Beer is for more than drinking in Alaska. It’s also for making more beer. The Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau recently installed a new $1.8-million boiler system that allows the brewery to burn its leftovers as fuel. Instead of discarding spent grain, the new, first-of-its-kind boiler system allows brewers to power their furnace with the residual barley and malt left over from the beer-making process. According to corporate officials, the “beer-powered beer” method will allow the company to offset up to 70 percent of its fuel costs and save about $450,000 per year.
They can change a diaper as well as they can secure a building. And Jonathan Gilliam is betting there are enough safety-and security-conscious parents in Manhattan to make his new company, Tactical Nanny, a success. The former Navy SEAL and Upper West Side resident is hiring former U.S. military veterans to serve as nannies to wealthy New York families. “They can keep tragedy from happening,” Gilliam told the New York Post. “You’re paying for the peace of mind.” For $1,500 per week, Gilliam will set up a family with an ex-military nanny who has undergone tactical training and has a security clearance.
All the right moves
A 27-year-old running from police officers crossed into the wrong man’s backyard on Feb. 8. Homeowner Terry Miracle, 82, of Longview, Wash., was weeding in his backyard when he saw a man running full speed across his lawn. Suspecting something was wrong, the octogenarian moved to intercept Morgan Perry Bluehorse, the fleeing burglary suspect. “He was coming at me just like the runners used to do when I played football,” Miracle said, recalling his football-playing days more than 60 years ago. “I kicked out my knee, as I always did with a cross-body block, and caught his knee with my knee. … He went down and so did I.” Bluehorse got up and began running again, but local police quickly caught up and apprehended the suspect. Miracle said he wasn’t hurt—just sore.
After donations, bake sales, and silent auctions, Stratford Landing Elementary School in Fairfax, Va., finally has new playground equipment. But ever since Nov. 30, the gift donated by the local Parent-Teacher Association has been wrapped up in caution tape by school district officials. Officials with Fairfax County Public Schools decided the apparatus, which cost the PTA $35,000, was too dangerous for the elementary-aged children. Instead, the school district is offering to cough up $135,000 to revamp the playground itself.
Your brain on drugs
Anthony Parish of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., may have made one of the worst choices possible for locating an alleged pot-growing operation—a K-9 dog training facility. On Jan. 30, members of a K-9 team from Kentucky training at a private facility in New Smyrna Beach were surprised when their drug-sniffing dogs began pulling them through some woods on the property. Eventually, the Kentucky trainees discovered the drug-growing operation with 79 marijuana plants. A subsequent investigation by the sheriff’s office led to the arrest of 38-year-old Parish, who lived in a nearby trailer.
Some college students complain when they make a bad grade. Megan Thode sued. The 27-year-old former Lehigh University student filed a $1.3 million lawsuit against the Bethlehem, Pa., school, contending the C-plus she received in a 2009 course ruined her chances for a career in counseling. Proceedings for the trial began Feb. 11. According to Thode, the grade prevented her from moving on to the next level in her master’s coursework. She eventually earned her master’s degree, just not the one she originally wanted. A university lawyer told Northampton County Judge Emil Giordano that a courtroom is not the place to decide grades, and on Feb. 14 Giordano agreed. He ruled that Thode had failed to prove the grade was anything other than a “purely academic evaluation.”
Forget dating websites. China’s newest online craze may take the romance out of Valentine’s Day, but it certainly makes life easier. Young Chinese women worried about being alone on holidays are increasingly turning to boyfriend rental agencies. According to Taobao, a popular Chinese shopping website, online searches for the term “boyfriend rental” has soared more than 800 percent over this time last year. Renting a boyfriend for a movie date might cost $8. Taking one home to show off to parents during the lengthy Chinese New Year celebrations might cost a woman considerably more. Officials with the website said that internet traffic for boyfriend rental agents has been especially busy this year as the Chinese New Year, Feb. 10, closely coincided with Valentine’s Day.
Bunch of bears
Once an emblem of global warming’s collateral damage, arctic polar bears face a new threat: overpopulation. According to a report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, some 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears live in the Arctic Circle today—four times as many as 40 years ago. Experts like author Zac Unger, who recently traveled to the Arctic to tell the story of polar bears’ plight, have changed their attitude toward the animals. “My humble plan was to become a hero of the environmental movement,” Unger told NPR on Feb. 2. “I was going to write this mournful elegy for the polar bears.” Instead, he saw a landscape bustling with bear activity. “Polar bear populations are large, and the truth is that we can’t look at it as a monolithic population that is all going one way or another.”
Employees of Kalispell Public Schools in Montana were shocked to find they had earned so much when they received an email copy of the W-2 tax forms on Jan. 31. According to a clerk with the school district, new software caused a glitch showing that district employees had made four times as much income as they had. The mistake was quickly corrected, but not before several school employees printed out the mistaken W-2s for framing.