Friday, April 29, 2011

Skiing star Lindsey Vonn places surprise phone call to young super fan

Nothing says cute more than watching an 11-year-old girl receive an unexpected phone call from her downhill skiing idol Lindsey Vonn.

Kristina Wolff is on one end of the phone -- and of this video, taped by her parents at their home in New Hampshire -- and Vonn is on the other, simultaneously being videotaped sitting at the Santa Monica headquarters of Red Bull, a Vonn sponsor which arranged the phone call.

The shock, joy, excitement and the is-this-really-happening moment are palpable. Red Bull called it an "epic freak out." Enjoy, like Kristina did:





Kristina is a budding downhill skier who would no doubt enjoy the chance to follow in Vonn’s ski tracks.

With a gold medal in the 2010 Olympic downhill and three World Cup titles, Vonn is the most successful ski racer in U.S. history. And she does a pretty good impersonation of actress Sharon Stone in “Basic Instinct,” too.


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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Former baseball great Mike Schmidt talks fishing

Baseball great Mike Schmidt, the former Philadelphia Phillies third baseman, hit 548 career home runs in a Hall of Fame career. His baseball highlight? Winning the World Series in 1980.

Nowadays, Schmidt is into fishing. His fishing highlight? Catching a very big fish, and he'll tell you about it here:





Schmidt talked to the Chester Daily Local News recently about how he started fishing, and about that big marlin:

"My father-in-law, Bill Wightman, got me into fishing just after I retired from baseball when he took me fishing for bluefish out of New Jersey. That got me started," Schmidt recalls. "Later I bought a Viking sports fishing boat and headed out for the canyons for billfish. I learned a lot from Dick Webber and some other folks in Cape May."

While Schmidt's baseball heroics are legion, he shared a classic fish story that is also the stuff of legends.

"My greatest fishing story is winning the Tournament of Champions in Cape May in 1989 when I caught a 470 pound blue Marlin on the final day of the tourney," he said. "It was the first time I'd ever competed with my own boat, and the biggest fish I've ever caught."
And so, Schmidt proceeded to get involved in fishing and promoting fishing. Today, he is promoting the World Fishing Network's "Ultimate Fishing Town USA" contest, whereby the winning community will receive $25,000 and be featured on a special 30-minute broadcast on WFN.

Too late to nominate your community. But you can still vote for those which have been nominated. Go to World Fishing Network.

In case you're curious, Schmidt's "Ultimate Fishing Town" is his hometown of Jupiter, Fla. "It offers beautiful weather, it's the sailfish capital of the world, and it's just 55 miles from the Bahamas," he told the Daily Local.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

World's largest marlin -- 4,500 pounds -- landed in Cabo San Lucas

And it is tail-walking on a cement pedestal for all the world to see -- all 4,500 pounds.

A replica of the largest marlin ever caught and written about recently "landed" at the marina entrance of the Cultural Pavillion of the Republic next to Pisces Sportfishing in Cabo San Lucas, Baja Mexico. 

Pisces Sportfishing, the legendary fishing fleet based in Cabo, donated the colorful statue of the blue marlin with this inscription:
World's Largest Blue Marlin.
This is a replica of the largest marlin ever recorded, caught aboard a longliner in 1976 - 4500 lbs. In Honor of the Magnificent Marlin upon which our town was built.
Donated to the people of Cabo San Lucas by Pisces Sportfishing.
In memory of Pedro Ehrenberg B & Peter Ehrenberg S.
Cabo San Lucas Marlin Capital of the World.
No, this 4,500-pound blue marlin was not taken by rod and reel. The rod-and-reel records weigh considerably less. According to the IGFA fishing records, the world-record Pacific blue marlin is 1,376 pounds taken off Hawaii; and the world-record Atlantic blue marlin is 1,402 pounds taken off Brazil.



This monster marlin was, as the inscription says, taken by a commercial longline fisherman in 1976. According to Pisces Sportfishing, the fish was taken off Venezuela and was so large it had to be cut into three pieces to be weighed. Now that is huge.

