Watercooler Stories

Oct. 6, 2009 at 6:30 AM
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Prize-winning plastic lawn criticized

BRENTWOOD, England, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A British woman said her victory in a garden competition was spoiled by "spiteful" letters in her local paper criticizing her artificial lawn.

Jan Brooker, 64, of Brentwood, England, said letters appearing in her local paper after she won first place in the Brentwood in Bloom contest's First Time Entry category called her a "cheapskate" for using "plastic grass" on her lawn, the Daily Mail reported Monday.

Contest officials confirmed Brooker's artificial lawn did not break any rules but the retiree said the criticism has dissuaded her from entering the contest again in the future.

"It was horrible. I found it really upsetting. It's so petty and small-minded. Perhaps it is bitterness, maybe they entered but didn't win," Brooker said. "I can't believe how horrible some people can be. I never set out to deceive anybody. The judges would have been able to see it was artificial grass.

"Perhaps the judges were looking at the whole aspect of the garden, the well-tended planting and the hanging baskets, and appreciated the effort that goes into it," she said.

Denver police seek peace-sign vandals

DENVER, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- Denver police said they were investigating dozens of spray-painted peace signs that have appeared on homes and businesses in recent days.

Investigators said they don't have any suspects and no witnesses have come forward even though many of the peace signs were painted on buildings in high-traffic areas, KMGH-TV, Denver, reported Monday.

Resident Steven Wiskow said someone spray-painted a peace sign on his home on the busy corner of 11th Avenue and Grant Street.

"It's weird because you would think that someone would see it, someone driving by, because it's a high-traffic area," he said.

Stephanie Shearer, owner of Pandora's Jewelry, cleaned a peace sign off her neighbor's store front.

"There is a line between street art and straight-up vandalism," Shearer said. "When you hit independent businesses owned by 60-year-old ladies, that's vandalism.

"I'm a bleeding-heart liberal. I like peace, But I don't like to see peace signs all over my neighbor's property," she said.

British anti-leaking document leaked

LONDON, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A British government document advising officials on how to keep documents from leaking to the Internet has been published -- on the Internet.

The 2,400 page Defense Manual of Security, authored by the Ministry of Defense to help high-ranking military and defense officials keep documents safe from leaks, was published on Wikileaks, a Web site designed for anonymous leaks of documents from governments and other organizations, The Daily Telegraph reported Monday.

"Leaks usually take the form of reports in the public media which appear to involve the unauthorized disclosure of official information (whether protectively marked or not) that causes political harm or embarrassment to either the U.K. Government or the Department concerned," the document reads in its "Leaks of Official Information" section.

"The threat (of leakage) is less likely to arise from positive acts of counter-espionage, than from leakage of information through disaffected members of staff, or as a result of the attentions of an investigative journalist, or simply by accident or carelessness," it reads.

Researcher to study cheating on the Web

LAS VEGAS, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A marriage and family researcher says it's difficult to find people to talk about infidelity -- even in Las Vegas.

Cheaters are not inclined to discuss their affairs, even if they're bribed, said Katherine Hertlein, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Hertlein offered $25 Amazon gift certificates to people if they would anonymously answer questions about infidelity in a phone interview. That met with limited success, as did putting cards seeking participants inside free sex magazines and handing out cards at swingers clubs, the airport and even shady motels and hospitals, The Las Vegas Sun reported.

Hertlein has decided to specialize in Internet infidelity, which may prove even more difficult to study than traditional face-to-face infidelity, she told the Sun.

The Web, like Las Vegas with its easily available sex, makes relationships more vulnerable to affairs because participants can be even more anonymous, Hertlein said.

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