Baseball (search) players know all about a "heavy" ball. It happens when the weather is cold or rainy, and the ball just seems impossible to hit over the fence.
But they've never seen anything like the 1,300-pound doozy in Mike Carmichael's shed in Alexandria, Ind. (search)
Carmichael's baseball has grown to staggering proportions because he's spent 27 years adding layers of paint to it in the hopes that the mega-ball will one day break records.
Carmichael hopes the baseball hanging in the shed behind his house will be declared the world's largest ball of paint — and from the size of it, it looks like that's a distinct possibility. Thanks to more than 18,000 layers of paint, it is more than 35 inches in diameter and has a 111-inch circumference.
On Saturday, Carmichael watched as a crew took a core sample from the green ball that's needed before it can earn a spot in the Guinness Book of Records.
In honor of Carmichael's work, Saturday was declared Ball of Paint Day in Alexandria, about 25 miles northeast of Indianapolis. It started with a proclamation honoring Carmichael on the steps of City Hall, followed by a photo exhibit and ended with the core sample taken at Carmichael's home.
"I am not going to start any more baseballs," Carmichael declared.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Lobster lovers buying the crustaceans on ice might want to watch for a “return from the dead” phenomenon when defrosting their seafood.
One Connecticut lobster seller called Trufresh claims that a small fraction of its frozen critters come back to life when they’re thawed.
At the International Boston Seafood Show Sunday Trufresh brought video proof, in which a pair of lobsters could be seen wriggling around after being taken out of freezing seawater that registered minus-40 degrees on the thermometer. The lobsters had been in the brine for several minutes.
Company chairman Barnet L. Liberman acknowledged that its lobster testing is limited and only about 12 of roughly 200 healthy, hard-shell lobsters survived the freezing. Trufresh hasn't researched how long a frozen lobster can survive, but so far, the longest survival timeframe has been overnight.
Bonnie Spinazzola of the Offshore Lobstermen's Association in Candia, N.H., had her doubts about Lazarus-like lobsters entering the existing market.
"I've never heard of it and I don't know if I believe it," she said. "It might be a robo-lobster."
A few years ago, some Trufresh workers with lobstering experience suggested freezing lobsters the same way they froze their salmon, which are far too dead (and filleted) to ever be revived.
First, the lobster's metabolism is slowed in below-freezing seawater and then it's immersed in the minus-40 degree brine. Liberman said the lobster freezes so quickly that damage to muscle tissue cells from the formation of ice crystals is minimized. The lobsters are then thawed in 28-degree seawater.
The first time they tried it, Trufresh froze about 30 lobsters and two came back to life, Liberman said. But the company wasn't in the lobster business and never pursued it.
Now, Trufresh is trying to expand its product line. If it can find partners to catch the lobster and process it, Liberman said Trufresh can be selling them within months.
Robert Bayer of the University of Maine's Lobster Institute said he was intrigued about the Trufresh process, but dubious. Seafood-freezing methods similar to Trufresh's have existed for years, but there have been no reports of undead lobsters, he said.
"I guess I am skeptical about a lobster being brought back to life," Bayer said. "But I'm willing to be shown."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Office supplies and campaign memorabilia belonging to former presidential hopeful Wesley Clark recently became hot commodities on the auction block.
Held Friday in Little Rock, Ark., the auction at Clark’s former campaign headquarters offices drew about 300 people — who ranged from fans of the former general to those hoping to make a buck on the goods in a resale.
For sale: Trinkets like mousepads and stickers as well as bigger-ticket items like desks and phones used by Clark and his staff in his race to run against President Bush.
Attendee Steve Lopata plunked down $27.50 for a set of campaign memorabilia that included stickers, posters, mousepads and a miniature Clark Bar candy bar.
"I think I'll give them to some died-in-the-wool Republicans to make them mad," said Lopata, a retired chemical engineer and aspiring science fiction author who said he was indifferent to Clark as a candidate.
Campaign officials hoped to raise about $15,000 from memorabilia and office equipment such as phones, desks, TVs and computers, said Andy Kessel, campaign budget director.
He said he'd like to raise about $500,000 from the auction and other fund-raisers across the nation to cover debt from the campaign. He estimated the campaign would end up owing that much after a Federal Election Commission audit later this year.
