Did a Viking Horde Hide a Viking Hoard?

August 30, 2009 at 9:37 am | Posted in Finds | 4 Comments

viking_hoardIt’s one of those couldn’t-happen-in-America stories. A treasure worth millions of dollars has been unearthed in England … again.

As we read in the Daily Mail:

“An impressive Viking hoard of jewellery has made a father and son metal-detector team £1m richer, after being bought by two British museums. The find, which is the ‘largest and most important’ since 1840, was found in a field in Harrogate, North Yorkshire in January 2007. It had been buried there for more than 1,000 years. Valued at £1,082,000, the hoard was purchased by the British Museum and the York Museum Trust after two years of fundraising.

“The highlight of the collection is an intricately carved silver cup, estimated to be worth more than £200,000. It contains 617 coins and various silver fragments, ingots and rings. Some of the pieces were from as far away as Afghanistan.
The treasure is believed to have belonged to a rich Viking who buried it during the unrest following the conquest of the Viking kingdom of Northumbria in 927 by the Anglo-Saxon king Athelstan. It is believed he was unable to go back to the hoard, possibly as a result of turbulence during the period.

“Conservation work on the find began about a month ago and experts hope the process will reveal crucial details about the Viking era.Initial examinations suggest the treasure dates back to AD927 or 928. Experts have spent over a month cleaning the hoard, often with a porcupine spine, to protect the delicate collection. The process, performed under microscope, has already revealed intricate designs which were invisible when the hoard was first discovered….

“Finders David Whelan, 53, and Andrew, 37, from Leeds, said: ‘Being keen metal detectorists, we always dreamed of finding a hoard but to find one from such a fantastic period of history is just unbelievable.
‘The contents of the hoard we found went far beyond our wildest dreams and hopefully people will love seeing the objects on display in York and London for many years to come.’ The pair will share the £1,082,000 with the owners of the field, who wished to remain anonymous.”

Wait — so, doing the math, can we assume that David became Andrew’s father at age sixteen? And they’re still pals, doing things together? That’s rare, and commendable. And now they’ve scavenged over a million dollars’ worth of historic goodies.

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Christmas “Fruitcake” Threatens Thrift Shops

August 28, 2009 at 10:34 am | Posted in News | 4 Comments

Ho Ho Ho Christmas CardCharity shops (aka thrift shops) in the British city of Leeds are being victimized as part of a strange sinister rampage.

According to the Daily Mail, a vigilante group has been “threatening attacks on shops for selling Christmas cards too early. Four businesses have received letters warning them not to sell festive cards before November and one charity shop had its locks glued.”

The shadowy figure behind the campaign “phoned the Mind shop in Headingley, Leeds, claiming to represent the ‘Movement for the Containment of Christmas’ and a hooded figure was caught on CCTV posting one of the letters to a nearby Oxfam store.”

Mind is a charity-shop chain operated by a mental-health nonprofit and Oxfam is the UK’s biggest charity-shop chain.

“West Yorkshire Police have been called in and Mind has stopped selling the cards for the time being for fear of further expensive acts of criminal damage. The shop manageress, who does not want to be named, said: ‘A man phoned and said our lock had been glued because we were selling Christmas cards far too early. He said if we pass the shop and we see you are still selling Christmas cards we will glue the lock up until the cards are removed. When I asked him what the problem was with us selling cards, he said that he was from a team against charity shops selling Christmas cards so early. This has made the staff, who are mainly volunteers, feel very uneasy and we have alerted the police. We have removed our current Christmas cards sales display for the moment. This is a great pity as we have been selling off last year’s stock and making £70 a week for charity.’

“The handwritten letter was headed ‘Movement for the Containment of Xmas.’ It said: ‘This is a very polite but very serious reminder not to display Xmas cards until 1st November. We will put superglue into your locks if you do. Peace and goodwill (the Mind shop got done on Sunday).’

