Mad Minute

(FOX) The organizers of the annual America’s Best Restroom contest have flushed out a 2020 winner.

Cintas Corporation named the public restroom in Bancroft Park in Colorado Springs, Colo. as America’s best bathroom for the 19th annual contest.

The high-tech restroom self-cleans after every 30 uses, featuring a touchless automatic toilet paper, soap and water dispensers and hand dryers. An app alerts the park maintenance supervisor whenever supplies are running low.

“We’re very proud to win this award since opening these new restrooms just a few short months ago,” Karen Palus, director of Colorado Springs parks, recreation and cultural services, said in a statement. “The amount of recognition we’ve received is a testament to the value people place in hygienic and memorable public restrooms.”

The bathroom went viral this summer after TikToker Yeti Tears featured it in a video that drew millions of views. He showed how the door opens with the push of a button and “slides like something out of ‘Star Wars.’” At the time, a memo displayed showed that 7,800 people had used the facilities in just two weeks.

“It is state of the art,” he said in the video.

The city spent $301,000 on the high-tech restrooms during a larger renovation of the park, Fox 21 reported.

Steve Bodette, capital projects coordinator for the city, told the outlet that the self-cleaning automatic dispensing functions were meant to save money in the long run. He explained that a timer triggers an alarm every seven minutes, aimed at preventing vandalism the park’s bathrooms have suffered from in the past.

Kamlynn Poteet, who had tried out the restroom, told Fox 21 that she was “shocked” by the unusual facilities.

“It was very different,” Poteet said. “It felt like I was in the future.”

Bancroft Park’s new restrooms beat out nine other finalists during an online vote that ran from Sept. 24 and Oct. 19. Those lavatory nominees include: AirTrain JFK’S Jamaica Station, Greeley Square Park and Kimpton Muse Hotel in New York, N.Y.; DFW Airport in Texas; Gaslight Bar and Grill in Cincinnati; Portland Japanese Garden in Portland, Ore., Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in Scottsdale, Ariz., Swift’s Attic in Austin, Tex. and The Guild Hotel in San Diego.


(Daily Mirror) It may seems like a tall tail but a new app claims to be able to translate a cat's miaows and purrs into English.

The creators of MeowTalk say it can identify 13 meanings, including 'Feed me,' 'Leave me alone,' and 'I'm in love'.

Designer Javier Sanchez – who was an engineer on Amazon's voice assistant Alexa – ultimately wants to develop a smart-collar that would instantly translate miaows into human speech.

He said: 'I think this is especially important now because, with all the social distancing that's happening, you have people that are confined at home with a significant other - this feline.'

'This will enable them to communicate with their cat, or at least understand their cat's intent, and build a very important connection.'

The app is already available on Google Play Store and Apple's App Store, but is still being developed and is set to change in the future.

So far, it has attracted mixed reviews.

One user said: 'I was getting the translation 'I'm in love' 90 per cent of the time.'

Another reviewer said: 'It surely looks promising.'

Cat behaviourists are also divided, with one warning that inaccuracies could give owners the 'wrong impression'.

But Anita Kelsey, author of 'Let's Talk About Cats,' said: 'The app seems like fun and there's no harm in having fun with your cat.

'We will probably never be able to convert a cat's miaow into human words. All we can do is have fun thinking about what they might be saying from our own human perspective.'

The vocabulary will be expanded as more and more sounds are submitted by cat owners.


Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Employees at a Minnesota library found an unusual item in a return bin -- an 8mm film that was 40 years overdue.

Dan Buckanaga, an employee at the Duluth Public Library, said he was emptying a return bin when he spotted what he initially thought was a CD audiobook, but a closer examination revealed to be an 8mm movie on a reel.

"I'd never seen one before," Buckanaga told the Duluth News Tribune.

The film reel, a copy of classic silent film A Trip to the Moon, was accompanied by a Post-it note reading: "Sorry, checked this out when I was 14 and we moved. It is 40 years overdue but better late than never."

Randall Brody, 54, came forward as the man who returned the film. He said he found it in a box in his garage earlier this year and remembered he and his brother had checked it out of the library Sept. 2, 1980, shortly before their family moved to North Dakota.

"At first, I didn't know what to do with it, thinking they don't even want it back. ... It might have some value, maybe for a collector," Brody said.

Brody offered to pay a late fee to the library, but Byron Johnson said the facility did away with overdue fines about a year and a half ago.

