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links for 2010-06-19

  • Quote:"Marfa Lights
    Marfa, Texas

    The Marfa Lights have baffled scientists since the first recorded sighting in 1883. Visible only on clear nights, the weird yellowish-green orbs float, bounce around, and vanish then reappear over the Mitchell Flats, just outside of Marfa, Texas. Explanations range from the mundane (mirages, car taillights) to the otherworldly (alien spacecrafts, displaced souls), but the fun of these inexplicable lights is certainly in the mystery. Each Labor Day weekend, Marfa residents celebrate the phenomenon at the Marfa Lights Festival. The three-day fest – complete with live music, street parties, and local arts and crafts vendors – kicks off with a Friday night parade and has become a reunion for former Marfa residents and mystery lights fanatics alike (there are several full books on the topic, by the way). Year round, visitors flock to the viewing center, about 10 miles east of Marfa, for a glimpse of the mystifying glows.

    // Also see deserts of Maine

  • Quote:"Modern dishwashers and detergents have come a long way in the past couple of decades. "You will not improve your wash performance one bit by pre-rinsing," says John Dries, a mechanical engineer and owner of Dries Engineering, an appliance design consulting company. He points out that heavily soiled dishes are used in pre-market "wash tests," not pre-rinsed dishes.

    In most cases, all you need to do is scrape your plates over a trashcan to get rid of bones or chunks of food. One caveat: It's a good idea to pre-soak pans or dishes that have something really burned on them. Pre-rinsing doesn't help in this situation.

  • Quote:"The National Association of Realtors conducts an annual survey of its members in 80 cities that is created by Remodeling magazine and used to estimate the return on investment for 33 home improvement projects. The 2009 report concluded that, on average, for every $1,000 homeowners spend on projects, they get back $638.

    // D'oh

  • Quote:"A study released Friday by The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project says adults and teenagers are equally likely to have texted while driving. And adults are more likely to have chatted on their phones while driving.

    The study found that 47 percent of adults who text reported sending or reading texts while behind the wheel. In a 2009 Pew study, a lower number — 34 percent — of 16- and 17-year-olds who send texts said that they did that while driving.

    Because not everyone has a phone or sends texts, the report said the findings indicate that 27 percent of all U.S. adults have sent or read texts while driving and 26 percent of all U.S. 16- and 17-year-olds have done so.

    The study also found that adults are much more likely to chat on their phones while driving: 75 percent of adults with mobile phones said they talked and drove. Fifty-two percent of teenagers with cell phones said they did so in last year's study.

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