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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Canine kahunas shred the surf to be top dog

UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
June 29, 2008
IMPERIAL BEACH – Rolo didn't pay much attention to the throng cheering him on as he sat on the surfboard, waiting for just the right wave.


LAURA EMBRY / Union-Tribune
Murphy, owned by Mike Mundt of Kensington, cruised past a phalanx of cameras at yesterday's third annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition.

LAURA EMBRY / Union-Tribune
TJ, a Spaniel mix, owned by Wendy Slijk of San Carlos, hangs ten as he surfs his way into first place in the small surf dogs division (40 pounds and under) at the Third Annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition in Imperial Beach on Saturday morning.
When it came, the Pomeranian-sheltie mix stood on all four legs and rode the swell like a pro, relishing the spray of salt water in his face.

“He just loves being out there with me,” said owner Louann Shannon, who had given a little nudge to Rolo's board and then bodysurfed behind the little dog.

About 60 canines, big and small, competed for medals and bragging rights yesterday at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition in Imperial Beach. Prizes included a pet vacation at the resort and a feature in Modern Dog Magazine.

Dogs from all over the region strutted across the sand wearing everything from swim trunks and Hawaiian leis to sunglasses, life vests and wet suits.

Vendors sold T-shirts with the slogan, “Surf Dogs Rule; Show Dogs Drool.”

The contest, in its third year, drew an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 spectators plus news photographers jockeying for position in the surf.

“It goes to show that dog surfing is part of the San Diego lifestyle,” said Anne Stephany, a spokeswoman for the resort.

“The best thing about this event is that no particular breed seems to do better than others. I've seen poodles, a bulldog, (a) Chihuahua. As long as your dog loves the water, they're a great candidate for this sport.”

Some dogs warmed up before the competition with surf lessons from the Coronado Surf Academy.

Academy owner Teevan McManus said dogs with a lower center of gravity tend to do best.

“The bottom line is surfing is all about balance; dogs have four legs and therefore good balance,” said McManus, who also served as a judge alongside Imperial Beach Mayor Jim Janney.

The dogs were judged on style, confidence and length of time on the wave.

Craig Haverstick competed with his dog, Stanley, for the first time this year, taking third place in the large-dog competition.

“He gets very excited – he jumps right on the board,” Haverstick said while stroking the Chesapeake Bay retriever on the head.

“Even after a wave launches us and we're trying to get back on the board after getting creamed, he jumps right on.”

Not surprisingly, the Team Chandler threesome won first place in the tandem contest for the third year in a row.

Tyler Chandler, 9, along with her professional surfer dad, Scott, and their dog, Zoey, rode the waves on one board. Tyler sat on her father's shoulders while their Jack Russell terrier stood in front.

“She likes water to splash at her,” Scott Chandler said of their Jack Russell terrier, who wore a pink lei around her neck. “She's a water freak.”

7 People From Around the World With Real Mutant Superpowers

They walk among us! Some even fly among us! They may even take the bus among us from time to time! Homosapiens-Superior is here, and can do things that have scientists scratching their heads.

We're carefully tracking their progress, so that one day soon we may gather them together and fight crime. Or maybe commit crimes. We haven't decided yet.

#7.
Das Uberboy

Real Name: Unknown

Uberboy's name is being kept secret, presumably to protect the lives of his loved ones once Uberboy dons a mask and begins patrolling the streets of the world righting wrongs.

Superpower: Bona fide Super-Strength.

One day in 1999 a little baby boy was born in Germany, at first glance no different from any other. But, the nurses noticed that the baby's muscles were twitching and called the doctors to check him out. We can only assume Uberbaby was showing off his guns to the ladies since when doctors examined the kid, they reached a unanimous conclusion: he was ripped as hell.

But how did this happen? Was there a fully equipped gym inside his mom's uterus? No, as it turns out that's an extraordinarily stupid idea. It's actually a real X-Men-style genetic mutation that changes the way his body controls muscle growth. Cattle farmers have been intentionally using it for years to breed huge, muscular cows.

It's not clear what will happen as Uberboy grows up. All we have is this quote that is from The Washington Post despite sounding like it's from a Marvel origin: "But inasmuch as no one has ever encountered a child such as this boy or studied animals with defective myostatin genes into old age, his health--and eventual strength--remains unknown."

