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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Soy foods 'reduce sperm numbers'


Soy products
Soy products contain chemicals mimicking female hormones

A regular diet of even modest amounts of food containing soy may halve sperm concentrations, suggest scientists.

The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, found 41 million fewer sperm per millilitre of semen after just one portion every two days.

The authors said plant oestrogens in foods such as tofu, soy mince or milk may interfere with hormonal signals.

However, a UK expert stressed that most men in Asia eat more soy-based products with no fertility problems.

Oestrogenic compounds in food or the environment have been of concern for a number of years, but we have mostly thought that it was boys exposed in the uterus before birth who were most at risk
Dr Allan Pacey
Sheffield University

Animal studies have suggested that large quantities of soy chemicals in food could affect fertility, but other studies looking at consumption in humans have had contradictory findings.

The Harvard School of Public Health study looked at the diets of 99 men who had attended a fertility clinic with their partners and provided a semen sample.

The men were divided into four groups depending on how much soy they ate, and when the sperm concentration of men eating the most soy was compared with those eating the least, there was a significant difference.

The "normal" sperm concentration for a man is between 80 and 120 million per millilitre, and the average of men who ate on average a portion of soy-based food every other day was 41 million fewer.

Dr Jorge Chavarro, who led the study, said that chemicals called isoflavones in the soy might be affecting sperm production.

These chemicals can have similar effects to the human hormone oestrogen.

Dr Chavarro noticed that overweight or obese men seemed even more prone to this effect, which may reflect the fact that higher levels of body fat can also lead to increased oestrogen production in men.

Worried men

However, the study pointed out that soy consumption in many parts of Asia was significantly higher than even the maximum found in these volunteers.

Dr Allan Pacey, a senior lecturer in andrology from the University of Sheffield, said that if soy genuinely had a detrimental effect on sperm production, fertility might well be affected in those regions, and there was no evidence that this was the case.

"Many men are obviously worried about whether their lifestyle or diet could affect their fertility by lowering their sperm count.

"Oestrogenic compounds in food or the environment have been of concern for a number of years, but we have mostly thought that it was boys exposed in the uterus before birth who were most at risk.

"We will have to look at adult diet more closely, although the fact that such large parts of the world have soy food as a major part of their diet and don't appear to suffer any greater infertility rates than those on western diets suggests that any effect is quite small."

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Billionaires Back Antismoking Effort


Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Bill Gates and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced their half-billion-dollar pledge in Midtown on Wednesday.

Bill Gates and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on Wednesday that they would spend $500 million to stop people around the world from smoking.

The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco will kill up to a billion people in the 21st century, 10 times as many as it killed in the 20th.

This time, most are expected to be in poor countries like Bangladesh and middle-income countries like Russia. In an effort to cut that number, Mr. Bloomberg’s foundation plans to commit $250 million over four years on top of a $125 million gift he announced two years ago. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is allocating $125 million over five years.

Since 1999, the Gates Foundation has spent more than $2 billion on AIDS programs and about $1.2 billion on malaria. Mr. Gates has just left his Microsoft post for full-time foundation work and said he intends to form partnerships with other philanthropists.

The announcement was made at a joint news conference at TheTimesCenter in Midtown Manhattan attended by foundation staffers and foreign students enrolled in a tobacco control program at Johns Hopkins University that is supported by Mr. Bloomberg. He has campaigned against smoking for years, but this is a new direction for the Gates Foundation.

Thanking Mr. Gates, Mr. Bloomberg said, “I’m an optimist, but I’m also a realist.”

“All the money in the world will never eradicate tobacco,” he added. “But this partnership underscores how much the tide is turning against this deadly epidemic.” The new donations far outstrip current spending of about $20 million a year on antismoking campaigns in poor and middle-income countries, according to a recent W.H.O. report.

