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Friday, December 14, 2007


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"I'm Gonna Become An Aircraft"

(CBS) Jeb Corliss has leaped from buildings and other places in a single bound.

Now, he plans to do it without the aid of a parachute.

Corliss is a base jumper -- a person who jumps from high places -- but until now, using a parachute.

Corliss has made jumps in 16 countries and five contents, more than 1,000 in all, from the likes of the Eiffel Tower and Golden Gate Bridge.

In April 2006, Corliss was arrested after being stopped from making the Empire State Building observation point a jumping point. A judge dismissed various crimes he was charged with, but Corliss was fired as host of the Discovery Channel's "Stunt Junkies."

His latest venture is trying to jump from a helicopter -- without a parachute.

Believe it or not, Corliss isn't alone in that goal. Several other groups around the globe are eyeing it.

Corliss says he'll wear a wing suit, which makes him look like a flying squirrel. He plans to landing on a specially designed runway he designed. It will cost up to $2 million. Once he gets the funding for his project, he says it could take up to four months to actually pull off. He anticipates trying in Las Vegas.

On The Early Show Wednesday, Corliss told co-anchor Julie Chen, "We need to build a runway to land on. Most aircraft with small wings that are traveling very, very fast need to land on runways. So, that's what we need to do.

"There's about five different groups all over the world working on it. So, we're all a little bit secretive about exactly what we're doing.

"But the easiest way to wrap your head around the concept of what's happening is to think of two sports that are happening right now. . . . During the Winter Olympics, you'll see ski jumpers hit giant jumps and get four-to-six seconds of free-fall time, basically before they make contact with the snow again. And the only reason they're capable of doing that without being injured is that they're landing on a slope, you know? So that gives you kind of an idea.

"The wing suit gives us the ability to fly three feet forward for every foot we fall. And that gives us the ability to fly the angle of a slope."

He added, "A wing suit, basically, is fabric that goes between your arms and between your legs and it changes the shape of your body. So you become, in essence, a flying squirrel.

"And I think that's one of the amazing things about human beings is how quickly we can evolve through technology and through using our minds. If you think about a flying squirrel, it took how many hundreds of thousands of years if not millions of years to evolve the ability to jump from a high altitude and land uninjured. That's what makes people so special is that we don't need to morph our bodies, we create technology and then match skill with that technology to actually pull something like this off."

Corliss says he "absolutely" will carry a parachute, just in case: You're always, for safety purposes, you'll have a parachute so you'll have the option if you're not lined up properly or you've been dropped off in the wrong spot, you'll always be able to open a parachute for safety."

He explains that he plans to land on his belly, suggesting, "Imagine an aircraft -- aircraft don't land on their tails, they land on their bellies. That's exactly what I'm gonna become. I'm gonna become an aircraft' I'm gonna be landing on my belly.

"It's not very realistic to have landing gear like an aircraft does, so what we have to do is, our runway is special. Our runway becomes not only a runway but also becomes our landing gear. You have to be able to control that energy once you set down, and that's what we're developing. We're developing the ability to set down and then control the energy."

Why in the world would Corliss try this?

"I wouldn't I'm doing this because I'm a thrill-seeker. I'm a person who has dreams and my life is based on making those dreams come true. And that's what I focus on."

© MMVII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved

18 Christmas trees you probably won't see at Grandma's


'Tis the holiday season. While not everyone busts out the real or fake tree, it is always a symbol of the beginning of winter and the end of the calendar year. With the latest generation of kids striving to avoid conforming to the traditional ways of Christmas, new ways of showing off that festive cheer have taken the holiday decorations scene by storm. Click through to see 18 Christmas trees that you probably won't find at Grandma's house this holiday season.

18. Tree Projector

Now this is just lazy.

17. "Green" Eco-Tree

While it may look brown and gold on the outside, this designer tree by Buro North is actually pretty green on the inside. This tree is 80-percent more environmental friendly than pine trees and is constructed by a low-energy production technique. I'm sure it was designed the the odd-look to cater to the outrageous green-freak hippies out there, obviously.

16. USB Fiber Optic Tree

It doesn't surprise me one bit that this is an actual product. Just about every kind of product is available in USB form and there are actually a couple different varieties of USB Christmas trees. This one specifically is available from Thinkgeek for $12.99. It uses fiber optics for the lights. While the USB compatibility is nice for a desk or office, it can go "wireless" with the assistance of a few AAA batteries.

