Watercooler Stories

Nov. 29, 2007 at 6:30 AM
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Beet juice used to deice roads

AKRON, Ohio, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Road crews in Akron will use beet juice to remove ice and snow from the Ohio city's roadways this winter.

Akron Public Works Bureau Manager Paul Barnett said once the sugar is removed from the beets, the juice is mixed with calcium chloride and rock salt to create a very efficient deicer product, WEWS-TV in Cleveland reported Wednesday.

"The beets also allow the salt and the calcium chloride to stick to the road better and last longer, allowing us to save money with fewer application over the course of winter," Barnett said.

Barnett has ordered 4,000 gallons of the mixture.

Last year alone, Akron officials spent nearly $4 million on snow and ice removal.

Barnett told WEWS-TV the mixture smells slightly like brewer's yeast when placed on roads and appears brown rather than red, the color most commonly associated with beets.

Nordstrom stores embracing canned music

PORTLAND, Ore., Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The pianists traditionally filling Nordstrom stores with melodies will soon be gone as the U.S. chain switches to piped-in pop songs.

Nordstrom spokeswoman Brook White said that while some loyal customers will undoubtedly dislike the musical change, overall public opinion indicated it was time for the Seattle department store chain to evolve, The Oregonian in Portland, Ore., reported Wednesday.

"People associate the pianos with us, but, in fact, what they've been experiencing over the past few years has been overhead music," White said. "We certainly understand that some people are disappointed, and that's something we always hate to do at Nordstrom. But over time, we just evolve our experience."

That evolution may come at a cost for the 157-store chain though, according to Portland retail music expert Brian Rupp Brian Rupp.

Rupp said while the retail chain will save money by avoiding pianists' labor costs, it will be giving up the human touch that made it special to shoppers.

"What's gone is this loss of an experiential element that really transcends music and has more to do with the human presence," he told the newspaper, "a human touch."

'GETOSAMA' plates lead to N.Y. lawsuit

NEW YORK, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A retired police officer in New York is suing the state Department of Motor Vehicles for taking away his anti-Taliban license plate, "GETOSAMA."

Arno Herwerth, a retired New York Police Department sergeant, alleges DMV officials acted unconstitutionally when they rescinded his personalized license plates, the New York Post reported Wednesday.

Herwerth's attorney, Vincent Amicizia, said his client's patriotic message was not offensive and therefore DMV officials acted inappropriately.

"It's not the type of speech that would offend anybody," Amicizia said. "And it's hard to imagine who the heck this would be offensive to. That's what's so mind-blowing."

DMV officials said the plates violated a regulation regarding potentially offensive subject matter and did not meet the department's regulatory standards.

Meanwhile, Herwerth has bigger plans than simply earning his personalized plates.

"I'm ready to change our state government's attitude toward Osama bin Laden, and I welcome my day in court," Herwerth told the Post.

Virginia chicken fat leak causes accidents

NORFOLK, Va., Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Liquid chicken fat that leaked from a truck is being blamed for four traffic accidents on a stretch of a Virginia highway this week.

After several vehicles slid through the chicken fat that coated 20 miles of U.S. 13, Virginia Transportation Department officials worked hard to limit the effects of the accidental leak, The (Norfolk) Virginian Pilot said Wednesday.

Transportation officials said workers used tons of sand and salt to solidify the chicken fat and then removed it from the roadway with mechanical brooms. They then used water to flush any remnants from the road's surface, the newspaper said.

The leak occurred as a cargo truck left an area processing plant Tuesday. The accidents that resulted left one person injured.

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