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After 9/11 fake tales of heroism and survival soon began to pop up, so it's inevitable that after Katrina people will also invent stories. A tale that's been posted on a gamer's site has some people suspecting a hoax. I have no idea if it's real or not, so you'll have to decide for yourself.

In the story, Naomi tells of how life on the coast of Alabama has descended into a state of primitive lawlessness. She claims to be living on the second floor of a house (the first floor was flooded and is covered in mud), keeping her gun close at hand to fend off looters. She's running a generator that allows her to connect to the internet (her electricity is out, but her telephone connection seems to be fine). She observes a couple of times that it all reminds her of a video game:

People are getting looted and mugged, it's no different than in a video game where all you do is run around and do whatever you want. I'm not afraid to die, but I don't want to die here in this sunken city....
Like I said before, it's like a video game. I don't know what it was, the flood, the hurricane, or the death that has husked these people of their minds, but the people here have died, it's just that they still walk like humans. There's no place for us here, and they just walk, looking for something. Home, family, pets, someplace cool.. You bump into them, and they say one thing to you, maybe two. But that's it, that's all they can muster. If you say hello, it's like being in an RPG.

I suppose what makes people suspect the story as a hoax is that a) the video game analogy sounds a bit odd, and b) she has no power, everything around her is a wasteland, but she still has internet access? If her phone is working, why not just pick it up and call for help?
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Mon Sep 05, 2005
Comments (11)
A reader sent in these photos of amazing hilltop homes wanting to know if they're real or fake. I'd say it's pretty obvious that they're fake, but they're definitely cool, nevertheless. I would guess that they come from a Worth1000 photoshop contest, though I haven't confirmed this yet. I think they've been circulating around for a while, because I have a vague memory of seeing a few of them before. Note that in the second image from the right you can see a car in the garage, if you look closely.
image image image image image
Categories: Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Alex on Sat Aug 20, 2005
Comments (18)
This week's edition of the LA Times Magazine includes an article about various small towns in California that claim to be capitals for various types of food, such as Gilroy 'the garlic capital of the world', or Yuba City 'the prune capital of the U.S.' The article includes this description of Pismo Beach, which claims to be the clam capital of California:

Call it the ultimate bait and switch. The clams disappeared from this thriving seaside town, almost exactly halfway between San Francisco and L.A., about 30 years ago. Over-clamming tourists and gorging sea otters did the dirty deed. But did the city fathers of this middle-class destination resort promptly notify the governor, alert the media, then shift their promotional emphasis to, say, the annual profusion of monarch butterflies?
No way. They began importing clams from the East Coast and elsewhere, erected a few diversionary clam sculptures, kept their annual two-day Clam Festival on the fall calendar and certainly didn't discourage citizens from continuing with their clam-themed motels and seafood restaurants. You can either (1) protest this blatant hokum by patronizing nearby Avila Beach or San Luis Obispo, or (2) go along happily with the hoax by stopping at bistros such as Brad's, the Cracked Crab and Splash Cafe for some of the best clam chowder this side of--oh, never mind.
Categories: Food, Places
Posted by Alex on Mon Aug 08, 2005
Comments (10)
image This seems kind of odd: a runway with a road going across it. And yet it's real. It's Gibraltar Airport, which is the only airport in the world that has a road crossing the runway. A view of the airport can also be seen via Google Maps (if you don't believe the picture is real). It reminds me of Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten, in terms of being a very unusual airport. (via Outhouse Rag)
Categories: Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Alex on Sun Jul 31, 2005
Comments (17)
In a series of articles over the past week, the Register has pointed out some strange things that can be found with Google Maps. First, check out the map of the moon that Google added to its service today in honor of the moon landing anniversary. Zoom in as close as possible and you'll discover an unusual revelation.

image Second, Google maps reveals that there's a building on a military base here in San Diego that's built in the shape of a swastika. Strange, but true. It's not clear why this design was chosen. Probably the architects didn't bother to think about how it would look from the air.

image Finally, Google sleuths have discovered an image of a face that can be seen in some Peruvian sand dunes. Of course, it's already been declared to be the face of Jesus.
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Thu Jul 21, 2005
Comments (23)
I've heard in the past that shoes hanging from a powerline means that you can buy drugs in the area. But according to this article, in which a utility worker is interviewed, there are even more secret codes:

"The tennis shoes hanging up there mark drug areas," the worker says. "It's a sign to those who are 'in the know' that drugs are available for sale in that neighborhood." He goes on to explain the alleged meaning of yoyos and deflated helium balloons. "That meaning is a lot darker," he says. "Yoyos mean that sex is for sale in the area, and if a balloon is tangled in with the yoyos, that means both sex and drugs are for sale." He explains that the color of the yoyo indicates the ethnicity of the person offering sex.

