Mad Minute

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A 102-year-old man who is Indiana's oldest state employee is retiring after nearly six decades on the job, saying that "your body tells you when it's time to go."

Bob Vollmer plans to report to work for the last time Feb. 6 as a surveyor for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The southern Indiana man, whose mother lived to be 108, joined the state agency in 1962.

The World War II veteran still travels Indiana collecting technical field data and confirming boundary lines for DNR-managed properties, but he said that his body finally is telling him it's time to retire.

"I guess your body tells you when it's time to go," Vollmer told WXIN-TV. "Doctors tell me that's one reason I'm still going. I got good lungs."

Vollmer said he plans to spend his retirement devoting himself to reading and farming. He also plans to take trips to some of the South Pacific islands he was on during his wartime service with the U.S. Navy.

Vollmer enlisted in the Navy after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, according to a state announcement in 2016, when Gov. Eric Holcomb awarded him a Sagamore of the Wabash — one of Indiana's highest honors.

After the war, Vollmer graduated from Purdue University with a degree in biological and agricultural engineering in 1952. He then worked for the Wabash Valley Association on reservoir and flood control projects before coming to work for the DNR.

During his DNR career, the tools of the surveying trade evolved from paper and pencil to high-tech gear such as a handheld GPS device.

Vollmer said that spending time on ships during World War II provided inspiration for his later career with the DNR.

"One of the officers got on a bridge with a sextant, and a wristwatch," he said, adding that the officer was charting their position. "Of course later on I just realized that's part of surveying."


MEXICO CITY (AP) — Travelers on the Mexico City subway system often blame authorities for broken-down escalators at subway stops, but Metro officials have another explanation: vast amounts of pee.

Somehow, urine is penetrating and corroding the drive wheels and mechanisms of the escalators that carry riders up from underground stations.

In a list published Tuesday, the Metro system listed "corrosion due to urine" as one of the top five causes of escalator breakdowns.

Fermin Ramirez, the system's assistant manager for rails and facilities, said riders appear to be urinating on escalators at off-peak hours and lightly used stations, "even though it seems hard to believe."

"When we open up escalators for maintenance, there is always urine," Ramirez said. Most stations have no public bathroom facilities, a fact Twitter users were quick to point out, noting there are not even any pay toilets.

Of the system's 467 escalators, 22 are out of service on any given day.

The biggest problem, subway authorities admit, is that the many escalators are old, or have been damaged by rough use.

The city plans to replace about 55 escalators over the next two years.

With over 1.6 billion rides per year, the Mexico City subway is considered the eighth largest in the world by some measures, and one of the cheapest: A 25-cent ticket will get you a single ride to any destination on the 140-mile (226-kilometer) system. Just remember to use the bathroom before setting out.


MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Andres Manuel López Obrador has made selling off the luxurious presidential jet a centerpiece of his austerity program, but there's just one problem: Nobody, it seems, wants to buy the white elephant.

López Obrador said Tuesday the Boeing Dreamliner will be returned to Mexico after a year on sale in the United States, where it piled up about $1.5 million in maintenance costs.

Bought by his predecessor, the jet is expensive to run and now configured to carry only 80 people, albeit with a full presidential suite with a bedroom and private bath. It became a symbol of López Obrador's campaign against high-living public officials in a country where half the population lives in poverty. "They abused (their privileges). They even used planes to go play golf," López Obrador said.

While the Boeing 787 drew some interest while parked at an airfield in Victorville, California, over the last year, López Obrador said potential buyers had been unable to obtain financing for the estimated sale price of $130 million. That's a bit more than half what Mexico paid for the plane in 2012. "It was a bad deal from the start," the president sniped.

Among the ideas López Obrador is now entertaining is to barter it off in exchange for medical equipment, to sell it to a consortium of companies for executive incentive programs or rent it out by the hour, in hopes of paying off the remainder of outstanding loans on the plane.

Gone are the hopes it would raise a lot of money for anti-poverty programs. Mexico is now just hoping to cut its losses on the plane, which is too expensive to reconfigure back into a commercial airliner that normally carries as many as 300 passengers .

"This morning, the president has offered a new image of himself as a door-to-door salesman offering to sell, barter or rent an airplane,"said the opposition National Action Party, whose ex-president Felipe Calderon bought the plane.

