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Ripples #9

Ripples artEXTRA! Latest Development - Chocolate-Flavored Swimming Pool Evaporates Into Thin Air!

Always prowling the Internet to find tasty tidbits for this column, Ripples was quite intrigued and excited to learn, from no fewer than four separate online articles, that Caesars Palace in Las Vegas opened a huge , chocolate-filled swimming pool, complete with Willie Wonka-esque waterfall, this past April.

Ripples wondered: Why have I never heard about this - especially since I live in Sin City? Do people actually swim in it? What does chocolate syrup do to a pool's filtration system? Ever the intrepid reporter, Ripples immediately dialed Caesars (at one in the morning) to get the low-down. The clearly amused operator said she was quite sure the hotel had no such thing.

The next day, Ripples called the concierge to double-check. Same response. That's when a light bulb went off in Ripples' otherwise obviously unoccupied cranial cavity.

The pool supposedly opened in April...get it? Sure enough, all four articles were dated April 1, 2010. Suddenly it all became clear.

There's nothing like being bamboozled by an old April Fools' joke in November to make one feel like a complete blithering idiot. (In Ripples' defense, he didn't so much read the articles as scan the headlines.) Once the bright red color drained back out of his face, he had a good chuckle about the whole episode.

And that is why, dear reader, despite this turning out to be a nonstory watershaping story, you're getting to enjoy it, too. Belated April Fools' Day!

PHOTO: To read one of the abovementioned articles and see an image of the alleged chocolate-flavored pool, go to http://tinyurl.com/23xgdwr

Virtual Koi Pond Makes Fake Splash at APEC Summit

It is no secret that the Japanese are crazy about high-technology and can take credit for many impressive innovations in the field. Still, Ripples cannot but look askance at the video "koi pond" that was a focal point at the recent meeting of APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), which took place in Yokahama last month.

Leaders in attendance reportedly sat in plush armchairs around a pond-shaped television screen on the floor - no doubt marveling at the fake water, fake fish and, in the words of the CBC News Web site, "a fake fountain that drips fake water to create [italics added] fake ripples."

To quote Queen Elizabeth, "We are not amused"...although President Barack Obama apparently was. "Stephen, don't fall in," he was quoted as joking to his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was standing next to the pond while posing for photographers.

Ripples is quite sure video ponds are not the wave of the future. To put it another way, builders of real ponds need not lose any sleep over this.

Photo: To see a photograph of the Japanese virtual pond, go to http://tinyurl.com/28suonq

Man Sucked Through Swimming Pool Pipe, Lives to Tell the Tale

A resident of Sydney, Australia, recently had what is being called a miraculous escape after he was sucked clear through a drainage pipe at a public swimming pool, only to be ejected onto the adjacent beach.

According to a report on myfox.la.com, 67-year-old Allan Baillie was swimming in the seawater rock pool when a worker, who had opened a valve to drain the facility for cleaning, began motioning to him.

"As I swam closer to hear what he was saying, I suddenly felt this pressure, this incredible pull," Baillie recalled. "In an instant, I was then sucked feet-first inside the pipe. I instinctively thought 'I'll never survive this -- there'll be something clogging the end,' but in a matter of seconds I found myself dumped on the beach.''

Baillie escaped with his life, but not without injury: He was covered in blood when lifeguards rushed to his aid. Still, the supervisor of the facility was grateful the incident didn't have a tragic ending.

It was "a clear breakdown in procedure and one you'd automatically imagine to be fatal," he admitted. "The circumference of the pipe is smaller than Mr. Baillie's body, but fortunately the sheer pressure has seen him pop straight out like a wine cork."

Beautiful 'Slumdog Millionaire' Star Vows to Learn to Swim

Anyone who saw "Slumdog Millionaire" no doubt remembers the comely Indian actress Freida Pinto, who starred in the surprise movie hit that garnered eight Academy Awards. Recently, Pinto was in the Middle East to shoot a new movie, when she found herself swimming in the Dead Sea.

Actually, "swimming" is a bit of an overstatement where the Dead Sea is concerned. The best one can hope for is to bob around a bit while trying to avoid sending any of the stinging water into other bathers' faces. Many tourists revel in reading a newspaper while basically sitting in the buoyant, salt-laden soup.

Ripples did exactly that some 40 years ago and didn't find the hypersaline environment - or the experience - to be nearly as delightful as it was cracked up to be.

According to indiatimes.com, Pinto's Dead Sea experience wasn't anything to write home about, either: "The lifeguard yelled at me because apparently I was splashing saltwater into everybody's eyes. He asked me to get out of the water." The episode was upsetting for Pinto - but not for the reason you might think.

As a result of her less-than-stellar performance in the water, the actress has resolved to improve her swimming skills. "You can't really drown in [the Dead Sea], but it scared the life out of me. I said, 'There's no way I can continue living like this.' It's just something I want to get over. I'm going to learn to swim. I'm so lousy at it," she reportedly declared.

PHOTO: To see a photograph of Freida Pinto, click on http://tinyurl.com/3adwrmz

Little Ripples...

Animals Gone Wet 'n' Wild

First Ripples reported on the buffalo that fell into a backyard inground swimming pool, then on the cow that took a flying leap into a homeowner's aboveground pool. Now come new reports of two deer in a private pool (sadly, one of them deceased) and yet another cow that decided to go for an impromptu backyard dip. Can an African elephant stuck in a spa near the Serengeti be far behind? Stay tuned.

Does Swimming Make Kids Smarter?

Maybe so, says an Australian researcher involved with a four-year study of 10,000 children in Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. "The preliminary data is coming back quite positive," says Professor Robyn Jorgensen of Griffith University, in an interview on the Web site abc.net.au. "The thing that is already striking us," she adds, "is that with swimming, it's the first time [some young children] are faced with formal instructions. So they're already being exposed to the kind of things that we do in school."

Flying and Swimming Robotic "Seabird"

According to treehugger.com, a team of researchers in the U.S. aims to design a robotic version of the guillemot, a seabird that "can fly over the water with straight wings, but when it dives into the water to catch its prey, it swims with bent wings." Why does the world need such a device? "[They] hope their study...will help create a robotic vehicle that can be used to inspect underwater oil pipelines after flying out to remote oil rigs, or for 'counter-terrorism purposes.'" No word about whether all that swimming turns guillemots into brilliant birdbrains.

Until next time,
happy watershaping to you!

- Ripples is compiled and written by Lenny Giteck

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