15. Whoville Tree

The Dr. Seuss book How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a cult classic of sorts, if cult classics can exist for holiday children's books. You may not be a grinch towards Christmas, but that doesn't mean this icon for Christmas thievery can't be welcomed into a household that appreciates the Seuss. It is available for $20 from Urban Outfitters. This only begs the question, which animated character has a better whimsical tree — the Grinch or Charlie Brown…

14. Charlie Brown's Pathetic Tree

Charlie Brown has the lone task of finding a Christmas tree for the school play in A Charlie Brown Christmas. This is the tree that he returns with much to the ridicule of his peers, but those of us watching can easily feel compassion for Charlie and more so his tree that is more than just a red bulb and few limbs. I want to say that I especially like this real version of Chuck's tree because it helps recognize what the true meaning of Christmas, but in reality I just like it because of the minimalist and small design.

13. Halo-Adorned Tree

Just because they are futuristic inhabitants of the the Halo universe doesn't mean that they don't deserve a little Christmas tree love. Resting atop this traditional Christmas tree is Master Chief's helmet. This is the helmet worn by Halo's hero, and also serves as the holster for the legendary edition of Halo 3. Previously, this helmet had no use rather than a geeky trophy on your video game shelf. Now it can rest atop a traditional Christmas tree protecting the holiday from the Covenant.

12. Mountain Dew Tree

Approximately 400 Mountain Dew cans, three months of consumption and four days of construction were put into the Mountain Dew Christmas Tree. It was constructed rather well using a lot of wire and a central PVC pipe. Lights are strung all around the tree and a single two-liter Mountain Dew bottle sits atop being the star on this sugary tree. But what if you are above the age of 20....

11. Beer Christmas Tree

The one advantage of the green bottles used by a select number of beer manufacturers is the ability to built giant green towers. Rather than simply stacking the bottles until someone drunkenly dives into the tower lat the end of the night, a little more thought was put into this beer bottle Christmas tree. More than 100 Grolsch bottles were used in the creation of this tree. And surprisingly it stood long enough for a picture to be taken — one would expect the creators to be a little on the wild side.

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10. Palm Christmas Trees

Palm trees have been used as Christmas trees by those living in warmer clients for quite some time. I'm not too fond of people who do put up palm trees because they're doing so to spite those of us living in colder climates. Also, a palm tree inside? Maybe I should be the one laughing at you!

9. Geek Tree

The geek-style of tree became popular around the IT crowd, which doesn't help out the stereotypes for said crowds at all. The company IT guy usually has all kinds of spare computer equipment laying around which happens to be perfect for a Christmas tree. It's not just computer parts either, all kinds of gadgets can hang from the limb of a Christmas tree with ease.

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8. Color Trees

These may be the most radical Christmas trees featured and they are also the simplest. Treetopia is offering "funky colored" Christmas trees in lemon-lime, pink, purple, red, silver and black. The only reason to get a tree like this: it matches the paint scheme in your house — any other reason and people may begin questioning your sanity.

7. Rockefeller Center Tree

The main reason you won't find this Christmas tree at Grandma's is because it probably wouldn't fit. This tree deserves some props because it has a nice story this year and it underwent significant technical changes. Every year trees across the country try out for the job of Rockefeller Center tree, American Idol style, with only one getting the cut. This year it was a persistent neighbor who continually submitted a tree that he didn't even own because he just wanted to see it at the Rock. His persistence paid off and the Simon Cowell of tree selection showed up to this obsessive neighbors house and persuaded the owner to let it go. This year the tree is also wrapped in 30,000 LED light, rather than regular lights of years past. This cuts the power usage by 63-percent. After this tree has done its deed, it will be chopped up and distributed to Habitat to Humanity groups worldwide. See, isn't that nice.

6. Aluminum Tree

I guess I'm too young to know, but apparently back in the 1950s, people were speculating that the future would have metal Christmas trees. It seems they were right, except for the fact that the human race has not depleted the stock of evergreen coniferous trees and companies like Hammacher Schlemmer only sells these kind of tree to mock those bright-eyed individuals from the 1950s.

5. Festivus Pole

The Festivus pole is not necessarily a Christmas tree, but a placeholder for the Christmas tree for Festivus, another December holiday. Festivus was invented by Daniel O'Keefe, a writer and editor for Reader's Digest. It was his son by the same name who gave this holiday some life while being a writer for Seinfeld. Even though it was a fictional creation for the Seinfeld episode, many people who converted to celebrating Festivus and an essential part of this holiday is the pole. The pole is used as opposition to the commercialization of the Christmas tree and was not part of the senior O'Keefe's original Festivus celebration. Much to the dismay of Frank Costanza, the fictional Festivus founder in Seinfeld, the pole has become commercialized now that has been born.

