Watercooler Stories

By United Press International  |  Dec. 24, 2004 at 6:30 AM
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More kids e-mailing Santa this year

WINNIPEG, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- In what may be a sign of the times, Canadian children wrote fewer letters to Santa Claus this year but bombarded jolly old St. Nick with e-mails.

Canada Post told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Thursday it received 50,000 fewer letters to Santa in 2004 compared to last year.

At the same time, a spokesman said, more kids used the Internet and e-mailed their requests to a Web site set up by the Post.

"It may be just a sign of the age," Peter Wypkema, communications director for Western Canada, told the CBC.

It's the 22nd year of Canada Post's letters to Santa program, in which 15,000 volunteers answer letters from about a million children.

One volunteer said he used to get about 400 letters a year and this year he got only 75.

Minnesota speed racer pleads guilty

WABASHA, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A motorcyclist arrested for driving 205 mph outside Wabasha, Minn., was sentenced to serve nearly the same amount in community service hours.

Sam Tilley, 20, pleaded guilty to speeding Wednesday and was sentenced to perform 200 hours community service, placed on a year of probation and fined $125, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

A charge of reckless driving was dropped in a plea agreement.

Under the agreement, Tilley admitted traveling 205 miles mph in a 65 mph zone during a charity motorcycle event on Sept. 18.

A Minnesota state police pilot overhead radioed a state patrol officer in a squad car who flagged Tilley down. He was riding a Honda 1000, police said.

Scooter lady snarls Scottish traffic

ARBROATH, Scotland, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- A disabled Scottish woman found a public bus could not accommodate her scooter so she decided to drive home and snarled traffic for miles.

Carole Wilson, 50, drove her blue scooter at about 8 mph down a main street toward Arbroath in Angus with a line of traffic trailing behind her, the Daily Record reported Thursday.

If she had made it, it would have been a 12 mile ride. But her battery gave out and she was picked up alongside the road by police, who drove her the rest of the way home.

"It wasn't one of my brightest ideas, I can tell you," Wilson said. She added her husband gave her a lecture about pulling such a stunt, but "I'm not a very good listener."

Wilson said she had no idea there was so much traffic behind her, because she was concentrating on the road.

The episode turned out to be "rather embarrassing," she said.

Cloned cat turns out to be a live ringer

DALLAS, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- The first commercially cloned housecat appears and behaves exactly as its late cell donor, the Dallas Morning News reported Thursday.

For $50,000, a Dallas-area woman identified only as Julie received her copy-cat kitten Dec. 10 from Genetic Savings & Clone of California.

The company took a tissue sample from Julie's late 17-year-old beloved Maine Coon cat named Nicky, and "produced" a clone over about a 6-month period.

"I see absolutely no differences between Little Nicky and Nicky," Julie said. "When Little Nicky yawned, I even saw two spots inside his mouth, just like Nicky had."

This year, Genetic Savings & Clone launched its "Nine Lives Extravaganza," offering clients the chance to clone their cats. Five feline lovers signed up this year, company spokesman Ben Carlson said, adding the other four are in various stages of "production."

However, Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, was critical of the process, saying cloned animals often have physical abnormalities and aren't likely to live as long.

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