Earl or Ansel?
A decade ago Rick Norsigian bought a box of glass plate photo negatives for $45 at a garage sale. Now 10 years later, the Fresno, Calif., man believes that the negatives are the work of Ansel Adams. The Fresno painter says appraisers in July estimated their value at $200 million. "When I heard that $200 million," he said, "I got a little weak." But others became suspicious, particularly 87-year-old Marian Walton of Oakland, Calif., who says a few of the prints are either exact matches of photos-or close enough to be from the same photo shoot-taken by her long-deceased uncle, Earl Brooks. Some of Adams' former assistants say this proves the entire box is from "Uncle Earl," but Norsigian disputes the claim.
It's probably true that more people know Todd Davis' Social Security Number than any other person's in America. That's because for years Davis' company, LifeLock, published his number on billboards and advertisements across the country as a way to prove their identity theft prevention services were ironclad. But as details emerged from a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission launched by 35 states, it seems LifeLock CEO Todd Davis' digits weren't so safe. The complaint revealed Davis' identity had been compromised or stolen no fewer than 13 times. And despite the company's claims that its customers would never have their identities stolen, hundreds of customers fell victim to ID theft. The Arizona company agreed to pay $12 million to settle the case of deceptive advertising.
The decision by NBA stars LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade in Miami and play for the Heat was great for the team's ticket sales-but not so great for the team's ticket sellers. With all of the Heat's season tickets already bought up for the 2010-2011 season, the team opted to lay off its entire season ticket sales staff. "They let us go because there was really nothing left to do anymore," one of 30 fired staffers told the Miami Herald.
Police in LaPorte County, Ind., were not amused when county fair officials threw up a petty roadblock: The county police department dispatched an officer to the fair to take a man wanted on a felony warrant into custody. But when the officer arrived, staff refused to let him into the fairgrounds without a $5 ticket. Annoyed, the officer paid the gate attendant and waited for a receipt for reimbursement. When the fair employee was slow in getting the receipt, the officer went into the fair anyway and apprehended the suspect.
Hot dog, cold cash
No stranger to an outrageously priced menu, one famous New York eatery has managed to turn a low-brow hotdog into a menu item destined for the record books. On July 23-National Hot Dog Day-Upper East Side eatery Serendipity 3 managed to coax a passerby into purchasing its newest menu item: a $69 hot dog. Trudy Tant of South Carolina purchased the high-dollar dog, which was covered in truffle butter and oil and duck foie gras. Serendipity also holds the record for the most expensive dessert: a $25,000 dish titled Frrrozen Haute Chocolate.
If you listen to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the only vitamin Coca-Cola's Vitamin Water has enough of is "Vitamin S"-S for sugar. CSPI launched a lawsuit against Coke last year, alleging that the sports drink brand practiced deceptive advertising when it states, as it does on some bottles, that Vitamin Water keeps thirsty consumers as "healthy as a horse." CSPI says the drink is not much better than, say, Coca Cola and should not be allowed to make health claims. And in July, a federal judge tossed out a motion from Coke lawyers to dismiss the case outright, making it possible for the suit to move toward a trial. According to Vitamin Water's labeling, each 20-ounce bottle contains 125 calories, all from sugar.
No one will be chastising 10-year-old Stephen Goodman for not having a productive summer. The Surprise, Ariz., elementary-school student has spent his entire summer vacation working with his grandfather to make a personalized thank-you card for each U.S. military member serving overseas-all 180,000 or so of them. Stephen told reporters in the Phoenix suburb that it's his personal mission to make sure each American fighting man and woman gets a card. "I'm just doing it to make them feel good. Because it's not like anyone ever thanks them . . . maybe a couple people do . . . so I just wanted to change that and make it one person higher," Stephen told KSAX in Phoenix. The boy uses colored construction paper, ribbons, and markers to make his handwritten cards, which contain messages like "You're giving us freedom." Thankfully, Stephen isn't alone in his task. His grandfather, a Vietnam veteran who understands the power of a personalized card, is helping him with paper cutting and ribbon tying.
No place to park
After spending close to $200,000 in legal fees in a drama that lasted for more than two years, A.J. Vizzi of Odessa, Fla., has finally won the right to park his vehicle on his driveway. The problems began for Vizzi more than two years ago when Eagles Master Association, his HOA, informed him he could not park his Ford F-350 Super Duty pickup truck in his driveway anymore. That was news to Vizzi, who had already received permission from his smaller community association. To enforce the rule, Eagles Master Association sued Vizzi, forcing the Odessa resident to fork over a small fortune to defend himself. But in late July, a judge settled the case, siding with Vizzi and charging the man's $187,000 in legal fees to the homeowners association.
Students at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., foiled their professor's return from a summer vacation with the ultimate prank. While Professor Scott Bur was away, his students at the private liberal arts college broke into his office and wrapped his ceiling, floor, coffee maker, tables and chairs-everything-in aluminum foil. When Bur returned from his week away, he discovered even his pens were individually wrapped. Bur reports that his student research team has made this an annual tradition: Last year after vacation, his office was decorated in a fairy princess theme. According to senior Kristen Jahr, this year's prank required 2,000 feet of aluminum foil.