“The letters were delivered 48 hours after the locks were glued last week. Clive Barker, 38, manager of Oxfam said: ‘We don’t have a clue who is involved in this terror campaign. It is a bizarre way of getting things done, everyone is entitled to their own opinion but this is the wrong way of doing it. As a charity shop we need to get donations any way we can and selling the cards brings in valuable money so any disruption is bad. The fact that Mind had to pay out money to fix their locks is ridiculous.'”

McDonald’s Offers $1 Breakfasts

August 27, 2009 at 11:42 am | Posted in Deals | 3 Comments

sausOkay, so it’s fast food. It’s mega-mondo-monolithic fast food that embodies everything you hate about fast food (if you hate fast food) and corporate America (if you hate corporate America), but McDonald’s is now launching a short-term one-dollar breakfast menu at its Chicago-area restaurants. According to Reuters, the chain is doing this “as morning visits to fast-food chains decline and competition intensifies.

“The breakfast promotion, a first for Chicago-area restaurants, is not intended to become permanent on U.S. menus, and comes on the heels of similar promotions in other markets. … Analysts said McDonald’s new Chicago promotion illustrates how breakfast pricing is becoming more aggressive as unemployment rises.

“Chicago restaurants participating in ‘Build Your Breakfast’ offer six $1 items: two hotcakes, a fruit ‘n’ yogurt parfait, a sausage biscuit, a sausage McMuffin, two hash browns or medium coffee.

“U.S. McDonald’s restaurants, which get roughly a quarter of their sales from morning meals, have long had the option of selling a variety of breakfast items for $1. ‘Markets choose what offerings make sense to suit their customers’ needs. The promotion is going to vary from market to market,’ a McDonald’s spokeswoman said.

“The breakfast promotion and other efforts could suggest that McDonald’s is feeling the breakfast pinch….

“Burger King already has a breakfast value menu, Yum Brands Inc’s Taco Bell is expanding into breakfast and focusing on keeping prices low, and privately held Dunkin’ Donuts has rolled out a 99-cent breakfast sandwich.

“The renewed value push also reflects lower costs for meat, cheese and paper, which make selling $1 items more attractive.

“McDonald’s has been outperforming many of its peers in the weak economy. It gets about 10 percent of sales from its Dollar Menu that features lunch and dinner items.”

Do-gooder Spends $8,000 in Thrift Shop

August 26, 2009 at 7:31 am | Posted in News | 2 Comments

486586Is this the world’s coolest scavenger or what? I’m thinking it’s a new kind of superhero.

“An anonymous woman who spent £5,200 in a Wandsworth charity shop has been dubbed ‘the mystery angel’ by volunteers,” reads the Guardian.

“The woman, who begged her identity remain a secret, strolled into the Salvation Army in Wandsworth” — which is an inner-London suburb on the banks of the Thames — “just before closing time last Friday and almost bought up the shop.

“Six exhausted workers stayed until 8.30pm helping her pack up the goods, which included everything from designer clothes to children’s desks.

“Shop manager Richard Baggaley said: ‘We were a bit worried that she was a lunatic who was just going to say goodbye and leave, but she has paid. She’s gone from being the barmy lady to the mystery angel.’

“The woman, a church-goer in her 60s, said she was collecting items for a school she was setting up in Kingston, Jamaica.

“According to workers, she did not give details but simply said: ‘You have helped me in the past and I hope to make good use of these things for the future of those less fortunate than me.’

“She bought an estimated 1,000 brick-a-brack items, including about 100 pencil sets, a leather reclining chair and several paintings.

“She also cleaned out the designer rail, buying Ralph Lauren shirts for all of her new teachers.

“The goods completely filled the Salvation Army’s three and a half tonne truck used to deliver the load later in the week. Soon they will be shipped over to Jamaica in a giant metal container to start a new life.

“Mr Baggaley said: ‘The first batch of customers who came the next day asked if we were closing down, because there was so little stuff on the shelves.'”