CNN iReporter Percy Von Lipinski reported on the unveiling of the fish sculpture in his own comical way, calling it the LeBron James of marlin. Enjoy:




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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scariest hiking trail in the world captured on video that went viral

If you are afraid of heights, DO NOT WATCH THIS VIDEO. Or watch with the knowledge that no harm can come to you since you are sitting at your computer, safely planted on solid ground.

The scariest hiking trail in the world -- a steep, dangerous route called the El Caminito del Rey, or The King’s Little Pathway -- is located in the province of Malaga, Spain.

And someone who isn’t afraid of heights captured the essence of this scary hike on video.

But first, a little background.

Construction of this trail began in 1901 and was finished in 1905. It was built because workers at the hydroelectric power plants of Chorro Falls and Gaitanejo Falls needed a walkway to cross between the falls and provide transport of materials, according to Wikipedia.

The trail is 3 feet, 3 inches wide and rises more than 350 feet above the river, though it sure looks higher.

Its name was established in 1921 when King Alfonso XIII crossed the walkway to inaugurate the dam Conde del Guadalhorce. It's doubtful he'd use the trail today.

Like things that are more than 100 years old and not maintained, the route has fallen into disrepair. Parts of the walkway have holes or are missing completely (see above photo). In some places, hikers -- climbers? -- have only metal pieces sticking out for steps, with a long view to the bottom.

Ah, but there’s good news -- or bad, if you enjoy adventurous hikes: The government reportedly has set aside funds to restore the path to its original state with construction supposed to start this summer.

Right now, the trail is off limits. After two fatal accidents in 1999 and 2000, the local government closed the site, but adventurers continue to make the hike illegally.

Like someone who made this video two years ago. It can be found at Break.com, where it has generated nearly 1.5 million views. [UPDATE: Found this HD version on YouTube with nearly 6 million views.] Enjoy, but don’t look down:





Yes, a cable runs the length of the trail so people can clip into it for safety, but notice how the guy videotaping walks quickly and passes other people who are clipped in. It doesn't look like this guy ever clips in, making you wonder about his sanity.

As for those who do clip in? About that cable...

From an old post by The Cheap Route:
DO GET A HARNESS as no matter how confident you are in your abilities, the path is old and falling apart, and you don’t want to be the sucker who makes the next section crumble. Even the cables you latch into are questionable, so don’t fall.
Yes, by all means, be careful. Don’t fall.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Falcons nest on Nebraska state capitol building -- again

The last place you’d expect to find a wild pair of falcons would be in downtown Lincoln, Neb., hanging out at the state capitol building.

A ledge of a cliff out in the wild, maybe.

As it turns out, however, falcons are just as happy hanging out in urban areas on the ledges of skyscrapers than on a cliff in the wild. Apparently, they like the city life.

And the pair of peregrine falcons in Lincoln proves it. Again.

For the seventh consecutive year, peregrine falcons are using a nest box outside the 18th floor of the Nebraska State Capitol, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reports via Outdoor News.

A FalconCam is set up for those interested in wildlife who want to take a peek into the lives of these falcons, which produced three eggs that are expected to hatch in early May.

A few details about falcons from the Nebraska Game and Parks:
Peregrine falcons were first observed at the State Capitol when a lone male was seen in August 1990. Peregrine falcons almost disappeared from the lower 48 states following World War II because of eggshell thinning caused by the pesticide DDT. In 1970, the falcon was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Recovery efforts, including the release of falcons at tall buildings in urban areas, were successful. By the late 1990s, peregrine falcon numbers recovered and the species was removed from the list of endangered species in 1999.
Finally, something positive to report from a state capitol building.


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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fisherman finds hand grenade on a river bank

A fisherman in Wichita was searching for fishing lures along the banks of the Arkansas River when he saw a silver ring sticking out of the mud, or at least this is how we envision the story unfolding.

Fortunately for the fisherman, he didn't reach down and pull the ring.

Because it wasn't a fishing lure.

It was a hand grenade! Yeah, like that one on the right (we suppose).

The silver ring sticking out of the mud was attached to a military-grade hand grenade.

