The Odd Side – May 3, 2016

Ready, Steady, Mow! British Lawnmower Racing Season Gets Underway

LONDON (Reuters) – Behind a start line in a field in southern England, a group of drivers rev their engines on noisy machines more used to cutting grass than racing across it.

Sunday marked the start of the British lawnmower racing season, in which participants drive laps around a track in slightly souped-up sit-down mowers with the blades removed.

The championship, dreamed up in a countryside pub in 1973, runs from May to October and features three categories: roller-driven mowers; wheel-driven mowers and wheel-driven lawn tractors.

“It’s a little unusual,” said Dean Fuller, British champion on the wheel-driven variety, at the season’s first meeting in Surrey.

“You have got to learn how you lean, how you brake, the different types of surfaces … So it really does take three or four years before you get the hang of [it].”

Duck Leads Ducklings on Annual Waddle Through School Halls

HARTLAND, Mich. (AP) – A mother duck has grown attached to a Michigan elementary school’s courtyard, returning each year to lay her eggs and then walking the hallways with her ducklings — with the help of students and staff — to get to a nearby pond.

The duck, named Vanessa, has appeared at Village Elementary School in Hartland for the past 13 years, and her latest waddle through the school took place last week, the Livingston Daily Press & Argus of Howell reports.

The duck flies into the closed-off courtyard, where kids in the surrounding classrooms can take a peek out the window to watch, and she crawls under a specific shrub, digs out her nest, lays her eggs and waits for them to hatch.

After the ducklings appear, now-retired teacher Ruth Darrah and others tape black construction paper along the walls, creating a clear path for the ducks to get to a nearby pond outside the school.

At this year’s hallway waddle, the duck waited by the courtyard door for it to be unlocked and waddled with her eight ducklings through the school within minutes.

“She has it down by now, after 13 years,” Darrah said.

Professor Posts CV of His Failures to Give Perspective

PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) – A Princeton University professor has published a CV of his career failures as a way to give perspective to students who are feeling discouraged.

Johannes Haushofer writes atop the CV that most of what he tries fails, but those failures are often invisible. The assistant professor of psychology says it gives the wrong impression that most things work out for him, so people “are more likely to attribute their own failures to themselves.”

The CV is divided into sections with titles like “Degree programs I did not get into” and “Academic positions and fellowships I did not get.”

He says he got the idea from an article in the journal Nature.

The list ends with a “Meta-Failure” that the CV has received “way more attention” than his entire body of academic work.

College Student Starts Business Recycling Dorm Fridges

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) – Mitch Newlin, of Brunswick, Maine, goes to Bates College, a private, liberal arts college in Lewiston, Maine, about 35 miles north of Portland. The 22-year-old buys dorm refrigerators at the end of the school year and sells them to incoming students the next year.

His company, Re-Fridge, has branched out to a total of 17 colleges in Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts and expects to collect more than $70,000 in revenues this year, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Now a junior majoring in economics, Newlin hires students at the other colleges to pick up and deliver the refrigerators, capitalizing on the convenience to customers.

At the end of his freshman year, Newlin says he hauled his roommates’ left-behind fridges and furniture home and stored them in his parents’ basement in Brunswick while he mulled over his business plan.

“There had to be a way to prevent this stuff from being thrown out and recycled to a new owner,” he said.

He polled fellow Bates students about what they would be willing to sell at the end of the school year to avoid items going into landfills and being fined $50 by the college for leaving items behind. He said 50 people approached him and told them he could have their refrigerators, and Re-Fridge became a reality.

It’s Raining Humvees

BERLIN (AP) – A U.S. Army airborne exercise video taken in Germany is attracting viewers after a it surfaced showing a Humvee breaking free of its rigging and plummeting to the ground, followed by another — and another.

The scene starts serenely as equipment is dropped by parachute April 11 from planes with the 173rd Airborne Brigade flying across blue skies until the first Humvee breaks free and drops.

It’s followed by a second, then a third and increasing laughter on the video.

The Army says nobody was hurt, and it’s investigating what went wrong — and who shot the video.

Donkeys to Descend On Philadelphia Ahead of Convention

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Fifty-seven fiberglass donkeys will be displayed at various sites and attractions in Philadelphia starting July 1. The symbol of the Democratic Party will represent each U.S. state, each territory, Washington D.C., and Democrats abroad.

The donkeys will be painted with iconic images from each location. The ideas were given to Philadelphia artists to create.

“Donkeys Around Town” is an effort to get residents in the convention spirit and encourage delegates and other visitors to explore the city. It’s the brainchild of former Gov. Ed Rendell, the host committee chairman.

“I think it’s going to be great for the delegates and great for the residents,” Rendell said.

The decorated donkeys will be found in places like the Betsy Ross House and the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Pennsylvania’s donkey was the first to be unveiled Tuesday. Painted royal blue with yellow ears, it depicts Pennsylvania icons such as the Liberty Bell, Amish country and the state’s flag, bird and flower.

The donkeys also will sport “Do Not Sit” signs, even though they each can hold up to 250 pounds, said Angela Val, of the DNC’s host committee. And their large metal bases make it tough to topple them.

The Mural Arts Program is prepared to quickly repair any vandalism.

Delegates can take their home states’ donkeys home or allow them to be auctioned, with proceeds going to the artists.