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Feb. 12, 2013 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

Astronomer: Lights in sky likely lanterns

WANUIOMATA, New Zealand, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A New Zealand astronomer said two "bright orange fire balls" spotted over a Wellington suburb were likely Chinese lanterns blown away by the wind.

Michelle Turner said she and a group of 10 friends were partying in Wanuiomata at 1:05 a.m. Sunday, the start of the Chinese New Year, and they spotted the lights in the sky, The Dominion Post, Wellington, reported Monday.

Carter Observatory astronomer Claire Bretherton said the lights, described as "two bright orange fireballs" moving together and changing directions, were likely Chinese lanterns carried away by the wind.

''They were probably moving with the prevailing wind. If it was something like a fireball or meteor it would not change direction," Bretherton said.

''It was just so weird," Turner said. "They were traveling at the same speed, then they turned at the same time in another direction and one looked like it disappeared, then came back, then disappeared again, then the other one disappeared.''


Taiwan zoo to dissect poop as attraction

TAIPEI, Taiwan, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Zoo officials in Taiwan are turning to an odd point of interest to draw visitors during the winter season: animal poop.

The Taipei Zoo, seeking to capitalize on renewed interest in animals after the release of the 3-D movie "Life of Pi," directed by Taiwanese-born filmmaker Ang Lee, said it will dissect and explain the contents of animal poop three times per week for any zoo visitors interested in the smelly demonstration.

The movie depicts a young Hindu boy who survives a shipwreck and is stranded on a lifeboat for 227 days. Several animals join him on the surrealist journey.

As for how that translates into dissecting poop, zoo officials explained the display has a pointed demographic similar to the movie, Central News Agency said Sunday.

"Somehow the poo topic is very stimulating for boys from 5 to 9 years old. They could be our target audience during winter vacation," project manager Lin Jun-lan said.


Man cleared in stinky feet stabbing

AUGUSTA, Ga., Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A Georgia man alleged to have cut a roommate for complaining about his foot odor was acquitted at the close of a bench trial.

Crawford Jackson, 62, of Augusta, was acquitted of charges of aggravated assault and possession of a knife during the commission of a crime Wednesday by Richmond County Superior Court Judge J. David Roper, who said the knife does not appear to have been used as a deadly weapon in the June 11 incident, the Augusta Chronicle reported Monday.

Darryl Harris, the alleged victim, testified Jackson became angry when Harris complained about the man's foot odor and poked him repeatedly in the stomach with the blunt end of a pocket knife, breaking the skin.

Jackson was previously acquitted in May 2009 of a murder charge. He was accused of killing Phillip Wallis Scott, 51, who died two days after Jackson stabbed him in the stomach in 2008. Jackson successfully argued the incident was self-defense.


Officials give piano project a few days

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- A San Francisco artist said officials have given him a few extra days to keep his baby grand piano on the bluffs overlooking a bay.

Mauro Ffortissimo, 50, whose real last name is Dinucci, said he and four men moved the piano onto the bluffs overlooking Half Moon Bay Feb. 1 and he has since been holding sunset concerts every day to regale passersby with classical music, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.

Ffortissimo said a code enforcement officer informed him a few days later that he would have to remove the piano because he did not have a permit, which the officer told him would take "a year" to obtain.

The artist said officials agreed to wait until Thursday to enforce the codes, allowing him to continue his project for a few more days.

Ffortissimo said his idea for the "Sunset Piano" project is to play the same pieces each night and see how they differ as the elements affect the instrument.

"The piano's getting progressively out of tune, out of whack, out of everything," Ffortissimo said. "I'm doing the same thing, but nature's changing the piano. Everything's in flux."

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