Johnson said the library no longer as the means to test whether the film is still watchable, as the old projection room was long ago transformed into a set of bathrooms. He said the film will likely find a new home in his personal "museum" on his desk.


Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A man won a $100,000 prize from a Virginia Lottery drawing with $5,000 prize tickets by buying 20 identical tickets bearing the numbers that previously won him a much-smaller jackpot.

James Swimpson, of Elizabeth City, N.C., told Virginia Lottery officials he decided to buy 20 Pick 4 tickets bearing the number combination 1-4-4-1 when he visited Love's Travel Stop in Skippers, Va.

Swimpson said he knew the numbers were lucky because a few years ago the same combination earned him a $5,000 jackpot.

His purchase for the Nov. 2 drawing earned him a grand total of $100,000 -- 20 $5,000 prizes.

Swimpson said he plans to use his winnings to pay off bills.


(FOX) The saying "you are what you eat" may soon become a lot more literal.

A "DIY meal kit" for growing steaks made from human cells was recently nominated for "design of the year" by the London-based Design Museum.

Named the Ouroboros Steak after the circular symbol of a snake eating itself tail-first, the hypothetical kit would come with everything one needs to use their own cells to grow miniature human meat steaks.

"People think that eating oneself is cannibalism, which technically this is not," Grace Knight, one of the designers, told Dezeen magazine.

Before you go running for your wallet, know this isn't a product available to buy. It was created by scientist Andrew Pelling, artist Orkan Telhan and Knight, an industrial designer, on commission by the Philadelphia Museum of Art for an exhibit last year.

"Growing yourself ensures that you and your loved ones always know the origin of your food, how it has been raised and that its cells were acquired ethically and consensually," a website for the imagined product states.

The project was made as a critique of the lab-grown meat industry, which the designers told Dezeen magazine is not actually as animal-friendly as one might expect. Lab-grown meat relies on fetal bovine serum for animal cell cultures, though some companies have claimed to have found alternatives. FBS is made from calf fetus blood after pregnant cows are slaughtered.

Lab-grown meat has not yet been approved for human consumption, though some products could hit store shelves in the next few years.

"As the lab-grown meat industry is developing rapidly, it is important to develop designs that expose some of its underlying constraints in order to see beyond the hype," Pelling told Dezeen.

Growing an Ouroboros Steak would take about three months using cells taken from inside your cheek, the magazine reported. For the collection of sample steaks on display in the museum, the team used human cell cultures purchased from the American Tissue Culture Collection and grew them with donated blood that expired and would have otherwise been destroyed. They preserved the final products in resin.

"Expired human blood is a waste material in the medical system and is cheaper and more sustainable than FBS, but culturally less-accepted," Knight told Dezeen.


Nov. 20 (UPI) -- An Australian man who lost his wallet at a New Year's Eve party on the beach was reunited with his lost property when it was found 25 years later.

Joseph Bewes said he was on the beach this week in Lennox Head, New South Wales, when he came across a wallet that appeared to have spent a great deal of time exposed to the elements.

"Paul G Davis. Found your wallet washed up on the beach," Bewes wrote on a post in a local community Facebook group. "Sorry, all the cards expired in '95 but the 5 bucks might still be good. You just bought future you a coffee 25 years ago. Yew!"

A woman named Jodie Davis recognized the name and identified the wallet's owner as her husband's cousin. She sent a screenshot of the post to Paul Davis, who recalled losing the wallet 25 years earlier.

"Straight away he remembered it and knew that he lost it -- yeah he was blown away," Jodie Davis told 7News.

Bewes and Paul Davis met up Friday on the beach, where the wallet was returned to its original owner. Davis brought along a six pack of beer that the men shared as a thank-you for Bewes' efforts to get the wallet back to him.


Nov. 20 (UPI) -- An elephant that fell into a 55-foot deep well in India was lifted to safety by rescuers using two cranes in a 14-hour operation.

The Forest Department said crews were dispatched to Ellikundanoor, on the farm of a man named Venkatachalam, after the farmer heard the elephant's cries of distress and discovered the animal inside his well.

Officials said the elephant had been seen multiple times over the course of previous days, wandering with two other pachyderms.

The rescue team, which included more than 50 responders from the Forest Department, the Fire and Rescue Services and the police, had water pumped out of the well to prevent the elephant from drowning, and the animal was fed by villagers dropping leaves down through the well's opening.

A pair of industrial cranes were brought to the scene and the elephant was tranquilized by a veterinarian before being fitted with straps and hoisted out of the deep well.

