Dumb [and drunk] tourist trick of the day

The 36-year-old, who has not been named, arrived at the international terminal of Italy’s busiest airport at the end of last month with a backpack and a can of beer in his hand.

The Norwegian was due to check in for a flight to Oslo and when he found no one on duty at the airline desk he leapt across the counter and fell into a deep asleep on the baggage belt with his bag beside him.

As the belt began to move the unsuspecting tourist reportedly travelled for 15 minutes through the secure baggage area in Terminal 3 before officials spotted his body curled up in a foetal position in an X-ray image on their monitors.

He slept through the whole episode and airport police had trouble waking him when they were called to the scene to investigate what had happened…

A senior officer with Fiumicino airport police said…it was not the first kind of incident involving “drunks or people with psychological problems”…”There’s usually an episode like this once a year and we are alert,” the official said. “In this case we were notified we sounded the alarm immediately and we took action…”

Concerned about the tourist’s exposure to the powerful X-rays, police took him to a nearby hospital before reporting him to prosecutors at Civitavecchia for causing alarm at the airport.


I must admit to something similar – though I fell asleep underneath a conveyor belt I’d been assigned to repair – instead of atop. A significant amount of alcohol was also involved in the course of a shop holiday celebration.

First openly gay officer receiving public promotion to flag rank

Brig. Gen. Tammy S. Smith and her wife, Tracey Hepner

An Army officer being promoted to brigadier general openly acknowledged her homosexuality on Friday by having her wife pin her star to her uniform, thus becoming the first openly gay officer of flag rank in the United States military.

The officer, Brig. Gen. Tammy S. Smith, 49, a 26-year veteran of the Army, was promoted in a ceremony at the women’s memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. The star was affixed by Tracey Hepner, who was a co-founder last year of the Military Partners and Families Coalition, which “provides support, resources, education and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military partners and their families,” according to its Web site.

The Army said that General Smith was not available for an interview on Sunday. However, she said in a statement that the Defense Department had made sexual orientation a private matter, but that “participating with family in traditional ceremonies such as the promotion is both common and expected of a leader.”

Sue Fulton, a spokeswoman for OutServe, a two-year-old organization of lesbians and gay men in the military, said Sunday that it was “highly unlikely” that General Smith was the only gay officer of her rank. She called General Smith’s public acknowledgment significant.

“I would say that it’s important to recognize ‘the first,’ because then the next person doesn’t have to be first,” said Ms. Fulton, a 1980 West Point graduate. “Once we get over each ‘first,’ each hurdle of ‘Well, that’s never been done before,’ it makes it a nonissue going forward.”

As a colonel, General Smith was deployed in Afghanistan from December 2010 to October 2011 as the chief of Army Reserve Affairs. She currently serves in Washington as the deputy chief of the Army Reserve.

Overdue – and Sláinte!

If you thought Jesus on toast was special, get in line for Michael Jackson in bird poop!

So OK, we all know money doesn’t fall from the sky … but Brandon Tudor is hoping for a little manna from heaven after a bird decided to plop an unexpected gift on the windshield of his car.

Call him a bird brain if you want, but the guy says the dropping bears a strong resemblance to music icon Michael Jackson. And for the next week he’s going to try selling it — yes, the glass window will be included — on eBay.

“One of two things will happen,” predicted Tudor, an Oswego salesman and father of three. “It will go for an astronomical amount or I’ll get nothing”…

Tudor, 29, says he was driving along U.S. 30 near Big Rock on Wednesday afternoon with his girlfriend and daughters when the free-falling waste splattered onto the windshield of his 1996 Cadillac Seville. He immediately saw the resemblance to the eccentric long-haired singer in his, well, eccentric long-haired years. It was a likeness that became more obvious “after it hardened.”

