Most people see clouds when they look into the sky. Jeff Riedel sees love.
The Chandler, Ariz., resident has started a business that will make it that much easier for amorous couples to join the "Mile-High Club."
For $750, couples can get a 90-minute ride 6,000-feet above the Phoenix area, with the only destination being that delightful place known as love, sweet love, the Arizona Republic reports.
Riedel's friend, Richard McPherson, flies the lovebirds up in a Cessna 320 decked out with a "retro lounge jazz club" interior for the company, Mile High AZ.
Thus far Riedel's venture is still in its infancy. Mile High AZ is testing the airspace, so to speak, offering free flights to friends, who in turn leave "testimonials" on Milehighclub.com.
"It was everything we expected and more," the Republic quoted one posting.
And though this mortgage broker hasn't quit his day job, the paper reports, he's enjoying the ride, noting it's "a heck of a lot more fun to talk about than being a Realtor."
Cap Your Christmas Tree This Holiday Season
Forget about a heavenly angel or sparkling star. This holiday season, guns are all the ornament rage.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that glittery black handgun ornaments have caught the eye of Pennsylvania's highest officer.
Gov. Ed Rendell is rallying against Philadelphia-based Urban Outfitters' 5-inch-long glitter gun ornament, calling it "twisted."
"The governor doesn't find it humorous or clever to display weapons that are responsible for taking hundreds of lives each year as if they are decorations," Kate Phillips, the governor's spokeswoman told the paper.
The Urban Outfitters catalog urges shoppers to "bust a cap in your tree with this superglittery ornament," part of a holiday lineup of dark humor items that includes devil sock monkeys and light-up holiday skulls.
"This specific 'Glitter Gun Ornament' is by no means condoning the violence that we face in our city, or any city, for that matter, and is not meant to celebrate guns or gun violence," the company said in a statement. "It is meant only to ironically celebrate the holidays."
At least one person agrees, the Inquirer reports. Paul Raynolds, a firearms safety instructor from Summit, N.J., said the glitter gun ornament is fine so long as you don't point it at anybody, adding, "I think I might get one."
Nevada Barber Takes His Gubernatorial Portrait on the Urinal Road Show
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A Carson City barber and amateur painter, miffed that an out-of-state artist was chosen to paint Gov. Kenny Guinn's official portrait, has taken his scorn on a 50-state road show.
When Adam Baker learned earlier this year that an artist from Washington would paint the official portrait of Nevada's outgoing governor, Baker took his own rejected portrait of Guinn to a bathroom in the state Capitol — and photographed it above a urinal.
Since then, he's taken the painting on a cross-country jaunt, photographing it above capitol urinals in the contiguous 48 states.
It took him a month, half of his savings, a lot of peanut butter sandwiches and Red Bull energy drinks, he said.
Baker said he flew to regional airports, then "rented a minivan, took my sleeping bag and camped at all the Wal-Marts I could find."
Next week, he'll take the painting to Hawaii and Alaska for the last two urinal stops, then return to his barber shop that also serves as his art studio.
Baker calls the trip "Kenny's Big Adventure."
Guinn's official portrait, which will hang in the Capitol, is being painted by Michele Rushworth of Sammamish, Wash. Rushworth, selected in September, came with experience, having painted the official portrait of Washington Gov. Gary Locke.
Baker doesn't deny Rushworth's talent.
"She's an awesome artist," he said. But he added, "I feel my governor should have represented me and not somebody from Washington."
His main beef, Baker said, is that there are many talented artists in Nevada who could have done a great job.
"Frankly, I don't care who paints his painting," Baker told The Associated Press. "But if he goes out of state to do it, it should come out of his own pocket, not the taxpayers."
Baker, 42, who paints portraits of his barbershop customers, offered to paint Guinn for free in 2003. He was invited to the Capitol, where he photographed the governor as a basis for his portrait.
Baker said his preliminary picture was returned to the barbershop. Later, he entered the competition to become the governor's artist. Rushworth won.
The reason for not selecting Baker was simple, said Guinn spokesman Steve George.
"It wasn't very good," George said of Baker's sketch. "The fact that he wants to display it in a restroom speaks a lot of what he thinks about his own work."
When his 50-state tour is complete, Baker said he plans to raffle his portrait of the governor and donate the proceeds to charity. He hopes to raise more than the $20,000 allocated by state lawmakers to commission the portrait.
"I'm going to make the money go back to Nevada, where it should have stayed to begin with," he said.
Ohioans Eat Crow Along With Turkeys This Thanksgiving
DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Ohio farmers who fear that wild turkeys are damaging their crops might want to look elsewhere.
Concern has been sufficient in recent years to prompt research on just how much blame the birds deserve for crop damage. Those studies have found gobblers are often the fall guys for nocturnal animals such as deer, raccoons and squirrels.
A 2001 Ohio study found just three of 26 wild-turkey crop-damage complaints were verifiable, and the damage was minor.
Ohio's wild turkey population stands at about 200,000 — up from 41,000 in 1990 and 145,000 in 1999. Although it's down from a peak of more than 260,000 in 2001.
In 1996, Ohio farmers estimated annual financial loss due to wildlife at $46.4 million.
Don't Send a Man to Do a Teenage Counterfeiter's Job
CLEVELAND (AP) — Two honor students printed counterfeit $20 bills that looked so real they were able to pass them for months, police in suburban Middleburg Heights said.
The two students at Midpark High School were suspended but they haven't been criminally charged.
They printed the fake bills on a home computer and spent them on chocolate milk at school, funnel cakes at the county fair and snacks at fast-food restaurants, police said Tuesday. The money looked so authentic that it went undetected for months.
"I've seen counterfeit bills, and these kids did a heck of a job," Middleburg Heights Police Chief John Maddox said.
One of their classmates who knew about the alleged scam told her mother, who reported the boys to school administrators. Once police found out about the scam, the students turned over the phony money, Maddox said.
"I think it was more of an adventure than it was a crime to them," he said.
School officials have suspended the two alleged ringleaders and four friends the school says were parties to the scam. The two leaders face expulsion, Assistant Principal Vincenzo Ruggiero said.
Police are still investigating and will present the case to the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court for possible criminal charges. The two leaders are straight-A students, Maddox said.
They reproduced an old $20 bill because they knew that new currency has telltale markings that are supposed to be impossible to reproduce, Maddox said. Their store-bought paper was remarkably similar to real currency.
The teens would spend the phony $20s on small purchases as a way to obtain real money in change, Maddox said.
King of the Hobos Meets the Spirit in the Sky
NAPOLEON, Ohio (AP) — Maurice Graham, who began riding the rails at age 14 in 1931 and was known as the "King of the Hobos," has died. He was 89.
Graham recently suffered a stroke and died Saturday at a rehabilitation center in Napoleon.
Nicknamed "Steam Train Maury," he was a founding member of the Hobo Foundation and helped establish the Hobo Museum in Britt, Iowa.
National Hobo Foundation President Linda Hughes said Graham was "a true hobo hero."
"He was a classy and respected man," she said. "No one can live up to Steam Train. He's irreplaceable."
Graham in 1990 wrote "Tales of the Iron Road: My Life As King of the Hobos," telling his stories of hopping trains and living in hobo camps until 1980.
He was named National Hobo King five times and crowned Grand Patriarch of Hoboes during the annual hobo convention in 2004. No one else has received the honor.
Graham worked as a cement mason and founded a mason school where he taught the cement trade. He was a medical technician during World War II.
He is survived by his wife, Wanda, and two daughters. Services will be Wednesday morning at Walter Funeral Home in Toledo.
Compiled by Sara Bonisteel.
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