The $500 million would be spent on a multipronged campaign — nicknamed Mpower — that Mr. Bloomberg and Dr. Margaret Chan, director of the health organization, outlined in February. It coordinates efforts by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use, the World Health Organization, the World Lung Foundation, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the foundation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

It will urge governments to sharply raise tobacco taxes, prohibit smoking in public places, outlaw advertising to children and cigarette giveaways, start antismoking advertising campaigns and offer people nicotine patches or other help quitting. Health officials, consumer advocates, journalists, tax officers and others from third world countries will be brought to the United States for workshops on topics like lobbying, public service advertising, catching cigarette smugglers and running telephone help lines for smokers wanting to quit. A list of grants is at tobaccocontrolgrants.org.

Dr. Richard Peto, an Oxford epidemiologist who leads studies on the effects of smoking in the developing world, called the announcement “excellent news.”

“I reckon this will avoid tens of millions of deaths in my lifetime and hundreds of millions in my kids’ lifetimes,” he said.

Catherine Armstrong, a spokeswoman for British American Tobacco — one of the Western tobacco companies that focuses on sales to the third world — would not comment directly on the new initiative. But she said, “We have no problem with government organizations educating people on the risks of tobacco.”

A spokesman for Philip Morris, which makes Marlboro, the world’s most popular cigarette brand, said the company agreed that children should be kept from smoking but thought that raising cigarette taxes promoted smuggling and counterfeiting.

Mr. Bloomberg, founder of the financial news company bearing his name and creator of the Bloomberg Family Foundation, has long been known for his antipathy to tobacco. During his administration, New York has adopted several antismoking measures, including a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, and significant increases in cigarette taxes.

The global campaign promises to be a struggle. Cigarettes not only are highly addictive and supported by huge advertising campaigns, they are also an important source of income for many foreign governments. In China and other countries, tobacco is a state-owned monopoly, and low- and middle-income countries collect $66 billion a year in tobacco taxes.

Only about 5 percent of the world’s countries have any antismoking measures like those the campaign envisions. But Dr. Peto said antismoking campaigns were already having some effects, even in countries where no-smoking signs are often ignored. He surveyed thousands of tobacco users in China in the 1990s — “before the government was taking it seriously,” he said — and found 4 percent who identified themselves as former smokers. Now, he said, 20 percent do.

In India, where people have long chewed tobacco but widespread smoking is more recent, Dr. Peto said he found almost no one who had quit. “India is where China was in the mid-1990s,” he said.

Smoking is not widespread in most of Africa, where only about 20 percent of men smoke, and Mr. Gates said on Wednesday that he hoped to prevent a surge in smoking there.

Waves of lung cancer deaths — which typically begin about 40 years after smoking takes hold in a society — help convince the next generation that smoking is dangerous, as in the United States in the 1960s, Dr. Peto said. And, he added, “When doctors and journalists start to take it seriously, things start to change.”

The Gates Foundation’s main focus has been global health, but up until now it has concentrated mostly on infectious diseases. Mr. Gates said he had been “looking at” tobacco deaths but was unsure what to do. “We were thrilled when Michael and his experts took the lead,” he said.

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In Cancer Battle, Do Appearances Deceive?

As Patrick Swayze walked through Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday, evidence of the pancreatic cancer diagnosis he received earlier this year was conspicuously absent.

Jobs Swayze
While Patrick Swayze is still looking well nearly five months after his cancer diagnosis, Steve... Expand
(AP Photo/Splash News)
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He greeted reporters with a smile, and when asked about his health, he gave a thumbs-up and replied, "I'm a miracle, dude, I don't know why."

As the media single out Swayze for his healthy looks despite his disease, another public figure's appearance has also been the subject of speculation -- but on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs was diagnosed with the same disease in October 2003 and had surgery the following year to remove a pancreatic tumor.

Though his condition was thought to have been cured by the surgery, last month when he spoke at the company's annual developers conference Jobs seemed to have lost a significant amount of weight, leaving investors questioning the state of his health.

On average, patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have only a one-in-20 chance of being alive five years after the cancer is found, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The average life expectancy is grim as well. The patient-advocacy group Pancreatic Cancer Action Network reports that 75 percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within a year of their diagnosis.

While Wall Street-watchers might search for slight indications of trouble ahead, medical experts say that you simply can't judge cancer patients by their appearance.