Lopez Obrador, who has opted to fly tourist class on regular commercial flights and eschew travel abroad, has long railed against perks provided for public servants. Whenever possible, he likes to travel by ground in an SUV, and over the weekend posted a photo of himself waiting on the side of a road while a flat tire was repaired.

The president has also forbidden his cabinet from taking trips in government-owned executive jets, and on Tuesday he also announced a series of auctions that will sell off a total of 39 government-owned helicopters and 33 executive jets and small planes. The government is offering 19 planes and nine helicopters for sale in a first round of auctions, which it hopes will raise over $1 billion. Most of the aircraft in the first lot were used by the army, navy and president's office.

Many of the planes to auctioned off in later rounds belonged to the Attorney General's Office, raising the question of whether the sales could threaten key governmental tasks like law enforcement in drug detection and eradication programs.

López Obrador said there would still be enough aircraft to carry out needed tasks in disasters and emergencies. "The only planes that will remain are those used for security, those used by the army and navy ... for public service: air ambulances, firefighting planes, public safety, civil defense, but not for transporting officials," he said.

But despite his distaste for high living, it is precisely as a business perk that the president hopes to sell off the presidential jet. López Obrador proudly showed off a brochure he had drawn up in a somewhat desperate-sounding sales pitch for the craft.

"You, you biggest producers, your elite sales team, your most prized associates can now enjoy a reserved flight experience until now only available to heads of state," the brochure reads, adding the plane has "incomparable VIP capacity."

In a scheme known as "fractional ownership," the government hopes to sell off the plane in 12 "shares;" the buyers would have access to use the plane, and would pay operating costs. The brochure suggest the plane could be used for "brand exposure" or to "attract investors or global personalities to your corporation with greater ease."

It may be a hard sell. At least one potential buyer — telecom magnate Carlos Slim, Mexico's richest man — is also known for an odd strain of austere personal habits, like wearing ties from his drug-store chain and eschewing computers in favor of writing longhand in notebooks.

López Obrador is even thinking of trading it to U.S. authorities in exchange for medical equipment. "We hand over the airplane, and you pay us in merchandise. That is, we need x-ray equipment, we need ambulances, imaging machines, laboratories," the president said.

So visceral is López Obrador's disgust for the plane — he has vowed never to step foot in it — that he refused a reporter's suggestion that he board the jet just once, to publicize the sale. "No, no no, I won't ... but you can," the president said.


BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) — Two General Motors employees driving new 2020 Corvette Stingrays apparently had a need for speed.

The pair were clocked going about 100 mph (160 kph) on a public road in Bowling Green, news outlets reported citing Kentucky State Police. The speed limit was 45 mph (72 kph).

Alexander Thim, 27, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, and Mark Derkatz, 30, of Windsor, Ontario, were pulled over Wednesday night. Police said Thim reached speeds up to 120 mph (193 kph), news outlets reported.

The drivers told police they had been at a pool hall earlier in the night, according to the arrest citation. Police said a breath test detected the odor of alcohol but the drivers weren't cited for driving under the influence, news outlets reported.

A third driver was also behind the wheel of a Corvette but police said that person didn't participate in the race.

GM has an assembly plant in Bowling Green. The company said in a statement that it is aware of the incident involving its "test vehicles" and is investigating.

Thim and Derkatz were charged with racing a motor vehicle on a public highway, reckless driving and speeding. Both were booked in jail and then released on a $1,000 bond. They're scheduled for a court hearing in February.


Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A Utah man turned to Facebook for advice when he found himself locked inside a 24 Hour Fitness gym that had closed for the night.

Dan Hill said he visited the gym in Sandy for a late night workout Saturday and he finished swimming laps in the pool after midnight Sunday to discover he was alone in the building and the doors were locked.

"Doesn't the name suggest that they stay open 24 hours?" Hill wrote in a Facebook post chronicling his situation.

Hill said he called his wife, who suggested he "find a comfortable place to sleep."

He ended up calling 911.

"So, I called dispatch and the guy pauses for like 10 seconds and says 'You're where?'" Hill told KTVX-TV. "And I said, 'I'm in 24 Hour Fitness, and there's an alarm system here and I don't want to get busted for breaking and entering.'"

Hill took his Facebook friends on a tour of the gym while waiting for police to arrive. Officers showed up to let him out of the building just before 1 a.m.

The manager of the gym said the hours changed in December from 24 hours to 4 a.m.-midnight.

