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Watercooler Stories

By United Press International

Study finds commuting can make Brits nuts

LONDON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- A new study has found something British commuters already know, that their daily trips can be extremely stressful, the BBC reports.

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Stress expert Dr. David Lewis found commuting can cause even greater stress than that experienced by fighter pilots and police officers. He compared the heart rate and blood pressure of 125 commuters with those in the other groups during training.

"The difference is that a riot policeman or a combat pilot have things they can do to combat the stress that is being triggered by the event," said Lewis, a fellow of the International Stress Management Association in the United Kingdom. "But the commuter, particularly on a train, cannot do anything about it at all."

After measuring stress levels in commuters for five years, Lewis identified a syndrome he calls "commuter amnesia," in which people forget large parts of their 45- to 60-minute journeys because of stress.

"Switching off the mind, turning people into zombies for 90 minutes, seems to me a quite appalling waste of talent," Lewis said. He said commuting can make people feel "frustrated, anxious and despondent."

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1917 signed urinal tops art poll

LONDON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- A gentleman's urinal has been named the most influential modern art work of all time, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain" topped a poll of 500 art experts in advance of Monday's awarding of this year's Turner Prize.

Picasso's "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" of 1907 was second, with Andy Warhol's 1962 "Marilyn Diptych" placing third.

Duchamp stunned the art world in 1917 when he signed the urinal and put it on display.

"The choice of Duchamp's 'Fountain' as the most influential work of modern art ahead of works by Picasso and Matisse comes as a bit of a shock," said art expert Simon Wilson. "But it reflects the dynamic nature of art today and the idea that the creative process that goes into a work of art is the most important thing -- the work itself can be made of anything and can take any form."

No. 4 was Picasso's Spanish Civil War painting, "Guernica," while Matisse's "The Red Studio" was fifth.


Ted Nugent makes a 'deer' offer

NORTH BARRINGTON, Ill., Dec. 1 (UPI) -- North Barrington, Ill., wants deer gone from the Chicago suburb, but its residents didn't find the solution offered by rocker Ted Nugent to be endearing.

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The village last week voted to let bow hunters to kill about 20 deer after residents complained about deer tearing up landscaping.

But one critic called it dangerous to hunt in a populated area and likened bow hunters to "six-pack swilling fans of Ted Nugent," reports WBBM-TV, Chicago.

Whereupon, the controversial rocker offered to personally take care of the deer population.

"All they got to do is give me a call, and I'll whack 'em and stack 'em and kill 'em and grill 'em and celebrate with the venison party God has blessed us with," Nugent said.

Nugent called critics of deer hunting ignorant, citing the growing number of drivers killed in deadly crashes involving deer.


NBC Anchorman Tom Brokaw: goodbye

NEW YORK, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Tom Brokaw signed off "NBC Nightly News" for the final time Wednesday night, ending nearly 23 years behind the prestigious anchor desk.

"Thanks for all that I have learned from you," he told viewers in his distinctive baritone voice. Brokaw said the most valuable lesson he takes with him is: "It's not the questions that get us into trouble, it's the answers. And no one person has all the answers."

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Brokaw, 64, has been considered the No. 1 news anchor in the United States, consistently beating his competitors in the ratings race since 1997.

His book, "The Greatest Generation," was a top-seller and he again paid tribute to his subject matter -- World War II vets -- as he said good-bye Wednesday night.

"They did not give up on the idea that all of us are in this together," he said.

The South Dakota native said he plans on using his newfound freedom traveling and spending more time with his wife, Meredith, at their Montana farm. He will also produce and host documentaries for NBC News in the years to come.

A familiar face will be at the anchor desk Thursday. Frequent Brokaw replacement Brian Williams has been named as his successor.

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