"Looks can be deceiving, and it can happen in either direction," says Dr. Michael Fisch, director of the general oncology program at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Fooled by Face-Value

For one, a person's seemingly ill outward appearance could actually indicate that they are undergoing treatment and not that they are in the stages of advanced disease.

"Some people can really look terrible right after a dose of chemotherapy, and then they look better," says Dr. Steven Greer, CEO of The Healthcare Channel. "That's not indicative of them being on their deathbed."

A person with cancer typically recuperates from the hair loss, weight loss and skin changes that accompany treatment within a few months, Greer says.

Fisch agrees that the side effects of treatment could be transient. "If you catch [a patient] on a difficult day ... they might not look good, but it might not tell you how they are doing in general," he says.

The only people who can accurately gauge a person's internal health status based on looks are the healthcare professionals treating the patient, Fisch says. They understand the circumstances surrounding treatment, and they can use this information to estimate the "realistic ideal" for the patient's appearance.

"The truth is that knowledgeable health care providers do put great weight on the way someone looks at a glance ... but it takes knowledge and skills to get it correct," Fisch says.

Living Longer

Appearances aside, Dr. John Chabot, director of the Pancreas Center at Columbia University Medical Center, says he is careful to tell patients that in terms of cancer survival, "averages don't predict the outcome for any one individual."

Some may die just a few months after diagnosis and some may respond well to chemo. He says he has seen several patients who outlived the average lifespan by several years.

Doctors don't completely understand why some people respond better to treatment than others, but overall health, emotional wellbeing and fitness levels may play a roll, Chabot says.

"It's pretty clear to me that patients who are in better health when they began treatment generally do better," he says.

But looking healthy can also be misleading.

"It's very common for patients to look awfully good, even in the face of advanced cancer," Fisch says. "This can happen because sometimes those folks are incredibly vulnerable, and they try especially hard to look good."

They may pay special attention to their appearance in order to preserve their dignity in the face of illness. When they walk into his office, Fisch says his patients may look healthy and shake his hand, but when he asks them how they are feeling, their words may tell a different story.

So as for Swayze's looking good in the airport earlier this week, Chabot says, "It's better than looking bad in the airport."

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Why is it So Hard to Wake Up in the Morning?


Wakey Wakey: Sleeping in on the weekend makes it harder to get up on Monday. Photo by Tim Roberts/Getty Images

It’s not necessarily laziness that makes people hit the “snooze” button in the morning. Most likely, your body clock is mismatched with the demands of your life.

Your clock is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a part of the brain that controls the body’s biological rhythms. But, says Jean Matheson, a sleep-disorders specialist at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, these preset natural rhythms often don’t align with daily realities—work or school start times cannot be adjusted to fit a person’s sleep schedule. People who have trouble crawling out of bed probably have an inner clock set to late wake-up and sleep times, a condition known as phase delay.

It is possible to adjust your phase-delayed body clock, Matheson says, but at a price: No sleeping in on the weekends. “When people sleep late on weekends, they revert to their natural phase-delayed rhythm,” she explains. This makes it harder to wake up early on weekdays. You can train yourself to wake up earlier, Matheson says, by setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier each day (and heeding its call).

Exposure to artificial light in the evening can also cause phase delay. The brain is very sensitive to light, and too much of it just before bed—from computer screens, televisions or bright reading lights—can trick the brain into thinking it’s daytime.

If you find it difficult to adjust your sleep habits, there’s some good news. Scientists at the University of California at Irvine recently discovered that a single amino acid regulates your internal clock. One day, says pharmacology professor Paolo Sassone-Corsi, this research could translate into a drug that controls the brain’s sleep cycle.

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The new reefer madness: arresting people in pain

The police raid on Martin Martinez, a Seattle man who uses marijuana to dull the chronic pain from a motorcycle accident, made the page-one...

The police raid on Martin Martinez, a Seattle man who uses marijuana to dull the chronic pain from a motorcycle accident, made the page-one headline last Thursday: "Was Pot Raid Justified?" Martinez's lawyer, Douglas Hiatt, insists vehemently that it was not.

