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Up and away in 150 beautiful balloons: US lawn-chair aviator succeeds in 235-mile flight of fancy

lawn-chair pilot travels over 200 miles

(quote)

CAMBRIDGE, Idaho (AP) — Using his trusty BB gun to help him return to Earth, a 48-year-old gas station owner flew a lawn chair rigged with helium-filled balloons more than 200 miles across the Oregon desert Saturday, landing in a field in Idaho. Kent Couch created a sensation in this tiny farming community, where he touched down safely in a pasture after lifting off from Bend, Ore., and was soon greeted by dozens of people who gave him drinks of water, local plumber Mark Hetz said.

"My wife works at the City Market," Hetz said. "She called and said, 'The balloon guy in the lawn chair just flew by the market, and if you look out the door you can see him. "We go outside to look, and lo and behold, there he is. He's flying by probably 100 to 200 feet off the ground. "He takes his BB gun and shoots some balloons to lower himself to the ground. When he hit the ground he released all the little tiny balloons. People were racing down the road with cameras. They were all talking and laughing."

up and away in 150 helium balloons

Couch covered about 235 miles in about nine hours after lifting off at dawn from his gas station riding in a green lawn chair rigged with an array of more than 150 giant party balloons.

Sandi Barton, 58, who has lived her whole life in this town of about 300, said she and her brother-in-law were the first ones to reach Couch and shook his hand. "Not much happens in Cambridge," she said, adding that about half the town turned out. "He came right over our pea field," she said. "He was coming down pretty fast." She said Couch gave some of his balloons to local children. It was not clear where Couch went after he landed.

Kent Couch lifts off from his gas station in lawn chair rigged with more than 150 giant party balloons, Saturday, July 5, 2008

It began after Couch, clutching a big mug of coffee, kissed his wife and kids goodbye, then patted their shivering Chihuahua, Isabella, on the head. After spilling off some cherry-flavored Kool-Aid that served as ballast, Couch got a push from the ground crew so he could clear light poles and soared over a coffee cart and across U.S. Highway 20 into a bright blue sky.

"If I had the time and money and people, I'd do this every weekend," Couch said before getting into the chair. "Things just look different from up there. You've moving so slowly. The best thing is the peace, the serenity... Originally, I wanted to do it because of boyhood dreams. I don't know about girls, but I think most guys look up in the sky and wish they could ride on a cloud." Couch's wife, Susan, called him crazy: "It's never been a dull moment since I married him."

Kent Couch smiles as he prepares to take off Saturday, July 5, 2008, in his latest attempt to fly from his gas station in Bend, Ore., more than 200 miles to Idaho in a lawn chair rigged with more than 150 giant party balloons.

This was Couch's third balloon flight. He realized it would be possible after watching a TV show about the 1982 lawn chair flight over Los Angeles of truck driver Larry Walters, who gained folk hero fame but was fined $1,500 for violating air traffic rules. In 2006, Couch had to parachute out after popping too many balloons. And last year he flew 193 miles to the sagebrush of northeastern Oregon, short of his goal. "I'm not stopping till I get out of state," he said. To that end, he ordered more balloons. Dozens of volunteers wearing fluorescent green T-shirts that said "Dream Big" filled latex balloons 5 feet in diameter, attached them to strings and tied clusters of six balloons each to a tiny carabiner clip. Each balloon gives four pounds of lift. The chair was about 400 pounds, and Couch and his parachute 200 more. "I'd go to 30,000 feet if I didn't shoot a balloon down periodically," Couch said.

Head rigger Kimi Feuer makes final adjustments to Kent Couch's lawn chair Saturday, July 5, 2008, before tying on more than 150 giant party balloons in Bend, Ore. Couch lifted off successfully in his third bid to fly from his gas station in Bend, to Idaho, a distance of more than 200 miles

For that job, he carried a Red Ryder BB gun and a blow gun equipped with steel darts. He also had a pole with a hook for pulling in balloons, a parachute in case anything went wrong, a handheld Global Positioning System device with altimeter, a satellite phone, and two GPS tracking devices. One was one for him, the other for the chair, which got away in the wind as he landed last year. For food he carried some boiled eggs, jerky and chocolate. Couch flew hang gliders and skydived before taking up lawn-chair flights. He estimated the rig cost about $6,000, mostly for helium. Costs were defrayed by corporate sponsors.