What we do know is that at 4-years-old, Uberboy could lift six times more weight than an average kid. If in a few years you see a guy clubbing a bank robber in the head with a minivan, you'll know what the hell is going on.

Scientists, instead of building giant laser shooting robots to hunt him down, decided to study him and try to find ways to use this new knowledge to help people with muscle dystrophy. And by that we assume they mean turn regular people into muscle-bound supermen to populate their Army of Doom.

#6.
Captain Sonar

Real Name: Ben Underwood

Superpower: Super Echolocation

That's a fancy way of saying he can "see" with sounds. Basically he's Daredevil, minus the girlfriends who become porn stars in Mexico, getting killed by ninjas and being Ben Affleck. So much, much better when you think about it.

Human echolocation is not really new. You can ask James "the blind traveler" Holman all bout it, assuming you have access to a working Ouija board since the guy has been dead for a century and a half. There is even an organization called World Access for the blind that teaches people how to use echolocation. But, few people have been able to take echolocation as far as Ben Underwood.

Ben was diagnosed with retinal cancer at the age of two and had his eyes removed at three. While this can easily go into our upcoming article "Top 7 Most Horrible Things God Can do to Children," Ben's story takes a different turn when at five, he learns he can detect things around him by making quick clicking noises with his tongue.

He's gotten so good at it that he's now capable of Rollerblading, skateboarding, playing basketball, foosball and even video games.

Wait, video games? How's he doing that? Actually, we don't want to know. All we know is that if you get this kid and a bunch of bad guys in a completely dark room, only one of them is walking out.

#5.
Mister Eat Everything (aka The Human Goat)

Real Name: Michel Lotito

Superpower: Super-Eating

This basically means the guy can eat and even digest metal, glass and even toxic, poisonous material without going "Oh, shit! What was I thinking!" before puking blood and dying, which is what normally happens when other people try.

Michel Lotito's stomach lining is twice as thick as normal, a rare condition that most doctors agree developed in the womb, though nobody is sure how. Was a pregnant Mrs. Lotito bitten by a radioactive billy goat giving goat genes to Le Fetus Mangetout? We're forced to assume so until prove otherwise.

Lotito knew that fate had endowed him with special powers, so he answered the call and when he was 9-years-old, he started eating a television set. In the years since, Lotito got himself a career in entertainment eating bicycles, supermarket trolleys and even a coffin (there was no body inside ... or so he claims).

Lotito even entered the Guinness book of records when he ate a goddamn airplane. Sure, it took him two years to do it, but he ate two pounds of metal per day during the whole thing. Recent X-rays show he still has pieces of metal in his stomach and even a chain still stuck in there.

As journalists, we feel compelled to draw your attention to the fact that his special power wasn't eating an airplane, so much as it was shitting an airplane. Anybody can swallow a foreign object. The other side of the equation is where it gets hard, and on our team of real-life superheroes, we're thinking the plane-shitting would actually be more useful than anything the Das Uberboy does (hey, we have some specific goals in mind).

#4.
MONKFORCE!

Real Names: Numerous Buddhist monks

Superpower: Generating magical heat energy from their bodies.

Experts have been studying Buddhist monks for more than 20 years, trying to figure out just how in the hell they're doing what they do. By using a meditation technique called Tum-mo, these monks can lower their metabolism by 64 percent. To put it in perspective, your metabolism only drops 10 to 15 percent when you sleep. And yes, you should feel bad that there are people who make you look uptight when you're asleep.

But far more awesome than that, the monks can also increase the temperatures of their fingers and toes by 17 degrees. No one knows how.


After hovering there for a few seconds, the ball burst into flames

This control over their body temperature allows the monk to comfortably survive in temperatures experts call "scrotum-negating, penguin-urine cold." Not only that, in an experiment that sounds more like outright torture, a group of monks were put in a cold room with cold, wet sheets draped around them. We're not sure if some asshole scientists simply yelled "Hey, I found Nirvana inside this room," and then slammed the door shut after the curious monks went in to check. But using their body-temperature-controlling meditation the monks managed to avoid becoming very holy popsicles.

It's believed the monks' techniques can one day be taught to astronauts to be used during space travel, since during their meditation they consume far less resources. And once the astronauts arrive on another planet, they'll likely find a group of Buddhist monks waiting, having effortlessly teleported themselves there with their minds.