"We clearly did not do a good job of our closing procedures for this club on Saturday night and will reinforce our club procedures so that this incident doesn't occur in the future," the company said in a statement. "We continue to be committed to providing our members and guests with the best possible fitness experience at a great value."


Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A BASE jumper who crashed into a beach hotel during a jump gone wrong was rescued by a woman who helped him climb onto her balcony.

Kody Kosloski of Michigan said he was participating in a sanctioned BASE jumping event at an Acapulco beach when a gust of wind sent him crashing into the building seconds after jumping off the roof.

Kosloski's video camera was recording as he clung to the strap of his parachute, which was caught higher up on the building, and an older woman came out onto a nearby balcony.

The woman took Kosloski's hand and helped him onto the balcony, where he shouted to the roof that he was uninjured.

Kosloski said his rescuer then offered him a glass of water.


At Tom's Diner in Denver humor is one of the most popular items on the menu.

The 24-hour restaurant has been a local favorite for about 20 years but, until recently, few people outside the Mile-High City knew about the chain's side-splitting side offering.

About a week ago, a Reddit user posted a photo of a Tom's Diner receipt. Listed alongside an order of chicken tenders and mashed potatoes was a separate charge of 38 cents for "1 Stupid Question."

The post sparked a frenzy of inquiries on social media. Was the receipt a fake? Was this restaurant even real? And what, exactly, qualifies as a stupid question?

Long story short, the receipt is in fact real. And plenty of diners have been charged this miscellaneous fee over the years because "Stupid Question" is listed on the diner's side menu.

Customers at Tom's Diner can also get conventional sides like French fries or biscuits.Customers at Tom's Diner can also get conventional sides like French fries or biscuits.Courtesy of Hunter Landry

Of course, the popular restaurant doesn't hand out the cheeky menu item in a malicious manner. It's all in good fun, according to general manager Hunter Landry.

"It's meant to be playful. It's good to keep things light in today's world," he told TODAY Food.

Landry, the nephew of Tom Messina (the "Tom" behind Tom's Diner), said that his uncle added the funny side option to the Denver diner's menu around 20 years ago (it opened in 1999) as a way to infuse a bit of fun into the work day. Staff are actually instructed never to charge people who actually ask an arguably stupid question — they're more so encouraged to add a charge on for lively tables.

"When we have a good fun table that engages with us or when they ask about the charge, it's always fun to add it on," Landry said.

The menu has sparked some comedic customers to ask intentionally stupid questions over the years in order to qualify for the charge. "Are there any dues for the turkey club sandwich?" is one. "Does the ice have any water in it?" is another of Landry's favorites.

The fee for asking a silly question has fluctuated over the years, but the reaction to it has almost always been met with laughter. "It was 48 cents at one point, but we didn't want to gauge people," Landry joked.

The diner has a great sense of humor. Case in point? This cheeky sign on the wall of the restaurant.The diner has a great sense of humor. Case in point? This cheeky sign on the wall of the restaurant.Courtesy of Hunter Landry

Luckily, customers at Tom's Diner usually get a kick out of the experience. "The majority of people really get where we're coming from and understand it's meant to be playful. Over the years, maybe a few people have been perturbed but the response is generally positive," Landry said.

Two years ago, the diner infused even more humor into its menu and added some "Healthy Options." Alongside choices like cottage cheese and soup, customers can order the following for free: a "Skip Your Next Meal," or a "Walk Home." They're both listed as priceless.

Landry said the chain is considering adding more items like "'Don't Take Yourself So Seriously," and "Love Each Other."

Both Landry and Messina were surprised that the Reddit post — and their menu — has gone viral recently.

Landry got a good laugh out of it for another reason, saying, "The Reddit receipt that went viral is an older one. The price of chicken fingers at Tom's Diner is different now."

This isn't the first time Tom's Diner has been the talk of the town in recent months. In December, the diner's building, which was built in 1967, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was welcome news for customers, who had been fighting to save it from being torn down after a housing developer revealed plans to build new apartments on the site last spring.

GBX Group will be taking over the property and helping Messina rebrand and renovate Tom's Diner. Landry told TODAY that he and his uncle are excited about what the future holds and want to continue making people laugh.

"It's all about not taking yourself too seriously. We're not here for a long time, so let's enjoy ourselves and try to make the most of this life," he said.


ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) — A social media prankster appeared in an Australian court on Wednesday charged in relation to driving a car full of water to a liquor store during a heat wave and buying beer.

Michael Alexander Philippou, 28, who operates the RackaRacka YouTube channel with his twin brother Danny, faced the Christies Beach Magistrates Court in Adelaide on charges including driving in a reckless or dangerous manner, driving an unregistered vehicle and failing to wear a seat belt.

He posted video online of him and his companion Jackson O'Doherty wearing goggles and a scuba diving regulators while driving the modified Ford Laser sedan in January last year.

The suspension of the leaking sedan clearly struggled with the weight of water as it drove to a drive-in liquor store where Philippou and O'Doherty bought two bottles of beer.

The video shows them drinking the beer underwater.

Another video posted in December showed police arresting Philippou over the stunt.

Magistrate Susan O'Connor on Wednesday relaxed Philippou's bail conditions to allow him to travel interstate before he appears in court next in February.

Outside court, Philippou was surrounded by supporters and at one point pretended to get stuck in a door, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

"I'm confident as always. I've been ready for this. We've been training hard for this. It will be quick," he told ABC.


(Huffington Post) A West Point cadet will have to soldier on after his attempt to crowdfund a date with a porn star was canceled under fire.

The cadet's GoFundMe campaign fell apart after officers and fellow cadets at the U.S. Military Academy in upstate New York reported it to higher-ups, who then "advised" him to "discontinue the fundraising and inform the actress that I can no longer bring her," he told a donor in a message passed to the military-focused website

The West Point public affairs office denied forcing the cancelation of the fundraising and told TaskAndPurpose the cadet "promptly removed the page from the site after consulting with his peers." Spokespeople for the academy didn't immediately respond to HuffPost's request for comment.

"Federal law prohibits members of the military from using their official positions for personal gain," the public affairs office added to TaskAndPurpose. "This prohibition extends to using or appearing to use ones military status to solicit gifts of money."

The cadet, who hasn't been identified, posted his GoFundMe campaign over the weekend using the name Mr. Krabs. He titled it: "Help Me Bring Diamond Foxxx To YWW."

The goal, according to TaskAndPurpose, was to bring adult actress Diamond Foxx to the U.S. Military Academy's Yearling Winter Weekend, a formal celebration for second-year cadets known informally as YWW.

The now-deleted GoFundMe page states that Foxxx agreed to attend if the cadet paid for her plane ticket and hotel, which he figured was $1,200.

"Problem is ... I have no money," he wrote in his fundraising plea. "Please help a young boy's dream come true."

Foxxx confirmed to HuffPost she was set to make the West Point trip. The Florida-based actor is best known to mainstream audiences as Stephanie Woodcock on the current season of the hit TLC cable series "90 Day Fiance."

She said she was skeptical of the service academy's suggestion that the cadet's fundraising campaign ran afoul of a standard conflict of interest rule. Very skeptical.

"I believe it's because of who I am, to be frank," Foxxx said. "I firmly believe if I were someone else, let's say, a famous TV movie actress, it wouldn't be a problem."


(Huffington Post) Slow and steady saves the species.

A 100-year-old Galapagos giant tortoise is retiring after helping to save his endangered species by siring some 800 babies. At one point, Diego was one of the last two males of the Chelonoidis hoodensis of Espanola Island in the Galapagos. However, since a captive breeding program began nearly half a century ago with the last dozen females of the species, some 2,000 tortoises have been brought back to the island, AFP reported.

Diego is father to 800 of them ― or some 40 percent of the total.

Diego isn't even the most prolific of his kind. According to The New York Times, another tortoise named E5 is responsible for the other 60 percent of the babies. A third male tortoise who was later brought into the program has sired none.

Diego, who previously spent 30 years at the San Diego Zoo, is currently in quarantine and will be released back into Española, per the BBC.

"He's contributed a large percentage to the lineage that we are returning to Espanola," Jorge Carrion, director of Galapagos National Parks, told AFP. "There's a feeling of happiness to have the possibility of returning that tortoise to his natural state."

While it might seem like Diego will ease into retirement, the Washington Post reported that he could have a good 20 years or more left, not to mention more in the tank.

"He might actually amp it up," James P. Gibbs, a professor of environmental and forest biology at the State University of New York in Syracuse, told the newspaper. "I don't know — we shall see."