Where the small explosive came from or how long it had been in the mud before the fisherman found it Sunday afternoon remains unknown, according to the Associated Press.

KFDI-FM reported that the fisherman contacted police, which in turn contacted McConnell Air Force Base about handling the device.

Ultimately, the bomb squad retrieved the grenade and disposed of it at a bomb range.

Might this be further proof that there really are unethical fishermen using explosives while fishing? You don't believe so? Then check this out.




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Video: Shark attacks fisherman's catch right out of his hand
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Skier survives avalanche with an airbag, records it on his helmet cam

This is what a Backcountry Access Float 30
avalanche airbag backpack looks like deployed.

Airbags have saved countless lives in automobile accidents. Who knew an airbag could save a life in an avalanche?

But that's what happened to Jeff Wyshynski while skiing in Alaska. He was wearing a Backcountry Access Float 30 avalanche airbag backpack, which he deployed when caught in an avalanche.

The result? Well, see for yourself from the perspective of Wyshynski's helmet cam, which captured the entire avalanche on video:





As you can see, Wyshynski wound up on top of the snow, which is where you want to end up after all the rushing snow has stopped moving. It's what the Float 30 is designed to facilitate. According to The Outside Blog, the airbag backpack has been tested with much success in Europe. Such news is very encouraging.

Though we don't know how big this avalanche was in Alaska, it does offer a great example of how the airbag works.

This is what Backcountry Access says about the airbag backpack:
Excavation time is by far the biggest contributing factor in avalanche fatalities. By reducing or eliminating burial depth you substantially increase your chances of survival. The Float 30 is the first airbag that is both affordable and easily reusable. [...] 
The airbag itself not only helps prevent burial, but protects the head, neck and upper body from trauma. With its location behind the head and away from the hips and arms, it preserves the user’s peripheral vision and his or her ability to escape the avalanche before it picks up speed. 
The airbag pack sells for $700. Worth every penny if you're ever caught in an avalanche.


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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Video: Shark goes after fisherman's catch -- right out of his hand

When fishing in shark-infested waters, fishermen would be wise to keep all limbs far from the water's edge -- like really far, so as to avoid tempting a shark into turning your hand or arm into a tasty hors d'oeuvre.

This is especially true when fishing from a kayak, which basically makes you a target as a main course.

This kayak fisherman apparently didn't get the safety memo, and he's very lucky not to have lost his hand, arm or maybe even his life. He just lost part of the fish he had just caught.

The shark, which had already attacked the hooked yellowtail as it was being reeled in, surfaced by the side of the fisherman's kayak and took another large bite out of the fish, luckily leaving the man's limbs behind so he can fish another day. 

See for yourself in this Kayak Fishing Tales video just posted on YouTube:





Yes, they are laughing now. No limbs were lost. But hopefully it was a lesson learned.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

Penguin receives prosthetic beak, can now eat on own

Every once in a while, a feel-good story surfaces, one worthy of passing along to friends, family and every animal lover you know. This is one of them.

Tungo is a 5-month-old Magellan penguin, which was found ailing on a beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Its top beak was broken off by a boat propeller, rending it unable to eat without human help.

Enter veterinarian Marco Janackovic, who built a prosthetic beak and attached it to the helpless penguin. Take a moment and meet Tungo, which can now happily chow down on sardines, or whatever it is that Magellan penguins eat.

Tungo's story, courtesy of UZoo, is right this way (Note: You can skip the ad)...





How sweet is that? Tungo will soon be frolicking around an artificial pond with all his buddies in a breeding center in California. Hmmm. Well, we think this is a feel-good story. Unless you're an animal lover who doesn't like to see wildlife caged up.

In that case, think of it this way: Tungo will be given three meals a day, will be able to do what penguins do, and will be safe from any more boat propellers.


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Comedian Stephen Colbert sailing into Bermuda Triangle

One presumes that Colbert Nation does not approve of this one bit. Its leader sailing off into the Bermuda Triangle? And leaving his people behind? How could he?