4. Video Game Tree

The owner and creator of this traditional, yet uniquely adorned Christmas tree, Perler Bead, is a pretty big old school gaming junkie. How do I know? The Super Mario mural on the wall, of course. Not really, it is the Christmas tree that is completely loaded to the brim up with a variety of homemade 8-bit character ornaments from games such as Bubble Bobble, Pac-Man, Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy and more. Bead will also be selling the ornaments soon on a craft site, just in time for Christmas ornaments to hit the storage bin for another year.

3. Giant Tree

This is a 7-story tall Christmas tree that is constructed out of 350 artificial trees. It took upwards of 70 people five days to complete this beast. It is even decorated. It's huge, it's amazing, and it can likely hold a ton of presents. The most odd factor about this tree is that it was originally a PR stunt for a Chinese yellow pages company four years ago. Success, it seems.

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2. Upside Down Tree

Much like a lot of the trees on the list, surprisingly, the upside down Christmas tree has a bit of history. It was in the 12th century that Europeans would hang a tree from the ceiling during Christmas time. Nine centuries later that schtick has made it to the United States via this upside down pre-lite tree also available from Hammacher Schlemmer. Another tale has stores preferring these type of trees for displaying ornaments while taking up less floor space. This particular one is free-standing, rather than hanging, but it gets the point across. A heavy base keeps the tree from tipping and if you look at it long enough the tree looks like an ugly tornado.

1. Pac-Man Tree

Pac-Man's second appearance in this list is arguably the best. This very geometric Christmas tree can be found at Nuevos Ministerios in Madrid, Spain and utilizes thousands upon thousands of LEDs to create the three-sided scene. Just check out the video to get a full grasp of how big and amazing it is.

Underwater Hotel: Sleeping with the Fishes

Hydropolis Underwater Hotel Dubai

When you picture your perfect seaborne vacation it probably didn’t look as permanent as hanging out with Luca Debrazi. But if you’re dieing for the experience, between cement shoes and $10k a night, I’d take a room at the Hydropolis Underwater Hotel any day.

The idea of building a hotel set in the deep blue isn’t a new one. For years the novelty of undersea accommodations has been battled out, with resorts like the Poseidon Mystery Island in Fiji and the Hydropolis in Dubai trying to take the cake. Yet alas, as it is with most innovative architecture these days, you’ll need to take a trip to Dubai to experience the magic first hand. Even though an official opening date has yet to be announced, they’ve raised the $550 million and have recently overcome ecological concerns during construction.

Hydropolis Birds Eye View

Although they won’t be amongst the first in undersea restaurants, such as the Ithaa and Red Sea Star - which are both 16 feet below sea level, they’ll be offering a lot more. Along with fine dining in its restaurants and bars, it will also feature a grand ballroom, shopping mall, a cosmetic surgery clinic, and a marine biology lab.

All 220 suites will offer the utmost luxury that would make even Jules Verne blink. That might be because his novel 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea didn’t go so far as to suggest a petal-like retractable roof for open-air events. He also left out the train that will connect you to tunnels in an above land station, where you’ll check-in to your room at 65 feet below sea level.

This may be the first to open, but the designers have plans to open similar underwater projects in several different locations around the globe. Further footage isn’t available as of yet. But if you need a concept video to quench your thirst you can watch this one from its rival, Poseidon in Fiji, which is scheduled for opening in Mid-2008.

FireCrotch: making a comeback!!

Man drinks bottle of Vodka at airport security rather than tossing it

BERLIN (AP) - A man nearly died from alcohol poisoning after quaffing a liter (two pints) of vodka at an airport security check instead of handing it over to comply with new carry-on rules, police said Wednesday. The incident occurred at the Nuremberg airport on Tuesday, where the 64-year-old man was switching planes on his way home to Dresden from a holiday in Egypt. New airport rules prohibit passengers from carrying larger quantities of liquid onto planes, and he was told at a security check he would have to either throw out the bottle of vodka or pay a fee to have his carry-on bag checked as cargo. Instead, he chugged the bottle down—and was quickly unable to stand or otherwise function, police said

Yodlee MoneyCentral

This is amazing. The site will aggregate and display all of your financial accounts securely.

Awesome site for aggregating all your accounts Bank, Investments including 401k, IRA's, 403b's, any of your credit cards, airline rewards programs, utilities, Comcast, your cell phone etc etc.... Every time you login, it will update all the accounts. You can perform Bill pay for any of your accounts right from the site as well.
The Dashboard and expense tracker are amazing.

Security is excellent. In fact, Yodlee powers many of the banks you use for online banking. Takes all the manual process out of budgeting. Even adds your email account to the dashboard. Automatically set up reminders and alerts.

Flash Demo:

Van Damme Friday- Digging out edition