In Seattle, the topic of medical marijuana and the law leads quickly to Hiatt. A native Chicagoan, 49, this blue-jeaned barrister is vehement often, his deep voice rising quickly to indignant italics.

His cellphone rings. "I gotta take this," he says. "Hello? Yes ... No ... No, we're not going to do that! Look, this is my client ... Yes, I'll be there." Click.

Originally a public defender, Hiatt is now exclusively a medical-marijuana lawyer. It is not a lucrative practice. His clients are often broke, and typically they are merely trying to be left alone. Hiatt says he has been paid in salmon, and once in an organic pig.

His first client was an AIDS patient stuck in the King County Jail. Hiatt went to Dan Satterberg, then deputy prosecutor, for help — and it was Satterberg who smoothed things over after last week's raid on Martinez.

To Hiatt, King County's Republican prosecutor is "Good King Dan," who follows the law that 59 percent of Washington voters approved in 1998. Most prosecutors around the state don't, Hiatt says.

"It makes me crazy," he says.

For healthy folk who think of marijuana as getting stoned, "medical marijuana" may sound like a doper's deception. Hiatt shakes his head. His clients are in their 40s, 50s and 60s. Typically, they are on disability. Many have cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease or Crohn's disease.

AIDS patients are using marijuana to control nausea, so they don't vomit up the 40-odd pills they have to take every day. In 2000, when a judge forbade writer and AIDS patient Peter McWilliams from using marijuana, he threw up his "AIDS cocktail," choked on his vomit and died.

The word "cocktail," makes Hiatt bristle. "It's not a damned cocktail. This is chemotherapy for life."

McWilliams had been ordered to use Marinol, a drug with one of marijuana's active ingredients. Hiatt says he has a client right now ordered by a judge to use Marinol.

"It makes my client really stoned, and he doesn't want that," Hiatt says. "It's expensive. It costs $10 to $20 a pill. Why use it when you can grow a house plant?"

Hiatt's typical client is one, like Martinez, with chronic pain. Says Hiatt, "Their doctor puts them on OxyContin, morphine, one of the opiates. Their brain is in a fog because of the opiates. They're constipated. They're miserable. They say, 'I lost my life.' Then they try marijuana. It allows them to cut their opiate dose in half. Some of them eliminate it. They feel better. Their mind is clearer. They're not constipated anymore."

"I've heard that story five hundred times," Hiatt says. "Because it works."

Hiatt estimates there are 25,000 medical-marijuana patients in Washington. The state law says they can have a 60-day supply, but since 1998 it has been up to local officials to say what that is. The Department of Health will have a public hearing in Tumwater Aug. 25 on a new rule to allow patients 24 ounces of dried plant and six mature plants. And that's not enough, Hiatt insists.

"Every single medical marijuana patient I have is over these numbers," he says.

I relate Hiatt's story partly because I believe in letting these folks alone, but partly also because I had an aunt who was in sharp pain from a pinched nerve. Her doctor prescribed an opiate, which handled the pain but messed up her mind and her gut.

My aunt was the most un-stoned person I ever knew, but she told me she would have taken marijuana, or anything else, if it had killed the pain, and to hell with the government. I would be no different.

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Eat Smart When Dining Out: 20 Tips

Navigate the Menu

Suddenly it seems that chain restaurants like Applebee's, T.G.I. Friday's, Olive Garden, and Bennigan's are almost as ubiquitous as the Golden Arches. No surprise. There are nearly 200,000 "table side" restaurants in the United States today, a number that continues to grow.

For many, they offer a reliable, pleasant alternative to cooking -- plentiful servings, service with a smile, relatively good value for the dollar. But like fast-food outlets, these dining establishments can be ticking time bombs when it comes to nutritional health. Government surveys find that the food you typically eat when you're not home is nutritionally worse in every way than the food you eat at home.