#3.
Jet-Man

Real Name: Yves Rossi

Superpower: Flight, via a rocket pack strapped to his back.

Yves Rossi is a Swiss professional pilot and aeronautical engineer (we hope, since he designed his own jet pack) who, claiming to be inspired by his hero Batman, realized the first jet-pack-powered flight.

At this point someone should write the man a nice letter explaining to him that Batman doesn't really fly at all. We'd do it ourselves, but we don't like to argue about comics with a man who jumps out of a plane wearing nothing but a flammable death trap strapped to his ass. For all we care he can say Superman talks to fish, as long as he keeps flying homemade jet packs while he's saying it.

As you see, he doesn't just run along the ground and wait for his jet pack to lift him into the air. He throws himself out of a fucking plane, knowing either his invention will work or men in hazmat suits will be raking him into a trash bag in a few minutes. If you're still wondering where the mutant part of this guy's super power comes in, than you obviously haven't considered the size of the balls it takes to do what he does.

Jet-Man's jet pack is capable of flying at a speed of 160 mph for up to six minutes. After those six minutes, Yves has to activate his secondary power, the Go-go-gadget-oh-please-God-don't-let-it-fail-parachute since there is no way to land the jet pack without becoming a red and chrome stain on the ground.

There's no word on his plans to add a laser-shooting suit of armor to the jet pack, but of course you wouldn't let that information get out until it was time to use it. That time is coming soon, Mr. Rossi. We'll be calling.

#2.
Zamora the Torture King

Real Name: Tim Cridland

Superpower: Super Pain Tolerance

Tim Cridland is an entertainer and a former member of the Jim Rose Circus, which you may remember as that really creepy circus from that episode of The X-Files with the murderous conjoined twin fetus thing.

Anyway, Tim specializes in sword swallowing, fire walking, sleeping on beds of nails (once even with a Toyota over him), body skewering and electrocuting himself. Tim says he can do this because he has mastered mind over matter. Researchers on the other hand call bullshit and say it's because Tim was born with a mutation that makes it so he doesn't feel pain the way normal people do.

It's not that Tim and his ilk can't feel anything, because they can feel when they are touched, and they can feel temperature. They simply do not register pain thanks to malfunctioning receptors in the nerve cells that tell your brain "Ow-fuck-get-the-hand-off-the-stove!"

We assume this also turns off the "you just got punched by a supervillain" receptors that make most men shy away from a life of superheroism.

#1.
The Godhand

Real Name: Choi Yeong-eui, later changed to Masutatsu Oyama

Superpower: Super-Karate!

Masutatsu Oyama was born in Korea in 1927 and later moved to Japan, where he studied karate. Unlike most famous martial artists, Oyama is not famous for his movie roles, where stunt men and clever editing can make anyone look like a badass.

No, Oyama preferred a different sort of theater. He used to have live public demonstrations where he would fight and kill a bull with his bare hands. Just because it bears repeating, let's write that again: He could kill a bull with his hands. If you want to know how idiotically hard that is, we cordially invite you to go out and punch a bull in the face. Go on, we'll wait here. OK, we're not really waiting since whoever just went out to try that isn't coming back.

All in all, Oyama fought and killed 52 bulls, three of which were killed instantly with one blow. Forty-nine had their horns chopped off with karate blows. He gained the nickname of The Godhand and was considered the living manifestation of the Japanese warrior's maxim "One strike, certain death."

If you're thinking his skills only worked against livestock, you should know that Oyama once tested himself in a kumite, a series of two-minute fights against different opponents, each of which you must win to continue. Oyama took on 300 men over the course of three days. According to some, the only reason it didn't reach 400 was because opponents started to get tired of getting punched in the face.

There have been three movies made based on his life: Champion of Death, Karate Bearfighter, and Karate for Life. That's right, there exists in the world a movie based on an actual man's life that wound up with the title Karate Bearfighter. Why? Because it's probable Oyama actually fought a goddamn bear once, and that bear is buried in a shallow grave covered in dirt and the tears of his relatives as we speak.

Thus we introduce our superhero squad: Super-strong babies flying in jet packs, navigating with surgical precision through the darkest and coldest of nights, tearing your tanks apart with super strength karate blows and eating them, only to fly back up into the air and shit your own weapons back on top of you.