How to Scavenge Glasses: Meet Ira Mitchell, Cheap-Glasses Guru

August 24, 2009 at 9:50 am | Posted in Tips | 22 Comments

Designer-Eyeglasses-702155One of the most life-changing scavenging sites online is Glassy Eyes, devoted to the revolutionary idea of BUYING PRESCRIPTION EYEGLASSES ONLINE for half, one-fourth, or even one-tenth of what they’d cost you in a brick-and-mortar optician’s shop. I know — it sounds impossible. But more and more online eyeglasses companies are popping up all the time; Glassy Eyes keeps track of them and hosts dozens of forums where users discuss their experiences with each. Because of my severe astigmatism and strong prescription, glasses normally cost me over $300 per pair, with absolutely no frills. But thanks to Glassy Eyes, last year I bought a pair of progressive bifocals from Zenni Optical for about $50. (Zenni’s prices start at an amazing $8 for single-vision glasses. Mine were more because they’re bifocals.) They’re not perfect — a bit of distortion at the outer edges, and the middle range is a smidge too narrow — but for distance and for reading, they’re sharp and clear. As backups, they’ve been absolutely great.

Those of us with less-than-perfect vision know that eyeglasses are a scavenger’s nightmare. Maybe, just maybe, you can find the occasional pair of secondhand frames in a thrift shop or at a yard sale, but such finds are incredibly rare — largely because the Lions Club tends to get first dibs on all pairs of prescription spectacles donated to thrift shops, which the club then gives to Doctors Without Borders, which then distributes them among the needy overseas. And even if you find those once-in-a-blue-moon secondhand frames, the chances of actually liking them — of their being the right shape, size, style, and color — are slim beyond slim. Frames at brick-and-mortar opticians’ shops tend to start at around $100, which is ridiculous considering that you’re just getting a few ounces of plastic or wire with a couple of hinges attached. AND THAT’S JUST THE COST OF THE FRAMES. The markup on lenses is shocking too, according to Ira Mitchell, the guy behind Glassy Eyes.

Mitchell is a scavengers’ hero, and he was kind enough to consent to an interview.

Purchased online, “my typical pair costs between $30 and $60 with the coatings and the discounts,” Mitchell says. Over the last three years, he’s bought around forty pair — because, at that price, he can.

Q: Tell me something about the markups commonly applied at opticians’ shops. When it comes to frames and various types of lenses, what kind of profit margin are we talking about?

A: There are a number of examples that have been passed my way to further enforce my view of the fleecing we’ve received at the hands of the optical shops. Some are rather damning. Here is my favorite, by far, from an optician in Texas — I found it on an online optical board: “A pair of SV (single vision) stock poly Alize cost me $34, and carry a 2 year warranty. We sell ’em all day long for $199/pair, for a profit of $165/pair. Our capture rate for AR (anti-reflective coating) is about 90%. Also stock poly non coated, cost $6/pair and sell for $109…. Now show me the math where you can beat the $165 profit on a pair of SV (single vision) lenses. If you can, I’ll still love you in the morning.”

After I posted it, he got in touch with me directly — very angrily I should add. A creepy dude to be sure.

A retired Minneapolis optician sent me the following: ‘As a retired Minneapolis optician I can tell you first hand that we bought our lenses in bulk and most single vision lenses cost less than $2.00 a pair, Bifocals and progressives cost us as much as $6.00 a pair. Frames… name brand, up to $10.00, same quality generics cost us much less. Online is the way I buy all of my eyewear, New glasses in under two weeks!’

I originally thought that the markup was in the frames. The range in prices from what my eye doctor called ‘welfare frames’ to the designer frames was from $30 to whatever-you-want-to-pay. I figured they pay salaries and such from the cost of the designer frame with the $190 price tag. There is no appreciable functional or material difference, but the cost to the consumer is anywhere from four to ten times more.

It turns out that they’re making ridiculous margins on the frames, the lenses, and the coatings.

Q: GlassyEyes’ motto is “Shattering the eyeglasses scam.” That’s a pretty strong charge. Why do you call it a scam?