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of AAP, Aero-News Network, Inc., and AP Photo/Jeff Barnard

Original Source: AP

Cartoons - "Patriot", "Just Us Department", "Provinces of Iraq", "The pilot is extra", disaster response, scooters, GM, and more

Cartoon: 'You call yourself a patriot?!! Then where’s your flag pin?!! '

Cartoon: 'It used to be called the Justice Department'

Cartoon: 'If I could afford the gas, I’d chase him down and run him over'

Cartoon: provinces of Iraq

Cartoon: 'It’s a postcard from Europe'

Cartoon: 'Johnson, when I said I wanted to see a new concept that showed where GM is today I didn’t mean literally...'

Cartoon: 'The pilot is extra'

Images courtesy of Britt/State Journal-Register, Britt/The State Journal-Register, Sherttius / Boulder Camera, and CAM/Ottawa Citizen/Copley News Service, Mike Smith/Las Vegas Sun/King Features Syndicate, and Jones/Creators Syndicate

Original Source: Time

US court order: Google must reveal all users’ information - every user who has ever watched any video on YouTube, worldwide

Judge orders Google to give YouTube user data to Viacom

(quote)

Google expressed disappointment and privacy groups voiced outrage Thursday after a judge ordered Google to give entertainment giant Viacom details of video-watching habits of visitors to its popular video-sharing website YouTube. On Tuesday US District Court Judge Louis Stanton backed Viacom's request for data on which YouTube users watch which videos on the website. Viacom is seeking the data as potential evidence for a billion-dollar copyright suit against Google, which Viacom charges acts as a willing accomplice to Internet users that put clips of Viacom's copyrighted television programs on YouTube.

The US court has ordered Google to hand over the "logging database" which is updated each time a video is watched on YouTube. The database contains the unique login ID of the user who watched it, the time when the user watched it, the IP address (unique online identifier) of the computer used to watch the video and the identifier for the video. The database is stored on live servers at Google and equates to 12 terabytes of storage. The judge also ruled that Google should divulge the details of every video that has ever been removed from YouTube, for whatever reason. If you've ever watched a video on YouTube then the details of that viewing will be stored somewhere in that database. This copyright case might be taking place in the US but it would appear the logging database makes no distinction between users in different countries.  read more »

Joke - Recently, our 19-year-old daughter started hunting for her first real job...

(quote)

Recently, our 19-year-old daughter started hunting for her first real job. She spent an afternoon filling out application forms, leaving them on the kitchen table to finish later. As I walked by, a section of the application on top jumped out at me. Under “Previous Employment” she wrote, “Baby Sitting.” In answer to “Reason for Leaving,” she replied, “Parents came home.”

***

A rabbi, a priest, and a minister walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says, “Is this some kind of joke?”

***

A guy shows up late for work. The boss yells, "You should've been here at 8:30!"
The guy replies, "Why? What happened at 8:30?"

(unquote)

Original Source: Reader’s Digest

Funny Picture: Space Exploration’s New Funding

If the Government Stops Funding Space Exploration...

If the Government Stops Funding Space Exploration...

Original Source: Aha! Jokes

Video: Jon Stewart on "Crossfire" - Jon Stewart's "America"


*Update*
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Lead Massive Rally to "Restore Sanity and/or Fear" in DC (01Nov2010) JON STEWART: "We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe, torn by polarizing hate, and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done. But the truth is, we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!"

Military Jokes, Cartoon - Being in the Air Force means having to move frequently...

Being in the Air Force means having to move frequently. When some friends of ours were transferred to a nearby base, the local TV station interviewed them for a human-interest story. The interviewer asked their five-year-old daughter how she felt about settling into a new home. She calmly replied, "Oh, we carry our home with us – we just have to find a house to put it in."
-- Alan Whittle

My friend, a Marine, didn't care that his trip to the shooting range had been canceled, but he was put off that his physical exam was still on.
"Should it bother me," he asked, "that they don't seem to care how well I can shoot, but they are interested in how fast I can run?"
-- Dawn Gutierrez

Okay, we’ll meet back here at 1600 hours. Synchronize your BlackBerries.

Original Source Reader’s Digest

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