Stephen Colbert, it’s the Bermuda Triangle! Where boats and airplanes mysteriously disappear. Where yachts with comedians vanish without a trace.

Think USS Grampus. Gone. Think SS Cotopaxi. Vanished. Think Flight 19. Disappeared. Think again, Stephen.

Come May, despite any protestations, the comedian from Comedy Central will set sail in the Charleston Bermuda Race 2011, racing 777 miles from his native hometown of Charleston, S.C., to Bermuda, otherwise known as the tip of the Bermuda Triangle.

He’s never coming back, Nation. Prepare for the worst.

After all, the last time Colbert participated in this race, in 2005, he and his friends encountered paranormal activities. At least one would suspect they did.

Oh sure, he managed to avoid any vanishing-without-a-trace funny business and returned to eventually launch Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” later that year.

But he was missing for two days. Well, OK, not really missing, but his racing team ran out of fuel and didn’t reach Bermuda until two days after the awards ceremony.

Worse, the yacht lost its sanitation system.

“Boat toilets...are floating Porta-Potties,” Colbert told Outside magazine in its May issue hitting newsstands Tuesday. “Ours, through an understandable oversight, had not been emptied since the Carter administration.

"It had to be pumped by hand. As a father of three, I was used to dealing with other people’s waste, so I volunteered, as did two other crew members...I now knew that I would not drown. I would die from amoebic dysentery.”

He didn’t. But it was close.

Why did Stephen Colbert go sailing in the first place? An appetite for racing, perhaps? Actually, it doesn’t sound as if he was cut out for being on the water or in a yacht at all.

“Though I grew up in a sailing community -- Charleston, South Carolina -- I am not a sailor,” he told Outside. “I wasn’t allowed to sail because I’m not waterproof. I have no eardrum in my right ear. As a child, I imagined that if the boat capsized, my skull would fill with water and down I’d go, bow first.”

Nevertheless, Colbert forged ahead and participated in the biennial race, featuring monohull and multihull sailboats.

“There comes a time in every man’s life when he must ask himself, ‘What can I endure? Of what mettle am I made?’ This was not one of those times," he said. "I thought this would be a booze cruise to Bermuda.”

This time, Colbert has another incentive. In February on “The Colbert Report,” the Comedy Central star challenged British entrepreneur and adventurer Richard Branson to compete against him in the race.

It will decide who is “the greatest sailor in the world,” Colbert announced. Considering Colbert’s running feud with Branson, it’s doubtful he’ll accept.

Or, maybe Branson knows better, knowing the perils that await a racing team sailing off course and deep into the Bermuda Triangle. Hmmm.

We presume Colbert Nation has only one message for its fearless leader: Don’t go, Stephen.


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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fishing at Augusta National: A tradition unlike any other

Rae's Creek in front of No. 12 is full of bream.
What are the best holes at Augusta National, site of this week’s Masters? A former caddie would tell you Nos. 12 and 16. The reason? Bream and bass.

Fishing holes. We’re talking fishing holes. Yes, fishing. On the famed, hallowed grounds of Augusta National. Prim and proper Augusta National.

Where such an activity would probably be considered sacrilege.

Where as a member, if you dared pull out a fishing rod instead of a pitching wedge, you’d probably see your membership revoked.

And where the fishing is said to be quite good.

How do we know this? From the caddies.

The first time Tripp Bowden stepped foot on the hallowed grounds was to go fishing. The club’s caddie master, the legendary Freddie Bennett, took him as a 10-year-old.

Bowden, in his memoir “Freddie & Me” about his time as an Augusta caddie, wrote that Augusta National was a “fishing haven.”

President Dwight Eisenhower used to fish for bream and bass in the pond around the eighth and ninth holes of the par-3 course, according to Monte Burke of Forbes.com.

In fact, it was Eisenhower who suggested to then Augusta National chairman Clifford Roberts that a dam be built to create the pond. About.com says Roberts liked the idea, built the dam and created a fishing hole.

The pond at No. 16 is full of bass.
But Bowden told Burke that some of the best fishing was found on the mother course, famous for the Masters, a tradition unlike any other. Who knew there was another tradition -- fishing -- to talk about at Augusta?

