Watercooler Stories

By United Press International   |   Nov. 21, 2005 at 6:30 AM
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Travelers try to beat Thanksgiving rush

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- As the busiest travel period of the year in the United States approaches, experts say more people are trying to avoid the crunch by leaving early.

"Traditionally, the commute from hell was on Wednesday nights," John Townsend, a spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, told the Washington Post. "I think that's shifted in the last couple years, and more people are leaving earlier for their destinations and spreading out the holiday."

Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said those who head elsewhere by train for Thanksgiving started to change their patterns when the national rail passenger agency began requiring reservations for all Thanksgiving weekend trains from Wednesday through Sunday. He said Tuesday and Monday have now become super-busy as well.

In Thanksgiving week, Amtrak carries 30 percent more passengers than in an average week, with 600,000 expected this year. Amtrak is adding more than 60 trains on the Northeast Corridor for the week.

Airlines also report a spreading out of the Thanksgiving rush, although the day before and the Sunday after Thanksgiving remain the busiest days of the year.

American Indian Thanksgiving sampled

SCHENECTADY, N.Y., Nov. 21 (UPI) -- A Schenectady, N.Y., woman teaches a class each November about what an American Indian version of Thanksgiving might include.

Mira Nussbaum teaches people how to eat plants and weeds that grow locally. She prepared a meal at the Thatcher Park Nature Center Saturday that included violet quiche and nettle-plantain wild rice, the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union reported Sunday.

"Basically we are trying to give people a focus on the Native-American tradition of appreciation for the gifts of nature on a daily basis," said Nancy Engel, director of the nature center.

Nussbaum led a walk through the woods, pointing out which plants could be eaten and the plants such as nettle, lemon balm and black birch that can be made into tea.

"Most plants I have here you can find in most backyards," she said.

New Yorkers adopt space-saving trees

NEW YORK, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- The latest Christmas fad in New York City is the upside down Christmas tree.

The Sunday Telegraph of London reports the major reason for hanging trees with the crown on the bottom appears to be saving space in a city of notoriously small apartments.

The artificial trees come already equipped with lights and ornaments. They go for premium prices, selling for $257 to $500 depending on size.

We have ones that hang upside-down from the ceiling, ones that stand upside-down in a specially reinforced stand and a wall-mounted one, too," said Cynthia Sayed of Heart-to-Heart Florist in Brooklyn. "Plug them in and off you go. They are very popular."

The trees originally were used by stores for holiday displays. But city dwellers latched on to them as a way of fitting a tree into an awkward space, like a corner with armchairs or couches around it.

Bellado: A game to practice values

NEW YORK, Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Bellado is a game created to help U.S. adults and children practice values: kindness, respect, generosity, forgiveness, honesty and patience.

"Unfortunately, those who choose not to be religious or spiritual due to lack of faith in a particular deity/denomination or conflicts with scientific or moral beliefs, miss out on many of the benefits that are reinforced in such religions," says co-creator, Kimberly Bennett, in a release.

"Although not religious or spiritual in any way, Bellado is a fun and interesting way for adults and kids to practice the six universal principles that lead to being a good person."

In Bellado, the practitioner uses a combination of online technology with offline scorecards to keep track of points earned by improving the lives of others.

A combination of the number of points earned and the time spent practicing Bellado results in promotion in rank, signified by a rubber wristband. Newcomers start with a white wristband and work their way up through nine colors to earn a black band.

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