Man Trades Red Paper Clip for Desert Abode

What’s the best way to turn a computer and a rather mundane office supply into a humble abode for you and your buddies?

Kyle MacDonald harnessed the power of the Internet to trade a red paper clip for something better, over and over again.

Since last July, he’s managed to turn a red paper clip into a year’s free rent on a house in the desert, the Associated Press reports.

"It's totally overwhelming; I'm not going to lie," he said by phone from Montreal, where he and his girlfriend, Dominique Dupuis, live with two roommates. "But I'm still trading for that house. It's this obsessive thing."

MacDonald’s obsession started with an ad he placed in the barter section, saying he wanted something bigger and better for his red paper clip — just a trade, of course.

From there he was able to trade his paper clip for a fish-shaped pen.

He traded that for a doorknob, which he traded for a camping stove, which he traded for a generator, which he traded for a keg of beer and a neon party sign.

The trading — and his ever-increasing celebrity — escalated until he traded a studio recording contract in Toronto for a year’s stay at a singer’s duplex in Phoenix.

Where his trading takes him from Phoenix is anybody’s guess, but MacDonald says he’s had offers from Hollywood to turn his story into a movie.

"If you say you're going to do something and you start to do it, and people enjoy it or respect it or are entertained by it, people will step up and help you," he said.

This Lockdown Was Buckets of Fun!

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — A principal trying to prevent walkouts during immigration rallies inadvertently introduced a lockdown so strict that children weren't allowed to go to the bathroom and instead had to use buckets in the classroom, an official said.

Worthington Elementary School Principal Angie Marquez imposed the lockdown March 27 as nearly 40,000 students across Southern California left classes that morning to attend immigrants' rights demonstrations. The lockdown continued into the following morning.

Marquez apparently misread the district handbook and ordered a lockdown designed for nuclear attacks.

Tim Brown, the district's director of operations, confirmed some students used buckets but said the principal's order to impose the most severe type of lockdown was an "honest mistake."

"When there's a nuclear attack, that's when buckets are used," Brown told the Los Angeles Times. The principal "followed procedure. She made a decision to follow the handbook. She just misread it."

In some cases teachers escorted classmates to regular restroom facilities, students said.

Telephones rang unanswered Monday at Worthington Elementary School because of spring break, and messages left for Marquez and Brown at school district headquarters were not returned.

Appalled parents have complained to the school board. Brown said the school district planned to update its emergency preparedness instructions to give more explicit directions.

Parents and community activists asked the school board at its April 5 meeting to explain the principal's decision. They also sought promises that the lockdown wouldn't be repeated.

"There was no violence at the protests, so this was based on what?" activist Diane Sambrano asked. "It was unsanitary, unnecessary and absolutely unacceptable."

Cheaters Never Prosper, but They Have Cool Toys

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) — A man who said he bought a device that let him change traffic lights from red to green has received a $50 ticket on suspicion of interfering with a traffic signal.

Jason Niccum of Longmont told the Daily Times-Call that the device, which he bought on eBay for $100, helped him cut his time driving to work.

"I guess in the two years I had it, that thing paid for itself," he told the newspaper Wednesday.

Niccum was cited March 29 after police said they found him using a strobe-like device to change traffic signals.

"I'm always running late," police quoted Niccum as saying in an incident report.

The device, called an Opticon, is similar to what firefighters use to change lights when they respond to emergencies. It emits an infrared pulse that receivers on the traffic lights pick up.

Niccum was cited after city traffic engineers who noticed repeated traffic-light disruptions on certain intersections spotted a white Ford pickup passing by whenever the light patterns were disrupted.

City traffic engineer Joe Olson said traffic engineers plan to update the city's Opticon system this year to block unauthorized light-changing signals.

Click the video box at the top of the story for more on the traffic cheater.

Thanks to Out There reader Brian H.

Shiny Sewer Surprise a 'One-in-a-Million Shot'

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Carrie Ermence of Naperville has her diamond wedding ring back and calls its return is almost a miracle.

Ermence said she took the one-carat ring off recently to put lotion on her hands, and her 6-year-old daughter, Taylor, saw it in the bathroom and thought it needed cleaning, so she washed it and wrapped it in toilet paper to dry it. Her father, Mark Ermence, saw the wad of paper and flushed it down the toilet. When he found out what he had done he called plumbers, who told him they could do nothing.

But sewer workers from Naperville's Wastewater Department put a hose in the subdivision's main sewer line and ran the waste material backward toward the house. And they found the ring, which one of them called "a one-in-a-million shot."

A Treat for Those of Us Who Are Rich, Thirsty and Insane

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (AP) — When Jason Silvestri heard about Foxwoods Resort Casino's new signature cocktail, the police officer almost choked on his Absolut vodka and cranberry juice. "What?" he said. "$3,000?"

Served in a traditional martini glass, the Sapphire martini is made with Blue Curacao, Bombay Sapphire Gin and a splash of dry vermouth and is coated with blue sugar on the rim. But it's the accompanying pair of custom-made blue sapphire and diamond earrings, set in a sterling silver pick, that makes the cocktail sweet.

With the unveiling of the four-digit cocktail, the casino's new Mezz Ultra Lounge joins a growing list of bars and restaurants around the world offering pure decadence in a glass.

Super-expensive drinks, a sort of Louis Vuitton bag for the bar crowd, are a status symbol and a great marketing tool for businesses.

"It obviously makes a statement about status and the ability to afford it but I think it's also a spontaneous, celebratory thing," Brett Anderson, senior vice president and editorial director for the Robb Report, the luxury lifestyle magazine said.

The Algonquin Hotel's Blue Bar in New York offers a $10,000 diamond martini, accompanied by a diamond from the hotel jeweler. Only two have been sold since the cocktail debuted in 2004.

And if the cost of that drink doesn't make you stumble, the next one will.

Created for the Robb Report, the Robb cocktail cost $87,600 when it was offered in 2003 at the Rivoli Bar at The Ritz Hotel in London. Now unavailable, the cocktail was made with 22-carat gold leaf Eskalony vodka, Grand Marnier, peach liqueur and topped off with Ritz private label champagne. It came with a custom-made 13.66-carat yellow diamond swizzle stick that doubled as a bracelet.

"To be honest, I haven't heard of anything else as expensive," said Mark Skidmore, a Rivoli bar manager. No one ever purchased the drink, he added.

Thanks to Out There reader Melissa P.

Compiled by's Taylor Timmins.

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