Good luck sleeping, rest of the world. We hope our maniacal cackling doesn't keep you awake.

Original here

Transplant recipient completes Yosemite ascent

OSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. - A heart transplant survivor has added another first to her long string of mountaineering feats since getting a new heart 13 years ago — a dangerous 2 1/2-day climb up the sheer, 2,000-foot face of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park's famed granite monolith.

Kelly Perkins, 46, and her husband, Craig, led by big-wall guide Scott Stowe, began the climb Thursday and reached the top of the iconic 8,842-foot-high dome Saturday afternoon.

The ascent completed an important circle for her. In 1996, 10 months out of the hospital with her new heart, she finished the first of many post-transplant climbs by hiking up the easier backside of Half Dome.

"I feel great. Physically, I feel I'm stronger than I've ever been," Perkins said by cell phone from the top of Half Dome. "It was a great full circle for me to climb the other side. It was a tricky climb, but it also was a very interesting and beautiful climb."

Since 1996, Perkins has become the first person with another person's heart to summit some of the world's best-known peaks — California's Mount Whitney, Switzerland's Matterhorn, Japan's Mount Fuji, Tanzania's Mount Kilimanjaro and the face of Yosemite's El Capitan. She also climbed a remote peak in the Andes, near Argentina's border with Chile, and New Zealand's Mount Rolling Pin.

Perkins says she chose Half Dome for her latest climb "because it's broken in half but it still stands strong. There's a spirit-building message there. You may not be 100 percent, but you can still be as strong as others. I'm out there doing things and not worried about being within driving distance of the nearest hospital."

With each ascent, the 5-foot-2, 103-pound Perkins tries to get across the message that transplants can save lives and that transplant recipients can still lead active lives. She also wrote a book, published in 2007, about her struggles, achievements and goals.

Perkins' heart started failing in 1992 after she and her husband returned from a backpacking trip in Europe. The former Lake Tahoe resident, now living in Laguna Niguel, Calif., contracted a virus that made her so weak that Craig had to carry her around their home.

Found to have cardiomyopathy, which inflames heart muscles, Perkins got a new heart at UCLA Medical Center in November 1995 from a woman in her 40s who died in a fall from a horse.

'A type of Lance Armstrong'
Dr. Jon Kobashigawa, medical director of UCLA Medical Center's transplant program, said he knows of no other woman with a heart transplant who has achieved one high-elevation climb after another, as Perkins has. He likened her to "a type of Lance Armstrong."

Perkins faces problems not encountered by other mountaineers. Transplanted hearts usually lack nerves linking them to the brain, which means Perkins' heart doesn't know when her muscles need more oxygen. She suffers severe shortness of breath until she can establish a pace.

But Kobashigawa said Perkins, through an arduous exercise regimen, may have regrown some of those nerves, enabling a partial response to physical demands on her donor heart. "Sheer will" also is a key factor, he said.

On her ascents, she also has to bring something needed by few other climbers — a backpack crammed with prescription drugs, medical supplies and blood-pressure monitoring gear.

"It's not that I'm a great climber or super-athletic," she said. "I just do my best. What it really represents is that I have the freedom and opportunity and good health to do this, to go out and fully live life, not sit back."

"Someone asked me how long I'm going to do this, now that I'm 46 years old. What am I supposed to do? Roll over and play dead? My time was up before. Now I'm fully functioning and stronger than I've ever been. I'm not slowing down in any way until my body finally tells me, 'No.'"

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Robot band The Trons are internet sensation

A New Zealand man has created a robotic rock band that has broken free of the bedroom to become an internet sensation.

The Trons: Robot band The Trons are internet sensation

The Trons, who list among their influences The Velvet Underground and washing machines, are the result of six months work by Greg Locke to turn mechanical junk and old instruments into a self-playing troupe.

Wiggy, the lead guitarist, Ham, on rhythm guitar, Swamp the drummer and keyboard plater Fifi have already played five gigs around their home town of Hamilton, in Waikato.

The "junk pop" band already has a host of "groupies" and a worldwide fan club, brought together through their myspace.com page. The Trons' performance on Youtube has already registered 750,000 viewings.

Mr Locke, a fruit-picking machine designer by day and bass-player by night, said he was inspired after finding himself without a human band.

