Watercooler Stories

By United Press International  |  Nov. 22, 2006 at 6:30 AM
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Obama apologizes for causing girl trouble

MCDONOUGH, Ga., Nov. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has publicly apologized to a Henry County, Ga., reporter for embarrassing him in front of a woman.

Obama, in a phone call to reporter Nicklaus Lovelady of the Daily Herald that aired on National Public Radio's "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me" program, apologized to the reporter for saying he had a "baby face" at a news conference in southern Illinois two years ago, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

Lovelady wrote earlier this month that Obama's comment prevented him from impressing a woman he was speaking to.

"Thanks to everyone's favorite new senator, I lost big time," Lovelady wrote in the Herald. "Obama owes me a public apology for making me look like a court jester and for blocking my shot."

"I'm calling to publicly apologize for messing up your game," the senator told Lovelady. "I read that. I felt terrible. I didn't know there were any ladies around. I just wanted to let you know that I'm deeply sorry. But if she was that superficial, she wasn't worth it."

Much ado about posh Times Square toilets

NEW YORK, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Twenty new luxurious, but temporary, public toilets have opened at New York's Times Square with the slogan "When you're in New York, go in style."

Sponsored by toilet paper giant Charmin, the plush wallpapered toilet stalls feature bright lights, porcelain sinks and changing tables for babies in a building at W. 46th St. and Broadway, and will remain in place until the end of the year, the New York Daily News reported.

The facility opened with fanfare Monday, with actress Doris Roberts cutting a toilet-paper ribbon and making the ceremonial first flush.

The event drew throngs of media with cameras and microphones, which put some curious onlookers off, the report said.

Brett Schumer, 33, said he found it too gimmicky.

"I like the idea of a clean public rest room but you don't need five people talking to you before and after you do your business," he told the Daily News.

Grammar costs cancer research $8 million

NEW YORK, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Poor grammar has led to cancer researchers in Hawaii losing $8 million in funding from cigarette taxes, as only one cigarette was specified in the law.

Linda Smith, an adviser to Gov. Linda Lingle, told USA Today the law's intent was to give 1.5 cents per cigarette sold to research but the law's final wording means they will get 1.5 cents from the sale of one cigarette.

The most recent failure in proofreading was on Arizona's Nov. 7 ballot, when voters approved a tobacco tax increase of 0.80 cents, when the original intent was an 80-cent surcharge, the newspaper said.

New York state also has enacted a law covering "aggravated driving while intoxicated" that sets the minimum blood alcohol percentage at 0.18, it specified .018 grams.

Lt. Glenn Miner, a New York State Police spokesman told the newspaper the gram measurement is too low to measure, and that the body can produce that amount naturally without drinking anything alcoholic.

All three laws will be amended when the various legislatures reconvene, the report said.

McDonald's helps kids sweat off meals

SANTA ANA, Calif., Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Fast-food giant McDonald's is rolling out mini-gyms in its U.S. restaurants to encourage children to sweat off their meals, or at least part of them.

The latest, and fourth of 20 planned, opened in Santa Ana, Calif., Monday, and features stationary bikes, monkey bars, climbing ropes and a mini basketball court, the Orange County (Calif.) Register reported.

The newspaper observed children lining up to try out the R-Gym, named for the company's mascot, Ronald McDonald.

Health officials had a cautiously optimistic opinion of the venture, including Debi Pillarella, a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise.

"It is not recommended to ride a stationary bike while eating a Big Mac," Pillarella told the Register.

Janet Little, a nutritionist for Henry's Marketplace and Wild Oats supermarkets, also had mixed feelings, as she said for the most part "the calories you burn there won't come near the amount needed to burn off what they consume."

The other R-Gyms are in Sacramento; Whittier, Calif.; and Tulsa, Okla., the newspaper said.

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