A: $400 for a pair of eyeglasses at a store, versus a remarkably similar pair online for, say, $30? These companies, apart from the few mom-and-pop joints scratching for survival in the small towns, are gobbling each other up in an effort to monopolize the market. Look at the eyeglasses chains in your city. I bet the vast majority are owned by one company. [That company is Luxottica; Mitchell provides this link.]

Stack the deck enough and you won’t have any competition to help moderate prices. The internet is again proving itself as a great equalizer.

Q: What do you say to folks who ask: Are you trying to put regular brick-and-mortar opticians out of business?

A: Only the ones who continue to rip people off and refuse to adapt to a new economy. I’ve stated early on that I think there is an economical model for a low-cost brick-and-mortar eyeglasses store. A lot of it relies on a sea change in our thinking about eyeglasses. That is starting to happen and someone will figure out a way to serve the masses, either online or off…. I expect big changes in the next couple of years.

Q: Have you been confronted/questioned/challenged by any representatives of the optical industry?

A: Constantly. … [But] as the site’s popularity grows, these confrontations are diminishing. I think they realize that there is little to argue about any longer — the toothpaste is out of the tube. They’re hoping that more people don’t do the research and that this will remain a ‘niche.’

Q: Buying anything online entails a certain amount of risk. Buying glasses anywhere entails a certain amount of risk. Given the degree of risk, how do you advise online glasses-shoppers to proceed? What should they be most aware of, cautious about, etc.?

A: I’ve lost count of the number of eyeglasses orders I’ve placed online … and I’ve only gotten two ‘bad’ pairs…. Of the previous five pairs I bought at LensCrafters, one was made with the lenses flipped, and another with Ray-Ban frames never fit right. There is a risk to ordering online, but I much prefer my 95% online success to my 60% at LensCrafters.

I have four things I preach to newcomers:

1) I mitigated my initial risk by ordering two pairs — each from a different retailer. I figured at least one would be OK. Do the same.

2) Check, double-check, and triple-check the prescription you enter online. Be very sure the numbers on that prescription card match what you’ve entered on that form.

3) Use the numbers stamped on the inside of an existing pair as a guideline on those first few pairs. All of the sites explain what these numbers mean. You can branch out from this once you’re comfortable and understand the process better.

4) Only order from reputable dealers. There are two places that I cover that are very, very good at making customers happy. When problems happen — and they do — the separation comes from the retailers that stand behind their product. I think it’s fair to pay a little bit more for that.

Heads Up!

August 21, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Posted in News | 1 Comment

phthalates_duck_mdHere’s a heads-up for yard-salers, flea-marketers, rummage-salers, and most other scavengers:

A new federal law makes it a crime to resell anything that’s been recalled by the manufacturer. To warn buyers and sellers of used items about this law, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has set up a section on its website dedicated to information people need to know about recalled stuff. On that page, we read:

“The implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) will have dramatic changes for the marketplace. This Information Center is intended to help sellers of used products understand the new law and existing regulations.

“Selling recalled products is now unlawful. The law sets strict limits for lead in paint and for lead content. Additionally, three types of phthalates are permanently prohibited in certain toys and child care articles and three other phthalates are prohibited on an interim basis in certain child care articles and children’s product that can be placed in a child’s mouth.”

Phthalates are chemical softening agents now being phased out in the United States but commonly used for many years in the manufacture of plastic and rubber items such as toys.

“The purpose of this site is to help you to identify the types of products that are affected and to understand how to comply with the law, so you can keep unsafe products out of the hands of consumers. Consumers who regularly buy used products may also find this information helpful in avoiding products that could harm them or their family.

“New requirements on importers and manufacturers of products should lead to safer products in the resale market in the future, but right now, resellers need to be able to determine what was manufactured in the past that may no longer be compliant.”

Stay out of jail, folks.

Metal-Detecting Tourists Seek Saxon Brooches

August 20, 2009 at 9:42 am | Posted in Adventures, News | 2 Comments

article-0-061AF61E000005DC-696_468x309It’s a metal-detecting vacation … which the Daily Mail dubs “the worst holiday ever.”