The good news is that's changing. For instance, 7 out of 10 adults surveyed by the National Restaurant Association in 2003 said there are more nutritious foods available to them in such restaurants than there were five years ago. Nearly all the chains have added healthier options to their menus -- if you know how to look for them. But whether you're dining out at a major national chain or a locally owned family restaurant, following a few of these tips can guarantee you a pleasant dinner (or lunch) out without busting your health goals.

1. Above all else, be assertive. Dining out is no time to be a meek consumer, notes Michael F. Jacobson, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) and coauthor of the book Restaurant Confidential. "You need to be an assertive consumer by asking for changes on the menu," he says. For instance, if an item is fried, ask for it grilled. If it comes with french fries, ask for a side of veggies instead. Ask for a smaller portion of the meat and a larger portion of the salad; for salad instead of coleslaw; baked potato instead of fried. "Just assume you can have the food prepared the way you want it," says Dr. Jacobson. "Very often, the restaurant will cooperate." Below, you'll find more specific requests.

2. Ask your waiter to "triple the vegetables, please." Often a side of vegetables in a restaurant is really like garnish -- a carrot and a forkful of squash. When ordering, ask for three or four times the normal serving of veggies, and offer to pay extra. "I've never been charged," says dietitian Jeff Novick, R.D., director of nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Aventura, Florida. "And I've never been disappointed. I get full, not fat."

3. Ask how the food was prepared; don't go by the menu. For instance, cholesterol-free does not mean fat-free; the dish could still be filled with calorie-dense oil. Neither does "lite" necessarily mean light in calories or fat.

4. Order from the "healthy, light, low fat" entrées on the menu. Most chains will even list the calories and nutritional content of such foods. Applebee's, for instance, offers approved Weight Watchers options, Bennigan's has its Health Club entrées (which it will serve in half portions), and Ruby Tuesday lists the nutritional information for its entire menu.

5. Beware of the low-carb options. Restaurant chains have jumped on the low-carb bandwagon, offering numerous low-carb options on their menu. But low-carb doesn't mean low-cal. For instance, at Ruby Tuesday the Low-Carb New Orleans Seafood packs 710 calories and 42 grams of fat -- ouch! A much better bet -- the Low Carb Veggie Platter -- leaves you with just 297 calories and 16 grams of fat.

Smart Salads

6. Ask the waiter to box half your entrée before it ever gets to the table. Or split an entrée with your dining partner. A CSPI survey found that restaurants often serve two to three times more than food labels list as a serving.

7. Try double appetizers. If there is a nice selection of seafood- and vegetable-based appetizers, consider skipping the entrée and having two appetizers for your meal. Often, that is more than enough food to fill you up.

8. Order a salad before ordering anything else on the menu. Scientists at Pennsylvania State University found that volunteers who ate a big veggie salad before the main course ate fewer calories overall than those who didn't have a first-course salad, notes Novick.

9. But remember: Salads shouldn't be fatty. This is a vegetable course -- keep it tasty but healthy. That means avoiding anything in a creamy sauce (coleslaw, pasta salads, and potato salads), and skipping the bacon bits and fried noodles. Instead, load up on the raw vegetables, treat yourself to a few well-drained marinated vegetables (artichoke hearts, red peppers, or mushrooms), and for a change, add in some fruit or nuts. Indeed, fruits such as mango, kiwi, cantaloupe, and pear are often the secret ingredient in four-star salads.

10. Watch the add-ons to vegetable salads. Even salads that are mostly raw vegetables are a problem if they're loaded with cheese and meats. Take the typical Caesar salad in most restaurants (the one topped with chicken or shrimp as well as plenty of cheese and mayo in the dressing). Add in the fried croutons and the calories add up to a whopping 560, with 36 grams of fat, 6 of them saturated. Italian antipasto salads also are a health challenge, with all their salami, spicy ham, and cheese. Get the salad, but ask for vegetables only.

11. Do the fork dip. The best way to combine salad dressing with salad? Get your dressing on the side, in a small bowl. Dip your empty fork into the dressing, then skewer a forkful of salad. You'll be surprised at how this tastes just right, and how little dressing you'll use. Plus, your lettuce won't wilt and drown in a sea of oil.

