Big Man Walking

The Big Apple will greet a big man on Tuesday who has lost at least 105 pounds during a yearlong walk across the country.

Steve Vaught, 40, of San Diego, trekked through 12 states, suffered two kidney stones and was struck by a Big Gulp drink thrown by an angry passerby during his adventure, which began last April 10 when he strolled out of his house, The New York Post reported.

He'll lumber across the George Washington Bridge Tuesday and then head down to Rockefeller Center to mark the end of his journey. He still weighs in at about 305 pounds — not thin by any stretch of the imagination but a definite improvement over his starting mass of 410.

"I am a changed man. I can't believe I could walk across the country when before I couldn't walk across Target," Vaught told the Post. "It has taught me so much about me and my life, and I think I have helped others."

One year and one month ago, Vaught was depressed, unemployed and obese. He decided to walk ... and walk ... and walk in the hopes of losing weight and regaining his life. The journey meant leaving his wife, April, and two children behind, and now the couple plans to divorce, though they remain friends, he says.

Other than a 21-day stop to work with a personal trainer in Dayton, Ohio, on nutrition and exercise, Vaught hasn't stopped moving, the Post reported. Each day consists of eight to 12 hours of walking, dining at restaurants along the way and sleeping in cheap motels or his tent.

Not surprisingly, he's attracted his own fan club of sorts, who have been following him on his Web site, Vaught is not walking for any specific cause and has no support system helping him on his super-hike.

Sex Toys Tax Deductible Down Under

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — Prostitutes, strippers and lap dancers can claim tax deductions for adult toys and lingerie, officials said Friday, as the Australian Taxation Office issued a list of deductible items for the sex industry.

Condoms, lubricants, gels and oils are among a myriad of other items that these workers can claim against tax, according to a fact sheet issued on the office's Web site.

While they cannot claim deductions for fitness classes that keep them in shape, the tax office ruled they can claim the cost of dance lessons.

"You can claim the cost of replacing or repairing things like equipment, adult novelties and other apparatus used in your work," the office advises, under a section titled "tools of trade."

"This is just another one of our occupational lists that we put together to help people," a taxation office spokeswoman said on customary condition of anonymity.

Spanish Town Throws Blind Date Party

VILLAFRECHOS, Spain (AP) — A small town on the northern plains of Spain held a large-scale blind date party on Saturday to help its many single men find potential mates.

Concerned that the population of rural Villafrechos will dwindle, Mayor Miguel Angel Gomez threw his support behind the local initiative, inviting women through an advertising campaign to gather at the regional city of Valladolid.

It began as the idea of local inn keeper Teresa Canal.

"There are too many bachelors here, we had to try and find them brides," she said.

About 100 women showed up and were taken by two busses to Villafrechos, population 540, where some 60 men escorted them to lunch.

"We've been organizing this since November," Gomez said. "The youngest is 24 and the oldest 68."

The women were then invited to see the town's highlights, including an artisan cheese-making facility and a football field where some of the men hoped to impress with their soccer skills.

"It's a lovely and exciting experience," said Irene Velasco, 45, a Madrid hotel worker. "I haven't come here to look for a mate, rather to meet new people and have a good time."

Tomas Infestas, a 57-year-old retired carpenter, said the women were gorgeous. "I want to find a partner, I'm lonely," he said.

The mayor said the registry office would be kept open over the weekend, in case any couples found love and wanted to marry.

Woman Gives Birth to 14-Pound Preemie

MANTECA, Calif. (AP) — A baby girl, who had grown so much inside her mother that she had to be delivered one month early, was born much heavier than average at 14 pounds.

Olivia, born on March 22 to Brandy Womack and Zack Patrick, is finally home after nearly a month spent in a hospital where doctors monitored her underdeveloped lungs and heart.

"Her newborn diapers didn't fit her," Womack told KXTV. "We had to take everything back and get it upgraded."

Medical staff decided Womack should deliver her daughter before full term when a sonogram in the seventh month showed she already weighed about 11 pounds, nine ounces.

Doctors estimated that if Womack had carried Olivia for the full nine months, the baby could have reached about 16 pounds.

"The doctor said because she was so big already, they wanted to get her out," Womack said.

The baby was delivered by cesarean section, and doctors who have examined her found no medical conditions that explained her size.

But now that she's out, Olivia's growth spurt seems to have slowed down. Unlike most newborns, who gain four to eight ounces a week during their first month, she's added only three ounces since birth.

Her parents said that as long as she's healthy, they're happy.

"I hope she stays this size for a while," Womack said.

A State Without a Slogan

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey: We're Not So Good With Slogans.

The state has jettisoned "Come See for Yourself," its second attempt at a tagline in less than a year. It was the product of a statewide contest set up by then-acting Gov. Richard J. Codey last fall, after he rejected a consultant's offering: "We'll Win You Over."

State tourism officials said legal issues led them to scrap the latest slogan, explaining that West Virginia and other states previously used "Come See For Yourself."

"We are proceeding without the slogan. We will revisit the next steps at the end of the year," Karen Wolfe, a spokeswoman for the state Commerce, Economic Growth and Tourism Commission, told The Press of Atlantic City for Saturday editions.

Codey, now state Senate president, dismissed "We'll Win You Over" because he said it reminded him too much of when he was single and asked girls out on a date.

"Come See For Yourself" was the top choice among more than 11,000 telephone and online votes cast by residents for five finalist entries in the contest. Codey unveiled the slogan with great fanfare in January, saying the Garden State's catch phrase "should hint at our true beauty."

But at an annual tourism conference in Cape May County last month, the slogan was absent from all state promotional materials. The slogan is also missing from this year's tourism television commercials, featuring a song by rocker Jon Bon Jovi.

Tourism officials said they won't pick from any of the four other finalists: "Love at First Sight," "The Real Deal," "The Best Kept Secret" or "Expect the Unexpected."

Compiled by's Catherine Donaldson-Evans.

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