intact stone walls and other signs of habitation. Local residents, who revere the Gypsum Giants as national treasures, told Nicola that a group of Ukrainian Jews spent months in the cave evading the horrors of the Holocaust. No one seemed to know who had survived, however, and some questioned whether any had seen daylight again. Fascinated, Nicola grew determined to learn how people with no prior caving experience or specialized equipment were able to live in such a hostile environment for so long.

Ten years later, after an extensive search, Nicola located six of the cave survivors, most of them members of the extended Stermer family. The story they told was even more remarkable than the legend Nicola had heard while in the Ukraine, involving not one cave hideout, but two, and nearly two years spent underground.

By piecing together interviews with the survivors and artifacts they found while in Ukraine, Nicola and Taylor were able to develop a clear picture of the Jews underground life.

Link National Geographic Adventure Magazine: Holocaust survival

Strange But True: Brad Hanson

Excerpts from a story in the May 23 Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Two men named Brad Hanson who both felt the death grip of chest pain the morning of April 13 and ended up in the emergency room of North Fulton Regional Hospital in Roswell.

Both Brads have wives named Vicki or Vickie; the Roswell wife spells her name with an e.

Both wives drive white Toyota Camrys.

The women’s cars were parked side by side in the hospital parking lot.

Both Brads were born in October, both Libras.

Both families have two daughters and one son from previous marriages.

One Hanson family has a dog named Ziggy; the other, a dog named Izzy.

And both Brads had two cockatiel birds. And now both have only one because one bird died last year in each Hanson household.

Link Atlanta Journal-Constitution