According to the Mail, 21 American metal-detector enthusiasts [seen at left] “have paid more than £2,000 and flown thousands of miles to discover the treasures scattered across East Anglia.”

“Heads down and brows furrowed, the group spent most of their eight-day holiday patiently waiting for the small ‘beep’ that would tell them their efforts had been rewarded. Most appeared so deep in concentration that they were unaware of the glorious rolling countryside around them — and the rare sunny weather” in Norfolk. “Each was armed with their very own detector, which projects an electro-magnetic field into the ground and beeps when it comes into contact with anything metallic.

“The highly sensitive detectors are equipped with satellite positioning to pinpoint the location of finds. But although the Americans were determined to ‘touch the hand of history’ by finding an ancient artefact, most were left with just an old tin can or used shotgun cartridge to show for their labours. One enthusiast, Jim Normandy, 79, a retired pharmacist from California, said he was ‘thrilled’ to unearth a 17th century button. ‘We have been coming here for 19 years, first to Kent but mostly to Norfolk, because there is so much history here’ …

“He paid £2,200 for the trip, excluding flights, and stayed at the same Norfolk hotel the group have chosen for years. There, after hours of sweeping harvested rape fields, each find was meticulously logged. The Americans’ most spectacular discovery to date has been a 2-inch Thor’s hammer Viking pendant, made from silver and gold, which was found in the Great Witchingham
area. But they have also found objects dating back to the Iceni tribe, Bronze Age axe fragments, as well as Roman jewellery, Saxon brooches and medieval money….

“David Barwell, a former chairman of the National Council for Metal Detecting … selected the fields for US tour operator Discovery Tours.”

Scavenged from Shipwreck, Heirloom Is Returned

August 18, 2009 at 8:33 am | Posted in Finds | 2 Comments

watchThis is one of my total fav kinds of scavenging story, the kind that made me decide at around age four that I wanted to be a beachcomber when I grew up. (And I did become one, for two years as a student at UC Santa Barbara and then, later, for about three months on the Oregon coast in 1989, but unfortunately I’m not one right now.) I mean, this story has EVERYTHING: A sea captain dying under mysterious circumstances. A shipwreck. A rhyming name. A sunken treasure discovered by a scavenger….

Burma. Rice. The surname Cowell. Everything!!!

According to today’s Daily Mail:

“A silver pocketwatch discovered near the site of a shipwreck has been returned to the family of its original owner 130 years after it was lost. Diver Rich Hughes spotted the timepiece glinting in the sand as he explored the seabed near a wreck off the Welsh coast. After bringing it to the surface, he saw the words ‘Richard Prichard 1866 Abersoch North Wales’ engraved on the casing. [Photo above, courtesy of Wales News Service.]

“The 38-year-old said: ‘I was amazed that the watch was in such good condition after laying at the bottom of the sea for generations. As soon as I saw the name it started me thinking about Richard Prichard. I knew he would be the master and commander of the ship — none of the crew would be able to afford a valuable timepiece.’

“Prichard was the captain of the Barbara, a square-rigged barque which sank during a storm off the Pembrokeshire coast in 1881. But he had already died, in mysterious circumstances, during the voyage to pick up a cargo of rice from Burma.

“The captain died during a voyage to Burma and was buried at sea. His name was etched into the memorial of his parents in North Wales. He was buried at sea and a new master, known only as Captain Jones, became the watch’s custodian — probably intending to give it to the Prichard family after arriving in Liverpool. But the ship never returned. Captain Jones’ lack of navigational skills meant that he sailed up the Bristol Channel instead of St George’s Channel heading towards Liverpool. The vessel was then hit by a storm and the Barbara sank off the village of Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, in November 1881. All the crew were rescued by lifeboat with the exception of Captain Jones who went down with his ship.

“Mr Hughes said: ‘It’s possible that he died with the silver watch in his pocket. His remains are long gone but the watch survived, possibly because it became buried in sediment which would have preserved it. But I felt that although I’d found it the watch wasn’t mine and I wanted to return it to its rightful owner.’

