Antwerp introduces ‘text walking lanes’ for pedestrians using mobile phones by Anne Droyd-Leuvre

The Belgian city of Antwerp has come up with a solution to the problem of pedestrians bumping into other people while sending text messages from their mobile phones. Smartphone users now have their own designated lanes, where they can walk while texting or otherwise using their mobile devices without irritating or endangering others.

These lanes are marked ‘text walking lane’ in English on a number of busy pedestrian shopping streets in the city centre. The markings on the ground are in highly visible white paint, but some lanes wind through narrow cobbled streets. Negotiating the corners is likely to remain challenging for people whose eyes are glued to their phone screens.

The scheme is the brainchild of city councilwoman, Frieda Wander, who says many smartphones are broken in collisions among pedestrians.

Everyone textwalks, says Wander. You probably walk through the streets while texting and not paying attention to your surroundings – only to whomever is chatting on your screen. This causes collisions with other pedestrians. You could, unknowingly, even walk right into your text mate.

If pedestrian lanes are successful, Wander plans next year to propose a similar solution for texting drivers.


Toe wrestling competitors put best foot forward by Susan Sochs

Draped in a Union Jack flag, Alan Big Piggy Nash retained his title last weekend as World Toe Wrestling Champion. The Derbyshire village of Boughringtown in northern England hosted the World Championship of Toe Wrestling last weekend in a competition that drew spectators of all ages for some serious toe-tussling.

Toe wrestling traces its roots to 1976 when Staffordshire pub landlord George Burgess sought to find a new sport for Brits to dominate, according to the Bentley Brook Inn where the championship took place. I just love the fact that this is the one sport that England always win at, we get hammered at everything else, Nash said. My technique ... is to hurt the first person that comes into the ring with me: hurt them bad and terrify everyone else.

There are two participants in each bout. With their feet on a small square ring on the floor, the competitors begin by locking their big toes together, before battling arm-wrestling style to drive their opponent's foot to the ground. Toe inspections are a must and mixed sex matches are, of course, not allowed.

There have been some dirty toed tactics, ‘flicking off’ is one of them, organiser Edward Allington said. If you know you're going to lose, if you pull your toe away then it's difficult for the referee to decide if it's accidental or deliberate.


Exam season: Now with piglets! by Ima Hogg

This spring, Nottingham Trent University is looking to make exam season a little less painful—and a lot more adorable—for its students.

Members of NTU's student union have decided to create a piglet room for their fellow students to use to de-stress. Students are allowed to spend a few minutes interacting with the tiny swine, as well as baby goats, chicks, and even a donkey foal.

This ingenious idea is actually a fundraiser for a local guide dog organization. After the success of a similar puppy event last year, they decided to branch out.

It’s been busy the entire two days, student union president Igor Beaver explained. There’s just a really good buzz around the campus. That buzz is spreading to the Internet as well, with the hashtag #PigletRoom taking over Twitter and Instagram.

Other universities around the United Kingdom have tried this tactic, too. The most popular option seems to be puppies, although Bath Spa University opted for Shetland ponies. Universities in the United States have followed suit, using everything from chickens to therapy cats in order to help students stay calm.


Mystery of holes in Swiss cheese cracked after a century by Borden Drousy

Eureka! After about a century of research, Swiss scientists have finally cracked the mystery of the holes in Swiss cheese.

Despite what you may have been told as a child, they are not caused by mice nibbling away inside cheese wheels. Experts from Agroscope, a Swiss centre for agricultural research, say the phenomenon -- which marks famous Swiss cheeses such as Emmental and Appenzell -- is caused by tiny bits of hay present in the milk and not bacteria as previously thought.

They found that the mystery holes in such cheeses became smaller or disappeared when milk used for cheese-making was extracted using modern methods. It's the disappearance of the traditional bucket used during milking that caused the difference, said Agroscope spokesman I.M. Shirley Wright, adding that bits of hay fell into it and then eventually cause the holes.


German police alerted to armed mob, find asparagus pickers by Viola Fuss

Police in rural northeastern Germany rushed out to track down a reported mob of up to 15 people armed with knives and sticks. Instead, they found a group of asparagus harvesters.

Police in the town of Ludwigslust said a man called their emergency number Saturday to report having seen 10 to 15 people armed with knives and sticks on a local road. Within minutes, six police cars were on their way to the scene. Officers quickly discovered, however, that the group was asparagus harvesters walking along the road with their work tools as they went to take a lunch break.

White asparagus is a popular delicacy in Germany and a ubiquitous sight on restaurant menus in late spring.


Smell Like a Whopper: Burger King Will Sell Cologne in Japan by Rick F. Oder

For hamburger aficionados who want the smell even when they can't get a bite, Burger King is putting the scent into a limited-edition fragrance.

Burger King said Friday that the Whopper grilled beef burger-scented cologne will be sold only on April 1, and only in Japan. Sounds too good to be true? It's not an April Fools' Day joke, though the company chose the date deliberately. The limited Flame Grilled fragrance can be purchased at 5,000 yen (about $40), including the burger. There will be only 1,000 of them.

Burger King said it hopes the scent would also seduce new grill-beef burger fans.


Artist draws The Beatles With pancake batter: Makes his own Good Day Sunshine by Anne T. Jemima

You can eat these eight days a week--or after a hard day's night. Artist Nathan Shields sketched the Beatles with pancake batter capturing the process in one rockin' video that recently went viral on YouTube. While Shields posted the video a several months ago, the viral attention continually renews like an influenza virus that keeps mutating.

Has his choice of medium impacting anything outside of his art? I should have known better, explains Shields. I've ate so many of my trial sketches and carry that weight. But Shields recently swore off consuming his drafts for a serious diet saying, that was yesterday. I'm a loser, he concluded in the end.


A chic geek sport emerges for the smart, pudgy, pale, and rich. by Ivan Youloos

What do billionaire geeks do for sport? They play polo. On segways.

Segway polo works a lot like regular polo, except instead of riding horses, the players are on Segways, and instead of evoking glamorous images of a centuries-old aristocratic tradition, the players are on Segways. Billed as the invention that would change the course of mankind when it was unveiled in 2001, the Segway has instead fallen into more of a niche market, used primarily for tour groups and the tech-obsessed.

The sport has begun to take off--or at least roll slowly apparently defying gravity--growing from an eight-team local bay area tournament to a World Cup. The Segway Polo World Cup features nine teams from five countries—Germany, Sweden, the United States, Lebanon, and Barbados.

The winner receives a trophy called the Woz Cup, in honor of the sport's creator, former Apple computer guru Steve Wozniak. I'll be honest, when I saw the Segway was invented I thought, Wow, this will make lazy people lazier, admits Jennifer Sandserson, the World Cup coordinator. But she has been won over by the intensive action and abject violence.

Segway polo players do typically gentlemanly things like wear white pants. But it's also deceptively violent. Ramming is illegal, but nonetheless fairly common, and when it happens it can lead to grisly injuries like compound fractures. A collision in Segway polo is tantamount to a low-speed car crash, with little more than a helmet to protect you. But if Segway Polo has the violence of traditional sports, its appeal is still limited to the select group of people who already own Segways.