News Around the World

Clean Intruder

Whenever you purchase a new home appliance or piece of tech, it can take a bit of time to get used to it.  But this is a bit much.

As reported by WCHP TV in High Point, North Carolina, Thomas Milam and his wife were sleeping soundly in their Clemmons, NC home one night last week when they were awakened by bumping sounds downstairs.

Rather than confront a potential intruder, the couple hid in their closet and called 911.

But when the cops arrived, they couldn’t find an intruder.  They did, however, find Harry.

Harry is the name the couple gave to their recently-purchased robotic home vacuum.  Harry had somehow activated itself, became stuck in a tight spot and so started repeatedly banging on the wall as it sought to free itself.

“It definitely is better safe than sorry because having heard what we did, I still would have called the police and because you just never know,” Milam said.

This isn’t the first time police have been called to investigate reports of intruders that turned out to be robotic vacuums.  Last April, in a story that made national headlines, the Washington County, Oregon sheriff’s office responded to a call from home guests of an intruder in a downstairs bathroom.  That turned out to be a Roomba that’d somehow gotten stuck inside and was banging against the door.

News Around the World

Don’t Follow Your GPS Blindly

A motorist and his family are safe after being stranded in their vehicle for nearly seven hours Saturday in heavy snow.

As reported by The Boston Globe, in Burlington, Vermont, the driver was following GPS directions in a skiing area to get him, his wife and their three kids to their destination at a nearby hotel when GPS indicated the driver should turn onto a secondary road.

Unfortunately, that road is only open to traffic when it’s not buried in snow.  It’s closed to conventional traffic in the winter, when it becomes a snowmobile trail, with signs posted declaring as much.

Nevertheless, the driver ignored the signs and drove the minivan for a few miles down the road before the penny apparently finally dropped and he realized continuing onward was a bad idea.  But when he attempted to turn around, the minivan slid off of the road and into a ditch.

The driver was able to call for roadside assistance but given the conditions, it took Fish and Game officials, state troopers and local rescue personnel over seven hours to get Mr. Genius vehicle back on the road at around 2:00 a.m. Sunday.

The driver was also issued a citation for operating a conventional vehicle on a snowmobile trail.

Lakeshore News, News Around the World

The Most Common New Year’s Resolutions By State

Want to shed a little weight in 2020? Save some money?

Well, obviously you’re not alone. The website surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers to see what change they want to get with for the new year. Exercising more, saving money and traveling — in that order — have been the most common resolutions for three years running, the website explains.

By state, it’s more of the same, though people in Alaska seem to be more lonely than most — “Make New Friends” was Alaskans’ top resolution.  In the same vein, people in Vermont are looking for love in 2020.

Here are the survey’s findings:

What are your resolutions going into 2020?
Exercise more/lose weight — 36%
Save money — 27%
Travel — 18%
Get a new job/hobby — 8%
Find love — 7%
Make new friends — 4%

Americans’ top New Year’s resolutions, by state
Alabama — Exercise
Alaska — Make new friends
Arizona — Save money
California — Save money
Colorado — Exercise
Connecticut — Exercise
Delaware — New job
Florida — Save money
Georgia — Exercise
Idaho — Exercise
Illinois — Exercise
Indiana — Exercise
Iowa — Save money
Kansas — Exercise
Kentucky — Save money
Louisiana — Exercise
Maine — Exercise
Maryland — Exercise
Massachusetts — Exercise
Michigan — Exercise
Minnesota — Save money
Mississippi — Exercise
Missouri — Exercise
Montana — Travel
Nebraska — Exercise
Nevada — Exercise
New Jersey — Exercise
New Mexico — Save money
New York — Travel more
North Carolina — Exercise
Ohio — Travel
Oklahoma — Exercise
Oregon — Save money
Pennsylvania — Save Money
South Carolina — Save Money
South Dakota — Travel
Tennessee — Exercise
Texas — Exercise
Utah — Save money
Vermont — Find love
Virginia — Exercise
Washington — Save money
West Virginia — Exercise
Wisconsin — Save money
Wyoming — Exercise

News Around the World

Rage Against the Packaging

Just in time for Boxing Day comes the result of a survey that says the average person spent more than 30 minutes on Christmas just trying to remove the stuff they received from the box or packaging in which it came.