12. Check the menu before you leave home. Most chains post their menus on their Web sites. For instance, Ruby Tuesday's Smart Eating menu tells you the restaurant only uses canola oil and even provides nutritional information on its salad bar. You can decide before you ever hit the hostess stand what you're going to order. Conversely, if you don't see anything that's healthy, pick another restaurant.

Watch the Extras

13. Read between the lines. Any menu description that uses the words creamy, breaded, crisp, sauced, or stuffed is likely loaded with hidden fats -- much of it saturated or even trans fats. Other "beware of" words include: buttery, sautéed, pan-fried, au gratin, Thermidor, Newburg, Parmesan, cheese sauce, scalloped, and au lait, à la mode, or au fromage (with milk, ice cream, or cheese).

14. Ask the waiter to skip the bread basket. If you must have something to munch on while you wait for your order, ask for a plate of raw vegetables or some breadsticks.

15. Skip the fancy drinks. If you must order an alcoholic drink, forget the margaritas, piña coladas, and other exotic mixed drinks. They include sugary additions that only add calories. Opt instead for a glass of wine, a light beer, a vodka and tonic or a simple martini (without the chocolate liquor, sour green apple schnapps, or triple sec).

16. Top a baked potato with veggies from the salad bar. Or ask if they have salsa -- the ultimate potato topper, both in terms of flavor and health. Just avoid the butter and sour cream.

17. Order fish. Just make sure it's not fried. When the CSPI evaluated food served at seafood chains and independent restaurants, researchers found low-fat and low-sodium options abounded. Plus, you can order seafood so many different ways -- steamed, baked, broiled, sautéed, blackened, or grilled. Nix any sauces, or ask for them on the side.

18. Drink water throughout the meal. It will slow you down, help you enjoy the food more, and let the message get to your brain that you're full -- before your plate is empty.

19. Always dress up to go out. Even if it's just a regular family restaurant. If you view eating out as an event or a treat, rather than a way to get an everyday dinner, you won't eat out as often. And that's good from both a health and a cost standpoint.

20. Skip the dessert. You can always have some sorbet or even a small piece of chocolate at home. That is much better healthwise than the Triple Chocolate Meltdown or a mountain of ice cream topped by a second mountain of whipped cream.

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Taco Bell makes special delivery to longtime customer

Most of us will plead guilty to having a certain kind of fast food we just 'can't' live without, but few have it as bad as Paul Wolfe, who is 'all about' Taco Bell.

For years Wolfe made his own personal 'Run for the Border' every day, we're talking 7 days a week, 365 per year and Tuesday, the folks at Taco Bell returned the favor.

We all have our daily habits, whether it's the route to work or what we eat for lunch and occasionally we may mix it up a bit, but for years now, Paul Wolfe refused to mix up his lunch order.

"A hard shell taco supreme and they would throw in an empanada it's like a little apple pie," said Paul's son Jamie Wolfe, who added he would wash it all down with a small drink.

Paul Wolfe's theory is that a taco is the perfect meal, full of beef, vegetables, and cheese.

Paul's taco supreme is an order workers at the Minnetonka Taco Bell began to rely on.

"We came to grow with him and before he would even come to order, my cooks were over there making it and he would say oh my gosh you're so fast," said Taco Bell Manager Jen Lingren.

She said he became such a regular, they nicknamed him 'Grandpa.'

Then, on a day in March he missed lunch and missed it for several days.

"There was an incident with him and they decided he couldn't drive anymore," said Lindgren.

At the age of 89 and with a preliminary diagnosis of Alzheimer's, he was forced to mix his Taco Bell fix up a bit.

Instead of daily, his family would take him in three times a week, then it slowed to once a week, which brings us to today.

Taco Bell delivered his hard shell taco supreme to him and his friends at his new home at Sunrise Senior Living in Minnetonka.

"It's just like an unspoken connection, I can't really explain it, it's just the fact that he's just a sweet, sweet man, he would come in and we would ask, Grandpa what are you doing here today, oh I'm here to see the pretty ladies," Lindgren said.