“Everybody loves it,” he says. “There’s not one person who’s seen it that doesn’t agree it looks like Michael Jackson”…

Like PT Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

US guided-missile destroyer manages to get crunched by Japanese tanker near Persian Gulf

An American guided-missile destroyer was gashed and dented on one side in a collision with an oil tanker early Sunday just outside the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The collision tore a hole about 10 feet by 10 feet in the right side of the destroyer, the Porter, above the water line. No one on the Porter or the other vessel, a Japanese-owned bulk oil carrier called the Otowasan, was hurt, the Navy said in a statement.

The Navy said that the collision, which happened about 1 a.m., was not “combat related”…

No kidding! How about arrogant, American military-related?

The extent of damage to the Otowasan was not known, but Reuters, citing an Omani coast guard official, reported that the ship was able to go on its way. Its scheduled destination was Fujairah, in the United Arab Emirates just outside the strait, Reuters said, citing ship tracking Web sites. The Navy said there were no reported spills or leaks from either vessel.

One-fifth of the world’s crude oil is shipped through the Strait of Hormuz, a crowded and tense waterway at the entrance to the Persian Gulf between Iran and Oman. Iran has often threatened to block tanker traffic in retaliation for Western sanctions over its nuclear program, and the United States maintains a strong naval presence in the region in part to ensure that the strait remains open.

Understand that “crowded” means that at its narrowest, the Strait is 42 kilometers wide. About 14 tankers of this size pass through daily – and they move at about half the speed of an American destroyer. Because of their mass – even unladen – they are much less maneuverable than a warship like the Porter.

You could make a ship like the Porter dance circles around the Otowasan if you weren’t busy being a bully and an asshat.

Have Americans lost their addiction to more and more stuff?

Have years of economic stagnation tempered the US consumer’s habit of accumulating ever more stuff..?

Americans might just be kicking the habit. Because while manufacturing is picking up and property sales and construction are both coming up off the floor, US retail spending remains distinctly shaky.

Spending fell in June, down 0.5% from May, and the spring numbers were the worst since the dark days of late 2008. The fall in sales is expected to hinder economic growth…

In 2005, the personal savings rate in the US was 1.5%, compared to Japan’s 15%. Today, Americans are saving about 4% of their personal income, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

“It has been an absolutely fundamental shift in consumer behaviour, coming in no small part from an absolutely fundamental shift in where consumers think they are and where they think they can expect to be, not just six months from now but five years, 10 years down the road,” says Ken Goldstein of the Conference Board…

Maybe America’s decades-long buying binge is drawing to a close – or at least shoppers are taking a breather.

It is hard to believe, so ingrained is shopping and consuming in the American way of life. But, says Mr Goldstein of the Conference Board, there has been a shift.

“It’s like that play Waiting for Godot,” he says. “Anybody who has seen the play knows, by the time the curtain comes down, Godot never arrives.

“I’m not saying that the consumer will never arrive. But don’t hold your breath.”

Could be. I was never a compulsive consumer – even with my heart’s delight geek gadgets and digital devices.

Though we have more electronic gear than most of my peers – and my wife and I are both geeks, I’ve been online since 1983 – we only buy stuff we use on a regular basis. For example, we’re fans of both of Apple’s operating systems and matching devices, I have an iMac for my desktop computer and an iPad which replaced my laptop. My wife has a MacBook Air which she uses as a portable device and desktop replacement.

For larger storage, we have Apple’s Time Capsule which serves both as router and network storage. And an additional standalone hard drive for redundant backup.

Neither of us has a smartphone, though my wife will probably get an iPhone when the price on an unlocked iPhone 4 gets down to what she considers reasonable.

Our HDTV is about 4 years old and though I have an upgrade model I’d like to get, I know how far the price can come down – having watched the process with our existing set. We can wait.

My Dodge pickup is 18 years old, her Volvo is about 30 years years old. Each has over 200,000 miles on the clock. Hey, they both run just fine. We have the next purchases figured out – but, not until we need to replace what we have.

Though retired 10 years, now – I have more money saved than when I retired. Nothing magical, no stock market secrets – jut diligent disciplined savings and investing. I’m decent at picking market bottoms. Cripes – it sounds boring; but, it just makes sense.