Watercooler Stories

By ALEX CUKAN, United Press International   |   Nov. 21, 2003 at 7:19 AM
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PLAN TO STOP TREE STEALING

The University of Minnesota, tired of having its evergreen trees chopped down and stolen to be used as free Christmas trees, has a plan.

Last year, thieves clipped off the tops off several 25-years-old trees that were about 18 feet tall.

Thieves who try to pilfer a Christmas tree this year will find it smelling like a skunk, courtesy of a skunk scent from a trapping store, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

"Can you think of something worse?" asked grounds superintendent Les Potts, who estimates the yearly tree loss at about $7,000.

Cold weather masks the skunk smell, but the unmistakable scent is released indoors in the warmer air.


MOBILE HOMES UP 2,700 PERCENT

Since 1950, the number of mobile homes in the country soared from 300,000 to nearly 8.8 million in 2000, an increase of 2,700 percent.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports says South Carolina and New Mexico had the highest proportion of mobile homes, about 1-in-5.

Florida was the numerical leader in mobile homes with more than 800,000, followed by Texas at more than 700,000.

About 60 percent of all housing units were single-family, detached homes.


CAMPUSES HOSTILE TO WOMEN, MINORITIES

Large numbers of female and minority faculty experience a particularly challenging and sometimes hostile campus climate.

A study by the University of Missouri-Columbia finds 90 percent of the male faculty said women were treated fairly, but only 57 percent of the female faculty believed the same.

Eighty-seven percent of the white faculty believed minority faculty were treated fairly, but only 56 percent of minority faculty felt the same.

"We found that the lack of accountability and responsibility throughout the university hinders the achievement of an equitable climate for all," says study author Jennifer Hart.


PEOPLE NOT INTERESTED IN GETTING A WILL

LegalZoom.com, a legal document preparation service, says its annual national survey finds more than 35 percent of Americans never thought about creating a will.

That's up from 30 percent in 2002.

A survey shows 74 percent of parents with one or more minor children lacked a last will and testament, the same as last year.

In 2003 fewer people without wills indicated their intent to one in the future: 72 percent in 2003 versus 85 percent in 2002.

"A family's most important asset is their children and a last will and testament is the single most important legal document parents with minor children can ever prepare," says Brian Liu, chief executive officer of LegalZoom.com.

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