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Men Create Literal Man Cave Under Grand Central

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  • An electrician, carpenter, and wireman filled a secret storeroom with a futon couch, flatscreen tv, fridge, and microwave.

I’ve worked some unpleasant jobs before. Boring, endless jobs where I’d think, I’d give anything to get out of here. Even for a few hours to escape the interminable boredom of hourly employment. Three MTA workers actually did something with those feelings, converting a storeroom beneath Grand Central Station into a “man-cave.” The room, which looks pretty nice in the Associated Press story, has a flat-screen tv, refrigerator, microwave, and futon couch. 

Photo by Alec Favale on Unsplash

Literally a Man-Cave

Allegedly, a carpenter, an electrician (both foremen), and a wireman would hang out in the room, drinking, eating snacks, and partying. The Inspector General for the MTA, Carolyn Pokorny, got a tip about the room’s existence, leading to an investigation. If they ruined what they had because they couldn’t keep it off Instagram, I’m going to be so disappointed. 

Photo by Patrick Robert Doyle on Unsplash

Without the tip, it seems like the MTA would have never discovered them. The room was through a locked door for the exclusive use of the MTA Locksmiths. Then, they put a sign on the interior door saying “Foreman’s Office” (clever). It seems only the three men had keys for the man cave. 

 

The MTA suspended all three men without pay pending the investigation. These aren’t master criminals–they left receipts for things they ordered for the room with their names on it just lying around, including a pull-up bar and cot. According to a Gothamist post, the TV linked to the electrician’s phone. 

They Almost Got Away With It

Photo by S. on Unsplash

The carpenter and electrician closed ranks fast, claiming someone stole their devices. The wireman admitted the guilt of all three. Thanks to the carpenter (I assume), there were wooden cabinets in the room, hiding most contraband. It sounds like the MTA at least has a sense of humor about the discovery. 

 

 “Many a New Yorker has fantasized about kicking back with a cold beer in a prime piece of Manhattan Real Estate–especially one this close to public transportation,” the IG said in a statement, “But few would have the chutzpah to commandeer a secret room beneath Grand Central Terminal and make it their very own man-cave.”

 

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Iowa Woman Has Her Dead Pet Cat Cloned

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  • Well, that’s one way to stick it to the Grim Reaper.

The loss of a beloved pet is a tough pill to swallow. Believe us, we at Oddee have collectively said our goodbyes to all too many of them.

Still, most people will eventually make their peace with it. We’ll bury our friends, feel bad for a while, but eventually, time moves on.

But it wasn’t so for one woman from Cedar Falls, Iowa. The retiree, who wants to remain anonymous, lost her precious Mr. Tufts some time ago.

Mr. Tufts was a cat with semi-long, black fur and coppery eyes. He had a small white patch on his throat, tufts on his ears and between his toes, and a glorious, fuzzy tail that was to die for.

And die Mr. Tuft did. The loss left his owner devastated and mourning.

“I had never had such a wonderful creature. It was harder losing him than any other cat I’ve ever had,” she told The Courier.

But if you were to visit this retired cat lady’s home, you’d think she’d gotten over Mr. Tufts. She has a new cat.

Mr. Tufts, Jr., is a cat with semi-long, black fur and coppery eyes. He has a small white patch on his throat, tufts on his ears and between his toes, and a glorious, fuzzy tail that is to die for.

Seem familiar? It probably does, because Mr. Tufts Jr. is a clone.

Harvesting Cat Essence

So maybe our cat lady didn’t quite move on. Instead of getting just any new cat, she decided to have Mr. Tufts immortalized through advanced biological science.

While the original Mr. Tufts was still alive and kicking, she brought him to the clinic of Dr. Kevin Christman at the Cedar Valley Veterinary Center. Dr. Christman extracted living tissue samples from the cat to preserve its genetic blueprint.

“We had to sedate him and take a little skin, fat, and hair – tiny pieces of tissue, like taking a biopsy sample,” Christman explained.

He had never in his 10-year career taken part in cloning an animal. The prospect seemed exciting, so he decided to offer his assistance.

“Obviously, I’m science-minded, so it was very interesting and kind of cool. He was an awesome cat, so what better cat than Mr. Tufts?” asked Christman.

So, the recipe to making another Mr. Tufts was safely secured. But neither the cat lady, nor Dr. Christman, could clone him themselves.

For that, they needed an expert.

Defying Death… At a Price

They found that expert in Cedar Park, Texas. Lots of cedars going on with this cloning business.

ViaGen Pets is a pet cloning and genetic preservation company. They have extensive experience in cloning animals. The firm’s helped preserve the endangered Przewalski’s horse through cloning, for example.

Christman and the cat lady contacted ViaGen after Mr. Tufts had passed, asking about the possibility of cloning him. The company said that they could definitely do it, but it would cost the cat’s owner dearly.

Sounds like a deal with the devil, but no eternal souls were exchanged in this transaction. Only cold, hard cash. A total of $35,000 worth of it.

Apparently, no price was too high for our cat owner, since she coughed up the money. Christman sent the extracted genetic material over to ViaGen, and their experts got to work.

Melain Rodriguez, ViaGen’s client services manager, said they replaced the nucleus of a female cat’s egg with one of the frozen cells from Mr. Tufts. Then, they joined the egg and cell together and transferred the whole shebang to surrogate cat mother.

After a normal feline pregnancy and birth, Mr. Tufts Jr. entered the world.

Same, but Different, but Still the Same

Despite his artificial origins, Mr. Tufts Jr. is no different from any other cat. Rodriguez explained that the copycat is a genetic twin of the original Mr. Tufts.

ViaGen does no genetic modification on the animals it works on. Mr. Tufts Jr. is identical to his progenitor in looks, temperament, and intelligence, said Rodriguez.