"I just though it would be quite good to get another band together, played with a few ideas and it seemed like we could do something," he said.

He told New Zealand television that the task of getting robots to play music was harder than he expected.

"When I was doing this, it was like, man, humans are incredible, we can do all this stuff with our hands, and trying to pick out what bits were important – I had to strip it right down."

But mostly it was the equipment that let the side down. "Swamp struggles a little bit at times, I've got to get him a proper snare."

He said that the fans of the group seem to "relate to them as people".

"Someone asked if Swamp was available for dating. He's into anything – he's a drummer."

Tracks including Sister Robot and The Trons Theme are available for download.


Guards Questioned In Slaying Suspect's Death

LAUREL, Md. - Prince George's County officials said Monday night seven guards were being questioned in the death of a suspect in a police officer's slaying.

Ronnie Lionel White, 19, of Laurel, died Sunday morning in his jail cell. He had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 39-year-old Prince George's County police Cpl. Richard Findley. Police said White was the driver of a pickup truck that struck Findley on Friday.

The Maryland Medical Examiner's Office ruled White's death a homicide.

Law enforcement sources said White died of either strangulation or asphyxiation. He had suffered two broken neck bones.

"The surrounding circumstances mean that we take a full and complete look and pull all the evidence together, and we'll make a decision at the end of that process," said Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey.

Curtis Knowles of the Prince George's County Correctional Officers Association defended the jail's employees.

"It's going to be hard for me to believe that any one of my employees, my members, had it in their hearts to do harm to Mr. White," Knowles said.

Prince George's County jail spokeswoman Vicki Duncan said White was found unconscious in his cell about 10:30 a.m. Sunday. She said White was alone in his cell and there were no signs of trauma.

White was admitted to the jail at 12:24 a.m. Saturday and given a medical assessment before being placed in a cell.

Jail officials said he had been classified as a "high-profile offender" and was being housed alone in a maximum-security cell. Guards checked on him every 30 minutes.

Guards had checked on White about 10:15 a.m. Sunday. At the time, he was sitting on the edge of his bunk and appeared alert, according to a press release.

When they returned at 10:30 a.m. with his lunch, corrections officers found White "sitting on the floor" of his jail cell, unresponsive, the release said.

Guards could not revive him or detect a pulse. An ambulance took him to the Prince George's County Hospital Center at 11:08 a.m. He was admitted at about 11:28 a.m. and pronounced dead at 11:39 a.m., the release said.

County Public Safety Director Vernon Herron has asked police to launch an investigation into White's death. The jail will conduct an internal investigation.

The Prince George's County chapter of the NAACP called for a full investigation into the practices at the jail.

"He stayed in the custody of the Department of Corrections way too long," said June White-Dillard of the Prince George's County NAACP. "He should have been transferred immediately. Obviously, his civil rights have been violated."

Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson said seven people had access to White in his cell, as well as a number of supervisors. Johnson did not immediately know who those individuals were.

"We are going to do everything within our powers to assure that justice is served," Johnson said. "We are going to work hand in hand with the FBI and Maryland State Police to ensure that those who are involved to be brought to justice.

"If we have vigilante justice, our society will fall apart. If we tolerate these kinds of acts, then the courts are superfluous."

Herron said White was in a solitary room at the jail and that he was separated from other inmates in the facility. Herron said no video cameras were in the area where White was being held.

White was one of four people taken into custody Friday after Findley, a veteran police officer, was struck and killed by the driver of a stolen pickup truck.

Findley had been monitoring the truck on Laurel-Bowie Road when at least two men returned to the vehicle, police said. Findley attempted to block the truck during an attempted traffic stop, which is when he was struck and dragged by the truck, according to charging documents.

Findley fired upon the truck, striking one of the people inside, according to court documents. That man identified White as the driver.

According to court records, White pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm last year and to drug possession in another case. In 2006, he was charged with first-degree assault and armed robbery, but the case was dropped, records show. Last November, he was sentenced to more than six months in prison, but it's not clear when he was released.

It was unclear if White had an attorney, and family members could not be immediately located.

Police Chief Melvin High said the other three people who were taken into custody have been released.

A funeral service for Findley is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Joseph's Church in Beltsville with interment at Lakemount Memorial Gardens in Davidsonville. Viewings will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Borgwardt Funeral Home in Beltsville.

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