“Mr Hughes, of Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, used the internet to scan old manuals and shipping records but his research came to a dead end. So he brought in amateur historian David Roberts to trace Capt Prichard’s family. Mr Roberts said: ‘I knew the inscription said he was from Abersoch so I visited two cemeteries in the area. I came across a gravestone of someone who might have been Capt Prichard’s father.’

“Eventually Mr Roberts traced the Prichard family tree back as far as 1788 and found out his grandfather was also a sea captain: ‘Through his family tree I was able to trace Captain Prichard’s descendants and was amazed to find they are still living in North Wales.’

“Mr Roberts discovered two memorials to Capt Prichard — one on the grave of his parents and the other of his grave of his wife and child. The watch, which was seized up and will never work again, will be handed to retired dentist Owen Cowell, of Pwllheli, North Wales later this month. Mr Cowell’s grandmother was Captain Prichard’s cousin, making him the closest surviving family member. He said today: ‘I am delighted the watch has come home after all these years. It has come as a complete surprise to me that my ancestors had such a colourful, seafaring past.’

“The timepiece, made by North Wales watchmaker Richard Thomas, will go on display in the village hall at Porthmadoc later this year.”

Shocking Thrift-Shop Theft

August 17, 2009 at 9:47 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

diamond-ringsArgh! Dude was minding his own business last Wednesday in a Scottish charity shop (aka thrift shop), scavenging for books. While dude browsed, thieves snatched his canvas handbag, raced away with it and drove off to points unknown. The handbag contained £1 million worth of jewelry which the unfortunate fella had been transporting as part of his job. According to The Scotsman:

“It was a simple bag snatch –- a crime that took just seconds as the thief stole a nondescript canvas sports holdall casually set down by a man browsing for a secondhand book in a busy charity shop. But yesterday the seemingly petty crime in an Oxfam book shop in Perth was at the centre of a major police hunt for a suspected gang of international jewel thieves after it was revealed that the missing bag contained a staggering £1 million in diamond rings, bracelets and necklaces, owned by one of Britain’s leading jewel merchants.

“The hapless victim of the jewel heist was the 62-year-old South African sales representative of a family firm in London’s Hatton Garden – the centre of Britain’s jewellery trade.

“Yesterday he was said to be still recovering as details of the magnitude of the theft were made public.

“Detectives hunting the three-strong gang –- two men and a woman –- believe the jewellery rep was the victim of a well-planned and executed crime and not an opportunist theft.

“Officers from Tayside Police are scouring CCTV footage in a bid to identify the three.

“The bag was snatched on Tuesday afternoon as the sales representative, who has been in the diamond trade for more than 40 years, was paying one of his regular visits to Perth.

“Minutes before his bag was snatched in the Oxfam charity shop in South Street, he had called at Timothy Hardie, the leading jewellery shop in St John Street, where Colin Montgomerie bought the engagement ring for his wife Gaynor.

“Sarah Craig, a spokeswoman for Tayside Police, said: ‘The man placed his blue canvas sports bag containing the jewellery down on the floor [in the Oxfam shop]. While the man was browsing through some books, his bag was stolen. It contained over £600,000 worth of jewellery.'”

That was the wholesale price. The retail price would be twice as much.

“She explained that a woman seen acting suspiciously in the Oxfam shop may also have been in Timothy Hardie’s while the jewellery rep was in the store.”

Recycled Books Become Sculptures

August 16, 2009 at 4:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

su-blackwellLondon-based artist Su Blackwell makes beautiful sculptures out of cut-up book pages. As an author of books who prefers my own work to be read rather than snipped into bits and fashioned into replicas of flowers and cathedrals, I find this a bit upsetting. But as a scavenger, I think it’s great.

Blackwell explains, in her artist statement: “Paper has been used for communication since its invention; either between humans or in an attempt to communicate with the spirit world. I employ this delicate, accessible medium and use irreversible, destructive processes to reflect on the precariousness of the world we inhabit and the fragility of our life, dreams and ambitions.