No. 12 is a 155-yard par-3 that is fronted by Rae’s Creek. It is said to be full of bream.

“The caddies loved to fish there,” Bowden told Burke.

No. 16 is a 170-yard par-3 with a pond stretching from tee to green, and it is full of bass.

“You ain’t never seen fishing like this,” Bennett told a 10-year-old Bowden. “We’ll catch 'em so fast you'll be huffing and puffing like the Big Bad Wolf. [...]

“Best fishing in the world.”

Now, if you ever do find yourself with a fishing rod in your hand on the hallowed grounds of Augusta National, for heaven’s sake, be sure you don’t wear your fishing hat backwards. Rickie Fowler will tell you why.


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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A 50-foot great white shark photographed off Ireland? An underwater bike tunnel? Other Call of the Wild headlines



A 50-foot great white shark photographed off Ireland? Uh, no
One needn’t bother clicking on Snopes.com to find out the legitimacy of a record 50-foot great white shark one lucky diver managed to photograph off Ireland. It’s rather obvious. Posted on April 1. His wife’s name is April (shown in the photo with the shark). Photographer’s name is Jester, as in motley fool. Still, you gotta love this quote from April in this SportDiver.com spoof: “I was scared for sure. If it had been hungry, I would have been a goner. And let’s face it, a shark doesn’t get to being that big without a healthy appetite.” Aside from a chuckle, what this photoshopped image gives us is what a 50-foot great white shark would look like if one did exist. Really, the photoshopping is beautifully done, no? Sport Diver


Vancouver considers underwater bike tunnel? Uh, no
The headline alone ought to give it away. But, yes, The Vancouver Courier -- a legitimate newspaper in Canada (at least we thought it was a legitimate newspaper in Canada) -- did run a story on April 1 about the city's plan to build the "Funnel" to connect downtown to southeast False Creek at a cost of $420 million. The Courier obtained the city's 52-page city report through the Freedom of Information legislation. An April Fools joke in an online diving magazine is one thing, but in a supposed real newspaper? No wonder newspapers are dying. Vancouver Courier

A 300-pound ray jumps into boat and lands on lady? Yes, true story
It happened aboard Two Chicks Charters while on a cruise off Islamorada, Florida. The 300-pound giant spotted eagle ray suddenly flew out of the water and landed on Jenny Hausch, who was pinned under the creature before crawling out from under it. This happened about the same time that a 375-pound mako shark jumped into a fishing boat off Texas. What's with these sea creatures lately, anyway? Luckily, Florida Wildlife Conservation officers witnessed the incident and assisted in returning the ray to the water. "This was not an attack," one officer told UPI. "These things are not looking to have a human meal." That's reassuring. UPI 

Ocean life can handle radioactive leaks? So say the experts
"Releases of radioactive water into the ocean near Japan's stricken nuclear complex shouldn't pose a widespread danger to sea animals or people who might eat them, experts say," the lede in the Kansas City Star article stated. And why is that? Because it's a very large ocean and because of dilution. Now, less than a mile or so from the nuclear plant is another story if this dumping continues for a long time, one expert said. Problems like genetic mutations (see above) can occur. Readings for radioactive iodine and cesium show a thousand-fold drop from the shore to monitors 19 miles offshore, the report states. Whew, that's a  relief. Pass the sushi. Kansas City Star

With possible end to Whale Wars, are Shark Wars next for Sea Shepherd? 
That's what it looks like. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, known for protecting whales against the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean, will now focus on protecting sharks off Palau. Sea Shepherd signed an agreement with the Palau government to work with the Palauan Marine Law Enforcement Division to patrol the world's first shark sanctuary to prevent illegal fishing and shark-finning. Palau is an island 500 miles east of the Philippines and 2,000 miles south of Tokyo. You might recall, Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd, recently stated that the Japanese earthquake and tsunami might have brought an end to Japanese whaling. So, will Animal Planet get a new series? Stay tuned. Radio Australia News


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