"The whole wind-down process isn't cheap, with lawyers and accountants," Kessel said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Singapore Isn't Stuck on Chewing Gum Ban
SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore is set to partially lift its famous ban on chewing gum this week, but those yearning to blow bubbles or freshen their breath will have to settle for a chewy nicotine substitute.
Starting Thursday, the tightly controlled city-state will allow the sale of Nicorette — a nicotine gum for smokers trying to quit.
The government last year agreed to relax its 12-year ban on chewing gum to allow the sale of brands that health authorities consider "therapeutic" as part of a free-trade agreement with the United States that took effect Jan. 1.
Pfizer, the company that makes Nicorette, will send senior executives to Singapore to officially launch the gum, the company said in a statement.
Squeaky-clean Singapore outlawed the import, manufacture and sale of chewing gum in 1992 because of complaints that spent wads were fouling the city-state's tidy pavements, buildings, buses and subway trains.
But gum became a sticking point in free-trade talks with Washington when Rep. Philip Crane of Illinois pressed for Singapore to lift the ban on all gum. Crane represents Chicago, the home of chewing gum giant Wrigley.
Singapore resisted, agreeing only to allow sales of "therapeutic" gum in pharmacies.
Critics of Singapore's strict laws on media, behavior and politics have often cited the chewing gum ban as an example of the government's legal excesses.
GUILFORD, Vt. (AP) — Just up the hill from the Gaines' dairy farm stands a small building that looks a lot like a sugar shack, the kind of thing many Vermont farmers rely on to supplement their income.
But this one-story building houses a human crematory run by a couple of former back-to-the-landers who say they want to provide a personalized end-of-life service.
Jim and Ellen Curley say their new venture is a small family business that will provide options to the community and will help the Gaines' seventh-generation dairy farm survive.
"I view it as a service to my generation and the older generation," said Jim Curley, 54. "We're a low-volume small scale operation with a beautiful setting."
End-of-life services are big business in Vermont. Funeral homes and burial businesses abound, but cremation is a growing choice. About 40 percent of Vermonters choose cremation, according to the Funeral Consumers Alliance, a national trade group based in South Burlington. Nationally, the number is 25 percent.
The Curleys were looking for a family business when they got the idea of opening the crematory. First, they asked their neighbors, the Gaines, if they could use a wooded spot of land across the road from pasture.
The Gaines said yes.
"We've had a lot of people ask us to do different things here over the years," said Jackie Gaines, who lives on the farm and runs a dog-boarding business there. "Someone wanted to put a warehouse-type of building up; someone wanted to put a building for storage up."
The Gaines farm has about 200 acres in Vermont and Massachusetts where the family milks 65 cows; grows hay, corn and alfalfa; and runs a maple sugar operation. With milk prices hitting a 25-year low last year, all dairy farms look for other ways to stay afloat — and the Gaines saw Vermont Blessings as one way.
"The town was concerned with the aesthetic part of a crematory in town, and how that would fit in," said Jackie Gaines. "I told them that it would generate some income for us which would enable us to continue to keep this land as a farm intact for the next generation."
And while the notion of a crematory on the farm elicited some startled jokes from relatives and passers-by, the farm family was not deterred.
"Having a lot of animals, we do come in contact with death," said Gaines.
The result: a neat, rectangular building up a dirt road in the woods close to the Massachusetts border. Across the road, there are cows in large fields. Inside the building, bodies are cremated and sent into the air as vapor. They've done one cremation so far.
The Curleys want to capitalize on the market in nearby western Massachusetts, which has a much lower cremation rate than Vermont's. Vermont Blessings plans to woo customers with promises of scenery, privacy, and personal service.
At some crematories, many cremations are done in a day; Vermont Blessings promises to do no more than two a day.
"It makes a difference psychologically, to me," said Jim Curley, who has a doctorate in education. "If I was going to choose cremation for my mother, the thought of her being up at the industrial park, or down in a line, was appalling to me."
Compiled by Foxnews.com's Catherine Donaldson-Evans.
Got a good "Out There" story in your hometown? We'd like to know about it. Send an e-mail, with a Web link (we need to authenticate these things), to email@example.com.