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Fireworks explode over the Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong Sunday, July 1, 2012, as part of the celebrations to mark the 15th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong. (Kin Cheung/Associated Pess)
Fireworks explode over the Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong Sunday, July 1, 2012, as part of the celebrations to mark the 15th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong. (Kin Cheung/Associated Pess)

Fireworks and Iraq vets do not mix Add to ...

Veterans and fireworks

“He knows it’s just fireworks, but Andrew Sabin’s heart races anyway and he starts to sweat profusely,” writes Meg Jones in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The concussive booms sound like Iraq. The 26-year-old army veteran from Racine, Wis., didn’t have trouble when he returned from the war. But gradually fireworks displays began to affect him. This Fourth of July, many combat veterans like Mr. Sabin will try to stay away from fireworks displays. … Psychiatrists at VA hospitals in Milwaukee and Madison know the Fourth of July holiday is difficult for veterans, so they begin talking to their patients weeks in advance to come up with plans to handle fireworks. Some veterans check in to the [hospital] to avoid them, some increase their work hours to make sure they’re busy when fireworks are shot off.”

Late for work? No biggie

“Being late for work may not be the sin it used to be – most European and U.S. employers say they don’t mind late-arriving employees, a survey indicates,” reports United Press International. “The survey of 1,000 U.S., British, French and Irish employees and employers by Mozy, a provider of data protection, found 73 per cent of bosses have a relaxed attitude to time keeping, since they trust their staff is working long before they actually get to the office.” The average employer is willing to turn a blind eye to employees being up to 32 minutes late. “… The average employee starts checking work e-mail at 7:42 a.m., gets into the office at 8:18 a.m., leaves the office at 5:48 p.m. and stops working fully at 7:19 p.m., meaning employees are ‘in work mode’ for nearly 12 hours a day.”

Putting cats to work

“A North Side Chicago neighbourhood is putting area feral cats to work battling its rat problem,” The Huffington Post says. “CBS Chicago reports that Chicago’s 47th Ward is working on a pilot program with the Tree House Humane Society where neutered, vaccinated and microchipped feral cats are being sent back out to the streets to try to deter pesky rodents. Jenny Schlueter, the shelter’s development director, explained to the station that the Working Cats program is an alternative to the city spreading ineffective – and expensive – rat poison. Instead, the presence – specifically the odour – alone of a cat can help scare away rats. … A similar program was previously instituted in Los Angeles not only to help deter rats, but also to save the homeless cats’ lives.”

China’s empty nesters

“China’s legislators,” says The Shanghai Daily, “are split over a proposed law that would make it mandatory for children not living at home to visit their parents ‘frequently.’ … Some are wondering if it is reasonable, or even possible, to establish a legal standard on the frequency of visits to elderly parents living on their own. … China has about 400 million migrant workers, people who have left their rural hometowns in the hinterland to work and settle in large cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. Bigger cities usually mean more job opportunities, higher incomes and a better future for young people, but many have left aging parents back home. Sociologists refer to this group of parents as the ‘empty nest seniors.’”

Want to buy an island?

“[C]all a friendly island broker and you’ll find that around the globe, there are hundreds of rocky, sandy, grassy or coral islands on sale at any time,” Reuters says. “They can be everything from idyllic to uninhabitable, within spitting distance of a major city or many hundreds of miles from anything, with their own airport or inaccessible by anything but a canoe. Prices typically start at $500,000 (U.S.) for a two-acre island, says Chris Krolow, CEO of Private Islands Online.” He notes that more than 80 per cent of prospective island buyers are Americans, adding that: “A typical American buyer wants to be able to stick their flag on it and say, ‘I own this island’ to impress their friends.”

Your car might watch you

“As you prepare to merge onto a crowded highway, drivers should direct all their attention at the road,” says Discover Magazine’s blog 80beats. “But all too often, we’re also minding a drink, music, conversation, and maybe Ford’s handy-dandy, voice-controlled Sync communications and entertainment system. With all of that going on, you probably won’t sense your heart rate and breathing speeding up, or the bead of sweat trickling down your brow. But your car just might. A ‘driver workload estimator’ recently developed by Ford, keeps tabs on the body behind the wheel so that in stressful situations, the car itself can prevent any distractions. … When the driver tenses up, the algorithm will cut out the distractions of music and incoming phone calls, leaving the human free to focus on the crisis at hand.”

Thought du jour

To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain that sustain life, not the top.

Robert Pirsig

U.S. writer and philosopher (1928- )

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