The Forest Department said the elephant will be released into the Hosur forest area.


SAO PAULO (REUTERS) - In the famously traffic-choked streets of Brazilian megalopolis Sao Paulo, two men have invented a novel way of getting from point A to B - and they are raising a lot of eyebrows in the process.

On a recent Saturday, Vinícius Sanctus, 39, and Alessandro Russo, 28, could be seen coasting down the city's main thoroughfares on a pair of broomsticks, each one attached to a single motorized wheel.

In motion, the contraptions look uncannily like the brooms used by witches and wizards in the Harry Potter universe, described in the famed books by British author J.K. Rowling and later depicted in a series of hit films.

To steer, the duo simply lean in the direction they wish to travel. While it takes a bit of practice at first, the broomsticks, which can reach top speeds of 60 kilometers per hour (37 mph), are useful for day-to-day urban living, they say.

"Actually, I tell my friends that now I only go to the bakery using my broom. But it's not a joke. I actually do that," said Russo, whose waistcoat and golden tie would not be out of place at Hogwarts, the school of magic attended by Potter. "I use my broom as a means of transportation nowadays. And it's so fun."

So far, the brooms for Muggles - non-magic people - are largely limited to personal use, but Russo and Sanctus have plans to market and sell the broomsticks, which cost about 4,000 reais ($740) each. Hopefully, they say, people will be able to play a game using the brooms that closely resembles Quidditch, the dominant sport in Rowling's magical universe.

"Our final goal is to sell the brooms to the world and maybe create a new variation of Quidditch," said Russo. "And it'll look a lot like the one played in the Harry Potter movies."


(FOX) A $150 Pizza Hut blanket sold out in just hours on Wednesday.

The pizza chain teamed up with weighted blanket maker Gravity Blanket to make the "Original Pan Weighted Blanket," which looks like a giant cheese or pepperoni pizza. The blanket has a 72-inch diameter and weighs 15 pounds. The underside even looks like crust.

Why were so many people ready to shell out $150 for a blanket? The price may have actually played a role. A comparably sized Gravity Blanket – 72" long and weighing 15 lbs. – typically sells for $195 on the company's website, so this Pizza Hut version represented an approximately 25% discount.

Gravity Blanket also claims that its weighted blankets can help reduce stress, deepen sleep and help people who sleep under them feel better rested. The blanket is weighted with fine-grade glass beads and wrapped in a plush duvet cover.

"This partnership with Gravity Blanket was the perfect solution to bring one of our legendary pizzas to life while bringing our fans a little TLC at the same time," George Felix, chief marketing officer at Pizza Hut, said in a press release.

Pizza Hut fans on Twitter didn't think the pizza blanket was too cheesy.

"This is something that I never knew I needed, but now I can't see myself living without it," one commenter tweeted.

Another joked that they were going to pass on it. "I'm more of stuffed crust blanket fan," they wrote.

It took less than 10 hours for the blanket to sell out. The companies didn't say how many pizza blankets had been available, just that it was a "limited-edition" item.

For those who did order a blanket before they sold out, Gravity Blanket said they'll ship in late December.

"There's no better way to close out 2020 than eating a Pizza Hut Original Pan Pizza while wrapped in the warmth and comfort of the Original Pan Weighted Blanket," Felix said.


SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore is set to charge an activist with staging a one-man protest without a permit over an incident in which he held up a sign bearing a crudely drawn smiley face outside a police station.

Police told Jolovan Wham, 40, who has had several run-ins with authorities in the city-state, which tightly controls public assembly, the media and free speech, on Thursday that he would be formally charged in court Monday.

The charge relates to a March incident in which Wham demonstrated his support for a young climate activist who said he had been questioned by police over a similar protest days previous. Wham posted a picture of himself holding the sign on his social media accounts.

The civil rights campaigner, who has already served two brief stints in jail this year, will be charged under the Public Order Act, which regulates assemblies and processions in public places, according to the charge sheet Wham posted on Twitter.

He faces a fine of up to S$5,000 ($3,719).

Singapore police confirmed Wham had been notified of charges but did not immediately have further comment.

"These charges against me only show how absurd the situation has become," Wham said in a text message, adding he planned to plead not guilty.

"Calling what I did an assembly is an abuse of the English language. How can one man standing in public for a few seconds for a photo op be a threat to public order?" Wham said.

Amnesty International Southeast Asia researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard said the incident was "yet another example of targeted action" to clamp down on Wham's "peaceful activism".