“It is the delicacy, the slight feeling of claustrophobia, as if these characters, the landscape have been trapped inside the book all this time and are now suddenly released. A number of the compositions have an urgency about them, the choices made for the cut-out people from the illustrations seem to lean towards people on their way somewhere, about to discover something, or perhaps escaping from something. And the landscapes speak of a bleak mystery, a rising, an awareness of the air.”

Comprising hundreds upon hundreds of pieces cut into the necessary shape, her works are very delicate and detailed, often conveying a fairytale quality and sometimes in literary themes. Open books form the pedestals on which the sculptures stand.

Les Paul: Scavenger

August 14, 2009 at 11:38 am | Posted in Celebrities, News | Leave a comment

gibson les paulSome of history’s coolest people have been scavengers. According to today’s San Francisco Examiner,

“None of the music that rocks the world would exist without Les Paul, who figured out how to get a bigger sound out of his cheap Sears-catalog guitar by hooking it up to a microphone he made from scavenged telephone parts. He was 13 then. He died Thursday at 94 years old, but the music his electric guitars made possible will rock forever.

“Les Paul had many disciples. Among them is Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong, who rocks a vintage Les Paul Jr. guitar.”

JetBlue Offers All-You-Can-Fly Deal

August 13, 2009 at 9:50 am | Posted in News | Leave a comment

art.jetblue.plane.giThis is a bargain for travel-scavengers … or is it? According to CNN, “JetBlue Airways will offer an ‘all-you-can-jet’ pass for $599 in which passengers can book an unlimited number of flights within a one-month span, the airline said Wednesday.

“Pass holders can fly to any of JetBlue’s (JBLU) 56 destinations between Sept. 8 and Oct. 8, with no seat limitations or blackout dates, the company said in a release.

“Airline equities analyst Bob McAdoo, of Avondale Partners, said he ‘has never seen a promotion like this before.’

“In fact, Air Canada had a similar promotion in 2007, where it offered an unlimited flight pass starting at $1,657 per month.

“Still, with JetBlue flights already slashed as low as $100, customers might have to fly 6 or 7 times in a month before they break even.

“‘This is a way to get people to pay attention, with publicity that doesn’t cost the company much,’ McAdoo said. ‘They’re doing this at a time when there are probably a lot of seats available anyway.’

“Customers must buy the $599 pass by Aug. 21, and they can book flights within three days of the departure date. All travel using the pass must be booked between Aug. 12 and Oct. 5.

“Taxes and fees are included for domestic flights, and changes or cancellations made less than three days before departure cost $100.”

Stolen Goods Turn Up at Neighbor’s Yard Sale

August 12, 2009 at 10:54 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

BeanieBabiesA Maryland burglary victim was startled to see her former possessions — worth tens of thousands of dollars — on offer at a neighbor’s yard sale last weekend, according to the Baltimore Sun:

The woman, who had not been living in the house at the time of the burglary because it was going through foreclosure, “recognized an array of her items — including Christmas decorations, Beanie Babies, an Oriental rug and a dresser — being sold by a man who was wearing one of her T-shirts, charging documents say.

“Police said they found $25,000 worth of her clothes, furnishings and other possessions — even a fur coat — on the property.

“The victim … discovered Thursday that her house had been burglarized. On Saturday, she and her daughter were on the way to the house in the 800 block of Reece Road in Severn….

“When they spotted the yard sale nearby, they ‘were shocked to realize that every item’ came from the victim’s house, according to charging documents.

“Stunned, the women stopped and told the seller he was peddling the woman’s stolen goods. He admitted that the merchandise was hers, not his, and she called police, court papers say.

“The officer who responded saw a front yard, and later a porch, with towels, kitchen knives, a ceiling fan, shelving, telephones, in-line skates, dishes, an exercise bike and more — all of which the woman said came from her home.