Forced to change his lunch habit, for one day the fast food take-out service he so enjoys came to him.

The workers at Taco Bell are so fond of Paul, they've exchanged birthday gifts with him and today, they nominated him as their "customer of the year."

By Jeffrey DeMars, KARE 11 News
(Copyright 2008 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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10 Weird and Unusual Cars

1. The Zoop Car: Designed by the unlikely candidate of Paris fashion house Maison de Courrèges, this electric car is actually capable of speeds of up to 120mph and can seat three people. It might be eco-friendly and relatively fast, but I don’t imagine driving a lemon is for everyone’s taste.

2. The Parkcycle: Whilst not technically a car, it’s roughly car-shaped and was used to occupy parking spaces for the global event PARK(ing), in which participants turn ordinary parking spaces into public parks. Designed by art group Rebar and with a top speed of around 8km/h, it may not be the most maneuverable vehicle, but it does come with a 5m tree on it!

3. The Live-In Truck: Living Is.be has transformed the bed of a truck into a fully-functional living space. With hatches in the roof to allow natural sunlight and ventilation into the room, it also comes with a double bed, a sink, shower (naturally with running water) and a kitchen stove.

4. The Transparent Car: Similar in color to the Zoop Car, this car is different in that almost all of it is completely see-through. Designed by Swiss manufacturer Rinspeed, this is the perfect car for those that want to be seen both outside of the car and inside the car.

5. Fiat Jolly Panda: It may have a bizarre name, but the more bizarre thing is that this car totally lacks doors! Stylishly designed and with non-toxic and UV resistant materials, its aesthetic impression is one that appeals to those with a taste for the more simple-looking vehicles. Although you do have to wonder if it’s not in danger of being stolen…

6. The Kenguru Car: This is a car that is designed specifically for wheelchair users. There’s no front seat, just an open space for the operator to position their wheelchair, which gets locked in place. The car itself is controlled with a joystick device, and with the option to simply roll in and out without having to hoist yourself into a seat, it’s the easiest car-tech available for wheelchair users.

7. Nissan Terranaut: While a concept-car, the concept alone is pretty cool. Rather than standard RV interiors, Nissan have gone with features and designs that bring to mind aeronautics and maybe even a little sci-fi.

8. Becker Jet Vans: Unfortunately not a jet-powered van as the name might suggest, but instead you get an outrageously luxurious interior which has been heavily influenced by private jets and limousines.

9. The Surface Orbiter: Built from a milk-tanker, taking over 4 four years and costing around $175,000, this was New Yorker Rick Dobbertin’s dream machine, and was constructed to cross both land and sea without any aid from a support vehicle. Impressively, the Orbiter has clocked up over 3,000 miles in the sea and 33,000 miles on land.

10. The Pacman Car: For anyone that enjoys a bit of nostalgia, or even just unusual cars. This was a converted hot-rod drag-racing car made to look like the classic arcade-game character Pacman.

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Higher, Faster, Stronger: 1950s Experimental Aircraft


EDITOR'S NOTE: This gallery has been rewritten to replace placeholder text, originally taken from Wikipedia, which was published inadvertently. We apologize for the error.

The 1950s was the decade of the test pilot and the experimental aircraft, as aviation technology turned to the jet engine and pushed its limits in both speed and endurance. With the world divided in Cold War, the stakes were high. Jet aircraft dominated both U.S. and Soviet arsenals and the data returned by subsonic and supersonic test flights had implications for the coming space race as well.

A number of aviation companies turned out experimental aircraft, primarily for the armed forces. The pilots who flew them measured success in ways their predecessors could only dream of. They set records for speed and altitude that were unimaginable only a few years earlier, piloting aircraft that were volatile, unpredictable and often flat-out dangerous. When the time came to select astronauts for the nascent U.S. space program, it's not surprising that NASA recruiters turned to their ranks seeking the guys with the right stuff.

Hiller X-18

The X-18 was designed to test tilt-wing and short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing technology. Only one was built.

Photo: U.S. Air Force

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