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280 California parks bring annual $4.3 bil to state, mils locally. 200-park closure to shoot deficit? or economy?

Leo Carrillo State Park, Malibu, California is the closest Pacific Ocean beach to Thousand Oaks, California. Its biggest claim to fame is as a popular location for photographers and movies, including The Karate Kid, Grease, The Craft, and Point Break

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The State Parks use less than 1/10th of 1% of the budget, yet return $2.35 for every dollar spent in revenues from surrounding communities whose economies are boosted by (or based on) proximity to the parks.

Proposed state parks closure list is not for the faint of heart

"This morning, I glimpsed the list of California state parks earmarked for closure if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger successfully cuts funding, and I became sickened and angry. There are 220 parks, reserves and beaches on the list. That would leave a mere 59 parks for our continued enjoyment." (Comment posted by Maggie Wolfe Riley: "The State Parks use less than 1/10th of 1% of the budget, yet return $2.35 for every dollar spent in revenues from surrounding communities whose economies are boosted by (or based on) proximity to the parks.")

Among 220 state parks the governor proposes to close, Anderson Marsh Park is a California State Historic Park  read more »

Bill Turner treats Zebedee with total kindness, winning over a friend from Nature, going together to the pub for a pint

horse racing trainer Bill Turner learned to ride Zebedee in just two weeks

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A horse racing trainer loves to trot to the pub for a glass of Red Stripe lager - on his zebra. Dad-of-two Bill Turner bought 14-month-old Zebedee for £4,500 from a Dutch game reserve. Bill, 61, said: "He loves being ridden and it means I don't have to worry about being breathalysed."

Zebras are notoriously difficult to break in but the former jump jockey soon coaxed Zebedee to accept a bridle and saddle. In less than three weeks Bill was riding his new mount round his farm. Now Mr Turner rides Zebedee to his local, the King's Arms, for a pint after work.

Bill, who saddled 600 winners in 30 years as a trainer, said: "It's a mile and a half to the pub and Zebedee pricks up his ears every time we go. "The RSPCA says its OK to ride him." Bill's wife Tracy, 61, followed in a lorry on the first pub outing in case Zebedee tired and had to be driven back. But ten-stone Bill said: "He had no trouble and even cantered for a bit. The regulars got an incredible shock when I rode up."

zebras

It was the trainer's lifelong ambition to break and ride a zebra. Bill said: "I've broken hundreds of horses and wanted to try my luck with a zebra. "Very few are ridden in Africa - usually the only way to mount one is to put it in a river." Finally a livestock agent who Bill deals with in Belgium found the zebra for him. Bill said: "They say zebras are so hard to train because they don't have any brains and panic easily. Zebedee gave me a hard time at first, coming at me with his front feet and also biting.  read more »

Humor & Fun: Office Chair Racing, 70 participants race downhill & over ramps. Helmets required. Many chairs didn't make it to en

Office Chair Racing Championship in Germany

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The German Office Chair Racing Championship was held in Bad Koenig-Zell, Germany, on Saturday, April 25, 2009. Seventy participants took a chance and brought their office chair out into the sunshine and put it through its paces. The race down Odenwaelder street was mainly downhill and involved starting on a steep ramp and racing over another ramp.

the first German Championships in Office Chair Racing

The only uniform rule was a crash helmet, which many participants needed. Dozens of racers fell off their chairs, and many chairs didn't make it to the end of the 170-meter race.

German Championships in Office Chair Racing

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Photos courtesy of demonicious.com

Original Source: Cave News and Reuters (with video)

Billy the Goat - Lance Corporal William Windsor - retires as Royal Welsh Regiment mascot with full military honors

guard of honour: The retiring goat, wearing full ceremonial dress, is led out for the last time by handler Lance Corporal Ryan Arthur

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From his gleaming headplate to his immaculately groomed whiskers, Lance Corporal William Windsor looked every inch the proud old soldier as he left camp for the last time yesterday. He has seen service overseas, met royalty and led every battalion parade, but after eight years on the job, it is time for William Windsor to retire. But unlike other old soldiers, this veteran will be spending his final days in a zoo - because he is the regimental goat, better known as Billy.

His send-off came with full military pomp and ceremony - befitting-his lifetime's service with the 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh. Cheering comrades lined the route from his pen to the trailer waiting to take him to the Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, where the Army veteran informally known as Billy the Goat will spend his honorable retirement.

William Windsor, mascot of England's 1st Battalion, appears at his retirement parade after seven years of UK Army service. The Battalion, known as The Royal Welsh, has had a goat in its ranks for more than 200 years  read more »

Surf Lifesaving: voluntary lifeguard services & competitive surf sport originated in Australia, expanding globally

competitors run to the water during the start of the Open Women's Board Race final, 2009 Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships

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Surf lifesaving originated in Australia in 1906 in response to drownings at local beaches in Sydney. It comprises key aspects of voluntary lifeguard services and competitive surf sport and has expanded globally to other countries including New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, and the United States. Such groups became necessary following the relaxing of laws prohibiting daylight bathing on Australian beaches. Volunteer groups of men were trained in lifesaving methods and patrolled the beaches as lifesavers looking after public safety.

a competitor from Northcliffe competes in the Open Men's Board Race semifinal, 2009 Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships  read more »

Photo: green reflections - photographer reflected in seaweeds at green fuel plant in Le Vigeant, southern France

reflection on seaweeds at Seche environmental plant in France

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A photographer is reflected in micro seaweeds in a basin at the Seche environmental plant in Le Vigeant, southern France. Seche Environnement, which specializes in the treatment and storage for all types of non-radioactive waste, produces green fuel from seaweeds.

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Photos courtesy of Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

Original Source: Times Online

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