A survey of 2,000 British people revealed that wrestling with all that tied-down, vacuum-sealed, wire-secured stuff will cost the average person 43 days of their lives.

This so-called “package rage” has led to a quarter of those surveyed admitting they’d damaged the item they were trying to free while trying to open it, one in six have damaged a pair of scissors trying to do so, and a third say they’ve lost their temper trying to open a package.

The survey also revealed that three in ten say that too much tape is typically the source of their frustration, while one in five said needing to physically unscrew an item from a package grinds their gears.

A quarter of respondents say trying to open a package led to them getting into an argument with someone, nearly two-thirds say it’s led to a fight with their significant other, and three in ten started fighting their kids over a stubborn package.

All told, 84% said they’ve battled the box at one time or another.

“These shocking results show that problem packaging isn’t just a nuisance, it’s a real issue that’s affecting millions of people and making them feel less included at special times like Christmas,” comments a spokesperson for UK-based packaging company DS Smith, which commissioned the survey.


News Around the World

Thou Shalt Be Healed…CLANG!

Dateline: Des Moines, Iowa — When God heals people, he doesn’t mess around.

And by ‘God’ in this case, we’re actually referring to 30-year-old Carl Stroud.  As reported by the Des Moines Register, Stroud was chilling in his apartment on December 19 — of course, God has an apartment in Des Moines — when he spied an unidentified man outside whom Stroud believed was on drugs.

Being God and all, Stroud decided he wanted to heal the poor man.  So he nipped outside and “[struck] the man with his scepter,” according to the police report.

And by “scepter” in this case, we mean steel rod, which Stroud, apparently desiring to whup a serious healing on the man, used to strike him in the head.  Repeatedly.

The 21-year-old victim was taken to a local hospital with a fractured skull, from which he’s recovering.  Stroud — who reportedly has a history of violent incidents and aberrant behavior going back ten years — is now a resident of the Polk County Jail, where he’s being held on $5,300 bond in lieu of a hearing scheduled for Monday.

News Around the World

Reddit user got Bill Gates as her Secret Santa; here’s what one of the world’s richest men got her

Secret Santa programs are, by definition, a crap shoot — you never know what you’re gonna get, or who’s gonna be your Santa.

But if you’re lucky, like a young woman from Washington State was, you’ll get one of the world’s richest people as yours.

A Reddit user known as Szor got Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as her Secret Santa, as part of Reddit’s annual Secret Santa, which pairs random users from all over the world with each other.

Szor posted on Reddit that it was her 95th such gift exchange — and, more importantly, to share what was inside the 81-pound box Gates sent her.

The tech genius sent along a huge collection of Szor’s favorite things, including massive Star Wars and Harry Potter LEGO sets, Twin Peaks memorabilia, Oreos, treats for her cat, and — perhaps more befitting of a guy with loads of dough — a manuscript copy of Szor’s all-time favorite book, The Great Gatsby.

“It’s really unique because it’s a manuscript book, so inside the pages are scans of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s actual handwriting and all of his notes when he was making this book,” she gushed to YouTube, where she showed off her haul.

Szor also explained that Gates sent along a handwritten note, which conveyed condolences for the recent loss of her mother, along with a donation to the American Heart Association in her honor.

“‘I hope you and your family find your ‘new normal’ this holiday season,'” she quoted Gates’ note, explaining his donation “means more to me than I can express.”

So, the takeaway apparently is we should join Reddit’s Secret Santa program. There are 2,604 billionaires in the world, according to something called the Wealth-X Billionaire Census. More of them have gotta be on Reddit. Right?

News Around the World

Man Shoots at Wife to “Get Her Attention”

Well, that’s one way to get someone’s attention.  Not a good way, mind you, but still.

As reported by WSAZ in Huntington, West Virginia, law enforcement responded last Sunday afternoon to reports of gunshots at a home in St. Albans.

Police surrounded the residence with rifles at the ready until the resident, 55-year-old Lonnie Smith — because of course his name is Lonnie — emerged and explained he was the one who had fired a pistol inside the home.

Police say Smith told them he fired the pistol because his wife was on her phone and “wouldn’t listen to him,” and he “wanted to get her attention.”

The round shattered a glass table that was just a foot away from where Smith’s wife was sitting.  She was uninjured.

