Do ya think I'm ugly?
You know the routine: The neighbors look the other way when you wave hi. Your girlfriend or significant other always insists on driving. Friends keep asking you when you plan to buy your next car. Small children point to you as if you were wearing a Michael Jackson mask and run screaming into their parents' arms.
Small, furry rodent-like creatures, though, think you're the greatest because of the shelter you've provided them, so they deposit nuts, camshafts and tiny shiny objects on your front porch. And it's all because of that dreadful junker you've got parked in your driveway.
Hey, the ``Ugliest Car in America'' contest could have used your input. Sponsored by DonateCarUSA.com, the nationwide competition, which closed March 20, egged on neighbors to sneak pictures of the eyesore vehicles parked within eyesight of their homes or in their neighborhoods. Employees...why not submit your bosses' obnoxious ``works of art.''
Now, the finalists for the worst of the worst have been selected. The organization posted pics of the repulsive representatives on its Web site, and, whoee, there are a few doozies, as evidenced by the photos above.
``Some cars are so hideous and disgusting they bring down real estate values in the neighborhood. We wanted those and we found those,'' said a spokesperson for Car Donation Processing Center Inc. in Fontana, Calif., who added: ``Some of these ugly car submissions are truly scary, and we couldn't believe people actually drive these cars around town.''
The company, a processing agent for charities seeking automobile donations, gave out the Gold Pinto Award for the first place winner, the Silver Pacer Award for second place and the Bronze Gremlin Award for third. The contest's aim was to promote the benefits of donating old vehicles to charities.
Just because the contest's over doesn't mean you can't do mankind and womankind a favor.
This, that & other stuff
Attire from a tire?-Ya gotta wonder what's next. Brit fashion designer Bruce Oldfield created an outfit from car parts normally found on the Street Ka, the little roadster Ford Motor Co. markets in Europe.
The corset is from the pink fiberglass used on the Ka's hardtop. The choker's from the car's clock. Cable ties are used in the hat; the skirt is made from the mesh used on the front grille. The outfit-created by Mr. Oldfield for a charity event-is decorated with electrical cables normally found under the instrument panel.
Paul Wraith, a senior designer at Ford who also was involved in the endeavor, remarked: ``This was one of the most bizarre projects I have ever worked on.''
Psst...want to show your wife, husband or significant other how much you really care? Consider buying the outfit, though we're guessing it probably can be had for almost as much as the Ka.
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Please check automatic weapons at door-If you're simply tired of making the Vegas scene for yet another glitzy automotive trade show, you could have spent some quality time visiting an out-of-the-way hotspot.
The Auto World Expo was March 16-19 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Sectors included in the second Azerbaijan International Auto Show 2005 included light and heavy automobiles, tires and batteries, auto spear (sic) parts (huh?), lubricants, car cosmetics (can you say Mary Kay in Azerbaijani?), car alarm and safety devices.
Aren't you sorry you missed it? Mark your calendar for next year.
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Anguished English-Someone who jumps off a bridge in Paris is in Seine. ``Dijon vu''? The same mustard as before.
A ``shotgun wedding'' is a case of wife or death. Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? A hangover is the wrath of grapes. News update: The man who fell into an upholstery machine is fully recovered.
And for you computer geeks: Local Area Network in Australia is the LAN down under.
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Sage advice-Educator Booker T. Washington said it: ``There are two ways of exerting one's strength. One is pushing down, the other is pulling up.''
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No free air-An epidemic of air machine thefts has plagued the Fredericksburg, Va., area.
The Associated Press reported that at least 10 of the air pumps have been heisted from area gas stations thus far this year, according to the Maryland firm that owns them. And they're pricey little buggers: Each machine is valued at about $2,000. The Stafford County sheriff told AP that each ripped-off machine was dismantled and removed. (And, we're guessing, not by someone with a lot of flat tires.)
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Seguing off the beaten path-The makers of the Segway gyroscope-controlled personal scooter are adding three new models.
You can add a rack to transform your self-balancing act into a single-person golf cart, or slap on some wide tires for off-road riding. (What's next? Ultra-high performance hoops?) The third model comes in splashier colors like red and yellow.
Each new Segway features better batteries, allowing it to travel up to 24 miles. The big drawback to the scooter, from what we can tell, is still the suggested retail price: about $5,000 with the new batteries. For that, you could probably buy at least three ugly beaters (see the first Marketplace item above).
Jumping for joy
Remember the old TV show ``The Bionic Man'' and its ``Bionic Woman'' counterpart?
Japan's largest aquarium has Fuji the part-bionic dolphin, which is again in the swim of things thanks to Bridgestone Corp.
The 34-year-old female dolphin lost 75 percent of her tail after being struck with a mysterious illness that caused progressive deterioration of the fin. To save her life, most of the fin was amputated in late 2002.
Seeing that a 518-pound dolphin without a tail fin is anything but mobile, volunteers from Bridgestone stepped in, working for nearly two years to develop a replacement rubber fin. The discerning dolphin rejected two prototypes for weight and fit before the Bridgestone team came up with a winner.
The 4.4-pound, 20-inch wide fin is made of silicone rubber and has a cushion of patented foam where it fits against Fuji's body.
Advanced composite material provides reinforcement for the fin and reduces the load on the dolphin because it's much lighter than metal.
Fuji received her tail in March 2004 and returned to public view at the aquarium last July. Handlers report the 108-inch-long dolphin is delighted with her new tail and, to show its appreciation, swims and jumps daily.
According to a press report, Bridgestone would be open to other requests for an artificial fin or leg for other animals but hasn't received any calls. A spokesman explained it this way, ``We make tires; we specialize in foots of sort.'' (Did he mean ``feet''?)
This isn't the first time a tire company has tried to help a sea creature. In the 1980s Goodyear replaced a flipper on a turtle-inappropriately named ``Lucky''-who had lost one of his to a shark. It worked for a time, but eventually failed.
In an exclusive underwater interview with Marketplace, Fuji said in her best Flipper-like tone: ``Beep? m'beep, beeeep....''-which we understand translates into: ``Anyone know what the treadwear warranty is on this new fin?''
Edited by Sigmund J. Mikolajczyk