“The seller told police that he bought the woman’s belongings for $100 from a man who came by a few times, most recently about three weeks ago, in an aqua-colored pickup truck, according to charging documents.

“The officer, however, suspected that the seller had looted what he thought was an abandoned home. Asked if he had more of the woman’s belongings than what was offered for sale, he pointed to a blue tarp on the porch that covered more of her possessions, including heaters, silverware and the fur coat, police allege. Detectives searched the home and found more, police said.

“The woman’s belongings were returned to her.

“Police charged David Anthony Perticone, 46, of the 800 block of Reece Road, with burglary and theft. He was out of jail in lieu of $80,000 bail, according to court records. Attempts to reach him Tuesday were unsuccessful.”

Garbage Garb Is King at Trashion Show

August 11, 2009 at 10:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

soda-canClothes made of paper, aluminum cans and other recyclables will get their chance on the runway at Canada’s upcoming Trashion Show.

According to British Columbia’s Arrow Lakes News: “The Nakusp Fall Faire is celebrating its 99th year this year, and in its pre-centennial year is featuring a new event with a focus on recycled clothing; the one catch is it’s not about the wares you’d find in the thrift store — it’s all about the recycling bin.

“’We had considered planning a fashion show as a fundraiser and I had the idea to combine our recycling theme and use it to raise funds at the Fall Faire,’ says this year’s coordinator Janet Royko. ‘Someone came up with the idea to call it a Trashion Show.’

“The trash-fashion show is free for entry and winners will be chosen by a public vote. Those who create their own clothing are allowed to use connecting materials such as thread, wire or glue, which do not have to be recycled. ‘The garments have to make a decent presentation and hold together for a walk across the stage,’ says Royko. ‘The person who made the item of apparel need not model it, another person can wear the item.’

“Royko gives ideas for recyclables such as using newspaper, tin cans and other metals, plastic bags and any other recyclable materials. “There may be some beautiful items of clothing which will have been made from recycled fabric and old clothing as well.”

“The event begins at about 1:30 on Sept. 12, after the judging for the Fall Faire and the Zucchini Races, and entries must be registered on Friday, Sept. 11, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“’It is something new and different to attract newcomers to contribute entries and more spectators,’ says Royko. ‘The recycled concept of “Trash to Treasure” is popular now.'”

Yeah — but I’m a little curious about those zucchini races.

Ancient Warrior’s Skeleton Found on Beach

August 10, 2009 at 7:26 am | Posted in Finds | Leave a comment

4.1202498460.nettuno-beachNow THIS is a beachcomber’s dream. From Taragana.com:

“Archaeologists have found the skeleton of a warrior from up to 5,000 years ago floating in a tomb filled with sea water on a beach near Rome, Italy’s art squad said Friday.

“The bones — believed to date from the 3rd millennium B.C. — were discovered in May as art hunters were carrying out routine checks of the region’s archaeological areas, Carabinieri art squad official Raffaele Mancino said.

“Archaeologists believe the warrior was likely killed by an arrow, part of which was found among his ribs, Mancino said. There was also a hole in the back of the skull, and six vases and two daggers were found buried nearby.

“The tomb of the warrior, nicknamed ‘Nello’ after the archaeologist who found him, could be part of a wider necropolis lying just a few steps from the sea, Mancino told a news conference.

“’We will check the area to see whether this tomb is isolated and the warrior was buried here because this was the battlefield where he died’,” Mancino said. ‘Or maybe there is a bigger necropolis, as we indeed believe.’

“The tomb, hidden in the bushes on a public beach in Nettuno [depicted in photo], about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of Rome, was excavated in less than one day to preserve it from sea water erosion, Mancino said. Part of it has already been damaged.

“The warrior’s bones will be examined and eventually put on display, officials said.

“The beach remains open, though the area of the discovery has been cordoned off.”

And just to think: We, the authors of The Scavengers’ Manifesto, have been to Nettuno while working on a previous book. How the heck did we miss this 5,000-year-old skeleton?? Not that we would have kept it or anything.

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