So what are you supposed to do if you see one of these codes? Go up to the nearest person and say, 'Hey, I saw the yoyo, if you know what I mean?' Maybe objects hanging from power lines simply mean that kids have thrown things up there to be obnoxious.
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Wed Jun 08, 2005
Comments (59)
Some amazing pictures of a tornado have been doing the rounds. According to the info that accompanies them, these are "Photos of storm near Bunbury" (which is in Australia), although the text also notes that "you'd swear these were taken in america's mid west / tornado belt..." This has started some discussion on alt.folklore.urban, as people try to locate exactly where these photos were taken. The scenery does look a lot like the midwest.

image image image
Categories: Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Alex on Fri May 20, 2005
Comments (81)
I got an email from Mike Scofield asking about this odd thing that can be seen via Google's satellite map out in the middle of the desert around Nevada. Mike writes:

Assuming I did the link right, you should see a giant triangle with concentric circles in it. I did some poking around and it looks like this symbol is ~near~ Area 51. This leads me to think it's one of two different hoaxes. One is that it's a very good photoshop someone slipped into the satalite map that Google is referencing or, two, that it is a symbol out there in the desert someone did that isn't related to Area 51.

Honestly, I don't know what this is. I'm guessing it's some kind of military base. If you zoom in you can see that it hasn't been photoshopped in (at least, it doesn't appear to me as if it's been photoshopped). The triangle and concentric circles appear to be roads.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Places
Posted by Alex on Tue May 10, 2005
Comments (64)
On my next vacation I'm going to the Dominion of Melchizedek. It looks lovely. But actually, I might have trouble finding a flight there since there's no such place. I found it mentioned in a book I was browsing through, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Frauds, Scams, and Cons. The author of this book, Duane Swierczynski, says that the Dominion of Melchizedek "was solely the invention of an American swindler, who created it as a front for a multitude of scams. If you're near a computer, go log on to, and you can tour the entire nation, made up of Pacific islands. Fairly realistic, huh? That's what those 300 investors thought, too."
Categories: Places
Posted by Alex on Mon May 09, 2005
Comments (1)
I got this picture in my email, sent by Edna who's wondering if it's real. It looks real to me. The picture is accompanied by the following text, which also sounds accurate to me (as a non-meteorologist):

MT. St. Helens, which sits about 30 miles from Vancouver, as the crow flies, continues to spew ash, while it is forming a lava dome in the crater and still having minor tremors. In this sunrise shot, she appears to be blowing smoke rings (and anything so benign is welcomed, given recent history.) What forms the "smoke rings" is the air flowing over the mountain getting pushed up higher as it goes up and over the top. The moisture content and initial temperature are just right so that the moisture condenses from a vapor to small particles at the higher altitude. When the moving air moves past the peak and comes down again, the particles evaporate back to an invisible vapor. The two "pancakes" describe that there are two layers of air for which this is happening, thus making this awesome picture possible.
And here's another photo of a 'pancake cloud' (also sent by Edna). I don't know where this one was taken.
Categories: Photos/Videos, Places, Science
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 12, 2005
Comments (34)
Here's a strange story. I'm not sure whether or not it's a joke. Supposedly the Dutch village of Wageningen commissioned the construction of a war memorial shaped like "a giant copper obelisk that rises and falls depending on the level of sunlight, and spurts flames out of the top during important festivals." Only after they built it did they realize it looked exactly like a giant penis and hastily decided to scrap it. There are two reasons I'm skeptical about this. First, the source is listed as Ananova. Second, there already is a National Liberation Monument war memorial in Wageningen that's been there since the 1950s.
Categories: History, Places, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 01, 2005
Comments (22)
A search engine called NeighborhoodScout claims that it will locate the top gay-friendly neighborhoods in any area: "NeighborhoodScout's patent-pending search engine will reveal and richly describe the top gay-friendly neighborhoods in your chosen area and price range." So how exactly does it do this? According to the site:

NeighborhoodScout® applies an exclusive, patent-pending algorithm to measure the similarity of neighborhoods based on customer-specified criteria, such that exact matches to what the customer wants are delivered instantly. This revolutionary approach is applied to the nearly 200 characteristics used to describe each of the more than 61,000 neighborhoods (i.e. census tracts) in America to create blazingly accurate matches, no matter what the customer is looking for in a neighborhood.

So I tested it out for San Diego. Anyone who lives in San Diego knows that Hillcrest would be the most gay-friendly neighborhood in the city. Did NeighborhoodScout pull up Hillcrest? No. It chose La Jolla as the most gay-friendly neighborhood. Well, La Jolla is definitely just about the most expensive area in San Diego, but I don't know about it being the most gay-friendly. I'm curious what criteria the search engine is using to locate gay neighborhoods, or whether it actually just pulls up neighborhoods based on price range.
Categories: Places, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Wed Mar 16, 2005
Comments (32)
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