She did say, though, that it was good that his owner had Christman extract the cat’s essence before he passed.

“It’s much better to have samples from living cells. We recommend pet owners let their vets know that they’re interested in cloning or want to clone their pet, so they can be proactive about getting a tissue sample, such as when the pet is under anesthesia for a dental cleaning or spay-neuter, to be prepared for when that time comes,” Rodriguez said.

Although Mr. Tufts Jr. is supposed to be identical to the original cat in every way, his owner has noticed one difference. The clone is much healthier.

“The original Mr. Tufts had been found on a forest trail and had a very bad respiratory illness,” she said. The clone has not developed this condition, probably due to never having been a stray.

Guilt, but Is It Warranted?

She does, however, feel kind of bad on putting all that money into an essentially selfish endeavor. She could afford it, sure, but the cat lady still felt she needed to make amends somehow.

To begin with, she adopted Mr. Tufts Jr.’s surrogate mother. The young kitty gets to live with his mama and an eerily familiar-looking picture of his dad.

She has also donated money to the Cedar Valley Veterinary Center, is paying for her great-niece’s college education, and has pledged another $35,000 to Habitat for Humanity.

She’s clearly not hurting for money, and it seems to be going to good causes. Whether she needed to go those lengths, though, is up to your own judgement.

But who wouldn’t want their dear pet back from the dead? And cloning seems a safer option than finding your nearest Pet Sematary.

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Man Named Crook Gets Arrested Twice in One Day

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  • Geez. Maybe it’s a better idea to go hide out after your first arrest of the day?

How is it even possible for a Crook to get arrested more than once in one day? We’ve seen it before and clearly, we’ll see it again.

Well, let them show you how. Because apparently not everyone “feels really bad” and goes home to hide out after they get into trouble (much less arrested.)

Lawrence Crook, 37, from Jersey City, was charged with first-degree larceny, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia for the first incident and third-degree burglary and first-degree criminal trespass for the second incident. 

According to Lt. Antonio Granata, police were called to a condo complex after they got reports of a suspicious male October 8th. A witness told officers that they saw the man remove a small dumpster from a fenced-in area within a parking lot and that he parked a black SUV back there.

“He was seen loading several blue and white striped bags into the vehicle,” Granata said. “When he was confronted by the witness, a brief conversation ensued, and the male quickly fled on foot which prompted a call to police.”

The SUV was reported stolen from a Bayside Queen car dealership, Granata said. A male matching the description was found thanks to a witness at the 300 block of Pequot Avenue. He was identified as Crook.

“Officers later confirmed it to be the same suspect through surveillance video, a police K9 track, witness identification and suspect admission,” Granata said.

Granata said that Crook was found in possession of suspected methamphetamine along with drug paraphernalia. The suspect was also seen loading blue and white striped bags into the stolen SUV. Turns out they were stolen laundry bags from a nearby hotel.

Crook was arrested and then eventually released after posting $300.00 bond and signing a promise to appear in court as scheduled on October 29th. 

Then, less than an hour after being released, he was arrested again. 

This time, a lieutenant for the Fairfield Fire Department saw Crook in the fire department headquarters of Reed Road. He was walking around the apparatus floor and rummaging through fireman’s property. 

“Police were called, responded and arrested Lawrence Crook,” Granata said. Crook has two separate bonds, each set at $25,000 and is awaiting  disposition for the charges. 

 

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Hero or Villain? Man Releases 100 Eels In Brooklyn Lake

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  • Witnesses saw the man empty plastic bags filled with slithering eels into a Prospect Park lake.
  • Wildlife experts are unsure if they’ll survive the winter.

Anytime the words “big pile” are found describing slithering animals, I usually nope my way right out of the conversation. But this story about the addition of eels to the NYC park system piqued my curiosity. Andrew Orkin, a jogger, spotted “quite a big pile–fully alive,” while enjoying the view in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. That’ll show him.

Both Slithery and Potentially Invasive

It turns out the story freaks out quite a few people, but not because they have issues with piles of wriggling snakes. The eels are native to south-east Asia, which makes them an exotic species in New York. Their impact on the environment is, as yet, unknown. But the wildlife officials in both the city and state of New York are apprehensive that there can be dire consequences.

Invasive species aren’t native to an area but come in and reproduce unfettered, often because they have no natural enemies. They can cut off resources to native species and cause actual damage to an area’s ecosystem and infrastructure. Right now, spotted lanternflies are ravaging the trees of the Northeast. At the same time, the west loses plant life to vast populations of Japanese beetles.

Image by Sheri Lei from Pixabay

It wasn’t a criminal mastermind hellbent on wreaking havoc on the NY park system who released the eels. The live eels are found for sale in Chinatown markets, and kind-hearted individuals buy them to liberate them from their fate of becoming sushi. So far, people have released south-east Asian eels in eight states in the United States.

A ‘Big Pile’ of Eels Released

Photo by Tyler Goodell on Unsplash

Bystanders who witnessed the liberation at Prospect Park Lake believe there were at least 100 animals in plastic bags put into the water. They’re hard to track once in a body of water. The species is nocturnal and buries in the sediment at the lake bottom for most of the day. Officials don’t expect the eels to survive the winter, but they’ll search the lake come spring.

Until a species lives in an area for a while, there’s no way to know the impact they’re having on the environment. Even if most of the eels die during this winter, climate change may warm New York enough that a few survive and even thrive in the coming years. The parks of New York have become a kind of catch-all for unwanted pets in the city. A short-list of some species that have overrun native populations: European starlings, red-eared sliders, and northern snakehead fish.

According to witnesses of the Great Eel Dump of 2020, the man offered this explanation while walking from the shoreline of the lake, now chockful of eels, “I just want to save lives.”

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