Smith certainly got the police’s attention.  He was arrested and charged with felony wanton endangerment.  At last word he was being held in South Central Regional Jail on a $5,000 cash-only bond.

Lakeshore News, News Around the World

AAA Fuel Gage

A year-end spike in road trip travel due to the holidays helped to push the national average more expensive on the week – up four cents to $2.58. Compared to last month, the national average is the same price, but 31 cents more expensive than the end of 2018.

The majority of states saw gas prices increase in the last week – some by as much as a nickel to a dime, but any spikes in gas prices that motorists are seeing will be short-lived. AAA expects gas prices to decrease following the holidays.”

In 2019, the national gas price average was $2.61, which is ten cents cheaper than the 2018 average of $2.71.

Despite a nearly 400,000 bbl build in gasoline stocks, gasoline prices in the region are up due to year-end holiday travel. Data from the Energy Information Admiration (EIA) lists total stocks at 52 million bbl, which is about 1 million more than this time last year. Stocks are expected to continue to build and drive gas prices cheaper in the new year.

  Monday Sunday Week Ago Month Ago One Year Ago
National $2.581 $2.578 $2.548 $2.588 $2.271
Wisconsin $2.406 $2.408 $2.400 $2.414 $2.055
Appleton $2.347 $2.352 $2.347 $2.329 $1.991
Eau Claire $2.465 $2.469 $2.457 $2.541 $2.133
Green Bay $2.381 $2.380 $2.377 $2.325 $1.997
Janesville-Beloit $2.368 $2.363 $2.315 $2.385 $1.980
La Crosse $2.434 $2.441 $2.412 $2.427 $2.109
Madison $2.376 $2.377 $2.380 $2.377 $2.050
Milwaukee $2.346 $2.347 $2.336 $2.365 $1.998
Wausau $2.422 $2.423 $2.429 $2.438 $2.071

Click here to view current gasoline price averages

News Around the World

Would you get your car key implanted under your skin? This guy did, and more

Ben Workman, a 29-year-old software engineer, has fused technology with his own body.

This self-described “biohacker” and tinkerer, has RFID and NFC computer chips implanted in his hands. He also has a Tesla key implanted into his right hand to and a magnet in his left hand — which he says he mostly uses to ape the Marvel villain Magneto, by pulling paper clips toward his hand’s magnetic field.

With the RFID and NFC chips, a touch of his hand is all it takes for Workman to copy someone’s contact info from their phone and add it to his contact database. “I can configure a Wi-Fi network automatically,” Workman told ABC News.

As a software engineer, Workman is a programmer and can write code for the implants. He uses his hands to control his home’s smart devices, like turning lights on and off, and replaces his swipe key at work.

The implant process is the same type of microchipping done on cats and dogs. The RFID, NFC and magnet were inserted just under his skin using a “large” needle.

“It hurts, for sure,” Workman said.

When he first set out to get the implants, he couldn’t find a doctor, veterinarian or even a tattoo/piercing parlor that would agree to carry out the procedure. So he called on his cousin, a phlebotomist, to help him with his first two implants.

Once the chips are in, Workman said there’s no discomfort. The magnet, however, causes “a little bit of a sensation when I move my hand.”

Implanting the Tesla key required a 5mm incision with a scalpel across the back of his hand to his knuckles. The incision took time to heal, but Workman said he’s had no complications from it, or any of the implants.

News Around the World

Doorbell camera catches four-legged porch pirate in the act

Call it the pooch who stole Christmas.

Oklahoma resident Debbie Goines was expecting a package from her sister-in-law in California, but after the package was delivered, she never found it at her front door.

When Goines, who was obviously puzzled, checked her doorbell camera, footage showed her package being taken right off of her steps — not by a porch pirate, but a pooch pirate. It was the neighbor’s dog Max, a Great Pyrenees, who Goines said may have a little retriever in him.

“He just politely picked up the package and carried it home,” Goines said.

Goines called her neighbor to see if he had found her gift. The package contained a box full of jerky and food, she said. But all Goines’ neighbor found was a busted box and a bottle of olive oil.

Goines’ neighbor offered to pay for the damage, but Goines said she wouldn’t accept it and said Max the dog could still come over to play with her grandkids, despite him eating her gift.